Movie Review: Regression (2015)

Is there a devil? Fucked if I know, so let’s talk about a movie, which is something I do know about!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Regression”.

Minnesota, 1990. Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) is tasked with finding the culprit behind the traumatic events in a young woman’s (Emma Watson) life. And while investigating, evidence starts pointing towards a satanic cult potentially being involved. I’m gonna be honest, I like the premise of this one. It is interesting, it has potential to be a really fascinating thriller. And credit where it’s due, I did find the first half of the film kind of enjoyable. Admittedly a bit rote in what was going on, as we’ve seen similar shit in other procedurals, but it was still a decent take on familiar story territory (terristory?). Buuuuut when we entered the second half the train started to derail a bit. The pacing started dragging, and things started to get convoluted and messy. It all felt like it was in service of trying to shock its viewers with weird twists and revelations rather than make something that feels coherent and satisfying in any way. It also has a habit of getting a bit silly at a few points, which would be fine if the rest of the movie didn’t take itself so god damn seriously all the time. So yeah, solid premise, decent first half, trainwreck second half.

The characters in this, much like the premise, have solid enough setups. The foundations for them is strong, and could make for some intriguing character dynamics. However, much like a chicken that gives you salmonella, they are a bit undercooked. Ethan Hawke plays detective Bruce Kenner, our skeptic lead character whose stance is constantly shifting. He’s probably the closest we get to an interesting arc at times, but then in the end I felt very unsatisfied by it. Hawke does a damn good job with his performance, but the character isn’t quite as interesting as he clearly could be. And in supporting roles we see people like David Thewlis, Emma Watson, David Dencik, Lothaire Bluteau, Dale Dickey, and more, all doing pretty well in their roles, but just like with Hawke’s detective Kenner, their characters don’t feel fully fleshed out. And when you have a top notch cast like this, it gets to be a bit of a shame when the characters themselves feel so undercooked.

The score for the movie was composed by Roque Baños, and he did an alright job. It’s a fairly standard thriller score with some mildly eerie strings and piano, with the occasional bit of brass to increase intensity in certain scenes. Not saying it really succeeds at that (sadly), but I recognize what he was going for. And all things considered, it was an alright score in itself.

“Regression” was written and directed by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar, and I think he did a fine job. There are times when he creates a decent atmosphere, however it seldom lasts long enough to really elevate the messy narrative. And even in scenes that are meant to be less atmospheric and more investigative, you know, the procedural stuff, Amenábar’s skill never really manages to help much beyond a “I guess this scene is well constructed in the technical sense”. Speaking of which, to be slightly positive for once, I have to say that Daniel Aranyó’s cinematography does look nice, it is pleasing to my eye. Again, it doesn’t really do enough to save the narrative or characters, but it’s at least something I can be nice about.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it hs a 15% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 32/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.7/10.

Despite some promising elements, “Regression” sadly fell short for me. The plot felt like a mess, the characters are uninteresting, the performances are really good, the music is fine, and the directing is fine. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Regression” is a 4.23/10. So sadly I’d have to recommend skipping it.

My review of “Regression” is now completed.

Damn it.

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: Blaze (2018)

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

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Blaze”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My review of “Blaze” is now completed.

That was a nice experience.

Movie Review: First Reformed (2018)

Faith. Something a lot of people struggle with, regardless of which religion it is. And that’s all the religious talk I’m doing today, don’t wanna accidentally start a flame war (you commenters behave now).

Ladies and gentlemen… “First Reformed”.

Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a priest in an old church. And he soon starts struggling with his faith as things around him start crumbling. So now we have our drama. And it’s great. The plot here features a lot of sensitive subjects, which could’ve absolutely gone sideways in the wrong hands. But they are handled beautifully here. It all comes together to create a plot that is haunting, dramatic, layered, and insanely engaging.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, realistic, and just really interesting. First up we have Ethan Hawke as reverend Ernst Toller, the man at the center of this story. He has a very tragic past that kind of comes back to haunt him as he experiences certain things throughout the plot here. Seeing him having to deal with his demons, while also dealing with other people’s problems is really fascinating, and gives him a good bit of development. And Hawke is fantastic in the role. Next we have Amanda Seyfried as Mary, a pregnant woman who comes to seek Toller’s counsel during a stressful time in her life. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that, as the rest of her arc is seen through the movie and I don’t wanna spoil it. But it’s good. And Seyfried is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Cedric the Entertainer, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger, Michael Gaston, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Brian Williams and it was… fine. It’s just this low droning sound that shows up partway through the movie. While not bad, it feels a bit superfluous. We did fine without it, and suddenly it’s part of a couple scenes. Had it not been there I wouldn’t mind, it would’ve in fact given the general soundscape of the movie a bit more consistency. Again, not bad… just fine.

