My Favorite Scenes: Doom Patrol – People Like Us

Holy shit, ain’t this a corpse. When was the last time we did a My Favorite Scenes post? February 2017? Okay, not quite as far back as I thought, but still… that’s nearly three years. Well, for any newer readers, this series is all about me explaining why I like certain scenes in movies and tv. A blogger friend of mine had a similar series and I nicked the idea from him. As you can probably imagine, this involves some spoilers for any particular movie or series that the scene is featured in. So be warned. Anyway, let’s talk about “Doom Patrol”!

Based on the DC comic book team of the same name, “Doom Patrol” is about a group of misfits who have all been brought together by Doctor Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton), since they really have nowhere else to go. And in the show, Niles goes missing, which leads to various adventures where the team tries to find clues to his whereabouts, while also dealing with their own personal demons. I actually reviewed the first season of the show in 2019 (*cough* shameless plug *cough*), and mentioned in that show that I absolutely adored its mix of relatively unknown superheroes, compelling character drama, and hilariously crude humor. And today we’re talking about a scene that kind of encapsulates some of that. So it goes without saying, spoilers for “Doom Patrol”, and in particular its 8th episode, “Danny Patrol”.

So in episode 8, “Danny Patrol”, two of the team’s members, Larry Trainor/Negative Man (Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk) and Cliff Steele/Robotman (Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan) get transported to Danny, a sentient, teleporting, gender-queer street (yes, you read that right), when it needs help from Doctor Caulder (who is still missing at this point). While here, Larry and Cliff make acquaintances with Maura Lee Karupt (Alan Mingo Jr.), a sort of front person for Danny, the sentient, teleporting, gender-queer street (god, I love saying that). And during a scene in the episode, Larry gets invited up to sing some karaoke, in which he does and begins covering “People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson. And during this musical number, you see Larry open up, show some actual joy. His entire life, he’s been a bit of an outsider, starting as a closeted gay man in the 1960s U.S. Army, and then later being a bit of a radioactive freak with a strange alien being living inside of him, which of course kinda prevented him from bonding with people. But finally it seems like he has found some people who just accept him for who he is. Freaks, outcasts… “People like us, we gotta stick together”. And then when the ending of the scene revealed itself, it was a bit of a gut punch to me. In lesser hands, this could’ve just been a goofy scene of a mummy-man singing a song from an American Idol winner while visiting a sentient, teleporting, gender-queer street. But thanks to the wonderful writing and world-building of “Doom Patrol”, it became one of the most uniquely compelling scenes I’ve experienced in any recent tv show, even making me tear up when I first saw it.

Scenes like this is why I adored season 1 of “Doom Patrol”, and is why I am really looking forward to whatever madness they’ll be concocting for season 2.

Have a good one, and show some love to people around you, even when you’re not standing near a sentient, teleporting, gender-queer street.

Series Review: Doom Patrol – Season 1 (2019)

We’re getting a lot of superhero stuff these days. But what I do like about it is that we’re at a point where we’re getting more experimental things, not just typical “Colorful hero saves day” thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like those… but I appreciate the lean towards a lot more weird things. So let’s discuss such a thing.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Doom Patrol” season 1!

The story follows a group of outcasts who have been brought together by a scientist (Timothy Dalton) as they have to reluctantly band together to stop the villainous Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk)… at least that’s the initial setup. It sets itself up with a bit of a typical superhero idea, but then decides to shove that to the side a bit to explore the stranger side of the DC universe. While there are overarching themes and ideas, each episode is generally a self-contained adventure where the team encounter a new strange thing and have to deal with that while also having to try to handle their personal demons. So the show balances a lot of ideas and tones, which can often be a movie or show’s downfall. But “Doom Patrol” balances it all wonderfully to create a unique superhero show that for the most part just subverts most superhero tropes, all while giving us some of the most surprisingly compelling character drama that I have seen in quite a while. It’s a strange, fun, emotional, and overall well-realized story that I loved following from start to end.

