Movie Review: We Can Be Heroes! (2002)

Time for the Summer of the Swedes to keep going. So what’s on the menu today? A children’s film? Oh fuck.

Ladies and gentlemen… “We Can Be Heroes!” (Original title: Bäst i Sverige!).

Marcello (Ariel Petsonk) doesn’t have it easy. He’s bullied by some boys in schools, and his parents (Michael Nyqvist, Anna Pettersson) try to dictate where his life is supposed to go. But when he befriends the new girl in his class (Zamand Hägg), his life starts changing in a few ways. If some of these elements sound familiar, that’s because you’ve seen other movies. But just because this film borrows cliches from other ones doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, I’d argue the story here is pretty good, with writing that takes the cliches and uses them in charming and enjoyable ways. There’s a lot of times when our main character has really vivid dreams, both in the middle of the day and during the night, which serve to not only develop him as a character, but also further the plot and also entertain. And it helps make the storytelling here feel fresh and fun. There are one or two moments in the story that maybe don’t fit too much, since they push the suspension of disbelief a bit too much, but overall I really liked the story here.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and at times surprisingly nuanced. Sure, they all might seem like walking cliches at first. But as the story moves on, we see most of them get some decent development that makes them endearing and likable. And the cast, which features people like Ariel Petsonk, Zamand Hägg, Michael Nyqvist, Anna Pettersson, Ralph Carlsson, Pontus Stenshäll, and more, all do pretty well in their respective roles.

The music in this movie is based heavily in a lot of pop tunes, which I guess is used to help add to the overall fun tone of the movie. I’m not saying all of them 100% fit all of the time, but I also don’t think any of the tracks ruin the mood at all. The songs work fine.

“We Can Be Heroes!” was directed and edited by Ulf Malmros, and I think he did a damn good job. The way he shoots a scene is energetic and fast-paced, while still allowing for some of the more quiet scenes to nicely simmer. And man, the editing is really good too. Malmros knows when to make perfect cuts and how to nicely transition between reality and Marcello’s dreams. The craft here is really good. And since this is a comedy (despite imdb not acknowledging it), how is the humor? Fucking funny. It’s charming, it’s silly, it’s cute, it’s even a little brash at times… and most of it made me laugh.

On Rotten Tomatoes it exists with no rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,8/10.

“We Can Be Heroes!” had a bit of an uphill battle with me, being both from my own home country and a children’s film. But god damn, it managed to win me over. It’s a charming little comedy about finding yourself. It has a good plot, really good characters, really good performances, pretty good music, great directing/editing, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “We Can Be Heroes!” is an 8,89/10. So I’d definitely say it’s worth buying.

My review of “We Can be Heroes!” is now completed.

Things are starting to look up.

Lock-down Godzilla

Hey there, friends. Today’s post is a little different. In some ways, one could probably consider it a part of my Great Music series, but I that I wouldn’t do that in this case. As you all know, the world’s in a bit of a shitty spot right now with a certain virus-related thingamabob going on. I’m not trying to make light of it, I just don’t wanna say its name too much, as you already know what it is. Anyhow, it’s not just us regular folks who are in lockdown. Famous artists are stuck too, which means they can’t really be out touring and playing gigs… but that’s not stopping some from entertaining the masses.

Recently a video was posted to youtube by one of my favorite bands. That band of course being Blue Öyster Cult. And in it, we have the current band members Buck Dharma, Eric Bloom, Danny Miranda, Richie Castellano, and Jules Radino sitting in their respective homes, giving us a fresh rendition of their 1977 classic “Godzilla”. Not only do I like this because I adore the band in general, but I also like it because the guys clearly still got it. Really, it’s just a fun little video that I’ve been enjoying recently. And I thought I’d share it with you guys, because I enjoy sharing things that I like with my friends.

Have a good one and enjoy!

Movie Review: About a Boy (2002)

Having kids. Not everyone’s cup of tea. There, I said it. So many think everyone should have kids and that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t. But that’s such a narrow view of stuff. Be open to other people’s life choices. And those who don’t wanna have kids, don’t look down at those who have kids. Let’s all be friends.

