Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

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  • Directed by Denis Villeneuve
  • Starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford
  • Written by Hampton Francher, Michael Green
  • Science Fiction
  • Rated R
  • 2hr 44min
  • 6 October 2017

Synopsis

A sequel to the 1982 classic, Blade Runner 4049 follows a modern day Blade Runner, police officers who hunt down the old model Replicants, artificial humans created for service to humans, as he discovers a shocking event in the past that could change the human-replicant world forever.

How’s the Story?

The story was really good. There was so much going on that the nearly 3 hour movie didn’t feel that long at all. I’m a big fan of this type of ‘beings created to be slaves finding humanity in spite of not being actually human’ science fiction, and this was honestly just a really well-developed story from beginning to end. I loved the way it kind of had this step-by-step mystery vibe alongside the Science Fiction, because I’m a huge fan of mystery!

How’s the Acting?

The acting in this is phenomenal! I’m not usually a big Ryan Gosling fan. I liked The Nice Guys. That’s about it. However, he’s great here. K’s journey was so brilliantly done, and he conveyed so much without too very much dialogue. That’s probably the best part of this movie. A lot of the acting is acting, not just ‘the writing drives the actors performances’. All I can say is that this is definitely Gosling’s best performance, though coming from me, that isn’t saying too much.

Another one worth mentioning is Sylvia Hoeks’s performance as Luv. Her character was just so good and I really think her performance as this sort of abuse-victim-assistant replicant was just so well done and very believable. Of all the characters in this movie, she’s the one that I most ‘believed’, so to speak, and I really think it was down to the acting.

How’s the Writing/Directing?

This movie was written just as well as it was directed, and usually with the best movies, that’s the case. There was so much in this movie that wasn’t told through dialogue and yet the dialogue that happened was all very subtle and there more to lead you than to tell you what’s going on. It takes a good writer to tell so much of a story with such a complex narrative in the span of a single film, and it takes an amazing director to take that script and turn it into a really good movie.

What I got here was the feeling of Shutter Island meets Arrival. Not in content, but in the feel of it. The slow, methodical, step-by-step investigation that unfolds new information at every step feeling that I love so much in Shutter Island is the way this feels. It doesn’t feel drawn out, it doesn’t feel unnecessary, everything feels the way reading a good mystery novel feels: things unfold in just the right order to leave you surprised by what is revealed but without a jarring shock. It’s just a satisfying narrative structure and this film was so satisfying. And the Arrival connection is obvious, because of the director, but the feeling that something so big is happening but we’re watching it through such a personal, narrow scope is present in both films. I love the way that we know and are reminded that this is such a monumental discovery that K has uncovered, but the whole time, it’s very focused on how personal it is to him and what it means for his journey towards discovering his own humanity.

As much as I liked Blade Runner, this sequel is one of the rare times that I honestly don’t even care what it’s a sequel to, it’s just an incredibly written and directed film that’s very, very good.

How’s the Cinematography?

I almost feel like I don’t even need to talk about this part, because we all know how the cinematography is. It’s the biggest thing talked about in the press about this movie. The DP is Roger Deakins, who is a master of his craft known for upwards of 70 films. Pretty much if you’ve been watching movies over the last four decades, you’ve seen a Roger Deakins film.

But to be fair to those who may not have read much into this film before stumbling across this review, this film has some of the most incredibly done cinematography all year. The big, bleak landscapes, the detailed interior shots, the color palates, the unexpected camera angles, all of it is in this movie and all of it is wonderful. The entire look of the Las Vegas portion of the film had me in awe.

Is It Worth Watching?

This movie probably isn’t for all audiences, simply because this is a movie I feel is more enjoyable to us who are ‘into’ film. My 16 year old brother went with me, since it’s SciFi and he loves that genre, and his entire reaction as the credits rolled was, and I quote, “…. what?” He hadn’t really followed anything going on. I barely remember Blade Runner so I didn’t think he would have any trouble following along with it since I followed it very well, given the only backstory you need is flashed on the screen at the opening, but he didn’t understand the point of anything that happened. I don’t think he disliked the movie, but he mostly just didn’t get why we sat through three hours of movie for that story.

