PLAN B (2021)

Directed By: Natalie Morales 
Written By: Joshua Levy & Prathiksha Srinivasan
Cinematography: Sandra Valde-Hansen 
Editor: Nathan Orloff 

Cast: Kuhoo Verma, Victoria Moroles, Michael Provost, Mason Cook, Jolly Abraham, Jacob Vargas, Myha’la Herrold, Rachel Dratch, Edi Patterson, Moses storm, Gus Birney, Jay Chandrasekhar, Timothy Granaderis 

Follows a straight-laced high school student and her slacker best friend who, after a regrettable first sexual encounter, have 24 hours to hunt down a Plan B pill in America’s heartland.

Will say that this is one of the better films that I have seen this year so far and definitely one that has made me laugh the hardest and most constantly.

While the film doesn’t reinvent the wheel it does offer a different point of view and protagonists that we rarely ever get to see in this kind of film.

While the characters are part of a certain culture more defined by their parents they are individuals and characters of their own. Though one of the funnier running gags is the paranoia of the Indian mafia (which is a network of Indian characters who all seem to know one another in some way and feed each other news or gossip)

The film is hilarious a lot of times but also exposes a lot of heart and while the main characters keep making a bunch of mistakes the film doesn’t portray them as dumb. They are just teenagers so that while they play it cool and like smart know it all they are more naive than anything.

It’s also a more female-focused and centered teen comedy that doesn’t make all the male characters into villains 

The film has a dirty side but also an innocence that has a few things to say. That luckily has an openness where it’s allowed to be funny and even when it does have something to say it is more subtle and doesn’t feel preachy.

The main characters being people of color is noteworthy but doesn’t take over the film. If anything it offers the audience a chance to see some of the usual hijinks From a different perspective and allows members of the audience to see themselves represented a bit more while also showing most of us to have the same problems and hang-ups. 

No characters in this film are flawless if anything the fact that most of them are flawed is what makes them more relatable and entertaining.

Even the more romantic chances for the characters are not what you would expect or go where you expect them to go. Leaving the film to be a little familiar but luckily a breath of fresh air. 

This is actress Natalie Morales’ directorial debut. She also wrote the script and with such a good debut i for one can’t wait to see more films from her in The future 

Grade: B+

MOXIE (2021)

Directed By: Amy Poehler
Written By: Tamara Chestna & Dylan Meyer
Based on the book by: Juliet Mathieu
Cinematography: Tom McGill
Editor: Julie Monroe 

Cast: Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual Pena, Nico Hiraga, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz, Marcia Gay Harden, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sydney Park, Anjelika Washington, Josie Totah, Josephine Langford

Inspired by her mom’s rebellious past and a confident new friend, a shy 16-year-old publishes an anonymous zine calling out sexism at her school.

One applauds the film on it’s Diversity and constantly wearing it’s message on it’s Sleeve. That is actually empowering to young women and promotes a positive message. While also being a movie that is entertaining and enjoyable.

It’s notable for being Amy Poehler’s directorial debut and she has a supporting role as the lead character’s mother.

What works for the film is its message that saves it from being another forgettable teen comedy that is centered around female characters. 

The script is smart enough to tackle serious subjects and allow a different point of view. That while being heavy at times in subject matter reminds us that the film is centered around young characters who are allowed to be silly at times and immature. Yet still right on when it comes to certain subjects.

Two-thirds of a satisfying movie then In The last third it all come to a head with the aspects that previously have been annoying become problematic. That beats you over the head with its message 

The film is Not subtle with the foreshadowing. It also quickly becomes what can be seen as Peak white feminism. As while the lead character sees injustice and decides to do something about it and pretty soon has a diverse set of new friends to support her as they are the ones who usually is being oppressed and picked on.

Soon they are spreading the message and empowering her and getting stuff done. They are also the ones taking the punishment and the hits more and as soon as it is introduced that she is ignorant when it comes to culture and race and takes it as a personal Insult and soon is having a breakdown as she has no defense and lashes out. So then the movement becomes more about her emotional arc and loses the message and she is especially threatened when it becomes about more than her and the others of various races soon seem to take over and are more vocal.

