Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Rocketman trailer

It looks like Taron Edgerton, who I've been swiftly becoming a fan of, is transforming into Elton John in the best possible way.

We are kinda going through a long stretch of biopics. And while I've loved some biopics, hated others and just liked some more, they are all kind of built the same way. Will "Rocketman" stand out or just be another biopic?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Academy Award Prep

The Academy Awards are nearly upon us. As per most years, I play the procrastination game something fierce and I am catching up on the movies nominated for an award right now. Thankfully, I don't have too many to see, so going through them will be a piece of cake, and it should award me enough time to make my predictions after some thoughtful thinking right before Sunday.

If Beale Street Could Talk
I usually can't stand movies that seem to pander to the awards season. When I originally read about "Moonlight," the 2016 movie by Barry Jenkins, it seemed like a movie specifically designed for the awards season. I was ready to write off the movie completely, until I actually saw it. I can barely describe how the movie Barry Jenkins moved me, but I find myself watching it quite a bit since its release. 

While I wouldn't say that "If Beale Street Could Talk" had the same profound impact that "Moonlight" did, but it is an exceptional piece of filmmaking. A moving picture of defiance and love at a time of extreme prejudice. Regina King is very good in the movie. There is a scene in particular where she is trying to convince a woman down in South America to come back to New York City for a court hearing that is so remarkably powerful that it has left me thinking about it for the whole weekend. She could very well get the Oscar Sunday night.

 Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Here's a movie that I just enjoyed for start to finish. I have loved Melissa McCarthy ever since I saw her in "Bridesmaids." But I'll be honest, I've been pretty pissed off by what Hollywood has offered her as a result. Essentially allowing her to be the same person over and over again. I don't get how comedy people get type-cast, because they really are people who can do anything. Comedy has the potential to be dangerous and dark. There have been several people from comedy backgrounds who have proven to be downright scary in the right role. I've been waiting for McCarthy to get her turn.

While there is some humor in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" its not the braindead, slapstick stuff that we usually get from McCarthy. It is more offbeat, and more dry. It is mostly a dramatic film and McCarthy is alive here in way I have not seen in quite a while. Its good stuff indeed.

 The Wife
"The Wife" was ultimately a good movie, but one I felt like just got going a little too slowly. There is some dramatic play between Glenn Close and Jonathon Price that truly is magnificent. They play possibly the most dysfunctional couple I have seen in any movie in a long time. There is a moment where they are arguing over possible unfaithfulness in their relationship, then when their daughter calls them after giving birth to her first son, the couple turns on a dime. They pull it together and find rejoice and love in the tender moment of becoming grandparents. It's actually borderline scary how the scene works. While Close and Price send off fireworks, it ultimately didn't save the movie and promote it to great status, for me anyway. But it might be just enough that Close gets the Oscar. We'll see.

I'll be dropping more hints as the week progresses. And as always, I'll post my predictions this weekend.

Star Wars Episode Nine has wrapped filming

J.J. Abrams, who directed "The Force Awakens" and is now back in the director's chair for "Episode Nine" posted this lovely image of his Twitter over the weekend. Its the three new iconic faces of the "Star Wars" franchise. We see Rey, Poe and Finn all embracing, all the actors in a congratulatory hug after filming has wrapped on "Episode Nine." It is a lovely image, if I do say so myself.

So I wonder if it won't be long before we get a trailer? No to mention a title? We were supposed to get a title drop about two weeks ago, but that ended up being a rumor. There is also another rumor going around that the title for Episode Nine is going to end up being "Balance of the Force," but that sounds so apologetically cheesy that it better stay a rumor. Although I guess its not as bad as "Attack of the Clones." That was a title I initially thought was silly, but then ended up gradually growing on me. The thing I want most of all from this is just a good movie. "The Last Jedi" left such a bad taste in my mouth that I hope Abrams can just course-correct and finish this saga off strong.

That is my hope.

I can only imagine though that a trailer is right around the corner.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Review: "Berlin, I Love You" proves concept is running out of steam

Berlin, I Love You Review

There is a series of films, all anthologies, that take place in a city. It started in 2007 with "Paris, Je T'aime." It was a star-studded anthology revolving around stories about love. In 2009, we got "New York, I Love You." Which was also a star-studded anthology revolving around stories of love. Today, we get "Berlin, I Love You," which is, you guessed it, a star-studded anthology revolving around stories about love. Of all three movies, the only one I didn't see is the first, "Paris, Je T'aime." Also, telling from the two movies I have seen, I am a little afraid to watch "Paris, Je T'aime."

