Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: RUN (Hulu)

RUN is yet another film that was supposed to debut in theaters earlier this year but got postponed because of you know what, Hulu ended up buying the rights back in August, and now here we are. It was originally supposed to come out Mother’s Day weekend in May, which if it would have made that release date, without revealing anything it would’ve been quite fitting and ironic. Let me start off by saying that Run is a good movie. It is tension filled with some incredible white knuckle suspense sequences and masterful acting from both veteran Sarah Paulson and newcomer Kiera Allen. What prevents it from becoming a great film is the fact that the twists and reveals were way too predictable. I know that I’m a good guesser, but if my wife comes into the living room near the beginning of a movie, watches only two minutes, and ends up going, “well this is obviously that and also that is obviously this,” then YOUR MOVIE IS WAY TOO PREDICTABLE. My wife doesn’t really like horror films or thrillers of this nature and if she can come in and guess the reveals to something she can’t stand and doesn’t have a whole lot of knowledge of (even putting into consideration she has learned from the best for 11 years now), that doesn’t bode too well. And she wasn’t even present when the movie got to the reveals an hour later to get the credit she so well deserved (this review is about to be published sweetie, to give you credit where it is due). But, the movie is still too good with every other aspect in its film making to not give it a recommendation. This is one of Hulu’s better originals to be sure.

IMDB describes Run with the following: “A homeschooled teenager begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her.” To give you a bit more background on the movie, without you having to watch a trailer (trust me, don’t watch the trailer), the teenager can’t walk or run, she’s in a wheelchair, and has a bunch of other medical problems, basically preventing her from being on her own outside the house, if at all. Surely you are putting two and two together? If not, watch the very first scene in the movie, which is about 2 to 3 minutes long (the movie is a tight and short hour and 30), and the full puzzle should be glued and/or cemented together for you. It isn’t hard. I was hoping that I was wrong and that the movie was trying to successfully pull a double red herring on me, alas, it wasn’t. What you end up thinking is going on, you’re probably right. Let’s not go too deep into this criticism of predictability anymore, let’s talk about the good stuff. Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen could teach a master class of acting with this one movie alone. Both are incredible, Paulson proving that she deserves to be put on that pedestal so many of her fans put her on, and Kiera Allen proving that she deserves to be put in more projects. This is set in stone especially after the reveals if you weren’t already convinced. Other than their acting, the real reason to watch this movie is some of the incredible, white-knuckle, emotional, tension-filled “action” scenes. To not spoil anything, I won’t give you much context, let’s just say there is a scene where a character scales a roof that is perfect in its execution, and the climax in general was also perfect in its execution along with the character arc conclusion. That’s all I’ll say. The co-writer/director Aneesh Chaganty, who directed the laptop thriller Searching, proves with Run that he has the skills to direct more Hitchcockian thriller things like this and someday even become a household name. While Run on the whole isn’t a blast off, story wise, start in a race against other thrillers with less predictability, it’s a huge head start in terms of effectively executing tension and thrills.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BAD THERAPY

What is this movie? Seriously, I think it’s supposed to be a dark comedy, but there are no comedic elements in sight. I thought BAD THERAPY was going to be something like Bad Moms, Bad Santa, Bad Words, Bad Teacher, or Bad News Bears, movies which actually do pull off the dark comedic aspects correctly, albeit some better than others. However, I wouldn’t put this movie near the same ballpark as those others. Seriously, what…is this movie? It’s dour, dark, and doesn’t balance it’s supposed tone very well at all, in fact it’s close to abysmal if not for some recognizable names in the cast including a decent lead performance from Alicia Silverstone, which needed to be in another movie. Other’s include The Unicorn’s Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins, playing Silverstone’s husband and their marriage counselor/therapist respectively, and while Corrdry and Watkins give decent performances as well, I feel like they could’ve been great if the script and story wasn’t a giant pile of shit. IMDB lists Bad Therapy as a comedic romance drama and describes the film with the following: “A couple seeks out Judy Small, a marriage counselor; but the counselor is more than what meets the eye.” All you need to know is that this movie is not a comedy, not a romance, not a drama. It’s just…there? The marriage counselor/therapist is a nut job herself and tries to further push the couple’s marriage into ruin. And no, there isn’t some surprise ending where the therapist turns out she knows what she’s doing and the craziness was all an act, like the movie Anger Management had. And there are no redeeming qualities about her by the film’s end, like movies such as Bad Words and Bad Santa had. It’s just a mean, ugly, unfocused movie that has no identity and goes absolutely nowhere.

