Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CLOUDS (Disney+)

I’m surprised that with CLOUDS, Disney didn’t send a box of tissues to every Plus subscriber with the instructions on the box reading, “Open, then stick directly to face before pressing play.” Good lord that son of a bitch mouse has rarely tickled any of our balls to make us laugh until we cry but he sure has punched us in the gut a shit ton for the same effect. Here’s the good thing though with this movie, the acting and story EARNS those tears instead of going for forced and cliched feels that have tricked many a young millennial time and time again. Every studio is guilty of this, even Disney, but every studio is also capable and has made films that are worthy of your sobs. Like this one, as Clouds is easily Disney+’s best original film to date, not that it has had that much competition. But be forewarned, YOU WILL BE CRYING NIAGARA FALLS BY THE END OF THIS FILM. If you don’t, then you are probably a Trump supporter. IMDB describes Cloud, which is based on a real story, with the following log line, “Young musician¬†Zach Sobiech¬†discovers his cancer has spread, leaving him just a few months to live. With limited time, he follows his dream and makes an album, unaware that it will soon be a viral music phenomenon.” The movie doesn’t try to make you cry right off the bat, absolutely not, as that Zach knew the severity of his situation and just tried to live a normal life anyway. He also seemed to have a very earnest and winning personality, as he seemed to inspire a lot of people in regular life before he went viral. He wasn’t all ‘woe is me and give me attention’ because I’m in pain, he was inspired by the power of music, happened to just think up of a song, recorded it, uploaded it to YouTube, and his story just spread fast, in a good way.

And the acting in this movie reflects that greatly. You probably don’t know him, but actor Fin Argus is phenomenal here. He brings something to Zach that feels unique and genuine, which makes you root for his character to ultimately live even though you probably know the end fate. He isn’t the only great acting job here. Sabrina Carpenter, who plays his musical as well best friend, completely makes up for Netflix’s piece of cliched film Work It that came out a couple of months ago, and proves again why she was too good for Girl Meets World. Lil Rel Howery, who plays the TSA agent friend in Get Out tones down his Kevin Hart persona and brings some heartfelt personality to his inspirational teacher to Zach role. Tom Everett Scott, who was the go to good guy role in the mid 90s, gives us his best performance since That Thing You Do! Madison Iseman made up for the recent Welcome To Blumhouse Amazon Prime film Nocturne that came out earlier this week, playing the girlfriend with the heart of gold here. But the truly impressive performance here, is surprisingly Sydney Prescott herself, Neve Campbell, giving us her best performance ever, and completely shedding her horror ‘Scream’ Queen role. She plays Zach’s mother, and while the role could’ve ended up being very cliched and typical ‘mother’-esque from another actress, she transcends those preconceived character beats and makes the mother a different kind of sympathetic character. It’s hard to explain what I mean, but I guarantee you that by the end of this film that you won’t see an ounce of Sydney Prescott in her performance. GUARANTEE IT. The film is also based off of Zach’s mother’s book ‘Fly A Little Higher’ and I don’t think the person that wrote the screenplay, Kara Holden, or the person that directed it, Justin Baldoni, have done much else but they both did a pretty good job here, Holden trying to write past the cliches and giving the audience something that feels a little more real and inspirational, and Baldoni matching that script with filming fantastic performances. I loved a little moment in the movie where Sabrina Carpenter’s character reads a shitty comment that some asshole left on their YouTube video. Zach’s dialogue and response to it were perfect. Clouds is the perfect tearjerker right now that has nothing to do with COVID-19. Will probably even make you forget about it for two hours, and you’ll download the film’s song the title came from immediately afterward.

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

NOCTURNE is just a rip off of Black Swan, just replace the ballerina horror aspects of the latter film with piano playing and you get the former. Blumhouse productions is very frustrating in general. Only one in twenty of their films produced by mastermind Jason Blum is worth anything to write home about, and that one in twenty usually debuts in a theater. The other nineteen are usually direct to streaming (with one or two somehow getting theatrical distribution), cheap little projects, and it shows. Most of these Blumhouse produced films range from being only okay to down right fucking abysmal. The Amazon Prime exclusive ones, these newly introduced ‘Welcome To The Blumhouse’ ones, where they will put out 4 films in one month every several months, are the only okay ones. The Hulu exclusive ones, the one film per month going on two years now, labeled the “Into The Dark’ series, are the abysmal ones. So it is really not that all surprising that Nocturne is in the only okay category. However, while it might be in the only okay category when talking about its overall execution, the thought of it being beat by beat (literally, even the ending) of a much superior film makes you want to fit it right next to the abysmal file. Don’t get me wrong, it is very admirable if you are able to green light and make a motion picture on a small budget, but if you are a production company that mass produces them to no end, kind of like how author James Patterson is able to release 10 books all in the span of a year (I stopped reading his schlock awhile ago), then most of your content is just going to be bland, no excitement or surprises. IMDB describes Nocturne with the following: “An incredibly gifted pianist makes a Faustian bargain to overtake her older sister at a prestigious institution for classical musicians.” Don’t get me wrong, the movie is certainly watchable, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre table.

