Movie Review: Knives Out (2019)

I love mysteries. Not in real life though, that shit can be infuriating/scary. But in movies/tv/books/games, the mystery genre is one of my favorites. Who killed the man? Who stole the thing? Who pissed in the cereal? Even the worst ones can still have me entertained due to me having a soft spot for the genre. So anyway, let’s talk about a mystery movie (it’s not a mystery movie jackass, it’s right in the fucking title what movie it is). SILENCE, ME.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Knives Out”.

When famed murder mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies, a private investigator (Daniel Craig) starts looking into the possibility that one of Thrombey’s eccentric relatives might’ve killed him. WHODUNIT!? The goofy spelling/grammar of that word aside, that is the genre we’re dealing with here. It’s a modern whodunit that pays tribute to the classic ones, such as “Murder She Wrote” or “Columbo”, while also putting its own fresh-feeling spin to proceedings. It gives you everything you want in a classic whodunit story, while also subverting it in some really clever ways that I honestly didn’t see coming. There’s also a surprising amount of social commentary throughout. And while I’ve watched things recently with attempts at that which were a bit too hamfisted, I felt like it worked quite well within “Knives Out”, wonderfully integrating into the already solid murder mystery.

The characters here are flawed, colorful, interesting, and buckets of fun. Daniel Craig plays Benoit Blanc, a private investigator that’s been hired to investigate Thrombey’s death. He is skilled, but he’s also a bit quirky. And holy fuck, Daniel Craig… he really hammed it up here, and it made him such a fun presence to watch. Next we have Ana De Armas as a nurse who is heavily involved in the story. And she’s great in the role. And then the rest of the cast is filled out by people like Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, the aforementioned Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, Tony Collette, Michael Shannon, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Lakeith Stanfield, Riki Lindholme, and more… and good god damn, what a solid cast this is.

The score for the movie was composed by Nathan Johnson, and it was a lot of fun. It’s very old school in its approach, often sounding like something you’d hear in an older crime movie/show, due to its often overdramatic strings. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well enough. So yeah, this movie has good music.

“Knives Out” was written and directed by Rian Johnson, who I think did one hell of a job on those fronts. He gives the movie such a distinct energy that keeps it feels electric, keeping any shot or scene from ever feeling boring. That doesn’t mean any part feels rushed though, Johnson lets scenes simmer when needed… but never for too long, giving it just the perfect pacing.

This movie has so far been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

I loved “Knives Out”, it’s a really fun and unique whodunit. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, good music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Knives out” is a 9,90/10. So that’s right, it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Knives Out” is completed.

Knives Out, Spoons In.

Movie Review: Take Shelter (2011)

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

Ladies and gentlemen… “Take Shelter”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My review of “Take Shelter” is now completed.

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

12 Films of Christmas (Part 7)

’twas the night before christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for that asshole mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes they would have presents and not an angry bear. It was the seventh part of this silly thing, so let’s get into it before our heads start aching.

A christmas. A time for family, fun, and friends. These are some of the central themes of “The Night Before”. Three friends (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie) decide to have one last hurrah before hanging up their crazy old christmas tradition for good. And we follow them as they sing karaoke, do drugs, drink alcohol, and go on crazy misadventures. And this is a fun movie. While it can feel a bit inconsistent at times, it’s a highly enjoyable movie with a good amount of funny humor throughout. Sure, a lot of it is the typical stoner/dick humor that one can expect from Seth Rogen movies. And while that can be hit and miss for some, I did laugh at it here. Not at every joke, but at most jokes. Some were chuckles, and some were gut-busting laughs. The three main actors all give good performances, and they have awesome chemistry with each other. All the other actors too are really funny. There’s also a surprisingly sweet message about friendship here that I did not expect at all. So while not perfect, this is a fun christmas movie that I do recommend.

What do you think about “The Night Before”? And what’s your favorite stoner movie? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments!
Have a good one.

Movie Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

I honestly don’t know what the fuck to start with. Usually when reviewing a movie I can come up with some clever(ish) intro that somehow relates back to the movie. But in this case it’s fucking impossible. So let’s just get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Nocturnal Animals”.

Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is a wealthy art gallery owner living in New York City. And one day she gets package form her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) containing a novel that he’s written. So Susan of course starts reading it and becomes obsessed with this dark and twisted story. We also get to follow along as the story in the novel gets visualized for us. So now we have our dark, weird, and complex story. And yeah, those are really my thoughts: It’s dark, weird, and complex. Because it’s not just about a really beautiful woman reading a book, because there are plenty of metaphors that get drawn between the story that Susan’s reading, and her own life. We also get a look into her past and then that stuff somehow relates back to the book and Jesus fucking Christ, this movie has more layers than a “Scooby-Doo” sandwich. But I don’t fault it for that because I appreciated the complexity of it all, and I thought about it and I never felt lost. So we have a complex and layered story that is also tense, eerie, fascinating, and at one point heart-wrenching. So yeah… it’s pretty damn good.

The characters in this are like the story… complex and layered. Amy Adams is fantastic as Susan Morrow. A lot of times she doesn’t even need to say anything to show how good her performance is, as a lot of it is portrayed through her eyes and her mannerisms. There are so many subtleties to her performance that help make it as great as it is. Jake Gyllenhaal puts on a bit of a double role in the movie as he plays both Susan’s ex-husband, Edward, and the novel’s main character, Tony. And he is fantastic in this, with one of the roles having him give an intense and emotionally charged performance, and the other one just being generally great. Michael Shannon plays Booby Andes, a cop within the novel that Susan’s reading. And he’s basically just a tough guy who doesn’t give a shit and he’s just a blast to watch… yeah, he’s awesome. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays a guy named Ray Marcus, an asshole who was kind of creepy and really unpleasant, and he really got under my skin. So kudos to Aaron Taylor-Johnson… great job. Really, this movie is filled to the brim with great performances/actors, so I won’t go on for too long about each and every one because we’d be here all fucking week. But to be somewhat fair, here are some of them listed: Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Armie Hammer, Karl Glusman, Laura Linney, Michael Sheen, and Andrea Riseborough.

The score for the movie was composed by Abel Korzeniowski and I do have to say that it was fucking amazing. As could be expected from Korzeniowski (at least if you watch “Penny Dreadful”, like I do), his music is heavily based in string instruments, which helps to create an eerie, dramatic, and emotional sound that complements the movie perfectly. Out of all the original scores of movies that came out last year, this might be my personal favorite.

This movie was directed by fashion designer Tom Ford, and he did a great job here. His directing is very tight and suspenseful. And his direction combined with Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography makes this one of the most visually arresting movies of the last few years. There were a whole bunch of shots in this movie that actually made me go “Woaw”, and that isn’t very common for me. I do also have to mention that there are a few disturbing visuals throughout this movie too, so don’t expect this to be just pretty people captured in pretty cinematography, because there’s some fucked up and weird stuff here… so don’t bring grandma.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 74% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in teh category of Best supporting actor (Shannon). 

“Nocturnal Animals” is a movie that I thought was pretty fucking great, but that I am aware have and will divide audiences. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Nocturnal Animals” is a 9,89/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Nocturnal Animals” is now completed.

Now that I think about it, this movie could almost have been called “Behind Blue Eyes”. Because most of the main actors have blue eyes and are troubled in some way…

Movie Review: Midnight Special (2016)

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Big budgeted action movies are great and all, but sometimes we need to take it down a notch and give some attention to the smaller guys. You know, the movies with small(er) budgets. And that’s what we’re doing today.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Midnight Special”.

Roy (Michael Shannon) is on the run together with his friend (Joel Edgerton) and his son (Jaeden Lieberher) from the government and also a cult. Why? Because Roy’s son apparently has superpowers. And from this basic idea we get a surprisingly deep, emotional, and tense plot that has a decent amount of layers to it. It’s not just a suspense thriller/road movie, but also an intriguing mystery surrounding this boy and his powers. And the ending (no spoilers), I thought it was a solid ending for the movie. I mention this because there are people who don’t really like how this movie concludes, and that’s fine… I’m just saying that I thought it worked. I thought the entire plot worked very well, it was great.

