Movie Review: First Reformed (2018)

Faith. Something a lot of people struggle with, regardless of which religion it is. And that’s all the religious talk I’m doing today, don’t wanna accidentally start a flame war (you commenters behave now).

Ladies and gentlemen… “First Reformed”.

Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a priest in an old church. And he soon starts struggling with his faith as things around him start crumbling. So now we have our drama. And it’s great. The plot here features a lot of sensitive subjects, which could’ve absolutely gone sideways in the wrong hands. But they are handled beautifully here. It all comes together to create a plot that is haunting, dramatic, layered, and insanely engaging.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, realistic, and just really interesting. First up we have Ethan Hawke as reverend Ernst Toller, the man at the center of this story. He has a very tragic past that kind of comes back to haunt him as he experiences certain things throughout the plot here. Seeing him having to deal with his demons, while also dealing with other people’s problems is really fascinating, and gives him a good bit of development. And Hawke is fantastic in the role. Next we have Amanda Seyfried as Mary, a pregnant woman who comes to seek Toller’s counsel during a stressful time in her life. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that, as the rest of her arc is seen through the movie and I don’t wanna spoil it. But it’s good. And Seyfried is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Cedric the Entertainer, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger, Michael Gaston, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Brian Williams and it was… fine. It’s just this low droning sound that shows up partway through the movie. While not bad, it feels a bit superfluous. We did fine without it, and suddenly it’s part of a couple scenes. Had it not been there I wouldn’t mind, it would’ve in fact given the general soundscape of the movie a bit more consistency. Again, not bad… just fine.

This movie was written and directed by Paul Schrader, who I think did a fantastic job. His direction is kind of cold and distant while still intimate to the character of reverend Toller. It really helps give the movie a unique feel of unease that I don’t think I’ve experienced elsewhere. I mean, movies have made me feel uneasy before, but not in the same way that “First Reformed” did. What also adds to it is the 1.37:1 aspect ratio. At first it caught me a bit off guard, but I quickly got used to it and thought it worked very well for the movie. And the cinematography by Alexander Dynan is pretty damn solid.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“First Reformed” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it was a fantastic and unique drama. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, okay music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “First Reformed” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “First Reformed” is now completed.

Amen.

Movie Review: Street Kings (2008)

I’m all for the police. They’re needed to uphold the law. But then we have some cases of corruption within the department, which makes some people blame the police in it’s entirety, which I think is unfair. Just because you find one spoiled apple in a bunch, do you throw away all of them? If you are, then you’re wasting a bunch of perfectly good apples, you fucking dick. Point is, don’t blame everyone… just the individual.

Ladies and gents… “Street Kings”.

Detective Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) isn’t really what you’d call a good cop, as his methods for taking bad guys down are usually a bit… extreme. And when an old partner of his gets killed, he goes on a quest to find the assholes who did it. And to do this he teams up with a young and less corrupt cop named Diskant (Chris Evans). So now we have a gritty cop story about corruption and death and cover-ups and revenge and such. And is this plot good? Eh. I see a lot of potential in this story, and at times it grasps for the greatness… but doesn’t quite reach it. It feels like they just kind of skimmed the surface of this plot, not quite getting there. Maybe it’s the runtime/pacing? It’s only about an hour and fortyfive minutes long, and it never really takes a break to develop the plot or let moments actually simmer and have any effect. I could definitely see this as a show on HBO or Netflix where it could get some time to develop. But overall it is… fine.

The characters here are for the most part just a bunch of unlikable assholes… so it’s hard to get invested when you don’t really like any of them. They’re not even really that interesting, they’re just… unlikable assholes. Keanu Reeves in this… I usually love Keanu, but here he is one of those previously mentioned unlikable assholes. Though I’ll say this, he gives a really good performance here. Forest Whitaker plays Keanu’s boss in this, and he’s probably one of the more likable characters in this, even if he is a bit of a shady dick. His performance is great though. Chris Evans in this plays one of the less shady cops in this, and he’s also not a total dick, so that’s great. And he gives a really good performance here. Hugh Laurie plays the captain of internal affairs in this, and he is great here. Jay Mohr (first time he’s mentioned on the blog… weird) plays one of Keanu’s colleagues, and he’s also kind of a dick… and he gives a good performance. Amaury Nolasco plays another one of Keanu’s colleagues, and he’s also a dick in this… and he gives a pretty good performance. Then there’s a bunch of good supporting performances in the movie too, including from Naomie Harris, Common, Terry Crews, John Corbett, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Graeme Revell and it was pretty good. It was serious and gritty, fitting the urban style of the movie. Really, there isn’t a lot to say about it. It’s not very original, and it’s not very memorable. It’s just some okay music that worked pretty well for the movie.

This movie was directed by Daivd Ayer and I think he did a pretty good job. While the movie isn’t visually unique, it does actually look good. His direction has (in lack of a better word) grit to it, really capturing the dangerous and unpredictable feel of this world. And the action scenes in this movie are good. They’re badass, brutal, and pretty exciting. Definitely the highlight(s) of the movie.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 36% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 55/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

Despite the great idea it presents, “Street Kings” is quite shallow and becomes just… fine. It has an okay plot, meh characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing. As previously mentioned, my flaws with it comes from the plot not being great and the characters being unlikable. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Street Kings” is a 6,98/10. So while flawed, it’s worth renting.

My review of “Street Kings” is now completed.

Who’s coming with me to reboot this as a show?