CHERRY (2021)

Directed by: Joe Russo & Anthony Russo 
Written By: Jessica Goldenberg & Angela Russo-Otstot 
Based On The Novel By: Nico Walker 
Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Editor: Jeff Groth

Cast: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Forrest Goodluck, Jeff Wahlberg, Michael Rispoli, Michael Gandolfini, Damon Wayans Jr. Kelli Burland, Daniel R. Hill, Pooch Hall, Thomas Lennon

Cherry drifts from college dropout to army medic in Iraq – anchored only by his true love, Emily. But after returning from the war with PTSD, his life spirals into drugs and crime as he struggles to find his place in the world.


It might be that one really wanted this film to succeed. As it is the first film for the Russo brothers directing after THE AVENGERS  movies and a starring role for Tom Holland in a more dramatic role. Not to mention actress Ciara Bravo in a leading female role after the streaming Series WAYNE was unfortunately canceled before it’s time and she was so good on it. That the film’s problems might’ve taken a little more personal. 

While I never read the book. I know it was critically acclaimed and had its fair share of fans. 

This is a clear case of style over substance. As the film gives us a story adapted from the book of the same name.

Though throughout the film flirts with so many different genres a mind types that it never has time to settle into any of them flirting but never quite sealing the deal. As they are just escapades that help us get to the next part of the story.

The film mainly revolves around two characters and at heart is a love story of two people trying to find themselves in one another. While dealing with constant mistakes that seem to get bigger whenever trying to solve the last problem.

It is also a drug addiction story. While the two leads are capable Tom Holland and Ciara bravo they look so young which might be the age of the characters, but they look Ike they are playing dress-up half the time. Especially as their characters get older and for Tom Holland especially the later scenes where he grows a mustache Looks more like make-up than a naturally grown character. Though Ciara bravo tries very hard with her character. Her more adult scenes just never hit home. As she is a good actress.

When it comes to the direction of the film. It is overly stylized which can be appreciated when done with just enough panache. The problem here though is that the story never quite earns it so it usually feels over the top. Though it does give the film an operatic presentation. It feels overdone and at times like it is taking suggestions from other films but is never quite as sharp as those other films. So that even in some scripted scenes that are more comedic it still falls flat.

Even as it tries to base itself on the book and present each new time period in their lives as a new or different chapter. Trying to elevate the material higher.

Even the bank robbery scene has no flair. We get that they are trying to show it’s not like the movies are glamorous or necessarily well thought out, but they just feel lifeless. As the film goes on everything feels familiar but the film keeps trying to present it in a different way that ends up going overboard and not actually adding anything to the overall experience or film. Be

The film seems to go out of its way to show that life isn’t fair as the good moral characters have a way of always having hardships or dying. While the characters who showcase bad moral behavior sometimes are punished but at other times seem to succeed or at least survive. At least In our time with them.

One of the problems is that throughout the movie the scenes feel melodramatic and examples of emotional beats you have seen done bigger and better and more deserved in Other films. Making the film again feel like it is more trying to be like films of this type instead of just being itself. It’s let’s put on a show rather than let’s stay true and tell a story.

It’s not a bad film but like the main character, it feels full of ambition but never quite makes it to where it wants to go or wants to be. Though it is a nice try. It ends up feeling like it is trying to show off to prove it belongs and in doing so showcases why it doesn’t.

It might be that the film feels more like a dramatic graphic novel with its style and with the filmmakers behind it. It just feels like a movie of moments that might have been handled better emotionally,  gritty and dramatic rather than grand and so visual and surreal. 

There is a plan here it just doesn’t match the story or material 

It’s an interesting try that in the end doesn’t quite stick to the landing. By the end, you have a film that will keep your interest but you might not have anything to really grab onto to remember or even truly feel.

Grade: C

GALVESTON (2018)

Directed By: Melanie Laurent 
Written by: Nic Pizzolatto 
Based On The Novel By: Nic Pizzolatto
Cinematography: Arnaud Potier 
Editor: Joseph Krings 

Cast: Ben Foster, Elle Fanning, Beau Bridges, Maria Valverde, Lili Reinhart, Jeffrey Grover, Christopher Amitrano

Debt collector Roy is a heavy-drinking criminal enforcer and mob hitman whose boss set him up in a double-cross scheme. After killing his would-be assassins, Roy discovers Rocky, a young woman being held captive, and reluctantly takes her with him on his escape. Determined to find safety and sanctuary in Galveston, Roy must find a way to stop his boss from pursuing them while trying to outrun the demons from his and Rocky’s pasts.


From the writer of TRUE DETECTIVE based on his novel. It’s just as down and dirty as the show. Only here no mysticism. It does show how certain things affect another. Though this is more a character study of the two leads. Only we seem more from their actions rather than from what they say. 