The characters in this movie are all really interesting. Michael Shannon is great in the main role as the father who just wants to do anything to find his super-son’s purpose, whatever that may be. Joel Edgerton plays his best friend in the movie, and he gives a really good performance too. Jaeden Lieberher who plays the superpowered kid, Alton, is actually really good in the movie. I am usually someone who is a bit against child actors, but I do have to admit that this kid was genuinely good. We also got Adam Driver as one of the government agents and he was really good in the movie. I’d say that most if not all actors did a really good job.

The score for the movie was composed by David Wingo and it was pretty fuckin’ good. It is a beautifully haunting score that perfectly manages to create a lot of emotion that perfectly fits the movie. Seriously, it’s some awesome stuff.

This movie was directed by Jeff Nichols who also made the movie “Mud”, which I really liked. And here he did a great job with the direction. The movie is magnificently shot, it looks beautiful. What I also enjoyed about it is how well the CGI in the movie blended with everything else. None of it felt out of place or looked bad, it all worked very well in the movie. There’s also a good amount of suspense in the movie, which I really liked.

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 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“Midnight Special” is a pretty different movie. It’s more of a slow burn than most modern sci-fi movies, but that’s also kind of why I like it. But also because it has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. I WILL FIND HIM! My final score for “Midnight Special” is a 9,87/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Midnight Special” is now completed.

This apparently bombed at the box office. Shame on you, world.

 

Movie Review: 8 Mile (2002)

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The world of rap music is not one I am heavily invested in. Sure, there are a handful of songs I do like. I can honestly say that I like pretty much anything by The Beastie Boys. And I am a fan of Eminem and his music too. What I am trying to say is that even though the genre isn’t one of my favorites, I still have a fair amount of respect for it. With all of that said, let’s review a movie about rapping.

Ladies and gentlemen… “8 Mile”.

So in this movie we follow Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith (Eminem) who lives in a shitty part of Detroit. He is a young rapper who recently broke up with his girlfriend. He also have to try to puzzle his life together in general because, well… everything has kind of gone to shit. He froze up during a rap battle, like I said before he broke up with his girlfriend (who got his car by the way) and his mom (Kim Basinger) is soon to be evicted from her trailer. And the plot was actually kind of interesting. The plot, while familiar, was pretty engaging. You wanted it to go well for this guy which is always a plus when you make a movie. The drama worked pretty well and never felt overly preachy, in lack of better words.

The characters in the movie… I don’t know what to say. I guess they are all decent enough. Not fantastic, but they work. Eminem is fine enough in the main role. To be fair, he was a little than I actually expected. He worked for the character. Kim Basinger as his mom was great. Also damn, she looked great for being 49! Brittany Murphy as Eminem’s new girlfriend was pretty good as well. All other actors were fine too. Also, Michael Shannon was in this movie, so that’s always a plus.

If you are strictly against rap music then you would hate the soundtrack to this movie as it is 100% rap. I however thought it was pretty good. Not fantastic, but pretty good. It worked for what it was used for. Fun fact: This was the movie that introduced the world to Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” which is actually a song I really like. And like I said, the soundtrack was fine, fit well enough.

This movie could have been directed better. Not that the direction was bad, Curtis Hanson did a good job with it, but I feel like it could have been better. The way this movie was directed was pretty simple and “regular” in lack of better words for it. But hey, at least no dutch angles! But to give some credit where credit is due, the rap battles in the movie are pretty cool. Maybe not in the way they are directed, but just in the way how they are. Those scenes have attitude and raw power and that is something I like to see!

This movie was fairly well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10. The movie also won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Original Song (Lose Yourself). 

“8 Mile” is a movie with an engaging yet familiar story, good performances, music that fits, decent direction/camera work and some pretty cool scenes with people having rap battles. Time for my final score. *Yo* My final score for “8 Mile” is an 8,52/10. It is worth buying.
Worth buying

Review of “8 Mile” is done.

You better Lose Yourself in the music, the moment…