The characters are flawed, layered, colorful, and just overall really interesting. They’re all damaged in some way, which makes them quite dysfunctional, leading to a lot of interesting character dynamics. And with the core cast of Diane Guerrero, Brendan Fraser, April Bowlby, Matt Bomer, Joivan Wade, and Timothy Dalton, you get some truly great performances to go along with these vividly written characters.

The score for the show was composed by Clint Mansell and Kevin Kiner. And man, it is pretty great. A lot of synth is used throughout, which gives the show an almost otherworldly feeling that helps sell the unique vibe of the show. It’s suspense-building, it’s emotionally charged, it’s exciting, it’s fun… it’s just a perfect match for the show. There are also a handful of licensed tracks used throughout the season, and they work quite well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has great music.

Based on the comic books from DC, the show was created by Jeremy Carver, and written/directed by a whole bunch of cool people. And as mentioned in some of the previous sections, the writing is some of the most uniquely compelling stuff I’ve experienced in quite some time. And the directing is pretty stellar too, featuring some really fun camerawork that adds a lot to the show in terms of visual storytelling. I should probably also mention that the show in large part is a comedy. So is it funny? Yes, very, it’s one of the funniest shows I’ve watched in a while. The humor can often be quite crude and weird, but I do think it works to the show’s advantage in giving it a distinct feel.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 70/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

“Doom Patrol” is one of the weirdest shows I’ve seen in quite a while… but it’s also absolutely fantastic. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great writing/directing, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Doom Patrol” season 1 is a 9,92/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Doom Patrol” season 1 is now completed.

That was a bit insane.

Movie Review: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

And so my series of reviews of Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” movies continues!

Ladies and gents… “Spider-Man 2”.

As Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) tries to balance college, work, and being the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, he runs into even more trouble when scientist Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) becomes the villainous Doc Ock. So now we have our sequel. It’s bigger, but does that make it better? Yes, very much so. It has a lot of themes to balance, and it manages to do that beautifully. At times it’s fun, at times it breaks the viewer’s heart, at times it’s uplifting. It takes all its various themes and creates a web (HA!) that is a perfect representation of Spider-Man and his adventures.

The characters are colorful, flawed, layered, fun, and overall just really interesting. Tobey Maguire reprises his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Seeing his development throughout here is fascinating. Yes, you do get a lot of the charming awkwardness seen in the first movie, but you also get to see a lot of new sides to him that came forward after the events of the first movie, and from things that happen here. And Maguire is great in the role. Alfred Molina plays Otto Octavius, the brilliant scientist who becomes the villain of the story. He’s under constant conflict with himself throughout, making him quite a compelling character. And Molina is great in the role. Kirsten Dunst returns as Mary-Jane Watson, and she gets some decent development throughout. And Dunst is good in the role. James Franco returns as Harry Osborne, who also has some interesting character drama going on, with Franco giving a great performance. We also get supporting work from people like Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons (still the best), Bill Nunn, Dylan Baker, Daniel Gillies, Donna Murphy, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the first movie, the score was composed by Danny Elfman, and he somehow managed to one-up himself. The score here of course brings back a lot of the sweeping heroics of the first, while also adding in a lot of nice little touches that makes it stand out. Really, it’s amazing, one of the best scores of the time. And there’s the odd licensed track used throughout that works quite well too.

As with the first movie (and as mentioned in the opening of this review), this movie was directed by Sam Raimi, who (like Elfman) upped his game. His camptastic sense of energy makes a triumphant return, which makes it electrifying to watch, even in the “slower” scenes. It also adds a lot to the action scenes, which are a blast to watch, thanks to the energetic, visceral feel that Raimi gives to them. There’s one scene in particular that really encapsulates that, and if you’ve seen this movie, then you probably know which one I’m talking about. And to bring up something I mentioned in my previous “Spider-Man” review, the effects in this still hold up. The last one had a lot of rough stuff, but the ones in this one… still so good.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Visual Effects. It also got an additional 2 nominations in the categories of Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.

“Spider-Man 2” is a sequel that takes everything that was good about the first one, and improves on it significantly. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action/effects. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Spider-Man 2” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Spider-Man 2” is now completed.

