Series Review: Seis Manos – Season 1 (2019)

Is it time to talk about animation? I believe it’s time to talk about some animation. Hell, I’d say it definitely is time to do that. That’s the perk of running your own blog. No editor who can say “No, you can’t talk about animation now”.

Dames y hombres… “Seis Manos” season 1.

1970s Mexico. When a vicious gangster (Danny Trejo) starts unleashing hell upon the world, a group of varying people get brought together to try to stop him. This motley crew includes some martial artists (Aislinn Derbez and Johnny Cruz), a local cop (Angélica Vale), and an American DEA agent (Mike Colter). “Seis Manos” is fascinating in the sense that it’s a pretty eclectic mix of ideas, inspirations, and styles. On the surface it seems be a mix of crime-drama and martial arts action, but then you also start mixing in stuff like grindhouse, comedy, fantasy, body horror, eastern philosophy, and even elements of Blaxploitation. And then you of course also take the Mexican setting into account, which means a lot of that culture gets mixed into proceedings. So you’d think the storytelling of this show would be an absolute clusterfuck… but no, the crazy songs of bitches pulled it off. While it does lose a little bit of focus towards the end, I do still feel that there’s some really solid storytelling going on here. Yes, it’s eclectic, but that also adds a lot of personality to it, while still being a generally entertaining narrative to follow. It does have a fair bit of emotionally resonant drama, but it also generally serves as a fun and unusual tale that is just plain fun to follow.

The characters in this are of course based on tropes and archetypes we’ve seen before, but we do also see them played around with to a decent extent, making for some enjoyable development. Like the three martial artists Isabela, Jesus, and Silencio. One a tough but loving woman, one a big, lovable goof, and one a dark and quiet man. All three start out with that one detail and get some enjoyable development throughout. Then there’s Garcia, the local police officer who gets tangled up in this insanity. A tough but fair cop trying to prove herself while still staying true to herself. And she’s very interesting too. Then there’s Brister, a fridge of a man working for the DEA, working to take down bad guys. He’s a smart-aleck with a lot of colorful lines and a very “I don’t have time for this shit” kind of attitude, which gets tested at every turn for not only great comedy, but some genuinely interesting character development. And the villain, El Balde, is one vicious motherfucker, making for one hell of an intimidating presence. And the voice cast, containing people like Aislinn Derbez, Jonny Cruz, Mike Colter, Danny Trejo, Angélica Vale, Vic Chao, and more, all do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Carl Thiel, and I think he did a really good job with it. Much like with the narrative it complements, the score takes inspiration from many sources. Of course it has some familiar use of strings, keys, and brass for action stuff. But there’s also some traditional Mexican stuff throughout, a little bit of 70s noir-inspired funk, and probably some other specific styles I currently forget. Either way, it’s an interesting mix of sounds that pays off in making for giving the show an interesting soundscape.

“Seis Manos” was created for Netflix by Brad Graeber and Álvaro Rodríguez, with Willis Bulliner handling the directing. It’s also animated by Powerhouse Animation, a studio that I’ve talked about a few times before on this blog (*Shameless* and *Plug*). So as to be expected, I was excited to see how this show would end up looking. And it looks really good. Character designs are charming and fight scenes are kinetic and exciting. While it isn’t Powerhouse’s overall strongest piece of animation, it’s still really well handled, giving us some terrifically directed animation/action to enjoy. Plus, we don’t get much in terms of martial arts animation here in the west, so this show delivering on that was an absolute treat for me.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

While the final act of the story is a little bit lacking in focus, season 1 of “Seis Manos” is still a highly entertaining and refreshingly unique bit of animation. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/animation/action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Seis Manos” season 1 is an 8.87/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching!

My review of “Seis Manos” season 1 is now completed.

I hope we get a season 2. Or should I say… SEISON!?

Movie Review: Parasite (2019)

Well hello there, friends of the interwebs! How are you? Welcome to 2021, where dreams are made and/or shattered, and where Markus catches up on movies that everybody already have seen. So let’s go, yo!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Parasite”!

