Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MIRAI and NEVER LOOK AWAY (2 film review) OSCAR CATCH UP CHAPTER 11. BANKRUPTCY. FINISHED!!!

Wow, being 100% complete on one year’s worth of Oscar nominations and being prepared the most I have ever been for the telecast this Sunday, and also for Diane and I’s 10th Annual and last Oscar party, feels great. Doing this was one of my ‘bucket list’ items and I’m glad I completed it at only 32, thanks to a lot of things (Netflix, Hulu, dark web illegal shit, last minute screenings, friends of friends). It was also a fucking beating, time consuming, and I’m never going to do it again. So here is part 11 of my Oscar catch up. I’m finally done. For the rest of the year you will be getting only 2019 movie reviews. Here we go:

MIRAI (Nominated for Best Animated Feature)

I’ve never really ‘gotten’ anime I guess you could say. Other than being into the Pokemon video games and watching several episode of the cartoon when I was younger, to watching several episodes of Full Metal Alchemist when I was older, I never really gotten into it or care for it. So take my review of Mirai with a grain of salt, especially if you are an anime fan. That being said, the movie was okay. I really think it was nominated as a “we need a fifth nominated film, here’s your consolation prize as there weren’t other noticeable U.S. films this year, and we usually include one Japanese anime film on here per year now so we aren’t labeled racist or non-diverse.”

If you look really hard at it while watching it, you could compare it to The Boss Baby, with Alec Baldwin. It’s about a young little brat kid that has a new sister, and imagines a bunch of scenarios in his mind about interacting with past and future versions of his ancestors, parents, and his new little sister Mirai, in order to become a better person, but most importantly, a role model for his little sister. The main version that comes to him is his “sister that is older from the future.” The film didn’t really get going for me until the last 15-20 minutes, with awesome imagery and animation that reminded me of watching Little Nemo and the Adventures in Slumberland when I was a little kid.

The animation is great too, always love and miss 2D renderings all the time at the same time. It was just that I was mostly bored while watching it. It didn’t click with me. The Japanese anime humor flies way over my head and I honestly just don’t get it. But if you are a lover of anime and a pretty decent story, this film is definitely right up your alley. Hell there could’ve been a much worse fifth nomination this year…like Smallfoot maybe? I don’t know, didn’t see it but heard it was shit.

NEVER LOOK AWAY (Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Cinematography)

And yet another foreign language film I found to be more engaging, engrossing, and entertaining than Roma, and this son of a bitch is 3 hrs and 8 minutes long! I can’t decide if I like this or Capernaum better but I know that both completely blow Roma out of the water for me (even though I still find Roma to be a very good cinematic achievement…technically not narratively). Never Look Away takes place between right around 1937 and goes to 1961. It chronicles the the life of a painter named Kurt Barnett and his life as a child dealing with the end of World War II and the tragic death of his beautiful aunt, through socialist expressionism, all the way to where art became extremely experimental and avant-garde. His life consists of meeting and falling in love with a beautiful designer student while also trying to find his true voice as an artist in a profession that is constantly changing. While he is the narrative focus we also get a B Plot of a Nazi Professor named Carl Seeband and his role in the Nazi eugenics program. I would explain what that is, but the movie does that well enough for you and you can look it up on your own, it’s quite malicious and horrifying. Plus if I keep going with the plot I’m going to ruin the entire thing for you, best to check it out for yourself.

To say that these two stories intertwine at some point is a given, and you would think that I would complain that by the way these two stories come together are too much of a coincidence for me (I complained about this in my review of Border), however, with the 3 hour run time, and the ultimate conclusion/resolution to the film, the film easily earns its couple of happenstances and the ending thankfully foregoes a cliched confrontation that so many movies have done before. The film is also nominated for Best Cinematography, and I also agree that its nomination in this category was well deserved. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (who is Zooey and Emily’s father) enriches the screen with beautiful imagery of a pre, present, and post war country. It get even better in the latter half of the film with Carl trying his hand at creating different forms of art, especially the climax.