Here’s a fun anecdote: As I was (re)watching this, I realized that I actually hadn’t seen this one before. My mind had tricked me into thinking that I had seen it before, when I hadn’t. It’s quite interesting.

Academy Award 2019: Music Nominees

Well hello there. Around this time last year, I teamed up with some really cool people to cover that year’s Academy Award nominees. And we decided to do it again, splitting the nominees between us and discussing it on our blogs. And just like last year, I am covering the music nominees, because I’ve barely seen anything nominated for an Oscar this year, and these categories are the only ones I can do from my room for free in a perfectly legal manner. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Best Original Score
Let’s start with the scores first. No real reason, just seems reasonable. But before we get into that, we have a comment here from the lovely Maddy of FiveThreeNinety regarding what she considers a major snub:

HOW First Man was not even nominated baffles to me the point of not being able to see the actual contenders. I was convinced that was a sure win.
Thank you, Maddy. Your thoughts are much appreciated. Now, on with the nominees!

Black Panther – Ludwid Göransson

First up we have the score for Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther”, which I haven’t seen yet. I know, weird. Still, any thoughts on the movie itself do not matter, it’s what the music is like that matters. And not gonna lie, from what I’ve heard, the score by Ludwig Göransson is pretty stellar, mixing the typical superhero brass with a lot of African percussion and woodwind, and even a little bit of interesting electronica to create one of the more unique scores within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

BlackkKlansman – Terence Blanchard

Next up is the score from the latest Spike Lee joint, “BlacKkKlansman” (that stylization really fucks up my flow). A true story about a black police detective infiltrating the KKK. So what does Blanchard bring in for the music? Well, he gives us a score that mixes somber string work, march percussion, and even a little bit of blues guitar, creating an absolutely stunning sound that seeps into the soul and just creates a sense of dread. Yeah, it’s a good one.

Mary Poppins Returns – Marc Shaiman

From composer Marc Shaiman we have the score for “Mary Poppins Returns”, the sequel to the 1964 musical classic. And it’s a fairly standard score here. Not bad in the slightest, it’s just that we’ve heard this kind of stuff before in Disney movies for god knows how long. The sung songs are a lot of fun, and the main score is easy on the ears, so the music here is just a bit of good ol’ crowd pleasing.

Isle of Dogs – Alexandre Desplat

Next up, we have the score for Wes Anderson stop motion film “Isle of Dogs”, composed by one of my favorites, Alexandre Desplat. Mixing in a lot of Asian percussion and chorals mixed in with the occasional regular brass, strings, and piano, it makes for a fun and quirky sound that also has a nice emotional undertone.

If Beale Street Could Talk – Nicholas Britell

Next up we have Nicholas Britell’s score for “If Beale Street Could Talk”, Barry Jenkins’ movie based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name. And holy fuck, this score hits hard. Somber strings, emotional piano pieces, and a general sense of sadness makes it a stunning feast for the ears. But you know what it reminds me of at times? Nick Cave’s score for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (still a mouthful), which has a similar sound. That’s not saying that “Beale Street” doesn’t stand out musically, because it really does.

And here’s a comment from Martin of Through the Silver Screen:

“Re-teaming with Barry Jenkins after his Oscar nominated work in Moonlight, Nicholas Britell did it again creating a score that was both beautiful and melancholic, capturing the joy and despair of the main characters beautifully. But by far one of the biggest snubs here was for Justin Hurwitz’s First Man score, which had it been nominated would surely have come back down to earth to win the statue. Ludwig Göransson’s wonderful work for Black Panther is also very much worthy of the gong, as it was grounded in the beauty of the continent of Africa.”

And here’s one from Nathan:

Best Original Score’s real winner (Justin Hurwitz’s First Man) inexplicably missed an Oscar nomination but Nicholas Britell’s If Beale Street Could Talk is a gorgeous, brooding composition that enriches the film’s tenderly melancholic exploration and portrait of love. It should, and probably will, win but faces stiff competition from Black Panther.

Biggest chance of winning: Isle of Dogs.
My pick: BlacKkKlansman.

Best Original Song
And now we move on to the second half of this post, the part where we talk about the best original song nominees. So let’s do it.

