Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DOCTOR SLEEP

DOCTOR SLEEP joins the rare list of Stephen King adaptations, such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist, 1408, and The Green Mile as films that are far far far far far superior to their respective novels. Let me give you a little shocking revelation from my own mind of thinking: Like Stephen King, I am not a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. And that was before I even read the book, which of itself, is a masterpiece. I will get to the problems of Kubrick’s film in a minute, but needless to say, Doctor Sleep makes it a better film. To support King’s recent quote, “It redeems Kubrick’s film.” While some may be put off by the films run time, two and a half hours, what writer/director Mike Flanagan does is takes an okay but very flawed book sequel, put the parts in it that worked, and improves and changes the parts that didn’t to make a very emotional and narratively satisfying film experience. I don’t know how many Stephen King adaptations there were this year, but Doctor Sleep is easily the best. Yes, better than IT Chapter 2. Again, I love Stephen King, I have read every book he has ever written, and don’t usually prefer the movies over the books, so consider this high praise.

Let me explain to you, without getting into book spoilers, why I don’t really care for the novel Doctor Sleep. Doctor Sleep has a great concept, but very poor and forced execution. Every pay off to every set up in the book feels very unearned, specifically the location of the climax and a certain family revelation/twist, that wasn’t needed and didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Also the ultimate fates of all the characters seemed a bit wonky. The movie fixes EVERYTHING. They completely remove that family revelation twist, the ultimate fate of the characters make sense to the events leading up to the end, and the location and climax of the film is earned and doesn’t bog down into fan service. While one big change (character fate) from the novel may get on some King fans nerves, I thought it should’ve happened originally when reading it for the first time, and was glad it was rectified here. In fact, the climax made me have the biggest smile on my face, because I realized how right Stephen King is when says “it redeems Kubrick’s film” and that many of you won’t understand it unless you have actually read The Shining or looked up what happens at the end of that novel.

What is the movie about? The movie serves as a direct sequel to The Shining as the beginning of the film takes place right after/during the end of that film. In fact, it takes a little bit to even get to adult Danny Torrence and find out how exactly those traumatizing events effected him as an adult. Does he still have his “shining” powers?And if so, what is he doing with them? How is he handling everything? Concurrently with Danny’s characterization/redemption journey, we are introduced to a set of villains who call themselves the “True Knot” and they are a vicious little group who go out hunting and killing young children who’s “shine” radiates brighter than most. The leader of that group, Rose The Hat, senses a young girl, named Abra Stone, and her “shine” is the most powerful she has seen in ages. But little does Rose The Hat know that Danny has been secretly talking with Abra for years and they will both need to team up to take her and the “True Knot” down once and for all.

Sounds unique and different from the concept of The Shining doesn’t it? It is, but like I said, the book is very uneven and muddles the execution of that concept. Thankfully, the movie fixes everything. While not a very scary movie, the film is shot beautifully, has great set ups and pay offs, the acting is top notch, and everything is emotionally satisfying, leading to a sequel film that I prefer over Kubrick’s film. Now, you are probably wondering why I don’t consider Kubrick’s film a “horror classic” while so many of you probably do. Read the book. Even before reading the book, the main problem with Kubrick’s film isn’t the completely different WTF ending, but mainly that everything happens way too fast for a 2 hr and 20 minute horror epic. The novel is a slow burn pot boiler, and takes its time to get to the bonkers and awesome climax/ending (probably the best ending King has ever written). The movie left me with a resounding “meh”. I didn’t much care for the hedge maze.

The character of Jack Torrence is abysmally mishandled in Kubrick’s film as well, his descent into madness and the hotel taking over his mind comes completely out of nowhere where the book beautifully makes him a more sympathetic and nicer person, his ultimate murderous temper tantrum tragically earned. The Kubrick film does have some great masterful visuals, but unfortunately the sum of those parts aren’t greater than the mishandled narrative. Jack Nicholson didn’t have much to work with, he just seems like crazy Jack Nicholson in the movie, Wendy, even though acted expertly by Shelley Duvall, felt like a forced weak and pathetic character, completely doing a 180 on her strong sense of worth in the novel, and Danny Torrence is aggressive underused in Kubrick’s film. Sorry, but even before reading the masterpiece of the novel I had a problem with the film. Reading The Shining just confirmed and contextualized those feelings.