Melanie Laurent the french actress directs this movie. That is grimy yet has a golden sheen around it. Where it seems like the film takes great joy in not only seeing more sides of life.

Trying to give definition and be emphasized as being more real. Seeming to try and give the Film a street quality. Everything including the actions seems dirtier than needed. It definitely has a lived In quality, especially with a cast of unrecognizable actors. 

Ben Foster usually is great in whatever he is in and gives another great performance. He Keeps you mesmerized as you watch him. At times, you feel you have him figured out only to surprise you but he always feels natural. Even when he makes decisions that leading characters rarely do. 

The film is never happy, it seems like it’s trying to bathe itself In Dirt and unhappiness.

Letting you know nothing will be easy. The world the film creates is cruel with no victories, even so, the tragedy you know will eventually come. Still feels like a gut punch.

A pulp story told through two characters who are thrown together by chance and it seems each step to the way they dig themselves deeper while trying. To keep a low profile. Through this time they bond and grow closer. They have a relationship even if it is not romantic. They form A bond and kind of family. 

Even as throughout you can feel this Inching towards tragedy and it is rare anything happy or nice happens 

This is the first truly adult role Elle Fanning has played. As she always seems to work keeping busy. Here she plays a younger character. She feels real and lived in. It never feels like she is coasting and for such a character who hasn’t had a hard life seems a little innocent and happy go lucky. 

The film is strong even if at times it does feel like it is trying too hard. 

Grade: B-

RIVER OF GRASS (1994)

Written & Directed By: Kelly Reichardt
Story By: Jesse Hartman 
Cinematography: Jim Denault 
Editor: Larry Fessenden 

Cast: Lisa Bowman, Larry Fessenden, Dick Russell, Stan Kaplan, Michael Buscemi 

Cozy, a dissatisfied housewife, meets Lee at a bar. A drink turns into a home break-in, and a gunshot sends them on the run together, thinking they’ve committed murder.


This film is about a wanna Bonnie & Clyde. A makeshift couple on the run that is never romantic or lustful. 

The film starts off well and feels inventive and tells the story fast and vividly. Introducing us to the characters and their motivations. as even the small details help set up the main Characters and offer spontaneity in their day-to-day supposedly mundane lives. 

As it feels random at first. But the film catches up with that. As the story goes along we see how everything becomes connected and in this small town in Florida. They are literally passing by each other and not realizing they are the ones they are seeking.

A bored housewife seeks adventure in a loser would be a drifter and go on a crime spree of no regard though they think it is. As they go On the run. Not realizing no one is really looking. For them except for her. As her family wants to know why she has run away. Not to mention their crimes aren’t prosperous nor exciting. If anything they are more embarrassing but not in a broadly comedic way. They come off more as pathetic. As we watch the others their lives intersect with good ones.

Writer/Director Kelly Reichart films are very detail-oriented and more at the moment while we watch life and the characters move at a more day to day moment to moment pace. Her films are almost still Life may. They aren’t made with a broad canvas but are affecting if you are willing to watch and can take the slower pace and usually no frills.

This isn’t the first film Of her’s I have seen. Though this is one of her earlier ones and from the ones I have seen this is one of her quicker-paced and more conventional films.

This film shows an interest in a crime story. Where there is practically no crime. This was made before she went full-fledged into cinematic studies of life and characters At the moment.

NIGHT MOVES comes the closest of her later films where there seems to be some sort of action and offers more conventional entertainment.

In the end, this comes off as pathetic but a little soulful In its Eclecticness. So that it feels alive and free whenever offbeat 

GRADE: B-

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

GANGSTA (2018)

Directed by: Adil Elarbi & Bilall Fallah  Written by: Adil Elarbi, Bilall Fallah, Nabil Ben Yadir, Bram Renders, Kobe Van Steenberghe & Handrik Verthe  Cinematography: Robrecht Heyvaert Editor: Adil Elarbi, Bilall Fallah, Kobe Van Steenberghe & Thijs Van Nuffel 

Cast: Matteo Simoni, Junes Lazaar, Nora Gharib, Said Boumazoughe, Nabil Mallat, Paloma Aguilera valdebenito, Werner Kolf 

Antwerp. The lives of four dealer friends, who want to become real-life swaggers, spin out of control when they steal a shipment of cocaine. They trigger a full-out war between them, an Amsterdam drug lord and the ruthless Colombian cartels.


Looked forward to watching this film by the directors of BAD BOYS FOR LIFE. Their last film before that film almost seems like an audition reel. 

one can see why they were given directing reign of BAD BOYS FOR LIFE. As with this film. They prove they can handle Action and comedy that might be a little dark around the edges but not too bleak, but also a diverse cast.

