Blade Runner (R)

I attempted to watch Blade Runner (1982) the day before yesterday in anticipation of Blade Runner 2049, and it didn’t go very well. I have heard raves about it for years from Science Fiction lovers (most notably, my brother) but I’ve never taken the time to watch. Full disclosure: not my favorite genre and I found myself a bit unimpressed. It was a slow paced film that picked up in action in the last 40 minutes or so.  I’ll admit, I skipped a big chunk of the middle.  I just could not endure it. But the end was great! At any rate, I gained a clear understanding of how ripe the material is for an update. The first one was good enough and it is hard to top Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer. It was smart to do a sequel rather than a remake. Let’s face it, Blade Runner 2049 is directed by Denis Villenueve, Hampton Francher and Michael Green were involved with writing the screen play, Hans Zimmer composed the music, Ryan Gosling and Robin Wright star, and it features The Man, Harrison Ford!  Add to that, an estimated $185,000,000 budget. What could possibly go wrong with Blade Runner 2049?

Now… Here’s what had happened… I must digress for one moment to explain myself — I was supposed to catch a show in IMAX but missed the beginning by mere minutes and the next show was in friggin’ 4DX!  So, unless I wanted to wait an entire hour and a half or attempt to catch it any of the other 21 theaters at which it opened in the New York City area, I was stuck.  I was “treated” to: 3D glasses; seat shifting and being hoisted about throughout the film (which, honestly, I sort of enjoyed); wind gusts which forced me to  put on the jacket I thankfully happened to have in my bag; sharp thrusts of air zipping about my ears to simulate bullets flying past (the worst!); and some very rude sprays of water to the face, which I kept turned on through the entire movie so I could get the full “experience.”  Cost=$30.00 at the Regal Union Square, and I’m here to tell you, do not waste your money. I was able to shrewdly “coupon” and “points” my way in for free.

At any rate, the ways in which Blade Runner 2049 mimic the original make this film interesting.  I understand that you cannot just jump into a story from 35 years ago.  I get it.  But the beginning hour and ten to twelve minutes of this film was so very slow.  It was slow in a pensive way, but still – it was sooooooo sloooooooow. In this way, homage was paid to the style of the 1982 version, but it got old after a while with the long, thoughtful pauses. The way the two movies were literally interwoven together was one of the highlights.

The cinematography and set design are outstandingly beautiful works.  Not one complaint there.  Villenueve did a great job directing.

The story, as stated earlier, drags in the beginning, then picks up and becomes much more interesting as you begin to realize what is going on and the action increases. There are enough twists to hold your interest and not so many that you get lost.  Unfortunately, the villain (played by Jared Leto, who may want to consider laying off the villainous roles until is Suicide Squad Joker has had its run) is what brought the movie down.  This villain is so typical, it just felt like more of the same menacing, psychotic villain that we’ve seen before many, many times.  Contact lens didn’t change the fact that the character was pretty lame.  And although the set up for a sequel leaves a ball of yarn with which to play rather than just a loose thread, I didn’t mind it at all.

And by the way, just because we’re in 2017 as opposed to 1982, and one may insert more T&A into a film, doesn’t mean it is necessary to do so.  There was a certain sensuality/sexuality incorporated into the 1982 version that added “spark” to a pretty “grey” movie.  The majority of the nudity in Blade Runner 2049 didn’t add anything to the film but more nudity.  It became misogynistic and I hate that word, but if the nipple fits…  And maybe it’s just me, but another thing that bothered me is something that I am consistently bothered by in films: If someone is after me, as in they are going to kill me when they see me and I know it, I really don’t have time for romance, sex, a love scene or any deeply emotional moment or conversation. I have to get out of here now! This includes faux Sci-Fi threesomes. Let me be clear. I didn’t mind the scene. It was actually sort of interesting. I minded it’s placement.

Blade Runner 2049 earned 7 bloops out of 10.  It could have been better, but still, it is a good movie.  The cinematography, set design and sound are what makes it worth one watch on the big screen. I wish I could have seen it in IMAX but I don’t have another 2 hours and 44 minutes to watch it again right now.  (Stupid 4DX! I’m really mad about that if you couldn’t tell. I’m absolutely certain that would have made for a better overall movie-going experience with this particular film.) I’m not a huge dystopian, futuristic Sci-Fi fan, but if you’re into the genre and/or are a huge fan of the original, you more than likely will enjoy Blade Runner 2049 more than I did.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, 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

 ** Thank you to the darling reader who read nearly every entry ever written on my blog the other day. I hope you enjoyed it.