Ladies and gentlemen… “About a Boy”.

Will (Hugh Grant) is an immature, cynical bachelor that has chosen single mothers as his new dating targets, and he’s willing to put up any lie to get inside their pants. This however backfires when a 12-year old boy (Nicholas Hoult) starts seeing through his lie, and becomes a central part of Will’s life. And maybe these two will learn some stuff from each other. So now we have our rom-rom/coming-of-age story. And it honestly subverted a lot of expectations I had. With these two genres, one expects a lot of tropes, and we do get a few of them here, which end up being some of the weaker elements of the story. But with that said, there’s still enough nuance and subversion here to make it an intriguing and surprisingly engaging take on these two familiar genres, while still giving you some of the heartwarming bits you’d expect.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and overall quite interesting. Hugh Grant plays Will, the cynical man-child at the center of this story. Never one to commit himself to a single person for long, he drifts around various women like a lying asshole. He isn’t the typical charming, Hugh Grant rom-com character, and it makes him quite an intriguing and refreshing character to watch as he evolves. And Grant is great in the role. Next we have a young Nicholas Hoult as Marcus, the little kid that Will begrudgingly “befriends”. He’s a bit weird, but he’s also clever, charming, and quite an endearing kid. And Hoult is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Toni Collette, Natalia Tena, Rachel Weisz, Victoria Smurfit, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by the musician known as Badly Drawn Boy, and it was good. They’re basically indie pop songs, which I’d assume is the genre that Badly Drawn Boy might be associated with usually. There are even a few instrumentals that could fit that description used throughout. And this music works alright within the story. The tunes themselves are pretty good, it’s just that when used within a movie context, it creates a bit of a bland vibe. So overall… pretty good.

Based on a novel by Nick Hornby, this movie was directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, and I think they did a good job with it. There’s certainly a warmth their direction brings that makes it feel nice to watch (if that makes any sense). What really surprised me though was the shot composition. So many romantic comedies out there have what I like to call a “start the camera” look, in which it just looks like they started the camera, with no real thought of giving the movie an interesting style or any fun camerawork. But here, there’s plenty of both, this is a really well shot movie. And since it’s a comedy, we should talk about the humor… it’s funny. Some light slapstick, some surprisingly dark jokes, some clever digs at things. I laughed throughout.

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 75/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay.

While it still dips into cliches at times, “About a Boy” still subverts enough to impress. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, great directing, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “About a Boy” is an 8,97/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “About a Boy” is now completed.

Hughbert Grantchester is a lot better when he gets to do these slightly more offbeat characters.

Movie Review: Blaze (2018)

Biopics are fascinating. They give us a glimpse into a real life individual’s personal life, while also trying to provide a couple hours of entertainment. And striking the right balance between fact and compelling drama can be tough. But some people manage 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 gentlemen… “Blaze”.

The story follows the life and times of Blaze Foley (Ben Dickey), a raggedy man with a talent for music. From his humble beginnings, and through the highs and lows, including his marriage to Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat), we get a good glimpse into Foley’s life. And I think that the plot here is really good. There are elements that we recognize from other biopics, but the way they’re used throughout “Blaze” feels fresh, due to the gentle and nuanced writing. It creates a fascinating tale that can be as heartbreaking as it is warmly nostalgic. The deliberately slow pace might prove a bit frustrating for some, but I thought it worked very well for the story here.

The characters here are flawed, nuanced, charming, and overall feel very real. Ben Dickey plays the titular musician. A likable man with a lot of tragic flaws. Seeing his journey as a character here is really fascinating, and I really grew to care about him. And Dickey is great in the role. Alia Shawkat plays Sybil Rosen, a woman and aspiring actress/writer that Blaze has a committed relationship with. The journey she has here, which really are the ups and downs of being with Blaze, is really interesting, and makes her an interesting and sympathetic character. And Shawkat is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Charlie Sexton, Josh Hamilton, Wyatt Russell, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As this is a biopic about a musician, it should be expected that one would hear a lot of songs from said artist throughout. You’d be correct in that assumption, you do hear a lot of Foley’s music here… and I love it. Not only because the music is incredibly well written, but also because the way it’s implemented in the storytelling is absolutely wonderful. So yeah, the music here is great.