Though when it comes to this film’s material, it often feels more cartoonish even though it tries to be really quite often. Like the characters, it feels too on over its head at times.

As every time the film seems to be sticking with a certain tone. The film withdraws and goes into another tone to throw off the audience and keep them guessing even when not needed.

This is close to being an almost Guy Ritchie movie except he keeps his tone light and has his characters a bit more defined,  it similarly Whimsical and usually in the criminal world

The characters are likable but rather thin so that they are more defined by characteristics and their individual ambitions than actually coming off as characters. They more Just live up to their nicknames except for the main two characters of the crew.

Though the film is filled with its colorful characters, the most entertaining is actually the criminal lawyers played by the directors more for humor, but are unscrupulous when it comes to protecting their clients.

The film Touches on subjects but Rarely fully Explores them except to occasionally bring them up like racism, growing up as an immigrant. Making something of yourself, when education really isn’t a choice. 

The film is a lot of things but never comes through with An actual decision that leads to it feeling all over the place. There is plenty of styles all over the place that is inventive in fact it feels like every scene and the shot is designed to keep moving and to always dazzle. 

Though even for the hardcore material and subjects that they tackle. The film feels lightweight and almost playful. As it never goes in too deep. It also feels way overstuffed and too long. As the film feels the need to explain every detail and then show it. Whereas if the film was cut down by fifteen minutes it wouldn’t Feel so monotonous by the end.

Just like the main character by the end of the film, it Doesn’t Seem to exactly want to commit.

The film is enjoyable and a fun time in general 

Grade: C

PRINCE (2015)

Written & Directed By: Sam De Jong Cinematography: Paul Ozgur  Editor: Mieneke Kremer 

Cast: Ayoub Elasri, Jorik Scholien, Oussama Addi, Achraf Meziani, Elise de Braun, Sigrid Tennepal, Olivia Lonsdale, Chaib Massaoudi 

A troubled teenager attempts to conquer the love of his life by becoming the baddest boy on the block.


This is a film I was expecting more from. Strangely Wasn’t totally disappointed. Though by the end felt a little thin. 

Considering the issues of the film. I didn’t expect it to stay so clean material-wise. So that by the end it felt like an after-school special with some adult themes.

It’s fine for what it is but was expecting something mroe hard-hitting. Especially for where it seemed to be going and what it introduces. 

The film tries to paint the neighborhood as thorny and a bit crime-ridden but was left wondering is this the worst they have in the Netherlands? As it seems a bit quaint.

The film really comes off as a coming-of-age tale. Nothing you have my seen before. In fact, still shocked at how innocent it seems to stay. Like a teenage version of a crime film that doesn’t involve so much crime but more themes of growing up. 

For instance, the scene where he is feeling grown up after a job well done after a night out. He celebrated by drinking milk like it’s an alcoholic drink.

How at first his problems are presented as worse than They actually are. Introduced to him more as immature. We notice throughout how he becomes more mature and responsible. Even as he gets more brand names and expensive designer clothes. As well as how they can. enticing and what is needed to keep them up.

The ending is the only place where it feels like a false note. As it is satisfying from the standpoint of liking the characters but it feels unrealistic when it comes to criminals and street rules. 

GRADE: B

FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION: BEAST STABLE (1973)

Directed by: Shun’ya ito
Written By: Hiro Matsuda & Tooru Shinohara 
Cinematography: Masao Shimizu 
Editor: Osamu Tanaka

Cast: Meiko Kaji, Mikio Narija, Reisen Ri, Yayoi Nanbara, Seiya Sato, Takashi Fujiki, Tomoko Mayama, Mitsuru Mori 

Sasori is outside the prison and on the run from the police, wanted for breaking out of prison and murder. She takes refuge with a woman who has a brother with a learning disability. The woman and her brother are also involved in an incestuous relationship. Both the police and an ex-prison mate of Sasori’s pursue her.


This sequel feel more like a closing chapter more than anything. As it feels final and with little else to go. It’s also a lot more somber than the previous films. 

Don’t get me wrong it is still outrageous but not as ridiculous. As scorpion is On the run again and it seems everyone has it in for her. So that she has to seek revenge in multiple characters. The film is inventive in how it all comes together with characters each passing into another’s story.

Though this film is much sadder than the others as throughout this film scorpion becomes a ghostly Angel of vengeance for other characters who are victims of the villains throughout. As well as haunting the villains who underestimate her at first.

The film still has many uncomfortable exploitive moments meant to add drama or provoke a reaction out of the audience. Especially when it comes to sex scenes. This film feels more scaled back when it comes to sex and nudity but does have a sympathetic character In an incestuous relationship.