All the Stars – Kendrick Lamar/Sza – Black Panther

Man, “Black Panther”, raking in the nominations. So here we have “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA (apparently pronounced Sizza). I’m not the biggest fan of the style of music that this is, but I do also think that this sounds quite good and I can see why it was nominated. So yeah, it’s pretty good.

The Place Where Lost Things Go – Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns

Remember how I said that the sung songs were the better part of the “Mary Poppins Returns” music? This still applies, because this is beautiful. The minimalist composition gives it a nice emotional tone, the lyrics are beautiful, and Emily Blunt’s singing is stunning and it really reaches into my heart. So yeah, this song is very good.

I’ll Fight – Jennifer Hudson – RBG

Not every day a documentary has a best original song. But “RBG”, a documentary about supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had it, and it’s the kind of grand, sweeping, soulful pop tune that you’d hear everywhere a few years ago. And I like thos kinds of tunes, so this kind of appeals to me. Is it the best example of this kind of song? No. But is it still a strong contender? Hell yeah.

When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings – Tim Blake Nelson/Willie Watson – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

In 2018, the Coen brothers gave us anthology western “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”, and that movie gave us this song. The singing for Nelson and Watson is stunning and just fits the whole quirky western singing. The small amount of instruments also gives it a small intimate feeling that just works so well for the story told in the song. It’s a charming little song that I kinda love.

Shallow – Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born

How many versions of “A Star is Born” do we have now? 46? What, only five? Okay. Anyway, this version stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and people apparently like it a lot. And this song, “Shallow” is the song from it that got an Oscar nomination. So is it good? Very. I like this sort of ballad bordering a little on rock, pop, and country, as it makes it stand out with this nice blend of the three. And “Shallow” is a damn good example of it. And now, a comment from Maddy again:

If a Star is Born doesn’t win, I will shave my head. It is one of the best original songs for film in years, and that’s saying something looking at the past few winners.

We also just got in another comment, this from Martin of Through the Silver Screen:

“Though I love “All the Stars”, nothing is stopping Lady Gaga here. Given that the Best Actress statue will likely be out of her reach, this is one award Gaga will be deservedly holding at the end of the night. The moment in ASIB when she sings “Shallow” with Cooper in the film, just sends chills down my spine. Incredible.”

And here’s a comment from Nathan:

We’re not far from the Shallow now, where Lady Gaga will ascend to the stage to collect the award for A Star Is Born. You can’t really argue against it – it’s a fantastic, stadium-worthy song – despite my personal belief that Always Remember Us This Way is the movie’s crowning achievement. I’d be equally happy for Mary Poppins Returns’ The Place Where Lost Things Go to take it on the night, although A Cover Is Not The Book or Can You Imagine That? would have taken its place on my personal ballot.

Biggest chance of winning: Shallow.
My pick: When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings.

So now we’ve gotten through all the music nominations, and I gave some of my thoughts on them. But I’d also love to hear from you guys. What are your thoughts on the music nominees for the Academy Award of 2019? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.

The cool people I collaborated with:

Plain, Simple Tom

Through the Silver Screen

FiveThreeNinety

Perks of Being Nath (who also hosted our friend Ryan, because Ryan doesn’t do his own blogging anymore).

And that’s it. Have a good one.

Great Music #29

Hello and welcome back to Great Music, the series in which I share a song (or more) that I like. When was the last one we di- holy shit, it was all the way back in July of last year… so it’s been a while. Oh well, better now than never. Anyway, let’s talk about some good music.

So what song has DJ Markus decided to play y’all today? Well, it’s an oldie that’s been rerecorded a couple times, so some versions aren’t really oldies, but the one we will talk about today kind of is. The song we’re talking about today is “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Originally recorded by The Beatles in 1968, the version we’re talking about today is the one from guitarist Jeff Healey, released in 1990. I love the Beatles version, it’s a great song, but I’ve always kind of preferred Healey’s version. I don’t really know why, maybe it’s the heavier blues edge that Healey has, maybe it’s the rhythm flowing a little bit better, I honestly don’t know fully. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is the fact that it’s an amazing song featuring some stunning guitar licks throughout, accompanying Healey’s solid blues-tuned vocals. The guitar may weep, but I don’t, because this song is great.