Based on “Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley” (bit of a mouthful) by Sybil Rosen, this movie was written by Ethan Hawke & Sybil Rosen, with Hawke also handling directing. And the craft here is wonderful. It has a warmness to it, and a willingness to just sit down and really get to know these characters, not always feeling the need to get to the next “big event”. Like I said in the story bit, the pacing is deliberately slow, and the direction embraces that and turns it into some truly compelling stuff. And the cinematography by Steve Cosens helps kind of give it all a nostalgic storybook feeling that really adds to the experience.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“Blaze” is a wonderful movie about a very interesting man. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Blaze” is a 9,77/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Blaze” is now completed.

That was a nice experience.

Movie Review: Almost Famous (2000)

Music. One of the most powerful things in the world. A medium that transcends language. You may not understand what that foreign person is saying, but you will connect thanks to the recognizable riff of “Smoke on the Water”, or the vocal melody of “Stairway to Heaven”. Music, connecting people better than words can.

Ladies and gents… “Almost Famous”.

The year is 1973. High school student William Miller (Patrick Fugit) has been given the opportunity of a lifetime: To follow up-and-coming band Stillwater on tour and write an article on them for Rolling Stone Magazine. So yeah, that’s about it. We follow William and the journey he goes on with this band. From meeting them, to seeing them play, to the various other highs and lows of a 70s rock band being on tour. And I found myself fully engrossed in the plot of this movie. When it wants to be fun and breezy, it’s fun and breezy. And when it wanted to tug at my heartstrings, it did. It rides the balance between fun and dramatic perfectly, creating a journey that I loved following from the start to finish.

The characters in this are all entertaining, layered, interesting, and feel like real people. Patrick Fugit plays William, the young man who’s been given this opportunity. He’s naive, but not dumb. He holds these guys in high regard, and you can see the joy in his eyes as he hangs out with the band. But you also see him get some good development throughout. And Fugit is great in the role. It’s also refreshing to see him play such a happy character after having seen him be so stressed and damaged in “Outcast”. Next up we have Billy Crudup as Russell, the lead guitarist of the band. He’s the member we get to know the best and that gets the most amount of development. He is a bit mysterious, but as he spends time with William he starts to open a bit more and really develops as a character. And Crudup is great in the role. Then we have Kate Hudson (who I mistook for Drew Barrymore at first, oops) as “Penny Lane”, a mysterious girl that William runs into early on that follows along on the journey. She’s a pretty secretive girl, but she also becomes one of William’s closest friends during this journey. She’s a very fun and interesting character. And Hudson is great in the role. I’m not gonna go in-depth with any more characters as most don’t get the same kind of development as the main three, and also because I don’t want this post to get too long. But we do get some supporting work from people like Jason Lee, Frances McDormand, Noah Taylor, Fairuza Balk, Anna Paquin, Philip Seymour Hoffman (R.I.P), Terry Chen, and more. All doing really well in their respective roles.

While not a lot can be found on it online, there was music in this composed by Nancy Wilson (one half of rock duo Heart), and the little I found out about it was really good. There has been one piece officially released from it that is fantastic, and she also co-wrote some songs for the band in the movie (with some additional help from Cameron Crow and Peter Frampton). And there were of course A LOT of 70s rock tracks used throughout to capture that era and story, and it worked brilliantly. Then again, I am a bit biased due to my love for that era of music. Still, the soundtrack for this movie worked perfectly for it.

The movie was written and directed by Cameron Crowe and he did a fantastic job. His directing is tight and intimate, getting us close to the characters and their situations, making us feel like were really part of it. But it’s not the “look at me and how personal I can get”, Crowe’s direction doesn’t call attention to itself. There’s also a lot of humor in this movie and I found it to be really funny, I laughed out loud several times. But the humor never feels out of place or like it overtakes the drama, it fits into the movie incredibly well.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 90/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best original screenplay. It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best supporting actress (Hudson), Best supporting actress (McDormand), and Best film editing.

