Movie Review: Let Them All Talk (2020)

A new movie, from one of my favorite directors, from the safety of my own couch. Ain’t that nice? So let’s talk about it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Let Them All Talk”.

Alice (Meryl Streep) is a famous author who is sent on a cruise ship towards the UK so she can accept an award. On this trip she has brought two of her oldest friends (Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest) and her nephew (Lucas Hedges), so they too can have some fun and maybe even reconnect a bit. The narrative here is partly about confronting your past, while also looking ahead towards the future. And this sounds like it could be really fascinating and compelling. But I do think it falls flat, and the reason for that is that there’s no script. That’s not me being dismissive of any existing one, by the way, the filmmakers have confirmed that there are only guidelines and bullet points, but no proper script. This makes the narrative feel really directionless and lifeless. Characters walk around and talk, but never does it feel particularly engaging. I don’t necessarily hate what’s going on here, but I also don’t really like it that much. It’s pretty mediocre.

The characters, much like the story, fall a little flat in this. I don’t mind a bit of improvisation, but when the movie is 99% that, proper characterization is hard to find, which makes me care less about what’s going on. I’ll at least give it that Meryl Streep, Lucas Hedges, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, and Gemma Chan are all pretty good in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was pretty good. It mostly consists of fun little jazz tunes, giving the movie a bit more of a breezy vibe, which helps a lot in making it all a bit more watchable. It gives it all more energy.

“Let Them All Talk” was directed by Steven Soderbergh, and I think he did an okay job. His fast-paced directing style and tight editing is generally here, but is brought down by a thing that’s been plaguing his movies the last few years… it’s shot on his iphone. Now, I get why you’d use it. We all have phones with at least decent cameras these days, so it’s convenient and not very cumbersome. But this also makes images look a lot more flat and lifeless than if shot on an actual camera. He does his damndest to make this movie look good, and at times it kinda works. But for the most part the movie looks quite flat.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.8/10.

“Let Them All Talk” has good ideas and a good cast, but overall isn’t able to rise beyond mediocrity. It has a mediocre story, uninteresting characters, pretty good performances, pretty good music, pretty good directing, and mediocre cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Let Them All Talk” is a 6.01/10. So it can be worth checking out.

My review of “Let Them All Talk” is now completed.

Damn it…

Movie Review: The Crazies (2010)

Howdy there, more Month of Spooks content comin’ your way right now! So what’s on the menu tonight? A remake of an older flick? Alrighty then!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Crazies”.

Ogden Marsh is a quaint little township in Iowa, a place where EVERYBODY KNOWS YORU NAAAAAME… sorry. But yeah, it’s a nice place. That however changes soon when a mysterious virus starts spreading throughout, infecting the people living there, turning them into vicious killers. And we follow the town’s Sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) as he tries to survive with his wife (Radha Mitchell) and a few other people. “The Crazies” is a tale of survival and not losing your humanity and insert other mid-apocalypse buzzwords. And by that mildly snarky line you can probably figure out my thoughts on the narrative of this movie. It’s fine. I never found myself bored by it, I was interested in seeing where it would go. But in the end I will forget this experience sooner than I really want to. It’s a decent survival thriller that never truly makes me feel engaged. It’s more a passive acceptance of its dry and self-serious narrative.

The characters in this are whatever, serving the story just fine. First up we have Timothy Olyphant (fuck yeah) as David, the Sheriff of Ogden Marsh. He knows to be tough when needed, but is generally a kind dude for the most part. He’s probably the most interesting character here, as we follow him and his perspective on this whole ordeal. And Olyphant is great in the role… as he always is. I just think he’s kinda neat, ‘kay? Next we have Radha Mitchell who plays Judy, David’s wife. I like Radha Mitchell, I think she’s a good actress. And I guess she does the best she can with this material, even though she doesn’t get much of a nuanced character. She can basically best be relegated to “wife” in this. We also get supporting work from people like Danielle Panabaker, Joe Anderson, Brett Rickaby, and more, all doing pretty well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Mark Isham, and I think he did an alright job with it. Some tracks are basic loud horror noises and some are basic mellow drama stuff. The music does its job just fine in conveying certain emotions, even if they don’t always translate to emotional reactions from me.

Based on the 1973 George Romero movie of the same name, “The Crazies” was directed by Breck Eisner who I think did a good job here. He knows how to create some decent intensity in certain scenes. While the story felt fairly unmemorable, some of the creatively macabre scenes that Eisner shot will stick with me a bit more. This goes for Maxime Alexandre’s cinematography, which I think is great.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 70% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 56/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

While I don’t think “The Crazies” is one of the horrors I’ve ever watched, it’s certainly an alright way to spend a slow evening. It has an average story, okay characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for the remake of “The Crazies” is a 6.31/10. So while quite flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “The Crazies” is now completed.

No, you’re the one with a man crush on Timothy Olyphant… He said, speaking to his reflection.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 3)

Howdy, and welcome to part 3 in this year’s 12 Films of Christmas series. Let’s get into this thing.