 What I’m seeing next…

**I know I skipped a few reviews.  Coming up from what I’ve already seen and haven’t taken the time to write up are Victoria & Abdul (a very good movie), American Made (which I wrote up and lost somehow last Friday night! Good movie though!) and The Glass Castle (written up, just needs to be proofed.  Been sitting around with it for over a week now).  I’ll get them out a.s.a.p.  Anticipated Oscar nominated movie season is upon us, so I’ll be too busy to do so shortly.

The Mountain Between Us
The Florida Project
Loving Vincent

 Previous Reviews

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!
It
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
I Am Not Your Negro

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle (R)

Co-written and directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring Taron Egerton and Mark Strong, the much anticipated Kingsman: The Golden Circle hits theaters today. With their headquarters destroyed, the British spies discover an allied spy organization in the US. These two organizations band together to defeat a common enemy.

Full disclosure: My expectations for this installment were lowered upon seeing the cast on a huge board at a movie theater a couple of weeks ago.  I wasn’t feeling the move across the pond to America and a couple of the costars raised red flags about the level of “cheesiness” I was in for.

I saw Kingsman: The Secret Service for the first time about two weeks ago and enjoyed it. I wasn’t reviewing movies in 2014, but I would have said it earned a solid 8 out of 10 bloops. The Golden Circle didn’t “wow” me as much as The Secret Service.  It wasn’t as “fresh,” naturally.  It also had a lot to accomplish – like reaching back into the first story to meld the two together so that certain events make sense and setting up future installments – all while telling a cohesive, interesting, focused, action-packed story. Because of this, the story was inconsistently successful.

The writing is fine (as in okay).  There were a few lines that descended into crudeness, but such is America.  Some of the bits got stale after a while, but I still laughed out loud at times, along with most everyone else. The political theme gets a bit heavy handed and takes away from the movie’s sense of fun. There was a good balance to the action/adventure/comedy, and The Secret Service was weaved into the story well.  There are some surprises that fans will enjoy (or hate).  As far as the action goes, there’s plenty of it with great stunts, choreography and camera work, and it never gets too gory.  The music is entertaining.  I started to see it in IMAX and I’m glad I didn’t.  As much as I love high quality sound, my ears cannot take the volume at times.  (And not that I don’t love it, but if I hear that John Denver song in a movie one more time this year… This is the sixth movie this year. Let’s not wear it out, shall we?)

The Golden Circle feels over-directed at times in an attempt to make an already “edgy” movie even more so. Some characters are meant to be exaggerated, but too many become cartoonish caricatures of themselves – and not in a particularly good way. Also, when a movie starts out with such amazing, fast paced action and the audience is immediately pulled in, it is difficult to maintain that level of interest throughout 2 hours and 21 minutes. For me it ran a little long, but to be fair, I went to the first show after a night of terrible insomnia – so that very well could have been the cause of my restlessness.

The acting was good. I understand it’s not “the theatre” or anything, but some cast members didn’t fit their role and it just felt forced and unconvincing at times.  Taron Eigerton did a great job of giving us glimpses of the younger, less confident, more vulnerable Eggsy who won us over in the first installment.  Even with some silly and overdrawn plot points, Eggsy manages to keep this ship afloat.

Kingsman: Golden Circle earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops.  It’s a good movie worth seeing on the big screen for the action/choreography/camerawork. It’s a good, mindless, mostly fun, popcorn and/or nachos movie.  The Golden Circle has served its purpose; it has bridged the old and the new, and will make fans look forward to Kingsman 3.  I cannot speak for anyone else, but I’m in.  Hopefully we can all move forward now and the third movie will have a stand-alone story.  If you’re a fan, I believe you will enjoy it.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address, 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 next…

The Glass Castle – I already saw it.  It is terrific, but I just didn’t finish the review yet.  It will be up shortly.  If you have a chance to catch it before it leaves theaters please do. Woody Harrelson is ah-may-zing.