“Almost Famous” is a fun, inspiring, and engaging little dramedy. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, great directing, and funny humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Almost Famous” is a 9,89/10. Which means it gets a the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
 

My review of “Almost Famous” is now completed.

Hold me closer, tiny dancer…

Series Review: The Tick – Season 1 (2017 – 2018)

Whereas Netflix is currently known as the king of streaming these days, I feel like we should give some major cred to Amazon. Mainly because they’ve produced quite a diverse range of shows and movies, and a good amount of them I have enjoyed. So let’s talk about one such show today.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Tick”.

Arthur Everest (Griffin Newman) is a very nervous young man with a tragic past. And one day his life changes when he meets a mysterious man in a blue suit, simply known as The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz). And soon the two find themselves teaming up to try to stop the evil villain known as The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley). So now we have our superhero story. And what I liked about it is that compared to a lot of other modern superhero stories, it isn’t concerned with being gritty or grounded or overly serious. Instead we have a more tongue-in-cheek superhero story that aims more to entertain and inspire. It’s almost like a parody of superheroes, while still indulging in a good amount of classic superhero clichés. And I found this plot to be pretty damn great.

The characters here are layered, unique, interesting, and endlessly entertaining. Peter Serafinowicz plays The Tick, the titular blue hero. He is a bit lost in life, because he has no memory of his life before meeting Arthur. All he really knows is that he’s a superhero and he’s called The Tick, and I think it works for his character, you don’t always need a definitive origin. He’s also a very fun hero, he’s a very aloof and optimistic man who always looks on the bright side of life. Inspiring with a side order of silly is how I’d describe it. And Serafinowicz is fantastic in the role. Griffin Newman plays Arthur, the neurotic young man at the center of this story. Due to something that happened to him during his childhood, he’s a very nervous person and a little bit of a conspiracy nut. But we see him go through an interesting arc in the show after he meets The Tick and starts investigating The Terror with him. And Newman is great in the role. Then we have Valorie Curry as Dot, Arthur’s sister. She’s may look small and frail, but she’s actually quite tough and is doing everything to help her brother lead a normal life. And Curry is really good in the role. Then we have Scott Speiser as Overkill, a very grim and violent mercenary that Tick and Arthur run into during their adventure. He makes for an interesting contrast within this generally silly story, making for some very enjoyable scenes. And Speiser is really good in the role. Then we have Jackie Earle Haley as The Terror, the main villain of this story. The best way I could describe him is that he’s a little bit like Aku from “Samurai Jack”. A menacing and capable villain that also has a fun and enjoyable personality, making him stand out among all the villains in movies and TV. And Haley is great in the role. The final person I’m going mildly in-depth with is Yara Martinez as Ms. Lint, the henchwoman of The Terror. She’s got lightning powers, and that’s all I’m gonna say because her story and other personality traits are better left experienced. And Martinez is really good in the role. We also get some supporting work from people like Devin Ratray, Alan Tudyk, Brendan Hines, François Chau, Townsend Coleman, Michael Cerveris, John Pirkis, and many more. All doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Chris Bacon, and it was damn good. It’s fun and jazzy at times, but at other times it’s fairly serious and sounds more like something you’d hear in a typical superhero action movie. But I feel like all the music works quite well here, as it often elevates the show in certain ways. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout and they work quite well too.

Based on a comic series by Ben Edlund, this show was created by… Ben Edlund? Yeah, he made a show out of his own comic… not gonna lie, I think that’s kinda cool. Anyway, he also got help with writing and directing from a whole bunch of people. And I have to say that it all works out marvelously. The direction is fun and fast-paced, which means there’s never a dull moment, even when they slow down for character stuff. And the action scenes are fun too. Sure, they’re not the most epic or overly choreographed things, but they’re pretty fun to watch. Admittedly there are some visual effects in this show that look a bit corny, but I think it kind of works for this since they’re not taking it as seriously as a lot of other superhero things. And since this is a comedy, let’s talk about the humor. It’s fucking hilarious, I laughed quite a lot throughout this. And I’m not just talking about simple chuckles, there were a lot of loud laughs coming from me throughout the season, which is rare for me to find these days.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“The Tick” is a ton of fun and is also one of the best superhero shows available right now. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/action/comedy. Time for my final score. *SPOON!*. My final score for “The Tick” season 1 is a 9,88/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Tick” season 1 is now completed.

