Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BABYTEETH

BABYTEETH, a drama with a few comedic bits that you can stream on Hulu for free today (otherwise you can rent it streaming), was a nice refresher of mild quirky-ness after the overload of garbage that was my previous movie I just reviewed, Kajillionaire. Babyteeth is still not a perfect or great movie by any means, I think out of 1 hr and 57 minutes about 15 to 20 could’ve been shaved off, the movie has a very strong beginning, very strong ending, and very strong performances. It does lag a bit toward the end of the beginning of the film and the middle of the film, but it makes up for it in the other qualities I just shared. It stars Eliza Scanlen, who has been in a ton of things recently such as HBO’s Sharp Objects, Little Women, and Netflix’s The Devil All The Time and IMDB describes the movie as: “Milla, a seriously ill teenager falls in love with a drug dealer, Moses, her parents worst nightmare.” She is pitch perfect here as a girl that just wants to live her life to the fullest in case she dies. Her parents are played perfectly by Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn, the latter of which is becoming one of my favorite actors of all time. He plays it quirky and weird when his character calls for it, but serious yet calm when those scenes come along. It’s because the honest script and dialogue helps the performances, written by first timer Rita Kalnejais, and she doesn’t force the characters to be too abstract and weird. While the characters and situations have their quirks, it is grounded in a sense of dramatic realism where you feel like all of them make true to life decisions and actions.

The movie is directed by Shannon Murphy, who I’m not familiar with, although she directed two episodes of the hit tv series Killing Eve, and she is definitely an actor’s director and has a spark of visual flare, something I hope she can translate to future projects. Unlike Kajillionaire, there isn’t one unlikable character in this, as even though Moses has his fare share of problems, his good heart ultimately prevails. He is played by Toby Wallace who apparently is really good in Netflix’s most recently cancelled beloved series The Society. I’ve seen a few clips of him in that, and needless to say, he’s a damn fine actor when you compare that with this role. My only complaints for this film come before the living situations of all involved are permanently set in stone (that’s all I can say without giving anything away). Milla trying to get Moses interested in her as more than just friends (when they are the only two onscreen) are the scenes that didn’t really have any emotional weight or context for me, compared to the scenes where Milla’s parents are also involved. I think that maybe point A, point B, & point C were the structure of the screenplay, the solid ideas of the story that were cemented in stone before the screenplay was even written, before the connections were made by filling out the tiny details. While getting from point B to point C was fleshed out and solidly told, more time was needed on how to get from point A to point B, as those scenes dragged on too long and didn’t really work for me. But, Babyteeth is still a decent one time watch, if not for the strong ending and beginning, and for all the performances. You won’t be grinding your teeth, wishing for this movie to end, but I suggest to bring some tissues so that tears won’t be hitting them constantly throughout.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME (Netflix)

“Some people are just born to be buried.”

That quote is one of the best lines of dialogue from a movie I’ve heard in long, long time. And thankfully, it is coming from one of 2020 very best films for me, #4 under Tenet, Palm Springs, and Onward. THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME is a tour de force of a motion picture. It’s a very dark and depressing film with interconnected characters and stories that will remind you of other great ones that are similar (in a way) such as A Place Beyond The Pines, Sleepers, and Pulp Fiction. It’s a slow burn disturbing thriller that doesn’t really feel like a slow burn, even at 2 hours and 18 minutes long. The film is also filled with fantastic performances from an A list cast including: Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, Eliza Scanlan, Riley Keough, Haley Bennett, Bill Skarsgard, Mia Wasikowska, and Jason Clarke. The standouts from this list are easily Holland and Pattinson, with the latter maybe just possibly getting his first Oscar nomination for his creepy as fuck demented preacher role (Although Holland is great too, and him and Pattinson share the best scene in the film together). The only complaint I can think of with this movie is that one of the characters escapes death multiple times rather fluidly in a matter of minutes. But I was holding my breath in anticipation, dread, and tension with those minutes, so why am I really complaining? Could you say that The Devil All The Time might be my favorite Netflix original film of ALL time? Right now, abso-fucking-lutely. Everything about it is great: the camera work, the tone, the tension, the dialogue, the acting, the direction, the acting, the interconnected stories that keep you engaged, the acting, the tension, the interconnected stories, the tone, the dialogue, and the acting. I want to watch it again immediately to study it more. I literally can’t believe how good it was.