The only time I laughed in this movie was when the thirteen year old teenage girl that plays Silverstone’s daughter got high with her friend and got caught, and that scene lasts about ninety seconds in this hour and forty seven minute slog of a watch. At times I was asking myself whether I was supposed to laugh, to feel drama, to feel tension, to feel concerned for the characters, and/or to hope the entire thing would get better, and the answer was a hard no each time. There are constant scenes that we don’t see that get told by explanatory dialogue a scene or two afterwards…why not just film those scenes or let us see what is going on before those abrupt cutaways. It made no sense, and I understand that some cutaways are meant to make sense in context of what’s going on, but this movie had no context, so therefore, it doesn’t make sense. Especially a scene where Silverstone’s daughter comes home and discovers something she’s not meant to see. For comedic and/or shocking effect, why didn’t the audience see what she saw? If it was too sexually explicit (which it turns out it wasn’t that bad), there are ways to frame a scene to make something look like something is going on without showing it. If you are dumb enough to watch this movie after my critique, you’ll see what I mean. There are also some supporting characters that have a story somewhere in this movie, but we don’t see their stories plaid out, they are just yelled out to other characters when the movie is almost over. And the climax of the film is pretty fucking stupid too. Characters do desperate things for no rhyme or reason other to say that they are stupid and/or crazy. Stuff happens just to happen because movie. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. It would be too easy of a pun job to end this review just by saying Bad Therapy is a bad movie. Way too easy. I’ll make it a bit zanier and say that if this script had went to a script doctor before it was taken to camera, the script doctor would’ve placed said script on his couch and then burned both until they were a pile of ashes.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BAD HAIR (Hulu)

You can not tell me that the premise for Hulu’s new original movie, BAD HAIR, doesn’t sound interesting: “In 1989 an ambitious young woman gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television. However, her flourishing career may come at a great cost when she realizes that her new hair may have a mind of its own.” The movie is about a hair weave that kills people. Plain and simple. Brilliant. I have never seen a movie like that before. It pains me to say though that even though the script and the tone gets the late 80s right, with plenty of fantastic social commentary on the African-American woman and how her hair looks/how she looked in general at the time, the execution of the horror aspects are absolutely abysmal. Especially the editing and the CGI of the hair weave killing people. A. BYS. MAL. I think writer, director, producer, Justin Simien, was just completely out of his element here, directing wise. He’s known for the semi-satire movie and Netflix series, Dear White People, which those are little great features on their own, but he is in no way a horror director. Simply put, what needed to happen was that he needed his script polished by someone in the horror industry and the film needed to be directed by someone well versed in the horror industry. This could’ve been something really really special, but the hammy horror scenes, which aren’t meant to be hammy, I can 100% confirm that, are just plain awful. I would’ve understood and have been more into it if this had been a complete satire or commentary on African-American hair, but the horror aspects in this are completely meant to be taken seriously, they are just directed like a film student who doesn’t have a budget. The Chris Rock narrated documentary Good Hair was more of a horror film than this was.

This movie has some pretty recognizable faces in it: Usher, Jay Pharoah, Vanessa Williams, Lena Waithe, James Van Der Beek, with Unsecured Elle Lorriane providing a strong lead performane as Anna, the young women who is trying to make it in the music television industry. They all give good performance, in fact, I would say that I really enjoyed the tone of the first half of the movie. It’s a very solid social and appearance commentary. But once the horror film takes over, it’s all down hill, and it’s all down hill fast. What are meant to be earned and creepy jump scares are shot and edited to shit, with embarrassing CGI that takes the realism out of everything. The mythology of why this particular hair weave kills people is interesting, but instead of there being an entire scene where the mythology is brought to light, in this case from a Folklore Story Book, that scene is chopped up and spread out, where the story being interrupted 2 to 3 times is a huge disadvantage for some viewers as they could’ve forgotten the information given to them 20 minutes ago. Considering what happens during the course of the movie, the ending is rushed and doesn’t make a lick of sense. I liked that it was visual story ending, a not telling but showing ending, with some obligatory sequel set ups, but a little explanation was required why certain people ended up getting away with certain things and weren’t caught and arrested. Hopefully you get my drift without me completely spoiling it. Bad Hair is half a good movie, but half a mostly bad one…ultimately disappointing with how much potential it squandered because of a likely budget, editing and directing issue. This tale was not woven together very carefully.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BOOKS OF BLOOD (Hulu)