Shortly after young man Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik) gains employment as a tutor for the daughter of a wealthy family, he starts scheming with his family to get them employed for these wealthy folks too. What’s fascinating about “Parasite” is that it spans more genres than the entire filmography of more directors. Is is a crime story? Yes. But it’s also a family drama. And a black comedy. And a thriller? But despite all of this, there never is any clashing as we flow through the movie. They blend together beautifully, held together by some of the tightest writing I’ve experienced in a film in recent memory. All of this making for a brilliant satire on class differences within modern day South Korea (and possibly other parts of the world), while in general also being a highly enjoyable narrative to follow on a surface level. The storytelling of “Parasite” can be enjoyed both as this deep, nuanced satire, and as a general piece of entertainment. It’s just great stuff.

The characters in this are incredibly interesting, because it’s clear that a lot of time and love has gone into making them feel as real and nuanced as possible. I believe every second of their characterization, and that makes them extremely compelling. And when you pair that with an excellent cast, featuring people like Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Park So-dam, Choi Woo-sik, Jang Hye-jin, Jung Ji-so, Cho Yeo-jeong, and more, you get some extremely engaging character work going on.

The score for the movie was composed Jung Jae-il, and it was terrific. It’s a fairly minimalist score, all things considered. It’s based mainly around piano, some strings, and light percussion, which helps give the movie a uniquely fascinating vibe that is equal parts fun and uncomfortable. And I love it.

“Parasite” was directed and co-written by Bong Joon-ho, and I think he did a superb job with it. Few directors have as much control over every scene as he has here. Every moment is perfectly crafted and calibrated in a way that I seldom see in movies. I also have to take a second to praise the cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo, because it is not only ridiculously pretty, but it also adds so much to the overall storytelling, with each shot being able to convey so much about a moment. And when you take the superb editing into account, you get one of the most perfectly crafted movies I’ve seen. It’s insane how perfectly constructed this is.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 96/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #30 on their “Top 250” list. The movie won 4 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best director, Best original screenplay, and Best international feature. It was also nominated for an additional 2 Oscars in the categories of Best production design and Best film editing.

Yeah, guess I’m joining the choir in saying that “Parasite” is fucking fantastic. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Parasite” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Parasite” is now completed.

Not a bad start to my movie watching this year.

Movie Review: Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Yes, another alleged classic I hadn’t gotten around to yet. But now we finally fixed that. So let’s talk about it.

Boyz and girlz… “Boyz n the Hood”.

“Boyz n the Hood” follows the lives of three young men (Cuba Gooding Jr, Ice Cube, and Morris Chestnut) living in South Central Los Angeles, and how they try to deal with all aspects of their lives. From race, to love, to family, to their futures, there’s a lot of ground covered within this narrative. And all of it blends together seamlessly to create one of the most nuanced and engrossing narratives I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing recently. There’s so much genuine heart and emotion within the narrative. Even though it isn’t based on an actual true story, it feels so raw and genuine, like they’ve at least pulled inspiration from real life situations. Combine this feeling of genuineness with a healthy helping of humor and a looming sense of dread, you get a narrative that feels like no other. It’s its own beast, and it’s a mighty one at that.

The characters in this are all flawed, nuanced, entertaining, and highly interesting. Our main trio of Cuba Gooding Jr, Ice Cube, and Morris Chestnut are all pretty different in personality, but they’re all equally compelling, and make for a great central group of protagonists. And all three of them are great in their respective roles. We also get Laurence Fishburne as Gooding Jr’s father, a solid, morally good centerpoint for our sometimes conflicted young man. And he’s a great character in his own right, with Fishburne delivering a great performance. We also get supporting performances from people like Nia Long, Regina King, Angela Bassett, Kirk Kinder, Jessie Lawrence Ferguson, and more, all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Stanley Clarke, and I thought it was really good. Mixing traditional dramatic instrumentation with some hip hop/RnB percussion, to create a sound that blends well with the drama of the story, and with the urban setting. There’s also a handful of licensed songs throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes too. So yeah, this movie has good music.

“Boyz n the Hood” was written and directed by John Singleton (r.i.p), and I think he did a fantastic job with it. What’s even more amazing is that this was his debut feature, which he made at age 22. And yet, despite his low age and relative inexperience, he showed skill way beyond his years. His direction is very intimate and really brings you into the drama of the various scenes. There are also several scenes where Singleton builds a lot of tension, which put me on the edge of my seat. He really showed with this that he could be a master behind the camera.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best director and Best original screenplay.

