February has been a pretty crazy month so I haven’t got to enjoy as many movies as I’d like to. I have been watching Taboo on FX. That’s the Tom Hardy period drama. I have to say after the first 3 episodes I wasn’t quite sure if I’d be able to get into it. I stuck with it and by episode 4, I’m in. So far, it’s great and I can’t wait to see more.
Let’s get to it now.
99 Homes (2014)
A recently unemployed single father struggles to get back his foreclosed home by working for the real estate broker who is the source of his frustration.
I have to come out and say it. This movie was terrible. I understood the idea and social commentary behind it but the execution was almost unwatchable. The one good thing about this movie was Michael Shannon. It makes you realize how good of an actor he is.
Okay, first off, Andrew Garfield is not a believe middle class construction worker. Even with his cigarettes and work boots. I can bet this dude has never picked up a hammer or could tell you what a piece of 4×8 ruff is. He looks like he should be dancing in the Nutcracker, not working on a job site. His performance was filled with “acting.” I can’t count the number of times his eyes welled up with tears and was teetering the brink of complete meltdown. There was even a moment in the film where Michael Shannon calls him out saying something like “don’t go crying on me.” I would bet this was improvised and if it was, that makes me like Shannon even more. Garfield is a theater boy, a dramatist, a Peter Parker. This was a role for a man. A guy who’s been through a life of adversity and isn’t welling up with tears about it. He’s simply doing something about it.
This leads me to other major flaws in this story. Garfield’s mom played by Laura Dern has the appearance of a “wild child” that’s drifted through life just getting by. There is one of the most absurd moments in any film I’ve seen where Garfield, Dern and his kid are living in a “bad” motel. Garfield who’s now making some serious money buys a very nice house for them. Dern and grandson suddenly grow a set of morals and don’t want the house because Garfield’s job is bad. Not making your mortgage payment is bad too, but Dern’s character had no qualms about that! This killed me. I was officially mentally checked out after that moment.
All said and done, this movie felt like it was made by robot that read about the housing crisis and made the most generic movie possible. Thumbs to the ground.
Nutshell: Don’t watch this turd.
Should I watch: Hard no.
Where to Watch: Who cares.
Swiss Army Man (2016)
A hopeless man stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home.
A uniquely bizarre and impressively creative film by two writer/directors new to the big leagues, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Swiss Army Man takes us on a comedic adventure about love and friendship. The casting in this film was spot on. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe were amazing. Both are top of their game actors that paired exceptionally. The creativity of this film was off the charts. The Daniels directing duo, created a world full of imagination that brought the story of their characters into a visually visceral extravaganza. My only critique or maybe misunderstanding was of the films ending. I’m not going to give anything away. I’ve only watched the film one time so I need to watch it again and see if maybe I missed something or if the ending is indeed literal.
Nutshell: Creative, fun, unique. Something you’ve never seen before
Should I Watch: Filmmakers, film buffs, writers, artists, creative types, yes. If artsy films aren’t your thing, I’m not sure you’ll like it.
Where To Watch: Amazon Prime (free), Netflix DVD, DVD
The Chopping Mall (1986)
Eight teenagers are trapped after hours in a high tech shopping mall and pursued by three murderous security robots out of control.
If you’re looking for a film that screams the 80s, look no further. Chopping Mall defines 80s cheesy-horror cinema. Its got robust females playing girls in their teens. The gratuitous boob and panty shots. A flock of killer robots, some radical special effects and a synthesized soundtrack. Hell yeah!
Chopping Mall is very simple in its structure and ridiculous in its nature. If you want to get critical this film is really about the future and the impending digital age that will destroy humanity. But let’s not get critical. This film has too much cheese to analyze. The death sequences in this film are over-the-top 1980s gold, as are the performances. It’s hard to imagine this movie playing in theaters and the audience being truly frightened.
With all that said, I enjoyed it. Maybe it’s more nostalgia than anything else. I never got the chance to watch this movie as a kid, but I do remember walking through the video store and seeing the amazing artwork on the cover. I wanted to rent it so bad, but dad wouldn’t let me. I think if you’re in the mood for a little blast to the past go ahead and check this out. If you’re looking for great story, performances and ground breaking film making then stear clear.
Nutshell: Cheese, 80s, horror, nuff said.
Should I Watch: If you were a kid in the 80s, an 80s film junkie or are a screenwriter looking for a project to remake than definitely.
Where To Watch: Amazon Prime (free)
The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.
I’d been wanting to check out this movie for a while now and just got around to it, thanks to HBO. I thought this film was pretty good. I didn’t think it was great but I didn’t think it was bad. I thought the casting made the difference in the movie. Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie made the film. I can’t picture two better stars to play these roles. Skarsgard’s quietly intuitive approach to the character made him not only mysterious but powerful. Robbie’s portrayal of Jane reminded me of the classic Jane. A girl with an outgoing and caring personality but in addition to that Robbie’s natural look is that of a girl that knows how to handle herself. A girl who’s seen some stuff. A girl who has been around the block a few times. You can’t fool her. These element made the chemistry of the characters magnetic. Something that invested you into the story.
Now, there were some elements that were a bit outrageous. I know the idea behind this film was the “real” Tarzan. But the vine swinging stuff and some of the animal human interactions were a bit far fetched. But I guess that’s the story of Tarzan, right? Overall I think it’s a movie that’s worth checking out.
Nutshell: Story driven, don’t think you’re going to see a live action Disney film. It was okay.
Should I Watch: I wouldn’t put it at the top of my Netflix Que but I think it’s worth checking out.
Where To Watch: HBO, Netfilx DVD
When twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.
Denis Villeneuve is quickly turning into one of my favorite directors. Sicario is one of my favorite films of all time and after watching Arrival starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner it’s confirmed he’s not just a flash in the pan. What I loved about Arrival besides the excellent performances was the story. It was an idea that I’d never seen before or even thought about. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t go into detail. The storytelling and pacing of the overall film was excellent. There weren’t any dead ends or over-indulgent action sequences. It was simply about the story of Louise Banks. I can’t say enough good things about it. Definitely check it out.
P.S. I’m reading the book Dune right now and I saw the Denis Villeneuve has optioned the rights to the story, so that will be so badass if he remakes it. Can’t wait.
Nutshell: Filmmaking at it’s finest.
Should I Watch: Yes
Where To Watch: Netfilx DVD, DVD
Nocturnal Animals (2016)
A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.
Nocturnal Animals stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon. The film is a story of two tales where deeper meaning is unwound as the story progresses. The performances in this film were amazing. Adams, Gyllenhaal and Shannon all retain their A-Lister status as they delivered profound work. Director Tom Ford’s use of colors to provide subtext to events and characters in the story were used brilliantly. This more than meets the eye thriller blew right past my radar and I watched it without knowing anything about it. It exceeded expectations and while watching Shannon’s gritty Texas cop performance I couldn’t help but think how much he looked like a white Samuel L. Jackson. Lol! Shannon is arguably one of the greatest character actors in showbiz today. If you’re in the mood for a dramatic thriller, I highly recommend checking out Nocturnal Animals.
Nutshell: Excellent story, great performances and thrilling.
Should I Watch: Yes
Where To Watch: Amazon, iTunes
January 2017 List
I Am Not A Serial Killer
Into the Abyss
The Good Neighbor
The OA – series complete
Girl on a Train
Beware the Slenderman
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
In Order of Disappearance
The Nice Guys