Not to mention when the film takes down a major villain who uses the patriarchy to his advantage and stays protected because of it. I. A storyline that hat is major but treated minority again as it is more supposed to be about the actual victim it is more centered around her and the change SHE the leader brought about.

It seems that for all fo it’s politics it seems to skip one glaring faux pas of it’s own. Why is there a caucasian lead in a film full of minorities and different types. Where we are supposed to see injustices supposedly from her eyes though she doesn’t suffer and yet constantly acts like she is the one who Is. when in fact they happen to all those around her. The biggest crime perpetrated against her is that nothing really happens to he because she is so unnoticeable

Then the film has the other characters applaud because she cares. The movie might have been more interesting if seen through the eyes of a downtrodden character. That can show an alliance with the caucasian character but can also say something about how it seems white feminism only worried about it’s own concerns and not the universal concern of people of color females.

The way the movie Presents itself is from that kind of liberal feminism that tries to have a positive message but also shows it’s own problems that it refuses to see or at least acknowledge.

In the end when she reveals herself it is seen as her taking back her identity and all the minorities cheer her on. Which feels like white feminism propaganda to a certain extent. 

Especially when Amy Poehler who directs the film and plays the leads mother keeps getting credited by the lead as her inspiration it feels like ego pleasing on display. As she is shown With very few faults herself.

In the end, the film is very empowering and worth watching. Especially for younger viewers but doubt for older teens, it will be as memorable.

Grade: C+


Written & Directed By: Zoe Lister Jones 
Based On Characters created by: Peter Filardi 
Cinematography: Hillary Spera
Editor: Libby Cuenin 

Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, Zoey Luna, David Duchovny, Michelle Monaghan, Nicholas Galitzine, Julian Gray, Hannah Gordon 

An update to the original movie. A group of high school students form a coven of witches.

The surprise about this film is that it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Though it still did end up being the film that was predicted after watching the trailer.

The film works as a sequel/reboot of the franchise. Even though the characters here are younger than the first film’s original set. The characters are so young that this film feels perfect for its audience of preteen and teenage girls.

The film is never as hard-hitting as the original. This is why in a certain way it feels more like a prequel except for modernizing it and setting up a link to the first film.

This film is more sensitive than the robins land deals more with different issues that are mentioned debut barely dealt with except for the central character. She is being bullied and dealing with a relationship with her new all ape stepfamily abs feeling like she is losing the close relationship with her mother.

Though the film does express the idea of the coven depending on ie. Another and being in tune. Rather than in the original separating and pitting them against each other. This film offers a villain but one who really only becomes a menace at the end. So that it feels like a Scooby-doo type ending.

The film also never quite answers the questions: do the other girls who have been studying magic really have powers or are they only empowered as the lead already has the capacity to do magic unintentionally.

The film does have magic but doesn’t rely on it as much as the original. This plays out more as a coming-of-age drama about female friendship and in a way feminism by the end. Rather than horror or supernatural film.

Even when the coven questions her power, the members trying to make a decision whether to bind them or not is not out of jealousy or a power move. nor because they are being bad and she is shaming them for it. It is after what they believe a careless spell caused and are trying to decide out of responsibility more than anything else.

Again I am definitely not the target audience for this film, but am a huge fan of the original. Luckily This film doesn’t embarrass itself, but it does have a much lighter touch. That could have easily been an episode of ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK or HULU’S INTO THE DARK series. Only it is not as cynical, cruel, or violent as those shows. 

So this is a perfect film for young teens. Who wants to watch a film that feels a little more mature and deals with issues that are a little more serious and prevalent in their lives. With a positive message by the end.

Grade: C


Directed By: John Carchietta 
Written By: John Carchietta, Sage Bannick, Chris Sivertson 
Story By: Amelia Yokel 
Cinematography By: Justin Kane 
Editor: John Carchietta, Josh Ethier & Ben La Marca 

Cast: Nichole Bloom, Fabianne Therese, Pat Healy, Joshua Leonard, Michelle Borth, AJ Bowen  

Feeling confined by their small town and overbearing parents, Annie and Jules hatch a scheme of running away. But as the girls soon find out, consequences can blindside you. Sometimes violently.