The acting here is fantastic all across the board. Ewan McGregor is great as an adult Danny Torrence and displays great emotional “umph” when trying to deal with his “Shining” mind force (enter Star Wars joke here) powers. Newcomer Kyliegh Curran makes Abra Stone is much more detailed rich character than she was in the novel, but the scene stealer here is Rebecca Ferguson as Rose The Hat. Rose The Hat is honestly kind of a shitty villain in the novel. It seems that she is easily tricked and defeated in certain scenes in the novel and for me, she never displayed any emotions or actions that would make it seem like she could pull the rug out from under Danny and Abra’s feet. Same goes for her group, “the True Knot.” I never felt like any of them were a threat worth worrying over. Here, combined with Ferguson’s menacing and harrowing acting, Rose The Hat and “the True knot” are more of a forced to be reckoned with, even though one scene might make you feel differently. But when you realize the stipulations and who exactly is involved in that scene, you’ll figure out that it makes a lot of sense. Not to mention that scene has great tension and emotional stakes, so it cancels out my minor complaint altogether.

Also, one HUGE compliment I almost forgot to mention. As you know this is a direct sequel to Kubrick’s The Shining while being a sequel to the novel in general, so you get to see some old characters from the old movies. THANKFULLY the movie uses old school movie magic, and just cast new actors to play the old roles that look like the original actors, instead of shelling out a bunch of money to make people look like wonky CGI younger versions of Jack Nicholson, Shelley Long, or Scatman Cruthers. Loved that they did this, not a huge proponent of the de-aging tech, even though it looked pretty great in Terminator: Dark Fate, although that was only for like 30 seconds compared to the multiple minutes the characters are on screen in this film. Then again it isn’t surprising considering Mike Flanagan wrote and directed this little gem. I still need to check out The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix as I heard that is excellent as well. Not surprised of the praise, just haven’t gotten around to watching it yet.

Now, if you’ve seen any marketing for this movie, you’ll know that the spooky ooky and scary Overlook Hotel is brought back. The climax from the novel has a similar location, but if you’ve ever read The Shining and/or Doctor Sleep, you’ll know a HUGE difference from novel to film. All of that is rectified here, with an emotionally great and satisfying climax that doesn’t bog down in too much fan service, something I was dreading that was going to happen before the movie started. Writer/Director Mike Flanagan did a tremendous job with this film. This isn’t his first foray into Stephen King adaptations, he actually made a great version of Stephen King’s novel Gerald’s Game that debuted on Netflix one or two years ago, and everyone felt that that book was completely un-film-able, but he managed to do it. He does it again here. And while Doctor Sleep was easily film-able, he managed to do something rare, make the movie better than the sequel novel, and a movie that I felt was better than the original film. Very good work. And all work and all play make Zach a happy boy.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: JOJO RABBIT

If you are starting to read this asking what the fuck JOJO RABBIT is, you’ve probably seen some marketing of the film regarding a small boy that has childish version of Adolf Hitler as an imaginary friend. Have an inkling now? Okay, here we go. The movie is absolutely delightful, funny, yet devastating and smart. Just as the advertising will tell you, it is an anti-hate satire, and while I was afraid it was going to nail those messages on the head without the audience letting them figure out for itself, I’m thankful that it only had a little of that, and didn’t treat people as if they were idiots. It is considered to be an Oscar contender, and I’d say deservedly so, especially for writing based on another medium, and for Scarlett Johansson for a best supporting actress nomination, heck I’d even support a Best Picture nod at this moment . While the film deals mainly with a big even in human beings checkered pasts (the Holocaust), it is something we can then relate to the events of today. It tries to get into the viewers head with not just straight up messages and information, but also providing genuine laughs and well earned heart to earn your respect.

Jojo Rabbit’s plot is pretty simple. Along with the imaginary Adolf Hitler angle presented before, this movie starts out with the little boy going to a Hitler Youth Nazi training camp, run by an oafish Captain, played spot-on by Sam Rockwell. The little boy’s mother, played by Scarlett Johansson, is secretly anti Nazi, wishing that her boy would view the world through her eyes. One day while the mother is away, the boy hears noises upstairs and inside the walls of his home. There he finds a Jewish girl, who his mother is secretly hiding. While they each can’t really tell on each other for reasons that will lead everyone to certain death, he starts to tolerate the older Jewish girl in his life and home, and well, you can probably see where the film goes character arc wise from there. The boy wrestles with his feelings for Jewish people throughout the whole film, all the while World War II comes dwindling to an end.