That said, I absolutely recommend this movie to the type of people who really love cinema. I didn’t love this movie as a straightforward story, simply because it was nothing I haven’t seen told before, but the way this works as a film is incredible. The elements of film-making are done so well and crafted together in such a way that I’m sure this one will go on the syllabi of my former professors in all my film studies classes in college. The look of it, the feel of it, the quality of the film-making, all of these things just blew me away. I won’t say it’s in any way my favorite movie of the year, because I tend to go more by ‘stories that I love’ for those things, but as far as ‘practices in film-making’ goes, yeah, this one is top 5 for sure.

My Rating: 8/10

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

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  • Directed by Matthew Vaughn
  • Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Julianne Moore
  • Written by Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
  • Comedy, Action
  • Rated R
  • 2hr 21mins
  • 22 September 2017

Synopsis

Set a few years after Valentine tried to take over the world, Kingsman is destroyed by the leader of the Golden Circle drug cartel, Poppy (Julianne Moore). The only surviving members, Merlin and Eggsy, must follow the only clue they have, a bottle of Statesman bourbon, to find help in stopping Poppy once and for all.

How’s the Story?

The story has good ideas but it’s poorly executed. There are so many threads here and there that don’t get explored, but overall, it’s just as topical and entertaining as the first Kingsman movie. I think where it falls short mostly is how random Charlie being brought back is. There’s no real reason that was necessary, and there’s no real reason after the first one for the whole story to really happen. It’s one of those movies where it’s good, but it wasn’t necessary. One of my biggest complaints with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was the same thing. The events of Kingsman: The Secret Service didn’t really NEED this continuation the way this story plays out. They basically wipe the slate clean and this is just another story. Which makes sense in the realm of ‘this is a James Bond spoof’, but it just doesn’t need to exist.

However, independent from the first movie, it’s a solid story.

How’s the Acting?

The acting is pretty good. Taron Egerton continues to be an amazing talent, Mark Strong is Mark Strong, and Colin Firth is Colin Firth. The real standout here is Julianne Moore. I’ve seen her on serious things and in comedies, but rarely does she, to me, do comedy as well as drama. In this movie, she’s just really good. I absolutely adored Poppy even if she is kind of evil.

Also, I’m not sure he was even acting, but Elton John was soooo fun.

How’s the Writing/Directing?

The writing and directing are where I think this movie’s story went wrong. There is so much tonal whiplash going on and it isn’t a good thing. The scene progression doesn’t feel really right in a lot of places. I don’t know if it’s just because of the story or what, but the pacing just feels off. There’s a lot of short scenes that don’t really work together with the other scenes leading up to and following it. There are some things that just don’t seem to have any reason to be there. Like Channing Tatum… what’s the point of him? Don’t get me wrong, any excuse to see him half-naked is fun, but honestly, what is he really doing there? He doesn’t make it ‘personal’ that much because we barely get to know him. Tilde makes the whole thing more personal, he isn’t necessary. Also, Ginger isn’t really necessary and I feel like she’s shoehorned in to make sure there’s one girl spy for sure. (And to have Halle Berry in the movie.)

How’s the Cinematography?

There are some really great shots in this movie, just like in the first one. I love this highly mobile camera style in these movies. While this one lacks some of the wow-factor of the first, there are still sequences that make you go, ‘whooaaa coooool’ and I love it! Nothing is more fun than slow-mo fight scenes, right? The big action moments like car chases and shootouts and the whip-fighting is all just so fun. I’m a big action movie person, and this is one of the more impressive examples of how to make an action movie FUN.

Is It Worth Watching?

