Written & Directed By: Terrence Malick 
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Editor: Hank Corwin, Keith Frase & Rehman Nizarali 

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Val Kilmer, Berniece Marlohe 

Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.

The film offers cameos from bands and musicians. Like Robert Altman’s THE PLAYER only less about the life and business just what kind of culture it takes place in 

The film is filled more with moments of the day-to-day. That is broken into fragments and left for us to witness and examine. As really the film takes place and shows us the lives of those attending a music festival. 

As it becomes a travelogue of the surroundings with a love of narration, that is supposed to help explain but becomes more oddly poetic. Meaning that what we see while visually stunning is a surface. While we learn what is underneath from the narration. Which offers up an explanation of sorts. 

The films of Writer/Director Terrence Malick usually revolve around the individual and their relationships with the world. Romantic and intimate ones are at the heart of the films. 

This could have easily been a modern NASHVILLE type ensemble, but the music festival is a backdrop for the intentions of music. With emotions and thoughts expressed through the melody with words. just like an album has a bunch of songs. Some are in the same Mold and some are distinct. Others offer a different slice of life and a continuation of themes,  but still a different moment and rules.

Going in you don’t know what to expect. But when it comes to director Terrence Malik’s later films. You kind of do, wide-angle lenses, narration, beautiful cinematography, poetic license almost abstract to the non-existent story. Left for you to meditate on, believing that this new film will be the one they have wanted from him and waited for. That will be his next BADLANDS or DAYS OF HEAVEN 

He tries to stick with the story more and each time while considered good. Not the classic fans hoped for. Though that seems better and is taken more seriously later,  then When they come out originally slow them to be seen more as pieces of art. Then just movies. Even if more and more end up as passable yet disappointing to a certain degree rather than good or even memorable 

The camera never really stops. We see private moments more glossy and pretty people doing normal things. Only with more shine and attention on these moments. Offering Communication through images. Never let lies during full conversations do it.

Though you might know what to expect. Though he offers you shards and then Leaves you to interpret and figure out what just happened. Sometimes with Narrations that sound like excerpts from books 

Usually, Actors clamor to work with Mr. Malik and his films usually are star-studded. Only then did he cut out half of them from the film. As they are not needed in what he wants to present. Which he finds during the editing process. 

So his films always seem like a cut he came to that was releasable after cutting down in the editing room from what might be the first draft filmed. If there was even a script. That it ends up feeling like A book with missing chapters and characters whose fate we never learn.

It ends up feeling more Like a music video with a score but missing the main song as there is a score but no singing necessarily. 

As characters who are almost like newborns come in and take out the narrative partially after an initial connection. Twisting things around a bit. 

Then the actors are filmed like fashion shoots. Like a footnote or introduction to a side story that affects the overall narrative.

Usually one can get excited when he sets his films in the present. Not so much historical epics,  but his strongest films are those usually based on books and true stories that have actual plots. Allowing them each a few chapters they tend to overlap through each other. To be the one In control of their own POV and their marriage and romantic missteps with guest stars.

The film seems to want to be ambitious but leaves itself hard to grade as it comes across more as an art installation rather than a film. 

TO THE WONDER was his last most consistent film.  As it seems the most focused 

This ends up as A long movie that feels longer than it is and monotonous 

It seems like Michael Fassbender’s character is a music manager who is in love with Rooney mara’s character, who works for him and is mildly in the know but once she falls in love with Ryan gosling’s character. At first, she still cheats with Fassbender. Then once she stops, Fassbender meets and marries shortly afterward a waitress he picks up quickly. Where it is all love at first then they start to sleep around. Until she has a romantic liaison and he gets her into drugs and groupies 

Then His wife dies and Mara’s character is with gosling. But he seems to still have feelings for his ex and they break up. Once he finds out Rooney had an affair. She signs with Fassbender and then has a same-sex relationship. Gosling moves home to be around family and falls for Cate Blanchett who no one seems to think is good for him. So it continuously plays with this melodrama. 

This is one of these Films where you find yourself constantly checking the time where it’s headed and shocked it’s not over yet. 

A film that might be smarter than the audience. It is also a film that wants the audience To Interpret it all rather than explain. which can equal big filmmaking wishes handled by a true artist or someone who knows what they are doing.

He sets himself apart as Brave. Most filmmakers choose to have the audience interpret relationships or endings or characters. 