The satire here completely works. Writer/director Taika Waititi (Thor 3, What We Do In The Shadows, Hunt For The Wilderpeople) has crafted an amazing tale, easily making it his best film thus far. He also plays the goofy, cartoon like childish Adolf Hitler in the film, and provides most of the films huge laughs. Now, I have to warn you, the humor may not be for everyone, but seeing how I am reviewing it on a personal level, I think if you step back to look at the bigger picture and not get offended at every single damn thing there is to get offended about, you will realize the jokes are witty, precise, and all land on their feet. The movie has some hilariously amazing sequences and visuals. If you want a little insight on how Taika Waititi’s vision works, think of Wes Anderson films, but a little less symmetrical and definitely more fluid (don’t worry, I still think of Anderson as a very good filmmaker). Although I was worried at the very beginning as it kind of copies Edgar Wright’s fast “getting ready” sequences. You’ll see. Thankfully it was more of an homage and only does it that once. The best sequence in the film comes 2/3rds of the way into the movie, involving Stephen Merchant and a bunch of other Nazi’s invading the little boys home to do a search. The scene is artfully, masterfully, hilariously perfect. It provides laughs mixed with just the right amount of tension to keep you on the edge of your seat. I have a feeling that Waititi, when shooting this, knew that this was the centerpiece of his movie.

Now mind you, the movie isn’t all laughs. There are a couple of sad sequences, including a devastating punch in the gut sequence that I saw coming from a mile away but still hit me hard enough to the point where I had a giant lump in my throat. It visually kicks you in the nut feels and I don’t know how people are going to respond to it. The scene is set up from the beginning with several visual cues. Remember the age old film saying, “if you show something of importance in act one, it must come back at the end of act two, or somewhere in act three.” To be honest, I’m paraphrasing, as that saying is really supposed to be about showing a gun or weapon, but when you see the movie you’ll get what I mean. My point is that the movie mixes everything you could want in a movie (drama, action, laughter, etc) pretty damn near perfectly. And the film is exceptionally entertaining, never leaving the viewer a chance to doze off into boredom.

The acting here is also what elevates the impact of the movie. Playing the boy is a young actor named Roman Griffin Davis, his first role, and he nails every character beat that he needs to. I look forward to his work in the future. Sam Rockwell plays the Captain of the Hitler Youth Nazi Camp, and as we all know Sam Rockwell is good at playing a really bad racist, there is more to his character here that meets the eye, and the film does a fine job of hinting what that “more” is without completely peeling back the entire curtain for the audience. Rebel Wilson has never been better and Taiki Waiti steals a couple of huge laugh scenes as the cartoonish imaginary Adolf Hitler, but the two women that completely steal the movie from everyone involved would be Scarlett Johansson and Thomasin McKenzie, the latter playing the hidden Jewish girl in the boys home. Thomasin plays the girl with bravado, combining strength with uncertainty and vulnerability, scared that she might not be hidden for long, facing certain death, but also trying to change the hateful, racist thinking of this young boy.

But the one who is truly probably going to get a supporting nomination in the end is Scarlett Johansson as the boy’s mother. She is the true heart of the movie, her anti-hate speeches and talks with her son are the witty, yet serious highlights of the film. Scarlett Johansson nails the accent and visual comedy cues that is integral in making her character unique. And she is surprisingly in the film more than I thought she’d be, considering she is the “and” on the poster, which was delightful because she shined in every scene. But yeah, if you are an awards season obsessed honcho like myself, Jojo Rabbit is a must see for the awards season to come. It provides almost everything you look for in a movie, but instead of being just a copy cat of satire you’ve probably seen in many film before it, this has its own unique voice, separating itself from the pack and shining triumphant.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE KING (Netflix)

How come nobody is talking more about this historical drama epic of Henry V, Prince of Whales, that was just released on Netflix this past weekend? Another question: why isn’t anyone talking about Robert Pattinson’s over the top deliciously awesome off the wall bonkers supporting performance as The Dauphin of France in this? If you haven’t check out THE KING on Netflix yet, do so. Yes, it is 2 hrs and 20 minutes long (minus about 8-9 minutes of end credits) but you don’t feel the length at all. It is probably the most watchable medieval epic of it’s kind since Kingdom of Heaven (THE DIRECTOR’S CUT, not that awful theatrical garbage version). With these kind of period piece epic films, it usually only takes me 10-15 to know whether I am going to come out loving/liking it to being 100% absolutely bored. I knew in 5 minutes that I was hooked. The film tries not to be overly complicated on its audience, a very smart move indeed. It is entertaining as hell, has a great score, and has some supremely masterful sequences. Just another film that shows that Netflix maybe starting to take things seriously with this whole streaming wars coming to fruition.

