Movie Review: The Mustang (2019)

Horses, wonderful creatures. Absolutely astonishing beasts. Also, huge and terrifying and able to crush a dude like a bug. So you know… try to not annoy a horse. Also, don’t annoy people. Just a bit of advice from Uncle Markus.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Mustang”.

While doing time in prison, Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts) soon gets involved in a rehabilitation program where convicts learn to train wild mustangs. And we follow him as he struggles with this new task, as well as the struggles he faces when confronting himself and his violent past. If you are an impatient individual, you might not enjoy the storytelling of “The Mustang”. It’s a slow burn, taking its time to really let moments simmer, let us get into the heads of the characters and their situation. Of course there are moments where shit gets real and things become less calm, but on the whole this is a movie that is in no hurry to tell its story. And I appreciate that. It helped immerse me in the story presented to me. And in the end I found it to be an insanely heart-wrenching and engaging story.

The characters in this are all pretty engaging, and all work very well in making the story and world therein to feel more lived in. They all feel very real in that sense. Matthias Schoenaerts plays Roman, our main character. He’s a man who clearly has a bit of a troubled past (to say the least), and the way we see him developing and confronting himself throughout the film is insanely engaging, with Schoenaerts delivering a masterful performance. And then in supporting roles you have people like Bruce Dern, Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton, Josh Stewart, Thomas Smittle, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Kurzel, and I think he did a terrific job with it. It very much fits with the contemplative vibe that the story goes for, brought to life beautifully by a mix of guitar, piano, and various other stringed instruments. It really finds a nice middle ground between the dusty Nevada setting and the eerie, soul-sucking confinement of prison. It’s a mesmerizing score that really elevated the movie beyond the already high quality.

“The Mustang” was the first film directed and co-written by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, and I think she did a fantastic job with it. Just seeing the skill and level of control she clearly has over each scene is mesmerizing. When I was watching I thought she’d made  whole bunch of movies, but no, this was her first. And if she shows this level of skill with her debut, I am excited to see what she could bring in the future. Anyhow, back to the movie itself. The direction like I said, it’s great, beautiful, just superb. The direction really brings you into the world in a way that feels very raw and real. And the cinematography by Ruben Impens is just gorgeous. So yeah, the craft in this movie is terrific.

“The Mustang” has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

The slow burn of “The Mustang” may put some people off, but I personally found it to be a highly engrossing and heart-wrenching drama. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, terrific music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Neigh*. My final score for “The Mustang” is a 9.90/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Mustang” is now completed.

Schoenaerts not getting a best actor nomination for this is just criminal.

Movie Review: White Boy Rick (2018)

Don’t do crimes.

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… “White Boy Rick”.

Detroit, the 1980s. Teenager Richard Wershe Jr. (Richie Merritt) comes from a broken home. But soon he finds himself on quite an interesting rise, as he starts getting involved both as an FBI informant and a drug trafficker. So now we have our crime-drama. The premise of it all I find highly intriguing, and there are some decent moments and ideas going on throughout the movie. But looking at the package as a whole, it feels quite underwhelming, with the script, while not bad, feels severely underwritten. The writer’s should’ve probably done another draft or two to truly flesh out a lot of the storytelling, because as it stands, it doesn’t quite reach the dramatic heights it sets out for. And this makes it often feel a lot more boring and uninteresting than one would want a fascinating premise like this to be.

Much like the story, the characters in this story suffer due to the undercooked script. I can see what the team were going for with all of them, but they never quite get far enough to make ’em that compelling. Richie Merritt plays Richard Wershe Jr, the young man at the center of the story. He’s the closest we get to a compelling character, as he gets the biggest arc of the bunch (probably due to his status as “protagonist”). And Merritt is okay in the role. Next we have Matthew McConaughey as Richard Wershe Senior, the father of our main character. He’s a bit of a hick, while also trying to be a decent dad. As said before about other things: Good idea, mediocre execution. At least McConaughey gives a really good performance. We also get supporting work from people like Bel Powley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Tyree Henry, Rory Cochrane, RJ Cyler, Jonathan Majors, Eddie Marsan, and more, all doing pretty well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Max Richter, and it was really good. Richter’s a talented composer, and he managed to bring some really compelling synth/piano goodness to the soundscape of this movie. It manages to take scenes that are mediocre at best, and manages to make them alright. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work fine I guess.

“White Boy Rick” was directed by Yann Demange, and I think he did an okay job with it. There are scenes in the movie that I think are really well directed, but then there are also scenes that I feel are a bit drab in execution. Again, it’s kind of a mixed bag in execution, which unfortunately really brings me out of the experience. There are scenes where Demange’s directing truly shines, and I applaud those moments. But there are times where it dips too, which is a shame.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 59% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10.

“White Boy Rick” has some decent elements to it, but in the end is a disappointment. It has an undercooked story, less than compelling characters, good performances, really good music, and okay directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “White Boy Rick” is a 4,78/10. So despite some bright spots, I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “White Boy Rick” is now completed.

Mustache McConaughey.

Movie Review: The Hateful Eight (2015)

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Bitch and moan however much ya like about how this review is up really fuckin’ late compared to everyone else, but I’m not apologizing for having bad luck in not seeing it so soon. Anyhow, time for Tarantino and his second attempt at a western… let’s go.

Ladies and gents… “The Hateful Eight”.

Bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) is going through the freezing Wyoming with his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). However, there is a blizzard approaching, so they find shelter in a large cabin. In this cabin there are a whole bunch of other interesting people. And without saying too much, soon it’s a bit of a “whodunnit” of all these characters. I think youtube-based movie critic Chris Stuckmann put it the best when he called it an R-rated version of “Clue”. And was the plot any good? Of course it was, what else would you expect me to say? It’s a mystery, set in one location, that also happens to be a western… of course it’s great. But to elaborate it a bit better: the mystery itself (not really saying anything specific for those who might not have seen it) is really intriguing, entertaining and even a bit suspenseful. It’s one of those mysteries that really makes one think who it could have done that did the thing. Was I correct in the end? Not quite, but god damn it, I loved the plot of the movie!

I think it’s safe to assume at this point that characters in a Tarantino film are going to be interesting and entertaining. And “Hateful Eight” really does confirm that statement. All of the characters in the movie are incredibly interesting and endlessly entertaining, thanks to some great writing and of course some great acting. Kurt Russell fucking nailed it, by being both funny, badass and even a bit of a jerk. Jennifer Jason Leigh, terrific as this really terrible person (AKA piece of shit). Samuel L. Jackson is the best he’s been in years, giving a fantastic performance, even getting to give a great monologue about something that happened in his (the character’s) past… he was so amazing. Everyone else was great too; Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern… they were all so damn great!

The original score was composed by none other than Ennio Morricone, a composer who’s done so much great stuff that I could sit here all day talking about it all, but I’m not gonna do that. What I want to say is that the score for “The Hateful Eight” is another masterful thing from the maestro. It’s cool, suspenseful and badass. And since this is a Tarantino film, expect there to be music from other films in here too. One of those films he took music from was John Carpenter’s “The Thing”… also starring Kurt Russell… with music composed by Ennio Morricone… I am starting to see a pattern here, guys. What I’m saying is that the this music has some damn great music.

As I’ve stated about 42 and a half times already, this film was directed by Quentin Tarantino, who also wrote the screenplay (fucking duh). And his directing is as on point as ever… if not even better. While you might prefer some of his earlier films, I think we can all agree that he’s improved a lot as a filmmaker. His direction is slow, tense yet still quick and snappy… probably thanks a lot because of the snappy dialogue. Because the writing is great, random conversations about the smallest things hold my interest without ever getting dull. There are also a whole bunch of pieces of dialogue that are hilarious in my opinion. But that is amostly because I have a really dark sense of humor and can laugh at a lot of the darkly comical stuff that happens/is being said in the movie. And when it comes to the Tarantino-violence, it’s there, but much more spread out than usual. Also, it’s not as fun as in, let’s say “Django Unchained” as an example. In fact, a good amount of the violence in this movie is really brutal and disturbing… but that jsut kinds of adds to the quality of the film in my opinion. And for the little bit of action in the movie, it’s really good. And the cinematography by Robert Richardson… phenomenal. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do with the cinematography for “Live By Night”.

This is a movie that has received mostly positive reviews. It has a 75% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10. The movie also won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Original Score (hell yeah!). It also got an additional 2 nominations in the categories of Best Supporting Actress (Leigh) and Best Cinematography.

“The Hateful Eight” is another win for Tarantino. It has a great plot, fantastic acting & characters, fantastic music, terrific directing terrific cinematography and great writing. Time for my final score. *Fires gun*. My final score for “The Hateful Eight” is a 9,89/10. This of course means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “The Hateful Eight” is now completed.

Long-time followers knows I usually add an extra segment (Gunfights/Shootouts) for westerns, but I feel like it’s superfluous and that it might not always work, as I noticed with “The Assassination of Jesse James”.

Movie Review: Hang ’em High (1968)

hang-em-high

You guys already know that I love westerns, I have said it so much that it has almost wore thin. So let’s just start the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Hang ’em High”.

In this movie we follow rancher Jed Cooper (Clint Eastwood) who one day when moving his cattle gets hung by a bunch of men. Problem is that they hung an innocent man, they also didn’t finish the job. So when he ís taken to a town, he once again becomes a lawman (Sidenote: I forgot to mention, this rancher is an ex-lawman). That’s right, he picks up the badge again to find the men who did him wrong and then bring them to justice. You know, so he can… hang ’em high (Roll Credits). It is really a simple revenge tale with a conspiracy-based twist which I will not spoil because I thought it was pretty good. What I didn’t enjoy that much was a romance sub-plot which arrived later in the movie. It felt shoehorned in and unnecessary. The plot overall was fine.

It’s Clint Eastwood in a western, of course he is good in the movie. Sure, he is not as good as in “The Outlaw Josey Wales”. But to be fair, that movie came out seven years after this one. But yeah… he was good. Every actor was in fact good and did good jobs as their characters. There’s really nothing more to it here.

The score for the movie was done by Dominic Frontiere and it was pretty good. While not as good as any of Ennio Morricone’s scores, this one still holds up. The tracks fit the movie and they all work to keep the desired mood for each scene.

Seeinf as this is a review for a western, it is time to give a warm welcome back to the segment “Gunfights”. So how were the gunfights in this movie? Limited. There weren’t that many. But those we got were good. They weren’t that intense, lengthy or badass as in a lot of other westerns, but for what they were they were good.

This movie was pretty well-directed. It was directed by Ted Post who I have never seen anything from. But he showed with this movie that he knows how to make a shot look good. Huh… I can’t think of anything else to say here in the “General Stuff” segment. That’s a bummer. Uhm… help.

This movie has been pretty well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t exist. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com 7,0/10.

“Hang ’em High” is a western that is just good. It really is nothing special in either way. The story is fine (romance felt tacked on though), the performances were good, the score was good, the direction was good, the gunsights were good… it’s just good. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hang ’em High” is an 8,72/10. It is worth buying.
Worth buying

“Hang ’em High” is reviewed.

I am conflicted…