You know how sometimes films have narration from a famous actor or actress and that person is usually a character in said movie? Not here. This movie has the balls to cast the author himself (I forgot to mention this is based off a novel I haven’t read but now want to) to narrate parts of this film, just a bystander telling the audience of the inner thoughts of some of the characters during certain scenes, and it completely works. It was a wonderful breath of fresh air not to just hear Tom Holland or someone else from the cast narrate the entire thing. Oh shit…right…what’s it about you might be asking? Per IMDB: “Sinister characters converge around a young man devoted to protecting those he loves in a postwar backwoods town teeming with corruption and brutality.” That is literally the perfect summary without giving anything away. And when I say the film takes its beautiful time, it really does, as Tom Holland, who is billed first and the lead in this movie, doesn’t show up for possibly about 45-50 minutes in. It gives you ample detail of the history of his character and other characters around him that he may or may not cross paths with later. The film also manages to still be engaging even though some would argue that Holland is the only likable character in this movie (I disagree, Mia Wasikowska and Eliza Scanlan were likable to me). The movie balances the unlikable characters’ darkness and despair with incredible acting from all those that don’t make their roles at all sympathetic. Especially Pattinson. If you are still on the hate train because of the Twilight movies, this movie WILL change your mind on him if you haven’t seen Tenet or Good Time. I guarantee you that. And if not, you need to stop watching movies altogether.

This film has multiple wonderful set ups that in turn are earned with multiple incredible pay offs. The movie plots the characters actions so closely that when they do happen to meet up at one time or another, it seems more like fate than it does just a coincidence. I am not familiar at all with writer/director Antonio Campos’ work, but needless to say, I’ll be on the lookout for future projects from him whenever they do happen to cross my path. Knowing the average movie goer, 75% chance that it is you, you have probably looked at my review and then looked at Rotten Tomatoes to see what other critics have thought. You might see it’s 66% right now. I beg you to look at the audience score instead, which is 93% as of this writing. If you took your time to read some of the critic reviews, some of them have the fucking gall to complain that there is no humor in the movie. GOOD GOD PEOPLE, NOT EVERY DARK AND DEPRESSING FILM IS GOING TO HAVE HUMOR. In fact, it would be completely out of place in a tale like this one. These are the same critics that complained there was no humor in Tenet, even though there was, so they are either blind and deaf, or they are literally are that stupid. I cannot recommend The Devil All The Time any more than I already have to you. It is entirely engaging the entire time, my attention was dead set on it when I was watching and it never wavered, I soaked up all of its greatness and then some. Other than that quote at the top of this review, I’m sure on multiple viewings that I’ll catch and memorize a few more. With people being lazy and privileged and cowardly at home and not going to theaters, spending all the time in the world with this devil of a direct to streaming film is the only one I’d recommend (and Palm Springs) to those afraid to step outside their homes.

Zach’s Zany Movie Review: LITTLE WOMEN

I think I’m going to have to start out this review of LITTLE WOMEN by defending myself in regards to my mediocre review of Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born last year. I complained that A Star Is Born’s praise was unwarranted because it was the 3rd remake, 4th adaptation of that story line, and didn’t really do much different than the three films before it. This is the 9th, that’s right, NINTH adaptation of Little Women, and getting about as much praise as A Star Is Born did last year. However, I am very much recommending Little Women as I enjoyed the entire 2 hour and 15 minute run time (didn’t feel that long at all) and in some parts thought it was absolutely wonderful. My defense of Little Women is three fold: 1. I have never read the novel. 2. I have never seen any of the previous 8 adaptations, even the Winona Ryder one. 3. The only knowledge I had of Little Women was when Joey reads it and gets emotional when Rachel gives him spoilers on the television show Friends. Had I still really liked this version if I had either A. read the book or B. watch any of or all of the previous adaptations? I still think so, and it is all probably in thanks to writer/director Greta Gerwig.

Most of you know how the story goes, so those of you that don’t, here’s my zany way of explaining things. The movie is about 4 girls, Jo (Saoirse Ronan) wants what women don’t get in that time period (American Civil War) which is women being successful and independent from men. Although she’s in love with the boy next door Laurie (Timothee Chalamet), she wants to do well on her own as a great writer. Then you got Meg (Emma Watson) who is fine with women’s roles at that time and just wants to get married to a rich dude and have a family. Then you have Amy (Florence Pugh) who wants the best of both worlds. To be in love and be successful on her own. Finally you have, Beth (Eliza Scanlen), who keeps to herself and she loves music and well…if you’ve seen that Friends episode or have seen any other adaptation of this film, you know how that ends. Yeah so, you know, without going into spoilers, even if four score, a book, and 8 adaptations ago, the women’s lives get complicated with life opportunities presented elsewhere, love, sister loyalties & betrayals, all mixed in with a father that has gone off to war, and a very pessimistic Aunt.

