Intechfinite Hiatus

Heya there, ladies, gents, and non-binaries. I hope you’re doing well. As you may have been able to gather from the pun, I’ll be going on a little hiatus. I want to be clear though, I am fine, life’s going swell. The reason for this sudden pause is because my main writing vessel, the laptop that I received in 2014, has decided that it doesn’t want to play along anymore. Originally the screen was the only issue, which could be worked around with an HDMI cable and my tv. But as of now, the laptop has given up. R.I.P. laptop, christmas 2014 – April 2023.

So for the foreseeable future, there won’t be any longer posts released. For my longer review/list posts, I do a bit of light photo editing and a lot of tab flipping/link usage, which isn’t exactly what you’d call good/convenient on my phone. I might check in with a few brief posts from time to time, but if you’re here for my reviews, then I am sorry to disappoint. Hopefully I can get a new laptop soon enough and we can get the shenanigans back on track.

Have a good one.

Series Review: Black Bird (2022)

Don’t do crime. Or do, I’m not your mom, you face the consequences of the legal system if you wish. I’d recommend you don’t, but I can’t make ya.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a show… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Black Bird”.

After getting sent to prison to serve a ten year sentence, drug dealer Jimmy Keene (Taron Egerton) makes a deal with the FBI to befriend a suspected serial killer (Paul Walter Hauser) in order to hopefully get information on the locations of the victims. And so we follow Jimmy taking a dive into murky water as he works to befriend the suspect, along with trying to stay alive within the prison system. All the while a detective (Greg Kinnear) tries to solve the case on the outside. “Black Bird” is a slow burn drama, a believably gritty and unsettling descent into darkness, exploring the depths of human depravity and what that can do to seemingly normal people who get drawn into it. It’s a compelling six episode run, a little too slow in moments, but for the most part it’s well paced and quite riveting and got so deep in the murky waters that it made me feel like I needed to scrub myself off on multiple occasions. It’s dark, it’s nuanced, it’s haunting, it’s a great story.

The characters in this are all quite interesting, believably flawed and written with enough layers to make them feel real. Taron Egerton plays Jimmy Keene, a cocky, womanizing drug dealer who has to eat a bit of humble pie when he’s arrested. I like having him as a protagonist because he’s a charming asshat, a twat that has enough charisma to keep me from totally hating him. It makes for some compelling drama, as he is a bit unlikable at times. And Egerton is great in the role, especially in the last two episodes where he truly gets to flex his chops. Next is Paul Walter Hauser as Larry Hall, a seemingly timid, kind of odd man who’s the suspect that Jimmy has to befriend. He’s a really fascinating character in ways that are hard to explain without giving away things, but they do some really interesting stuff with his development and I always found engaging. And Hauser is great in the role. The rest of the cast is great too, containing people like Ray Liotta (R.I.P), Greg Kinnear, Sepideh Moafi, Robert Wisdom, Tony Amendola, Robyn Malcolm, and more.

The score for the show was composed by ambient rock band Mogwai, and hoooooo I loved what they did here. Utilizing some piano, synths, and guitars, they create this unsettling and emotionally rich atmosphere that really added so much to the show, along with being pure ear candy. There are also a handful of licensed songs used throughout and I think they work quite well in their respective scenes.

Based on a book by James Keene and Hillel Levin called “In With the Devil”, “Black Bird” was developed for Apple TV+ by Dennis Lehane (my favorite author), with writing by him and a few others, and directing divided between Michaël Roskam, Joe Chappelle, and Jim McKay. I really dug the way this was crafted, giving the show a grimy, borderline claustrophobic feel, even in scenes set outside of the prison. The crew somehow find ways of making sure no scenes ever really feels safe, bringing an oppressive atmosphere that really brought me into the darkness in a really eerie and strong way.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on it has a score of 8.1/10.

“Black Bird” is an unsettling, really compelling drama series that I can highly recommend. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Black Bird” is a 9.56/10. Which means it gets a “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Black Bird” is now completed.