Whereas by the end explaining the plot/story is simple as there is so little of it. It whereas it is started out with visuals montages narration poetry, but barely any music which the title suggests there should be more of some 

It all feels Pretentious where One might wonder if the director had a script as it feels like there is none and they are making it up as they go along at the location and trying to fit it all In

In the end, the film doesn’t offer as much music as expected 

Grade: C


Directed By: Robin Campillo

Written By: Robin Canpillo & Philippe Mangeot Cinematography: Jeanne Lapoirie

Editor: Robin Campillo, Stephanie Lager & Anita Roth

Cast: Nahuel Perez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Felix Maritaud, Adele Haenel, Ariel Borebstein, Antoine Reinartz, Aloise Sauvage 

The early 1990s. With AIDS having already claimed countless lives for nearly ten years, Act up-Paris activists multiply actions to fight general indifference. Nathan, a newcomer to the group, has his world shaken up by Sean, a radical militant, who throws his last bits of strength into the struggle.

This film presents a Strong subject and story based on historical facts. As we learn about the early efforts of ACT-UP and what they were facing off against. At least the french chapter. That was similar to the US chapters efforts 

This film feels like a miniseries done in two hours. It is a very trying and powerful movie. That is as much a drama, as a history lesson in itself told more from the radicals Point of view. Rather than a white-washed film where they make the owners that be the heroes.

The film shows that if not for the efforts of the LGBTQ community at the time. The progress for national attention and treatment would have been slower if ever even developed.

This is more than just a movie about the subject or a disease Movie. The narrative here is more of an ensemble but it is also strong.

The film is designed more as a docudrama without so much handheld camera work, but still, you feel like a Participant and witness. As we see the movement from the inside out. As well as slowly get to know abs see the personal lives of the characters. Which allows the film to be more intimate.

The film focuses on a relationship more or less and its development. That is connected to the modern era of the group in various ways. While also showing us the evolution of the group. That helps us in the audience connect to the characters. Through this process, the film reveals events and situations dramatically and still manages to be shocking at times with its revelations.

So much material and information to cover here that it feels like a dramatized documentary that gets more personal. As some of the characters, we get to know each other deeper and stand out. Even as each character is important in their own way as part of the coalition.

This is just one of those films you can lose yourself in and by the end or realize how much time has passed but definitely feel like you have been through a journey. As this is a film mroe of experience where you feel like a fly in the wall. As the film takes over.

You just watch as it tells it’s take abd unfolds a large story like a book.

As all around the filmmmaking and cast are great not a weak link . No one drops the ball. As the film and tale are emotionally penetrating and the characters are portrayed as callable and not saints.

It’s one of these perfect movies into a culture and history one was not formed upon. Like the French film THE CLASS by Laurent Cantet only that was like this film a look into a social issue and the characters involved that offers no answers. Only this tale is based more on fact and events that actually happens

This is a film that has to be seen. As it dreams you in and offers you education and an experience. 

Grade: A

TRIPLE 9 (2017)

Directed By: John Hillcoat 
Written By: Matt Cook 
Cinematography By: Nicolas Karakatsanis 
Editor: Dylan Tichenor 

Cast: Chiwetel Ejofer, Casey Affleck, Norman Reedus, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Woody Harrelson, Clifton Collins Jr., Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer, Michael K. Williams, Michelle Ang, E. Roger Mitchell 

A crew of dirty cops are blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist. The only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for “officer down”. Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck, action-packed finale filled with double-crosses, greed and revenge.

The film feels like the story should have added up to something bigger and more meaningful. Like how each character was a puzzle piece as we wait to see how eventually they will all fit together. This is clearly a manly man film that drips of machismo though for all of it’s toughness it does take time to actually show the complexities of the situations they have found themselves in. As this is a heist film beautifully filmed but feels like a typical caper film only done more slowly and supposedly intricately. As the crew seems more forced and involves working for the Russian mob.

The film Doesn’t really highlight or fetishize the heists as much as other films. Here it is more done matter of fact. This film seems to care more about the characters involved.

The film doesn’t even seem too involved in what was the initial hook of the film. Where the cops in order to pull off a robbery plan on killing a fellow cop to distract all other police from them Pulling off a heist. Though with so many things going on in the film that all Lead to one another eventually and come to a head. Seems more realistic but also makes everything on the same level and never really that high up.

Even though most of the time it seems Chiwetel Ejofer as well as a few other characters seem to constantly be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Where it also seems the people who put them up for these robberies want them To fail as their actions seem to more sabotage them.

While the film comes off as more of an ensemble film. It also leaves a bunch of premonitions in certain characters words and actions and also while taking place in Atlanta’s it is unfortunate that while the film gives the most of characters a certain humanity. It also has most of the minority characters be criminals not necessarily evil but they seem more subordinate and characterized as the bad guys. Where as the more heroic characters of which there are only really 2 are both Caucasian though Woody Harrelson’s character isn’t the most moral he is seen as one of the good guys.

