Thursday, May 23, 2019

Terminator: Dark Fate Trailer

The first two Terminator movies were a lot of fun. They had the energy of Schwarzenegger, a cool concept, some pretty nifty action pieces for the mid-1980s and early 1990's, they presented a future that looked scary. Then in the sequel, they made a villain via Robert Patrick which was equally scary. Also, the special effects were pretty cool, remember for the time that is. They are great movies, movies I love quite a bit.

The third film is fair. Its nothing special but I also don't think its a complete disaster like some people. There is some corny dialogue and Schwarzenegger really leaned into it, but it is cool to see where John Connor ends up by the end of the film, that's the most exciting material in the third film. I wish I could say I liked the other films in the franchise, I wish I could recommend the Terminator series at large. But the truth is, I can't. There is a massive downshift in quality after the third film and it seems like the series has only gone downhill from here.

We've arrived at "Terminator: Dark Fate" the whatever number movie this is in the franchise, and I have to say, it looks okay? It looks fine? Yes, its awesome that Linda Hamilton is back as Sarah Connor. Yes, its cool that James Cameron is producing the film, and hopefully that means that he believed in the vision created here, and maybe that means we'll finally get a good movie. But for now, because I feel like I've been played like a fiddle for years, I can't get too worked up to see this quite yet.




 Even the action seems like its going through the motions.

I will keep an open mind like I always do, but for right now this has LOTS to live up to.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Trailer



This already got a seven minute standing ovation at Cannes today (or yesterday)

Can Quentin Tarantino do any wrong? Any whatsoever?

I'm beginning to think not.

Review: "John Wick 3" lands every single shocking punch

John Wick 3 Review
It seems like years ago when we saw John Wick (Keanu Reeves) pull Daisy the dog out of her kennel, a promise of a brand new happy life away from his wife who died of cancer. Wick was a former hitman. He met the woman of his dreams. He wanted out of the business. His handlers agreed, but at a price. Wick had to perform one last hit, a hit meant to be a suicide mission. His handlers didn't think he'd survive, but alas he did. Then something happened that we never see in movies like this, his handlers let Wick retire, asking the underworld never to bother him again. For some reason the lead handler never told his hotheaded son. His son had an altercation with Wick which lead to Wick's dog being murdered during a home invasion. Wick got his revenge, then had to kill his way back out of the life.

When we pick up with Wick on his third adventure, he seemingly hasn't stopped running with the dog he rescued at the end of the first movie. In the second movie, Wick kills a member of the High Table; a high-ranking cabal of assassins. There is now a $14 million bounty on Wick's head, and he tries to meet a member of the High Table on the other side of the world known as The Elder (Said Taghmaoui) to get the bounty waived, if he can survive to get over there that is.

The "John Wick" movies have always been relentless action movies, and I'm sure that is how they are going to stay, until the franchise no longer makes money. They stick out because of the high kinetic energy of the action scenes. Not to mention a group of all-star actors who make this movie better than it ever needed to be. This third chapter in particular includes Lawrence Fishburne, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Asia Kate Dillon, Mark Dacascos, Jason Mantzoukas, Robin Lord Taylor as well as my favorite martial artist at the moment Yayan Ruhian. That list of actors includes returning members of the franchise as well as new members, and like I said, they give it their all. They make sure this franchise counts, but they never bottle up the notion that they are having loads of fun. 

But of course the star of this franchise is still Keanu Reeves. I don't know if it was the character he was drawn to or what, but Reeves is doing some of the best work in his career. Yes, I include Nero there too. He's never seemed this alive, this rabid to doing work. I have always thought Keanu Reeves was one of those actors who seemed half-asleep in all of his movies, but there is something about Wick that has woken him up, and he's been leaving a blazing trail ever since. At this point, I can't imagine anybody else in this role except him.

It seems the action evolves with each new movie. Part of the fun of sitting down to watch each new John Wick chapter is to see how the action changes. The first two had lots of shootouts and this third film is special due to its hand-to-hand, close quarters combat. The fights have become incredibly and impeccably visceral, and they could very well rival those of "The Raid" series from Indonesia.

If this ending has anything to be concerned with, this series isn't going anywhere anytime soon. As long as the acting stays sharp and the action stays solid, this franchise isn't going anywhere.

FINAL GRADE: A   

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Review: "Climax" is both a gift and a curse in equal measure

Climax Review

By mere coincidence, I have now seen two new 2019 movies that both begin with a close-up on a TV surrounded by pop culture that gives the audience clues for what they are about to watch. The first one was "Us." As I sat in the theater to watch "Us" back in March, I did have a good cackle to myself when they did their TV close-up scene. It was funny to see the spines of VHS "The Goonies" and "C.H.U.D." and "The Man With Two Brains" and if you know those movies, its funny to reflect on how they played into Jordan Peele's thinking. It is an odd coincidence that Gasper Noe starts his film the exact same way. We see a TV watching audition tapes for dancers contending to join a dancing troupe. Surrounding the TV is a copy of "Suspiria," a copy of "Eraserhead," a copy of "Possesstion," a documentary about schizophrenia and so much more, and yes it all plays into the darkened nightmare Gasper Noe has planned for you.