Blackbird singing in the dead of niiiiight…

Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

So I actually saw this a little over a week ago, but I wanted to give it some time to marinate before I talked about it. You wouldn’t think an action movie would require one to think, but this one had my mind in a whirl. But now I’m ready to ramble about the latest entry in this franchise.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “John Wick: Chapter 4”.

Continuing in his globetrotting defiance against the enigmatic High Table, world’s greatest headshotter John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finds himself in his most difficult quest yet, as he has to face off with powerful foes both new and old around every corner, all hindering his journey to try and be free of the assassin life. Cue then the shootouts, fisticuffs, sword fights, and existential musings on the futility of their lifestyle, the consequences of John’s actions, and the longing for something else beyond the carnage. For as much as the action tends to be the focus of these movies, I found myself caught off guard by and also adoring the more quiet moments, letting the characters breathe, adding this somber and surprisingly beautiful tragic drama to proceedings. Of course it’s not necessarily the most profound drama out there, but there’s a depth here that we haven’t really seen from this series before, and it makes this story hit a bit more, especially as certain narrative escalations occur throughout. It gives things weight, it made me care about everything in a way that I haven’t really felt since the first movie. It makes the bombastic shenanigans feel like they have action heft and stakes. ’tis a great god damn story.

One thing these films have always been good at is giving us colorful characters that really feel lived in and like they have an actual presence in this world, and “Chapter 4” is no different, and even does a great job of making them way more interesting than before. Again, they’re not necessarily THE deepest out there, but there is an amount of depth here that makes them stick out way more. Keanu Reeves returns as John Wick, assassin extraordinaire, a man fighting the current of destiny, wanting an out from the violence. He’s always been a compelling protagonist and here he continues to really be a good character, with Keanu giving a good performance. The next one I want to talk about is Caine, an old acquaintance of John’s. He’s a skilled fighter, swordsman, gunman, and a loving father. He’s been reluctantly drawn into this fight and they use this for a good dramatic arc. Caine’s played by Donnie Yen, who is absolutely fantastic in the role. From the physicality to the drama to the comedy, Yen is electrifying. And then finally we have the man in charge of the villainy, Marquis, played by Bill Skarsgård. An arrogant, slimy cunt of a man. He’s such a bastard and I think he works well for the movie, with Skarsgård giving a delightfully punch-worthy performance. We also get supporting work from people new and old, such as Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Shamier Anderson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rina Sawayama, Lance Reddick (R.I.P.), Marko Zaror, Scott Adkins (who is fun as hell in this), Clancy Brown, and many more, all delivering really solid work.

As with the first three movies, the score here was composed by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard, and once again it is fucking spectacular. A kinetic, operatic cacophony of strings, distorted guitars, acoustics, synths and percussion, creating a symphony of carnage that drives the action marvelously. But it also knows when to go more quiet, leading to some emotionally resonant bits. But we also see DJ Le Castle Vania returning to create some thumping club tracks and they rule. Hell, I’ve had “Blood Code” on fairly frequent rotation since seeing the movie. Then there are a few licensed songs used throughout and they work very well too. This movie just has one hell of a fantastic soundtrack.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” was, as with the previous ones, directed by Chad Stahelski who just continues to kill it, developing his stylish style of stylishness even further here. Wide, stunningly blocked shots of guns firing, punches hitting, and dudes dropping, with kinetic movements from actors, stunt team, and camera alike. Combine it with Dan Laustsen’s breathtaking cinematography and you get one of, if not the best looking action movie I’ve ever had the pleasure of laying my eyes on. But it’s not just eye candy for eye candy’s sake, every shot feels deliberate in telling story both immediate and in the background. It’s just crafted in a way that is awe-inspiring to see. And I can’t speak enough of how amazing the action scenes are. They’re brutal, kinetic, slick, mesmerizing, a little unhinged, and creative as hell. There was a part of me that was a little worried that maybe they were running out of tricks after the third one… but holy god damn mother of mercy, am I glad to have been proven wrong. It’s ludicrously good.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. And on it has a score of 8.3/10 and is ranked #155 on the “Top 250 Films” list.

