12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 9)

As mentioned in my previous post, you’ll be getting two 12 Films of Christmas entries today. The previous one was technically yesterday’s the I missed. So this here is officially speaking the entry for today. So I hope you enjoy getting two pieces about contrivances today.

So for this one we’ll be talking about “Bad Times at the El Royale”, a 2018 pulp thriller written and directed by Drew Goddard. The movie is about a group of strangers who all converge at the El Royale motel for the night, and how all their pasts come to a head, creating one hell of a tumultuous experience. So what does this have to do with christmas? Well, let me learn ya somethin’.

This movie is a metaphor for family christmas dinners. Think about it. A bunch of differing people coming together and clashing? That’s very much christmas. A kindly grandpa with some skeletons in his closet (Jeff Bridges), a smug sales type who is probably your aunt’s new shitty husband (Jon Hamm), your mom who is ready to defend herself from any bullshit (Cynthia Erivo), your conniving sister (Dakota Johnson), and then there’s the cult leader (Chris Hemsworth). What, your christmas dinners don’t have charismatic yet ruthless cult leaders attending? Oh man, you should give it a try, it’s a blast… except for the one time my cousin got set on fire by said cult leader… that was a bit awkward. So yeah, “Bad Times at the El Royale” can be seen as a metaphor for insane family christmas dinners.

And even without the holiday implications, “Bad Times at the El Royale” is still a damn fine thriller filled with fantastic actors and tense moments.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

I was gonna do a joke about a priest walking into a bar, but I couldn’t come up with a good punchline. So let’s just get into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bad Times at the El Royale”.

The late 1960s. On the border between California and Nevada lies the El Royale, a snazzy-looking motel. And on one fateful day, a group of strangers all decide to book rooms there, all of them carrying some secret. And we follow them as they get tangled up in the most insane night of their lives. The plot here jumps around a lot, partly in showing how all the characters got to the El Royale, and partly to show all the different perspectives on certain events that go down at the motel. And this could get messy and convoluted if put in the wrong hands. But I think that it was handled very well here. I like that they really took their time to tell this story. It’s intriguing, suspenseful, fun, pulpy, and just overall entertaining.

The characters here are colorful, unique, layered, flawed, and just overall really interesting. And that’s all you’ll get out of me. I won’t go any more in-depth on any of them, as that would be really tough without accidentally spoiling stuff. So let’s just list the cast. Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Lewis Pullman, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Giacchino, and it was really good. It does lean into the pulp angle I mentioned earlier, which really helps sell the movie’s vibe while still adding to the sense of tension and drama. There’s also a fair bit of licensed tracks used throughout, and not only are they really good on their own, but they also work incredibly well within their respective scenes.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” was written and directed by Drew Goddard, who I think did a great job with it. He gives the movie a very slick style that makes it feel somewhat unique, without sacrificing any of the pulpy suspense that is built up through the story, characters, and music. And the cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is pretty stellar, giving us some really great looking shots throughout the movie.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” is something that I can easily tell will polarize audiences. But I thought it was great. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Bad Times at the El Royale” is a 9,71/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Bad Times at the El Royale” is now completed.

Good times, bad times, you know I had my share…

Movie Review: Arlington Road (1999)

The 90s. Now, while that isn’t the most relevant thing to this movie, I just wanna take a second to mention what a great decade that was for film. Especially thrillers, as we got so many interesting and varied kinds of thrillers out of the decade. Let’s just give a nod or a clap for the thrillers of the 90s.

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to… “Arlington Road”.

Shortly after history professor Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges) starts getting acquainted with his neighbors after an accident involving their son, he starts suspecting that there’s something a bit off with them. And we follow Michael as he investigates them to see what they may be hiding. And I must say that I really enjoyed this plot. Sure, there were a couple moments of “Really, movie?” throughout. You know, those types of conveniences that are a bit more noticeable than others? Yeah, a couple too many here, bringing the plot down a little bit. But other than those moments I thought the plot was great, filled with excellent suspense, highly engaging drama, and just a great sense of intrigue.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and quite interesting. First up we have Jeff Bridges as Michael Faraday, the aforementioned history teacher who starts suspecting his neighbors. We find out early on that he lost his wife a while before the events of the movie, which still haunts him a little bit, which may or may not add to his paranoia throughout. And he’s quite a complex character. And Bridges is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tim Robbins as Oliver Lang, the father in the family he suspects. He’s a charming, fun, and just overall cool guy… and he may or may not be hiding something. He’s quite an interesting character. And Robbins is great in the role. And that’s all I’ll go in-depth about, since if I say more it could potentially ruin some stuff. But I can mention that in the supporting cast we see people like Joan Cusack, Spencer Treat Clark, Hope Davis, Robert Gossett, and Mason Gamble, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Angelo Badalamenti (with some additional tracks done by musical duo Tomandandy), and it was good. I didn’t notice it too frequently, and when I did it ranged from really good to kinda meh. Not saying any of it’s bad, since I do think all the tracks working fairly well for their respective scenes, just that I won’t find myself listening to it any time soon.