BOOKS OF BLOOD, a Hulu Original Movie that released a couple of days ago, is just generic and bland horror, plain and simple. There are a couple of good yet cheap jump scares and a couple of neat bloody visual shots, but for the most part it is all uninteresting, schlocky cheap, not frightening, and the intertwining of the three stories near the end left a lot to be desired. IMDB describes the movie with the following: “A journey into uncharted and forbidden territory through three tales tangled in space and time. Based on the Books of Blood, a series of horror fiction collections written by the British author Clive Barker, Books of Blood adapts Clive Barker’s framing device story from his novels but also includes brand new stories written for this film that Barker was involved in creating.” In essence, this is a sequel to the much superior film Book of Blood (they went with just an S here, like Aliens did), released in 2009, but more of a reboot/remake as the main story that binds the other two together is the same from the 11 year old film, just rewritten with different story elements and plot twists. Other than a couple of good scares and some neat bloody visuals. the only other compliment I could give it is that it has two decent performances from Britt Robertson and Anna Friel. Other than that, if Clive Barker did help coming up with these brand new stories, which is kind of confusing because the screenplay is credited by two others, then he is truly out of his game, and hasn’t been relevant since his decent novels, stories, and filmography of the mid 80s to early 90s.

I’m just going to list a one sentence little log line in my own words for each story:

  1. The first story involves a professional killer whose latest assignment clues him in on a priceless book, called The Book of Blood, that may allow him and his wife to permanently retire.
  2. The second story involves Jenna, a depressed and hypersensitive girl who suffers from ‘misphonia’ (an abhorrence of sound), and as she learns her mother is about to send her back to the psyche ward, she steals her cash and sets out for Los Angeles and may or may not end up at the BnB from hell.
  3. The last story involves Mary, a psychologist who has gained fame as a skeptic that debunks all theories or beliefs that are not solely scientifically based after she lost her 7-year-old son to leukemia and then met Simon, a potential medium.

The way the stories are linked together before the end credits and the content in them individually are anemic and clumsy. Frustrating too because all the stories show potential but they back off before that potential is fully realized. There are not any likable characters among them all. The best story of the three is the 2nd one which stares Britt Robertson. Even though all the characters are a bit flat, her performance, and along with Anna Friel, who plays Mary in the third story I mentioned, clearly showed that they tried with what they were poorly given. The stories don’t “tangle” organically, as you can tell that a couple of threads were thought up of last minute to try and make the viewer exclaim, “oh so that’s what that was!” I’d like to think that people are smarter than that and also answered with, “Nah, we ain’t buyin’ it.” One of the teleplay writers hasn’t done much, wrote the mediocre The Haunting In Connecticut, and wrote the abysmal Carnosaur and Snoop Dogg’s 2001 horror film, Bones, so with Adam Simon, you get what you pay for. However, the other teleplay writer, Brannon Braga (who also directed), should know better, as he has written some great episodes of television, such as 24, The Orville, Cosmos, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. It doesn’t even seem to be as if he’s trying here. The only thing this movie made me want to do is go out and search for Clive Barker’s 6 ‘Books of Blood’ that were published in 1984 and 1985 and read those. I bet they would make for a great Halloween treat. This ‘book’ I threw after slamming down the back cover in angry angst, hoping that I could draw blood from it.

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: HOOKING UP

HOOKING UP is another straight to video movie that came out earlier this year, and like my last movie review Buffaloed, I just bid my time yet again to when it came on a streaming service that I already partake in. Hence, it just came on Hulu, hence I’m reviewing it for you since 2020 sucks. But this movie does not, it’s actually a decent and cute one time watch with good performances from both Brittany Snow and Sam Richardson, especially the former. The only thing hindering it from becoming a multiple time viewed comedy hit is that it gets bogged down in a couple of cliches near the climax of the film, which makes it drag, until it saves itself with a little less predictable ending than you would think a raunchy sex comedy like this would get. It starts out as just another crude to be crude type movie you’ve seen before but quickly veers into more sweet and emotional territory, which is why this ultimately gets a slight recommendation from me. But only if you have time to spare one afternoon or evening and you are not trying to hook up with someone and trying to have lots and lots of sex during these COVID quarantine times. The jokes land about 60-40, which isn’t bad for something straight to video, and thankfully the sweet stuff lands about 80-20 to make up for the things that don’t work in its favor.

