Movie Review: Let Them All Talk (2020)

A new movie, from one of my favorite directors, from the safety of my own couch. Ain’t that nice? So let’s talk about it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Let Them All Talk”.

Alice (Meryl Streep) is a famous author who is sent on a cruise ship towards the UK so she can accept an award. On this trip she has brought two of her oldest friends (Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest) and her nephew (Lucas Hedges), so they too can have some fun and maybe even reconnect a bit. The narrative here is partly about confronting your past, while also looking ahead towards the future. And this sounds like it could be really fascinating and compelling. But I do think it falls flat, and the reason for that is that there’s no script. That’s not me being dismissive of any existing one, by the way, the filmmakers have confirmed that there are only guidelines and bullet points, but no proper script. This makes the narrative feel really directionless and lifeless. Characters walk around and talk, but never does it feel particularly engaging. I don’t necessarily hate what’s going on here, but I also don’t really like it that much. It’s pretty mediocre.

The characters, much like the story, fall a little flat in this. I don’t mind a bit of improvisation, but when the movie is 99% that, proper characterization is hard to find, which makes me care less about what’s going on. I’ll at least give it that Meryl Streep, Lucas Hedges, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, and Gemma Chan are all pretty good in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was pretty good. It mostly consists of fun little jazz tunes, giving the movie a bit more of a breezy vibe, which helps a lot in making it all a bit more watchable. It gives it all more energy.

“Let Them All Talk” was directed by Steven Soderbergh, and I think he did an okay job. His fast-paced directing style and tight editing is generally here, but is brought down by a thing that’s been plaguing his movies the last few years… it’s shot on his iphone. Now, I get why you’d use it. We all have phones with at least decent cameras these days, so it’s convenient and not very cumbersome. But this also makes images look a lot more flat and lifeless than if shot on an actual camera. He does his damndest to make this movie look good, and at times it kinda works. But for the most part the movie looks quite flat.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.8/10.

“Let Them All Talk” has good ideas and a good cast, but overall isn’t able to rise beyond mediocrity. It has a mediocre story, uninteresting characters, pretty good performances, pretty good music, pretty good directing, and mediocre cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Let Them All Talk” is a 6.01/10. So it can be worth checking out.

My review of “Let Them All Talk” is now completed.

Damn it…

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?

Movie Review: Mank (2020)

A brand new movie from one of my favorite directors, available from the comfort of my own home? Sweeeeet.

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… “Mank”.

Hollywood, 1940. We follow Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), a drunken, opinionated writer as he goes through the tumultuous process of crafting the screenplay for a little movie called “Citizen Kane”. But it’s not just him sitting at some typewriter, rubbing his temples all movie. Because this movie jumps back and forth in time a little bit, showing us Mankiewicz’ struggles in the “present” (circa 1940), but also his antics and encounters with various Hollywood figures in the early 30s. I have mixed feelings about the narrative here. On one hand, it is a pretty interesting look into 1930s Hollywood and the politics within it. But on the other, I never felt emotionally invested in what was going on. I was interested by what was going on, and was certainly never bored… but never did I feel truly hooked. It just feels a bit hollow at times. Again, I wouldn’t call it bad, I did enjoy the narrative on some level, but never did I actually feel any emotional connection to what was happening in front of my eyes.

The characters in this vary in terms of interest. Luckily our main character is at least one interesting figure. He’s Herman J. Mankiewicz, an alcoholic, highly intelligent writer who both gets along and butts heads with many figures within the Hollywood system. He is most certainly an interesting figure that livens up proceedings a bit. And Gary Oldman does a great job in the role. In supporting roles we also see people like Amanda Seyfried, Tom Pelphrey, Lily Collins, Charles Dance, Tuppence Middleton, Joseph Cross, Tom Burke, Jamie McShane, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and I think they did a good job of it. Their score has a way of really capturing the era the film’s set in, cleverly utilizing some jazzy percussion and a decent bit of unique woodwind usage. It’s hard to properly explain, but I do think their music fits the period perfectly, and it works quite well within the movie.