Battle of the Sexes

Victoria and Abdul

Previous Reviews

Mother!
It
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
I Am Not Your Negro

Mother (R)

Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, the much anticipated film Mother hit theaters today. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star, with Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer rounding out the cast. Billed as a drama/horror/mystery, Lawrence and Bardem are a couple living in this massive country home who somehow wind up entertaining strangers, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer.  The drama exists between Lawrence’s character and every other character in the film, including the house itself.  The horror is that she is unable and at most times unwilling to pull herself out of what is happening to her.  The mystery is, you really never quite know what Bardem, Harris and Pfeiffer are up to.

In theory, this could have been a really great movie.  The idea of it is very cool.  One theme that stands out revolves around the “cult” of celebrity – in other words, the “God-like” worship fans can have for celebrities and how celebrities may let that worship consume and change them. This concept was dealt with in a pretty cool way and is the crux of everything that occurs in the movie.  At least I think that’s what Aronofsky was saying… It’s a bit hard to tell because there was so much going on it all felt muddled.  This movie has vibes from Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, The Amityville Horror, The Shining, Night of the Living Dead and more, so it has this lively potential to go in all these different, thought provoking directions, which makes Mother interesting.

What was less interesting and made no sense, was that Jen’s character dismissed important events; casually suppressed them, and carried on into the next horror as if it were nothing, including happenings in the house and the way her husband and others treated and talked to her.  The polite, gentle nature of her character and her lack of outrage is what moves the story forward, but it is also what weakens the story because it is not believable.  It’s also what annoyed the heck outta me.  Just as an example, I find it improbable that if my house were literally bleeding I would fail to make certain to mention it to my husband, regardless of whatever other chaos is occurring at the time or how crazy he may be acting.  As far as I’m concerned, a bleeding house trumps everything. But maybe that’s just me?

Mother keeps you guessing, but it keeps you guessing for far too long as we watch Jennifer Lawrence pad around this huge house that she is personally renovating, in bare feet.  Although the house is absolutely massive it does not seem as though it is, because we don’t see enough of it.  How many times can one watch J Law go up and down steps, down to the basement, to the front door, to the guest room, to the bedroom, to the bathroom, etc., with a look of simple (as in, you’re a simpleton and when are you going to start carrying a weapon around that house or get the heck out of there, or at least put some damn shoes on!!!?) curiosity on her face?  This movie started at 11:05 a.m. By 11:51 I was ready to walk out.  By 12:16 I had to recommit to stick it out until the end, and there was still 44 minutes to go!  It honestly felt like torture at some points and it was exhausting.

The horror is original, and includes an exciting combination of the average person’s worst fears.  This is what draws you into the movie.  So you are definitely captured by Mother for a time.  If Mother had been heavier on the horror and/or simply edited out some of the repetitive barefoot stair-walking parts of story, it could have been a much stronger film.

I could have counted the number of words that Jennifer Lawrence says in this movie.  Her character was so passive, docile, domesticated and dull I couldn’t relate to her. (Honestly, the bare feet alone nearly drove me mad.  This woman gives new meaning to the term “barefoot and pregnant.”)  With all the things going on in this movie, I would have probably slept in my shoes in case I had to run at a moment’s notice. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer are outstanding here. You will want to hurt them both.

Mother earned 6 out of 10 bloops.  It is so-so and could have been better, but it is certainly not all bad.  It has some really interesting and thoughtful elements to it, but it’s just didn’t pull me in all the way (with the exception of the stressful, exquisitely done, horror sequence) and caused me to check the time far too often.  Mother attempts to redeem itself in the last few minutes, but the payoff is weak and not worth the 2 hour investment in a story that feels like it is going nowhere and will never get to the point. I cannot recommend paying full price to see it.  Catch it at a matinee if you must, but I would suggest you wait to stream it.

***Afterthought:

Never had to do this before but I feel the need to revisit this review. 

After posting, it has come to my attention that I somehow “missed the mark” on my review of this movie. Last night I read this Vanity Fair article on the intended interpretation and what is behind the symbolism. The article states that much explanation was given by Aronofsky before early viewings he attended. Was he planning on attending every viewing? I think not. The fact that Mother requires so much explanation, and most people (anyone not connected to the project) would not guess it is about anything close to what he says it is about, indicates he left too much of the story in his head and failed to express enough on film.  In this regard, I feel as though the film fails. Someone else has to “get” what the writer is talking about, sans accompanying texts and lengthy introductions. If I wanted to read about it, I’d prefer it were in a book, rather than a film. I stand by everything included in my review and the score it earned with me stands.

