Series Review: Midnight Mass (2021)

It’s finally here, friends… THE MONTH OF SPOOKS! That’s right, Oc-fucking-tober, a month of spooktacular content! Yeah, I’m excited. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Midnight Mass”.

“Midnight Mass” follows the residents of Crockett Island, a remote little mound somewhere in America, as strange things start happening around their home following the arrival of a new, charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). This show is at its core a character-driven drama, delving deep into themes of grief, guilt, faith, and past traumas, and I find all of it compelling. The way that this stuff is handled throughout the seven episode run is some of the most nuanced and beautiful storytelling I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in any show. This even gives extra weight to the sections which lean more on classic horror, both in terms of thematic depth and  in terms of how much suspense and terror it is able to generate. So yeah, the story here is emotionally resonant, nuanced, unpredictable, scary, and overall just fucking spectacular.

The characters in this show are all very flawed, layered, colorful, and insanely interesting to follow. All of them have some past (or present) trauma going on, and it makes for some incredibly engaging character work. What helps this further is the frankly insane cast, featuring people like Kate Siegel, Zach Gilford, Hamish Linklater (who is the standout for me), Henry Thomas, Kristin Lehman, Rahul Kohli, Annabeth Gish, Samantha Sloyan, Annarah Cymone, and many more, all giving top tier performances.

The score for the show was composed by The Newton Brothers, who absolutely knocked it out of the park with the music here. I’ve enjoyed their work in the past, but I feel like they really outdid themselves here. Of course you do have some traditional horror stings, but there are also a lot of quieter, more emotional pieces throughout the show as well, along with some frankly haunting bits as well. It manages to hit every kind of emotion possible, making for a very engaging soundscape that adds a lot to the show.

“Midnight Mass” was created for Netflix by Mike Flanagan, who also directed and co-wrote all the episodes. And I gotta say, the dude knocked it out of the fucking park with his directing here. Not that Flanagan’s direction has ever been bad, but you can tell that this was a real passion project for him just by how all out he goes with the way his shots flow, how tightly edited it is, and how just how ambitious it can be at times. Further adding to this is the cinematography by Michael Fimognari, which is beautiful and really adds to the storytelling. The special effects in this are all great as well. It’s just an insanely well crafted show that you can tell everyone involved put 250% into. I know that is mathematically illogical (and possibly impossible), but I don’t care, it’s how I feel.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.9/10.

“Midnight Mass” is an absolutely phenomenal horror show that had me glued to the screen from start to end. It has a fantastic story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/writing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Midnight Mass” is a 9.94/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Midnight Mass” is now completed.

Month of Spooks is off to one hell of a start!

Movie Review: The Mustang (2019)

Horses, wonderful creatures. Absolutely astonishing beasts. Also, huge and terrifying and able to crush a dude like a bug. So you know… try to not annoy a horse. Also, don’t annoy people. Just a bit of advice from Uncle Markus.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Mustang”.

While doing time in prison, Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts) soon gets involved in a rehabilitation program where convicts learn to train wild mustangs. And we follow him as he struggles with this new task, as well as the struggles he faces when confronting himself and his violent past. If you are an impatient individual, you might not enjoy the storytelling of “The Mustang”. It’s a slow burn, taking its time to really let moments simmer, let us get into the heads of the characters and their situation. Of course there are moments where shit gets real and things become less calm, but on the whole this is a movie that is in no hurry to tell its story. And I appreciate that. It helped immerse me in the story presented to me. And in the end I found it to be an insanely heart-wrenching and engaging story.

The characters in this are all pretty engaging, and all work very well in making the story and world therein to feel more lived in. They all feel very real in that sense. Matthias Schoenaerts plays Roman, our main character. He’s a man who clearly has a bit of a troubled past (to say the least), and the way we see him developing and confronting himself throughout the film is insanely engaging, with Schoenaerts delivering a masterful performance. And then in supporting roles you have people like Bruce Dern, Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton, Josh Stewart, Thomas Smittle, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Kurzel, and I think he did a terrific job with it. It very much fits with the contemplative vibe that the story goes for, brought to life beautifully by a mix of guitar, piano, and various other stringed instruments. It really finds a nice middle ground between the dusty Nevada setting and the eerie, soul-sucking confinement of prison. It’s a mesmerizing score that really elevated the movie beyond the already high quality.