“Mank” was directed by David Fincher, and written by his late father Jack. And I think Fincher did a good job here. You can tell that he and his production crew really did their damndest to make this movie feel old school and, and I would say that they did that quite well… at the expense of one thing. At no point does this feel like a Fincher film. As a fan of the guy, I’ve learned to pick up on a lot of his tricks and stylistic choices… but they are nowhere to be seen here. It’s hard to explain, but what Finchy brings to his films in terms of style isn’t really here. And that’d be fine, if Fincher’s style wasn’t one of his most defining features. There’s no denying that it’s very well directed, even if it lacks what I love about this director. But to end this section on a high note: Erik Messerschmidt’s cinematography is superb, making perfect use of light, shadows, and the monochrome. It’s a visual treat.

This movie just came out, but already it’s been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it (AT THE TIME OF WRITING) has a score of 7.6/10.

While there’s a lot to admire about it, I didn’t find “Mank” that emotionally investing. It has an okay story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, great (if slightly off) directing, and excellent cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mank” is a 7.77/10. So while flawed, I’d still recommend watching it.

My review of “Mank” is now completed.

I actually haven’t seen “Citizen Kane” yet… maybe I should fix that some day.

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.

Series Review: Castlevania – Season 3 (2020)

Took me a bit longer to get around to this than I originally wanted. But now we’re finally here. So let’s talk about this show for a bit. Oh, and there will be some spoilers for season 2… so you have been warned.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Castlevania” season 3!

A few months have passed since Dracula’s demise, and everyone’s kind of gone their separate ways. The peace isn’t kept for long however, as the various characters all run into their own share of problems. Trying to break down the narrative of this season in a well-written and concise way without getting into too many spoilers is difficult, as there are about as many threads as a season of “Game of Thrones”. But I’ll do my best. First off we have Trevor (Richard Armitage) and Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) who find themselves visiting a mysterious village that seemingly holds more secrets than they at first let on. Then you have Alucard (James Callis) adjusting to the solitude of living in Dracula’s castle. Then there’s Carmilla (Jaime Murray) and her fellow vampires scheming to take over the world. And then there’s Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack), building his army of night creatures and traveling across the world. But then there’s also the mysterious newcomer Saint Germain (Bill Nighy) and his schemes. Like I said, there’s a lot, and I didn’t even touch on all of them, either due to spoilers or fear of overextending this section. But believe me when I say that the ten episodes of this season cover A LOT of shit. But despite covering so much, it never gets confusing. This doesn’t mean that all aspects get treated with an equal amount of care and devotion, which at times can make this feel like a little bit of a middle chapter, but I do still find the narrative very engrossing. You get this epic fantasy tale, which also mixes in clever mystery, some gruesomely dark horror, a lot of heart and humor, and even a bit of enjoyable human drama. It’s great stuff, yo.

The characters in this, both old and new are colorful, flawed, layered, fascinating, and highly entertaining. The older ones get a little development, and newer ones do too. All of them are highly interesting and I loved seeing them. And the voice cast is fucking phenomenal, featuring such talented folks as Richard Armitage, Alejandra Reynoso, James Callis, Jaime Murray, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Theo James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jason Isaacs, Navid Negahban, Ivana Milisevic, Rila Fukushima, Toro Uchikado, Bill god damn Nighy, and more.

As with the previous two seasons, the score here was composed by Trevor Morris. And he absolutely knocked it out of the god damn park. He manages to cover so much ground with the various tracks in the show. From big bombastic brass, to more subtle strings, to even a bit of really intense synth, the dude did a fantastic job.

All episodes of “Castlevania” season 3 were written by Warren Ellis, with direction being handled by brother Sam and Adam Deats. And not that previous seasons were slouches in the animation department, but fuckin’ hell, the animation this season is the best it’s ever been. In quieter moments it looks really good, but it’s really in action scenes where it shines. Really captures the intensity and insanity that would happen from these battles. The final two episodes especially show this, as they have some of the best battles I’ve seen in animation. It’s one of the most well animated shows I’ve ever watched.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has an audience score of 7.2/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

Season 3 is another winning batch of episodes for “Castlevania”, giving us more of what I’ve come to love from the show. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Castlevania” season 3 is a 9.92/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Castlevania” season 3 is now completed

This remains the best video game adaptation.

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: The Good Lord Bird (2020)

We all agree that slavery was one of the worst things in human history, right? Alright, good. At least we’re on the same page on that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Good Lord Bird”.

