So once again we have survived.

Posts Tagged ‘Damien Chazelle’

La La Land

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

LA LA LAND is a straight up musical from Damien Chazelle, writer of the music-themed thriller GRAND PIANO, director of the thrilling music movie WHIPLASH. Instead of heart-pounding tension this time he goes for brazen, shameless romance – romance for the idea of falling in love, and for the city of Los Angeles, its history and the potential it represents for aspiring actors and musicians.

I was a little skeptical when it started. The opening, where Los Angelenos temporarily abandon their gridlocked cars for a long-take song and dance number on the freeway overpass that the bus jumped from in SPEED, has a whiff of Old Navy commercial cuteness, and the story of an actress from a small town struggling to make it in big ol’ Hollywood and she’s not looking for a guy but her friends drag her to a party and just when she least expects it… well, it seems a little too straight up exactly the corny old cliche. But as soon as it’s zeroing in on the specific lives and personalities of the two people about to meet and bicker and flirt and fall in love and chase their dreams together and apart, all of that corniness becomes a strength. These two are too charming and funny for you not to kinda fall in movie-love with them yourself, or at least feel a buzz of vicarious courtship. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Monday, March 14th, 2016

tn_10cloverfieldlaneA couple weeks ago I reviewed that movie ROOM and even though it was a world class best picture nominee type of movie I said it should have DTV sequels like the similarly locationally limited indie CUBE did about a decade back. It could just be another story about another room that people are stuck in. Well, little did I know that they’d do something like that but it would be released theatrically and it would be a J.J. Abrams (JOY RIDE) production, not called ROOM2 or ROOM: REDEMPTION but 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE.

That title may make you think it’s gonna feature Cloverfield, the popular lasagna swilling, Monday-hating, Nermal, Odie and Jon abusing asshole giant monster character from Matt Reeves’s Abrams production CLOVERFIELD, but it’s not. It’s also not done in found footage style, instead it’s modeled after the look of a professional movie. It would’ve been cool if there was a part where T.J. Miller runs by with a camcorder, but I think the title is just a coincidence. It’s kinda like how Rob Cohen directed DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY, DRAGONHEART and THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, but those aren’t necessarily a trilogy in my opinion.

So no, this one is more like ROOM, but with a different lady in a different room with a different skylight and a different idea about the world outside. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER) plays Michelle, who in a silent prologue is seen abandoning her husband or fiancee (we never see him, but his telephone voice is Bradley Cooper [THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN]). Then she gets in a car accident out in the boonies and wakes up in a strange room with an I.V. drip and a leg brace. This doesn’t look like a hospital though, mainly because she’s on a mattress on the floor, and the door is like a vault, and also she’s shackled to a pipe, and she doesn’t even have a call button in case she needs a nurse to help her go to the bathroom. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Whiplash

Monday, November 17th, 2014

tn_whiplashWHIPLASH is one of those movies that you hear about playing at Sundance and what not and going over like gangbusters. But you have to take that praise with a grain of salt. You know those festival-goers, they can get excited about seeing something first, something brand new without a bunch of pre-release expectations, with a big audience, usually with the directors and actors there. Sometimes it’s a great movie and they get to call it first, other times nobody really cares as much when the movie comes to the civilian world. Sometimes it’s good but you feel a little let down from all the build up. Sometimes you don’t really know what anybody saw in it at all.

I had none of those problems with WHIPLASH. It would actually be hard to exaggerate how strong its effect was on me. You know how a hyperbolic critic would say they had to catch their breath after a movie? That was literally true for me. When the credits rolled I felt my skin tingling and then I realized I was breathing fast. Honest to God exhilaration from this movie.

The set up and the execution are very simple. Nerdy loner Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller, who I have liked since the remake of FOOTLOOSE) is a student drummer at an elite music conservatory in New York. He idolizes old timey jazz drummers like Buddy Rich and wants to get into the top band at the school, the one conducted by Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons, THE JACKAL). Fletcher is maybe some kind of genius teacher, but for sure a total fucking asshole. I’m not talking a strict teacher, a grouchy curmudgeon, a Joe Clark type guy that’s gonna turn out to have a heart of gold. I’m talking just… you want to punch this fucking guy in the face in the opening scene and I’m pretty sure you’re not gonna love him by the end. One of the most abusive, hateful non-murderers ever put on screen, and not in an endearing Billy Bob Thornton type of way. He doesn’t even give you the usual cinematic satisfaction of going too far and becoming a psycho in the criminal sense. It doesn’t turn into THE STEPFATHER or something. He’s just… a Total Fucking Asshole (TFA). (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Grand Piano

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

tn_grandpianoGRAND PIANO is a tight little thriller, the kind of thing I would have to call snappy, crackling, popping or perhaps krispy if I had the vocabulary. It’s a cool premise, well-executed, and then it gets the fuck out in around 80 minutes not including credits. And get this: it’s THE PIANO on speed! Picture that. Great idea, right?

Oh, I’m sorry, no, I meant it’s SPEED on a piano! Elijah Wood (FLIPPER) plays a disgraced world’s-greatest-concert-pianist, reluctantly pushed by his movie star wife (Kerry Bishé, ARGO, RED STATE) into a high profile, high pressure performance in tribute to his eccentric, recently deceased mentor. He’s already ready to shit out all his insides on stage and then in the middle of the performance he finds threatening notes on his sheet music and a crazy sniper starts threatening him over a headset. (The credits tipped me off that it was [SPOILER?] John Cusack, but the voice is immediately recognizable anyway. Actually, I don’t know if I’ve seen him play an evil mastermind before, and he’s a natural. Usually you’re supposed to love him for his asshole qualities, in this one he’s just being more honest.) (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.