Series Review: A Christmas Carol (2019)

I guess we gotta cover something christmas-related since the holidays are upon us. And lucky for me, we just got a new christmas mini-series to talk about. Yay.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Christmas Carol”.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Guy Pearce) is an anti-social, greedy businessman who’s made his success on the misery of others for years. But one night right before christmas day, three spirits come to visit him to try to make him realize the fault of his ways. Everybody knows the setup for this story, question with each adaptation tends to instead come down to execution. And the execution in this series is not great. It’s a really dark, bleak, and edgy take on the classic story that is honestly stretched way too long. Sure, three episodes don’t sound like much. But when each episode is just under 60 minutes long and tries to then stretch a 110 page book out to that runtime, it just feels like it drags its ass. Plus, while the darker take sounds interesting on paper, it just doesn’t work, often taking me out of it. Even the supposedly heartwarming bits leave me feeling cold. The story’s just off for me.

The characters in this you know the basic dynamics of. But they also get given a somewhat darker edge to them that just makes things feel a little off at times. Guy Pearce of course plays the ultimate douchebag that is Ebenezer Scrooge. Anti-social, greedy, douchey… he’s just the worst. And Pearce is great in the role. You get Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley, and he’s of course great. Joe Alwyn does an admirable job as Bob Cratchit. Lenny Rush who plays Tiny Tim does a really good job. Andy Serkis as the ghost of christmas past rides the line between intimidating and hammy wonderfully. Really, all actors here brought their A-game, even if the material isn’t always up to snuff.

The score for the series was composed by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran. It was okay. Nothing too memorable, nothing that ruined the series, but also didn’t improve it. It’s just kinda there. Moving on.

Based on the classic book by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” was brought to us by Steven Knight, with Nick Murphy serving as director. And while the show felt a bit lackluster in the story and character departments, it excels in the production parts. The sets are immaculate, the costumes neat, and the cinematography by Si Bell was gorgeous. You can tell that so much love and care was put into how the world was crafted.

This show hasn’t been too well received so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 60% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 39/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

Despite having some things strewn throughout, 2019’s “A Christmas Carol” is ultimately not a great adaptation. The story isn’t very good, the characters are meh, the performances are great, the music is meh, and the directing, cinematography, and sets are great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Christmas Carol” is a 4,65/10. So despite some good stuff, I’d still recommend skipping it.

My review of “A Christmas Carol” is now completed.

If someone disagrees with me, they better use “humbug”.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 7)

That’s right, this series is still going. I am not giving up on it, even remembering to do a post each day is a surprisingly stressful act. Anyway, here’s today’s post.

Based on a book by Ron Hansen, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” was released in 2007, and directed by Andrew Dominik. It follows a young man named Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) who has idolized legendary American outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt) for many years, and then finally gets the chance to join his gang at the age of 19. The movie is a character-driven psychological drama all about demythologizing Jesse James while also deconstructing its central protagonist, Robert Ford. So now you’re probably wondering how I’m gonna contrive this to be a christmas movie? Well, watch and learn, my friends. This is how the pros (read: idiots) do it.

Now, one or two of you might assume I’m gonna use the scenes set in snowy landscapes for this. Well, as I’ve probably established earlier in this series, I’m not that fucking shallow. That’s not contrived enough. No, I got something else.
What we see in the movie after Bob joins Jesse’s gang is how much he notices what a psychotic, paranoid disappointment Jesse actually might’ve been, and not this awesome cowboy legend you might read about and enjoy following in a dime novel. So one of the basic messages one can sort of get out of this movie is “Don’t meet your heroes, because you’re just gonna be disappointed”. And that works as our christmas analogy, because as a kid you might be celebrating the holiday with your family, both immediate and extended. And all of a sudden Santa Claus shows up, lets kids sit on his lap, and give them presents. But then one of your dumbass cousins decides to tug at Santa’s beard and find out that it’s just your uncle in a cheap costume, and it turns out there is no actual magical lobster man. Bob getting to know Jesse is kind of the same thing. Instead of this magically awesome being he thought he knew, it turned out to be something a bit more disappointing. So “The Assassination of Jesse James” is a christmas movie in the sense that the truth about the legend is a fucking disappointment, just like Santa Claus.