I understand now why “Boyz n the Hood” is considered such a classic, it’s a fantastic first feature from John Singleton. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Boyz n the Hood” is a 9.91/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Boyz n the Hood” is now completed.

John Singleton at 22: Makes a fantastic movie that gets multiple Oscar nominations.
Me at 23: How do I word good?

Series Review: Fargo – Season 4 (2020)

How I’ve waited for this season to drop. I am a huge fan of this show, loving every season so far. So I was of course anxiously waiting for this one to start airing. It was even supposed to air this spring, but then it got delayed. But it finally started this Autumn, and now it has wrapped up. So let’s talk about it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fargo” season 4!

Kansas City, 1950. We follow two crime syndicates, one an African-American group led by Loy Cannon (Chris Rock), and the other an Italian gangster family led by Josto Fadda (Jason Schwartzman). And as we follow their struggle against each other, a bunch of other interesting figures get involved in both their own dealings, and the antics of the syndicates. From a nurse (Jessie Buckley) with some shady secrets, to a policeman with PTSD and OCD (Jack Huston), to a devoutly Mormon U.S. marshal (Timothy Olyphant), all kinds of colorful figures occupy this season of “Fargo”. The story in this is a lot more straightforward than some of the previous ones, being less strange than some of the previous outings. But with this said, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot going on. Because this season has more threads going on than one might at first assume. And while I am more often than not interested and entertained by everything going on, I do feel like the storytelling here is the weakest of all the seasons. That said, this season has a bunch of great parts, and when this season is on top, it’s fantastic. But then there’s a fair amount of times, especially towards the middle of the season, where it loses a bit of steam for me. It does lose some of its momentum in those parts, but never enough to be considered outright bad. The overall package here is till solid.

Where the storytelling falters at points, the characters remain the best part of this show. All are colorful and nuanced and really fascinating. And the cast is fantastic too, featuring top tier work from people like Chris Rock, Jessie Buckley, Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw, Timothy Olyphant, Jack Huston, Salvatore Esposito, E’myri Crutchfield, Andrew Bird, Jeremie Harris, and many more.

As with previous seasons, the score was composed by Jeff Russo, and as per usual he did a fantastic job. It’s a little eclectic in its instrumentation, creating a lot of different sounds for different scenes, and I love it, it works so well within the colorful canvas of this show. And the handful of licensed tracks used throughout work quite well too.

All episodes of “Fargo” season 4 were co-written by series creator Noah Hawley, with direction by a whole batch of cool people. And the craft here is just as stellar as before. There’s a lot of energy within the directing, crackling in a way that feels wholly unique to this show. All of it wrapped up wonderfully in some really beautiful cinematography.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.9/10 and is ranked #36 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While it’s my least favorite iteration of the show so far, season 4 of “Fargo” is still a damn fine season of tv. It has a good story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Fargo” season 4 is an 8.78/10. So while it is pretty flawed, it is still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Fargo” season 4 is now completed

Is Olyphant gonna get typecast as a marshal for the rest of his career?

Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 3 (2020)

This show is fascinating to me. It’s never been one of my favorites, but I always feel compelled to come back to it when a new season airs. It’s like Al Pacino says in “Godfather Part 3”: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. So let’s see if this third season is any good.

Ladies and gents… “Yellowstone” season 3.

It’s summer in the valley, and everyone of the Dutton clan is slowly settling back into their lives after the tumultuous events of season 2. But just when the characters think they might be able to take a breather, a seemingly friendly, yet cunning businessman (Josh Holloway) starts making moves to get hold of the Yellowstone ranch for his own businesses. And as per the norm with this show, things start escalating from there, both for the Duttons themselves, and for the people around them. When this season started, something fascinating happened. I felt fully invested in what was going on. In previous seasons that was a little hard at times, either due to weird pacing or overbearing melodrama. But for the first few episodes there was no real sign of that. It felt like new life had been breathed into the show. But then towards the middle the show fell back into that aforementioned pit for a bit. But towards the end it really swung up to greatness again. But I do think the story on the whole this season is really strong. While the things I didn’t enjoy in previous seasons occur, there’s certainly less of them this time around. And when this season isn’t wallowing in some of that melodrama, then it is fucking fantastic. The dark moments are truly dark, the stakes feel truly high, and when a moment wants to leave a visceral impact, then it really does. Again, it’s still not a perfect line, but it’s damn close to getting there.