It’s definitely worth watching, even though I do find it a bit disappointing after the first one. This movie feels like the creators saw the success of the first Kingsman and then decided to just phone it in, knowing they would have a ready-made audience. This movie’s choices in many places go beyond ‘makes fun of James Bond’ straight into ‘is tacky’ and it’s a letdown. While it’s mad fun, and when not compared to the first, is a solid film, to me as a huge fan of Kingsman: The Secret Service, even though I set my expectations low, this still managed to fall short of those lowered expectations.

What made the first Kingsman so special was the ways in which it subverted the movie spy stereotypes and even, in many ways, hyper-masculine stereotypes, and more importantly, it infused heart into a spy movie in ways that made you really care about the characters instead of them being set pieces like in a James Bond movie that it parodies. This movie lacks all of those things. The only parts of this movie that made me FEEL much of anything were the really sad ones, which is just annoying, because I was so ready to care about the things going on, but this movie fails to evoke those emotions.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is fun, fast paced, fucking HILARIOUS, and an all around solid film, but it is very shallow and superficial compared to Kingsman: The Secret Service and I really think that a person who wasn’t a big fan of the first will enjoy this movie more than those of us who have been waiting impatiently to get more of what the first one gave us, which is a spy movie with a soul.

(My review has seemed more negative than my rating will reflect, but that’s because the first one got a 9/10 from me, so that’s the bar I’m comparing this one to.)

My Rating: 7/10

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American Assassin (2017)

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  • Directed by Michael Cuesta
  • Starring Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton
  • Written by Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch
  • Action
  • Rated R
  • 1hr 52min
  • 15 September 2017

Synopsis

After Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien), and American tourist, loses the love of his life in a terror attack in Ibiza, Spain, he decides to take down terrorism from the inside. After his attempt fails,  he discovers he’s been watched by the CIA all this time when they recruit him to train for some serious shadow ops, training which is headed by Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton).

How’s the Story?

The story is pretty bare bones but serviceable. It has potential that is never reached in the film, but overall, it’s your standard post-9/11 action movie about terrorists and the lone agents with a bone to pick trying to take them down. I think that it could have been a really good movie if not for things I’ll get to in just a few paragraphs down.

How’s the Acting?

The acting is actually really good. I’m not too shocked, because both Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton are well known to be amazing actors, but I am a little shocked just because usually the best actors don’t reach their potential in a movie that’s struggling so badly like this one. Again, this movie had SO MUCH potential, especially with two really amazing actors at the helm. O’Brien’s performance is standard O’Brien. This guy is just really freaking good. The fact this kid got his first job because of who his dad is and ended up being better than some of the most well-trained actors out there is still a stunner to me.

And Michael Keaton is Michael Keaton. Enough said.

How’s the Writing/Directing?

This is where EVERYTHING GOES WRONG! This is quite easily the worst-written script of any movie I’ve seen all year and I’ve seen a lot of stupid-funny comedies. This is written like a parody but directed and acted like a serious action movie. I almost feel like the writers handed a spoof-movie script over to the director and didn’t bother telling him that it wasn’t a serious script and before they could get around to it, they had already cast great actors and got to work on a serious movie, so there wasn’t time for rewrites.

The dialogue is the worst. It’s just so incredibly bad. There are so many times where someone does that totally unrealistic, ridiculous “I’m gonna explain everything in dialogue in a way that’s entirely unnatural for who I’m talking to” thing. One part is literally two people talking alone together and he’s like, “Listen *Lady’s Full Name And Title*, *Full Name Of Team* is a secret team that only you and I know about, because we are the heads of recruiting for it.” I’m not even exaggerating. It’s that bad.

The way it’s directed is actually pretty good, but the writing is so bad I’m not sure why it’s directed well. The general choice in delivery of such shitty lines is pretty solid, which is a miracle, because almost nobody can make terrible writing not horribly acted and delivered.

How’s the Cinematography?