That’s right, I’m doing another made-for-tv movie. This time it’s “Just in Time for Christmas”, a 2015 Hallmark channel original about a young woman (Lindsay Rogers) who has to ponder a difficult choice. Either she follows her ambitions to get her dream job, or she follows her heart and marries her long time boyfriend (Michael Stahl-David). As she ponders about this, a mysterious man on a carriage (William Shatner, yes really), who I’ve elected to call Shatner Claus (because that’s what he might as well be), takes her for a ride. And at some point during this ride she may or may not be transported into the future that shows her following her ambitions (anybody else getting “A Christmas Carol” vibes?), and what consequences that might have. Admittedly, this is a decent idea, I have a soft spot for alternate universes/timelines in storytelling, so this intrigued early on. But then I finished watching it. And guess what? It’s absolutely fucking… mediocre. Yeah, bet you didn’t see that one coming. There is some actual talent on display here, it’s not a full-on shitshow (unlike the “movie” we talked about yesterday *shudders*). I mean, it foregoes a lot of logic and realism, but it’s at least passable. The characters aren’t the worst, the story has a few decent ideas, and I got kind of a cozy vibe from this entire thing. Plus, having Christopher Lloyd in your movie doesn’t exactly hurt. The actors are pretty good, the cinematography is… fine, the storytelling isn’t bad. The movie’s biggest problem is that it’s just passable at best. It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend going out of your way to watch it. But if I had to choose between rewatching this or yesterday’s “movie”, I’d happily pick this every time. “Just in Time for Christmas” isn’t a modern classic, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve watched.

On the third day of christmas, Markus brings to thee, Shatner Claus and some mediocrity.

Movie Review: Texas Killing Fields (2011)

Murder is bad. Don’t do it.

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 and gents… “Texas Killing Fields”.

Brian Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Mike Souder (Sam Worthington) are a pair of detectives investigating a series of unsolved murders in Texas. So we follow them as they try to untangle this web of who and why. So now we have our crime-drama. And is the plot here any good? The premise is actually quite intriguing, but the execution is quite average. It’s not bad, with the initial setup being good and some pretty solid moments being spread throughout, but overall it doesn’t do a whole lot to stand out from other thrillers out there. I can say though that I wasn’t ever bored… I just never found myself fully invested in the story of this movie. It’s just… fine.

The characters here are surprisingly layered and interesting. Sure, they’re not the deepest ponds in the county, but I was genuinely surprised at how interested I was in them. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Brian Heigh, a New York detective who had been transferred down to Texas to work with them. He’s a tough but caring man, being what you’d probably call “good cop” in an interrogation. And Morgan is great in the role. Sam Worthington plays Mike Souder, a local Texas cop who is Heigh’s partner in this investigation. He’s a bit of a short-fused asshole, and the “bad cop” of the two. And I have to say that Worthington was good in the role. The two also share some okay chemistry, not Riggs & Murtaugh levels of chemistry, but they do work pretty well together. Jessica Chastain plays another detective in this movie, though working in a different precinct, and she’s really good in the role. Chloë Grace Moretz plays a young girl named Ann. She’s neglected by her mom and she in general doesn’t seem to have a great life. But she’s pretty interesting and Moretz is really good in the role. You also get some solid supporting performances from people like Jason Clarke, Annabeth Gish, Sheryl Lee, and Stephen Graham. So yeah, this is a well acted movie.

The score was composed by Dickon Hinchliffe and I have mixed feelings about it. There are tracks in it that are very atmospheric, adding to the scenes they’re used in, perfectly fitting the setting. Then there are also tracks that feel out of place, sounding like something you’d hear in an episode of “Justified”. And while that isn’t an inherently bad thing, it just sounds a bit off in this movie. I’ll at least give the score this: It heavily features acoustic guitar, which is something I always enjoy hearing. But yeah, overall the score here is… mixed.

This movie was directed by Ami Canaan Mann, daughter of Michael Mann. And I think she did a pretty good job here. There’s a good amount of solid camera work here, and some overall neat visuals at times. There are also a couple of mediocrely directed moments, mainly stuff that is shot in the dark where you can’t see shit. But for the most part this movie is well directed. There are also like two, small-ish action scenes in the movie and they were okay, not great, not bad. Mann even man(n)ages to get some pretty good suspense out of a couple of scenes in the movie, which is something I didn’t exactly expect. So the directing here is good. Still, I’m a little bit disappointed, mainly because Danny Boyle was supposed to direct it at one point but then dropped out. Oh well, c’est la vie. Good job, Mann.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 36% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 49/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,7/10.

While “Texas Killing Fields” isn’t a great movie, it’s still a pretty solid rainy day thriller. It has an okay plot, pretty good characters, really good performances, good music, and good directing. Flaws with the movie are that the plot is just fine, and the music being a bit off at times. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Texas Killing Fields” is a 6,99/10. So while quite flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Texas Killing Fields” is now completed.

Loosely based on real events.