The more I think about it, the more I absolutely adore “John Wick: Chapter 4”. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “John Wick: Chapter 4” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “John Wick: Chapter 4” is now completed.

Not often does a nearly three hour movie fly by this fast.

Series Review: Vinland Saga – Season 1 (2019)

I really don’t talk about anime as much as I should. When I first got started, I did several reviews of anime shows. Sure, those reviews were fucking abhorrent, incoherent, and sometimes cribbed words and thoughts from others, as I had not found my own voice yet. But since getting past those early days and developing my own style of shenanigans, I’ve kind of failed at talking about this medium I love, which I kind of want to fix. And if you for whatever reason want me to talk more about anime, feel free to let me know. Anyhow, let’s get into this.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Vinland Saga” season 1!

Following the tragic murder of his father, young viking Thorfinn vows to become a great warrior and get revenge on the man who killed his father. What makes this journey a bit more interesting than your typical revenge story however is the fact that in order to become strong enough to try and take on his father’s killer, he begins traveling with the man and his gang of viking warriors, reluctantly learning from them how to be a mighty warrior, creating this fascinating dynamic that leads to a lot of interesting and quite nuanced drama surrounding Thorfinn and his prey, Askeladd (Naoya Uchida). But the show also does a great of exploring the geopolitical landscape of viking-era Europe, giving us a good look at how it always shifts through the characters’ personal drama, negotiations between various leaders, or through violent battles. If I had to compare it to anything, it’s a bit like “Game of Thrones”, but a bit leaner. And I found it all utterly compelling. Powerful, nuanced, fun, disturbing, it’s just stellar storytelling.

The characters in this are absolutely stellar, with most being given very nuanced and believable multifaceted personalities and compelling arcs/developments. I won’t go into too much detail, as I don’t want to spoil stuff (as it’s VERY easy to do so). But let’s talk about Thorfinn, our leading boy, a once bright-eyed lad dreaming of adventure, mentally brought to a dark rage-drenched place. He can sometimes seem like the typical angry, angst-protag, but there’s so much more going on with him and I frequently found myself taken aback by how compelling I found him and his journey in this season. And depending on what point in his life we see him, he’s either voiced by Shizuka Ishigami or Yuto Uemura, and both give stellar performances. Rest of the voice cast is fantastic too, filled with people like Naoya Uchida, Kensho Ono, Hiroki Yasumoto, Akio Otsuka, Hitomi Nabatame, Kenichiro Matsuda, and many more.

The score for the season was composed by Yutaka Yamada and I think the music here is fantastic. Big brass, somber strings, rip-roaring guitars, synthesizers, piano, Yamada covers a lot of ground with his instrumental and stylistic choices, and it makes for a really engaging soundscape for the show. It makes me excited, sad, scared… ’tis good shit. As far as the opening and ending songs from Survive Said the Prophet, MAN WITH A MISSION, Aimer (MVP), and milet go, they’re really solid, not a single bad one among them. The show just has damn good music, y’all.

Based on the manga by Makoto Yukimura, “Vinland Saga” was co-produced and animated by Wit Studio, with Shuhei Yabuta serving as lead director. Aaaaaaand this show is wonderfully animated. The action’s smooth yet weighty, delivering the hits with a blood-soaked, bone-crunching heft that made the fights here feel like they had a bit more impact. But that’s not to say that the quieter scenes don’t provide some eye candy, as Wit also manages to make characters animate in smooth, interesting ways, along with giving us interesting angles and some often jaw-dropping lighting. It’s just a stunningly crafted show.