"New York, I Love You" was a very well marketed movie, really got people on the hook. I missed it in the theater, but when I did catch up with it. I couldn't believe just how boring the whole thing was. Some segments really didn't make any sense, some didn't even seem to have anything to do with love. It was a very weird concept and very weird stories that benefited with a handful of wonderful actors. "Berlin, I Love You," which I can't believe isn't called "Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich" has decided its going to be even more boring, make even less sense and have segments featuring stories that are so far removed from love that I am bewildered they appear in the movie. It seems this series is destined to get progressively worse.

First of all, you couldn't have asked for a more Americanized version of this concept. Its funny that in city in the middle of Germany, there's a bunch of people speaking English everywhere you go. Sure, some people are American, on business. But its just funny that its a movie celebrating the city and the culture and there are so few German actors in it. Where's Christoph Waltz or Till Schweiger? Was Daniel Bruhl unavailable? Or Michael Fassbender or Diane Kruger? Oh, and not throwing in the legendary Jurgen Prochnow was a missed opportunity. Nothing spells American jingoism like a bunch of American actors telling the world what German culture is!

Then there's the segments. There is a wrap around story about a German street entertainer who is annoyed when an Israeli singer comes to his spot and starts playing music for people. Instead of getting angry back, she tries to see if they can help each other, feed off of each other then split the money. They slowly become friends. As you watch this wrap-around story play out, you wonder why the filmmakers didn't just make a whole movie about these two people, its the only two characters that they seemed interested in.

Then we are off with Jim Sturgess, starring in what appears to be a low-rent "Her" remake. Then we meet Kiera Knightley and Helen Mirren as mother and daughter having a rough patch. By far, the weirdest segment is one where a mush-faced Mickey Rourke plays a business man at a bar, and he meets a beautiful yet criminally younger woman. They talk, he flirts, she smiles. Somehow a daughter he has gets brought up, and he was apparently a bad father. He takes her back to his room for sex, but she doesn't want to. He doesn't pressure her, they fall asleep. The man wakes up to find out...giggle...I almost can't type it...the girl was his long, lost daughter!

This being an anthology, there is barely any time for character development. But there are so many stories crammed into this anthology that an emotional depth or weight to any of the characters or their stories is quickly lost. There just isn't enough time to attach any sort of attachment to these people. The stories are so short that you are doing all that development at a gallop and it ends up fumbling in most places.

I hope we can be done with these, or perhaps the team behind these movies start being a little bit more clever and better when it comes to putting them together, they are getting worse and worse.


Nothing is being let go! "Frozen 2" trailer here!

Is it weird that ever since a nurse almost a year ago now broke the news that my wife and I's first child would be a girl, that I've wondered if she will given into the "Frozen" mania? Don't get me wrong, I want my child to follow her interests, but I do wonder if she'll be infected by the "Frozen" bug and if that high fandom will destroy her parents.

All kidding aside, I wonder if Disney planned for this to be as big as it was. I would say "Frozen" is huge. I gave the first film a positive review, I liked that it felt like a classic Disney movie. When you work at a childcare center and hear nothing but "Frozen" songs for well over a year, that good grace turned to contempt pretty fast.

Now, that mania returns again, here's our first look at "Frozen 2"

The details of the plot have been secret and the trailer certainly doesn't give anything away. So I wonder if this is working on any adult fans of this franchise. Me? Well, having a daughter, I think it is safe to say I will see this one eventually. If that's good or bad remains to be seen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Review: Everything is (mostly) still awesome with "The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part"

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part Review
We are now four movies into this "LEGO Movie universe" and I have to say that by and large, I have been more impressed by it than I figured I would be. They are wild and over-the-top, at the same time, they have messages that I feel can be appreciated and recognized by older audiences. "The LEGO Movie" was 2014, and not only did children love another fable about doing their best, and knowing that even they are special. The adults got a wake up call on the nasty world of modern nostalgia, and how that can sometimes leave wounds. "The LEGO Batman Movie" not only brought two of my favorite things, LEGO's and Batman, together. But I think it exposed Batman's id in a way that none of the live-action movies have been able to do successfully. I think the most ordinary movie of the bunch is "The LEGO Ninjago Movie" which just seemed like it wanted your cash and that was it.