Who is this film supposedly for? As it plays like a hard edged after school special. Though it does involve a central coming of age lesbian love story. Though then kind of spoils it by going into a thriller element of sex work and picking the wrong person to do it with.

The film has a weird almost laughable scene where one of the girl’s father looks at her computer ad’s and never says anything. In fact he is more embarrassed and see’s his daughter in her lingerie. Which comes out of nowhere. If the father really cared that should have been the moment to show care and discipline. It is understandable that he is shocked but irresponsible to do nothing about it This is a film that seems to be searching to be something and coming off all wrong.

I believe maybe the film might have been better if directed by a female or at least someone more sensitive to it’s material and nature. As many of the scenes of the two girl making out and frolicking seem more exploitive and vivid. Almost more like fetish and fantasy more than anything else. So that it feels uncomfortable or soft core pornographic rather then just fun or revealing. It reeks more of the male gaze, making any intimacy between the leads more erotic and physical. Rather then romantic, personal or endearing. As most of the time it feels like we are intruding on the girls and watching them as voyeurs. Not in a good way as we invade their privacy and tender moments.

So much so that it feels like an adult film only without the hardcore scenes and not as over the top. Which unfortunately makes it feel slow. Though it had an starter emo indie artist soundtrack. That showcases how amateur the film comes off. As since it doesn’t know how to identify itself. Like it’s characters it just seems to try anything to fit in and be relevant. So that it can say something, but as it has it’s chance. There is nothing new or too striking to say.

Though the final 15 minutes seem more stupid and ill advised even if the characters are young. As all of a sudden the man turns psycho and desperate. In a way over the top way. Rather than subtle.

You can’t shake that the film and the females characters in particular are being shown and shaped under a male glaze that turns everything into titilaion instead of emotional drama. One just wishes there was more to it. As it seems to make an emotional drama about friendship and connection. Then all of a sudden veers into thriller territory. Which could have worked if it didn’t feel so rushed all of a sudden.

It’s a shame as all the actors are usually good in other films and have a real chance to shine here, but what they are given is so mundane and silly that it never makes a mark.  



Written & Directed By: Sall El Hosaini 
Cinematography By: David Raedeker 
Editor: Iain Kitching 

Cast: James Floyd, Fady Elsayed, Anthony Welsh, Amira Ghazalla, Said Tagahmaoui, Elarica Gallacher, Letita Wright, Nasser Memarzia, Aymen Hamdouci, Arnold Oceng

Mo is a young boy growing up in a traditional Egyptian household, but beyond the front door of the family’s modest London flat is a completely different world – the streets of Hackney. Impressionable Mo idolizes his handsome older brother Rashid and wants to follow is his footsteps. However, Rashid, a charismatic and shrewd member of a local gang, wants a different life for his little brother and deals drugs hoping to put Mo through college. One eventful summer, Rashid’s sexual awakening forces Mo to confront his own fears and phobias and threatens to tear the brothers apart.

A coming of age film that at first is hard to tell exactly where it is going, though once it sets its rhythms that define the changing nature of the character’s world. 

Soon everyone reveals their true nature and how deep their loyalty and sense of family truly are.

It’s a good anti-gang film. Showing the passing loyalty and fickle judgments of a gang, that calls itself your family and the true loyalty nature of family.

While having a dual love story that explores as grows throughout.

The film showcases the bond between the brothers, but never feels truthful when the younger one feels his older brother leaves him out of the blue when he is really protecting him, To be better and more successful than him. As he feels it’s too late for me. This is the life I have chosen.

The older brothers feeling of loss especially after his best friend, the only one who had any faith in him and was trying to lead him to a better life in the future dies. He has an emptiness until he meets someone else who he can be close to and be tough or cool around just to get respect. He can be open and normal and still be respected. As well as helping him deal with emotions he might have had for his friend but naturally was afraid to approach and even consider.

It is much more amazing to me. That his former friends in the gang, see it as a betrayal of his sexuality. I am guessing they are trying to make excuses to hate and kill him. They see it as a betrayal more as he was hiding something, in essence, the real him from them and are afraid. that by having him around and associating with him they will be guilty or thought to be the same as him. Ridiculous, but shows their shallow way of thinking.