“The Mustang” was the first film directed and co-written by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, and I think she did a fantastic job with it. Just seeing the skill and level of control she clearly has over each scene is mesmerizing. When I was watching I thought she’d made  whole bunch of movies, but no, this was her first. And if she shows this level of skill with her debut, I am excited to see what she could bring in the future. Anyhow, back to the movie itself. The direction like I said, it’s great, beautiful, just superb. The direction really brings you into the world in a way that feels very raw and real. And the cinematography by Ruben Impens is just gorgeous. So yeah, the craft in this movie is terrific.

“The Mustang” has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

The slow burn of “The Mustang” may put some people off, but I personally found it to be a highly engrossing and heart-wrenching drama. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, terrific music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Neigh*. My final score for “The Mustang” is a 9.90/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Mustang” is now completed.

Schoenaerts not getting a best actor nomination for this is just criminal.

Series Review: Doom Patrol – Season 2 (2020)

Last year I watched (and reviewed, nudge nudge wink wink) the first season of this show. I absolutely loved it. So now that I finally finished season 2, the question becomes “Is the show able to follow up on such a strong first outing?”. Well, today we’re gonna find that out.

Ladies and gents… “Doom Patrol” season 2!

We once again follow the dysfunctional adoptive “family” of mad scientist Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton), now recently having added Caulder’s real, estranged daughter Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro) to their mix. All the while they deal with their own personal demons in the chaotic and often destructive ways we’ve come to know from them. As with the first season, the sophomore outing of “Doom Patrol” isn’t afraid of exploring the stranger sides of the DC Universe, giving us some of the strangest and most insane characters from the comics. And while this helps create some absurd hilarity throughout, the writers still take the time to really take us into the characters’ heads and dramas, creating a strong emotional bond that keeps the viewer invested in everything going on, even when things get absolutely fucking bonkers. It’s a damn good mix of strange, hilarious weirdness, and genuinely emotional drama.

The characters in this are flawed, extremely nuanced, colorful, fun, engaging, and overall just insanely interesting. I won’t go into detail with each character as that would take all month, but let it be known that they all have really fascinating arcs this season that add upon developments from the first season quite well. I can at least say that the returning core cast, including people like Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Joivan Wade, Timothy Dalton, Matthew Zuk, and Riley Shanahan all give excellent performances in their respective roles. And newcomer Abigail Shapiro (in her first on screen role no less) holds her own excellently against these more established performers, playing the inexperienced and naive Dorothy beautifully. And some of the supporting and guest actors are great too. It’s just an overall great cast.

As with season 1, the music for season 2 was done mainly by Kevin Kiner, with some assistance by Clint Mansell. And good god damn, the score here is excellent. It’s mostly based around synths, but it helps create a sound that is a little weird and otherworldly, perfectly befitting of this show’s overall tone, fitting both the insane and emotional sides of the narrative. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes.

The episodes of “Doom Patrol” season 2 were written and directed by a whole bunch of people, and the craft on display here is superb. The shot composition is great, the pacing is great, the cinematography is beautiful, everything just together perfectly. Even the special effects have had a bit of a step up in quality, from being very hit and miss in the first season to all looking pretty damn good here. And as implied earlier, this show has a fair bit of comedy to it. And I felt like it all landed, creating many loud, belly laughs.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating. On Metacritic it has no score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.0/10.

Season 2 of “Doom Patrol” is another excellent batch of insane, emotionally resonant stories. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, great directing/cinematography, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Doom Patrol” season 2 is a 9,94/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Doom Patrol” season 2 is now completed.

Long live weirdness.

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