The acting in here is great as well, so great in fact that about 15 minutes into the film I didn’t even realize I was reading subtitles to get what was going on. Although the main actor Tom Schilling looks like if Jeremy Renner and Devon Sawa fucked and had a baby. It was a little distracting at times because I wanted to prove that all three of them were related. The actor that plays the Nazi Professor, Sebastian Koch, is great here as well, and some of you may recognize him from some American films/television programs like A Good Day To Die Hard or Homeland. Here he gets a lot of scenery to chew and does it well. Anyway, the story here is magnificent and if you really like foreign films and don’t mind reading subtitles, the 3 hours wasn’t just necessary for me to appreciate all that was necessary in this story to tell, but also flew by like watching Titanic or Gone With The Wind. It’s an epic story told with epic perfection.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: All 5 of the Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts (Oscar Catch Up Part 7)

Okay, I went to a theater this weekend to cross 5 more nominated things off my list. Since my wife and I are having our last Oscar party this year, I’m trying to see the most nominations I ever have, in case any guests have any questions. I will definitely never do this again, as all 5 of the Live Action Shorts were depressing as fuck (they were all well told though and well made). Was there really no happy shorts? So let’s do one or two quick paragraphs on each shall we?


The longest and depressing of them all, let’s rip it like a band-aid. This is based of the true 1993 England tragedy of two year old James Bulger, who was tortured and murdered by two ten year old boys, the youngest convicted murderers in the history of the world. This 30 minute short basically covers the initial taped interviews when they were first brought in for questioning. I read about this haunting case about a year ago, and it has haunted me ever since. Do everyone a favor and don’t look up this case anywhere on Wikipedia or other news sites, as if you do, you might end up depressed for hours/days, and this whole ordeal haunting your nightmares, especially if you have a little toddler in your life right now.

I’ve listened to the tapes awhile ago in real life (they don’t replay the real ones here, it is re-enacted by actors and actresses) and everything here is dead on. The child acting is phenomenal, and seeing the two boys abduct James in the mall and walk him to his death was very hard to watch for me. This short is controversial out of the whole bunch because the mother of James Bulger has tried to get this film boycotted because she feels like the movie humanizes the two monster. Quite the contrary, it made me hate the little fuckers more and wish that I could kill them both myself. Especially if you read how their lives have basically moved on after they turned 21 years old and the whole anonymity bullshit. I really hope this short doesn’t win, as I do agree that the filmmaker not getting permission from Bulger’s mother beforehand makes me think he really is trying to get ahead by creating art out of tragedy. I’ll tell you one last thing, if I had a time machine, this would be the first thing I would stop.


This shortest of the shorts is a one take depressing wonder. Basically this mother receives a phone call from her six-year-old son, who is on a beach in France waiting on his father to get back with something (why the father left him alone? No clue, this doesn’t answer it. Marta quickly realizes that something is very wrong and that she has almost no time to solve the problem as her son’s cell phone battery is low.

The one take thing was pretty genius. The acting from both the mother, her son’s voice, and then the grandmother are excellent (I wonder how many whole takes it took to get the thing in the can). You might be asking if this is more of a thriller and how the hell is it depressing. Well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but I bet you could probably guess how this thing ends. Anyway, the short, while depressing, was short and well made.


On the Quebec countryside, two young boys are playing around in abandoned areas and objects. They keep challenging each other to certain tasks, and one of these tasks will change their lives forever. Yep, this one is still depressing, and very haunting to the point where you don’t want to ever lose sight of your young child. It’s not as bad as having them abducted and murdered, but it’s still very bad.

The child acting is great, and the short isn’t that long. So yeah, that’s all I have to say about that. Great camera work in this one as well.


A racist red neck asshole beats up a black man outside a grocery store in front of both their families. The black man did absolutely nothing wrong, in fact, he was just playing with the boy with an action figure from a distance. Then this racist red neck asshole gets abducted by some people as revenge from the encounter. Anyway, where it goes from there, I will not say. As the revenge is pretty genius, and the depressing part is the initial racism beat up scene and then the ending.