For the record, I do not read or watch interviews about movies before I see them, so that I’m not influenced by the opinions of others before I write. I don’t watch trailers because I do not wish to see the best parts of the movie beforehand. There is no lightbulb moment in Mother where the intended meaning behind it all becomes clear to the viewer. That’s what is missing and why many didn’t/do not get it. I am not the one who “missed the mark.”

***Note: I’ve seen American Assassin, but I’m too tired to review it just now.  Pay the matinee price or wait for it to stream.  You can thank me later!

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address, 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 next…

American Assassin – Already saw it.  Too tired to complete the review.  Wait for it to stream.  You can thank me later!
The Wild Wedding
Kingsman: The Golden Circle

 Previous Reviews

It
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
I Am Not Your Negro

It (R)

Written by Stephen King (1986), adapted into a television miniseries (1990) and now remade for 2017, It hits theaters today.  If you’ve never read the book or seen the 1990 version, the local children in the town of Derry, Maine are disappearing one by one, but the phenomenon somehow goes unnoticed by the adults.  A group of seven teens are united by their terrifying encounters with an evil clown that is behind the disappearances and their quest to kill It.

To be honest, I had never seen the 1990 version until about 4 o’clock this morning. (Pardon me, but I was busy giving birth that year and couldn’t be concerned with Stephen King or what was on television at the time.) I enjoyed it, and although I am one who desperately craves original content in film and kvetches about remakes regularly, I immediately understood why this particular movie was ripe to be remade, and the anticipation surrounding this particular remake.  (Oh, and I never have and never will read the book.  Just so we are clear. I’m sure it’s fantastic, but no thank you.  I have enough trouble sleeping at night.)  It’s great material to modernize and make into a movie because the issues covered in the original (set in the early 60’s – the kid’s portion of the movie at least) and the remake (set in the late 80’s) are still relevant (if not moreso, unfortunately) today.  Child abduction is a terrifying possibility that we know more about and have more exposure to and anxiety about than ever (thank you social media).  Couple that with some crazy ass clown who stalks, taunts, manipulates and terrorizes children, and you’ve really got the stuff of nightmares!  These children also face severe and brutal bullying, and abuse in many forms at home (some sort of extremely twisted and weird sexual grooming, coddling nearly to the point of crippling, mistreatment from an adoptive family). Like too many children who must learn to adapt and find their social circle outside of their own homes, these teens build their own family through their friendship and their common connection to It.

So, (teeny, tiny spoiler alert for to those of us who do not watch previews or trailers or read reviews of movies before seeing them, like myself)), the adult versions of these children who were present in the 1990 adaptation are not included here at all. And why should they be?  This was one smart move! It makes the film less of a remake and more of an edited version of the original.  It keeps the movie from running over 3 hours long, as the original did. The loss of all those flashbacks improves the editing process and we get a “smoother” story.  The result is linear, straightforward storytelling.

Not featuring the children as adults also keeps the budget in check with no need to pay big money to hire big stars to draw viewers.  The absence of the “A Lister” adults also allows the budget to be evenly distributed throughout the film as far as effects, cinematography, makeup, wardrobe, those little 80’s details (although I’m sure the nitpickers have already found flaws), and so on – and everything here is done well. The entire budget was about $35,000,000.  Brilliant! There is one line in the movie that lets you in on why It is being remade now (2017) which I thought was a very thoughtful detail as it is a slight change in a detail from the 1990 version.

Don’t get me wrong.  While I found the adult characters sort of annoying the first time around I did appreciate the psychological complexities they displayed as a result of their childhood traumas.  Still, I didn’t miss them here for a minute.

The young, seasoned talent did a great job.  Finn Wolfhard (from Stranger Things) provides the potty-mouth comic relief, and I’m sure he had fun doing it.  Andy Muschietti did a good job directing. Super Kudos to Chase Palmer, Gary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman for having the temerity to remix the work of this storytelling master and come up with the screenplay for It.  I say, let them have a crack at more older material and let’s see what they come up with!