If you dig international cinema, you have probably heard of Gasper Noe. He is a crazy misanthrope from France, and whether you like or dislike his movies, they stick with you. The film that put him on the map (for better or for worse) was "Irreversible" from 2002. Anybody who doesn't watch foreign movies probably knows just how notorious this movie is. Whether the smashing of someone's head with a fire extinguisher or the most disturbing, graphic and heartbreaking sexual assault ever, "Irreversible" isn't a movie you forget. Despite the imagery, it is a profound character study on we are powerless to stop our futures, and how precious time is. "Enter The Void" is a visual dream, and also highlights the weird strengths Noe possesses. I haven't seen his third film yet, but it sounds like a typical Noe movie.

His fourth film is "Climax", and much like Noe's previous movies, it speaks in the language of nightmares. But its also a hypnotic fairy tale, even from the beginning. After the TV scene with the dancers, we begin to see each dancer, and each dancer has their own style, their own mastery of a particular style of dance. Its a very interesting way to get to know the characters without any spoken words at a time. The actors are not giving words, they aren't delivering through exposition, they are telling us who they are through their dance moves. Its a bold choice and it throws us into the world of dance. Or I should say, the world of this dance troupe. The troupe has got together for a rehearsal at an abandoned school. Not only is there bumping music and dancing, but there is some after-rehearsal drinking of sangria.

Nobody knows at first that somebody has laced the sangria with LSD. That's how the movie plunges you into nightmare mode. There is a kind of "whodunit" mystery as the dancers try to figure out who among them did this to them. But when a pack of unhinged, anxiety-fueled dancers on LSD trying to solve a mystery goes about as well as you could possibly fathom that it does. And right away, Noe smothers your face in the filthy of the idea. A dancer urinates on the floor, an alleged pregnant dancer gets her stomach kicked multiple times, and at that point, Noe is just getting started. Although oddly enough, I will say this, this is probably the tamest movie Gasper Noe has ever created, and if you have any interest to the guy, this would be the perfect gateway into his career.

Most of the cast is comprised of dancers who have never acted before. The most recognizable face in the movie is Sofia Botella, who was the villain in the first "Kingsman: The Secret Service" movie and she was also in the new Mummy. The overall cast does a pretty good job selling the idea that the people all got accidentally hooked on LSD. While we don't see what the dancers are seeing, we see how their bodies begin to acclimate to the drug. For a movie that was inspired by films like "Eraserhead" and "Suspiria," I figured we'd be in for some trippy imagery. But honestly, ask yourself, what is scarier? Seeing the images of an LSD trip or watching somebody wig out DUE to an LSD trip?

I will say that despite the madness that descends on these wry dancers, it does feel overly-long watching these dancers fall further and further down the Rabbit Hole. But perhaps that's the point. The movie looks like it was made on one continuous take, the uneasy coloring of each scene, the throbbing music, is all enough to make you feel like you are there experiencing all of this with them. But if you really can't get much feeling at all watching a bunch of people screaming to themselves, well you are probably going to wonder what the point of it all was.

Gasper Noe is such an imagery artist that there are moments that have stuck with me throughout the movie and even when you love or hate the movies Noe makes, it seems like they stick with you no matter what. The movie stops in various places to show quotes. One reads "Life is a collective impossibility," another reads "death is an extraordinary experience" and another reads "existence is a fleeting illusion" and all three of those quotes haunts the movie in some way. This is one of the few Gasper Noe movies that wasn't boo'd out at Cannes last year, so I guess that has that going for it. With all the information presented, I will let you decide if this sounds like a great idea or not.

FINAL GRADE; C

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil trailer



A sequel no one asked for to a movie no one asked for. Hooray!

Midsommar Second Trailer

Only Ari Aster could take bright lights and colors and still make them creepy.

I did read the script for this a few months ago, and the thing I hoped for the most was that not much, if anything at all, changed from script to movie. The script I read was written two years ago, and that means there could have been an avalanche to a handful of rewrites. Thankfully, that doesn't look like the case. Perhaps A24 has given Aster some great freedom in bringing his visions together and now I am as rabid as I was a few months ago.




These trailers have been stunning, just stunning. July can hurry up and get here now!

Monday, May 13, 2019

"It: Chapter Two" trailer

So I am not entirely sure why this movie is being called "Chapter 2" because unless there is some serious editing or a big plan I am not aware of, there isn't going to be any other chapters after this. When Stephen King wrote the book, there was a time involving kids and a time when the kids grew up to fight Pennywise again. Because they didn't do a good enough job killing him as children. That was the story. So putting it in chapters seems funny.

This new trailer is longer than usual. We get a nice long look at an iconic scene from the book. Beverly Marsh visits her old home upon returning to Derry. There is an old woman who lives there and invites her in. Long story short, the old woman is Pennywise in disguise, in the books Beverly was afraid of the old witch from Hansel and Gretel and her old home eventually begins to look like the sweet house from the book. Also, in the book, the tea she drinks is actually shit. Literal shit. Because you know, Pennywise lives in the sewers and all. In the trailer, Bev makes a strange face after taking a sip of the tea, so I wonder if they left the shit in the movie?

The trailer is very affective and I am curious to see how they end it. According to interviews, tons of iconic stuff from the book is getting put into this new movie and I think fans are going to be blown away by what they are about to see.