Since this is an anime, we can’t expect it to have as much data on my usual sites as with a lot of western stuff. But on Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% audience score. And on it has a score of 8.8/10 and is ranked #99 on the “Top 250 TV Shows” list.

So I absolutely adored season 1 of “Vinland Saga”. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic animation/direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Vinland Saga” is a 9.89/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Vinland Saga” is now completed.

Apparently this is only the prologue of the overall story. And that makes me excited to see what else comes in the future.

Movie Review: Luther: The Fallen Sun (2023)

I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while. If there’s anyone unaware and/or forgetful, last March I had myself a little review series I called The Ides of Elba, in which I review every season of the BBC police drama “Luther”. It was fun, and now I can technically continue that journey as Netflix has given us a little follow-up movie. So, without further ado… BEWARE THE IDES OF ELBA.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Luther: The Fallen Sun”.

After finding himself in prison for some of his past transgressions, DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) must find a way to escape custody in order to track down a sadistic killer (Andy Serkis) that’s terrorizing London, all while trying to stay ahead of the officers attempting to re-apprehend him. I found the story of this movie to be quite enjoyable. Granted, it never reaches the dramatic peaks of the TV show, but it does find ways of retaining a lot of that grit while leaning more into a cinematic action-thriller style, rather than the smaller scale cop thriller we’re used to. The cat-and-mouse game between Luther and Andy Ser(ial)kis is quite a bit of fun, building up this really fun and decently tense back and forth that is quite compelling to watch. Then you add Luther trying to stay ahead of the law, which adds its own mild tension. It’s quite a rollercoaster of a journey, featuring some really fascinating and kind of tense set pieces. There’s even a few horror-ish moments, akin to a few standout bits from the show, that I found to be really creepy and engaging. On the whole it may not engage *quite* on the level of the show’s stories, but it’s still a really fun and decently tense action-thriller narrative.

The characters in this are pretty good. Idris Elba returns as brilliant, but troubled detective John Luther, who once again gets pushed to his limits by everything going on around him. And as with all the seasons of the show, the characters remains really compelling, with Elba once again killing it in the role. We also see the return of Dermot Crowley as Luther’s soft-spoken but surprisingly tough boss, Martin Schenk, and Crowley is also damn good here. Now let’s talk about Andy Serkis who plays our villain… his character is a truly despicable son of a bitch, a disgusting sadist that made me shudder. And Serkis plays it to perfection, as he gets moment to go a little ham, and moments to be quietly menacing. He rides the line marvelously and gives a truly memorable villain performance. We then have Cynthia Erivo as Odette Raine, a detective on the hunt in the middle of this whole debacle. She proves to be quite an engaging foil in the entire thing, with Erivo (unsurprisingly) delivering a great performance. Filling out the cast you have people like Thomas Coombes, Hattie Morahan, Einar Kuusk, and more, all delivering really solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Lorne Balfe and I thought it was pretty good. Maybe goes a little bi with the brass at times, but for the most part I think it does a decent job at escalating tension and making the atmosphere shine. It especially works for me when it goes slightly more quiet, creating this creeping dread that actually managed to really help put me on edge, and I thought those bits were great. There’s also a handful of tracks used throughout, and those work well in their respective scenes. So yeah, the movie has good music.

As mentioned before, “Luther: The Fallen Sun” follows on from the five season long BBC series “Luther”. And before we move on, I just want to mention that you don’t need to see the show before going into this. It works as a standalone adventure, but there are a few minor nods throughout, little treats for the fans. But the show is not required viewing… you should watch it though, it’s fantastic.
Anyhow, “The Fallen Sun” was written by series creator Neil Cross and directed by season 5 director Jamie Payne. And I think Payne did a damn good job with his direction. He retains a lot of the grit from the show, while also being allowed to flex the big movie budget a bit. Sweeping and creeping, big and tight, intense and intimate, Payne does a good job of bringing Luther’s antics to a cinematic scale without sacrificing what made the show’s direction work. Combine this with Larry Smith’s gorgeous and well thought out cinematography, and you get a movie that’s just well crafted.