By the end no one Truly wins. The character you expect to somewhat be saved or be on the road to a better life by the end is pretty much still left where she was at the beginning. Only more tortured, but at least made a connection with the scorpion.

This is the last film of the franchise directed by Shun’ya Ito, which might be why this feels more like a finale than the eventual final sequel that stars Meiko Kaji in the role of the scorpion. Before eventually producers decided to revitalize the franchise without any of the original team involved.

All the male characters are evil and deplorable. Most are disposable also as cops, henchmen, or depraved men looking for sex or to exploit women.

One of the villains in the film Katsu seems more like a villain. Suited for the more outrageous previous films especially with her wardrobe and make up. As she comes across as campy almost she is cruel but the right amount of ridiculous as the previous films. Luckily as the film Goes along her development goes from scared to haunted to absolutely crazy with guilt. That she eventually matched the paleness of the make-up on her face naturally.

The film shows that the purgatory of prison was just as bad as the outside. At least prison only took up a certain amount of space. As the harsh reality of freedom seems to make the female characters natural prey. As it is so unpredictable. Whereas in prison you knew who to trust who not to.

The film shines a light on the harsh reality for the character after the more psychedelic freestyled previous films 

GRADE: B-

BUFFALOED (2020)


Directed By: Tanya Wexler
Written By: Brian Sacca 
Cinematography: Guy Godfree 

Editor: Casey Brooks 

Cast: Zoey Deutch, Judy Greer, Jai Courtney, Jermaine Fowler, Noah Reid, Lusia Strus, Lorrie Odom, Brian Sacca, Raymond Ablack

Set in the underworld of debt-collecting and follows the homegrown hustler Peg Dahl, who will do anything to escape Buffalo, NY.


These are the type of mid-budgeted, character comedies that you wish studios still made. Even though comes off more like a low  budgeted one that has a good cast 

This is the second time I can say that actor Jai Courtney has given a performance that is impressive in A film. He is practically unrecognizable (In case you are interested SUICIDE SQUAD is the other) 

When it comes to actress Zoey Deutch, I don’t know if in some roles all she has to do is look Good without much effort or engagement and or works for those films or that at times she either overplays here roles, putting in so much energy or we can more see the strings on her performances. And we don’t expect it from her that’s what makes her so surprising. That like Anna Faris she excels in comedic Roles giving her all only more subdued. 

It also depends on the strength of the material. Which might be why Anna Faris isn’t quite the star she should be yet. The scripts and material are not particularly strong and in her favor. She is recognizable but not thought of in the great comedic stars of the time. Thanks to movies and roles that never quite took off.

One is hoping Zoey Deutch doesn’t serve the same fate. Here she plays the role almost like a recurring SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE character at first. Who becomes more dramatic and real throughout. always chipper and calculating. 

The character seems like she is a character from FARGO, only here the character is over ambitious and from Buffalo. She also happens to be the smartest person throughout the film.

Where the performance is actually better than the film. As her performance makes the film and you can’t imagine anyone else playing the role. But you need the other characters and the film as a garnish to get the performance and have it make sense. Making the film a good time.

A film that basically offers or gives Ms. Deutch a spotlight role. That makes her leading performance the highlight but not off of star power but how strongly She plays the character going for gold. This Is more of a star-making performance. That is not necessarily sexy.

Luckily the script and the rest of the film Doesn’t keep the pace but clears the way for a successful run. 

GRADE: B –

LUCKY DAY (2019)

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Written & Directed By: Roger Avary
Cinematography By: Brendan Stacey
Editor: Sylvie Landra 


Cast: Luke Bracey, Crispin Glover, Nina Dobrev, Clifton Collins Jr., Mark Dacascos, David Hewlett, Cle Bennett 


Red, a safe cracker who has just been released from prison, is trying to hold his family together as his past catches up with him in the form of Luc, a psychopathic contract killer who’s seeking revenge for the death of his brother.

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GANGSTER NO. 1 (2000)

gangster1

Directed By: Paul McGuigan
Written By: Louis Mellis & David Scinto
Adaptation By: Johnny Ferguson
Cinematography: Peter Sova
Editor: Andrew Hulme 


Cast: Paul Bettany, Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, Saffron Burrows, Eddie Marsan, Andrew Lincoln, Jamie Foreman, Ken Granham 


A middle-aged crime boss smugly reflects back from 1999, narrating the brutality which made him triumphant – and feared. As an unnamed young hood in Swinging 60’s London, he aped his mod boss Freddie Mays, and seemed to do anything for him. But his narration exposes all-consuming envy: of Freddie’s supremacy, and especially his tall bird. The baby shark develops his viciousness and backstabbing, scheming to be Gangster No. 1.

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