As in some, it seems the event that changes everything is the death of a friend. Who was trying to straighten out his life and do the right thing. Then gets gunned down, making him realize how endless and empty his life has been.

Both of the brothers’ subsequent romances are sweet and fell truthful and most importantly natural. The film gives is a look at urban England and youth culture to a degree.

There are some scenes that have you on the edge of your seat, More out of emotional thrills and threats rather than the physical ones that come up also.

The film comes as a surprise. Once the film opens you have no real idea where it is going. Only who we are following. Then once it reaches a certain point the film seems to open up and make its preference and place known. I am glad the film didn’t end where it looked like it was headed. It still leaves no definite answers, but a clear understanding.

Though that the gang didn’t seek him out. Nor that his reputation was sealed in his apartment complex are a bit hard to believe

A good drama that would make a good rental

Grade: B-


Written & Directed by: Rose Glass
Cinematography: Ben Fordesman
Editor: Mark Towns 

Cast: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Lily Frazer, Marcus Hutton, Lily Knight, Noa Bodner

Deeply religious Maud, a tight-lipped live-in nurse with a dark past, takes a job in a humdrum English coastal town to look after Amanda Köhl: a once-celebrated, now terminally ill former dancer and choreographer. Convinced that she has been sent to sensualist, chain-smoking Amanda with a purpose, ascetic Maud soon becomes obsessed with saving her vulnerable patient from herself, and in the process, lead her to the light. However, is worldly Amanda prepared to receive absolution for her sins?

This is a film that I was looking forward to seeing. It was at the top of my must-see list for 2020, until it got postponed, and finally got to recently watch. It is definitely a case of a movie living up to my expectations.

You can tell that this film feels lien something special. Even for as dark as it is.

The film is a great production and has committed performances and is definitely the work of a gifted filmmaker. As the filmmaking is gorgeous and sumptuous. That doesn’t fit into expectations. 

The film offers a lot of build-ups. That has a bunch of elevated horror cliches. As the film Challenges the audience’s expectations. As they might be looking for more than what the film has to offer.

The film revolves around loneliness at heart. While going through mental illness and stability. It ends up with strongly disturbing images.

The film is a slow burn that takes it’s Time with it’s Story and characters. Where it is meant to be more than what you are seeing. This film wants to be more than entertainment. It wants to affect you. Say, present and experience its Story more. 

It deals with obsession which causes a mental undoing to someone who was already fragile. Where she punishes herself. When she is only

Trying to help and seeking forgiveness for her past through religious fundamentalism. Which strangely she turns into a kind of eroticism for herself.

Her devotion spins takes form In trying to awaken others and give them what they want to try and help them. While having more and more delusions.

Where eventually she keeps building an intimacy out of loneliness. That once making a connection in helping others to make herself feel better and not worthless. 

As we are given hints to her life before he became so devout that seemed aimless and wild before an accident that changes her. 

By the end, the film is Sad and depressing but effective. In the last act of the film, the film becomes more of a horror. as it becomes more tension-filled. Where it feels like anything can happen.

Grade: B+ 

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. 


DEEP END (1970)

Directed By: Jerzy Skolimowski 
Written By: Jerzy Skolimowski & J. Gruza & B. Sulik 
Cinematography By: Charly Steinberger 
Editor: Barrie Vince 

Cast: Jane Asher, John Moulder-Brown, Karl Michael Vogler, Christopher Sanford, Diana Dors, Louise Martini 

15-year-old Mike takes a job at the local swimming baths, where he becomes obsessed with an attractive young woman, Susan, who works there as an attendant. Although Susan has a fiancé, Mike does his best to sabotage the relationship, to the extent of stalking both her and her fiancé. Mike becomes increasingly desperate to have Susan for himself, with tragic results.

This is a different color g of age tale that follows all the hallmarks of introducing the world through a kind of crush romance. But here it ends much more tragically and more than emotionally.