The story follows Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a young slave who gets freed by abolitionist John Brown (Ethan Hawke) and then joins his merry band of freedom fighters. And we follow Onion as he follows along on Brown’s crusade to free the slaves. What I found fascinating about “The Good Lord Bird” is the interesting use of of tonal shifts to tell its story. While at its core it’s a serious drama about the liberation of shackled people, the writers use a surprising amount of comedy throughout, which adds quite a bit of nuance to proceedings. But it’s not just a tonally unique slavery drama, but it’s also largely a coming of age story, since we get to see how this young boy gets to evolve while following along with Brown’s crusade. And while this sounds like it could be quite messy, it really isn’t. I found the story here to be utterly engrossing and entertaining, having me utterly engaged throughout the seven episodes.

The characters in this are colorful, flawed, surprisingly layered (like an onion, HA!), and really entertaining. Joshua Caleb Johnson plays Onion, the young slave who becomes part of Brown’s gang. He has quite an interesting and highly enjoyable personal arc in this, while also serving as the audience in this story, being our look at Brown and his antics. And I think Onion is a really fun protagonist, with Johnson giving a great performance. Next we have Ethan Hawke as John Brown, preacher and abolitionist. He is a fascinating individual, being really passionate about the emancipation of the slaves. And when I say passionate, I mean PASSIONATE, borderline fanatic. His heart is of course in the right place, it’s just that he’s maybe also a bit gung ho about it all, making his methods seem a little insane at times. But that’s what makes him such a fascinating character. And Ethan Hawke is terrific in the role, selling every bit of Brown’s eccentric personality wonderfully. We also get supporting work from people like Beau Knapp, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Ellar Coltrane, Mo Brings Plenty, Nick Eversman Daveed Diggs, and many more, all giving top notch performances.

The score for the show was composed by Jamison Hollister, and I thought it was really good. If you’ve heard a western score in the lat 30 years, you probably know what you’re getting. A fair bit of strings, high energy, and just a vibe that says “this is a fun western”. There’s also a fair amount of licensed songs used throughout, and they work surprisingly well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the novel of the same name by James McBride, “The Good Lord Bird” was developed for Showtime by Mark Richard and Ethan Hawke, with writing and directing by a whole load of cool people. And the craft on display here is superb. Usually when I watched a tv show, even ones on high budgets with super talented crews, I can still usually tell by how it’s shot that it’s a tv project. But I don’t really get that feel here. They’ve taken careful steps to make sure it blurs the line between cinema and television with their shots and camera movements here. This comes partly from Peter Deming’s beautiful cinematography, and partly from the directing which crackles with energy and feels so lively. This doesn’t mean that anything feels rushed, because the crew really know when to slow down and let moments simmer, creating a perfect balance between the fun, the emotionally charged, and the exciting.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

“The Good Lord Bird” is a highly entertaining, fascinating, and unique take on slavery-themed drama, and is one of the best shows of 2020. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Good Lord Bird” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Good Lord Bird” is now completed.

Ethan Hawke has two modes in this show: Low grumbly growling and PASSIONATE, THROAT-RUINING SCREAMING.

Movie Review: Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)

If you’ve followed my blog for an extended amount of time, then you’re probably aware that I have a certain fondness for animated movies based on DC superhero comics. I tend to watch them all, and review a lot of them. And today we’re doing just that. So here we go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War”!

After the Justice League fails to defeat the alien despot Darkseid (Tony Todd), the world turns into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. And with the League basically gone at this point, it’s up to a ragtag gang of remaining heroes and villains to team up to make one final attempt at stopping the alien dictator. So this is basically the big, “everything looks dire” finale to this specific universe of animated films. And you can really feel that the crew of this movie are taking a big swing at giving us an emotionally satisfying finale to this universe that they’ve kept going since 2014. And I think they succeeded quite well. For only having a 90 minute runtime, they manage to get a lot of stuff in there without making any of it feel forced. As the title implies, we get to see a little more of the Dark League, especially since John Constantine (Matt Ryan) more or less acts as the main character here. We get the Suicide Squad involved, we get payoffs from the Teen Titans stuff from other movies. They somehow manage to involve payoffs from pretty much all branches of this movie universe, and it all works marvelously… for me as a fan who’s followed these films for years, at least. I felt satisfied with this wrap-up. It’s dark, it’s exciting, it’s fun, and it even got me a little emotional. It’s just a solid narrative.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and surprisingly nuanced. We both get to see the personalities we’ve come to know (and mostly love) over the years as they are, but we also get to see a surprising amount of nuance and character development throughout that really made me care for them all much more. And since this is the big finale, they bring in the big guns on the cast. A lot of recognizable names, and all giving top notch voice performances. Matt Ryan, Jason O’Mara, Roger Cross, Tony Todd, Camilla Luddington, Jerry O’Connell, Taissa Farmiga, Stuart Allan, Ray Chase,Liam McIntyre, Rainn Wilson, and more all deliver their talents wonderfully.

