Movie Review: Mystic River (2003)

I had no real reason to review this movie. It was on tv last night, and that rewatch made me wanna talk about it. So no proper reason. I mean, I could tie it into Eastwood’s new movie “The Mule”, but… nah.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mystic River”.

After one of them suffers a horrific family tragedy, three childhood friends (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon) find their lives change in some dark, shattering ways. So now we have our crime-drama. And I loved the story here. It’s a slowly burning, somber, and contemplative drama, focusing more on showing what happens within people’s minds after they experience something horrific, rather than a typical murder mystery. This is what I meant with the somber and contemplative. Yes, you do have the murder investigation, but it’s really more of a character drama than a police procedural. And I find it all extremely engaging, gut-wrenching, and incredibly well done.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, damaged, and just overall really interesting. First up we have Sean Penn as Jimmy Markum, a former criminal turned legit businessman. He’s the man who suffered the family tragedy that kicks the plot into gear, and to see him try to deal with it, especially as a former criminal, is quite an interesting journey. And Penn is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tim Robbins as Dave Boyle, the second of the main trio. As a boy, something happened to him that changed his life forever. And recent events put some of those memories back into his mind, which really gives him some interesting character development. And Robbins is fantastic in the role. And then we have Kevin Bacon as Sean Devine, a cop and the third of the childhood friends. He’s the one investigating the death of Markum’s family member, while also kind of dealing with a personal thing in the background. He probably has the least interesting arc of all the characters, but I still find him to be quite interesting. And Bacon is great in the role. We also get supporting turns from people like Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Kevin Chapman, Spencer Treat Clark, John Doman, Tom Guiry, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by… Clint Eastwood. And I think he did a good job with it. It’s emotional, it’s a little eerie, and it just works very well within the various scenes that it can be heard. Yeah, it’s good.

Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane (AKA my favorite author), this movie was directed by Clint Eastwood. And I think he did a fantastic job on that front, directing it with an emotional intimacy that brings us close to the characters, while still allowing for a sense of scale to capture every element of this sweeping tale of personal tragedy. He also brings a decent bit of suspense to it, especially at a certain point in the movie which had me fully locked to the screen.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10. The movie won two Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Penn) and best supporting actor (Robbins). It also got an additional four nominations in the categories of Best picture, best director, best supporting actress (Harden), and best adapted screenplay.

“Mystic River” is a fantastic crime-drama. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mystic River” is a 9,89/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mystic River” is now completed.

Tragedy hits us all in different ways. Hug your loved ones while you can.

Movie Review: Jackie Brown (1997)

I don’t have any clever thing to put here as the intro. I just felt like watching this movie as it’s been sitting on my shelf for quite some time. So now I’m finally getting to it.

Ladies and gents… “Jackie Brown”.

The story follows Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), a stewardess who gets caught with smuggling money for an arms dealer (Samuel L. Jackson). And shortly after that she finds herself involved in a complex plot featuring said arms dealer, the ATF, a bail bonds agent (Robert Forster), and half a million dollars. So now we have our crazy crime story. And it’s good. While the plot in itself is interesting and even quite a bit of fun at times, I feel like it is a bit overstuffed sometimes. I’m not against a movie having more than one thread, I welcome that kinds of shit, but in this case it doesn’t always fully work. Again, it’s a good plot, but the threads here get a little tangled and create something that is, like I said, a bit overstuffed. It’s simple enough to follow, but it is also quite cluttered. But with that said, it’s far from bad, it’s still a highly enjoyable crime plot.

The characters in this are layered, colorful, and overall really entertaining. First up we have the titular character of Jackie Brown, played by Pam Grier. She’s a tough lady who takes no shit from anyone, but she’s not some impossible badass as she does show a more vulnerable side from time to time, giving her some extra layers. And Grier is great in the role. Next we have Samuel L. Jackson as arms dealer Ordell Robbie. He’s basically the Samuel L. Jackson archetype, easy to anger, charming when he needs to, says motherfucker at a good rate. But that character never fails to entertain. And Jackson is of course damn good in the role. Next we have Robert Forster as Max Cherry, the aforementioned bail bonds agent that gets entangled in the entire plot. He’s probably the closest we get to a good guy in this story, as most characters in this are kind of dicks. But he’s still a layered and interesting character. And Forster is great in the role. Then we have Michael Keaton as Ray Nicolette, an ATF agent that Jackie interacts with throughout the story. And I’m not gonna say too much as his entertaining self is better left experienced. And Keaton is damn good in the role. Then we get some solid supporting work from people like Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Chris Tucker, Michael Bowen, and more. Sorry that I’m keeping it vague, but this section is already getting a little too long, and I don’t wanna keep you stuck here for too long. But I do think this is a well acted movie.