This movie was written and directed by Paul Schrader, who I think did a fantastic job. His direction is kind of cold and distant while still intimate to the character of reverend Toller. It really helps give the movie a unique feel of unease that I don’t think I’ve experienced elsewhere. I mean, movies have made me feel uneasy before, but not in the same way that “First Reformed” did. What also adds to it is the 1.37:1 aspect ratio. At first it caught me a bit off guard, but I quickly got used to it and thought it worked very well for the movie. And the cinematography by Alexander Dynan is pretty damn solid.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“First Reformed” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it was a fantastic and unique drama. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, okay music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “First Reformed” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “First Reformed” is now completed.

Amen.

Movie Review: Maggie’s Plan (2016)

Since it’s valentine’s day, I thought I’d watch a romance movie. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Maggie’s Plan”.

Maggie (Greta Gerwig) has a plan to get impregnated, but without getting married, and raising the child on her own. But her plan and life gets a bit messier when she gets romantically involved with a married man (Ethan Hawke). So we follow Maggie through the ups and downs that come from this situation so now we have our romantic dramedy plot. And is it any good? For the most part, sure. It has some interesting ideas, and I was somewhat invested throughout the entirety of it. But I was also slightly bored. It was interesting enough to continue following through the entire runtime (a little over 90 minutes), but I somehow found myself a little bored by it all. It’s quite the enigma. So I guess it was… fine.

The characters in this are pretty interesting. Greta Gerwig plays Maggie, the titular lady whose plan gets a bit fucked. She’s a very kind and intelligent young woman with a lot on her mind, and it’s interesting to see her characteristics tested throughout everything that happens. And Gerwig gives a great performance. Ethan Hawke plays John, the married man that Maggie gets romantically engaged with. He’s an author and college professor with a lot on his plate. And he’s generally an interesting individual. And Hawke is great in the role. Then we have Julianne Moore as John’s wife Georgette. I’m not gonna say too much about her as she’s best experienced, but she’s quite a unique character. And Moore is really good in the role. Then we have Travis Fimmel as a guy named Guy (yes, really), and he’s the guy that Maggie more or less chose as donor for her pre-conundrum baby. And he’s a sweet guy with understandable ambitions. And Fimmel is good in the role. Then we have Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph as Tony and Felicia, two of Maggie’s closest friends. I’m lumping them both together since they kind of serve the same purpose, which is to deliver truth bombs to Maggie while also being a bit self-deprecating, which leads to a good amount of funny humor. And Hader & Rudolph and really good in the roles. It’s a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Rohatyn and it was good. It’s a pretty quirky and fun score with tracks that fit pretty well within some of the quirky romantic comedy scenes. At times it isn’t a perfect fit, but for the most part it works. There’s also a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

This movie was written and directed by Rebecca Miller and I think she did a good job. Her direction here is competent, even though it doesn’t do anything unique with it. It looks pretty good, but never really stands out in direction. But it’s still good enough to get the viewer (me) a bit more invested in what’s going on.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

“Maggie’s Plan” has a lot of good things going for it, though it has flaws. It has a fine plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and pretty good directing. As previously mentioned, the plot here is a bit of an enigma, somehow being both boring and interesting at the same time. And some of the music doesn’t quite fit perfectly. Time for my final score.  *Ahem*. My final score for “Maggie’s Plan” is a 7,77/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it’s definitely worth a rental.

My review of “Maggie’s Plan” is now completed.

Happy valentine’s day or something.

Movie Review: Born to Be Blue (2016)

Jazz. Some like it, some don’t. Me? I like some jazz. so let’s talk about some jazzy stuff.

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… “Born to Be Blue”.

The story here is about jazz musician Chet Baker (Ethan Hawke) as he has fallen from grace due to his drug addiction. And we follow his journey as he tries to find love, redemption, and maybe one day make a comeback. So now we have our musician story. And while the basic setup shows some familiar ideas, ultimately it has a slightly different vibe than most biopics. Most biopics do everything to make the characters and his/her story seem big and romanticized in some way, but this doesn’t do that. It feels smaller and more personal, flaws of the people intact. It’s kind of refreshing to see a biopic plot that isn’t so hagiographic.