The characters in this are flawed, colorful, fascinating, and quite entertaining. The returning main cast of Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Luke Grimes, and Kelsey Asbille all give great performances, and we get to see their characters develop in some really great ways. Returning supporting cast of people like Jefferson White, Brecken Merrill, Cole Hauser, Forrie J. Smith, Gil Birmingham, Denim Richards, Ian Bohen, and Mo Brings Plenty are all great too. Let’s talk about newcomer Josh Holloway, who plays Roarke, a well spoken, outwardly friendly businessman who creates some tension for the Dutton empire. At first he seems like a breath of fresh air, compared to the sliminess of Danny Huston’s Jenkins or the intensity of Neal McDonough’s Beck. But then he barely has any real presence within the narrative. Roarke’s shareholders and attorneys and such take up more space than him, and it almost makes him feel like he has little place within the story. Holloway does a good job with his performance, but the characters just kinda fizzles out in interest over time. So main antagonist aside, the characters here are great.

The score for this season was composed by Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian, and I think they did a really good job with it. The score retains that pseudo-western vibe that we’ve come to expect, and uses it to create a compelling soundscape that works really well for the show. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used throughout, and they work pretty well too.

As with the previous two seasons, all episode of “Yellowstone” season 3 were written by Taylor Sheridan, with some other cool people directing. And the craft on display here is of course top notch, they’ve really come into their own in this department. The direction is confident and bold, really capturing the sweeping scale of the setting, all without sacrificing the intimacy to the characters. And this helps keep every scene feel somewhat interesting, even if the writing may dip a little bit. And the cinematography by Jim Denault and William Wages is terrific. It’s just well crafted, yo.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.5/10.

While not perfect, season 3 of “Yellowstone” is still a massive step in the right direction for the show, giving us the best season so far. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Yellowstone” season 3 is an 8.88/10. So it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 3 is now completed.

Yeehaw.

Movie Review: Joker (2019)

Hoo boy, a lot of talk around this one last year, which is part of why it’s taken me so long to get around to it. Whether people were on the positive or negative side of the discourse, I wanted to wait until shit calmed down before I finally gave it a go. And now that things are a bit more quiet, I can give my two cents. So which side of the aisle will I be on? Let’s find out.

Ladies and gents… “Joker”.

Gotham City, 1981. Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a mentally ill lower class citizen trying to make ends meet as a clown for hire. However, since the society around Arthur is so awful to him, that is of course easier said than done. As he starts to really come to terms with this, Arthur starts going down a dark and violent spiral of carnage. This movie tries to have a message… or two… or three… or, I think you get the point. “Joker” is trying to say a lot, but never does it in a way that really engages, barely scraping the surface level on any of its ideas. And when you have that surface level stuff over multiple messages it tries to convey, everything gets a bit fucking muddled. What doesn’t help is that the movie really seems to think that it’s really something, but ultimately ends up being almost nothing. Never does the movie get under my skin (despite trying), never does it get me emotionally invested (even though it damn well attempts to), and never does it get me on its side regarding any of the things it tries to say. It’s a shallow mess.

The characters in this aren’t great. The writers have tried giving them depth and nuance, but like the story before them, due to the writing it kinda fails. Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur, our central protagonist, a poor man with mental health issues. He is basically the punching bag of society, everyone always kicks him while he’s down, he’s not having good days, h- do you see these unsubtle things I’m hammering home? I don’t mind things being obvious, but Arthur’s “development” is so hammered home that it gets a bit much. At least Joaquin Phoenix does a good job with that material he’s given. We also get supporting work form people like Zazie Beets, Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Glenn Fleshler, and more, all giving solid work, even if the writing around their characters isn’t great.

The score for the movie was composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir, and it was utterly terrific. It’s intense and dark and scary and one of the most emotionally arresting scores I’ve heard in recent years. It’s by far the best aspect of the movie. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and they work fine, I guess. They’re good songs, and they kinda fit the situations they’re used in.