The definition of nocturne is “is a musical composition that is inspired by, or evocative of, the night.” Night equals dark. A dark movie usually doesn’t have a happy ending. Remember how I said this movie is a rip off of Black Swan? Has the dawn of light risen in your thoughts in what I’m trying to get you to see? Yeah, thought so. The movie is way too predictable and even if Black Swan hadn’t come before it, the very beginning of the film shows the entire story’s hand. There are several chances the film has to surprise viewers and flip all preconceived notions on their heads, but the film doesn’t take any of them. There are two things that are good in the movie, and only two: 1. The cinematography and shots are impressive and 2. The leads Sydney Sweeney and Madison Iseman give impressive performances. Although I would’ve like to see Sweeney play the sister and Iseman play the gifted pianist that made a Faustian bargain. Sydney Sweeney hasn’t really ever played (from what I’ve seen) the wholesome good girl, and while she is fine here, her transformation from a righteous yet shy girl into a jealous sort holding contempt for everyone wasn’t quite as day and night as I would’ve liked it to be. Madison Iseman has played both the good and bad girl (The Fuck It List/Jumanji) in different projects and I think maybe if they had switched roles, their character arcs would’ve been more clear. And don’t go in expecting a full on horror movie. There are absolutely no jump scares or tension, and it is definitely less artsy fartsy (the good kind for me) than Black Swan was. It’s more psychological. But due to the fact that there are no surprises in writer/director Zu Quirke‘s screenplay (she should maybe only stick to directing next time), the only deep rooted question you should be asking your id is why you decided to press play on this title in the first place.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE F**K-IT LIST (Netflix)

THE F**K-IT LIST, an obviously play on The Bucket List, is not the worst thing to come to Netflix? If that question sounds to you like a back handed compliment, it kind of is. It’s watchable, it’s a movie, it’s not abysmal…but would I ever watch it again? Probably not. It’s just…there. It makes you wonder how movies like this get made yet there are a bunch of good low budget scripts out there desperate to get green lit, but for some reason or another they don’t. This movie could’ve been much better than it is. Instead of being The Bucket List, where Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman actually do a lot of the things they write down, the protagonist in this movie video blogs a bunch of stuff that he ends up not doing, but goes viral anyway to inspire a lot of kids to do their own F**k-It lists in life. If the movie had shown him doing things on his list and then in turn getting more viral, the film’s message might’ve actually been earned and had been clearer. This review is going to be insanely short because I don’t know much to say about it. The actors and actresses are decent and you even got some recognizable names such as Jerry O’Connoll, Natalie Zea, Madison Iseman, Andrew Bachlor, and Peter Facinelli, that do a fine job in their small roles. But the real problem is that you have to suspend belief in a lot of what happens in the film, specifically the choices of the protagonist.

This is a long synopsis, but per IMDB, The F**k-It List is described as: “Brett Blackmore is a high school senior whose exemplary GPA and college resume hides the fact that he’s unintentionally sold his childhood for a future he’s not even sure he wants. When his high-school senior prank goes wrong, his life crumbles before his eyes. In frustration he launches the F**k-It List – of all the things he wishes he’d done but was too afraid. The list goes viral and touches a nerve with teenagers everywhere, exposing the educational-industrial complex as a money-machine designed to encourage anxiety-ridden parents to sell their kids into years of Tiger-Mom style servitude. Brett decides he’s going to break free – and make a run for a future of his own design.” Let’s get to the suspension in belief shall we? It’s really the only problems I have with this “okay” film other than Brett not doing much on his list. First off, the “senior prank goes wrong” scenario, is really not his fault. A couple of kids sneak into the school to hack into the computers, possibly to change some things (doesn’t really say), and one of the idiots steps on a gas pipe and breaks it. They go and get Brett to see if he can help, but he can’t and tells them all to get out of there as the room starts filling up with gas. The whole fucking school explodes (no one is hurt or killed) and he takes the rap. Yet…it wasn’t his fault? If I was him, even with a future I didn’t want, there is no fucking way I would’ve taken the rap for that extreme of shit. Also, the actor that plays Brett Blackmore, Eli Brown, is way too good looking and looks like he has a “fuck it” attitude in his face to be believable as a valedictorian let alone a decent kid.

Also, Brett doesn’t get arrested and the only consequences for his decision to take the rap is that he doesn’t get his high school diploma and that the 7 out of 8 ivy league colleges he was accepted to, take back their offers. But then that doesn’t really matter anyway as Harvard eventually reaches out after he goes viral and asks him to send an essay to possibly get into their elite college anyway. It’s very bizarre and while the film takes it seriously and not as one big joke, there is just no way in fucking hell any of that would happen, other than going viral…maybe. I get the messages of the future of young adults, how we need to make our own life altering decisions and to not just follow the wishes of our parents, but I don’t think the events that happen in this film warrant morals of that type. It’s just a very odd, yet somewhat watchable film. In fact, you’ve seen this teen angst film plenty of times before and needless to say, all those other films do a better job with the content than this one did. Add to the insult and injury? The co-writer and director, Michael Duggan, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for being a producer of Law & Order. How…what…did….did he like bang his head and get the idea for this weird movie, or did he watch The Bucket List high and thought he should make a teen movie about it but a play on words? I have a feeling those questions would elicit answers that were more interesting than this film. Man, some of these title I keep hitting play on, I’m saying “fuck it” myself. I need to start thinking things through.