The film never truly explains the relationship between Chiwetel Ejofer and Gal Gadot’s Characters since they have a child but are they still together. Is she being dangled in front of him by her sister. Are they seperated?

Kate Winslet seems to let her outfits and make up do most of the work as she is given less to do and more exists as a presence, but clearly is having fun vamping it up more or less. She seems to be slumming here or more like a case of stunt casting. Replacing Cate Blanchett

The film stays within the films of director John Hillcoat’s usual films with pitch black stories and violent ends with characters who lore or less feel loved in. As next to LAWLESS, this is probably his most commercial film. He tends to make films that are more filled with agressions and machismo real manly men type films.

This film feels longer than it should and could easily have been shortened. As it feels like a film full of character and characters who get short changed more due to plot mechanics that while introduced in a different way feel way too familiar. The double crosses are expected but the triple crosses feel unexpected.

Woody Harrelson has fun with his role as a detective who while is no stranger to bending the rules he still manages to be a strong moral character. As he seems to have let the job get to him. Though as a veteran he also treats it more trivially. Replacing Jeff Bridges.

Casey Affleck as the new guy comes off on bit is handed a kind of bland good cop character. He was actually cast after both Shia Lebouf, Chris Pine and Charlie Hunnam dropped out of the film.

The film tries to be more about mood and atmosphere but never comes off that strong nor does it ever seem to find that right tone. As it almost tries to come off as a modern-day western but not one where you are expecting the gunfights. One that is more about bravery and strength of moral and character not to mention loyalty

Grade: C


Director: Michael Cuesta 
Written By: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz 
Based On The Novel By: Vince Flynn 
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak 
Editor: Conrad Buff IV 

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanna Lathan, Taylor Kitsch, Scott Adkins, Charlotte Vega, David Suchet, Shiva Negar 

Twenty three-year-old Mitch lost his parents to a tragic car accident at the age of fourteen, and his girlfriend to a terrorist attack just as they were engaged. Seeking revenge, he is enlisted by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy as a black ops recruit. Kennedy then assigns Cold War veteran Stan Hurley to train Mitch. Together they will later on investigate a wave of apparently random attacks on military and civilian targets. The discovery of a pattern in the violence leads them to a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent to stop a mysterious operative intent on starting a world war in the Middle East.

Director Michael Cuesta has come along way since his debut films L.I.E. And 12 & HOLDING. He has proved himself to be a journeyman director. As he has come from coming of age independent films to studio dramas and nor a full fledged action film. His first which seems to try to become a franchise but works as a one off also.

The film was being planned for a while as quite a few directors were attached such as Ed Zwick, Antoine Fuqua and Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Just as many actors were either offered or considered for the leading role such as Chris Hemsworth, Colin Ferrell, Matthew Fox and Gerard Butler.

The films action sequences are serviceable. They just seem to be violent more in one on one encounters. As the scenes try to be more intimate in the violence but feel broad. As the film truly wants to show blood and guts. So that it plays more like an 1980’a type action film starring an actor you wouldn’t think of or consider for this type of film. Played by Dylan O’Brien Which is what might make his character easy to underestimate or even suspect.

Equally impressive is knowing what the star Dylan O’Brien went through in real life to make a come back the screen in an action film. With plenty of stunts. After suffering a war fatal accident on another movie that left him hospitalized for quite a while.

The film is a mix of espionage and revenge thriller. No one nor any of the story truly makes too much of an impact as the movie pretty much plays by the numbers.

The film has female characters who are all attractive but really have nothing to besides that. They give one character an action sequence where she loses the battle and Saana Lathan’s character while one of the authority figures is only there to authorize and put plans together.

This film is pure action with little to no sex and seduction. Though the film does involve a gory torture scene that was too much for me.

Taylor Kitsch as the villain unfortunately has no presence his character is vague and never quite makes an impression and feels very non descriptive. Though he does take his shirt off a lot. Which weakens the film as then it feels like a battle of the heartthrobs. The tough sensitive one and the bad boy. Which then makes it seem more intended for teenage girls. 

Scott Adkins in a supporting role only seem to be late for scenes meant to show us how tough our lead is going toe to toe, skill to skill with him. Where as if that was what is supposed to be meant. Why not just make him the villain? Then again it seems best to have the heartthrobs against each other in the ends for a more violent tiger beat magazine stand off where only one can survive. 

Michael Keaton seem here for star power more than anything. Also to maybe create an iconic mentor for the main character. As he is believable but deserves better. He replaced Bruce Willis who dropped out.