It involves the theory of being Careful what you wish for as you might just get it. As in the bed, the young man gets what he wants his crush finally does go from him and in the way that he wants even if he must first pay a price but it doesn’t go as he imagines and ends up failing himself but also she doesn’t react in the caring manner in which she has treated him before. As of now he has more or less become one of her victims or how she pretty much treats most of the men in her life by what they can actually give her. Before he was fun as she knew the power she had over him. Now that he has gotten what their want he feels more of ownership as he has An investment in her and now he isn’t fascinating or special to her anymore. Not to mention not valuable as a lover either.

So he strikes out accidentally and causes her death. Which he then decides to die with her by drowning himself in her body. As he caused it and to show he will always love her and there will never be another for him.

This film has the character as one of the few actual teenagers throughout whereas most of the time he is surrounded by adults. Who more or less immerse him in their own worlds.

There is even the ex-girlfriend his own age who rebuffed him when he wanted to go farther intimately who finally offers herself to him now, but he has already fallen for another and it’s too late

Watching this film you can see why he is so obsessed the woman of his dreams is beautiful and elegant to him yet down to earth. His teacher and playmate in many ways. She seems open to him and really to most males depending on what she can get from them. A seductress who seems open then cold. Who none the less encourages him. As throughout the film in the beginning he is more juvenile and silly as he slowly becomes obsessed. Though as the film goes on and his intensity for her increases it becomes scarier yet while he still is immature it does age him and make his actions seem more adult.

Jane Asher is so beautiful here absolute perfection as a crush and femme fatale who unfortunately becomes a victim.

There are obvious premonitions of the ending. With the constant use of red and just like any encounter, the film seems to be building up until it’s final climax which comes as partly shocking and just as their encounter short and seemingly underwhelming at first until the aftermath of it where it goes for more depth in the absence of feelings. Just as her constant insults that seem to just fuel him more and her destruction of his bike the only other thing we see him enjoy during the film. It seems with her destruction of it to hurt his chances of following her only intensifies his focuses.

Set in a more adult and dirty time. The film takes place all in a week mainly at the young man’s first job at a bathhouse during the days of swinging London.

It seems at first she is testing the limits by openly insulting his mother in front of him. To test for a reaction and when he gets upset but quickly seems to forgive her. She knows she has him.

We see her fiancé who is rather wimpish but can provide her with all the tickets and values she seeks. When it comes to the gym teacher he is more physical and can give her what she wants in that way. Not to mention is older and also will take care of her and gives her a bit of adventure by participating in this affair.

The movie theater scene is an interesting power play of her being victim forced to see this film she has no interest in. Then taking control as other members of the audience are attracted to her and then her allowing him to touch her and feel her up while watching a sexual film that is about frigidity and ways of heating yourself up sexually. Then complaining about his actions and having the fiancé get the cops to arrest him but making out with him beforehand and wanting to press charges but when the cops look for her to make a statement she disappears and seems to be having for. So that it becomes a strange comedic yet erotic scene.

This is a film about voyeurism for us watching the characters and one Character watching the other. This is truly a film of the birth of a stalker. Where we see what inspires and builds him up. The dangers of idealization and projection of fantasies. That while it comes off as innocent and maybe justified. At first, becomes dangerous and sickening. Especially when compared with current issues and how times have evolved. Also shows how times have changed. As the film is open to show the tragedy of the situation though can be seen as misogynistic easily with her constantly playing games with the teenager.

Though this film more or less could also try to show at the time the only power females might have had were more sexual ones.

The film also shows Mike being submissive at the beginning as in an early scene where a female customer uses and abuses him for her own pleasure. Practically wrestling him for her own pleasure. As she is older and physically bigger than him and he stays passive until the end where he becomes aggressive in all the wrong ways.

The film takes place in a location that is supposed to be about cleanliness. That we can see is showcasing it’s cracks and rot. As it ages showing it’s slow decay and it being corrupted. all the while the place is trying to be maintained and repurposed to be attractive with it being painted red, the color of passion and love. Here more represents seduction and corruption with a bit of madness.

This truly is more of a character study than most films as not much happens In The way of story or plot but much happens through the interaction and intentions of the characters what they are driven by their motivations and emotions. Which are not so much on display but more or less acted upon.