Have a good one and enjoy!

Movie Review: Wind River (2017)

The frontier. A wild, unpredictable, and untameable part of our world. As beautiful as it is dangerous. Something that Taylor Sheridan seemingly likes to explore in his scripts.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Wind River”.

Set in the cold mountains and forests of Wyoming, we follow an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) as she has to investigate the death of a young woman with the help of a local tracker (Jeremy Renner). So now we have our murder mystery that isn’t just a murder mystery. Yes, the investigation is a big focus of the movie, but the plot is also largely about the exploration of this place and the people who live there. Like with the two previous movies written by Taylor Sheridan (“Sicario”, “Hell or High Water”), it sets up one basic plot, and then gives it a few extra layers to explore certain themes. So what we get here is a deep, suspenseful, emotional, haunting, and just overall intriguing story.

The characters in this are all layered, interesting, and feel quite real. Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, the tracker tasked with helping out in this investigation. He’s a skilled hunter with a tragic past that gets explored in a very interesting way through the movie. And Renner is fantastic in the role, playing the character with a very understated sadness and intensity, this is the best performance I’ve seen from him. Elizabeth Olsen plays FBI agent Jane Banner. She’s a bit of a fish out of water in this, as she’s not used to the cold, unforgiving frontier. This doesn’t make her useless, as she shows herself as quite capable through the movie. She’s tough, but she also does have a more vulnerable side, which gives her some layers (which is important to have out in the cold). And Olsen is really good in the role. Next we have Gil Birmingham as the father of the dead girl. While we don’t get too many details on him as a character, seeing him in pain and trying to cope with his daughter’s death is utterly heartbreaking and makes him an interesting enough character. And Birmingham is great in the role. Then we get some supporting performances from Graham Greene, Julia Jones, Martin Sensmeier, Hugh Dillon, Eric Lange, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, and if you’ve read any other reviews of mine where they’ve been the listed composers, you should suspect that I loved their score for this. It’s eerie, dark, emotional, and haunting, perfectly capturing the feel of the area, while also working very well for the murder mystery plot of the movie. I am slightly biased towards their music, but I do genuinely think their compositions for this movie are fantastic.

As I’ve not so subtly alluded to, this movie was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. I already liked the other movies he’s written, so I was curious to see how he’d do at directing. And I have to say that I am quite impressed. His direction is manages to be sweeping and ambitious, while still tight and intimate with the characters/situations. He also manages to build a lot of suspense throughout, especially during the final act where that tension escalates to a whole new level. But none of it ever feels Hollywood-ized, which feels quite fresh in our modern world. And the cinematography by Ben Richardson is pretty great.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Wind River” is a fantastic little drama, and another great showcase for Taylor Sheridan’s writing. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Wind River” is a 9,88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wind River” is now completed.

We’re going back to the wild frontier…

Movie Review: Take Shelter (2011)

I would try to come up with some clever intro to this, but this movie stumped me in that regard. Can’t come up with something clever or fun for an intro to this. Ummm… Michael Shannon, amiright?

Ladies and gentlemen… “Take Shelter”.

When he starts getting apocalyptic visions, Curtis (Michael Shannon) starts trying to rebuild the old storm shelter in his backyard. But his strange change in behavior starts creating some problems with everything in his life, from his family to his job. And throughout the movie we sit and wonder, is he actually seeing the end of the world, or is he just a bit crazy. But it’s not so much a big and loud apocalyptic thriller (like some movies might do), aiming more for a human drama that explores the desperation of this man in trying to figure all this crazy shit out. It’s very slow-paced, but that works quite well for the story as it helps in fleshing it out. So it’s quite a good plot.

