DEMOLITION (2016)

Directed By: Jean Marc-Vallee
Written By: Bryan Sipe
Cinematography By: Yves Balenger
Editor: Jay M.Glen

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, Judah Lewis, Polly Draper, Debra Monk, Heather Lind 

A successful investment banker struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. With the help of a customer service rep and her young son, he starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.


The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist; a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.

This is one of those almost movies. That feels like it is almost o to something but seems to get lost before it can say ultimately what it wants to or before actually saying something profound.

The film stays off-center yet always pretty in its presentations the films end up feeling too designed like the products he dismantled to see how they work. Which the film tries to work in the same way. But seems too on the nose to be quirky and accepting as it seems to want to be offbeat.

A character study where the protagonist tries to find himself and ends up attracting other so-called misfits fighting to find and be themselves. While also trying to be seen as normal and fit in. Though really questioning what that is.

It is basically the main character having to dismantle and destroy his life to rebuild and start again. Which is why his character seeks to take things apart and study them. To see how they work and how they function.

The film is meant to be more of a character study which it achieves and as usual unfortunately also introduces characters more interesting than the lead. Who get scenes of depth and drama, but ultimately seem more like ornaments meant to distract and beautify the film add some flavor, but never really get to shine themselves.

Which is becoming more common in director Jean Marc-Vallee oveure of films. Presenting a kind of reality that always comes with some quirk or bigger than life or life-affirming meaning that seems more magnified than normal. Her he seems to go through realistic characters take on life and challenges as we watch to see their journey through it to the other side. More like emotional action movies with a sharp eye for visuals

It feels more a film about trying to win awards. Though there is some heart in here and tries to say something about the human condition. More about finding yourself. Here it seems like the character was already on that path. Only a tragedy happened that really opened his eyes and lead him to it.

The film feels transparent. It speaks to the audience as the film asks how are you supposed to react to tragedy? Is it disrespectful if in your reaction you aren’t emotional enough or know how exactly to feel? It’s not exactly Always textbook. As we are all individuals. So it Aldo’s how do you feel when what came before was almost on autopilot of what was expected but. Ever felt fulfilling, deserving so that it was almost a lie.

It feels like a film as all of the things that happen seem more announced. I can go with the suspension of disbelief, but when made so obvious it is hard.

This is a feel-good film, yet it becomes what it seems to want to avoid by becoming overbearing after a while.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s detached performance is what will win you over. As he is at total opposites at times but he keeps the film spirited and lively. Where he not only becomes the center of attention, but the most entertaining aspect of the film.

What is at least original is that the film doesn’t paint the main character as some kind of saint or hero. He freely admits his faults and the bad things in the past. It doesn’t praise his wife but makes them look more like a human coup going through the motions of a relationship and never really talking about their problems or dealing with them before this accident happens.

I wish the same could be said of Naomi watts character who is interesting. As her problems are laid bare, but her wrong decisions make her at least interesting when it comes to her character’s psychology. Even as we are used to Naomi watts playing these complicated characters. The character is there but the performance never quite catches on as it feels too plain when it might be better to showcase more of her at war with herself. Here her character keeps it maintained maybe due to her pot smoking. Which might regulate those feelings.

As his late wife throughout the movie haunts him and the other characters but we learn little about her though by the end she becomes more real for us in the audience to get more of a sense of her and not exactly the saint she has been made to be at the beginning. Just that something bad happened to her that she didn’t deserve. As with most of the characters. She was just trying to figure things out and all the people who believe they have it all figured out have comfort but aren’t necessarily being truthful to themselves or are rather simple The other aspect of the film that is eye-catching is the more modern designed clothing and appliances. That comes off shiny and smooth and provide the perfect facade, before revealing their grungy and dirty insides once explored.

Other Than the tragedy the film easily comes off as more middle-aged wish fulfillment than anything else.

Though the film does manage to win you over at certain points and feels personal to a degree when it’s supposed to.

GRADE: B-

LADY MACBETH (2016)

Directed by: William Oldroyd

Written By: Alice Birch

Based on the book “ LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK” by Nikolai Leskov Cinematography: Ari Wegner

Editor: Nick Emerson

Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank, Golda Roseuval, Anton Palmer, Bill Fellows 

Rural England, 1865. Katherine is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age, whose family are cold and unforgiving. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her, so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.


This movie features Florence Pugh in a star making performance and also one of the all time great cold femme fatales on screen.

The title makes you believe this Will be a take on Shakespeare’s Play.  Only focusing on one main character from their point of view, but this is based on “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” by Nikolai Leskov 

That might have served as inspiration for the play and the title just happens to deal with the same machinations, manipulations, and themes as that character and play

Though some will see this from a modern context of a female asserting herself in a suppressed time. That she is sticking up for herself and choosing to use her strengths and power. As after all she comes off as a mastermind even though motivated more by being dumb in love. If she wasn’t so selfish she might have been a strong female role model. Though she might still end up being one to some audience members 

The film allows us to see how she comes upon her decisions. How as soon as she gets there she is mistreated by her husband who refuses to actually consummate the marriage and then disappears leaving her feeling bored and degraded. Even when not suffering the disdain of her father in law.