Again, I really like the way this movie is shot. There are a lot of standard action movie choices made, but there are a lot of shots that aren’t standard action movie fare. There are some wonderful moments where the camera moves in a way that is very enjoyable and not what you would expect and it really helps spruce up a this film to have it visually appealing when the dialogue is so horrible it makes me want to cry.

Is It Worth Watching?

If you are a fan of Dylan O’Brien or Michael Keaton, this one is far from either of their worst work, but honestly? Otherwise, no, not really. It’s just not good. It isn’t as bad as I heard it was nor is it as good as I heard it was, it’s just a very badly written movie that somehow has pretty good everything else. I have no idea what happened. I cannot for the life of me understand how this movie came to be what it is. I’m almost speechless over how good the acting is and how interesting the cinematography is juxtaposed with how tragically horrific the writing is.

This may be my first ‘I don’t really recommend this film’ of 2017, I’m not sure, but there it is.

My Rating: 5/10 (for the acting alone, otherwise it would definitely be lower)

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It (2017)

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  • Directed by Andy Muschietti
  • Starring Bill Skarsgård, Jaden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis
  • Written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukanaga
  • Horror
  • Rated R
  • 135 mins.
  • 8 September 2017

Synopsis

After his baby brother, Georgie, goes missing, Bill (Jaden Lieberher) and his friends decide to find out what exactly is menacing the town they live in.

How’s the Story?

I liked it sort of. I was confused a lot at certain parts, but overall, the basic story is good. I liked the flow of it very much, but perhaps that belongs in the writing section? Either way, it’s a pretty solid story, especially for a horror film.

How’s the Acting?

The acting of those kids is incredible. I recognized the kid who talked about his dick all the time as the boy from Stranger Things and Bill as the kid from Midnight Special and wasn’t at all surprised by how good they were. I was astonished by how good every child in this movie was. The girl who played Beverly, Sophia, she was especially incredible. I genuinely loved how good the performances that these kids managed were. It was very commendable.

Not as in tune with the praise I’ve been seeing for Bill Skarsgård. It was a decent job, but Pennywise was mostly CGI so he didn’t really DO very much. So much praise for him when he was just like ‘there’, and all these kids were doing such a more amazing job than him and they haven’t gotten the praise they deserve from what I’ve seen.

If you want to see Bill Skarsgård being a good actor, watch Hemlock Grove. Otherwise, let’s talk about these kids some more!

How’s the Writing/Directing?

There is a lot that I think goes unexplained. Maybe this is normal in horror, I’m not a horror genre person, but I, for one, was kind of annoyed at how many more questions than answers I had overall. I don’t need some “Hercule Poirot explanation breakdown” thing, but I really needed some sort of an idea on what the fuck is going on. Like why do some of the adults seem to know what’s happening and others don’t? Why are the bullies SO FAR BEYOND bullies? They were like ‘attempted murder’, not ‘stole your lunch money’ and nobody did anything??? I just don’t understand very much of what happened in this movie and it distracted me quite a bit.

However, over all, it was really good to see how well they wrote the whole ‘dead baby brother’ thing for Bill. Bill is a great character that’s incredibly believable. Bill and Beverly alone were enough to make up for all the weird shit that I didn’t understand, I think.

How’s the Cinematography?

It’s alright. There’s some kinda shitty CGI, but I don’t really care much about CGI. There are some great shots of the town and stuff like that that make up for the CGI. I do also like the angles that are utilized in this movie. They’re pretty standard horror movie things, but I haven’t seen many more modern horror movies, so to me they were really cool. The number of dutch angle shots alone were really interesting to me. Very unique visuals in this film for my experience. I liked them.

Is It Worth Watching?

It’s good. It’s not anything amazing, but I liked it well enough. I kind of hoped with how people talked about it that it would be AMAZING, but it was still good.