IMDB describes Hooking up as such: “After he receives a new cancer diagnosis and she is fired from her job as a sex columnist, Bailey and Darla take a road trip that forces them to get intimate with their issues, as well as each other.” Simple enough. That description tells you its a sex comedy road trip movie with feelings. That’s what it is. Bailey is also dealing with a recent break up from a high school sweetheart and Darla is trying to get her job back by writing a last chance column for her boss, played feisty by the always welcome Jordana Brewster (I’d have her yell at me any day of the week she’s so hot in this), while trying to come to terms about how her sexual promiscuity has hurt people in the past. Darla last chance column is on Bailey’s cancer journey and she’s writing it behind his back…you see where this is going don’t you? Once that very predictable confrontation scene happens, the movie drags a bit, but like I said earlier, the ending saves it. It really does, as you think it will go all the way in one direction, but it ends up in an “acute” yet more reasonable path. Rather than going for a straight out ending of declarations of forgiveness and I love you’s that are beginning to get annoying in other films at this point, it tries to be realistic enough. To give you a different perspective, my wife watched it with me and liked it much more than I did…so there you go. For me, Hooking Up is like a decent one-night stand, you are ultimately glad it happened, it felt good and you don’t feel dirty afterwards, even though it will probably never happen again.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE BINGE (Hulu)

THE BINGE is almost literally the same movie as Good Boys…but On Drugs. But don’t worry, the kids are 18 in this, and considering the year this takes place in, I’m surprised that they didn’t just use the characters from that movie and have that be the title of the sequel.The Binge is also a sort of, semi-parody of The Purge movies, described so eloquently in IMDB’s log line for the film: “Set in a time where all drugs and alcohol are illegal, the only day anyone can participate in the “fun” is on Binge day.” The year is 2032, where teenagers that just hit 18 don’t even know what a keg stand is anymore. You’d think maybe it should’ve been ten more years into the future (2042) for that notion to be believable, but believe me when I tell you this, to enjoy this movie, completely leave all logic and reasoning at the door before you hit PLAY. This is a teen comedy if there ever was one. There are drug jokes, dick jokes, sex jokes, crude humor up the wazoo, almost as bad if not worse of the amount there was in Good Boys. Other than The Purge angle, this movie is completely unoriginal. It’s about three friends, one who wants to ask his school Principal’s daughter (who he’s known since he was a kid) to prom. One of them just wants to go to this annual Binge party, take place in a competition there called The Gauntlet, and have sex with one of the hottest girls in school. The last one is that token weirdo that says random ass shit with dead pan delivery we’ve come accustomed to in films like this. You HAVE to watch this movie in a good mood (or at least be able to want to be in a good mood), because if you do, like I did, you are going to have a fantastic and hilarious time. If you aren’t in a good mood and don’t want to have a fantastic time, like most regular critics are with the film, you are just going to rip it a new asshole in terms of originality and the fact that the movie doesn’t do nearly enough to develop how a day like this might really play out in the real world. At least today, I don’t care how unoriginal this film was and we are living in a country that doesn’t give two fucks what it does during a pandemic right now, so I certainly don’t want to watch something that is eerily reminiscent of what we are going through. I just wanted to laugh and I haven’t laughed this hard since last month’s Palm Springs. To conclude this introductory paragraph, Hulu is KILLING IT this year with original movies. I just put The Binge on my top 20 list, and along with Palm Springs, I don’t think I see a Netflix film on there. That’s saying something.