There were some tracks composed for this by James Newton Howard and they worked well I guess, though it’s hard to find info on which specific ones he did. Then there were a ton of licensed music throughout from a load of different artists. And all of the music here is used very well in their respective scenes, helping sell the very unique mood that the movie and director is going for. The soundtrack is in general also catchy as all hell.

Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, this movie was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. And of course he did a damn good job here. His dialogue is snappy, fun, and as interesting as it ever was. And his direction was really good too, always keeping me on edge with a good flow, a decent sprinkling of suspense, and all the fun Tarantinian shots that you can expect from his movies.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritifcation. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Supporting Actor (Forster).

While not Tarantino’s best, “Jackie Brown” is still a damn good crime movie. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great direction. As previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by the plot feeling a bit overstuffed. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Jackie Brown” is an 8,84/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Jackie Brown” is now completed.

Pam Grier really knows how to rock a suit.

Movie Review: The Godfather Part II (1974)

I recently ran a poll on my twitter page where I asked which of four classics that I hadn’t seen yet people waned to see a review of. And at the end of it, this movie came out victorious. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Godfather Part II”.

We follow Michael (Al Pacino), the new head of the Corleone family as he ascends within the crime world, trying to hold on to his empire and his family. And throughout the movie we also get flashbacks to a young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), from his arrival in New York during his childhood, to him rising in the mob world as an adult. What I liked about the first “Godfather” movie, and also this is that while it has this sweeping and epic gangster story, it also focuses on the smaller family drama, which gives it a lot more nuance. Yes, it is a very long movie (3 hours, 10 minutes), but it needs that runtime to be able to tell this big and impressive story. Emotional, suspenseful, intriguing, and well written, the plot in this movie is great.

The characters in this are layered and interesting. First up we have Al Pacino reprising his role as Michael Corleone, the current head of the Corleone family. In this movie we see a very conflicted Michael as he has to become the new Godfather, while being pulled in the “legitimate” direction by his wife. And it makes for an interesting character study. And Pacino is fantastic in the role. Then we have Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone. He’s a quiet man with a lot of emotion built up inside of him after some stuff that happened in his past. And it’s interesting to see him go through everything he goes through. And De Niro is fantastic in the role. Diane Keaton returns as Kay, the wife of Michael. She goes through some stuff in this movie, and seeing her try to deal with the shit that comes from her husband’s mob-life is quite fascinating and heartbreaking. And Keaton is of course great in the role. Then we have John Cazale (R.I.P) as Fredo, Michael’s older brother. In this movie you see that he’s a bit of a spineless man who does love his family, but some of his own agendas seem to come first, and it makes him an interesting foil for the other characters. And Cazale is great in the role. And in further returning roles we see people like Talia Shire, Robert Duvall, Richard Bright, Gianni Russo, and Morgana King (among others), all doing very well in their roles. Then we also got some new comers like Lee Strasberg, Michael V. Gazzo, G.D. Spradlin, Bruno Kirby, and many more. They also do very well in their respective roles. ’tis a very well acted movie.

The music for the movie was composed by Nino Rota & Carmine Coppola, and it’s fantastic. It’s a sweeping and emotional score that fits the world perfectly and helps elevate the scenes to the next level. What I also liked is that it’s not just super serious string tracks, but there are also a couple of more fun tracks for a few moments throughout the movie, and I think that works quite well. Yeah, the music’s great.

Like with the first movie, “Part II” was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola (with some writing help from Mario Puzo), and once again he knocked it out of the park. His direction captures the sweeping nature of the crime syndicate plot, while also managing to really elevate and engage during the smaller family drama scenes. I really don’t think anyone could have captured it as well as Coppola.

This movie has been incredibly well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars and put it on his “Great Movies” list. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,0/10 and is ranked #3 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 6 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best supporting actor (De Niro), Best director, Best adapted screenplay, Best set decoration, and Best original score. The movie was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Pacino), Best supporting actor (Gazzo), Best supporting actor (Strasberg), Best supporting actress (Shire), and Best costume design. Fuck, that’s a lot of awards and nominations.