The movie was directed by Mark Pellington, and I think he did a damn good job. His direction is tight and suspenseful, often playing around with the main character’s sense of paranoia. He also plays around a lot with lighting, making for a bit of fun watching. There’s also some excellent use of the Dutch tilt in a couple scenes, perfectly encapsulating what is going on the character’s head. Really well done.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 62% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

While not perfect, “Arlington Road” is still a really solid conspiracy thriller. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great directing. A previously mentioned, I do think there are moments throughout the plot that bring it down a little bit. Not enough to ruin it, but enough to bring the score down a little. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Arlington Road” is an 8,90/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Arlington Road” is now completed.

One more clap for 90s thrillers, they deserve it.

Movie Review: Iron Man (2008)

With the impending release of “Avengers: Infinity War” (Sidenote: I am insanely excited for it), I thought it was time to have a look at the one that started it all. The spark that ignited the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Iron Man”.

After getting captured by a group of terrorists, billionaire genius Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) builds a suit of armor to escape from the cave that he’s stuck in. After he reenters society, he decides to use this technology to fight dangerous criminals. So now we have our superhero origin story, and it’s the one that set the template for this huge franchise. And while we’ve seen this type of origin several times since, the way it’s handled here still stands out. The story has a sense of realism and weight to it that helps make it feel a bit more memorable and interesting than other origin stories out there. It has the fun superhero story, but it also has a good amount of drama that makes it one of the better origin stories out there.

The characters in this range from really interesting to just being entertaining cogs of the machine. Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark, an arrogant yet brilliant engineer/billionaire (#GBPP) who gets to learn a bit of a life lesson after getting captured by terrorists.The arc we see Tony go through is one we’ve seen since this first movie, but it still feels fresh and interesting so many years later due to the brilliant little details in his characterization. And Downey Jr. (who was washed up before this movie) is fantastic in the role. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Pepper Potts, Tony’s assistant/friend who helps with him with various things throughout the movie. And you of course see signs of the whole love interest thing throughout the movie, but they never go all out on it, which makes their relationship feel a little bit more real here. And Paltrow is really good in the role. Then we have Terence Howard (who was replaced by Don Cheadle in the sequel) as James “Rhodey” Rhodes, one of Tony’s oldest friends and a military man. He works as a nice foil to the more arrogant Tony since he helps ground the eccentric engineer a bit. And Howard is really good in the role. Then we have Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane (great name), Tony’s mentor and company partner. And yes, it’s kind of obvious where his character will go throughout the movie, but they still make it work thanks to him having an overall pleasant personality, but with some shadier undertones. And Bridges is of course great in the role. Then in the supporting cat you have people like Clark Gregg, Leslie Bibb, Shaun Toub, Paul Bettany, and Jon Favreau, all doing very well in their respective roles. It is a very well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Ramin Djawadi and it was epic. Sure, some tracks are hidden in the background as basic background noise (which is a common problem in a lot of modern film scores), but other tracks are really badass, implementing a really cool mix of orchestral instruments with an electric guitar to create this really cool sound that I think works really well for the character of Tony Stark/Iron Man.

The movie was directed by Jon Favreau (and written by a whole bunch of people), and what he did with this movie is amazing. He took this larger than life character/idea and he made it feel grounded in it’s style. He also made everything feel surprisingly gritty, making every action feel like there’s actual impact behind it. Both in quiet moments and during the action scenes, Favreau brings his A-game. And the visual effects are also quite spectacular, especially for 2008. When the movie wants you to fly with the Iron Man suit, it doesn’t half-ass everything, it really feels/looks like there’s an Iron Man suit flying through the skies.

This movie 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 79/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best sound editing and Best visual effects.

“Iron Man” stills holds up magnificently ten years after it’s release. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/visual effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Iron Man” is a 9,83/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Iron Man” is now completed.

The MCU. The house that Tony built.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” trailer!

Another interesting trailer has been released. Let’s talk about it!

So we have finally gotten a trailer for “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”, the sequel to the surprisingly awesome “Kingsman: The Secret Service” from 2015. To quickly recap that movie: Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a troubled young man that gets recruited by a man named Harry Hart (Colin Firth) to potentially join the Kingsmen, a super secret James Bond-ish organization of dapper spies. And there’s a villain played by Samuel L. Jackson and awesome action and humor ensues. It was a great movie. So what’s going on in this one then? Well it seems like the base of the Kingsmen gets blown to kingdom come. So Eggsy, Merlin (Mark Strong), and Roxy (Sophie Cookson) will have to team up with the Statesmen, the American version of the Kingsmen, to stop this movie’s villain (Julianne Moore). And we see some plot and some really cool action, to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”. Oh and, spoiler for the first “Kingsman” coming up.
At the end of the trailer we find out that Harry Hart is alive despite being presumed dead at the end of the first movie. So what do I think? Well, this looks like a lot of fun. Not sure if this will be able to live up to the first movie, but I am at least sure that it will be one hell of a good time. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is set to be released in late September of this year.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited about “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”? And what are your thoughts on the first movie? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments!
Have a good one and enjoy the trailer!

