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Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

The Wizard

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Ever since 1989 I have been curious what the deal is with this “THE WIZARD” Nintendosploitation movie starring Fred Savage. But back then I was pretty busy having Batmania, so I remember I said “I better wait for Shout Factory to release a remastered 2-disc collector’s edition Blu-Ray.” And now that day has come.

The movie opens with Jimmy (Luke Edwards, I KNOW MY FIRST NAME IS STEVEN, NEWSIES, LITTLE BIG LEAGUE, JEEPERS CREEPERS 2), a seemingly autistic boy, walking along a desert highway. He must’ve been walking for a while, because there’s a small plane looking for him. When a cop comes and gets him, all the poor kid will say is “California.”

His motives are mysterious, but we’re told he’s been horribly traumatized, so it must have something to do with that. That doesn’t make his jerky stepdad (Sam McMurray, C.H.U.D., STONE COLD, CLASS ACT) any more patient with his wandering, so he decides to put Jimmy in what everyone keeps referring to as “a home.” That especially pisses off Jimmy’s brother or half-brother or whatever, Corey (Savage, director of DADDY DAY CAMP), who lives with his older brother Nick (Christian Slater, HE WAS A QUIET MAN) and drunk loser dad (Beau Bridges, MAX PAYNE). (read the rest of this shit…)

Richard Jewell

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

Even before that fake baby in AMERICAN SNIPER, people were talking like Clint Eastwood was some confused old man who doesn’t know how to direct a movie anymore. Gotta disagree. I know I’m far from the only one who really enjoyed and was surprised by THE MULE, and now that I’ve caught up with Clint’s latest director-only drama, RICHARD JEWELL, I’m here to tell you that’s a good one too. Really good, and to me it’s by far the most compelling of what now seems to be a Real American Heroes series with SNIPER, SULLY and THE 15:17 TO PARIS*.

Okay, yeah, so there’s a part where kids drinking beer in a dorm room have a poster on the wall that says “Beer 2 Night.” Have fun with that one. I didn’t notice the fake baby before so maybe there’s some in this one, I honestly don’t care. It’s a fascinating story, it made me laugh, it moved me, it has one of if not the best lead performance of last year. My friends, I have Jewellmania. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lady Vengeance

Friday, March 13th, 2020

(contains heavy spoilers for 15 year old movie)

LADY VENGEANCE is the RETURN OF THE JEDI of director Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy in that it’s the third one (after SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE and OLDBOY), it’s loaded with delightful elements, and it’s my favorite even though most people probly say the second one is the best. It begins with a woman named Lee Geum-ja (Lee Yung-ae, JOINT SECURITY AREA) being released early from prison. She’s a national media sensation because of the mismatched combination of the horrible crime she was convicted of (murdering a five-year-old boy) and her youthful appearance of “unabashed naivety.” She got wall-to-wall news coverage, there was a trend of wearing polka-dot dresses like hers, tabloids compared her to Olivia Hussey.

(I wonder what Olivia Hussey is known for in South Korea? ROMEO AND JULIET? BLACK CHRISTMAS? Or maybe a random one like TURKEY SHOOT is huge there?)

(read the rest of this shit…)

Bombshell

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

During my annual Oscar-bait viewing I was scared away from multi-nominee (best actress, best supporting actress, best makeup and hair) BOMBSHELL, about the Roger Ailes sexual harassment scandal at Fox News, when my friend Matt Lynch tweeted that it was “worse than VICE!” That was an effective and immediate optimism killer. Now that it’s on video though I gave it a shot and I don’t agree, it’s not nearly as obnoxious or frustrating as VICE. But what good does that do to me when it’s not very good either?

Three great actresses play three Fox News employees with their own little stories. Two are playing known real life TV personalities. All three are blonde. Charlize Theron (REINDEER GAMES) plays Megyn Kelly, the star of her own show who was held out as the smart and independent woman at Fox because a couple she noted Trump’s sexism a couple times during the 2016 election. Of couse she also did the same bullshit as every other jerk on that network (about the only example in the movie is her crusade against non-white depictions of Santa Claus).

Theron, one of my favorite working actors, captures Kelly’s demeanor well, and at times the makeup job is uncanny. But I kept thinking “Who does her accent remind me of?” and once I realized it was Mira Sorvino in ROMY AND MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION I couldn’t unthink it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance

Monday, March 9th, 2020

(heavy spoilers)

Recently my editor at Rebeller asked me to do a column on Park Chan-wook’s so called “Vengeance Trilogy.” I had seen and reviewed OLDBOY long ago, but somehow never got to SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE and LADY VENGEANCE. I’m glad I watched them, and I thought they would be worth delving into further. That was a good column, but I’m officially reviewing them for posterity now.

In case you, like me, managed to hear 18 years worth of praise for MR. VENGEANCE without actually finding out what it was about, here goes. It’s the story of Ryu (Shin Ha-kyun, THE VILLAINESS), a deaf and mute young man who dropped out of art school to work at a factory because his sister (Im Ji-eun) needs a kidney transplant. He’s not a match, but he’s saving up his money in case they find a suitable donor. He’s able to narrate the story through letters he sends to a DJ to read on the air, and he’ll sit with his sister as she listens to the broadcasts. (read the rest of this shit…)

Judy

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Before the 2019 awards season dissipates entirely from memory I want to get my thoughts down about one of the movies I watched. As I’ve said before, one of the reasons I like following the Oscars is to get myself to watch a few things that I wouldn’t otherwise, for a little of the ol’ BoH (Broadening of Horizons). I always bring up the example of when I had no interest in THE MISERABLES but I watched it because it was the only best picture nominee I hadn’t seen and it turned out I loved it.