The main character has nothing and no one to tie him down or wonder what happened to him. Which seems more convenient while trying to infuse his characters loneliness and why having someone taken away from him matters so deeply. Though he does live off a inheritance which also seems to be a huge convenience. That seems to give him a Batman type scenario only with taking down terrorist for the government.

Grade: C


Directed By: Baran Bo Odar
Written By: Andrea Berloff 
Based in the film “NUIT BLANCHE” Written by: Frederic Jardin, Nicolas Saada & Olivier Douyere 
Cinematography: Mirai Malaimaire Jr.
Editor: Robert Rzesacz

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney Jr., Scoot Mcnairy, Tip T.I. Harris, David Harbour, Gabrielle Union 

Undercover Las Vegas police officer Vincent Downs finds himself trapped in a web of corrupt cops, internal affairs and violent gangsters. When a failed heist leads to the kidnapping of his son, Downs must race against time during an intense and restless night to save him and bring the criminals to justice.

I can admit this film already seemed D.O.A. When the trailers for the film hit. As nothing in the trailer came across as new or even exciting and watching the film it pretty much felt the same. While plenty of things happen on screen and in the story. It still all feels basic and familiar and the film, not performances add any excitement to it.

I will admit I liked the French original version of this film SLEEPLESS NIGHTS very much, but in the American translation, a lot of fresh and maybe foreign cultural elements are dropped. Making the film come across as more of a big-budgeted longer episode of a police procedural. 

As the original film Offered complications that felt essential and consequential. Here the film just seems to throw complications that seem more here to be filler than anything. Else 

Scoot McNairy’s villain is the only memorable thing in the whole film. Who would have been great in a better movie? 

The film feels like for a recognizable cast who do try there is really Little effort put into the film at all to feel special or set itself apart. So that by the end it feels basic yet disappointing. Which is a shame as Jamie Foxx has proven to be a versatile and charismatic actor who can be funny, dramatic and tough when he needs to be and this film offers only the later but like most of the roles. Never feels specific enough to their talents so that virtually anyone could have played these roles.

The only Element that felt somewhat exciting was the ending that leaves room for a sequel or alludes to an even bigger conspiracy. 

This just feels like a lost opportunity. Where all this film seems to offer is more a stylish music video technique to the story without really adding anything worthy dramatically or even character-wise. 

It just simply he’s out all the originality out of the original. Truly making this a Hollywood byproduct. If anything it feels like an audition for the director to show what he can do with so little. 

Grade: F

THE HOUSE (2017)

Directed By: Andrew Jay Cohen
Written By: Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O’Brien
Cinematography By: Jas Shelton
Editor: Evan Henke & Michael L. Sale

Cast: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzounkas, Nick Kroll, Lennon Parham, Randall Park, Rob Huebel, Andrea Savage, Steve Zissis, Ryan Simpkins, Allison Tolman, Rory Scovel, Cedric Yarbrough, Kyle Kinane, Michela Watkins, Jeremy Renner, Sam Richardson, Wayne Federman, Andy Buckley, Jessica St. Clair 

After the town scholarship program no longer has funding, two parents are left without money to send their daughter to university. Left without any other options, they along with a friend, start an illegal casino in his home to make cash before the summer ends.

This seems like a more packaged film where the studio hoped all the comedic stars would help illuminate the script with improv

The problem is that the film is filled with notable comedic stars who really are given little to do. So they are mainly just doing what is required

It also feels more like the stars are wacky to be wacky, they seem more on autopilot. Acting crazy and wacky but for no real reason except the script tells them too. It would help if the characters started off on a normal playing Field and started going crazy due to pressure, but they are pretty much the same beginning to the end.

Maybe as the film doesn’t offer anything challenging or new for the lead actors. Who we have gotten used to at this point. It doesn’t seem a stretch. It also doesn’t feel up to the quality of the heights that we have seen them do before. So it’s disappointing in both ways.

There aren’t many strong visual choices either. So the style of the film feels slapdash instead of composed.

Understandably this is a studio comedy but seems so outlandish and far-fetched. even if that seems to be the point. While trying to make the characters somewhat identifiable.

Not distinct enough to be memorable characters. They just seem borderline off the assembly like and given not only comedic personas but also just weird afflictions instead of quirks. This idea seems like it would be better on paper or as an idea. Rather than a barely 90-minute movie.

The film doesn’t wait to really begin with it’s premise. So we are off to the races immediately. So that we don’t really notice too. If a change when it comes to the characters. There are some chuckles and inspired bits of comedy and scenes.