The movie is based on several plays from William Shakespeare’s “Henriad”, which chronicles Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V, of which I am not familiar. This film chronicles the origin of Henry V and his invasion of France. Timothe Chalamet stars as the titular hero, one who doesn’t want the crown at first, but after his father dies, assumes leadership and very quickly has to get it together for England and its people. considering he disagreed with many of his fathers decisions. The ruler of France keeps taunting and threatening Henry V, and while he doesn’t want to go to war at first, the escalation goes quickly out of hand to where it no longer can be ignored. Henry, or “Hal” to his close friends, feels like there isn’t that many people to trust, and he has to navigate the new world given to him without getting manipulated or killed in the process. Usually a film to this degree would be about 3 hours, with the droning on and on of politics. The King says “fuck you” to that by getting down to business early on and never letting up. The film doesn’t have much flashy dialogue that would make it hard for audiences to get into, but it does have solid dialogue, makes the viewer understand what is going on and not make one decipher every sentence like they probably had to do in English class during high school.

There are some spectacular sequences in this too. My favorite would have to be when Henry V and his army reaching the castle of Harfluer and then seizing it by throwing endless balls of fire at it using trebuchets. Another sequences, very late into the film, showing Henry V going into a giant battle, and all in this one take, showing him killing the enemy while almost being killed himself, in a sea of armored clad men with no faces. There is even a Raiders of the Lost Ark comedy duel late in the game that I won’t ruin for spoiler reasons, but needless to say, a lot of movies have tried to copy this classic Spielberg scene, but none have done so hilariously while still be executed a bit differently. There are more than just those three, but needless to say the cinematography in this is quite good considering it is Netflix that financed the film. Like I said above, the movie doesn’t feel its length. There is enough interesting battles, conversations, treasons, and scene stealing acting to get you through it rather quickly.

Let’s talk about the acting. Timothe Chalamet is a great actor, let me just point to his incredible performance in Call Me By Your Name. He also looks like he is going to do a great job later this year in Little Women. And he is good here too (and has an excellent before battle speech), but the movie is completely stolen from him by two supporting roles: that of the always reliable Joel Egerton, who plays Falstaff, a once drunkard warrior who becomes Henry V right hand man, and Robert Pattinson, who plays The Dauphin. Egerton has the more meatier role, spouting off military strategies but also handing out life lessons to those around him, fascinating even when not a word is spoken from him. But I really want to talk about Robert Pattinson. Now while I didn’t care for The Lighthouse when I saw it last week, Pattinson is fucking fantastic in it, and even though all you naysayers that can’t get him out of your head as Edward from Twilight or Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter, you need to give that film and especially the movie Good Time a chance, to know that he will make a fantastic Batman/Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves’ upcoming one-off Batman film.

If those two movies didn’t say your thoughts of him, I guarantee you this one will. His character, The Dauphin, doesn’t show up until over halfway of the movie being over, and Pattinson is really only in the film for maybe about 10 minutes total if you spliced his scenes together, but his introduction is one to be marveled at. He plays this French son of a king so ruthlessly and maliciously over the top, I smiled every time he opened his mouth spewing heated disses to Henry V with a deliciously vile French accent. And it 100% works. At first I was afraid that his performance would be just written off as a good French Heath Ledger Joker, but Pattinson truly makes it his own, and the 10 minutes he is in the film is worth it just to watch the whole thing alone. There are other supporting parts such as Ben Mendolsohn as King Henry IV (less screentime than Pattinson) and Lily Rose Depp (Johnny Depp’s daughter) as Catherine (even less screen time than both Mendolsohn and Pattinson) and while they are good, they aren’t very memorable because of their lack of a huge presence. Sean Harris (the main villain in the last two Mission: Impossible film) seems like he’s getting the short end of the stick with his character, but towards the end you realized that it was necessary all along.