This show is so refreshing.

12 Films of Christmas (Part 8)

Only a couple of days left until christmas, which means only a couple more of these left. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts so far, because I’ve had fun making them. Anyway, enough of that semi-sentimental crap, time to talk about a movie.

Today we’re not talking about your typical single-narrative movie, but rather an anthology. Today we are talking about “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas”. The stories in this don’t really have anything in common other than being about christmas and starring various Disney characters. Other than that, the only thing stringing them together is some narration by Kelsey Grammer. That’s right, Frasier doing the typical whimsy and inspiring holiday movie narration… just the idea of that makes me laugh. But he does a good job of it. Anyhow, what are these about then.

The first story is about Huey, Dewey, and Louie (all voiced by Russi Taylor) being all excited about christmas, and at the end of the day making a wish about wanting christmas every day… and that wish comes true. Every consecutive day after that is now December 25th, with the same chain of events. As expected, they soon learn that this gets a bit dull after a while, which makes them try to shake things up and that’s all you get for plot. It’s a simple plot with a simple lesson. But there’s enough decent jokes and scenes here to keep you, or at least a child entertained. I think my favorite part about it might’ve been hearing the great Alan Young (may he rest in peace) as Scrooge. He doesn’t really get any great lines, but that voice just makes everything he says something amazing. The other cast members also do well and help make this a fun little story.

The second part is about Goofy (Bill Farmer) and his son Max (Shaun Fleming) waiting for Santa Claus and being really excited for his arrival. But their excitement gets halted a bit when Pete (Jim Cummings) tells Max that there is no Santa. And this is a good short. It features the typical Goofy humor (some great, some meh), and a surprising amount of heart. There are scenes that really tugged on my heartstrings, and really made me feel for the characters and their situations. The end of the story is a bit of a cop-out since it gives a definitive answer to the “is there a Santa Claus” question. I’d have preferred a bit more ambiguity in that sense, but this is still a good short. And admittedly it has a really good joke in there that made me laugh quite hard. Funny, heartfelt, charming, this is a good short.

The third and final short is a Disney version of “The Gift of the Magi”. In this we have Mickey (Wayne Allwine, R.I.P) and Minnie (Russi Taylor) wanting to buy each other something really special for christmas, but neither of them have any money. So they try to find some way to get these gifts for each other and I won’t spoil the rest. It’s a cute story with some heartfelt moments to it. It has some okay humor in it, and the drama did suck me in a little bit. Overall it is good.

“Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas” is a fun and charming collection of shorts that may not bring much for an adult viewer, but it’s still fun and perfect for younger audience members. I’ll give it this: They have put a surprising amount of effort/money into this for a direct-to-video christmas thing. They didn’t have to do that, but they did, and we got some really good animation thanks to that. Really, this is good.

What are your thoughts on “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas”? And who’s your favorite Disney character? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas (Part 6)

Hello there. We’re now halfway into my 12 Films of Christmas series. Time sure flies. So let’s get into this.

So I kind of cheat with my definition of “Films” for this series, but I feel like christmas specials count since they’re never part of any major arc, but rather tend to be one-off stories, making them somewhat eligible for the “Films” definition. Why did I have to make such a convoluted explanation? Because I wanted to have an excuse to talk about “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for my series. So what’s this about then? Well, it’s christmas in *wherever the hell this is set*. However, Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) isn’t feeling the christmas spirit as he’s disgusted by how commercialized christmas has gotten. So this is really about him trying to find the meaning of christmas. All while he has been chosen to direct a christmas play featuring all the other kids… and Snoopy (Bill Melendez, R.I.P) of course. I haven’t seen this since I was like seven years old. And revisiting it I am actually loving it more than I did back then. I think this might be because I understand some of the critiques that Charlie Brown has about christmas and it’s rampant commercialization (a sentiment I share with him). It’s actually really clever and fascinating in that sense. I also of course love the animation. It’s simple, but it has a lot of charm to it. And the humor is so good in this too, especially the stuff from Snoopy who just steals every scene he’s in. Really, this holds up incredibly well and I highly recommend watching it, whether you’re a “Peanuts” fan or not. It’s great (and available on youtube!).