Loosely based on the DC Comics character, “Joker” was directed and co-written by Todd Phillips. And I guess he did an okay-ish job with it. Much like the story, it just feels shallow and hollow. Violence, despite having some genuinely cool blood and gore, lacks impact, and the general shot composition and editing just feels hollow, like it’s trying to be epic and beautiful, but feeling like it lacks something. Lawrence Sher’s cinematography does generally look good, but there’s something about everything around it that just falls flat.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 68% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.5/10, and is ranked #60 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 2 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Phoenix) and Best original score. It was also nominated for an additional 9 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best director, Best adapted screenplay, Best cinematography, Best costume design, Best makeup, Best film editing, Best sound mixing, and Best sound editing.

Despite its many accolades, I was honestly not a fan of “Joker”. It’s a shallow drama with muddled messages and surface-scraping drama. The story isn’t very engaging, neither are the characters, the acting’s good though, the score is superb, and the directing is fine. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Joker is a 4.45/10. So sadly I have to say that I’d skip it.

My review of “Joker” is now completed.

*Eyes dart in every direction* Oh dear…

Series Review: Fortitude – Season 3 (2018)

For the past two years, I’ve covered one season of this show for the Month of Spooks. And today we reach the third and final season. It’s been an interesting journey. So let’s travel to this frozen town one last time.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fortitude” season 3.

With the remaining survivors in the town of Fortitude still reeling from the traumatic events of season 2, one would think things would calm down a bit. But it doesn’t take long for new people to show up, stirring up new horrors, all while the local Sheriff (Richard Dormer) seems to be going a bit mad. The story has a lot of potential for greatness here. But it sadly doesn’t reach that potential. As a matter of fact, it’s nowhere even close to succeeding. What was one a slowly burning, off-kilter, and creepy narrative that engaged for most of the runtime, season 3 is bafflingly insane. It’s four episodes of eyebrow raising, gasping, and exclaiming “What in the actual fuck just happened!?”. It’s one insane and nonsensical event after the other, and I find myself constantly baffled at what is going on before my eyes. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

The characters in this are a mixed bag. On one hand, I know who they are because I watched the other seasons. But on the other, their arcs this season are so bizarre and poorly written that I just can’t find myself that engaged with it. The only one I can kind of care about is Dan Anderssen, Fortitude’s currently mad Sheriff, and that’s mainly because Richard Dormer gives us a wonderfully hammy performance. The rest of the cast give it their all, even if they don’t get to be quite as… delightfully expressive. But the returning actors like Dennis Quaid, Luke Treadaway, Darren Boyd, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Sienna Guillory, Mia Jexen, and more, all do the best they can with the material. And the newcomers are… fine, they don’t get much to chew on here.

As with previous seasons, the score for season 3 was composed by Ben Frost, and it was a strange downstep. Sometimes it was close to the dramatic and emotionally resonant stuff we’ve heard before… but then there are songs that use a smooth lounge trumpet… and I don’t know what they’re trying to convey, but it just feels really fucking off.

Season 3 of “Fortitude” was written by series creator Simon Donald, with Kieron Hawkes handling direction on all episodes. And as you may have expected from the previous sections, this stuff is a bit of a mixed bag. The writing is insane and nonsensical, whereas the direction tries to fix everything… keyword being “tries”. You can tell that Hawkes does his best in trying to make all the madness work. Not even Gary Shaw’s great cinematography can help make it work.

This show/season has had some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% critics rating, but a 52% rating from audiences. On Metacritic it exists with no rating at all. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.4/10.

Season 3 of “Fortitude” is an absolute trainwreck, and not even Richard Dormer’s delightfully hammy performance can save the season. The story is a strange mess, the characters have no compelling arcs, the performances are fine, the music is meh, and the directing/cinematography is alright. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 3 of “Fortitude” is a 3.22/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “Fortitude” season 3 is now completed.

Were they on drugs? It feels like they were on drugs.

Movie Review: Angel Heart (1987)

Ladies and gentlemen of the interwebs, it is that time of year again. The time where I for a full month focus my blog in on the spookier side of entertainment. I welcome all of you to the 6th iteration of The Month of Spooks! So let’s enter the nightmare.

Ladies and gents… “Angel Heart”.