This movie just came out, so ratings will change. But at the time of writing, it has a 68% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. And on it has a score of 6.9/10.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Luther: The Fallen Sun”, it’s another solid romp from the detective. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score “Luther: The Fallen Sun” is an 8.21/10. So it’s certainly worth watching.

My review of “Luther: The Fallen Sun” is now completed.

I’m not saying that I had an effect on it, but I find it interesting that I reviewed the TV show in March, and then the movie came out the following March.

Movie Review: Puss in Boots (2011)

With the recent success of this film’s sequel, I thought it was time for me to finally check this out… and then I neglected to actually watch it for several weeks, but now I finally did it and I want to talk about it.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Puss in Boots”.

Swashbuckling advenpurrer Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) finds himself teaming up with a feline fatale (Salama Hayek) and an old eggquaintance (Zach Galifianakis) in order to find the fabled golden goose so he can hopefully restore his honor and find redemption in his hometown. I very much enjoyed the story in this movie. Sure, it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel in any manner, and it doesn’t have anything profound or powerful to say, but it has enough charm, heart, and good humor to please from start to end. It’s a heavily Spanish-flavored swashbuckling take on fairytails that ultimately succeeds in providing a suitably entertaining narrative. And I found it fun and decently engaging.

The characters in this are just a ton of fun, giving us cartoony, exaggerated characteristics on the furface, only to then be given a decent amount of depth. Not super deep, mind you, but there’s definitely a bit more to them than meets the eye. First is the titular hero, Puss in Boots. A charismatic, highly skilled, sometimes overconfident rogue. From the word go, he’s a very enjoyable presence, and over the course of the movie he’s given many moments to shine, along with getting some surprisingly decent development. And Antonio Banderas shines with his voice work, his performance is positively pawless. Rest of the voice cast is great too, featuring talent such as Salma Hayek, Zack Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Guillermo del Toro, and more, with everyone killing it.

The score for the movie was compawsed by Henry Jackman, and I found it to be absolutely wonderful. There are tracks emulating a very familiar Spielberg/Williams whimsy, but there are also a lot of tracks here that rely on a lot of tango and flamenco-inspired tones, making for a score that captures the sizzling suaveness of its lead while also giving a really fun energy to the adventure. It’s just a damn good score from a damn good composer.

Based on the catracter in “Shrek 2” that was based on the 16th century fairytale, “Puss in Botts” was directed by one Chris Miller (not the “Lego Movie” one). And I think Miller, along with the many talented artists at Dreamworks, did a stellar job with bringing the world and characters to life. Every shot flows nicely, action is nicely choreographed, some of the editing feels really inspired, and there are a lot of really nice colors and shot compositions throughout. It’s just a really nice looking and delightfully directed feature, clearly crafted with a ton of love and care.

This movie’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% pawsitive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Meowtacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on it has a score of 6.6/10. It was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the cat-egory of Best Animated Feature.

So yeah, “Puss in Boots” is a very charming and funny little animated swashbuckler. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Hairball noises*. My final score for “Puss in Boots” is an 8.67/10. So I’d say it’s worth buying.

My reveow of “Puss in Boots” is now completed.

Is it unpurfessional to have this many puns?

Series Review: Tulsa King – Season 1 (2022 – 2023)

We live in such a fascinating era in terms of entertainment. From the rollercoaster ride of streaming services, to the dominance of interconnected franchises, to movie stars doing TV, it’s all very interesting to me. And it’s that last one I mentioned that we’re covering today. So let’s go.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Tulsa King” season 1.