The movie on the other hand isn’t a disappointment, it’s fucking fantastic. One of my favorites.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 6)

Holy shit, we’re already halfway through this silly series of mine. Time sure flies when things happen. So let’s get into it.

Some of you might recognize the movie from the image up above. Today we’re talking about “Overlord”, a 2018 action-horror movie directed by Julius Avery, and produced by J.J. Abrams. It’s about a group of American soldiers who fall behind enemy lines during World War 2, in an attempt to make a difference in the tides of war. This might sound familiar to some of you, as I have talked about this movie on the blog before… twice, as a matter of fact (and about a kajillion other times on twitter). So now I hear you groaning “Markus, how can a grim World War 2 horror movie possibly be associated with christmas?”. Well, strap in and make yourself ready for my reasoning.

What’s one of the most important parts of christmas? Bringing joy, right? Well, you know what brings me a whole lot of joy? Seeing nazi punks get blown the fuck up, shot to shit, absolutely annihilated, and other delightful synonyms for that situation. Sure, there are parts where our heroes are stuck or pinned down, struggling with their mission. But that just makes it even more satisfying and joyous to see them destroy god damn nazi assholes. Call me a sick son of a bitch if you want, but with our world being what it currently is, this kind of violent escapism is important, especially during the season of joy.

Have a good one.

Quentin Rankantino

Howdy, motherfuckers. Today we’re doing something a little bit differently. Instead of reviewing something, we’re ranking stuff. And by we, I mean me. With the impending release of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, I have been rewatching all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. So now that I got that task done, I have decided to rank them, from least favorite, to my top pick. So get your buckets of blood and Samuel L. Jacksons ready as we rank the movies of Quentin Tarantino, in a special post we call… Quentin Rankantino!

Number 9: Death Proof.

Coming in at the bottom is Tarantino’s grindhouse homage, “Death Proof” (fittingly used within the “Grindhouse” double feature). It’s not awful per se, but it’s Tarantula’s weakest movie by a mile. The pacing is wonky, and I don’t exactly find any of the characters particularly interesting. What gives it some points are the action scenes, which are a hard-hitting bit of fun. Also, Kurt fucking Russell… I don’t have much to say there, I just like Kurt Russell.

Number 8: Jackie Brown.

For our number 8 slot we make a huge god damn leap from “not that good” to “that’s really good”. In Toronto’s third movie, based on “Rum Punch” by Elmore Leonard, a stewardess (Pam Grier) gets drawn into a complex crime plot by the ATF. It can feel a bit cluttered at times, affecting the pacing a bit, which is why it finds itself so low on the list. But with that said, thanks to the stellar cast and one hell of a funky soundtrack it still stands out as a damn solid movie in this director’s filmography.

Number 7: Kill Bill Volume 1

Now, I know that Turntable considers “Kill Bill” one movie, but they were released as two, so I rank them as two. Now, I find the story and characterization a bit weak in this one… but it’s still a damn good movie, filled with stylish, batshit insane action and some fun performances.

Number 6: Kill Bill Volume 2

While I’d put both “Assassinate William” movies on the same level in terms of various technicalities, I still do prefer the second one, due to its slower, more character-driven journey. Yes, we do still get some crazy, well handled action, but it’s not quite as much as in the first movie… and that’s okay.

Number 5: The Hateful Eight

Tabernacle’s second western is quite the interesting tale of assholes trying to not kill each other… which is technically how one could describe all his movies to some extent. Hmm. Either way, this 2015 western-drama-thriller may be very slow, but it’s quite the electrifying experience, thanks in large part to the absolutely mesmerizing performances from its core cast. Plus, having a score from maestro Ennio Morricone certainly doesn’t hurt.