Sequels are tough, they are a necessarily evil in this world and I was curious to see what they would do with this sequel. How they could make this second film special without pandering. Or without repeating themselves. The thing is, it seems "The LEGO Movie 2" is most interested in repeating itself, or just mocking the very way sequels repeat themselves in the first place. This second movie takes place exactly where the first movie left off. When Finn (Jadon Sand) learns from his father (Will Ferrell) that he has to share his LEGO world with his sister, that leads to a war in Bricksville between Emmett (Chris Pratt) and friends and the weird little kid LEGOs we saw at the first films end. We learn that LEGO world fights these big LEGO's aliens for five years, which turns it into LEGO World: Fury Road.

The only person who doesn't seem to mind is, of course Emmett. Even though his world is constantly at war. What eventually springs him into action is the sudden disappearance of all of his friends at the hands of these bizarre aliens. They are captured by Queen Waterva Wanabi (Tiffany Haddish) who assures them that they are not trying to hurt them, even though the behavior is anything but reassuring. In any case, Emmett meets up with Rex Dangervest, who is also voiced by Chris Pratt and is a huge parody of several characters Pratt has played over the years, and some he was just rumored to play. Its shamelessly clever character-building. I'm sure audiences will get a kick out of the humor that rises by the interactions of Emmett and Dangervest.

As always, "The LEGO Movie 2" is both wild and over-the-top. If you somehow found "Everything is Awesome" to be the most annoying song in your entire life, well just wait until you hear "Catchy Song" which I think was specifically designed to make people's ears bleed. The whole movie is a massive exaggerated parody on the whole notion of the sequel. Some things are purposefully the same as last time, at least I think they were supposed to be, and that's part of the humor of it all. They do repeat themselves here, but in some clever ways. But the film's secret weapon is how they bend the rules of movies just a little bit to tell a story that is somewhat unexpected. All movie long, I couldn't tell if the movie was going to be predictable or if the movie was going to pretend to be predictable, and that's the fun of it all.

The world of LEGO continues to feel like a living, breathing place. Even though its not somewhere I could ever personally go, I love that it always feels lived in. Even when everything goes dystopian, there is a fun way of keeping things imaginative that I felt was rewarding after every passing minute. I do like the sheer look of this world and just how good high definition special effects are in this day and age. 

The whole notion of making fun of the sequel is clever for a premise. Especially since most of the target audience probably won't even get what is being made fun of, or that there is a joke at play at all. But hey, that's what makes the movie fun for all ages. Some of the humor lands, and some of it doesn't. I think the first film is ultimately a better affair, and lands a lot more laughs. But hey, perhaps that's what makes "The LEGO Movie 2" true in form. This isn't supposed to be better than the first movie, and perhaps they are okay with that. Still, so much is still awesome that its hard to not have a good time.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

A First Look at Tommy Wiseau's "Big Shark"

Move over "Avengers: Endgame," and look out "Star Wars: Episode Nine." I think we just found out what will end up being the biggest movie of the year. Tommy Wiseau's "Big Shark."

Tommy Wiseau is kind of infamous now, and if you caught James Franco's "The Disaster Artist" in 2017, you know why. Tommy Wiseau came over from Europe, or maybe from outer space or perhaps from another dimension. He became best friends with American actor Greg Sestero, and together they made "The Room." A movie that is hailed as the "Citizen Kane of bad movies." If you've ever wondered if there is a film so bad its funny and good, well Tommy Wiseau's "The Room" is your answer. By logic and narrative, the movie is a trainwreck. But its such a fascinating trainwreck that I can't look away. Neither can millions of fans, because since the film's release in 2003, Wiseau has been programming Midnight showings of the film all across the country. Never would we have known that such a film would become a sensation, but Tommy Wiseau is a walking embodiment of the American Dream.

This year, we are getting the next Tommy Wiseau film, the first one in over a decade. He's making a movie about a shark. That's all we have at this moment. But for right now, that's enough.

Yep. Calling it now. Biggest. Movie. Of 2019!