Though really the film’s humor is in watching adults act like teenagers at a keg party with gambling. Borrowing heavily from shows like BREAKING BAD, as far as older characters who do illegal activities to help pay for their kid’s education and helps the other character loosen up. While also having allusions to many gangster movies and television shows

This is a film Where all the comedic actors even to be trying to go over the top and outdo one another not so much out of the competition but just to be noticed. Especially when they are given so little to do.

While the stars don’t seem to be trying hard enough as they aren’t really characters as they keep making such rash decisions and jumping around in emotions and behavior that it seems more put on the. Believable I know this isn’t the film you go into for rational thought, but it still seems haphazard

The film lacks a proper villain. So it tries to come up with a few. Who are just as easily eliminated as they are Introduced. In fact, the one who lasts the longest is the most wearily but easily to see conquer by and never comes off as a real threat.

Jason Mantzounkas is entertaining and one of the only enjoyable elements of this film, but also he is playing the type of role he has done before. If anything this character is more honorable there the ones he usually plays.

The film feels like fast food as it is digestible and offers a quick fix as far as entertainment but not necessarily healthy. Usually, fast food tastes great, but this is more fast food that is ok. So that once it is over your fix is satiated but you will have indigestion as you are pretty much paying for it.

Which the film wouldn’t feel as disappointing if one didn’t have to pay for it, but it feels like for the money you pay they might try, but it feels fairly standard and like a rip off of sorts. As there seems to be little effort put into it. You know what you are going to get but you still expect more and better.

Grade: C-


Written & Directed By: Edgar Wright 
Cinematography By: Bill Pope 
Editor: Jonathan Amos & Paul Machliss 

Cast: Ansel Egort, Lilly James, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Bernthal, Sky Ferreira, Paul Williams, Flea, CJ Jones

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

I Can’t say enough good things about this movie. Apparently, I drank it’s kool-aid and found it quite refreshing.

The film surprises, Every time Edgar Wright makes a movie it feels like a gift. Usually, it seems as it takes too long to get to us. Though it is always worth it. It gives us a glimpse of his creative imagination and skill. Even with high hopes always seem to underestimate him. The movie is quite a ride. Like a roller coaster that you never want to leave. Perfect for the summer or anytime. The movie has style for days and most of all just plain fun and never in a stupid way.

The film keeps up energy that is Infectious for the audiences. It’s a film that has a fun personality and doesn’t have to do too much to charm.

The film maintains an excitement throughout which the audience feeds off of and feels a similar excitement throughout. Which are a difficult thing to do these days as in blockbusters and films things seem so routine and planned out. That the filmmakers seem to be all over the place. Here it feels like the filmmakers and cast are constantly energized by one another and even if not necessarily personal the film feels like there was a lot of passion going into it.  

It also is nice to see the film allows for homages and references to other films and pop culture. That won’t date the film necessarily but gives it more of a modern in the moment flavor.

Like how he obscures the violence while you feel the impact. Through clever framing and blocking. There are three-way chase sequences. Where the criminals are running from the cops then not trusting one another start running away from one another and trying to catch each other realizing the other has what they need

The film includes bad guys choosing to be humane, Good guys choosing to be bad. Action sequences that don’t rely so much on fighting hand to hand combat or toughness but agility and having peace of mind to figure your way out.

The film includes a love story that keeps it’s purity because the romance is never really consummated. So that it keeps an innocence but feels kind of melodramatic like a teen film from the 1950s with dreams of hitting the open road together. Maybe as the romance is so simple, sweet, and easy. Really built off of. Itching but attraction and politeness. That it feels like first love and making a connection. Something that at first is never complicated or at least it doesn’t seem that way. Though through the actions of the films proves that each of them truly rides or die for one another.

Like a comic book come to life. It knows what type of film it is and as long as you keep that in mind you should enjoy it. As it incorporates many little left turns of genre specifics into it’s crime and love story. It feels like a candy-sweet and filled with sugar that energizes you. As well as being that colorful. It Manages to keep an innocence and wonder, That keeps you caring.

The film manages to be thrilling and menacing in the right moments. So that you are on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen. So much effortless style that you can feel it but don’t realize how remarkable it is until later on thinking back about it and, you will trust me.

The movie lacks a certain depth and sustenance, but that is truly one of it’s few weaknesses overall. Which aren’t necessarily needed in this equation.

The lead played by Ansel Egort is kind of bland, but he needs to be as usually the main characters in these types of films are the strong silent type where you can easily read whatever you want into them. Here we are given more of his backstory, but the role seems to more take advantage of Ansel Egort physically as he is skinny and limber with a bay face. That is easy to mold him into whatever you need out of a leading man.