Number 4: Pulp Fiction

Oh how many watches am I gonna get shoved up my ass for this placement? That’s right, the fourth place winner is Tacheometer’s sophomore outing, “Pulp Fiction”. Often considered one of the greatest movies ever made (and I can see why), it tells the tale of many assholes and their overlapping stories. And it’s that story that brings it down a bit for me (*”Ironside” siren blares*). It’s fun to watch, but the jumping back and forth, especially between so many stories can make it feel a little, well, jumpy at times, which can every so lightly fuck with the pacing a times. But with the help from an amazing cast, great music, and the ever so fiery dialogue, it manages to still hold up quite well.

Number 3: Django Unchained

A mostly straightforward revenge tale, Tartarology’s “Django Unchained” still manages to entertain across its nearly three hour runtime thanks to a colorful cast, an amazing soundtrack, and some of the most blood-soaked shootouts I have ever fucking seen. It’s a bit of slavery drama mixed with a popcorn bloodbath. What’s not to love?

Number 2: Reservoir Dogs

At the number two slot is where we find Tatterdemalion’s cinematic debut, “Reservoir Dogs”, a heist movie that isn’t really a heist movie. Showing the before and after of a botched diamond robbery, the movie jumps back and forth as we get to know the various characters as they deal with this entire situation. It’s fun, it’s suspenseful, and it’s one of the most impressive debuts I have ever seen.

NUMBER 1: Inglourious Basterds

And we’re finally at the number 1 slot. Numero uno. Top of the pops. My favorite of Tangoreceptor’s movies. “Inglourious Basterds” is a clever piece of historical fiction, showing the stories of various people trying to kill nazis. From a group of Jewish-American guerrilla soldiers, to the British government, to a young woman seeking revenge… everyone is out for nazi blood, and it is one hell of a good time. Dramatic, funny, suspenseful, exciting, it’s everything one could want in a movie from this director. There’s a ton of great stuff within this movie that I don’t have the time (or current willingness) to write about, but all of it comes together wonderfully to make my favorite movie from this director.

So what do you think? What’s your favorite movie from Quantum Turnbuckle? Please tell me, I’d love to hear from y’all.
Have a good one.

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.

Series Review: Chernobyl (2019)

Usually I make some kind of cute remarks in these intros that relate to the thing I’m reviewing. But in this case I just can’t. There’s nothing clever I can say. So I guess we should just get into the review itself.

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… “Chernobyl”.

The Chernobyl power plant, Ukraine, April 1986. It’s in the middle of the night. The people working the plant notice something going awry. The core has exploded. So we follow in the aftermath of that, showing how it affects the people either working the plant or trying to stop it from getting worse. We also get to see how scientist Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) tries to figure out ways to fix it, while dealing with all the red tape of the Soviet government. So now we have our historical drama. And man, this is a fucking masterclass in storytelling. Sure, it doesn’t give you any major twists or turns, but it instead takes the relatively straightforward events and tells them in a very nuanced, respectful, and anxiety-inducing way. There isn’t a scene in this show that didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. It may not technically be listed as horror, but it sure as hell felt like it at times.

The characters in this all feel layered, flawed, nuanced, realistic, and overall very interesting. Jared Harris plays Valery Legasov, the scientist put in charge of trying to fix the whole conundrum of the Chernobyl explosion. He’s one of those people who tries to make sense of everything, but also gets frustrated when people won’t listen to him. And it’s interesting to see him go through the various issues he has to deal with in the series. And Harris is fantastic in the role. We also get performances from people like Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, Jessie Buckley, Barry Keoghan, Con O’Neill, Paul Ritter, David Dencik, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for “Chernobyl” was composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir, and it was fantastic. It’s dark, it’s eerie, it’s emotional, it’s anxiety-inducing… it’s exactly the kind of score that is befitting of the storytelling. So yeah, it fits quite well.

Based on the horrifying nuclear disaster in 1986, the show was created and written by Craig Mazin, with Johan Renck directing. And the craft behind this is stellar. The direction is always eerie, never letting up any of the suspense. It’s claustrophobic, but also intimate with its characters, really bringing you into their personal struggles. And the cinematography by Jakob Ihre is quite eerie too.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,7/10 and is ranked #1 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“Chernobyl” isn’t a fun show… but it is quite fantastic. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Chernobyl” is a 9,94/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Chernobyl” is now completed.