Movie Review: Hell or High Water (2016)

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Neo-western, a genre that has me quite fascinated. For those that don’t know, a neo-western is a movie (or show, or book) that has the feel of a western, but is set in more modern times. A great example of a neo-western is my favorite tv show “Justified”, an action-drama about a modern day cowboy. And I’ve made it very clear time and time again on this blog that I’m a huge fan of westerns, which makes the neo-western genre even more interesting to me.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Hell or High Water”.

Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) are brothers. And together they are robbing a bunch of small banks in the state of Texas because they need money for reasons that I won’t get into, in case you don’t already know. But while the brothers are out and robbing these banks, a Texas ranger (Jeff Bridges) is trying to catch them, as one last big victory before his retirement. And from that we get a slowly burning heist thriller that grabbed me from the first first scene and held onto me for the entirety of the runtime. It’s a very plot that kept me invested in every scene. It’s a tense and dramatically investing plot that I absolutely loved.

What I appreciate about the characters in this movie is that they were given a lot of time. Like I said, it’s a slowly burning heist thriller, so we spend a lot of time getting to know these very interesting characters. Chris Pine really surprised me in this movie. I mean, I already liked him as an actor (“Star Trek”, yo!), but this is so different from the stuff I’ve seen him previously do. His performance is so subdued in comparison to what I’ve seen him in before, and I think he was fantastic here. Ben Foster, holy fuck, that guy was absolutely terrific in this movie, he really disappeared into his character, I didn’t recognize Foster, all I saw was his very unhinged character. Jeff Bridges was really good in the movie… there’s not much else to say here. We also had Gil Birmingham as Jeff Bridges’ partner in this movie, and he was really good too. Really, there were no bad performances in the movie at all.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, and the stuff they composed for this movie was pretty damn great. I thought the music they composed for “The Assassination of Jesse James”  was some of the best I ever heard, so when their names popped up in the openign credits of this movie I got excited… and that excitement was totally justified by the excellent music they had composed for this movie. There’s also a decent amount of country music in this movie, and I think it all fits the movie very well.

This movie was directed by David Mackenzie and wow, this was a very well directed movie. You can tell that the scenes here are deliberately slow paced, and it was pretty refreshing seeing that. So when violence/action finally happened it had more of an impact than if this would have been a straight-up action movie. not saying that a straight-up action movie would have been bad, I’m just praising this movie for being different. The cinematography is also gorgeous, and Taylor Sheridan’s writing is really solid. It’s a tightly made movie.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 88/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Hell or High Water” is an absolutely excellent heist-thriller. It features a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, great directing, and great cinematography. Time for my final score. *GET ON THE GROUND!*. My final score for “Hell or High Water” is a 9,90/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Hell or High Water” is now completed.

Jeff Bridges with a mustache is one of the greatest things ever.

Movie Review: Fearless (1993)

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We all have fears, there is no denying that. I myself am afraid of a few things; mainly heights and snakes. The point I am trying to make is that we are all afraid of something and we want to find ways to overcome our fears. It isn’t easy, but it’s possible. With that said, let’s review a movie about being afraid… sort of.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fearless”.

In this movie we follow Max Klein (Jeff Bridges) who just survived an airplane crash. And after this crash something strange happens. His personality changes, he starts seeking thrills to try to wake up from this weird state he has entered. And from that we get a philosophical, thoughtful and emotionally gut-punching plot. I loved the plot of “Fearless”, seeing Max go through the world, getting more and more emotionally distant from his family. If you are looking for an action packed plot, this isn’t the movie for you. This is a plot that takes it’s time with everything, making sure you get good time to think over everything in this movie. And I loved that!

The characters are interesting, realistic and very well-written. None of them feel like they don’t belong, they all feel natural in this movie. And Jeff Brdiges gives a fantastic performance in this movie. You can say what you want about him in “The Big Lebowski”, he may be great in that movie, but this might actually be his best performance. He really makes Max feel like a real person with his fantastic performance. And the other actors in the movie are great too.

The music in this movie is slow, atmospheric and pretty emotional. The original song were composed by Maurice Jarre but most tracks were a mix of a bunch of orchestral pieces. And they all fit perfectly into this movie and all tracks helps convey some kind of emotion. While I can’t mention all for sure I can at least say that all the tracks are terrific.

This movie is directed by Peter Weir and I have to say he did a pretty fucking great job with it. And to get the truth out there, I have never seen a Peter Weir movie before so I had no expectations at all. But I was pleased to see that this was a well-directed movie. Also, fun fact: this movie is based on a novel by Rafael Yglesias who also wrote the screenplay for the movie.

This movie has been well-received but has also been called under-rated. It is also a movie that not too many people saw. But still, time for critic scores. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Supporting Actress (Rosie Perez). 

Guys, “Fearless” is a fantastic movie with a deep and thoughtful plot with a lot of emotion and is held up by a fantastic lead performance from Jeff Bridges, great writing, great music and great direction/camera work. Time for my final score. *Ahem* My final score for “Fearless” is a 9,88/10. It definitely deserves the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
Seal of Approval

“Fearless” is now reviewed.

More people need to see this amazing thing.