This year all the best picture nominees were things I’d seen or was already planning to see. But there was one movie that I correctly guessed would be a winner that I really did not think would be my cup of tea – JUDY.

Things I had against it: Not generally a fan of biopics. Not particularly curious about the life of Judy Garland. Never really impressed by Renee Zelweger. I absolutely would not have watched this for any other reason than “Eh, she’s gonna get best actress, might as well find out if I should be mad about that or not.” (read the rest of this shit…)

THE STUNTWOMAN a.k.a. AH KAM

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

We owe this review to 1-900-MIXALOT, who was kind enough to recommend THE STUNTWOMAN in the comments for SUPERCOP. I found it at Scarecrow Video under the title AH KAM. I’m sure it’s not easy to come by, but as I write this there’s one copy available for $30 on Amazon, so it’s not unobtanium.

Like all right thinking citizens of the world I revere Michelle Yeoh as a superstar of martial arts films, and also respect her great gravitas as a dramatic actress. I don’t think there’s anyone else who is iconic on the level of Jet Li and Donnie Yen in kung fu films, but also has Yeoh’s level of success in non-action drama roles (including English language ones like SUNSHINE, CRAZY RICH ASIANS and Star Trek: Discovery). THE STUNTWOMAN is a 1996 Hong Kong film, her followup to WING CHUN, that bridges those two worlds. I definitely consider it a drama, not an action movie, but because she plays the titleistical stuntwoman we see her doing some of the good shit, and she also has one very satisfying opportunity to bust out a little bit of kung fu on some motherfuckers. (read the rest of this shit…)

Marriage Story

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

MARRIAGE STORY seems like kind of a cheeky name for a movie about a divorce. I first learned of writer-director Noah Baumbach by seeing his fourth movie as a director, THE SQUID AND THE WHALE. That was a movie clearly based on his childhood during his parents’ divorce, and here’s one clearly based on a divorce he himself had years after making that movie. The circle of life. Hakuna matata. Did you know he was a writer on MADAGASCAR 3?

The best-picture-nominated-straight-to-Netflix-but-it’s-coming-to-Criterion MARRIAGE STORY has all the dry humor, smart dialogue and outstanding, emotional performances his movies are known for (three of them also Oscar nominated), and the heartache and discomfort the topic demands, but somehow it feels kind of… warm for Baumbach? And even kind of romantic?

Part of that comes down to our Noah Baumbach character — I mean our male lead — not coming across as as much of a self-regarding dickbag as some of the others. Charlie (Adam Driver, one episode of Law & Order, WHILE WE’RE YOUNG) runs a small New York theater company, directing plays that often star his wife Nicole (Scarlett Johansson, THE SPIRIT), a former teen movie star. Charlie is entirely at fault for the dissolution of the marriage, he has the least excusable behavior and turns out to have serious emotional issues he’s left unaddressed. But he seems to be going at this divorce thing in good faith, trying to do it as amicably as possible, even trying to stay friends. (read the rest of this shit…)

Ford v Ferrari

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

FORD v FERRARI: VROOM OF JUSTICE is a perfectly enjoyable, kind of square and obvious, know-it-all-car-guy underdog racing picture. It has been widely described as a “dad movie,” and sure enough a one-day awards season engagement drew a different crowd than I usually see at the Cinerama, with a higher contingent of gray-haired men. Everyone applauded and cackled at the sticking of it to the man, and in recognition of all the lines from the trailer. A good time was had by all.

It’s the story of Caroll Shelby (Matt Damon, TITAN A.E.), one of the only Americans to ever win the 24-hour-Le-Mans, now retired from driving due to a heart condition, making his living building and selling cars and sponsoring a racing team. Then one day he’s approached by Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal, THE ACCOUNTANT), who has convinced Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts, who also played the grouchy boss in LITTLE WOMEN and maybe other best picture nominees) that the way to make his grandpa’s car company into Not Your Grandpa’s Car Company is to build a car that beats Ferrari in Le Mans. It’s a tall order, but Shelby agrees to give it a shot and recruits his friend Ken Miles (Christian Bale, POCAHONTAS), a “difficult” automotive genius, to help develop and drive the car. (read the rest of this shit…)

Uncut Gems

Monday, January 20th, 2020

UNCUT GEMS is the latest and highest profile movie from writer/director brothers Josh and Benny Safdie. I recently caught up with their previous movie GOOD TIME and I loved it, so I would’ve been excited for this even without the hype.

It’s the story of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler, CONEHEADS), a New York jeweler who specializes in making ridiculous necklaces for rich musicians and athletes. His claim to fame is a blinged out Furby medallion he once made for some rapper to wear in a video. His shop is a tiny room behind a security door and he depends on people with connections like affiliate Demany (LaKeith Stanfield, THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB) and employee/mistress Julia (Julia Fox) to hook him up with VIP clients. Julia is using her hotness and her side career as a photographer to hook that singer The Weeknd, and Demany brings in Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett. (read the rest of this shit…)