What do you think about “A Charlie Brown Christmas”? Who’s your favorite “Peanuts” character? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments!
Have a good one.

Series Review: Stranger Things – Season 2 (2017)

The Month of Spooks, still going strong! And on the plate today we have the second season of last year’s smash hit Netflix series. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gents… “Stranger Things” season 2.

It’s 1984, one year has passed since the horrifying events that transpired in Hawkins, Indiana. And ever since he’d been rescued from the Upside Down, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) ihas been experiencing a series of terrifying visions. And we soon find out that a new threat in looming over the sleepy little town, ready to take over. And that’s just the main plot here, we do get several sub-plots as well. This is an ambitious narrative, both in making the monstrous threat feel bigger, and in just expanding this world that we’ve gotten to know. And while that is a risky move for any show, since the multiple sub-plots aspect can tangle itself up and become convoluted, I feel like “Stranger Things” pulls it off nicely. You have the tension of the monster plot, you have the drama of finding out more about Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), you have the kids meeting this new girl (Sadie Sink) that comes to town, you have the struggles of Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve (Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery)… what I’m trying to say is that there’s a metric buttload of threads here, and they never feel like they tangle into a mess. It’s a solid plot filled with good drama, mystery, and charm.

The characters in “Stranger Things” are likable, layered, and endlessly interesting. Let’s start with Will Byers, played by Noah Schnapp, because he is more or less the focus of this season. Sure, he’s safe(ish) from the Upside Down, but he’s experiencing these horrifying/traumatic visions, putting him in a more vulnerable position. And Schnapp is great in the role. Then we have Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, the pseudo-leader of this group of friends. Seeing him trying to cope after his friend/love Eleven has been out of his life is actually a bit heartbreaking, but he’s not some mopey idiot about it, keeping him interesting. And Wolfhard is great in the role. Then let’s go with David Harbour who once again plays police chief Jim Hopper. He’s still a stern man with his heart in the right place. Hopper was my fave last season and he still might be. So yeah, Harbour is great in the role. Gaten Matarazzo returns as Dustin, the funny and slightly naive little man with the colorful hat. Like I said, he’s a bit naive, but he’s not stupid. He’s also the funniest of the four main kids. And Matarazzo is great in the role. Caleb McLaughlin returns as Lucas, the slightly more serious one in the group. And McLaughlin is great in the role. Then we have Winona Ryder once again as Joyce, mother of Will, and slightly neurotic person. However, her being a bit nervous like that is understandable after everything that happened last season. But she seems to have found a decent system for her life… until shit starts getting real again, that is. And Ryder is great in the role. Natalia Dyer returns as Nancy and she’s really good. Charlie Heaton returns as Jonathan, and he’s great in the role. Joe Keery is back as Steve, and he’s great in the role. Millie Bobby Brown returns as Eleven, and she’s great in the role. Right, returning faces done, now for some newbies. We get Sean Astin as Bob, Joyce’s new boyfriend. He’s a bit of a dork, but he’s a good person and he does everything to try to be a good pseudo-father for the Byers boys. And Astin is really good in the role. Sadie Sink plays Max, the new girl in town with a seemingly troubled home life. She meets the boys and more or less starts befriending them. And Sink is great in the role. Then we have Dacre Montgomery as Billy, a new guy in town who is a big asshole bully. And while he doesn’t have much of an arc, Montgomery is really in the role. And finally, we have Paul Reiser as a doctor who is likable and kind, but seems to have some shady shit going on. And Reiser is great in the role. Overall, this has great characters and the performances are great.

Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein returned to do the score for this season, and once again they killed it. The synth-heavy sounds perfectly capture the era and tone, and does even manage to create some decent tension at times. Really, it’s more of the good synth-y stuff, not much else I can say. And since this is set in the 80s, we of course get some really awesome licensed songs throughout from not only the 80s, but also 60s and 70s… it’s really just an awesome soundtrack that made me very happy. Overall, great music.