You know what’s interesting? The guy who wrote this show also wrote the “Hangover” sequels and some of the later “Scary Movie” entries.

The Great Villain Blogathon 2019: Wafner from Overlord

Well hello there, people. Hope you’re doing well. Today I will be going out of my regular review wheelhouse a bit. When it was announced that the lovely ladies of Speakeasy, Silver Screenings, and Shadows & Satin were hosting a blogathon about movie villains, I of course had to sign up. I actually took part in another one of these about two years ago, so I’m happy to join another one! So let’s stop it with the introductions and get into my pick for The Great Villain Blogathon 2019!

Last time I took part in a villainous blogathon, I went back a handful of years and talked about the T-1000 from “Terminator 2”. So this time I went for a more recent thing. And to give you a fair warning: There will be spoilers for the entire movie. So if you haven’t seen this movie and want to remain unspoiled, maybe go and give it a rental, watch it, and then come back.

Meine Damen und Herren… This is Wafner from 2018’s “Overlord”.

“Overlord” is a 2018 world war 2 action-horror film directed by Julius Avery and starring Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, and Pilou Asbæk. It’s about a group of American soldiers who crash behind enemy lines on the night of D-day to take out a nazi communications tower so that the landing on Normandy beach can happen. But as they make their way further into the compound, they find more than just nazi punks in there. To be exact, they find that the nazis are experimenting on the local population to try to create super zombie soldiers. Simple plot with a fun twist to it. Not revolutionary, but highly enjoyable. So how does Wafner (played by Pilou Asbæk) fit into this? Well, he’s a nazi captain that serves as the primary antagonist of the story. What’s interesting is that it takes about 20 minutes for us to even catch a glimpse of him, and even then it’s shrouded in darkness and at a distance. It’s not until the 33 minute mark that we finally get properly introduced to him, when he invades the private space of a French woman that helps to hide our heroes.

Wafner: “Do you hear zat?”. Chloe: “What?”. Wafner: “Sounds like our movie is failing at ze box office”.

Right in the first minute of his introduction he just gets under my skin. No, not because he’s a nazi, though that is certainly a turn-off. No, there’s just a certain creepiness to him. He’s not the over-the-top villain one might expect (yet), instead going for a more subtle and slimy creepiness, which is just perfectly delivered by Asbæk. And even though he does seem calm and composed, you can still sense that there’s a ruthlessness to him, which makes you not want to mess with him. Even when he’s captured later in the movie by our heroes, he has a way of getting under one’s skin.

Wafner: “Dood, you should totes inject me with zat”. Ford: “No nazi steroids for you”. Wafner: “Oh nein”.

What I like about Wafner is that he’s just a villain. So many movies these days try to give their villains actual depth, maybe even give them some qualities that we can sympathize with. And while I enjoy that to some extent, I prefer that they didn’t try that with Wafner here. He’s just a ruthless, smirking, villainous villain. He wants to create a super zombie army so the nazis can take over the world. As Wafner puts it “A thousand year reich requires a thousand year army”.

Eventually he manages to escape capture through cunning and deception. So he’s not just a ruthless nazi commander, but he’s also intelligent, which makes him an even more dangerous villain. But he doesn’t get away completely scot-free.

Gotta admire it when a guy can crack a smile even though half his fucking face has been blown off.

If he wasn’t dangerous enough already, he injects himself with the experimental super soldier serum, turning him borderline invincible. So you have an angry, ruthless, cunning, and creepy nazi captain that can’t be killed by conventional means. Makes for quite an intense finale. All boosted by Pilou Asbæk’s over-the-top yet excellent performance.

When asked what he likes to do during his spare time, an unusually reserved Wafner told us about his recent infatuation with making stop-motion films using the corpses of his enemies.