This is one of those films that eats at you more after it is finished. As you keep finding yourself thinking about it. What the meanings are and your interpretations of what you just watched. In it’s own way it’s powerful yet not necessary. One of those undiscovered gems you want to share though know it might not be for everyone. As it is a small story that is powerful if you stay until the end. Though you have to be observant and patient.

Sexuality using the constant fact of being objectified and using that for what it’s worth.

She losing her diamond in the snow after fighting with him and then bringing all the snow in to melt and hopefully find the diamond. Could represent her coldness to him melting and him finding it as both romantic and him paying her price to be able to be with her. After her little breakdown.

Strangely the film keeps the mood light so that in the surprise moments when it does become dark it’s jarring and surprising you

Grade: B

SICARIO (2015)

Directed By: Dennis Villeneuve 
Written By: Taylor Sheridan 
Cinematography By: Roger Deakins 
Editor: Joe Walker 

Cast: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Jeffrey Donovan, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Maximilano Herandez, Raoul Trujillo

An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.

This film is where director Dennis Villeneuve style really comes alive. Now while PRISONERS is a well directed film. I always had problems with it. Here Villeneuve’s style is crucial to the story.

It can only be explained as he has a knack for making scenes feel alive with tension. Even simple ones. He manages to catch you off guard so many times. That at any moment in his films anything can happen. Especially in the world the characters inhabit. Violence can break out at any time. Tension which he excels makes everything feel urgent and powerfully delivered. Makes it feel like anything can happen

The film while having violent scenes manages the trick of not really showing any violence but making it feel like there is more in the film then there actually is. The few scenes of violence are either so shocking or graphic. That in other scenes that even suggest it. Your imagination is already at work going overboard.

That is certainly a skill in story telling.

Here Emily blunt is our protagonist so we learn things just as she does and through the first half of the film. We realize we are on a mission, but just like her the rules and true objective are confusing and the rules keep changing. So that we are constantly confused even when the audience thinks it knows where the film is going.

She makes a good lead as her character proves both tougher and more fragile then she is presented. Seeing her in EDGE OF TOMMOROW convinced most audiences of her ability to be tough. Which she uses here, but here she also reminds us of how deep and emotional she can be whole Doing or at least showing so little.

Initially, the director was asked to rewrite Emily Blunt’s part for a man. But, Denis Villeneuve wanted Emily Blunt for the role after he saw her in The Young Victoria.

The film could easily be compared to films like TRAFFIC. For how it mainly shows the government side of taking down drug cartels, but the film also manages to tell small Individual stories of different characters and their position in this trade. What it also manages to do is remind the audience yes we are in this films singular world, but there is a greater real bigger world out there. That is our reality that these characters live in also.

Some night even compare the film to ZERO DARK THIRTY. If they did the only reason I can see is that they both have a female protagonist who learns to become more cautious and tougher as the film goes along. As well as learning more information about her supposed target through various different governmental agencies. As well as working with special teams to extract certain people to get to main targets. Though that film is more fact based. This one deals with a real subject, but manages to create it’s own story. This film is truly it’s own Animal

No matter what is shown and not shown this film is brutal. It is a cutthroat world they operate in.

There are some nitpicking like why at first do they forbid her partner access to go with them. Then throughout they seem to not mind if he is there.

Josh Brolin is good as the charismatic leader of this force. Who seems to operate in bureaucracy and in shadows, but the films MVP is Benicio Del Toro as a badass man of mystery. Though his character is mostly quiet. There is an intensity and toughness about him. That makes him look world weary, but constantly sharp. He takes no prisoners and seems to have no moral guide. I missed this type of performance from del toro. He played this type in SAVAGES, but that character was more of a loud mouth and sadistic for fun. Here he does it because he has to and can. If it helps achieve whatever mission he is on.

Throughout the film. The story plays out slowly only revealing itself when it has to. Even when we are privy of scenes and information that blunt isn’t. There isn’t too much revealed. So we are still just as unsure as she is. History is more reveled slowly about the characters rather then present it as soon as we meet them.

The shots throughout are beautifully composed and framed. That makes the territories they govern and go through come Alive. Even in their plainness. They feel constantly full of mystery even though they are mostly plain.