The characters in this all feel quite realistic and I thought they were all interesting. Michael Shannon plays Curtis, the construction worker who starts getting these strange and scary dreams/visions. He’s a good father and husband as well as a good worker. So seeing him change as a person due to these scary dreams/visions is quite interesting, and turns into an intriguing character study. And Michael Shannon is fantastic in the role, giving one of his more subdued performances (though he does get at least one explosive moment). Then we have Jessica Chastain as Curtis’ wife Sam. A lot of her arc lies in her reacting to her husband’s situation(s), and it’s quite interesting, especially since it leads to some emotionally charged moments. And Chastain is great in the role. Then we have Tova Stewart as Curtis’ daughter Hannah. Hannah is deaf, and that’s probably the most interesting aspect of her. She gets the least amount of development over the movie, but she’s still an interesting piece of this puzzle. And Stewart is good in the role. Then we get some supporting work here from people like Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Robert Longstreet, and more, all doing well in their roles.

The score for the movie was composed by David Wingo and it’s good. It’s less focused on melodies or being instantly recognizable, acting more as ambient noise for the various scenes. But it works quite well for the movie as it helps build drama and a sense of dread throughout the movie.

The movie was written and directed by Jeff Nichols and I think he did a really good job with that. While a lot of directors would’ve tried to build a lot of tension with their directing, making it as noticeable as possible, Nichols is a lot more subtle, carefully capturing the human drama and subtly building a sense of dread over the entire situation. And it made me feel a lot more invested in what was going on.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“Take Shelter” is a subdued and highly effective psychological drama. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Take Shelter” is a 9,56/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Take Shelter” is now completed.

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

Movie Review: The Godfather Part II (1974)

I recently ran a poll on my twitter page where I asked which of four classics that I hadn’t seen yet people waned to see a review of. And at the end of it, this movie came out victorious. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Godfather Part II”.

We follow Michael (Al Pacino), the new head of the Corleone family as he ascends within the crime world, trying to hold on to his empire and his family. And throughout the movie we also get flashbacks to a young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), from his arrival in New York during his childhood, to him rising in the mob world as an adult. What I liked about the first “Godfather” movie, and also this is that while it has this sweeping and epic gangster story, it also focuses on the smaller family drama, which gives it a lot more nuance. Yes, it is a very long movie (3 hours, 10 minutes), but it needs that runtime to be able to tell this big and impressive story. Emotional, suspenseful, intriguing, and well written, the plot in this movie is great.

The characters in this are layered and interesting. First up we have Al Pacino reprising his role as Michael Corleone, the current head of the Corleone family. In this movie we see a very conflicted Michael as he has to become the new Godfather, while being pulled in the “legitimate” direction by his wife. And it makes for an interesting character study. And Pacino is fantastic in the role. Then we have Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone. He’s a quiet man with a lot of emotion built up inside of him after some stuff that happened in his past. And it’s interesting to see him go through everything he goes through. And De Niro is fantastic in the role. Diane Keaton returns as Kay, the wife of Michael. She goes through some stuff in this movie, and seeing her try to deal with the shit that comes from her husband’s mob-life is quite fascinating and heartbreaking. And Keaton is of course great in the role. Then we have John Cazale (R.I.P) as Fredo, Michael’s older brother. In this movie you see that he’s a bit of a spineless man who does love his family, but some of his own agendas seem to come first, and it makes him an interesting foil for the other characters. And Cazale is great in the role. And in further returning roles we see people like Talia Shire, Robert Duvall, Richard Bright, Gianni Russo, and Morgana King (among others), all doing very well in their roles. Then we also got some new comers like Lee Strasberg, Michael V. Gazzo, G.D. Spradlin, Bruno Kirby, and many more. They also do very well in their respective roles. ’tis a very well acted movie.

The music for the movie was composed by Nino Rota & Carmine Coppola, and it’s fantastic. It’s a sweeping and emotional score that fits the world perfectly and helps elevate the scenes to the next level. What I also liked is that it’s not just super serious string tracks, but there are also a couple of more fun tracks for a few moments throughout the movie, and I think that works quite well. Yeah, the music’s great.

Like with the first movie, “Part II” was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola (with some writing help from Mario Puzo), and once again he knocked it out of the park. His direction captures the sweeping nature of the crime syndicate plot, while also managing to really elevate and engage during the smaller family drama scenes. I really don’t think anyone could have captured it as well as Coppola.