If anything I can probably guess that I could be spot on with, even though I haven’t read the book or seen any of the bazillion adaptations is the reason why this movie works is that writer/director Greta Gerwig makes this movie her own with out drastically changing anything, except for an expanded ending that actually toys with the audiences’ mind a little (I always enjoy that when it is done correctly, as it is here). When seeing previews for this, I was afraid it was going to be one of THOSE movies, like The Favorite, where the film takes place a long time ago, but it is mostly modern day Juno like dialogue. Thankfully, there are only one or two moments of that (involving Jo and Laurie) but they fit within the context of the film. From what I’ve been told, the main difference between this film and the others is that this movie plays with the concept of time. It goes back and forth where as the novel and other film adaptations are straight forward. I actually quite enjoyed the movies’ play on time, and Greta Gerwig uses parts already established in the book to let you know what point in time the film is. I had no trouble figuring out where the film took place with each scene and each time change. I don’t think the film playing straight forward would’ve worked as well on screen. Maybe would’ve been labeled as just “one of those” multiple copycat adaptations.

I don’t know how the dialogue is in the book, but in the movie it is very fluid and connective; quirky, but at the same time it felt real, as though they were really sisters spending a lot of time together and how they manage when they are apart. Gerwig does a tremendous job writing. Greta Gerwig also manages to flex her directing muscles after her first solo directing gig with Lady Bird two years ago. Greta Gerwig has already established herself as an actor’s director, but with this film, she shows she also has the chops to have a special eye behind the camera. Constantly the camera moves gracefully and uniquely from one room of the house to the other, where ever the sisters may be. Her outside shots, whether it be on a hilly plain or on the beach, has a nice expansive scope to take in all of the environment and make it fit within each and every frame. Before doing Lady Bird by herself, she usually co-wrote movies with Noah Baumbach, and then would let him directed while she starred in those film. Like Greenberg or Frances Ha. I do not care for her earlier work with him. I understand that they are still “together” (not married) and that they might compete with each other for Best Director at this year’s Oscars, but if I met her I would encourage her to keep doing these solo projects. I already think she is a better filmmaker after two films than her partner, who has made a shit ton of movies and who I only finally gave some props recently to his writing style and substance with this years Marriage Story. Never cared for any of his other movies. Greta, you can still love him and be with him, just maybe keep separation between that and work. Oh, and also, might’ve want to think about giving up acting. You are fine as an actress, but you are incredible with film making. Come on, show up Ben Affleck, who can’t fucking decide.

The acting in this movie is great. Soairse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalamet, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, and Eliza Scanlan all get their moments to shine even though the latter two needed maybe just a little more screentime for me to care more about their characters, especially in regards to what happens with Beth. But don’t worry, I still felt all the feels you have to feel at the end of the movie if you are an actual human fucking being. There was only ONE moment that took me out of the film for two seconds, and this is my own personal shit, so don’t take this to heart, but when Bob Odenkirk shows up as the girls’ father, I was like, “oh he’s alive! It’s Saul Goodman.” I think Bob Odenkirk is an incredible actor and comedian, I just can’t see him in anything else without me thinking of Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul. Not saying he should’ve get these opportunities for more serious roles, but unless his character does anything dramatically different, my brain will go straight to two of the greatest television shows of all time and that one character he’s been playing for so long, and it will take me out of anything else he happens to be in. Sorry, but it’s true. He’s fine here, but I was just waiting in the wings for him to deceive someone or screw over another character. **shrugs**

Anyway, yeah, I’m not going to get into the whole “men Academy Awards voters aren’t seeing this movie because it’s a girlie girl film and aren’t giving it fair attention” nonsense that the media is trying to conjure up. If that were the case (I guess I am getting into it), there would be a movie every year like that (there is always at least one or two “female” films nominated for Best Picture) and we’d hear the same song and dance at the end of each and every December. But we don’t hear that song and dance (we do with the “Oscars So White” though, which I’m sick of seeing). It’s all just fake controversy to get your ass into the theater. Look at Rotten Tomatoes, it’s in the 90s and if you look more than half of the reviews are coming from males. And I call bullshit, because I am male, and I have a penis, and I was really wanting to see this movie and was looking forward to it based on the cast and Greta Gerwig. So poop on that shit. It’s a very, very good movie that ANYONE can and probably will enjoy. This shitting on female empowerment films is honestly the work of trolls that have nothing else better to do with their days other than sit by their computers all day and jerk off to each and every negative comment or idea they post for all to see. Go and see Little Women. Whether man or woman, girl or boy, little man or little woman, it is a really well acted, well crafted, delightful and wonderful little film. Which means it ain’t so little after all.