So that was a bit about Wafner from Overlord. He’s not particularly deep, but he’s quite intimidating and works incredibly well as a primary antagonist for this crazy genre hybrid. He’s an old school villain for the sake of having an old school villain, and I god damn salute that.
Once again I have to give a huge thanks to Speakeasy, Silver Screenings, and Shadows & Satin for letting me take part in this. I had fun. Plus, it gave me an excuse to rewatch one of my favorite movies of last year.
Have a good one.

Movie Review: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Whenever I find myself watching a critically acclaimed movie, I get a bit nervous. Because of the acclaim and the hype around it, I get scared that I might be the one asshole that doesn’t like it. I mean, everyone has opinions and we should respect that, sure. But I like liking things. And if I don’t like the thing that I hope to like, it’s both disappointing and disheartening. This movie was one of those hyped up movies… so what did I think? Well, let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen, might wanna call a medic, because… “There Will Be Blood”.

Set during the early 20th century, the story follows prospector Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he deals with trying to drill up oil, raise his son (Dillon Freasier), and try to handle his less than friendly relationship with a local preacher (Paul Dano). It’s a movie about family and legacy and greed and what this kind of rough life does to a man. And damn, this plot was electrifying. I mean, it’s a slow burn, but I was never bored throughout any of it. They weave a narrative that is complex and layered, but still very easy to comprehend. Great stuff.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, nuanced, and very interesting. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, the prospector with the oil and the son and the troubles, oh my. While he at first can seem like a very calm, polite, and reasonable man, we get to see throughout that there are some darker sides too him, especially after certain things happen to him. And Day-Lewis is absolutely amazing in the role. Paul Dano plays Eli, a preacher that Plainview strikes up a bit of a friendship with, even if it’s not always portrayed as the friendliest of friendships. Eli is also one of those who kind of sees himself in a somewhat high regard, as the emissary of god, which is quite an interesting contrast to Plainview. And Dano is great in the role. We also of course get supporting work from people like Dillon Freasier, Ciarán Hinds, David Willis, Kevin J. O’Connor, David Warshofsky, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jonny Greenwood, and it was really good. It takes a lot of cues from old school scores in the way it builds grandeur and emotion, which works incredibly well for the movie’s pretty unique tone. It also just sounds great, with plenty of strings leading the charge. Good stuff.

Based on a novel by Upton Sinclair, “There Will Be Blood” was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and I think he did a great job. The direction had a way of keeping me on edge the entire time, even when there wasn’t anything really suspenseful going on. Damn fine direction. And the cinematography by Robert Elswit is pretty damn good too.

This movie (as you probably got from the intro) has been incredibly well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 93/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10 and is ranked #158 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 2 Oscars in the categories of Best Actor (Day-Lewis) and Best Cinematography. It also got an additional 6 nominations in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, and Best Sound Editing.

I am so glad to say that I agree with the hype for “There Will Be Blood”. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “There Will Be Blood” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “There Will Be Blood” is now completed.

All of a sudden I want a milkshake.

Movie Review: You Don’t Know Jack (2010)

Oh dear. How do I make a fun intro to this? I mean, I don’t need to, and probably shouldn’t because of the heavy subject matter… but I like making fun intros. What a dilemma.

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… “You Don’t Know Jack”.

The story follows Jack Kevorkian (Al Pacino), a highly controversial doctor. Why is he controversial? Because he advocates (and leads) for the service of assisted suicide for the terminally ill or severely disabled who no longer want to suffer. So the story is about Kevorkian helping his patients while also fighting the legal battle to have what he’s doing be legal… I told you the themes in this were heavy. But in presentation they’re not overbearingly heavy to just make you depressed every minute of the movie. Not saying that it’s exactly a lighthearted movie, but it knows how to find a tone that emphasizes the drama while keeping it relatively easy to watch. And yeah, the plot here has a lo of nuance and balances tone very well, but it also has some trouble with pacing. I get it, Kevorkian had a long career, and this isn’t a fast-paced action movie, but there are times when the pacing drags a bit. It doesn’t ruin the plot, but it does pull it down a bit in my book. Still, the plot here is good.