Following a 25-year stint in prison, mafioso Dwight Manfredi (Sylvester Stallone) is sent to Tulsa, Oklahoma by his family as a form of exile. While there he almost immediately starts building up his own empire, consisting of a ragtag group of people and enterprises. And so we follow him as he expands this new empire of his, all while both local and federal forces start causing trouble for the old capo. I enjoyed the story here. Sure, it never really goes above and beyond in terms of a crime-drama narrative, remaining a fairly standard, very familiar in its themes and plot threads gangster series. That’s not to say that it’s bad in any way, au contraire. It’s competently written, has some good dramatic escalation, and has some decently riveting, climactic moments. What helps carry it most though is the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. While not an outright comedy, the show generally carries itself in a fairly relaxed, somewhat lighthearted way that makes it fairly breezy to watch. Speaking of which, I love that the episodes almost never go above 40 minutes in length, which is something I miss in today’s environment where so many dramas lean towards 60+ minutes. But overall, I enjoyed the story. Fairly unremarkable, but overall pretty solid.

The characters in this are all very colorful, and are all pretty charming and interesting. Sylvester Stallone plays Dwight “The General” Manfredi, a pretty old school mafia capo who still has an open mind, willing to learn about the present, which is a fun diversion from the usual “Man out of time learns about the present” trope that they could’ve easily fallen into. And Stallone is great in the role, bringing a really fun charm we haven’t seen from him in quite a while. Rest of the cast is really solid too, featuring people like Andrea Savage, Jay Will, Martin Starr, Domenick Lombardozzi, Max Casella, Dana Delany, Ritchie Coster (who does a ropey accent, but otherwise acts well), Garrett Hedlund, A.C. Peterson, and more, all delivering really good performances.

The score for the show was composed by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, and I think they did a good job with it, mixing elements from modern thriller scores, a little bit of traditional piano, and even some western inspirations. And this combination makes for a pretty fun score that works well in setting the mood for the show. There are also a good amount of licensed songs used throughout, and I think they work pretty well for their respective scenes.

“Tulsa King” was created by Taylor Sheridan, making this one of five shows he’s created for Paramount in the last five years… talk about being a busy bee. Anyhow, he created it, with writing and directing being done by a bunch of talented people. And generally I think this show’s well crafted, having some slick direction, punchy editing, and some nice looking cinematography. I also like the usage of varying aspect ratios to emphasize the difference between New York and Tulsa, I think that’s a pretty enjoyable part of the show and its craft.

The show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on it has a score of 8.2/10.

While it doesn’t necessarily do anything to stand out amongst the vast ocean of crime-dramas out there, season 1 of “Tulsa King” is an enjoyable, if somewhat unremarkable show. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Tulsa King” is a 7.66/10. So I’d say it’s worth watching.

My review of “Tulsa King” season 1 is now completed.

Taylor Sheridan: Writer, director, man behind half of Paramount’s programming.

Movie Review: The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

IT’S FINALLY HERE. God damn staggered release dates, WHY DO YOU EXIST!?

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Banshees of Inisherin”.

On the Irish island of Inisherin, a happy-go-lucky fella named Pádraic (Colin Farrell) finds his world flipped turned upside down when his longtime best friend (Brendan Gleeson) decides that he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. And so we follow the two as their rough spot start to escalate further and affect both them and everyone on the island. The storytelling here is absolutely phenomenal, creating an emotionally rich and surprisingly grounded web of ever evolving relationships and personal drama. Even as some situations are heightened to absurdist extremes, the emotional core behind those situations still feels nuanced and believable, leading to them leaving a stronger impact. What further makes the story hit home for me is the perfect balance between dark comedy and devastating drama, which further adds beautiful details to the rich tapestry being weaved before us, which really does help make for a truly compelling narrative that both made me cry from the tragedy, and laugh my ass off at the black, oft absurdist humor.