What I like about the characters here is that they feel real. They have flaws and layers to them, making them a bit more interesting. Ethan Hawke plays Chet Baker, the troubled musician. He’s a former addict who wants to find love and redemption. He has a lot of determination which is something I respect about him, but they also show that he is far from flawless, making him a bit more believable as a character. And Hawke is fantastic in the role. His performance is less about the big, explosive moments (though he gets one or two in the movie), but more about the subtle nuances in his faical expressions and gestures. Carmen Ejogo plays Jane, an actress that Chet meets and forms a bit of a relationship with. She wants to see Chet do well and get better, but she also wants to do her own things, making her slightly conflicted. And Ejogo is great in the role. Then we have Callum Keith Rennie as Dick, a friend/producer of Chet’s. He wants to see Chet do well, but he can also see that Chet is a troubled man. And he’s decently interesting. And Rennie is really good in the role. Those were the ones worth going more in-depth with, but let it be known that every actor does a good job in this movie.

The score for the movie was composed by David Braid (with some help from Todor Kobakov & Steve London) and I think he did a great job. What we have here is a score that is rooted in jazz (which is fitting since this is about jazz). And I found that the score here often helps to elevate the emotion or overall drama of a scene. So yeah, it’s very well composed and fit the movie perfectly. The few licensed tracks used throughout are also well implemented.

This movie was written and directed by Robert Budreau and I think he did a great job. His directing is pretty chill, complementing the smooth jazz of the movie quite well. And his directing combined with Steve Cosens’ cinematography creates this great mood for the movie that I really liked experiencing. It also looks great, it’s a visually striking movie.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

“Born to Be Blue” is a damn good biopic. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Toots the trumpet*. My final score for “Born to Be Blue” is a 9,83/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Born to Be Blue” is now completed.

Holy chet, that was good.

Movie Review: Daybreakers (2010)

The Month of Spooks continues! And what’s this, more vampires? Greeeeaaaaat.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Daybreakers”.

The world has gone to shit. An outbreak has caused most of humanity to turn into vampires. We follow Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), a vampire/hematologist who joins a group of humans to try to find a cure for vampirism. So now we have our dystopian vampire plot. And it is actually pretty good. It sets up quite an interesting and fairly unique world that felt a bit more realized compared to other dystopias, a lot thanks to the attention to detail. It also has some interesting spins on vampire mythology. However, despite some of the cool ideas that the plot has, it is far from flawless. While the world and it’s mythology is interesting, the overall plot is kind of weak. I understood what was going on, it was pretty straight-forward. However, despite the world and mythos feeling developed, the rest of the plot is just there. It never fully engaged me, I just kind of followed along, never really feeling invested. And the ending teases a sequel. It doesn’t bother me that much, I just thought it would be worth mentioning. But overall the plot here is fine.

I’m a bit split on the characters here. Some of them I find quite interesting, even caring quite a bit about them. And some I find kind of bland. Ethan Hawke plays Edward Dalton, the conflicted vampire/hematologist. He does his job, but he also feels sorry for the humans. This personal conflict is pretty interesting and makes him a bit more of an interesting character. And Hawke is great in the role. Claudia Karvan plays Audrey, one of the people from the resistance that Edward decides to help. She’s decently tough, smart, and determined. And Karvan is good in the role. Willem Dafoe plays “Elvis”, another member of the resistance. He’s likable, interesting, and just cool. And Dafoe is of course great in the role. Sam Neill plays Charles Bromley, the head of a huge corporation, and the boss of Dalton. And he’s one of the more bland individuals in the movie. The characters is just your typical bland corporate asshole character with the only twist being that he’s a vampire. And Sam Neill is pretty good in the role. And then we have Michael Dorman as Dalton younger brother, Frankie. He’s a bit of a dick, but you can tell that there’s a heart there somewhere. And Dorman is good in the role. Again, some characters are great, some not so much. But it’s at least well acted.

The score was composed by Christopher Gordon and it was good. While it’s not something I’d find myself listening to a lazy Sunday afternoon, it works very well for the movie. It’s loud, exciting, and just overall works well for this type of science fiction-thriller movie. It never felt out of place and worked fine for the movie.

This movie was directed by Michael & Peter Spierig (who later went on to make the excellent “Predestination”) and I think they did a really good job here. Their directing is tight, tense, and pretty eerie, often making me feel slightly on edge. And the action scenes in this movie are fun. Not among the best I’ve ever seen, but they’re fun and have a good amount of impact to them. And let’s talk about the visual effects. Because some of them look fucking fantastic, and some of them look… meh. That said, for such a small budget it is quite impressive what they managed to create here. There’s also plenty of blood & gore here and it is glorious, especially when most vampire movies around that time were dull, sparkly, PG-13 shitstains that wouldn’t dare go this far. But “Daybreakers” did it, and it’s glorious.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,5/10.