The acting here is excellent. It actually have people you may know such as Jonathan Tucker (in a bunch of shit) or Danielle McDonald (the girl in Patti Cakes and Bird Box). And like I said, the revenge part is pretty genius. You’ll see.


Last, but certainly not least. This is the one posed to win the Oscar, and it deserves it. It is the least depressing of the bunch, more of a bittersweet depressant. A very old sick elderly woman, who needs dialysis but refuses to get it, is taken care of by a nice younger woman, and the two become friends.

When the elderly woman finds out things about the younger woman’s life style, she reminesces about her past and then shares some things with the younger one that she didn’t think she could tell anyone. I won’t giveaway what these things are, but they are depressing in that what the elderly woman’s dreams when she was younger was considered a mortal sin back then, and she just didn’t live in the right time. Great acting, great short, hope it wins, and that’s it, I’m tired of talking about depressing films.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CAPERNAUM and LIFEBOAT (Two Film Review) OSCAR Catch Up Part 6

CAPERNAUM (nominated for Best Foreign Language Film)

Unless Never Look Away or Shoplifters absolutely blows me away when I watch them before the Oscars on Feb 24th, I think I can safely say that CAPERNAUM is my favorite foreign language movie of the ones nominated, that’s right, better than Roma. This film might not have the gorgeous cinematography that Roma or Cold War has, but it has a much better story, much better pace, a perfect run time, better acting, better characters. A really really powerful film. In fact the only complaint I have about it is I maybe wanted the ending a little more clear cut in what happened, how certain characters got back to certain places, but I feel that some of it was supposed to be “just because” or “ambigious” and I really enjoyed the movie so much I let it slide.

The film is about a 12 year old Lebanese boy named Zain who is in jail at the start of the film for stabbing a person and is in court suing his parents. It then cuts back to Zain’s journey and what events exactly led him to prison, which includes trying to protect one of his older sisters, running away from home, and staying with a deportee named Rahil, and taking care of her small one year old child. I won’t tell you much more of the journey as that is what made the film so captivating. The film has a nice clear cut message on ones identity and the life that was force upon him.

And again, while the cinematography is a bit lacking in some areas, everything else about it technically is pretty great; the shots, the camera work. But its the story, acting, and characters that plunge the audiences’ deep involvement into the film. Zain, who in real life is played by a complete novice, also named Zain, is phenomenal. Can’t believe he was just a novice by the end of the film. The woman that plays Rahil is mesmerizing as well, and how they got certain great emotional shots with that one year old, boggles my mind. Yes, it’s subtitled, and yes its a foreign film, but if you read this review I highly, highly recommend that you check it out. If it weren’t for Roma, I would stake that this could easily win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. If somehow it does, I will be smiling ear to ear.

LIFEBOAT (nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject)

Lifeboat is a short 34 minute Documentary (available on YouTube) about refugees crowded to the brim on multiple makeshift shaky rafts that are trying to flee the harsh life of Libya and escape to Europe. A non-profit German operation called Sea-Watch brave the dangerous journey and try to intercept these boats and rescue these refugees at all costs. Once they are rescued, these people tell stories of being beaten, raped, being part of sexual trafficking and how poverty in general lead them to flee their homes and risk their lives.

The documentary tells and shows this giant rescue operation and gives some haunting details about these lifeboat trips to flee Libya. This doc let’s us know that 1 in 18 people drown and they find 200 to 300 dead bodies on the coast of Northern Africa each year. They piss and shit in these boats and remark about having to stand in it, how these conditions effect the fleeing children. The documentary is short and precise, not over staying its welcome or repeating any information already given to us. The captain of one of the rescue operations tells us that he lends a hand because he knows how easily he or any of his loved ones could’ve had one of the refugees lives and feels that he is obligated to save as many as he can.

This documentary will make you appreciate the life you have, no matter how shitty you think it may be. The images will make your draw drop, some of it is daunting and hard to watch. It’ll give you some perspective. There are thousands upon thousands of people suffering out there that literally almost can’t do anything about it. When they get this one shot at escape, even if the escape could mean death, they will take it no matter the cost. Definitely see why this was nominated for an Academy Award.