Does “The Godfather Part II” live up to the hype? For me, it does. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Godfather Part II” is a 9,85/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Godfather Part II” is now completed.

And for those wondering, I do prefer the first one.

Movie Review: What Maisie Knew (2013)

It’s really hard to know what’s actually going on within the mind of a child at any given time. It would be interesting to be able to just get a good look inside the noggin of a child and see what is happening in there… especially during strange/traumatic events. Not saying they should be exploited like that, just that it would be interesting to see how their mind might process these things.

Ladies and gentlemen… “What Maisie Knew”.

We follow Maisie (Onata Aprile), a six-year-old girl. Her parents (Julianne Moore & Steve Coogan) are going through an out-drawn and bitter custody battle over Maisie. So we basically follow Maisie journey through this custody battle, and we see how it affects her and her life. What I found interesting about it never leaves Maisie’s perspective. It’s less about the custody battle itself, and more about how Maisie looks at it and tries to sort of cope with all the weird changes that happen in her life. The perspective of the young child is fairly unique in these kinds of stories, and it gives the movie a very interesting and unique feel. It’s a plot that can be quite heavy, but it also doesn’t shy away from showing some of the happier moments in Maisie’s life. It’s good.

What I like about the characters here is that none of them are painted as an antagonist or a perfectly good person, but rather as flawed and fairly realistic human beings. First up we have Onata Aprile as Maisie, the titular girl who’s going through all of this. The best way I can describe her character is that she’s a child. She’s naive, but not stupid. She’s filled with joy, but she’s not happy all the time. She feels very realistic in terms of the situation. And Aprile is really good in the role. Then we have Julianne Moore as Maisie’s mom, Susanna. She’s a hot-headed and somewhat self-destructive musician. She loves her daughter, due to her being a bit hot-headed and egotistical, it creates a bit of a rift between her and the people around her, and it makes her quite a tragic character. And Moore is great in the role. Then we have Steve Coogan as Beale, Maisie’s dad. He’s an art dealer who is away quite a lot and very rarely finds time for his daughter. But he’s not a total ass about it, like some movies would portray him. And Coogan is really good in the role. Then we have Alexander Skarsgård as Lincoln, a man that Maisie’s mom more or less starts dating in the movie. He’s a pretty quiet man with a good heart, and is the closest to a full on “good guy” we have here. And it’s interesting to see his relationship with Maisie grow throughout the movie. And Skarsgård is great in the role. The final one we’re talking about is Joanna Vanderham as Margo, Maisie’s nanny and pseudo-bonus-mom. Kind of like with Lincoln, she is kind of the closest we have to a good person, as she cares more about Maisie rather than her own wants and needs. And Vanderham is really good in the role. Overall it’s a very well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Urata, and it was really good. It’s a relaxing and emotional piece that is clearly trying to capture the childlike innocence of Maisie and her perspective on the entire situation. And it really captures that feeling perfectly, creating a beautiful score that helps bring a lot of extra emotion to the movie.

Based on a very old novel by Henry James, this movie was directed by Scott McGehee & David Siegel, and I think they did a really good job with it. Just like with the plot and music, their direction here is from Maisie’s perspective, aiming to show us what this entire situation looks and feels like from her point of view. The camera work never really strays from Maisie, always keeping it within close proximity of her to sort of keep us close to her. She’s the important one, not the other people. And that perspective is captured very well. And the cinematography by Giles Nuttgens is pretty damn good too.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“What Maisie Knew” is a heartfelt look into a child’s life during a strange time. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “What Maisie Knew” is a 9,67/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “What Maisie Knew” is now completed.

I feel quite lucky that I’ve never had to deal with anything like this.

Movie Review: The Dark Tower (2017)

Right up front, I adore Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” books. They’re epic, unique, engaging, and just awesome. So I was worried about the series being adapted to film. Then the trailer came out and it looked like shit. But now we’re here, reviewing it. Comparisons to the novels are inevitable, but I will do my best to not rely on that stuff. Try to judge this on it’s own. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Dark Tower”.

Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has been having dreams/visions of a strange land filled with strange stuff. And one day he finds an actual portal to that world. There he meets Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), AKA the gunslinger. And they meet up to try to find and stop the evil wizard known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) from destroying the one thing holding all the universes together… The Dark Tower. So now we have our adaptation. And it’s not a direct adaptation of any of the books, but rather mixes the stories of all of them into one thing. And it feels quite messy. Cramming a ton of stuff into a 90-minute runtime. So you get a rushed mess that has stuff from all the books, but only feels very surface-level. And even if you take the books aside for a second, it still feels rushed and messy. And not very interesting. At best the plot is meh. But for the most part it is not good.

The characters here show potential to be interesting, but never reach that full potential for me (at least I didn’t dislike them, I guess). Idris Elba plays Roland, a gunslinger. Quick lesson: A gunslinger is a sort of guardian who has sworn to protect Mid-World and the Dark Tower. And Roland is the last of the gunslingers because someone (the Man in Black) was a dick. But you can see some history with him and that there’s some pain behind those eyes. But they never go and fully develop him. But Elba is really good in the role. Tom Taylor play Jake Chambers, the young man who gets visions of Mid-World and Roland and all the shit going on with the Dark Tower. He gets some backstory, and you get a decently clear idea of who he is as a character. And I didn’t hate him, he was probably the most well developed character here (even if it’s not full-on development). And Taylor was really good in the role. Matthew McConaughey (alright, alright, alright) plays the Man in Black, the big threat to Mid-World, our world, and all worlds that are connected by the Dark Tower. He’s a wizard of sorts who can tell you something and you do it. He’s like a less interesting version of Kilgrave from “Jessica Jones”. And while McConaughey is clearly having a lot of fun in the role, his performance isn’t great. It’s average-ish. The rest of the actors in this movie range from fine to good. Serious waste of Jackie Earle Haley in this.

The score was composed by Tom Holkenborg (AKA Junkie XL) and it was okay. Bit generic, often reminded me of “The Da Vinci Code”. It’s not bad, but nothing stuck out to me as great or memorable. Most of it is just fairly typical stuff. Takes cues from action, horror, emotional drama, and more in the various tracks. It’s overall… fine.

This movie was directed by Nikolaj Arcel, and I think he did an average job. It’s clear that this movie was rushed into production, so a lot of the less than stellar stuff in direction and such might not be his fault. There is almost no tension here, and the movie looks really generic. For one of the most unique and interesting fantasy franchises, the adaptation sure looks bland. Admittedly there are moments in this movie where I had fun with some of the action. Mainly in parts where action gunslinging was happening, I kind of enjoyed those bits. But there’s also some action here that leaves no impact and just comes off as… meh. Let’s also talk about the visual effects. Some of them look good, and some were kind of bad… distractingly so. It’s kind of like what I said about the plot… messy.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 16% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 34/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,7/10.

As an adaptation of Stephen King’s books, “The Dark Tower” isn’t good. As a movie on it’s own, it’s slightly better but still not that good. Good things include a couple of performances, the character of Jake Chambers, and a couple of action moments. But the plot, most other characters, the music, and directing/cinematography/action range from meh to bad. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Dark Tower” is a 4,65/10. I didn’t want to dislike it… but I kind of did. I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Dark Tower” is now completed.

I didn’t wanna dislike it. I wanted it to be good. *sigh*. At least I can still read the books.

The Food in Film Blogathon: Harry Potter and the Tasty Foods

Hello there, ladies and gents of the internet. I have once again joined in on a blogathon. Just like the last couple of blogathons that I’ve been part of, this one is hosted by Kristina from Speakeasy and Ruth from Silver Screenings. And in this blogathon the participants were asked to talk about food in film. It took me a while to choose something to write about, but I managed to figure it out and signed on. Skip ahead a couple of months and now we’re here! So let’s stop with these delays and get into the tasty num nums!

So as you could gather from the start of this post, I have chosen to talk about the food culture of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world by talking about the “Harry Potter” movies. Now, for the cave dwellers reading this post, I guess I should explain what the hell a “Harry Potter” is. In 1997, J.K. Rowling released a novel titled “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (there is no alternative title, you silly Americans), and it was a HUGE hit. It got sequels and movies started getting made. And in 2001 we saw the release of “The Philosopher’s Stone”, directed by Chris Columbus, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, and Maggie Smith (among many others). This was also a huge hit, getting a whole bunch of sequels, video games, and a spin-off franchise. Alright, no more backstory for you. Now, I chose this because not only do I adore this series, but also because it’s filled with food, which makes it perfect for this blogathon… so let’s enter the great hall and have a look at the buffet!