It’s worth the preface that I don’t like horror films often. I often put this preface on comedies that I like when everybody else derides them, because I love them anyways. With this movie, I feel… ‘whatever’. That’s the best way to describe it. I liked the kids, I loved their stories, but Pennywise was kind of ‘whatever’. I didn’t really care much about him or it or whatever. I cared far more about the kids and especially Bill. Bill’s pain for his brother was something I liked. It was heartbreaking and SO easy to understand.

I’m an oldest sister, The thought of losing my baby brother (or either of my baby sisters) is crushing. Bill makes so much sense to me and his story is sooooo raw and emotional. Everything about his situation with Georgie is personal and I felt something for him. I felt a lot of somethings for him. And with Beverly, her gross, rapey dad made you feel for her no matter who you are. It was something intensely personal to feel such real fear of her dad.

But in the end, I find myself wondering what the fuck is going on with this clown monster, how it’s traceable all the way back to the original town charter, and why some of the adults seem to know what’s up and others don’t.

Also, it was gross. I know that’s probably a given, but so much of it was just straight up ‘gross’. I’m not a fan of ‘gross’. Hell, I prefer ‘kind of unrealistic but you get the point’ trauma in sword fights and shit, not full on bloody ickyness. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘well why watch a horror movie?’ and honestly all I can say is that I was curious and I can’t help I don’t like it.

My basic opinion on this film is, “Just watch Super 8, it’s a close enough story in a general sense, but it’s a way better movie!”

My Rating: 6/10

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Wind River (2017)

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  • Directed by Taylor Sheridan
  • Starring Elizabeth Olson, Jeremy Renner, Graham Greene
  • Written by Taylor Sheridan
  • Drama
  • Rated R
  • 107 mins
  • 18 August 2017

Synopsis

Wind River tells the story of Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a predator hunter, being enlisted by an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen), Jane Banner, to track a different type of predator in the snow after he finds a Native American girl dead in the wilderness on the Wind River reservation.

How’s the Story?

Going into this movie, I was really anxious about how this story would be handled. The story of a Native girl raped and murdered on a reservation is, horrifically, nothing new or, even more horrifically, unexpected. It isn’t even the first time I’ve seen this issue tackled in fiction, since an entire story line for a whole season of Longmire was about a girl who was raped by white men and the tribal police could do nothing about it and the state police couldn’t do anything about it all because of jurisdiction.

So, yeah, I was very worried going in, and what I ended up seeing unfold on the screen in front of me was something so respectfully handled for how upsetting a premise as this is. The way this story focused on not making anybody out to be the White Savior and didn’t reduce the whole thing into a gun-slinging action movie – though there is no lack of guns – is something I really, really admire.

How’s the Acting?

The acting in this film is fucking fantastic. I usually withhold F-bombs on this site, but the performances in this movie deserve it. Holy crap, I’ve seen Jeremy Renner in all manner of films, and I have known he was tremendously talented since Neo Ned in like 2005, but his performance in this movie is astonishing. I know it’s too much to hope for an Oscar nomination, but holy hell, he deserves it.

The same claim can be made about Elizabeth Olsen, too. I’ve seen her only in Marvel movies, so I don’t have that much experience with her skill, but this one was one for the talent reel for her. This character had the potential to be over-played but she did it well, kept it reeled in. It was just a very solid performance and I’m beyond pleased.

How’s the Writing/Directing?

I have a hilarious anecdote for this section: I didn’t know much about this movie going in, so I had no idea who the director was or what else he was attached to. When I finished this film, one of the first things I texted a friend was, “You know, this movie felt very much like Hell or High Water in some ways!” as a praise, since Hell or High Water was one of my very favorite movies of last year and the last 5 years, really.

…. low and behold, my friend goes, “Chelsea, you moron, the director and writer of this movie wrote Hell or High Water” which explains it!

Anyways, this movie is written with so much tact and delicacy that I genuinely am surprised. Put it this way: I almost NEVER watch something, no matter how highly praised, if I know there is going to be a rape scene. I was SO reluctant to see this one, because I just knew I would get a bitter taste in my mouth because we get a flashback of the actual night the victim was raped. I’m of the school of thought that any rape should be off screen, full stop. I was actually annoyed that I was going to have to sit through a rape scene on screen.