Will “Daybreakers” be remembered in the future as a classic? No. But for what it’s worth, this is quite an entertaining sci-fi-thriller. It has an okay plot, good characters, really good performances, good music, and great directing. My only flaws with it come from the plot feeling somewhat thin, and some characters being a bit bland. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Daybreakers” is an 8,53/10. So while flawed it is still worth buying.

My review of “Daybreakers” is now completed.

Two Ethan Hawke movies in the span of one week… hell yeah.

Movie Review: Sinister (2012)

And the Month of Spooks rolls on. Aaaaand we’re back to creepy house stuff. So let’s just jump into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Sinister”.

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime author who moves into a new house with his family. And while searching through the house he stumbles upon a box of super 8 reels. When he decides to watch them for research he finds out that they feature the gruesome murders of various people. And shortly thereafter some strange things start happening around the house. You could say that these occurrences are… sinister (HA!). Puns aside, this is a good plot. It’s a slowly burning horror movie that has an interesting enough idea and manages to do some interesting things with it. Sure, the plot features various horror cliches throughout, but it does them well enough that I didn’t mind. The plot is tense and at times quite disturbing. The only things about it that I don’t like is the very final moment of the film. I’m not gonna spoil what it is in case you’re someone who wants to watch the movie, and to be honest it didn’t ruin anything for me. But it felt a bit out of place compared to the rest of the movie. But yeah, overall this is a tense, interesting, and kind of disturbing plot.

The characters in this feel real and interesting and I found myself actually caring about them. Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt (a combination of Harlan Ellison and Patton Oswalt), the author looking for his next big hit. Seeing him go through all this horrifying shit is part fascinating and part terrifying, because we do really get to know him and even care about him, which makes it scary when he’s put at risk. And Ethan Hawke (as usual) is great in the role. Then we have Juliet Rylance as Oswalt’s wife, Tracy. She’s a loving and caring wife who only gets mad at her husband because his obsession with these cases makes him act strange, putting pressure on the family. And Rylance is really good in the role. Then we have James Ransone as a police deputy who helps Oswalt with the investigation, getting some inside info for him. But unlike other deputies in horror flicks (Like Dewey in “Scream”), he isn’t an idiot… just a bit starstruck. He’s clever, he’s charming, and Ransone is really good in the movie. Then we have Clare Foley and Michael Hall D’Addario as Oswalt’s kids. Both actors are good in their roles. Yeah, this is a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Christopher Young and it was great. It was weird, eerie, dark, creepy, atmospheric, and just overall well composed, more often than not helping to elevate the tension of a scene. Really, the music was great. I wouldn’t listen to it while riding the bus or sitting alone in my room, but it was great.

This movie was directed by Scott Derrickson (who later went on to make “Doctor Strange”) and I think he did a great job. His directing is tight, claustrophobic, and incredibly tense. And while there are some jumpscares in this movie, it doesn’t rely on them (unlike a lot of modern horror flicks). Also, they are genuine and feel earned. And since this is a horror movie, let’s talk scariness level. Fuck me, this movie was terrifying. Like I said, the movie builds a lot of tension, and then puts in a few genuinely scary jumpscares. It also features some horrifying imagery that will stay in my head for days. I felt genuinely terrified throughout the movie. Real fear, real dread. Good job, crew.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 63% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

Guys, “Sinister” is fucking terrifying. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great/horrifying direction. Time for my final score. *BOO!*. My final score for “Sinister” is a 9,65/10. So it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Sinister” is now completed.

Sinister purpose, knockin’ at your door…

Movie Review: Gattaca (1997)

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. There’s no “destiny”, you make up your own story. You have control over your own path.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Gattaca”.

Ever since he was a kid, Vincent (Ethan Hawke) has wanted to go to space. But due to his inferior genes he has been ineligible for the longest time to even take part in the program. But he finds a way to potentially achieve his dream when he gets to assume the identity of a genetically superior man (Jude Law) to get into the program. So now we have our sci-fi plot. And it is honestly pretty damn great. It explores the themes of humanity and ethics. It’s an engaging drama with a slight science fiction twist. The type of sci-fi here feels fairly believable, as if it could possibly happen in the future. But it’s mainly an inspiring drama about a man trying to achieve his dreams despite what some have told him, and I have huge respect for that. It’s a truly great plot.