One of the reasons for the enjoyment of the film is the supporting characters who liven up the film and add flavor where the lead does not and really can’t as his character is pretty plain and simple. He is mostly driven towards newfound goals. Though there is a reason why Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx are in the movie. Whereas at first they just seem to be there to be named on the posters and big names who do nothing, but as the film goes along we see why they are in the film and are more than the unassuming roles we bought at first. They each get to reveal more about them than we originally thought. Not necessarily surprises but they liven up the film. To be more than just cops and robbers.

The big-name supporting stars are a revelation as at first they seem just there to be part of the background then they come out and show what they are truly all about. I mean this is a film where you have two Best Actor Oscar winners playing supporting roles. So there must be something about the script and film that got them to sign on in a diminished capacity (Yes I know they both were in the disappointing HORRIBLE BOSSES too. though I will think of that as more paycheck roles. Not so much here)

Jamie Foxx is memorable as an over the edge criminal who is antagonistic as he trusts no one. It seems with each crew baby works with there is one. Who more or less helps with the exposition.

Jon Hamm, seems a simple happy go, lucky thug, who comes out late in the film letting his inner psychopath out in search of revenge and retribution. He also has a certain bad boy handsome here. That makes him more a dangerous lady killer than just the usual leading man

Eiza Gonzalez is more the sexy wildfire who is both sexy and deadly but carries a kind of a mystery to her and proves to be more than what she looks like or what you would expect. though not featured too much she is a. Ice price of eye candy to go with the visuals.

Even Kevin Spacey is off the charts as the mastermind. Here he is more. Noteworthy for his middle-class menace where he can compliment and threaten in one sentence but you know he is never lying. We are used to him being the smartest person in the room and acting like he is above everyone else, but the last act moment truly shines his character in a different light. His upper-crust was doesn’t seem out of place. Nor does it distract or obstruct the flow of his character or the movie. If anything it helps feed it.

What is fun is that the villains or at least the threats to our young protagonist keep changing hands. As to who he has to be afraid of or see as a major threat and maybe overcome.

Now know this film is candy-colored and visceral with it’s excitement and shots. In the texture of course it never becomes as serious or as accomplished as films like DRIVE, THE DRIVER, and BULLIT. Though it does align itself as more of a lighter-toned chase film. It does have it’s own personality and identity. Though you would also check out those films to see where Edgar Wright might have gotten his inspiration. He even gives DRIVER director Walter Hill a cameo in the film. (Among other blink and you miss them cameos from Rappers Big Boi and Killer Mike)

Edgar Wright timed the character’s movements to the beat of the film’s songs. Even in the film’s credit sequence which is done all in one continuous tracking shot and take.

The film comes off as a nice movie that offers more of a lite touch. Though with humor and adrenaline-filled action scenes. That hardcore movie fans can enjoy for it’s more technical aspects and general audience members can enjoy as a fun action film. That is many things at once. As it pays homage to many films and genres which will seem familiar for many but new for some. One of them is a Teenage 1950’s film with diners and car racing and a love story in the middle with plans of running away together.

The soundtrack is the heartbeat for the film and the characters bot only the lead using it to fuel himself up. But also keeps the film moving. Along and on best and keeping the audience energized and going with it. Filling us with excitement and energy as well as adding some songs to our repertoire or recalling ones we think we know. As the cuts here are mostly deep ones

The film is wall to wall with music on it’s soundtrack that partially powers or motivates the protagonist due to a disability but also livens up the scenes making it feel like most of us have always wanted a soundtrack to go with our lives and actions. Sometimes with a popular song but mostly with something a little less unknown and obscure but fits the mood.

The film shows us this early in an inventive credit sequence and also in introducing us to the characters and situation in the opening scene. That allows for action but also alerts us to the character’s youth and sense of play in a tight situation. Which gives us a remembrance of the possibilities of youth? When you might never have known better about the dangers and situations you were facing. Even if you knew they were serious.

The film is lighter in touch than some more harder action movies which is part of the charm and broader appeal. 

For some they might find it too lighthearted or not enough substance and a general lack of action or even gunplay which might take them out of the film or find the film feeling like it is trying to hard to be cool. 

While it is a great film. It is also a film I can see younger people loving as it moves fast and really barely has anything offensive. Anything that does is on the edges and more due to language. So this is one of those movies I believe most ages can enjoy for the most part.

Another thing to admire about the film is that in these days of films filled with special effects for the smallest things. The director revealed that there was no CGI or green screen used to film the car chase sequences. The driving is all practically done.

It’s nice to see a film that is smaller budgeted and put out by a studio that is as exciting and fulfilling as the bigger budget blockbusters

Grade: A-

PATTI CAKE$ (2017)

Written & Directed By: Geremy Jasper
Cinematography By: Federico Cesca
Editor: Brad Turner
Music By: Geremy Jasper & Jason Binnick

Cast: Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Cathy Moriarty, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, MC Lyte

PATTI CAKE$ is centered on aspiring rapper Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, who is fighting an unlikely quest for glory in her downtrodden hometown in New Jersey.