As with a lot of the previous DC animated movies, the score for this one was composed by Frederik Wiedmann. And as per usual he knocked it out of the park. Of course he gives us the familiar superhero brass, but he also gives us a fair bit of somber pieces as well to really show how desperate the entire situation is for our heroes. And really, Wiedmann has never failed before, but this is still somehow his best work for this series.

Based on various comics from DC, “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” was directed by Matt Peters and Christina Sotta. And I think they did a terrific job. As with the story, you can tell that they were going all out on the directiong/animation on this one. Because out of all the movies in this animated universe, this is the best looking one. The animation is crisp, and everything flows beautifully. And this makes action scenes an absolute blast to watch. They also went all out on violence in this. People die… and not in nice ways. And that helps add some extra impact to fights. So yeah, the crew killed it.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

I know some of you don’t care for these movies, but for me “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” was a satisfying and exciting finale to this specific run of DC animated features. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” is a 9.78/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” is now completed.

I’m really gonna miss looking forward to new movies in this series.

Movie Review: Da 5 Bloods (2020)

*Ron Perlman voice activated* War, war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Da 5 Bloods”.

In the present day, four African-American Vietnam veterans travel back to the country they once battled in to find the remains of their fallen comrade, and bring him back to the States. But as we soon learn, there is a bit more going on with this situation than just men wanting to pay respect to their brother. “Da 5 Bloods” is a fascinating movie in the sense that it evolves quite a bit over time. It has its main goal of course, but then it also uses various tangents to make points about a lot of real life things, from the Vietnam war, to the messy relationships of the characters, to history of race within the States. It’s a very ambitious narrative, which I respect quite a lot. And there’s a lot to like about the story. But I also feel like the amount of content here ultimately hurts the story somewhat. You really feel the 150 minute runtime at multiple points, and the sheer amount of threads within this narrative does make it feel somewhat messy sometimes. I was mostly invested in what was going on, and I would still say that it’s a good story… but also a flawed one.

Whereas the story can feel a little iffy at times, the characters shine, always being extremely interesting. Their different personalities make for fascinating chemistry, as there’s clearly a brotherly bond between the group, but then there’s other aspects of their personalities that clash, and I thought that made for some electrifying cast dynamics. I won’t go into too much detail on each one, as they’re better left experienced. But I will say that Delroy Lindo plays possibly the most complex character in this movie, and his performance is fucking amazing. The rest of the cast is great too, filled with very talented people like Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Norm Lewis, Jonathan Majors, Chadwick Boseman (R.I.P) and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Terence Blanchard, and it was very good. Sometimes it creates a subtle and emotional vibe that creates a lot of dramatic tension and maybe some heartache, and at times it’s slightly more bombastic for various reasons. It’s not my favorite score that Blanchard has composed, but it still works really well for this movie. There’s also some licensed music used throughout, and those tracks work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“Da 5 Bloods” was directed and co-written by Spike Lee, and I will say that he’s done a really good job with it. The dude somehow manages to bring a big, epic scope to this project while still managing to keep us intimate with the characters. The movie just feels grandiose, like one of those older war epics, even though it never really focuses on any actual warring. The movie also plays around with aspect ratio in some fun ways. In the present day it’s a nice wide 16:9, but when we get flashback’s to the early 70s, it goes in on a 4:3 aspect ratio, which I thought was a nice touch for the storytelling. Also, there’s some grisly images in this. Really grisly… just thought I’d mention that.

“Da 5 Bloods” has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

“Da 5 Bloods” may not be perfect, but it’s still a very good drama about some very interesting people. It has a pretty good story, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Da 5 Bloods” is an 7.99/10. So even thought it’s flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Da 5 Bloods” is now completed.

If Delroy Lindo doesn’t get the Oscar, we riot.