The characters in this are just absolutely stunning to follow, beautifully nuanced and flawed, having a way of feeling both heightened and very believable at the same time, making for some of the most colorful and instantly fascinating individuals I’ve ever experienced in a film. I won’t go in-depth with each and every one of them however, as I do think part of their impact lies in experiencing them for yourself. But I will say that everyone in the cast is absolutely fucking phenomenal. Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, Gary Lydon, Pat Shortt, Sheila Flitton, and more, everyone in this cast absolutely excels in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Carter Burwell, and he has positively outdone himself with this one. It’s a fun and layered batch of tracks that beautifully uses a mix of traditional strings, along with some harp, chimes, along with some woodwind to create a score that can be jaunty, heart-wrenching, mysterious, and even terrifying at times, making for an absolutely stunning score that further elevated the beauitful story and characters.

“The Banshees of Inisherin” was written and directed by Martin McDonagh, a director whose previous work I’ve very much been a fan of. And once again he has delivered, even showing a lot of improvement as a visual storyteller. From his blocking, to the way he paces out a scene, McDonagh has very much improved his craft and made a stunningly crafted film. Further adding to this is the cinematography by Ben Davis, which is both general eye candy and stunningly considered, which adds to the visual storytelling in really interesting ways.

This movie’s been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie’s also been nominated for 9 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Farrell), Best Supporting Actress (Condon), Best Supporting Actor (Gleeson AND Keoghan), Best Music, and Best Editing.

So yeah, I absolutely adored “The Banshees of Inisherin”. It has a fantastic story, fantastic characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Banshees of Inisherin” is a 9.93/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Banshees of Inisherin” is now completed.

McDonagh doesn’t miss.

Series Review: Under the Banner of Heaven (2022)

Faith is fascinating. A belief in something bigger than ourselves, in something bigger than our very world. Whether it’s christianity, judaism, islam, or any other, I’ve always found that stuff interesting. So explorations of that in film, tv, and other forms of media has often lead to good stories.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Under the Banner of Heaven”.

Utah, 1984. Devout mormon and detective Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield) finds himself tested when the violent murder of a young woman seems to connect to a local, powerful LDS family. So we follow detective Pyre as he tries to solve this horrible crime, as well as how the deeper in he gets, the more his faith starts to waver. And through his investigation we also get a deep look into the Laffertys, the family at the center of this case, and what kinds of fundamentalist actions they get involved in. The show also explores mormonism as a whole, including its origins. “Under the Banner of Heaven” is filled to the brim with story, themes, and backstories, and while I do find most if not all of it fairly riveting, it can also feel like an absolute slog to get through at times. Like, all the pieces here have an emotionally rich texture to them and individually make for really engaging and at times thrilling experiences, but something about the overall structure does make it feel like a drag at times. Like I said, the story and drama is generally insanely riveting, it presents a nuanced and intense look into a massively fucked up and complex situation, but I do think something about its structure does hurt it too.

The characters in this are all insanely interesting and I found them endlessly compelling. Andrew Garfield plays Jeb Pyre (pronounced Pie-ree, as I learned through this), good cop, loving family man, devout mormon. He’s a deeply interesting protagonist with such a fascinating arc and personal conflict, and Andrew Garfield is absolutely fantastic in the role. The rest of the cast is well rounded as well, featuring people like Gil Birmingham, Sam Worthington (giving a career best performance), Daisy Edgar-Jones, Wyatt Russell, Rory Culkin, Billy Howle, Denise Gough, Adelaide Clemens, Chloe Pirrie, and many more, all delivering top notch performances.

The score for the show was composed by Jeff Ament and it was really good. It mixes a lot of familiar thriller droning with elements of ambient rock and even minor touches of a few subtle western cues, making for a really interesting and atmospheric score that I think adds a lot to the show and its emotional impact.

Based on a book by Jon Krakauer, “Under the Banner of Heaven” was developed for FX by Dustin Lance Black, with writing and directing by him and a bunch of cool people. And I think this is a really well helmed show, a lot of well thought out shots, a lot of suspensefully directed sequences, some very well handled (and disturbing) bursts of violence. It’s somehow both cinematic and somewhat real-feeling, balancing what makes for solid entertainment while still making it feel grounded and gritty and believable. It’s a tricky balance, but they nailed it.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on it has a score of 7.5/10.

