Movie Review: The Changin’ Times of Ike White (2020)

Howdy. Back in January, in my “Last Breath” review, I kind of alluded to the fact that I’d try to cover more documentaries this year. Well, I better try to keep that promise, I guess. So here’s such a review for y’all.

Ladies and gents… “The Changin’ Times of Ike White”.

This movie documents the life of Ike White, a young man sent to prison for life for killing someone. During his tenure in prison, he gets the opportunity of a lifetime… to record an album while still incarcerated. An album which would help change his life forever. And if you don’t know the story of this man, which I certainly didn’t before watching this, then I won’t say much more about his life. But let me just say that finding out about White’s life was fucking fascinating, but that says more about White than it does about the way the documentary presents it all. Something about the execution just feels quite standard, which does affect the pacing at times. White is a fascinating subject, which is what kept me somewhat engaged throughout. But there’s something about the delivery of the entire thing that just feels a bit too dry for such a colorful individual. He’s an interesting person, and I did like hearing about him and all his shenanigans, but I wish there was something more to the storytelling than just him. The second half does pick up a bit more, and changes direction ever so slightly, but it still has slight drag in the pacing.

There is a little bit of music throughout composed by Andrew Phillips, and it’s fine, nothing you’ll remember after hearing it. Now, let’s talk about the other songs used in the movie… that being the songs written and recorded by White. They’re a sort of soul-funk-R’n’B-psychedelia hybrid that I found myself quite fascinated by. It’s clear that White was a talented musician, as shown by his tunes that were featured in this. It’s good stuff.

“The Changin’ Times of Ike White” was directed by British TV/documentary filmmaker Daniel Vernon, who did an okay job with it. There’s some nice energy given to the shots of the people getting interviewed. You can tell that he’s competent, and knows how to put together a solid product. Now, it’s not just interviews and such, as there’s also recreations of stories told, using minimalistic animations that are really interesting to look at, giving the movie a bit of much needed extra style. The occasional use of found footage and home videos also adds a bit to the film’s presentation.

This movie doesn’t have a lot of data on my usual sites, but here’s what I got. On Rotten Tomatoes it exists without a rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

While it does feel slightly lacking in parts, “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is still a watchable documentary about a fascinating man. It has an interesting tale to tell, with some good music and direction to boot. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is a 7,02/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth a watch.

My review of “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is now completed.

Part “Searching For Sugar Man”, part something else…

Movie Review: Dunkirk (2017)

As a self-proclaimed fan of this director, you’d have thought I’d gotten to this movie sooner. But sometimes life is a bit more unpredictable than that, Skipper.

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… “Dunkirk”.

1940, World War 2 is going on. British, French, and Belgian forces have been surrounded by the Germans, stuck on the beaches of Dunkirk. And we follow people on the various fronts as they try to sort this situation out or simply survive. Simple setup, good setup… but there’s something about the overall narrative that just didn’t fully click for me. I wasn’t ever bored, and I was invested in what was going on… so why didn’t it ever click fully for me? It’s so close to reaching the greatness status, and yet something feels like it’s missing. There are some fucking terrific moments of tension and drama throughout, and they are really effective. But there’s something about the connecting thread that just never crossed that final line for me. Again, the plot here is pretty good, if not quite on the level it could be.

This movie doesn’t exactly have the deepest characters ever, but I still knew enough about them that I could at least somewhat care about them as chaos happened around them. Sure, I couldn’t really tell you anything about them, but I could still see them, recognize them, and know who they were in relation to the narrative (the soldier boy, the boatman, the pilot, etc.). But what I can say is that all the actors are terrific in their respective roles. Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Tom Hardy, James Bloor, Mark Rylance, Barry Koeghan, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, and many more, they all did a great job.

The score for the movie was composed by Hans Zimmer, and mother of god, this man can do no wrong. His score has a way of generating genuine suspense, blending ear-grinding strings, heavy brass, ominous synthesizers, and even a ticking clock. The score maintains a rising sense tension throughout, and it’s simply spectacular.

“Dunkirk” was written and directed by Christopher Nolan, one of my favorite directors. And he did a damn job with it all. While Zimmer’s score carried a lot of weight in terms of building suspense, Nolan of course brought a lot to that too, with a lot of clever camerawork that really made the soldier just feel small, like they’re just a minor cog in the machinery of war… like they could be taken out all of a sudden, which creates some really good tension. And when combined with Hoyte van Hoytema’s amazing cinematography, you get some truly breathtaking sequences.

This movie has been really well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 94/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10. The movie won 3 Oscars in the categories of Best film editing, Best sound editing, and Best sound mixing. It was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best director, Best cinematography, Best original score, and Best production design.

While I don’t really love it as much as a lot of people, I still think “Dunkirk” is a damn fine movie. It has a pretty good plot, okay characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Dunkirk” is an 8,62/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Dunkirk” is now completed.

Am I gonna get in trouble for not giving this movie a perfect score? Should I barricade my house?