The show was created by the Duffer brothers, and written/directed by a whole bunch of people. And it’s just overall very well handled. The directing is tense, fun, and filled with energy. And Tod Campbell’s cinematography is of course absolutely stunning. And the visual effects in the show look great too. There’s also plenty of comedy in this show, and I thought it was all really funny. I also enjoy that it never overshadows the drama/Lovecraftian sci-fi, but just is another part of the world that comes into play every now and then.

This show/season just came out but has already been 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 imdb.com it has a score of 8,9/10 and is ranked #37 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“Stranger Things” season 2 is pretty awesome. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography/writing. Time for my final score. *Rawr*. My review of “Stranger Things” season 2 is a 9,86/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Stranger Things” season 2 is now completed.

Awesome.

Movie Review: La La Land (2016)

Confession time: I am not a big fan of musicals. At least not live action musicals, Disney animated musicals I have no real problem with. It’s easy for me to believe that a cartoon would burst into song and dance. A real person, not so much. So even when a musical has a lot of buzz around it, I go into them mildly skeptical. I’m not saying that I’m against musicals, just that they’re my least favorite kind of movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “La La Land”.

Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress, struggling to get parts in movies. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist not getting a lot of great gigs. Both live in Los Angeles, and after they run into each other a couple times they start dating. And we follow them as they through the ups and downs of their relationship and respective careers. And I thought the plot here was quite good. It follows a lot of familiar beats that we’ve seen in other romance movies, but it does it in such a charming and well written way that I don’t mind the familiar aspects of the story. It also has a very inspiring message about going for what you want and achieving your dreams. It really is a love letter to the dreamers out there in the world. And I liked that. It is overall a good plot.

The characters here are likable, charming, and fairly interesting. Mia, like I said, is an aspriring actress who wants to get her big break, but struggles to even get any part in various movies she’s auditioning for. But she keeps going even if she sometimes doubts herself. And Emma stone is great in the role. Sebastian is man who’s passionate about jazz, wanting to play it to people even though he isn’t always allowed. And Ryan Gosling is great in the role. I also want to mention that Stone and Gosling share some really good chemistry, they were really likable together. We also get musician John Legend in a supporting role here, and he actually did a good job. J.K. Simmons also shows up briefly in the movie, and while he doesn’t do a lot I’d still say that he’s great… come on, he’s J.K. fucking Simmons, he’s always great. And yeah, it’s an overall well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Justin Hurwitz, and the stuff he made here was great. It’s charming, it’s fun, it’s dramatic, it’s beautiful, and it just overall fits the movie very well. And I guess we should talk about the sung songs since this is a musical. They are incredibly catchy, and compared to a lot of other musicals, are very well inserted into the movie. In a lot of musicals there’s no good flow between normal scene and song/dance number, the stuff just happens suddenly. But “La La Land” is one of those rare cases that has good flow between scenes and songs, which I really appreciate. It also helps that the songs are great and just fun to listen to. So yeah, the music here is great.

This movie was written and directed by Damien Chazelle, the man behind the excellently excellent “Whiplash”. And he really shows what a talented director he is here. Everything has a lot of energy to it and it flows very nicely, making for an interesting watch. I do also think Linus Sandgren’s cinematography helps it out. Also, WOW look at all the colors! If you think about it, a lot of popular movies these days have a pretty drab color palette. But “La La Land” puts in a lot of color, making for one of the most pleasant viewing experiences in recent years. I also love the retro vibe that this movie has, despite it being set in modern day. The opening titles, retro. The clothing, retro. The overall style of the movie, retro. The movie is such a delight in terms of style.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 93/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10 and is ranked #134 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 6 Oscars in the categories of Best actress (Stone), Best director, Best cinematography, Best original score, Best original song, and Best production design. It was also nominated for an additional 8 (wow!) Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best actor (Gosling), Best original screenplay, Best film editing, Best costume design, Best sound mixing, Best sound editing, and Best original song. 

“La La Land” is a really solid musical dramedy. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *La La LAAAAAAAA*. My final score for “La La Land” is a 9,77/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “La La Land” is now completed.

That was delightful… which is the exact opposite of “Whiplash”.