Yeah, so what the fuck are you doing? If you like epics such as this, this one is right up your alley and ranks along the greats. But I mean, would this kind of film make money if it was in the theater anymore? Probably not, but Netflix knows that there is this certain niche of people at there that need their fix for these kinds of films, and smartly swiped this up and debut it on their streaming platform. I have a feeling it is going to get more praise in the coming weeks, I just wish it was getting it now. I have a feeling it is being drowned out by Dolemite Is My Name and other things about to hit the giant service, but that is okay right now as Netflix is truly trying to merge as a competitor before things truly get ugly next week as Disney+ debut and then in January when HBO Max tries to reign supreme. Maybe my little review here could get some of you to hit that play button on your remotes and spread the word so that way it comes out of being drowned in the mud and muck. It doesn’t deserve that, especially when I will definitely be checking this out a time or two in the coming years.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: TERMINATOR – DARK FATE

TERMINATOR: THE MACHINES AWAKEN….wait a minute, whoops, wrong assumed title there. Let’s start over…TERMINATOR: DARK FATE is okay. But it is not okay enough to consider it canon, and will have most fans just claiming that the first two films are the only ones that really, truly happened. While the movie was entertaining enough to get me through its 2 hr run time, none of it is really anything you haven’t seen before, it’s the same ol’ shit. It’s basically a soft reboot that takes just enough elements from the first two films to get out of being called a straight up remake. However, Star Wars: The Force Awakens did it much better and had a lot more different elements to disguise the fact that it had a lot of the same beats as A New Hope. Dark Fate’s disguise wouldn’t even get past Mr. Magoo. That’s not to say its a terrible film, it is at least better than Terminator Salvation and Terminator (what the fuck were they even thinking?) Genisys, but I’m still on the fence whether or not it was better than Rise of The Machines. One thing is for certain, the franchise should’ve been terminated back in 1991.

The thing that I’m on the fence about whether this is better than Rise of the Machines or not, is the tone of the two films. Rise of the Machines has a very weird, zany, looney tunes light tone, but the non stop action and that dark as fuck ending more than makes up for it. The tone with Dark Fate is much, much better here, but the problem with the movie is that the action is kind of repetitive, jarringly edited, and there were no scenes that made me go, “OH SHIT YEAH!” Let’s face it, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of the best action sequels ever made. A lot of people, including me, think it is one of those rare sequels that completely demolishes and is better than the original film. There is no fucking way in hell any Terminator movie after Judgment Day could even be on par unless James Cameron came back and FULLY committed to it (maybe not even then, since his dick wants to always be inside a Nav’i on Pandora these days). And while James Cameron came back to produce and has a “story” credit, I don’t feel like he had much of a hand in actually contributing all that much to this final product.

**beginning of major spoiler paragraph** Another glaringly huge problem is that the very beginning of the movie flips Terminator 2 on its head and kind of shits all over it in a way. Kind of like what Alien 3 did to Aliens (Remember that this film completely ignores the events of 3, Salvation, and Genisys). Now in this paragraph I’m just going to say what the film does so if you don’t want to know, skip to the next paragraph and we’ll get out of spoilers. At the very beginning of Dark Fate, using incredible de-aging and digital effects, it is revealed that another Terminator than just Robert Patrick was sent during the events of the 2nd film before Skynet’s ultimate demise, and a couple of years later, after Sarah and John Connor changed their fate, that second sent Terminator finds them, and just fucking kills John Connor right in front of Sarah, and there is nothing she can do about it. I know that Edward Furlong probably sucks as an actor now, but was there not a way to not fuck up the events of the masterful second film, and maybe somehow include John, hell, maybe even get Nick Stahl to come back and reprise his Rise of the Machines role? I think that killing John Connor was a major misstep in trying to revitalize the franchise, and it will have a lot of fans screaming and tearing their hair out. And yes, it bothered me too, but I got past it though mainly because of Linda Hamilton’s performance. **ending of major spoiler paragraph**

The acting in this does save a lot of the film from mediocre and ridiculous Salvation and Genisys type levels. The scene stealers of course are Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor, and Mackenzie Davis as the new human/robot hybrid Grace. Everybody saying that having Linda Hamilton back makes us all realize how vital she was to the first two Terminators and that she is more of what the franchise needed to come back than Arnold, are completely right here. I loved watching Linda Hamilton back in action, she is one tough bad-ass in this film and I think she really kept this movie from being a true snooze fest. But let me be clear, everybody in this is good. With Davis’ Grace character, I really I haven’t cheered this much for a great protector since Arnold in T2. By smartly making her a human hybrid combined with her acting skills, I actually cared about this character, instead of wanting them to just shut up and die like Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke in Genisys. Looking back I think I gave Genisys a somewhat favorable review. What the fuck was I thinking? I think I wrote that review literally the second I got out of the theater several years ago, with this, I’ve had a little more time to get my bearings straight.