One of the most interesting things about the culinary culture of this world is that it’s very… British. Bacon, sausages, toast… it looks a lot like your typical British breakfast table, as demonstrated by Ron, his friends, and the table they’re sitting at.

Fat-shaming, Hermione? Let the man eat.

Really, for the most part it is pretty average. And by average, I mean for you typical Brit. The food they eat there isn’t exactly the healthiest, but I guess it’s still good food. Good, very ordinary food. Like these chicken legs that you find Ron chomping on.

Though, when eating, be sure to keep an eye out for rogue John Cleeses…

Again, the food for the most part seems to be what we have in our world. No “dragon spleen casserole” or “Chupacabra soup”… just normal food. Even the adorably weird Luna asks for normal stuff.

Anything for you, Luna.

Now, while most dinner/breakfast/lunch items are normal things, it’s when you start looking beside them, looking at beverages and candy and such that you start finding unique things. So let’s talk about some of them.

Beverages

The first beverage we’re introduced to in this show (aside from tea, damn Brits) is pumpkin juice. It’s also the primary beverage for our beloved Hogwarts students, not even water comes near it in terms of abundance. So what is pumpkin juice? It’s right there in the name, it’s juice… made from pumpkin. Not sure what that would taste, as I have never actually tried pumpkin anything. So if you consume pumpkin (Starbucks’ bullshit doesn’t count), feel free to tell me what it tastes like.

Another decently well known drink from the series is Butterbeer (pictured above), which looks just like someone poured a lot of toffee into a glass… which I want now. But what exactly is “Butterbeer”? It’s a slightly alcoholic beverage that our heroes drink while visiting Hogsmeade, a small town not too far from Hogwarts. As you could probably guess from the name, there is butter in this drink. Then, depending on what recipe you go by you get a whole bunch of different ingredients you could use. So just look it up if you want to try it out.

There are a couple more beverages within the universe, but those are the main ones I wanted to talk about.

Candy

As with our normal world, the magical world that Harry gets to be part of is filled with all kinds of awesome candy. From normal ones that just taste sweet, to ones that do weird shit, there’s something for everybody. So let’s talk about a couple.

Let’s talk about the chocolate frog, one of the first candies to pop up in the movies. Basically it’s a magic frog made out of chocolate. Though you gotta be fast, because these sons of bitches can jump away from you if you’re not careful. Except if you buy it at Warner Bros studios, because then it’s only a thick lump of chocolate vaguely shaped like a frog. This I know because I went there back in 2013 (London version of it) and my friend bought one. And hey, if it jumps away from you then you’ll at least still get a cool trading card.

“How does this thing work? Darn kids, and their bloody technology”

So yeah, those things are pretty damn cool. Chocolate AND a trading card? Yes please!

The next thing on the candy list are the infamous Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. And they’re jelly beans with all kinds of kooky flavors. You might be lucky to get a watermelon or lemon or something yummy, or you could end up getting soap or a dirty sock. Or in Dumbledore’s case:

Buuuuuut instead:

I brought up watermelon and soap because in that aforementioned Warner Bros studios visit, my friend not only bought a chocolate frog, but also a box of Bertie Bott’s Beans, and he let me try a couple. First I took a green, and got watermelon (awesome). Then I tried a white and I got soap (bleh). So yeah, eclectic bunch of beans, they are. Do feel free to try them at some point, they’re a lot of fun. There are also beans that make you do animal noises… not on the WB tour, but in the movies (as demonstrated in “The Prisoner of Azkaban”).

As for other types of candy, there’s liquorice, bubble gum, lollipops, other chocolate things… most types of candy there are like our normal things, but with som kooky “magic” twist. Still, candy is candy, and candy is great. Except for liquorice, to hell with that stuff.

That’s really all the food stuff from “Harry Potter” worth talking about. Though there was a mention of pea soup being able to kill you in one of the movies… eh, who cares. Anyway, this has been a lot of fun. Again, huge thanks to Ruth and Kristina for letting me join in on this, always happy to take part in your shenanigans, ladies!
Have a good one, and to end on a high note:

Movie Review: The Homesman (2014)

Something something, Markus likes westerns.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Homesman”.