I remember in the past where a movie like this that was a hit at Sundance and had a strong word of mouth from critics would do respectable business after being gobbled up by an independent studio and be well placed. As well as given a lot of exposure and publicity.

This film just seems to be put out at random to little and no fanfare. Not even playing in the usual art houses (at least as far as New York goes)

It’s a shame as this movie is a strong crowd-pleaser. That has heavy mainstream appeal. That I am shocked it wasn’t promoted more. As it doesn’t seem to be a hard sell as some independent films of its ilk might be.

The film is predictable and plays like 8 MILE only a little lighter in theme and not quite as serious. Though it does have a white female who dreams of being a rapper.

What the film does right is that it fills the film with reality but also adds in the absurdities that even when down and depressing it adds humor and a lightness of mood.

The characters are all outcasts in their own way. Especially from what is expected of them. With a positive comedic middle eastern hype man. Who works for a pharmacy by day and is a weed smoker. A producer who is a black goth and musician. The main character is an overweight bartender rapper on the search for a permanent job. To help pay the bills at home as well as help pay the medical bills for her grandmother (played by an unrecognizable Cathy Moriarty) meanwhile having to deal with a mother who was a wannabe singer and is now a lush who sings at karaoke and slides up to any man who treats her nicely.

So as you can see the cast is diverse and plays to a wide audience. Mainly anyone who feels different or ostracized. That makes the film kind of empowering.

You know where the film will end up and that victory of some kind is inevitable. Though the film has something to say about struggle, artistry, and talent.

The filmmaking isn’t awe-inspiring but it is solid. Watching the journey is fun if at times rough. But the film is rough around the edges but always has a sweetness. Even when the film chooses to be cruel or bitter to the characters at times.

The ensemble is strong, though it is rounded by a good performance by Bridget Everett as her alcoholic mother. Who is convinced sex appeal always works. Watching her here especially if you ever get to see her one-woman cabaret show is a marvel. As is the performance by the lead actress Danielle Macdonald who is actually Australian but gives off a flawless jersey accent. She had to learn to rap and master the New Jersey accent for her role. Though the writer-director wrote all the rap lyrics

The films cast being so diverse adds to the eclectic quality of the movie and its soundtrack. As well as acknowledging that most communities in society intersect.

The film does bring up race in a few scenes and even explores how real she is or isn’t in a scene with her idol a legendary hip hop record producer who tells her about realness and commodification of a race and it’s culture. So these films at least go there and acknowledge it.

The question of cultural appropriation does come up. More as an accusation from a person of color tho at first was an inspiration then drawn more to represent a villain or at least an adversary. Now by putting that opinion into a character who ends up representing bad is already bias especially when This film is written and directed by a caucasian. Making it even more questionable by kind of dismissing the idea and even more villainizibg The person go color for stating it.

The film already makes one question that invisibly this is a story about overcoming fear and following your dream a kind of rags to riches story that covers an overweight white girl and making herself feel good and overcoming her problems but the question remains would an audience or even critics like it feel the same way if the film was about an overweight African American female or would it be seen as familiar or typical. Would there be an interest or audience?

This is a film definitely worth your time. Though it will seem a bit familiar. Just as it is following a trend I am a fan of and hope to see more of, having more coming of age, uplifting stories about women and not being about romantic relationships. More films about empowering themselves and following their dreams with very little sex involved. Not tom mention a great soundtrack

Grade: B-


Written & Directed By: Kris Avedisian 
Story By: Kris Avedisian, Jesse Wakeman & Kyle Espelata 
Cinematography By: Sam Flesichner 

Cast: Kris Avedisian, Jesse Wakeman, Louisa Krause, Ted Arcidi, Shawn Contois 
With the sudden passing of his grandmother, Peter Latang returns to his hometown and encounters his long lost, childhood friend, Donald Treebeck. What begins as a simple favor, turns into a long day’s journey into the past.

I will say that this film isn’t for everyone.

Making and distribution of this movie funded through the website, Kickstarter.

As it is very low budget and seems more like a labor of love and a kind of semi-autobiographical cal story that feels like a kind of therapy or expression of what could have been.

This is a film that will easily be overlooked, it’s worth it if you take your time to discover it.

The cartoonish appearance of one of the characters prepares you to expect one type of story but delivers another. Almost like a bait and switch.

The director stars in the film and wrote the film. His co-star in the film who plays his friend is also the co-writer of the film.