This movie has been incredibly well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars and put it on his “Great Movies” list. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,0/10 and is ranked #3 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 6 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best supporting actor (De Niro), Best director, Best adapted screenplay, Best set decoration, and Best original score. The movie was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Pacino), Best supporting actor (Gazzo), Best supporting actor (Strasberg), Best supporting actress (Shire), and Best costume design. Fuck, that’s a lot of awards and nominations.

Does “The Godfather Part II” live up to the hype? For me, it does. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Godfather Part II” is a 9,85/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Godfather Part II” is now completed.

And for those wondering, I do prefer the first one.

Movie Review: What Maisie Knew (2013)

It’s really hard to know what’s actually going on within the mind of a child at any given time. It would be interesting to be able to just get a good look inside the noggin of a child and see what is happening in there… especially during strange/traumatic events. Not saying they should be exploited like that, just that it would be interesting to see how their mind might process these things.

Ladies and gentlemen… “What Maisie Knew”.

We follow Maisie (Onata Aprile), a six-year-old girl. Her parents (Julianne Moore & Steve Coogan) are going through an out-drawn and bitter custody battle over Maisie. So we basically follow Maisie journey through this custody battle, and we see how it affects her and her life. What I found interesting about it never leaves Maisie’s perspective. It’s less about the custody battle itself, and more about how Maisie looks at it and tries to sort of cope with all the weird changes that happen in her life. The perspective of the young child is fairly unique in these kinds of stories, and it gives the movie a very interesting and unique feel. It’s a plot that can be quite heavy, but it also doesn’t shy away from showing some of the happier moments in Maisie’s life. It’s good.

What I like about the characters here is that none of them are painted as an antagonist or a perfectly good person, but rather as flawed and fairly realistic human beings. First up we have Onata Aprile as Maisie, the titular girl who’s going through all of this. The best way I can describe her character is that she’s a child. She’s naive, but not stupid. She’s filled with joy, but she’s not happy all the time. She feels very realistic in terms of the situation. And Aprile is really good in the role. Then we have Julianne Moore as Maisie’s mom, Susanna. She’s a hot-headed and somewhat self-destructive musician. She loves her daughter, due to her being a bit hot-headed and egotistical, it creates a bit of a rift between her and the people around her, and it makes her quite a tragic character. And Moore is great in the role. Then we have Steve Coogan as Beale, Maisie’s dad. He’s an art dealer who is away quite a lot and very rarely finds time for his daughter. But he’s not a total ass about it, like some movies would portray him. And Coogan is really good in the role. Then we have Alexander Skarsgård as Lincoln, a man that Maisie’s mom more or less starts dating in the movie. He’s a pretty quiet man with a good heart, and is the closest to a full on “good guy” we have here. And it’s interesting to see his relationship with Maisie grow throughout the movie. And Skarsgård is great in the role. The final one we’re talking about is Joanna Vanderham as Margo, Maisie’s nanny and pseudo-bonus-mom. Kind of like with Lincoln, she is kind of the closest we have to a good person, as she cares more about Maisie rather than her own wants and needs. And Vanderham is really good in the role. Overall it’s a very well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Urata, and it was really good. It’s a relaxing and emotional piece that is clearly trying to capture the childlike innocence of Maisie and her perspective on the entire situation. And it really captures that feeling perfectly, creating a beautiful score that helps bring a lot of extra emotion to the movie.

Based on a very old novel by Henry James, this movie was directed by Scott McGehee & David Siegel, and I think they did a really good job with it. Just like with the plot and music, their direction here is from Maisie’s perspective, aiming to show us what this entire situation looks and feels like from her point of view. The camera work never really strays from Maisie, always keeping it within close proximity of her to sort of keep us close to her. She’s the important one, not the other people. And that perspective is captured very well. And the cinematography by Giles Nuttgens is pretty damn good too.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“What Maisie Knew” is a heartfelt look into a child’s life during a strange time. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “What Maisie Knew” is a 9,67/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “What Maisie Knew” is now completed.