New York, 1955. Private investigator Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) gets hired by the enigmatic Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) to find a singer who’s gone missing. But as Harry investigates this disappearance, things start taking a darker turn than originally expected. What’s intriguing about “Angel Heart” in context to this month’s theme is that it isn’t immediately horrific, starting out more as a pulpy detective thriller that over time evolves into more of a psychological affair, building a looming sense of dread and paranoia. And I think the evolution is beautiful and electrifying. I am a fan of detective fiction, so to see it evolve into a horror story is fascinating to me, especially when THIS well. Never was there a moment I was bored, and many moments had me truly glued to what was going on. It’s a fascinating and creepy story that went places I didn’t expect, keeping me on edge throughout its entire runtime.

The characters in this are pretty interesting, all feeling relevant to the plot while also being engaging in their own right. Mickey Rourke plays Harry Angel, silver-tongued, snarky gumshoe from Noo Yohk. At first that is the side we see of him, something very familiar. But over the movie he develops in some interesting ways that I don’t wanna spoil. And Rourke is great in the role. Robert De Niro is great as the mysterious Louis Cyphre. We also get supporting work from people like Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Higgins, Brownie McGhee, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Trevor Jones, and I thought it was great. Like the narrative, it shifts a bit in genre, which is fine because of how well composed it is. Sometimes it’s eerie and suspenseful and sometimes Courtney Pine seduces you with his noir-inspired saxophone solos. It’s good shit. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes too. So yeah, this movie has some good music.

Based on the novel “Falling Angel” by William Hjortsberg, “Angel Heart” was written and directed by Alan Parker (recently passed away, R.I.P). And I think he did an excellent job here. His directing hearkens back to old detective noir while still bringing the uncompromising imagery and suspense of 80s horror, and it mixes together wonderfully. This is especially evident when paired with Michael Seresin’s breathtaking cinematography. The combo makes for an insanely well crafted film.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 61/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

“Angel Heart” is a beautifully crafted and disturbing gumshoe horror that I loved watching. It has a great story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for Angel Heart” is a 9,87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Angel Heart” is now completed.

Man… young Mickey Rourke was a handsome motherfucker.

Movie Review: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Well this review was a long time coming. If you’ve followed my blog for an extended amount of time, you’re probably aware that I spent a decent chunk of 2015 reviewing every “Fast & Furious” movie leading up to the seventh installment. Then later that year I did that one. So this franchise has become a bit of a staple for this blog. So let’s talk about the eighth installment.

Family… “The Fate of the Furious”.

After our beloved gang pulls another job for the government, their leader Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) betrays them and starts working for a shady hacker/terrorist known as Cipher (Charlize Theron). So we follow the crew as they do everything in their power to stop Cipher and get Dom back. Not gonna lie, I found myself surprisingly engaged by the narrative here. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve grown attached to this world and these characters, but I felt like there was a lot of effort put into making the story here as dramatically engaging as possible without sacrificing the fast and furious thrills of the franchise. This does bring down the pace ever so slightly, but never to the point of ruining the movie. It’s still generally a fast-paced action fest, and I do appreciate some of the slower moments as they add a surprising amount of nuance and genuinely interesting conflict to the story. So yeah, not perfect, but still very good.

The characters in this are just as colorful, charming, and entertaining as ever, but now also have added character conflict due to the aforementioned part of Dom going bad. Speaking of which, let’s start with Dom, once again played by mumblegrumble master Vin Diesel. Dom is usually the same ol’ guy in every movie, so it’s nice to see him get a little extra character development for a change. And I must say, this is the best I’ve seen Diesel in this franchise, the dude shows that he can do more than just his signature mumblegrumble. Charlize Theron as newcomer villain Cipher is really good in that role, playing her with a generally quiet menace right out of a 90s movie (which I love). Next we have Dwayne Johnson and Jason Stathamas Hobbs and Shaw, both returning characters, mortal enemies forced to work together to stop Cipher. Their banter here is amazing, their chemistry is amazing, they are amazing. Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Kurt Russell all return in their roles, and they are all very good in their roles. And in a few other supporting roles we have Scott Eastwood, Patrick St. Esprit, Kristofer Hivju, and Celestino Cornielle. So overall it’s quite a well rounded cast.

The score for the movie was composed by franchise mainstay (bar the sixth one) Brian Tyler. And it’s another good score. Big bold brass and the occasional soft string and piano. It’s not exactly the most original or unpredictable score, but it serves the movie just fine. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, all hip hop, all fitting really well in their scenes. So yeah, the movie has good music.