It’s a comedy of sadness that feels at home in despair. That comes off depressing to a degree. That shows how some people grow and some don’t. Who seen stuck in arrested development. To when they had their heydays and as the world matures they still seem to stay the same.

Here a character comes back to his hometown to bury his grandmother and take care of her estate and rubs into an old friend and while definitely changed he can’t seem to shake this friend and the longer he is around him find himself reverting to his old ways. Even though we are never completely told we find out so much about their past through stories and other characters. Gradually over the 24 hours they spend together. It appears both have some anger issues towards one another and in general.

The film generally stays awkward and uncomfortable throughout. With both characters not particularly likeable though whenever you want to feel sorry for them. Something happens that brings them back to being unlikable. Maybe then it is more understandable what makes them that way.

The film is very revealing with an intimacy that is not that intricate, but is affecting. As it seems like both characters are sensitive and working through issues but constantly pushing them to the side or deflecting. That makes the film feel like they are both having a one-man show. Working through the pain only more encompassing and interacting. Though Donald clearly cherished this friendship and that they were close when others recollect it seems that his friend was kind of cruel to him and used him. Which is why Donald who seems to dress more like a comedic character who looks like he belongs in NAPOLEON DYNAMITE

How hard it is to communicate feelings as a man to another man. Especially when you have grown up and grown apart. That asks what if you were only friends die to location and necessity. Seeing other characters from their Youth move on or marvel at how stuck they seem or how some have moved forward. They don’t necessarily fit into each other lives now, but always have a bond and feeling for one another. Are friends for the past entitled to you and your feelings? Are you supposed to be on their side? I matter what? The film explores how friendships can evolve like relationships. How they can be manipulative and disintegrate.

The past can be subjective. You can look at it as positive, but once confronted the truth comes to light and you realize you weren’t as good and heroic as you once thought.

It even seems to have a moment of easy temptation that seems like selling out of sorts.

The film affected me. As it might have hit too close to a nerve for me. Though the film also feels like a kind of release for the characters and the audience finally by the end.

Going back to a past you hoped would stay that way and becomes  a comedy of layers


FLOWER (2017)

Directed by: Max Winkler
Story by: Alex McAuley
Written By: Max Winkler, Alex McAuley & Matt Spicer
Cinematography: Carolina Costa
Editor: Jeff Seiben & Sarah Beth Shapiro

Cast: Zoey Deutch, Joey Morgan, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker, Adam Scott, Dylan Gelula, Maya Eshat, Eric Edelstein

A sexually curious teen forms an unorthodox kinship with her mentally unstable stepbrother.

Though the story focuses on a teenage girl. This still reeks of a kind of romantic fantasy that throws in some quirks but then some hard-hitting subject matter and scenes, but then tries to get off on a certain crude charm and edge.

As we are supposed to follow the teen characters more and be compelled yet the fil keeps wanting to remind us though they are doing serious actions. They don’t know any better or think about the consequences they are just kids.

While the ending is sweet, it also feels more like wish fulfillment. Which goes against the whole vibe the film seems headed towards. Even with its quirky quality realism.

Especially when it asks you to believe that it ends up as a love story after all of a sudden between two characters you wouldn’t expect.

We never fully understand somewhat, what makes the main character work. Though she still comes off as a kind of fantasy. quirky, cute, with daddy issues, and overtly sexual as she likes giving oral sex and seems to constantly offer it. As even the first scene we see her in the middle of it. Yet dresses like a tomboy. She is a teenage manic pixie dream girl only here the protagonist. She is the main character who doesn’t know any better that she needs to be saved. She thinks she is the one who is helping.

Luckily she is played by Zoey Deutch who shines in the role and always feels believable. One of her first leading roles and she goes through it with flying colors as she stays believable. While being relatable and a comedic character of sorts.

Adam Scott provides great shades to his character where you find him charming and angry enough to believe he is an innocent man railroaded but at other times white devious looking enough to believe maybe he is guilty. So a nice guy bad boy charm. Who should know better than to be hanging around with a teenage girl after what he has been accused of. At first, he seems like a viable inappropriate love interest as they bond but a nice guy none the less, but at every turn, there is a question as his shifting behavior doesn’t help. 

The movie was filmed for half a million and filmed In 17 days. This is impressive in fact a return for writer/Director Max Winkler his first since 2010’s CEREMONY. His films are usually

Dramatic and fun comedically quirky with some artistic merit. As they are inventive only wish he made more of them. When not being a successful television director. Didn’t even know he had made it until the end credits.

The film is smart in having a vision and matching it with a laid back California vibe. Definitely a geek fantasy of sorts.