Gabriel Luna is good as the new bad Terminator model Rev-9. Rev-9 is like a combination of all the Terminators you’ve seen before, but this one can split itself into two successfully. And Natalia Reyes plays Dani, the regular human being protected this time for some reason (don’t worry, the film eventually reveals the reason, which end up being better than what you think it might be, although I saw it coming from a mile away) and her arc transitioning from strong yet innocent woman to strong and bad ass fighter was very realistic. And then there is Arnold, who doesn’t even show up until more than half of the movie is over. I’m glad they didn’t just force him in at the beginning of the story on this. His character’s arc I enjoyed the best. I will not reveal who he is, but when his character Carl shows up on screen, the movie definitely elevated itself a little bit from what it was for me at that moment. In Genisys, it looked like Arnold was sleeping through his role, and in Rise of the Machines, it seemed like he was sort of into it, but was there for the pay check. Here, he fully commits to his performance, and is at his best since Judgment day.

While some of the CGI is shaky, yet forgivable, and while the action scenes are good in concept, in execution, they are a little jarring. Except for the late in the film airplane crashing sequence, that one was actually pretty great. But the rest of the action sequences, particularly the beginning one (the highway one you’ve seen in marketing with the initial return of Sarah Connor), the border detention center one, and the one at the very very end just seemed edited a little weird. Like the filmmakers and director Tim Miller were trying to fast cut shit so they could hide any discrepancies and hide the fact that maybe, just maybe, Tim Miller can’t film action scenes very well. This is his first film after his very first film, Deadpool, and if you really look closely at that movie (admit it, Deadpool 2 is better), you’d realize it only has two action scenes: the highway one, which went on too long and extended, and the very end sequence, which was very tame by comparison, blocked kind of weird, and editing wise is kind of wonky and too fast paced too. Action scenes need to breathe better, like in films like The Force Awakens, where you can tell what is going on with everything. Trying to do shit like Michael Bay and Paul Greengrass just doesn’t get you anywhere anymore. We know all the tricks of the trade to hide the fact that you can’t shoot action and just try to hid it up with shaky cam. It’s all a “tsk-tsk” affair now.

So while writing my review, I think I am going to give the edge to Dark Fate over Rise of the Machines, the goofiness and too light hearted tone of the latter being the deciding factor. Unfortunately, I’m still going to go back and only consider the first two films of being the only ones that truly happened. To me, Dark Fate is just fan fiction, but at least it is stronger fan faction than what we received the past three films. This is just a franchise that has far surpassed its expiration date. It literally is just the same ol’ shit. Same story of Terminators being sent back into the past, one to protect, and one to try and destroy something vital to the future. Same ending. The only difference being a couple of small arcs here and there, all playing it safe though and taking no risks that should’ve been taken. It’s like painting a fresh coat onto a house but you do nothing else to the foundation to try to change and make it better. And like a T-800 in action, that paint, or synthetic skin if you will, starts to peel and chip away very fast, revealing that same exoskeleton underneath, one that you have grown tired of seeing.

My ranking of Terminator Films:

  1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  2. The Terminator
  3. Terminator: Dark Fate
  4. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  5. Terminator: Salvation
  6. Terminator: Genisys

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: PARASITE (NO SPOILERS, GO IN DARK!!!)

PARASITE is easily the best foreign language film I have ever seen and one of the top films of 2019 in general. Easily takes the top spot over my previous favorite, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. All of the hype and praise you’ve heard of this film, it’s true. All of it. If you have any inkling whatsoever to want to see this movie, go in completely 100% dark. Even though I don’t reveal basically anything about the plot, stop reading this review right now and just go and see it. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Don’t even watch the fucking trailer (my co-worker hadn’t heard a damn thing about this film and saw it with some friends and it is one of her favorite films of all time now). Even though the trailer doesn’t really give anything away either. I was debating even writing a review on this, but I figured I gotta do something small. For those of you that actually read my dumb long reviews, maybe my short influence here could push some of you on the right side of the fence to end up giving it a shot. So the rest of my review, I’m just going to make a numbered list (in no particular order) if what I liked and what I didn’t like about the movie. And again, I do not give away anything. This film won the Cannes 2019 Palm D’Or over everything nominated, including Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. And even though I have Hollywood a bit higher on my list than this film, it deserves all the awards and all the praise, even if it ends up competing with Tarantino by year’s end. So anyway, here is my list, I’ll start with my likes, and then dislikes. No concluding paragraph:

