Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SEBERG (Amazon Prime)

In the manner of which Chandler says sarcastic comments on the television show Friends: “Could this movie BE any more boring?” SEBERG is super duper boring and it shouldn’t have been with the amount of content the filmmakers could’ve pulled from real life young starlet Jean Seberg’s crazy fast life that tragically ended when she was 40. But no, the movie focuses too much on only 3 years of it, and saves the most interesting aspects to happen either off screen or saved for dumb title cards right before it cuts to end credits. And it’s a shame, because Kristen Stewart gives a hell of a performance, arguably her best yet. And it’s even more of a shame considering that Kristen Stewart is acting like she finally wants to be there in the spotlight of Hollywood’s most prestige actors/actresses, she’s just picking the wrong films to try and have a resurgence in her career. After all, she’s had to apologize for the Twilight Saga multiple times the past several years. The real problem with the movie is that it tells and not shows. The movie jumps in time a little too much and we are told, through just a couple of sentences of dialogue, what has happened to her, and as a audience we are supposed to pick up and imagine those pieces to try and catch up to the present time of where these people are at. Yeah, never ever do that in your movie. Ever.

Always try and show, especially if you have the ability to. And they very much had the ability. This is an Amazon Prime original film, and it is also gorgeously shot, showing the glitz and glamour of Seberg’s home life, with decadent giant houses filled with nice looking amenities. They had to have had the budget or could’ve asked for more, to film these certain scenes we are just told that happened (I don’t want to give these scenes away as they are spoilers to Ms. Seberg’s life, but if you looked her up on Wikipedia and then watched the movie, you’d know what I’m talking about). But no, we are just told, which to me as a film critic, is very frustrating and always almost unforgivable save if you have a low budget and can’t do much, like Amazon Prime’s other recent original movie: The Vast Of Night. I’m reviewing this film because like Just Mercy and Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, the release date is kind of blurry between late 2019 and 2020. Couldn’t not find one theater to see it in when it was out, and then just dumped on Amazon Prime mid May. Well, there is a reason for the random dump, the film isn’t that great. The film is directed by Benedict Andrews, who I’m not familiar with, but when looking at his history, he is mostly a stage play director, which makes total sense, as the whole movie feels like it could be a stage play.

IMDB.com describes Seberg as: “Inspired by real events in the life of French New Wave icon┬áJean Seberg, the late 1960s, Hoover’s FBI targeted her because of her political and romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal.” To elaborate further on IMDB.com’s description. Hakim Jamal was part of the Black Panther movement, which the FBI was deeply scared and paranoid would commit an act of domestic terrorism on white people at the time. The film has the paranoia down pat, and the FBI infiltrating her life is a little interesting, but other than that, it is a snooze fest, consisting of decent performances that are wasted on nothing to do. Anthony Mackie and Zazie Beetz are in this too, playing Hakim and his wife respectively, but Hakim and Seberg’s affair is kind of glossed over with two small throwaway scenes of Beetz telling Stewart/Seberg to back off. There is also a side B plot involving one of the FBI agents, played by Unbroken’s Jack O’ Connell, who actually begins to have sympathy for Seberg’s plight, unfortunately it feels like that sympathy is rushed and just shoved into the ending climax confrontation between him and Seberg. They should’ve just made a biography on her whole life, her rise and fall from fame, and made it a bit longer. This movie only clocks in at a little under an hr and 40 minutes, but it all feels really superficial. If that makes any sense to you. Reading up on her, her life was anything but superficial, and it’s a shame that this boring product is what we got from it.

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: UNDERWATER

This is a perfect one time watch rental. That’s the highest praise you will get from me regarding UNDERWATER, a film that was shelved for several years and then just released in theaters in January and one of the few movies I purposefully decided not to see due to the month it was dumped in and the not so great reviews that followed. But it isn’t that bad really. Sure it has got a butt load of script issues (that I would normally rip a new asshole for) but I was entertained and watched my rental (had a good 99 cent deal on Fandango now, the only reason I decided to go for it) the full way thru, never pausing once. It’s a giant rip off of Alien and all the other movie monster survival horror/thriller films you have seen but with one saving grace: the suspense starts about 2 to 3 minutes in and doesn’t let up until the credits rolled. It sacrifices almost all of character development for it and we don’t get a good sense of geography where these people are staying and their location where they are drilling underwater, but the fact that the movie just starts without cliched bullshit set up was a nice change of pace indeed. Even though their characters weren’t developed at all, throw in some decent acting from Kristen Stewart (minus the voice overs at the beginning and end, those were fucking horrid) and others, a nice classic monster reveal, and all at a breakneck pace, it really is the definition of a perfect rental. Worth buying? Absolutely fucking not.

Here’s IMDB.com perfect log line, “A crew of oceanic researchers working for a deep sea drilling company try to get to safety after a mysterious earthquake devastates their deepwater research and drilling facility located at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.” Needless to say, if you’ve seen the previews, you know it also deals with barely seen monsters lurking in the deep as well. The monsters are CGI as fuck, and not interesting to look at or care for, but there is a reveal near the end of a classic monster of lore that you may or may not know, and it makes up for the little monster inconsistencies. The film was directed by William Eubank, and I hadn’t seen his other high profile film called The Signal, but seeing as that got better reviews than this, maybe I should. The direction in this is okay. Everything shot inside looks nice and crisp with nice darker colors to establish mood, but anything shot with them in their suits underwater looks awkward as fuck, and you can tell that none of them really shot a day underwater, all CGI screen screen in suits, it was a bit disappointing. Especially when action shit would happen, because you really couldn’t tell what the fuck was going on, and these sequences made reason for me to believe why the film was ultimately shelved in the first place. The film was written by two people, one of which, Adam Cozad, hasn’t written anything I really cared for as The Legend of Tarzan and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit were quite fucking dull. But Brian Duffield, the other screenwriter, wrote The Babysitter, a great, great Netflix film if you haven’t seen it starring Samara Weaving. And I can tell the “just start the movie with action” part of the script was probably his idea. As The Babysitter, a short movie as well, both less than an hour and a half, doesn’t really mess around with too much exposition, just wants to get into things.

Which is ultimately commendable, but if The Babysitter really had any problems, it was the character development of the other bad guys (Samara Weaving and the main kid were fine). If this guy can write a film that just starts into the action but somehow mixes in great character development that doesn’t feel forced (they had a little something to all the characters in this, most with Kirsten Stewart, but it feels hammed up and I didn’t end up caring for them at all), he might be onto something with future horror/thrillers. Right now though, he’s strictly “O.K.” in my book. Kristen Stewart, although still somewhat doing her “aw shucks” routine, is good here, just like she seemed like she was game for Charlie’s Angels. And all the acting from the other players were decent as well, including Vincent Cassel, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr, and my man Mamoudou Athie, but all of them have no character development or are barely in it, so take that for what you will. T.J. Miller is in this quite a bit, but he just does his T.J. Miller bit, and its kind of tiring now to be honest. But to give him credit, it was filmed when people were still going for his bit, and before he got into behavioral trouble. Anyway, there’s nothing more that needs to be said other than it is a perfect rental. It is not one of the best films of the year, nor is it one of the worst. It is just there for you to watch while bored, and a minor ultimate quarantine pick me up. That’s the best recommendation this will get from me. Any other year, probably would’ve ripped it to shreds based off the fact it’s just another Alien rip off. It doesn’t know how lucky it came out when it did.