What actually was on the screen, however, was the LEAST gratuitous rape scene of all time and I actually think it was necessary for this film. This is getting into a little bit of spoilers, but I’m going to share in case someone else is reluctant to go see this movie because of the inclusion of an on screen rape: The only thing the camera shows of the rape happening is the victim’s face and we’re given ONLY per point of view in the entire scene. The rapists never has any chance to show their power to us the viewers, because for the very, very short time the rape is happening for us to see, all that matters is the victim.

It is the most respectfully handled, least gratuitous rape scene to ever exist, and while I still hated watching it, it was because it happened in the story and I knew what happened next, not because it was on the screen.

That is only an example of how well handled this film’s writing and direction is. And for me, that’s the best example one could ever give.

How’s the Cinematography?

Everybody who has known me for a while or read my reviews for a while knows that I’m a big fan of open, bleak, big outdoor settings in film. The shots made possible by the wilderness and wasteland is just a theme I enjoy when it comes to cinematography.

This movie is everything I could want in landscape shots, and more than that, it utilizes one of my very favorite film techniques: handheld camera. While we all hate the action movie ‘shaky cam’, nothing beats the REALNESS of handheld. There is something about handheld that you don’t even realize is handheld unless you’re into film-making to make something seem real and raw and this movie does it well. There are these shots where the camera is still on someone’s face up close, and it is held crazy steady, but still you can tell it is handheld because you get this feeling like you are sitting there and watching this person from 6 inches away.

It’s tiny tricks like that that make a movie like this tick from ‘good’ to ‘great’.

Is It Worth Watching?

Wind River is the best drama I’ve seen all year. Full stop. However, my recommendation of this film comes with a caveat: however hard to watch you think it might be, it really is that hard, if not more. I have a feeling that anybody who has ever been sexually assaulted/abused in any way will have the worst trauma dragged up watching this. I’ve never been hurt that way and my reaction was still so visceral that I cried several times watching this movie. The same goes for anybody with children, because the theme of stolen family is crushingly pervasive in this movie.

It’s just a hard movie to watch.

That said, it’s so respectful, magnificently written, expertly directed, mindblowingly fan-fucking-tastically acted, and shot just perfectly. I love this movie. I don’t know if I can ever watch it again, but it’s absolutely going to end up being top 5 films of 2017 for me, and 2017 still has 4 months left. This movie is something so painful yet cathartic for me as a woman with native ancestry to watch. I’m not Native American. I don’t claim to be. I’m more white than anything else. However, I have great-grandparents on both sides who were Native: one great grandmother who was descended from the few Eastern Cherokee who survived the Trail of Tears, and a great-grandfather who came here from a reservation in Oklahoma after World War 1. Because of this, I’m white but with the familial stories of life for my great grandparents passed down over the years that makes this feel personal.

The way Native Americans were treated in the past is something we all know is horrendous, but this story is one that is excessively common in the modern day and so many of us don’t know it happens. The immense poverty and inherent crime and hopelessness that is extrinsic to said poverty that affects Native Americans still into the 21st century is something that so many people don’t know about. The way that tribal police on reservation land are limited in what they can and can’t do and the jurisdictional restrictions on state police because reservations are federal land makes it so that white people can come onto reservation land, do basically anything but murder a Native American, and get away with it. The FBI doesn’t get involved until there is a murder most of the time, so girls being raped just like what happens in this movie is so disgustingly common that it sickens me to my very core.

This movie existing is, to me, a minor victory. It’s just a movie, but movies reach audiences that may not have previously known about certain events. I want these things to be known. I want people to all understand these things happen. The way this movie handles conveying that helplessness and almost expectant acceptance by the people in the family and in the community really does get across how depressingly prevalent these sorts of crimes are in a way that I really think will open some eyes to the way we still treat Native Americans in 2017.