The characters are fleshed out and quite interesting. Vincent has, despite his shortcomings, always hoped that his dreams of space travel will come true. And seeing his determination to make his dream a reality is kind of inspiring. And Ethan Hawke is great in the role. Uma Thurman plays one of Vincent’s co-workers that we get to know a bit throughout the movie. And Thurman is great in the role. Jude Law plays the “genetically superior” man whose identity Vincent assumes to make it into the space program. He’s a charming and fun guy with some okay dramatic stuff going for him throughout. And Law is great in the role. Then the cast is rounded out by actors like Ernest Borgnine, Xander Berkeley, Gore Vidal, Alan Arkin, Loren Dean, Tony Shalhoub, Jayne Brook, and Elias Koteas (and more), all doing very well here.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Nyman and it was fantastic. It strikes a perfect balance of tense, inspiring, and emotional. It’s mainly based around strings which gives it a very beautiful sound. And it all works very well for the movie, elevating the already great scenes.

The movie was written and directed by Andrew Niccol (who also made the great “Lord of War”) and I think he did a fantastic job here. The way he manages to create a world that is familiar yet different is excellent, and he manages to keep a surprising amount of tension going throughout. I don’t mean edge-of-your-seat type of tension, but rather a tense feel of unease as Vincent tries to keep his real identity a secret throughout. The movie is also very well shot, it’s definitely what I would call visually arresting. And there are a couple of clever little details in certain shots throughout that I thought were nice touches.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Gattaca” is pretty fucking great. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Gattaca” is a 9,86/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Gattaca” is now completed.

I’m gonna say it once again… Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. Write your own story.

Movie Review: In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Something, something… Markus likes westerns… something, something… let’s get into it!

Ladies and gents… “In a Valley of Violence”.

The story of this movie follows a mysterious wanderer (Ethan Hawke) who experiences a horrific act of violence. And then he goes on a hunt to find and take out the people responsible. It’s a very simple western revenge plot, and it really never needed to be anything more. Sometimes you don’t need an overly complicated plot or a plot touching on the themes of morality and/or the psychology of the characters. This plot is exactly what it needed to be… a highly enjoyable western revenge tale. Original? Nope. Good? Hell yes.

The characters in this movie, while not very deep, are all interesting and entertaining. Ethan Hawke is great as the main guy. His character is also probably the deepest, because thye actually give him a backstory and clear motivations. And Hawke gave us a great performance. John Travolta plays the Marshal of the town that most of the movie is set and he was actually really good. Sure, he never gets to do anything that truly stretches his acting muscles, but he still did well in the role. James Ransone plays Travolta’s son/the man that makes Ethan Hawke go on the hunt for the assholes responsible, and he was really good. His character is set up to be a big cunt, and Ransone played that very well. Taissa Farmiga plays a young woman Hawke more or less befriends in the movie, and she was really good. Karen Gillan is in the movie, playing the wife of James Ransone’s character, and she was really good in the role. Then we have Larry Fessenden as Roy, a member of Ransone’s crew, and how do I put it… his character was really over-the-top and Fessenden was just a million flavors of fun in the role. And we also have Burn Gorman as a preacher that pops up at a few times in the movie, and he was really good in the role. All actors did a really solid job in the movie!

The original score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace and it was great. It is a mix of both old and new. Let me explain. The composition shares similarities to scores from Ennio Morricone’s old western scores. But it also shares a few similarities with some more modern scores, à la “The Assassination of Jesse James” or “Sicario”. And it all fit the movie very well, often making scenes more intense while being overall well composed.

This movie was directed by Ti West and I think he did a great job. What I like most about it feels like an old-school 1960s western. The shots just feel like something from Sergio Leone. Now, it’s not quite as great as Leone’s stuff, I’m just trying to find a suitable comparison. But yeah, it’s like an old western but with better camera/sound equipment and more blood. So yes, this is a pretty violent movie. When people get shot, there’s blood. Not as much as in maybe “Django Unchained”, but there’s definitely more blood than in a fair amount of other westerns. And for anyone possibly wondering, I am not using any of these comparisons to make this movie seem smaller/worse than it is… just trying to find good ways to explain certain elements of it.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,0/10.

“In a Valley of Violence” is a really solid old-school western. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Bang!*. My final score for “In a Valley of Violence” is a 9,78/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “In a Valley of Violence” is now completed.

Gotta say, 2016 was a pretty good year for westerns. “Magnificent Seven”, “Hell or High Water”, and “In a Valley of Violence”…