While its pacing is bogged down by its hefty structure, “Under the Banner of Heaven” is still a compelling crime-drama that I can easily recommend. It has a really good story, great characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem, Amen*. My final score for “Under the Banner of Heaven” is an 8.32/10. So while it’s flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Under the Banner of Heaven” is now completed.

And then god said “Yo, that Andrew Garfield guy’s pretty good at the whole acting thing” – The Book of Markus, 18:46.2

Movie Review: The Pale Blue Eye (2023)

*inhale*. Can you smell that? First new release of the year. I’m excited.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Pale Blue Eye”.

New York, 1830. When a young student at the West Point military academy is found dead, weary detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) is called in to investigate and hopefully figure out what happened. And to aid him in his quest, he secretly acquires the assistance of an enigmatic young man (Harry Melling) who goes to the academy. I find myself a tad conflicted when it comes to the story here. On one hand, I genuinely enjoy the murder mystery going on here, it has this dark and very pulpy feel to it that I love, and it does take some pretty interesting turns that build in engaging ways. But there are also aspects to the story where it can feel slightly unfocused, as it tries to not only be a pulpy detective thriller, but also explore various other dramatic avenues. And while that could be fine, the script never makes them feel truly cohesive or like they weave in and out of each other as well as they could. This unfocused nature can especially be felt towards the middle, where it almost felt like it dragged. The movie on the whole is a slow burn, but the middle section does feel kinda bogged down. But in the moments where it zeroes in on the desolate, isolated, almost claustrophobic mystery, that is when it shines. Those bits are genuinely compelling.

The characters in this I find to actually be pretty interesting. most of them are generally presented with somewhat interesting personalities and it’s interesting to see how everyone interacts with each other or react to the vents unfolding. Christian Bale plays Augustus Landor, an aging and world-weary detective who’s gone through some rough times. He’s a compelling character that’s hard to describe since I don’t want to say too much. But he’s a solid protagonist and Bale is great as always. Next is Harry Melling as a young Edgar Allan Poe, a cadet at the academy and Bale’s secret assistant/confidant. He’s an enigmatic and talkative fella and I loved seeing both his personal arc and how his relationship to Bale’s Landor evolves. And Melling gives a fantastic performance in the role, this is so far a career best from him. Supporting cast is great too, containing people like Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall, Toby Jones, Gillian Anderson (a bit underused, IMO), Charlotte Gainsbourg (very underutilized), Lucy Boynton, and more, all giving damn solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Howard Shore and he killed it. Chilling strings, harsh brass, the man just brings an emotionally resonant score to proceedings that I could feel deep in my bones throughout the entire thing. It’s haunting and beautiful and I loved it.

Based on a novel by Louis Bayard, “The Pale Blue Eye” was recently released on Netflix, and was written and directed by Scott Cooper, and while his script could’ve had another look, I can’t deny what a good director he is. The pacing of scenes, the way he shows and/or hides things from the audience, the man brings his A-game in that regard. He also has a great way of making this movie feel cold, and I don’t strictly mean emotionally. Rarely do I see a movie set in a cold or snowy environment that genuinely makes me feel like I’m freezing, despite wearing knitwear in a relatively well heated room. And Cooper, together with cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi masterfully makes that come across through the way they shoot the movie. Just thinking about some of these scenes makes me feel like I need a blanket.

This movie’s so far gotten a pretty mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 56/100. And on it has a score of 6.7/10.

While it doesn’t quite reach its potential, I still found “The Pale Blue Eye” to be a fairly enjoyable little mystery-thriller. It has a mixed story, pretty good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Pale Blue Eye” is a 7.44/10. So while it is flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth a watch.

My review of “The Pale Blue Eye” is now completed.

Linger ooooooon… your pale blue eyes…