I feel quite lucky that I’ve never had to deal with anything like this.

Movie Review: Logan (2017)

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Guys… it is here. The end of an era. Hugh Jackman’s final movie in the “X-Men” franchise. For 17 years we’ve seen this big Australian man put on the adamnatium claws for the sake of our entertainment. And now he is hanging up said claws for good. Well… let’s see if his final outing does him and the character justice.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Logan”.

It’s the near future and we follow an old and broken Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) as he is hiding by the Mexican border together with Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). And when they meet a young girl (Dafne Keen) their simple lives change, and they have to face some of the toughest challenges of their lives. And that is all I’m gonna say when it comes to any plot synopsis. And with that said, the plot here is one of self-discovery and redemption. It’s not one of those “Let’s stop the end of the world” movies that we’ve been presented with before. This is a personal movie about Wolverine, about Charles, about this girl… and I fucking loved it. Sure, previous “X-Movies” have dealt with interesting themes and have even ahd some solid drama to them, but none of them have been this personal or even this emotional. And without giving too much away, I cried at a few bits in this movie. So plot-wise I would say that this is a send-off for Hughverine. Tense, exciting, haunting, and emotional.

What I like about the characters here is that they’ve been brought down quute a bit. Sure, I love the badasses in spandex and how mighty they are… but the characters on display here feel very human. You can tell that these people are very flawed and broken, and that makes them so much more engaging to watch. Hugh Jackman has always been great as Logan/Wolverine… but I think this might be his best outing as the character. His performance here is very nuanced and layered, and it’s at tiems even a bit heartbreaking. Yeah, Jackman is fucking fantastic in this. Patrick Stewart was absolutely terrific as Charles Xavier in this. The character is broken and much weaker than he’s ever been, and Stewart really knocks it out of the park here. Dafne Keen plays the little girl, Laura, and she was great. This girl really came out of nowhere, no previous acting experience as far as I know, and she was really great in this movie. She was badass, fierce, and just awesome. Boyd Holbrook (aside from being really handsome) plays Donald Pierce, the antagonist of the movie, and he was great. He was menacing but he was also cool and he worked very well in the movie. We also get Stephen Merchant as Caliban. And he was kind of great. Sure, he never really gets “that big scene”, but I still think he did a really good job here. I’m basing that statement on how putting someone who’s only known for comedy in a drama like this could be end up real bad… but he did a really good job. All the actors did very well in this movie.

The score for this movie was composed by Marco Beltrami and it was pretty fucking good. His score was exciting, haunting, and emotional. It was overall very well composed and it fit the movie very well.

This movie was directed by James Mangold (hence the “Mangoldathon” leading up to it) and he did a phenomenal job. This is a gorgeously shot movie, featuring some really good eye candy. His directing is also pretty intense which leads me into the action and HOLY SHIT this movie is violent. Now, I knew that this movie was rated R, and the trailers showed some violence… but Jesus fucking Christ, I didn’t exactly expect it to be this brutal. But the violence isn’t just there for the sake of violence, it’s here to serve the story. I really don’t think you could have done this movie PG-13, the violence on display in “Logan” is justified for the story they are telling. You have an old and grumpy Logan who just doesn’t give a shit anymore… the R-rating is totally justified. So if you’re a very squeamish person who doesn’t like pools of blood and limbs getting chopped off… you’ve been warned.

This movie has (so far) been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,8/10 and is ranked #61 on the “Top 250” list. (Keep in mind, this movie just came out, so any of these scores/rankings might change quite a bit and I’m not editing this stuff as time goes on).

“Logan” is a fantastic action-drama that gives Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart the goodbye that they deserve. It has a great plot, fantastic characters, terrific performances, great music, fantastic directing, and great (& brutal) action. Time for my final score. *Snikt!*. My final score for “Logan” is a 9,90/10. Which means that it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Logan” is now completed.

Mr. Jackman, Mr. Stewart, if you’re reading this… thank you so much for all these years of Wolverine/Professor X. I’m gonna miss seeing you as these characters, but I also wish you luck with all your future endeavors. *Sniff*. What? I can cry, I’m not made of stone!