Since this is not 1990’s television there is more graphic gore and more cursing, and I didn’t mind it one bit.  Teens, when they are amongst themselves, believe it or not mom and dad, do and say things they wouldn’t otherwise do or say.  I thought the moments when these kids were being foul-mouthed or just being themselves, being free and acting their age in peace, lent authenticity to the way many kids behave around one another. That is the comfort of friendship. The most refreshing part?  These kids were outside, on their bikes, having fun, having adventures – and there wasn’t one cell phone in sight.  (Remember those days?)  No one had to Google anything or text their mom to say where they were.  Siri or Maps wasn’t used to help navigate.  I loved It.  (Haha – see what I did there?…)

If you want to know more I recommend you go see It.  It earned 8 out of 10 bloops. It is a great movie that shouldn’t be missed if you’re a fan of horror, It the miniseries, the book or Stephen King.  Since “the powers that be” will obviously continue to churn out remakes whether the public likes it or not, hopefully this will help to raise the bar on how a remake should be treated! Take what is good about the original work and use it to build something fresh.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address, 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…

True to the Game
Crown Heights
Mother

Previous Reviews

Mother!
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

Good Time (R)

Co-written and directed by brothers Josh and Benny Safdie and starring Robert Pattinson, Good Time is a high energy story of extremely misguided brotherly love.  The  two brothers (Pattinson and B. Safdie) rob a bank and consequently wind up running from the law.  The robbery is well planned down to the last detail (almost) and goes awry.  The aftermath is unplanned and chaotic and with every desperate decision these characters are buried deeper and deeper into a not-so-good time.

Benny and Josh directed and they did a solid job.  They took good care of their project. This use of locations here is most impressive.  I enjoy watching movies that use location as a moving character in story telling in this way.  The characters are on the run and we get a chance to run with them – all over Queens.

Josh Safdie also co-wrote the movie and starred in Good Time.  The writing is strong as we wind through this dark story with these characters you find somewhat difficult to cheer for because they are so twisted and irredeemable.  Still, in a way, they are somewhat “likeable” outcasts, and you sort of wish them well (or at least I did); even though the consequences of their actions dictate that all will not end well. It’s an adventure with comedy, tragedy and some silliness. There’s quite a bit of violence in the form of pummeling that some may find off-putting, so proceed with caution.  The only problem I had with the story was that along the way, Pattinson and his brother have to rely on the kindness of a stranger and some lady he didn’t know let him and his brother into her house. At night. With a 16 year old in the house. I’m sure there is some nice lady who would do this somewhere, but not I.  Never.  The improbable act helps move the movie along in a clever way and allows important characters to be introduced, so I minded it a bit less.  But still, the New Yawka in me won’t let it go, Yo.

Josh Safdie did a good job with the subtlety of his acting.  His character is retarded (I use the word retarded because the character is actually obviously “slow” and there is no diagnosis(es) offered, although I’m sure he has one and that it is probably quite complicated – so don’t even try to come for me). Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a notable, super hilarious part in the mischief. Robert Pattinson is simply great here. He is growing as an actor in all the right ways.  His character was manipulative, narcissistic, single minded, self-centered, and I believed every word he said (or at least I believe that he believed it) and everything he did. Pattinson’s acting and this character are what makes this movie enjoyable to watch because he is a man operating with no plan at all, relying on his “wits” and you’ll want to see what he does next and the clever ways he extricates himself from some very tight spots (or not).

Good Time earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops. It’s a well written, well acted, good movie worth seeing.  It’s better than good, but I would stop short at saying it is great simply because it’s not a movie that I, personally, would want to run out and see again right away. As enjoyable as Good Time is, I don’t know that I can recommend venturing forth and seeing it in a theater.  It is definitely one of those films that is not for everybody. As is always the case with any movie, it depends on what you like. If you like a “bro” movie with much pummeling, dark humor and a balance between action and storytelling, you should enjoy this.  If not, don’t bother.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address, 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…

Step
Wind River
The Hitman’s Body Guard

Previous Reviews

Mother!
It
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

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

Mother!
It
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:

Mother!
It
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:

Mother!
It
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:

It
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

Mother!
It
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