I am actually grateful to whoever made this film come into existence. That’s how highly I recommend this movie to those who are able to handle such terrible themes. I drove 80 miles to see this movie since that was the nearest screening, and I don’t regret a single dollar I spent to watch this film. I almost want to give this movie a 10/10 but I feel like only seeing it once makes that kind of hard to justify. I may come back later and change this rating after I view this movie a second time (if I ever do). But for now, I have to err on the side of caution.

My Rating: 9/10

 

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Logan Lucky (2017)

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  • Directed by Steven Soderbergh
  • Starring Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver
  • Written by Rebecca Blunt
  • Comedy, Crime
  • Rated PG-13
  • 119 mins.
  • 18 August 2017

Synopsis

When single father Jimmy Logan loses his job just before his ex-wife plans to move away with his daughter, he enlists the help of his one-armed bartender brother and a crazy convict acquaintance to pull off a heist and rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway in order to get the money he needs for a custody lawsuit.

How’s the Story?

The story for Logan Lucky is so refreshingly original and interesting that I’m actually amazed it didn’t suck. I say that because it could’ve easily been a movie that tried waaaayyy too hard, but instead it was just perfectly balanced and ultra enjoyable. All the moving pieces of this film work together so well that it feels like it should be a common trope film, not something very original and entertaining.

How’s the Acting?

The acting in this film is pretty spectacular, but what else could you expect from a film with Daniel Craig and Adam Driver both in it? Channing Tatum is the real standout in this film for me, though, and that’s because in my experience, Channing Tatums isn’t that good of an actor. He’s charming, he’s charismatic, he plays very ‘soft’ for such a big burly man, but while I always love him on my screen, I rarely think he’s a good actor. He’s usually just Channing Tatum in a movie.

However, in Logan Lucky, I don’t see Channing Tatum, I see Jimmy Logan. I’m not sure if it’s to be chalked up to the director, since I’m a big believer in the ‘a good director can turn anyone into an actor’ school of thought, but this is one of his best performances by far. It isn’t anything all that grand, Jimmy is a pretty simple character with no major ‘you have to act the hell out of this scene’ moments, but that’s probably what makes the performance so amazing: ‘normal’ acting is waaayyyy harder than ‘big’ acting. I used to be a stage actor, and let me tell you, playing ‘just a person’ is way harder than playing ‘a person dying bloody’ and things like that.

Channing Tatum manages to be just a West Virginia dad trying to do what he has to for his daughter in a way I never thought Channing Tatum could pull off.

How’s the Writing/Directing?

I loooove how this movie is written. The humor is consistent throughout and it’s always situational, not something forced into the script. By that, I mean that simple things are hilarious without it having to become a shtick. Things like, “Can you hand me my arm?” “This one?” ends up being hilarious. Also just the intricacy put into the heist was wonderful.

Side note, I looooved the inmates demands. That was such a funny choice. So good!

Also, for the record, I never expected this movie to make me cry, damn it! The relationship between Jimmy and his daughter is something so touching and without spoilers, I won’t say what, but the scene with the singing had me in tears, and I find that very rude, Mr. Soderbergh, because I DID NOT EXPECT THAT!

How’s the Cinematography?

While nothing stands out as groundbreaking, this movie did it’s job with cinematography. There was nothing out of place and the landscapes were very beautiful. I would say that the praise goes best to that, the choice of locations and how they’re shown on the screen. Otherwise, it’s good but nothing that will win any awards anytime soon.

Is It Worth Watching?

Logan Lucky was just as good as I ever hoped it could be. I absolutely recommend this movie for so many reasons. However, there are some small things that take away from an otherwise potentially top-10 film, and those are things most likely down to editing.