After three women goes mad from living very tough lives they have to be transported to Iowa. So a woman named Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) volunteers to take on this daunting task. However, she soon realizes that she might not be able to do this alone, so she employs a low-life drifter named George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) to help her out. So now we have our western-drama. And I’d say that it’s an interesting plot. It’s very serious and and at times even a bit disturbing, and overall it is very well told. My main issue with it is the first half which meanders quite a bit. I get that this is a simple road movie set during the old west, but even I feel like it doesn’t get very far plot-wise during that first half (a little less than half to be a bit more fair, but shut up). But when we get into the second half the plot picks up a bit more and I found myself really invested in the journey. And just to be clear: The first half isn’t bad… just a little bit too slow… a little bit.

The characters in this are layered and interesting. Hilary Swank is great as Mary Bee Cuddy, giving a vulnerable yet determined performance. Tommy Lee Jones is great as George Briggs, playing him as a kind of pathetic but still tough and semi-honorable man. Then we have the three crazy ladies (that is what they are, shut up), played by Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, and Sonja Richter. And they’re all great in their respective roles. They don’t say a lot, but they give great performances nonetheless. Then there are a bunch of good supporting performances throughout from people like Evan Jones, William Fichtner, John Lithgow, James Spader (his Irish accent isn’t very good), Jesse Plemons, Tim Blake Nelson, and Meryl Streep. Most of these actors aren’t in the movie for very long, but when they are… they’re good.

The score for the movie was composed by Marco Beltrami and it was really good. It was very dramatic and emotional, often adding to the quality of the various scenes in here. Sure, a lot of the music sound like stuff we’ve heard in other western-dramas, but that doesn’t make the music any worse… ’cause it’s really good.

This movie was directed by Tommy Lee Jones and I think that he did a really good job. The movie is directed with a lot of confidence which makes for an investing watch. It’s also a really good looking movie, having a bleak style that doesn’t feel too depressing and sad. I also feel like I should mention that this isn’t an action packed western. It’s a slow drama, with very few shots being fired. Just thought I’d mention that.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritifcation. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

“The Homesman” is a really solid western-drama. It has a good plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. My main problem with the movie is that first half which meanders a bit too much. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Homesman” is an 8,84/10. So while it is flawed I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “The Homesman” is now completed.

Sloooooow burn.

Movie Review: Live by Night (2016)

I’m gonna be very frank with y’all: I love Dennis Lehane’s “Live by Night”, it’s a fantastic book. So I was both skeptical and excited when I found out that Ben Affleck was directing a movie adaptation of it. Then the trailer was released and it was great, but I still held back any hype because of my love for the source material. Then the reviews started coming out and they were not merciful. So my reservations weren’t exactly lightened by that. And here we are… let’s see if the critics are right.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Live by Night”.

1920s Boston. As the son of a popular and beloved police chief, Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) has had a lot to live up to. However, Joe has found himself operating on the other side of the law. So we follow him as he rises from petty robbery to taking on the rum trade in Tampa, Florida. We also see him as he struggles with this life, trying to balance running his business with taking on competitors and other factions who want to do him harm. So now we have our gangster story. And the basic setup is interesting enough, with a few parts in the story giving us some pretty good drama and suspense. But for the most part this plot lacks a lot of the nuance needed to make it great. Especially during the middle when it starts meandering quite a bit. And while I shouldn’t compare this to the book, I do have to mention that the plot here in the movie lacks some of the flair and nuance that it had. So overall the plot here is… fine.

The characters in this are for the most part pretty interesting. While not a physical match to Joe, Ben Affleck is great in the role. He’s a smart, even-tempered, and interesting individual, and Affleck does give a great performance. Chris Messina plays Joe’s friend/partner in crime Dion Bartolo, and he’s a fun and cool guy that I thought was prety interesting. And Messina is great in the role. Sienna Miller plays Emma Gould, a woman that Joe gets involved with, and while her Irish accent if a bit off, her overall performance is pretty good. Chris Cooper plays Irving Figgis, a police chief that Joe has some interactions with throughout the movie. And Cooper is great in the role, getting some of the best dramatic moments in the movie. Elle Fanning plays Cooper’s daugher, Loretta, and she’s great in the role. Brendan Gleeson shows up for a bit in the movie, playing Joe’s father Thomas. And he’s really good in the role. Robert Glenister plays gangster Albert White, and he’s great in the role, giving quite a menacing performance. We also have Zoe Saldana as Graciela Suarez, a Cuban woman that Joe gets involved with down in Tampa, and she’s really good in the movie. Shit, this movie’s filled with solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and it was really good. It really doesn’t do anything unique, and isn’t overall something I’d find myself listening to at any time in the future. But it is overall dramatic, tense, and well composed, fitting the movie very well.