The characters in this are colorful, layered, flawed, and overall quite interesting. Al Pacino plays Jack Kevorkian, the man at the center of the story advocating for assisted suicide. He’s a passionate and highly determined man, doing everything in his power to let people (as he puts it) have the choice to suffer or not. He’s also kinda quirky, but it never clashes with his dramatic struggle, as it shows that there’s many sides to him (like with most people). And Pacino is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Danny Huston, Brenda Vaccaro, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Cotter Smith, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

There wasn’t a lot of music composed for this movie, but the little there is was done by Marcelo Zarvos, and the music was good… not much else I can say there. The use of licensed music worked pretty well in the movie too. Yeah, not much else can be said.

Based on the life of actual doctor Jack Kevorkian, this movie was written by Adam Mazer, and directed by Barry Levinson. And their work together was really good. Admittedly the camerawork leaves a little to be desired, as the tv movie constraints really show at times here. But the overall direction here is still good, getting close and intimate with the characters and their struggles in a wonderful way.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

While not perfect, “You Don’t Know Jack” is still a really engrossing movie that should spark some interesting discussion. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and good writing/directing. As previously stated, it does suffer a bit in pacing and camerawork (but nothing major). Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “You Don’t Know Jack” is an 8,82/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “You Don’t Know Jack” is now completed.

I have nothing that’s really related to the movie to end on, so let’s just share one of the most profound quotes of all time. “Hoo-ah” – Al Pacino.

Series Review: The Looming Tower (2018)

I don’t have anything clever to say here. Usually I do, but there’s nothing I can think of here. This show deals with some sensitive stuff, so it’s hard to make up an intro that is fun. So let’s just get into it, I guess.

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 show… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Looming Tower”.

Set in the late 90s, we follow people from both the FBI and the CIA as they both try to stop the rising threat that is the Al-Qaeda. But their inability to cooperate makes the process a lot more troublesome than it could be. So now we have our historical counter-terrorism drama. And let’s make it clear right now, this isn’t counter-terrorism in the Jack Ryan sense where there’s a bunch of thrilling action scenes. This is a slow burning drama all about investigating and bureaucracy and arguing and such. And I found it all utterly compelling, thanks to calculated writing that prefers to take the realistic and relatively mundane path to its goal, compared to so many counter-terrorism stories, which tend to go for the thrilling sensationalist route. But yeah, I really liked the plot here.

The characters in this are flawed, nuanced, interesting, and fairly realistic. First up we have Jeff Daniels as John O’Neill, an FBI agent keen on stopping Al-Qaeda the right way (arrest, court, all that jazz). And while he generally tries to be a good guy, he does have some skeletons in his closet shown throughout that make him quite compelling. And Daniels is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tahar Rahim as Ali Soufan, a new agent within the FBI who gets assigned to work with O’Neill in finding and stopping the various Al-Qaeda members who may exist. And he has some god development throughout that makes him quite interesting. And Rahim is great in the role. And we get supporting performances from people like Wrenn Schmidt, Bill Camp, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alec Baldwin, Ella Rae Peck, Jamie Neumann, Louis Cancelmi, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Will Bates, who I think did a damn solid job. It goes for a relatively downplayed and somber style. You won’t hear big, tense brass in this to highten the tension of a scene, instead the pieces are smaller, more intimate, almost droning at times to sort of help capture that realistic/slow burning counter-terrorism style that the show’s going for. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout that work in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on a book by Lawrence Wright, the show was created by Dan Futterman, Alex Gibney, and Lawrence Wright himself, with writing and directing by a whole bunch of people. And the craft here is really tight, giving us close and intimate examinations of all the various situations while also giving us the sweeping storytelling of everything leading up to 9/11. The directing gets in close with the characters and really made me feel like a fly on the wall in these situations, I was fully immersed thanks to the tight work of the crew. And the way the show occasionally splices in real life news footage is pretty damn good.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10.

“The Looming Tower” is a compelling counter-terrorism drama. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Looming Tower” is a 9,62/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Looming Tower” is now completed.

You know what’s a little funny? I made a comment about this not being Jack Ryan-esque in style, but Alec Baldwin (who once played Jack Ryan) is in the show.