Two out of the three friends are from the recent movie Booksmart, and the main main protagonist Griffin, you might recognize as Skylar Gizondo. He stole the show in Booksmart but really stole every scene in Netflix’s great original series that was cancelled too early, Santa Clarita Diet. He plays it straight here…until he’s on drugs and alcohol. The other two teenagers, played by Dexter Darden and Eduardo Franco, get their moments to shine and made me laugh constantly. Speaking of playing it straight, Vince Vaughn is in this and he plays the school’s principal and the father of the girl that Griffin wants to ask to prom. Mr. Vaughn, even though being the ‘and’ in the opening credits, is in this much more than you initially probably think he would be. At first Vaughn plays the typical stuck up father old man role that hates the annual Binge night (although still with that stinging classic improv from him that makes you do several double takes to understand what just came out of his mouth), but as every minute of the movie ticks by, and the more scenes he is in, the Wedding Crasher comes out of him, and by the end of it he ends up being the funniest he’s ever been since that classic 2005 film. It’s just a really funny fucking movie. There is so much random shit in it, such as really funny auto-correct texting jokes, a giant bar multi-person bicycle, and cocaine in a cow’s eyeball that, for an hour and 38 minutes, made me forget about these shitty times the whole world is going through. I didn’t expect a masterpiece. Sure, you are going to have to suspend your believe in how much drugs and alcohol some of the lead characters do and somehow they still A. survive and B. seem sober the next minute. Especially involving one part of The Gauntlet competition where you have to snort as much cocaine as you can and when you aren’t snorting you have to do an Al Pacino Scarface impression. Yeah, I shit you not, that is in this movie. There is even an end of second act random drug trip lovely musical sequence. The film right now is doing TERRIBLE critically, it’s 22% on Rotten Tomatoes. This is one time where I completely disagree with the critics. They are especially being too harsh on the film, and you can tell all of them completely brought their brain into the mix when they hit the PLAY button. They are calling it irresponsible, inate, and wasted potential. I have a feeling that some of these critics just can’t be put into a good mood right now. I understand. But you have to WANT to be in a good mood to enjoy a film like this. And trust me, with 2020, every minute I want to binge on a high of good moods.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: PALM SPRINGS (Hulu)

Groundhog Day is the blueprint that all other “same day/time loop” films jump off of, correct? Asking for a friend. But being truthful, it really is. I can’t think of another time loop project that came out before Groundhog Day (upon doing some research, I found one short film and one television film that explored this concept briefly, but Groundhog Day was really the first theatrical endeavor). And all the other ones that came after, whether it be Before I Fall, Source Code, Happy Death Day among many others, only maybe Source Code has come even close to at least matching the masterful 1993 Bill Murray/Harold Ramis comedy. PALM SPRINGS just beat Source Code for me and is only a hair below Groundhog Day now. It is also now the best film of 2020 for me as well, as I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a straight to streaming title this much…since…well…EVER. It is a near perfect movie, with great set ups that provide great pay offs, huge laughs, incredible performances, and one hell of a tight 90 minute structure that I could’ve watched about an hour more of. I completely fell for this world and everything in it and know that in the future I will be watching Palm Springs over, and over, and over, and over again. I think repeat viewings will solidify how perfectly constructed this film is from start to finish. And it is likely to put a giant grin on your face, which is especially nice considering 2020 has been a total asshole to the entire world.

Per IMDB, it describes Palm Springs as: “When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.” If you’ve seen any marketing for this movie, you’ll know that the “unable to escape” part is the time loop twist the story has where several individuals are reliving the same day over and over again. It’s not really even a spoiler at this point anymore because this film has been talked about so much (but the ending has not been so SHHHHH, please don’t ruin it for anyone else!). Before you start to write this off as just another “time loop” movie that has been done to death, this one is unique in that it has more than one person stuck in this time loop. So the movie explores much more territory than Groundhogs Day did and digs deeper into the relationship between two (maybe even three) people. Yes, it did explore Bill Murray’s relationship with Andie McDowell in Groundhog Day, but it was more one sided, as she had no clue that a time loop was even occurring. Andy Samberg isn’t just Andy Samberg in this movie, he actually plays much more than just another Jake Peralta/Brooklyn Nine-Nine type (although that role on television will never get old for me). This is easily a career best performance from him, as it is also for Cristin Milioti, who has come such a long way from being what would end up being the **spoiler alert for something different** disposable mother character on the sitcome How I Met Your Mother.