Once she spies the help trying to sexually assault her handmaiden and sticks up for her she feels an attraction and passion for the

Young field worker who originated it and begins to flirt with him until he comes to her bedroom And is aggressive with her and she fights back but also accepts his demands. Once started the affair intensified and anything or anyone who stands in the way she is willing to sacrifice.

She does so coldly, but to a certain extent, you can understand why. Until the third act when she goes to far. Even shocking the audience as well as her lover. 

Throughout it is easy to not feel sorry for the male characters in her life. They don’t necessarily deserve death, but they are also not the most sympathetic characters. The film also makes it seem like the lover will eventually use her but in the end. He is more a pawn as she loves him And tries to prop him Up as more respectable. Though he can be expendable if he chooses to betray or cross her.

The most sympathetic character is her handmaiden Anna, who witnesses everything and goes mute from shock. While still being made to serve her and seemingly punished by her from time to time. What she is put through and where she ends up is just cruel. It’s Disappointing though not shocking.

Since the character is African American she more seems like a slave so watching her being mistreated is not all that shocking and while it’s nice to see people of color in the film. While being historically accurate it does get on the nerves or brings the audience to a dark place to be reminded of this time In history. Especially as in the end classism And racism stand supreme. Even when the one who so thought to be more privileged is the one who has done the worst and should have a bad reputation 

The film also manages to be quite sexual though not quite erotic. 

The film is quite a surprise from what you might think the film will be about or go to. It is actually richer even if also more cerebral and remote, with beautiful backgrounds. 

I really enjoy this film and am only recently becoming a bit of a fan of period pieces. 

GRADE: B+

LAKE BODOM (2016)

Directed by: Taneli Mustonen

Written by: Taneli Mustonen & Aleski Hyvarinen

Cinematography: Mheiajn Brooks, Daniel Lindholm, Callie Mcgregor & Dakota Saliwi Editor: Alexis Raij

Cast: Nelly-Hirst-Gee, Mimosa Williamo, Mikael Gabriel, Santeri Helinheimo mantyu 

Every camper’s worst nightmare came true at Lake Bodom in 1960 when four teenagers were stabbed to death while sleeping in their tent.

This is one of those movies that is ok, but there is so much potential for greatness that it possesses except for a few missteps that totally bold it back.

This is a Familiar horror film based on a true story of murders that happened in Finland. Only in the film the location is the same and it doesn’t say this is what happened back then, but the story is modern-day set and might have some ties to that case.

What works here is that the film keeps offering new twists that reshape the material. Some of these twists might feel a little familiar from other films, but it is still used wisely here. In fact, one wishes there were a few more.

The beginning of the film Feels typical and a little dull. Though luckily as the film goes along certain relationships between the characters are explained and how Their pasts intermingle. This more happens as an explanation for certain actions and acts. Though the actions seem like overkill. As does some of the logic of the characters but as this is a horror film. It seems like it is needed to move one element to the other.

The film is 60 percent perfect except for the beginning and the end. The end works in that it becomes a different type of film that foils any plans but then the film becomes the type of film you expected from the beginning which then makes it feel basic and erases all the exciting elements that came before it.

Which also leads to a more ambiguous ending. That the film doesn’t necessarily feel like it deserves or has earned. So that you have a film that tries to show a depth it doesn’t possess. Which is supposed to be similar to the teenage characters within it?

The film will be familiar to those who have seen HIGH TENSION or ALL THE BOYS LOVE  MANDY LANE. Which might be a spoiler itself, but at least here the enjoyment of the film doesn’t hinge on those surprises. Nor does it make you question the plausibility of what has been presented.

The violence isn’t particularly inspired. Nor is the film very gratuitous in it’s action or content.

The film isn’t a total waste. It just falls short of what it could have been. As it is pretty much a slasher with interesting twists and character histories. 

Grade: B-

THE ASSIGNMENT (2016)

Directed by: Walter Hill. Written by: Walter Hill & Dennis Hamill Cinematography: James Liston. Editor: Phil Norden

Cast: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shaloub, Anthony LaPaglia, Ken Kirzinger, Caitlin Gerard, Zak Santiago, Anthony Griffith

After waking up and discovering that he has undergone gender reassignment surgery, an assassin seeks to find the doctor responsible.

In the past this films plot might have been considered high concept, but now while a kind of interesting idea. It ends up becoming more of a who cares situation. That other then it’s

Story the rest feels heavily cliched and hard hitting just to go through the motions. Where after awhile you don’t care about anything happening.

it’s a shame Michelle Rodriguez finally Seems to have found the right role. Even with a well known action director Walter Hill. As she seems to be more interested in action roles in her career and ends up usually being a supporting player. Here she has the lead role.

Though it offers her nothing new or that strong as far as material or quality.