This movie was written and directed by Batman, I mean Ben Affleck. And I think he did a really good job with it. He manages to bring tension and a lot of flair to it which I really enjoyed. And the action scenes in this movie are tense, exciting, and just overall great. I also feel like I have to mention Robert Richardson’s cinematography, holy fuck it is gorgeous. Really, this movie is a visual treat. From a purely technical standpoint this movie is quite great… it’s a few other factors that slightly brings it down (you read them earlier).

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 34% (ouch) positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 49/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10.

“Live by Night” is a bit of a disappointment, but it’s still a competently put together gangster flick. It has an okay plot, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. But it (like I made clear) has some flaws. the plot gets quite meander-y near the second act, and with the plot overall feeling slightly dull. Also, Sienna Miller’s distractingly off Irish accent bugged me. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Live by Night” is an 8,21/10. So while it is quite flawed, I’d say that it’s worth a rental.

My review of “Live by Night” is now completed.

The movie kept the book’s best dialog exchange at least… kudos for that.

Movie Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

I honestly don’t know what the fuck to start with. Usually when reviewing a movie I can come up with some clever(ish) intro that somehow relates back to the movie. But in this case it’s fucking impossible. So let’s just get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Nocturnal Animals”.

Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is a wealthy art gallery owner living in New York City. And one day she gets package form her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) containing a novel that he’s written. So Susan of course starts reading it and becomes obsessed with this dark and twisted story. We also get to follow along as the story in the novel gets visualized for us. So now we have our dark, weird, and complex story. And yeah, those are really my thoughts: It’s dark, weird, and complex. Because it’s not just about a really beautiful woman reading a book, because there are plenty of metaphors that get drawn between the story that Susan’s reading, and her own life. We also get a look into her past and then that stuff somehow relates back to the book and Jesus fucking Christ, this movie has more layers than a “Scooby-Doo” sandwich. But I don’t fault it for that because I appreciated the complexity of it all, and I thought about it and I never felt lost. So we have a complex and layered story that is also tense, eerie, fascinating, and at one point heart-wrenching. So yeah… it’s pretty damn good.

The characters in this are like the story… complex and layered. Amy Adams is fantastic as Susan Morrow. A lot of times she doesn’t even need to say anything to show how good her performance is, as a lot of it is portrayed through her eyes and her mannerisms. There are so many subtleties to her performance that help make it as great as it is. Jake Gyllenhaal puts on a bit of a double role in the movie as he plays both Susan’s ex-husband, Edward, and the novel’s main character, Tony. And he is fantastic in this, with one of the roles having him give an intense and emotionally charged performance, and the other one just being generally great. Michael Shannon plays Booby Andes, a cop within the novel that Susan’s reading. And he’s basically just a tough guy who doesn’t give a shit and he’s just a blast to watch… yeah, he’s awesome. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays a guy named Ray Marcus, an asshole who was kind of creepy and really unpleasant, and he really got under my skin. So kudos to Aaron Taylor-Johnson… great job. Really, this movie is filled to the brim with great performances/actors, so I won’t go on for too long about each and every one because we’d be here all fucking week. But to be somewhat fair, here are some of them listed: Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Armie Hammer, Karl Glusman, Laura Linney, Michael Sheen, and Andrea Riseborough.

The score for the movie was composed by Abel Korzeniowski and I do have to say that it was fucking amazing. As could be expected from Korzeniowski (at least if you watch “Penny Dreadful”, like I do), his music is heavily based in string instruments, which helps to create an eerie, dramatic, and emotional sound that complements the movie perfectly. Out of all the original scores of movies that came out last year, this might be my personal favorite.

This movie was directed by fashion designer Tom Ford, and he did a great job here. His directing is very tight and suspenseful. And his direction combined with Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography makes this one of the most visually arresting movies of the last few years. There were a whole bunch of shots in this movie that actually made me go “Woaw”, and that isn’t very common for me. I do also have to mention that there are a few disturbing visuals throughout this movie too, so don’t expect this to be just pretty people captured in pretty cinematography, because there’s some fucked up and weird stuff here… so don’t bring grandma.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 74% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in teh category of Best supporting actor (Shannon). 