LIKES:

  1. The Story
  2. The Acting
  3. The Perfect Ending
  4. The Many Twists and Turns
  5. The Unpredictability
  6. The Cinematography (simply gorgeous in every scene, but one scene near the end is just beautiful ((message me on what that scene is if you are truly curious))
  7. The Direction by Bong Joon-Ho is masterful, easily his best since Snowpiercer
  8. Five minutes in, and you have completely forgotten that you are reading subtitles
  9. The Score
  10. How It Makes You Think
  11. All the messages of family, best laid plans, upper vs. lower class, values, etc. etc. etc.
  12. The Pacing, The Editing, All of IT

DISLIKES:

  1. I did not dislike one damn thing about this movie, it’s basically as perfect as can be.

Review done, go and see it. It’s expanded so it’s probably playing at a theater near you. This movie is just like a Parasite, attaching onto you and effecting you…but in a good way.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE CURRENT WAR – DIRECTOR’S CUT

And when I say THE CURRENT WAR: DIRECTOR’S CUT, I mean that’s what they are releasing the film in the theaters as. I have not personally seen this TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) 2017 Harvey “Rapist” Weinstein cut that was put together, but I heard it was horrible and almost unwatchable. This however, is very watchable, and quite enjoyable. When I think about it, I think this might be the only way you could tell a story like this, without boring the audiences to tears. I wasn’t bored at all. I was quite intrigued to learn about the long fight between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse that would determine whose electrical system would power the modern world. It is a crisp and clean hour and 47 minutes, and I can’t imagine how Weinstein’s cut, which I heard is about half an hour longer, could’ve been any better. If you ever want to learn about this subject matter, but don’t want to read a book or just look it up on Wikipedia, I’d say it is safe to say to watch this to get a broad spectrum based off of the events that transpired.

I described the plot a bit above, but to go bit further I believe the film took place between 1880 and 1891-1893, somewhere in that range, I’m not a fucking historian. But yeah, it just shows the trials and tribulations of these two men whose mission it was to make it their legacy that they themselves brought light to the world. Nikola Tesla shows up in this as well, working for both men at different times, and Samuel Insull, Edison’s personal secretary, has his hand in some major events. No, I’m not going to tell you who won on here, hopefully if you were interesting in this subject matter and already had a hand it in then you already know. Me? I only had little inklings and tidbits about everything before going into the theater, and only a few of those were confirmed by scenes presented in the film, but most of it was new information I was shocked to learn about and some of my knowledge was altogether wrong. The movie also has a fun yet frightening history of the origin of the electric chair as well to entertainingly fill in the gaps of who ultimately wins their legacy.

I really liked the score in this film, as it is quite memorable because I am still humming it as I sit and write this review. The look of the film is great too, I felt like everything was “up to code” in the theatrical representation for that time period. The movie never really drags, and is successful informing while entertaining. The acting here is strong as well. Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon are always reliable in what they do, and here is no different. There really isn’t an antagonist in the film, both Edison and Westinghouse had their quirks and misdeeds, but neither are monsters. Both have sympathetic aspirations and both do things that make you want to slap your head in disgust, but you realize they are just trying to make the world a better place in the end. Near the end of the film, Edison and Westinghouse have a cordial chat, and everything said in that conversation brilliantly sums up the entire debacle. You can tell the two men were frustrated yet respected the hell out of one another. Spider-Ma….err Tom Holland, did pretty well in his couple of scenes as Samuel Insull, and Nicholas Hoult did well in his limited screen time as Tesla, although I’d now like a whole film just about his life. Written by the screenwriter that wrote this film and directed by this film’s director.

One more aspect of the film I appreciated is that the women really weren’t just background dressing. Both Edison and Westinghouse’s wives, Mary Stilwell and Marguerite help shape the lives of their husbands and helped them out in certain situations. I was surprised and delighted by their involvement and Tuppence Middleton and Katherine Waterston did well in those small yet pivotal roles. There isn’t much more I can say about the film, so I’ll just wrap it up this way: If you are a history buff, or maybe an electrical engineer, or fascinated with electricity or light or currents, or any of that complicated shit, this movie is right up your alley. Even though I liked it, you’ll probably even like it more than me, maybe even love. I was looking forward to this film two years ago before the Weinstein scandal fucked up its release, but now that it is finally out, and the director got to release it on his terms, I think the extra wait might’ve been worth it. Who knows really, as I’ll never see that disgusting fat fucks edit, and am glad for it. This director’s cut conducts some decent sparks all its own.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE LIGHTHOUSE (no spoilers)