Though the film is structured well and directed well. It doesn’t feel overly stylized.

This film is a doozy, it is wild, yet calm. Epic and far reaching yet small.

The acting that plays out constantly or at least the threat of it Is not the kind you expect in a film Like this. No big action set pieces that rely on the audience finding a thrill. Like it is a roller coaster. Often the violence is either surprising, quick or just plain unorganized in the manner that it happens. This isn’t a thrill seeking movie. It is a thrill feeling movie.

Though it more relies on a moral meter. Rather than having a clear political message or even discussing the politics of the situation. It is matter of fact, yet offers a deep reserve for the audience to ponder. As it Also doesn’t offer any answers. Leaving it more of an open ended film. It’s not even really too much of a political film More like an extreme procedural.

Now while this film could have been made with any director. I believe the reason the film excels is because of director Dennis Villeneuve his style totally fits in with the story and reminds one of the promise he showed with the film INCENDIES. As with his other films though acclaimed. The style for me never quite fit the stories. Or the stories never quite fit his style. They took too many wrong turns or all there seemed to be was that style and little to no substance at least nothing deep. As the direction seemed to suggest.



Directed By: Joe Wright
Written By: Susannah Grant
Based On The Book By: Steve Lopez
Cinematography By: Seamus McGarvey
Editor: Paul Tothill

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Catherine Keener, Stephen Root, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Rachael Harris, Tom Hollander

In 2005, the only thing hurting Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez more than his face from a recent bike accident was his pressing need for story ideas. That is when he discovers Nathaniel Ayers, a mentally ill, homeless street musician who possesses extraordinary talent, even through his half-broken instruments. Inspired by his story, Lopez writes an acclaimed series of articles about Ayers and attempts to do more to help both him and the rest of the underclass of LA have a better life. However, Lopez’s good intentions run headlong in the hard realities of the strength of Ayers’ personal demons and the larger social injustices facing the homeless. Regardless, Lopez and Ayers must find a way to conquer their deepest anxieties and frustrations to hope for a brighter future for both of them.

The film is perfectly fine entertainment of a film that really doesn’t have a plot. Sure it’s a fascinating fact-based story that may have been better explored as a documentary or maybe even better reading about it, but the film leaves a lot to be desired as not much really happens. Except that it makes the main character feel better by discovering and trying to help a talented homeless schizophrenic. Which is pretty much the plot of the film.

Everyone does a perfectly serviceable performance. I really like Robert Downey Jr’s look. Jamie Foxx’s performance doesn’t really hit as hard. As it seems like his intention sure he is a spot-on mimic, but the performance seems exactly like that an act or impersonation in it’s not really ground in any sort of reality though it is based on a true story.

The film feels empty with no heart which is how the film feels. It tries to get you emotional in many scenes but fails to do so. The film plays like a contemporary movie that seems only made to try and be Oscar bait and a crowd-pleaser. Like the film THE BLIND SIDE only the latter seemed to know how to appeal to the masses this film seems more directed at a more artsy audience. That is why it feels so basic with artistic touches and indulgence.

Other than the two main characters we really never get to know any characters. This is especially daunting as the film has an established supporting cast. So we never get to know the past of the main characters as far as what they tell us. Like we know Steve, as played as Downey Jr., has demons but we only get hints at it. But in the film, we are supposed to believe he faces his own to help another person but other than having serious looks on his face and seeming vulnerable we never know exactly what he has to overcome.

The film also introduces a character who insists that Jamie Foxx’s Character needs to find god and religion, but the first time he suggests it he goes ape-shit. So when right before a recital he tries the same plan again it’s hardly surprising that he messes him up. If this was a traditional film he would be seen as a villain but here he is a normal supposedly intelligent side character.

I can see why this was held over for a few months. When it was thought at first to be Oscar bait then the studio watched the film and realized what a dud they had on their hands and held it for an anonymous release, that would be the best to just make a quick buck on the film.

The film just seems like it is desperate to pat itself on the back especially by including actual homeless people as characters and extras. That it feels false and like a waste of time.

I just hope Joe Wright picks better material for his next film to show off his talent rather than waste it on drivel like this that requires more of a workman-like director with not as much creativity.