“Nocturnal Animals” is a movie that I thought was pretty fucking great, but that I am aware have and will divide audiences. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Nocturnal Animals” is a 9,89/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Nocturnal Animals” is now completed.

Now that I think about it, this movie could almost have been called “Behind Blue Eyes”. Because most of the main actors have blue eyes and are troubled in some way…

Series Review: American Gods – Season 1 (2017)

Adapting a novel into a movie or TV show (or even a video game) can’t be easy. Especially when it’s something so acclaimed and unique, that just puts all kinds of pressure on the people adapting it. And you can’t just make something specifically for the people who have read the source material, but you need to have it be accessible to general audiences too, which just makes the task of adapting it even more difficult.

Ladies and gentlemen… “American Gods” season 1.

After he gets released from prison, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) meets and gets employed by a man who calls himself Wednesday (Ian McShane). And they soon find themselves on a strange road trip which introduces Shadow to a different and more supernatural side of the world. And fucking hell, this show is weird. Some shows are weird just for the sake of being weird, but I feel like “American Gods” has a reason for it’s weirdness. It’s also a show that isn’t clear about it’s motivations and goals at first, which might put some people off, but if you stick with it you’ll learn more and more about the plot, world, and myhtology of the show. And what we get is quite fascinating to follow. I wouldn’t call the plot here flawless, but it’s still pretty fucking good. Weird and patience-demanding, but definitely great.

The characters in this show are all unique, extremely interesting, and really entertaining. Shadow for the most part is just a good guy who has a troubled past, and when he goes on this trip with Wednesday he has a hard time understanding a lot of the shit going on, which makes him quite relatable. And Ricky Whittle is great in the role. Wednesday as a character is kind of a con-man who seems to have some ulterior motive as to why he’s taking Shadow on this journey. And Ian McShane is fucking fantastic in the role. Emily Browning plays Shadow’s wife Laura, and I’m not gonna spoil what her purpose in the show is, but I will say that Browning is great here. Pablo Schreiber plays Mad Sweeney, a literal Leprechaun, and while his accent can be a bit off and on, his overall performance is great. We get Yetide Badaki as Bilquis, a very interesting lady (not saying how), and she’s great in the role. We get Gillian Anderson in a couple episodes as… well, it’s hard to explain without spoiling anything, so I’m just gonna say that she kills it in this show. We even get Crispin Freeman in the show giving a performance that just violates my soul and gets under my skin… yeah, he’s fucking great in a creepy way. Though he appears a surprisingly small amount of times in the show. Still, he really left an impression on me. Then to get through a few more solid ones (because there’s no bad acting here): Bruce Langley, Peter Stormare, Omid Abtahi, Orlando Jones, Cloris Leachman. Yeah, there’s plenty of cool people in this show.

The score for the show was composed by Brian Reitzell and I think he did a terrific job. The tracks take influences from all over, both from various genres and cultures which makes it a joy to listen to. There are a licensed ones as well that are used quite well. Really, this show is filled with great music.

This show was created by Bryan Fuller & Michael Green and is based on a novel by acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman. And for those not wondering, no I have not read his novel… though I might have to at some point. But what Fuller & Green managed to create with this show is pretty damn interesting. The directing (from various people) is fantastic, featuring some of the most gorgeous visuals I’ve seen in a TV show. And it’s not just great shots of normal environments and such, oh no. We get some fucking trippy shots/environments too, and it all looks amazing and perfectly fits the weird story that’s on display here. I also want to make very clear that this show is not for kids AT ALL. There’s some incredibly brutal/gory violence here, which I think perfectly fits the stylized world of “American Gods”. There’s also plenty of cursing (all the curse words), and also really graphic nudity and sex. Tits, asses, dicks, vaginas… it’s all there. So if you don’t like really graphic shows, then maybe this isn’t your cup of tea. I also love the dark sense of humor that this show has. I laugh and it probably means that I’m a horrible person… oh well.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,4/10 and is ranked #228 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“American Gods” isn’t for everyone. But I kind of loved it. It has great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Amen*. My final score for “American Gods” season 1 is a 9,77/10. This means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “American Gods” season 1 is now completed.

So. Fucking. Weird.