As for the sex change her character goes through. Even before she looked like she was in. Make drag and had a supposed chiseled chest and body hair. Once she has the sex change in the movie it just looks like she shaved and grew a chest. Which makes the scene when she meets up with an old conquest who barely recognizes her all the more u intentionally funny.

It seems interesting in these films the worse punishments the main characters go through is to be forced to love life as a female. The film tries to present that as only cruel considering the character but the movie seems to have that attitude.

The film plays somber and never seems to have enough energy to keep the audience interested. As it tries to have a jazzy mood but comes off as more a typical straight to streaming thriller.

The progressions which are animated to make us beleive they are in bigger major Cities and locations seems inspired by the dvd cut of his move THE WARRIORS. Which have animated inserts during scenes.

The film Seems to want to be a frantic character price with a thriller impact but feels tone deaf. That tries to be different and wants to say something but feels so misguided

Michelle Rodriguez speaks liek she is InnA 1940’s gangster film which only shows that the film is aspiring for many things and is making no sense and not in a bar shit crazy way but in an embarrassingly bad way.

Sigourney Weaver seems to be a one not villain whose beliefs and actions seems there only because there has to be a reason for all of this and writing it off as an experiment seems so trivial.

Largely, the film s boring as when there are action sequences they go by so quick and without any excitement. Even towards the end, With such an esteemed cast one would expect better.

Grade: F

OTHER PEOPLE (2016)

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Written & Directed By: Chris Kelly
Cinematography By: Brian Burgoyne
Editor: Patrick Colman 


Cast: Jesse Plemmons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow, June Sqibb, Paula Pell, Matt Walsh, Paul Dooley, Kerri Kenney, Zach Woods, Mike Mitchell, Lynne Marie Stewart, Nicole Byer, Lennon Parham 


Follows David as he moves back home to be with his mother for the year between her giving up her fight against cancer and slowly dying. David’s relationship with his family is, at best, strained (especially in regard to his father) because of an apparent difficulty in accepting his homosexuality. Although the subject matter is genuinely distressing, his mothers death ultimately helps restore his familial bonds and become an integrated part of the family unit again.

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NINA (2016)

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Written & Directed By: Cynthia Mort
Cinematography By: Mihai Malaimere Jr.
Editor: Josh Rifkin, Mark Helfrich & Susan Littenberg 


Cast: Zoe Saldana,David Oyelowo, Keith David, Ella Joyce, Mike Epps, Ronald Guttman, Ella Thomas, Michael Vartan, Matthew Hoffman 

 

The story of the late jazz musician and classical pianist Nina Simone including her rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson.

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THE NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN (2016)

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Directed By: Robert San Sebastian
Written By: Guillermo Guerrero
Cinematography: Adrian Hernandez
Editor: Ibon Belandia 

Cast: Javier Bodalo, Miriam Martin, Victor Amilibia 

In this horror-comedy, at a New Year’s Eve party, Nico, a naive twenty year old, sets out ready to lose his virginity at all costs that same night. In the middle of the party, his gaze crosses Medea, a cunning and attractive mature woman.

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BAD MOMS (2016)

 

BADMOMS

Written & Directed By: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
Cinematography By: Jim Denault
Editor: Emma E. Hickox &  James Thomas 


Cast: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Annie Mumolo, Jay Hernandez, Clark Duke, Wendell Pierce, Oona Laurence, Emjay Anthony, David Walton, Wanda Sykes

Amy has a seemingly perfect life – a great marriage, over-achieving kids, a beautiful home and a career. However, she’s overworked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that she’s about to snap. Fed up, she joins forces with two other over-stressed moms on a quest to liberate themselves from conventional responsibilities – going on a wild, un-mom-like binge of long overdue freedom, fun and self-indulgence – putting them on a collision course with PTA Queen Bee Gwendolyn and her clique of devoted perfect moms.

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LA LA LAND (2016)

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Written & Directed By: Damien Chazelle
Cinematography: Linus Sandgren
Editor: Tom Cross
Music By: Justin Hurwitz 

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Valarie Rae Miller, Tom Everett Scott 

Aspiring actress serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions and jazz musician Sebastian scrapes by playing cocktail-party gigs in dingy bars. But as success mounts, they are faced with decisions that fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.

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ZOOLANDER 2 (2016)

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Directed By: Ben Stiller
Written By: Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Nicholas Stoller & John Hamburg
Based On Characters Created By: Ben Stiller & Drake Sather
Cinematography By: Daniel Mindel
Editor: Greg Hayden 


Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Milla Jovovich, Justin Theroux, Kristin Wiig, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christina Hendricks, Olivia Munn, Jon Daly, Billy Zane, Andy Dick, John Malkovich, Alexander Skarsgard, Moshe Kasher, Fred Armisen, Kiefer Sutherland, Naomi Campbell, Ariana Grande, Kate Moss, Sting

Derek and Hansel are lured into modeling again, in Rome, where they find themselves the target of a sinister conspiracy.

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