I guess like Paul Thomas Anderson, I’m just not going to be able to get into Robert Eggers films. But understand, I do “get” them. I understand the deeper meanings, motifs, messages, symbolism, what have you of what both filmmakers are trying to do. And I admire their tenacity. I’m just going to have to accept that most, if not all of their films just won’t be my cup of tea. And that’s okay, we all have different tastes. And mind you, THE LIGHTHOUSE wasn’t a waste of my time. There is a lot of good about it, which I’ll get into, but I just wasn’t able to “get into” it myself. I was pretty bored, looking at my watch constantly, ready for it to be over. But there is a huge different between films like these from these filmmakers and a film like…I don’t know…let me bring up a random recent movie….oh okay, I got it…Joker! Paul Thomas Anderson and Robert Eggers films are at least very original in their content and execution, but I don’t think I can get into them because of the weirdness of that execution. But at least they are original. They aren’t a movie trying to pretend its original but instead rips off about a dozen other movies and think they are cinematic masterpieces…

Yes, my grudge for Joker is still strong, especially when news of it being the Top Rated R film of all time (which they should adjust for inflation because then it wouldn’t be) hit this weekend. But we are here to talk about the 2nd feature from Robert Eggers, writer/director of The Witch, The Lighthouse. All I really need to say about the film is that it is about two lighthouse operators that get cabin fever and start to turn mad over their four weeks on a particular job. Willem Dafoe plays Thomas Wake, the head honcho that makes Ephraim Winslow, Robert Pattinson’s character, do all the shitty and hard jobs while Wake just tends mainly to the light. Tensions rise, hallucinations start to happen, fights are drawn, and mermaids are fucked. Yeah, you think I’m kidding…but anyway, the whole film is a character study about two men slowly going mad topped off with a very sudden and weird ambiguous ending. Not that I don’t mind ambiguous endings, I just don’t feel personally that this one was very earned.

But let me get into the positives about the film, so you know I don’t hate it (it is a huge critical darling, but like The Witch, it’s audience score is just getting lower and lower). Let’s start off with the performances, because really this is a two man (and a nasty seagull) show. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are masterful here. With Good Time, The Lost City of Z, and now this under his belt, I can say I am 1000% confident that Pattinson will make for a great Batman/Bruce Wayne. While Good Time is still my favorite performance of his, mostly because Good Time is a near perfect film, Pattinson is phenomenal here, his descent into madness convincing and very heartbreaking. Willem Dafoe is near perfect here as well, as the head light honcho that might just be a devious secret asshole (based on your perspective of events). The only problem with his performance is that I couldn’t understand half the shit he was saying with his accent. It was like trying to watch Jeff Bridges in the remake to True Grit all over again.

The film, being in black and white, is gorgeously shot. I wouldn’t be against it getting a cinematography nomination at a bunch of award ceremonies this year at all. The tone, setting, and mood of the film all work in the pictures’ favor, and to imagine this film being in color, God, I don’t want to think about it…probably would’ve ended up hating it. The visuals are near perfect. But visuals and performances do not a great movie make for me. Even though the performances were great, I couldn’t have cared less about either of the characters. I honestly think that if they would’ve made either one of them a much more sympathetic or one of them much more clearly problematic, I could’ve gotten into the movie more. At least one of their descents into madness could’ve been more emotionally investing that way instead of just feeling relief that the movie was finally nearing its end. But maybe that was the point, for both of them to be morally ambiguous, but if that was the case, then it just didn’t work with me.

People will say the movie is too weird with its imagery. But if you know anything about certain Greek mythology/lore like I do, then you’ll realize that everything in the movie makes sense if you look at it from different specific points of view. Especially if you see both characters as being representations of Prometheus and/or Proteus. But like I said, I was either too bored or didn’t care about what was happening to the characters to really give a shit. And it’s a shame, because I was really looking forward to this film going into it. It is very cinematic and artistic, and if you really loved The Witch, and all the symbolism meshed well with the horror and imagery and story with that film, then you are probably going to love The Lighthouse as well. It was just not my cup of tea, and his films, along with Paul Thomas Anderson’s, may very well never be. But that’s okay. I figure that if I at least don’t write these off as total trash then my opinion may count for something. So if you really do think that this film is genius, I fully support your admiration and reasons for thinking so. The light was not bright for me, nor was it burnt out, just dimmed and hazy.