The movie has some threads of story that feel incomplete and I don’t really think they should have been there at all if they couldn’t expand on them further. The main one is the whole thing with the British guy and the racing team. It was amusing to have his whole rivalry with Clyde in there, but it didn’t really add anything to the movie. Same with including Sebastian Stan’s character, the race car driver. He didn’t really add anything to the movie. Another one is the doctor lady. Again, nothing that hurt the film, but it was something that didn’t add anything, so I feel like it was just unnecessary. All of these things, I feel, were probably meant to have a bigger bearing on the film, but in editing, they took out the things that made all of those character’s necessary. It would have been better, I think, to just not focus on those characters and their parts in the story if they weren’t going to capitalize on their inclusion.

Other than that one real detractor of probably questionable editing, Logan Lucky is one of the better films of the year, and I really appreciated the characters and their relationships. Also, on a more personal note, I loved this movie because Jimmy reminded me of my daddy. My parents are still married, have been for 32/33 years or so, but when I was a little girl, I was just like Sadie. Me and my daddy did everything together. He was my best friend as a child and to this day is still one of the best men I’ve ever known, and because of that, Jimmy’s motivation for the heist makes more sense than any heist movie I’ve ever seen.

This movie is about an amazing father who loves his child doing a bad thing because he can’t stand losing the best thing in his whole world, and it’s so refreshing to see such a pure motivation for a heist movie as well as such a violence-free heist that doesn’t make you feel any negative feelings towards the people involved. It’s easily one of very few ‘crime’ movies where you just have a bunch of (arguably) good people doing a bad thing for a good reason.

It’s just such an original idea with a fun execution, and I cannot express strongly enough how bummed I am the box office is looking to not be so good for this movie this opening weekend. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, GO WATCH IT! It’s well worth the price of admission.

My Rating: 8/10

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Handsome Devil (2016)

handsome-devil-poster-small

  • Directed by John Butler
  • Starring Fionn O’Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, Andrew Scott
  • Written by John Butler
  • Comedy, Queer
  • Rated PG-13
  • 95 mins.
  • 2 June 2017

Synopsis

When a young outcast becomes roommates with the newest rugby star at a boarding school where rugby is the most popular thing at school, both their lives change in a big way.

How’s the Story?

I really didn’t expect this to go the way it did! I was under the impression going in that this was a romance and I thought the two boys were going to fall in love, but (spoiler alert) they don’t! And it’s actually fantastic of a direction to take it. I loooove the way this film uses friendship between two very different boys to show them finding a way to lift each other up in a period of life where kids are cruel and insecurity is crushing.

How’s the Acting?

The acting is pretty good. There’s nothing outstanding but there’s nothing bad. I particularly liked the performance of Conor. He was kind of bland but I could feel that it was on purpose. He was a boy trying to hard to not be himself that he became very blank and empty and only had flashes of personality here and there, and the performance really portrayed that well. It’s a hard character to play and this kid did it very well.

How’s the Writing/Directing?

The writing and directing is good but not great. There are so many things that I feel were either unnecessary or underdeveloped. I feel like Andrew Scott’s character was a good idea that didn’t really get fleshed out as well as he should’ve been. It worked, just not to the full potential. And there was so much time spent on the music for it to just fall away in the third act and be ignored for the rest of it. It was kind of just sloppily handled.

Nothing was bad, but there were a few flaws that drag the movie down just a bit.

How’s the Cinematography?

It’s okay. I like some of the things done in the bedroom with the “Berlin Wall” quite a lot, and there are some fun things that go on here and there, but overall, it’s mostly just pretty average.

Is It Worth Watching?

I think that even if you aren’t always seeking out good queer films like I do, this is a good film to give a shot. It’s new on Netflix (in the US at least), it’s a light, fun watch, and it’s a very moving example of boyhood friendship. I am so pleased that they went with friendship rather than a romance in this movie, because it’s just something so unique and moving.

I feel like I saw a very unique film and I can only recommend it to everybody. It’s not going to change your life, but it will put a smile on your face and warm your heart. Absolutely what a Netflix night movie should do.

My Rating: 7/10

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