J.K. Simmons is also in this film, but the less that is said about his character, the better. Experience that boat load of fun on your own. But like I said, the movie is near perfect if not perfect. Right at the end, when it was about to have a huge plot thread roll loose in a depressing fashion, it doesn’t, it remembers what it needed to explain a quick bit without spoon feeding it to the audience. I literally almost screamed “oh yeah” right as the scene happened. The movie has some great twists and turns that I dare not reveal here, just to say that I didn’t see some of them coming at all. There are great set ups, pay offs, smart crude and sex humor that I haven’t seen in awhile, the works. It has a definitive set of universe rules and doesn’t break or even bend them in the slightest. I love when filmmakers stick to that shit. It has fantastic replay value, as a feel good romantic sort of sci-fi comedy that should help you get out of any funk that you are in currently. Although the great and talented Lonely Island boys (Samberg, Akiva Shaffer, Jorma Taccone) produced this film, so you could possibly call it a “Lonely Island movie”, they did not write or direct this. That would go to screenwriter Andy Siara and director Max Barbakow, neither of which I’m familiar with. Maybe one day, as I hope they can make movies as great as this one. So if you have Hulu, watch this immediately, and if you don’t have it, fucking find a friend that does or do a free trial and just watch this movie if you have to. It is a masterful and hilarious 90 minutes to distract you from the days of COVID-19, which seems to be going on forever at this point. I know I’ve said it but, again, best film of 2020 for me so far.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE

Kind of like why I did my review of Just Mercy, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE came out in theaters early February, right before the pandemic hit. Normally I only do reviews of new stuff that comes out the year it comes out to form best of and worst of lists. Technically, Portrait is a 2019 film because it was eligible for the Academy Awards because it came out in NY and LA in December. It didn’t receive any nominations, and so I skipped it in theaters and just recently watched it on Hulu. And again, since it’s release date is blurry combined with content released in 2020 to review running out and COVID-19, I thought I would just count it as 2020 film. But just like there were reasons for Just Mercy to not quite make it on my best of list so far, heck this wouldn’t have made it on my 2019 one either, Portrait OF A Lady On Fire just missed the mark because of the movie not ending one scene earlier, what they did with the beginning, and a plot element that seemed to be taken straight from Dirty Dancing, the same plot element that didn’t make me care for that film all that much either (I’ll tell you exactly what it is later). Other than that, it is a beautiful and sweet film about love between two women in France in the late 18th century.

It the story of a forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait. The last dude was fed up with the aristocrat woman because she wouldn’t ever pose for him so he couldn’t get her face right. The reason why this portrait needs to be done is because when it is finished her mother is sending her to Milan to get married. And you know…the woman doesn’t want to get married. Also, she’s suffering from depression because her sister killed herself by jumping off a cliff not too long ago. So they hire this other woman painter and they tell the aristocrat that she is there to go on walks with her and console her. The painter though is trying to just look at her face to do a portrait, until she isn’t, and she listens to the aristocrat, and you know, falls in love with her. The love story is tastefully done. Yes, there is nudity and some kissing, but there aren’t any full on gratuitous sex scenes, which kind of makes their love for each other earned in a way. Not like what the movie Blue Is The Warmest Color does. If you’ve ever seen THAT movie…then yeah, don’t worry, it is nothing like that. The movie is in French with English subtitles, and clocks in at an even 2 hours, but this is one period piece that actually kept my interest because of the acting, the pace of the story, and the beautiful cinematography of the sea side French landscapes.

The only real problems I had with the movie was the very beginning, a certain plot element that could’ve been completely cut out, and the ending should’ve ended one scene earlier. I can’t really reveal why it should’ve ended one scene earlier, other than to say that if you ever watch this movie, you’ll know why the scene right before the last one was more perfect than when it really decided to cut to black. The very beginning of the movie was a problem for me because I can’t stand it when movies start in the present day, and then go back in time to lead to the present. It voids a lot of mystery of where the characters might end up. And while I was wrong about the fate of one of the characters, there was no guessing about the other one, because it reveals that’s she’s alive and well right at the beginning of the film. And the frustrating thing about it is that scene could’ve played at the end and still had the same effect, maybe even more so, on the audiences emotions than where it plays at the beginning. Lastly, there is a B plot of the two women helping a young house maid get an abortion of a kid she doesn’t want. And if you’ve seen Dirty Dancing, you’ll know that was a plot thread too. That plot thread is the main reason I can’t stand Dancing, here it is done a little more tastefully, but I felt like it could’ve been cut out or re written to give more screen time to our two lead protagonists. But the movie is solid as is. If you like international feature films, I highly recommend a viewing, as it is a gorgeous movie to look at, as well as it has a decent love story of yore. I don’t know the director or any of the actresses from anything else, so I will save you a history lesson, and just say that all involved did a great job. You could watch much worse things on Hulu right now…like Shirley! This one is more on fire than that one for sure.