“The Fate of the Furious” was directed by F. Gary Gray, and I think he did a good job with that. He shows with his direction that he knows how to make actions feel like they have weight. So when things happen, they feel like they happen and really hurt, even when it’s clearly done mainly in a computer. Which brings us to the action scenes, which are the dumbest, silliest, most insane set pieces this franchise has seen so far… and I love all of them. I love heavy dramas, I love being intellectually challenged… but sometimes I just need something ridiculously stupid to put a big smile on my face. And the action in this movie did just that. The action in this is an absolute blast to watch.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 56/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.7/10.

“The Fate of the Furious” is an absolutely bonkers action movie with a lot of heart, and while that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I absolutely loved it. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Fate of the Furious” is a 9,56/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Fate of the Furious” is now completed.

Sometimes you just need something stupid.

Series Review: The Righteous Gemstones – Season 1 (2019)

Quick anecdote before we get into this sermon… I mean review. I actually started watching this as it aired last year, but forgot to keep up with it. So I decided to finally remedy that recently. So now that it has been done, l can at last talk about the show.

Ladies and gents… “The Righteous Gemstones” season 1.

The story follows the Gemstones, a family of devout televangelists delivering the word of god to huge amounts of people on a regular basis. And we follow them in a peculiar period in their lives when a lot of their dirty laundry and hypocrisies start bubbling towards the surface. Now, looking at that setup might make one expect this show to be purely “Fuck Christianity, fuck religion”, that’s at least what I thought  going into it. But surprisingly, it doesn’t go for that low hanging fruit. Now, it does poke fun at organized religion and mega churches at times, but it does it in a way that still is respectful towards those who believe in the Christian beliefs. The characters in the show aren’t shysters and con artists, they genuinely believe in god and want to spread his love and teachings… they just also happen to be a little tempted by the less than savory sides of life sometimes. And I must say that I generally enjoyed the story here. It’s a darkly comical family tale with a surprising amount of nuance… however, I do have some issues with the storytelling here. It does feel a little unfocused and scatterbrained at a few points. It doesn’t always feel like they have all their priorities straight for what they wanna do with the narrative. If they had trimmed down some sub-plots a bit, maybe it could’ve felt less messy. But despite being a little less focused than it could’ve been, it’s still an enjoyable story.

The characters here are all flawed, colorful, and surprisingly nuanced, and to see how their personalities at the start clash with various developments in the show is pretty intriguing and entertaining. Danny McBride, Edi Patterson, Adam Devine, and John Goodman are all terrific as the main four Gemstones. And in supporting roles we see people like Walton Goggins (the absolute fucking standout), Tony Cavalero, Tim Baltz, Cassidy Freeman, Skyler Gisondo, Scott MacArthur, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music for the show was composed by Joseph Stephens, and it was alright. Fairly standard stuff that never really stands out. The only original music track that stands out is a sung song we experience in a flashback, and it’s absolutely wonderful. As for licensed tracks, there’s a handful throughout the season, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“The Righteous Gemstones” was created by Danny McBride for HBO, with writing and directing by him and a bunch of other awesome people (including David Gordon Green). And I must say that the craft behind the show is pretty damn good, featuring a lot of visually pleasing shots and clever camera movements. It’s not often that a comedy makes this much of an effort to captivate in terms of directing, editing, and such, but “Righteous Gemstones” certainly did, and I appreciate that. Now, let’s talk about the humor in this. It’s an intriguing mix of dirty and crass jokes that stoners and teenagers can laugh at, with some decently clever stuff within dialogue at times. Now, some of it lands and some of it don’t. Sometimes I laugh hard and sometimes I sit with a blank stare. It all really goes up and down at times. But overall I’d say it’s pretty funny.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.0/10.

While it does have some flaws within its narrative, season 1 of “The Righteous Gemstones” is still a highly enjoyable batch of episodes that I can still recommend. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, great directing/cinematography, and decently funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Righteous Gemstones” is a 7,89/10. So while it is quite flawed, I’d still say it’s worth watching.

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

Flintstone, Gemstone, John Goodman plays ’em all. Yabba-dabba-Amen.