Movie Review: The Invisible Man (2020)

The world is a scary place right now, so let’s just stay inside and escape from scary shit. So what’s on the menu? Scary shit? Oh my.

Invisible ladies and invisible men… “The Invisible Man”.

A short while after she manages to escape from her abusive boyfriend, Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) finds out that he’s committed suicide. She’s free from his terror at last… or so she thinks. “The Invisible Man” is a title that conjures up a lot of silly bullshit in my head. It’s a bit of a ridiculous premise. But this movie takes its setup and creates something that is mature and slow-paced, tackling some sensitive subjects in a way that emotionally invests the viewer from the start. And on top of that, it’s scary. The deliberate pacing allows the filmmakers to instill a slowly simmering sense of dread into every scene, fucking with the viewer’s head at every turn. It’s a story that perfectly balances a mature and serious drama with psychological thrills to create one of the most refreshing and electrifying horror narratives I’ve experienced in recent years.

The movie cleverly finds ways to quickly introduce you to the characters and get you invested in them, without purely relying on spoken exposition. Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia, the woman at the center of our story. She’s been through some horrible stuff that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. So it’s interesting to see everything she goes through here, and how it shapes her as a person. Ups, downs, she gets to hit all the notes, and it’s utterly enrapturing. And Moss is fantastic in the role. Then we got Harriet Dyer as her sister Emily, who is really good in that role. Aldis Hodge plays Cecilia’s friend, James, and he’s really good in his role. Storm Reid is really good in her role. Really, every actor in this movie brings their A-game.

The score for the movie was composed by Benjamin Wallfisch, and I think he did a fantastic job with it. Like with the film’s deliberate pacing, it has a way of instilling a sense of dread, which chilled me down to the bone. Wallfisch also created some low-key haunting pieces for slower, more emotional scenes and some louder pieces for some of the more overtly horrific scenes, and it’s all fantastically well composed.

Loosely inspired by the H.G. Wells novel of the same name, “The Invisible Man” was written and directed by Leigh Whannell. And man, he did amazingly with that. His direction is slow and confident, creating suspense on a level that is seldom seen in a lot of mainstream horror. And when you combine Whannell’s directorial skills with Stefan Duscio’s otherworldly cinematography, you get some insanely engaging and memorable visuals that add to the drama and horror.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“The Invisible Man” is the rare remake/reimagining that goes above and beyond in justifying its existence. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Invisible Man” is a 9,90/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Invisible Man” is now completed.

You can’t see the man, but you should see the movie.

Movie Review: Coming Home (2014)

Sometimes life is complicated.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Coming Home”.

Set during and after China’s cultural revolution, the story follows Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming) and Feng Wanyu (Gong Li), a devoted loving couple who get separated when Lu Yanshi gets arrested and thrown into a labor camp. But when he returns years later, his beloved does not recognize him. So we follow the two as they deal with this situation. What we have here is a melodrama that could feel pandering and very dull in lesser hands, but thanks to a well constructed script in tandem with a confident and talented director, it manages to become quite a powerful tale that managed to rip out my fucking heart more than once. But it’s not just an emotional family drama, as it’s also a sociopolitical critique, which gave me an interesting look into a historical period I didn’t really know about. Blending all these elements makes for a really compelling story that has gained a spot in my heart.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and overall simply fascinating to follow. Gong Li plays Feng Wanyu, the main lady in our story. She’s a bit split at first, because she wants to love her man, but also don’t want to be arrested for being associated with him due to the political climate of the era. And what we learn about her throughout the movie is quite interesting, especially when put contrasted against the other characters. And Gong Li is fantastic in the role. Next we have Chen Daoming as Lu Yanshi, the man sent away who later comes home (there’s your title reference, whoop-de-doo). He has a fantastic arc in this movie that is utterly compelling, and Chen Daoming is fantastic in the role. We also get Zhang Huiwen as the daughter of our two mains, who has an interesting dynamic with the two, with Zhang Huiwen giving a really good performance. So yeah, this is quite well acted.

The score for “Coming Home” was composed by Chen Qigang, who I think did a really good job with it. It’s not used too much throughout the movie, but when it shows up, it’s quite emotionally effective. It’s heavily based in strings like violins (and a little bit of cello), with the occasional bit of piano for good measure. And it makes for a sound that is as heartbreaking as the story.

Based on “The Criminal Lu Yanshi” by Yan Geling, the movie was directed by Zhang Yimou. And while I can’t say anything how this fares compared to the book, I’d still like to say that Zhang Yimou did an excellent job in the craft here. Based on the little I’ve seen from him before (namely “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers”), he’s a very visual director. This movie isn’t without dialogue, but it often relies more on the subtle emotions of individual scenes rather than just blatantly expositing what the hell is going on in the characters’ skulls. What helps bring this to life even more is the cinematography by Zhao Xiaoding, which is absolutely beautiful, and helps sell the vibe of the movie incredibly well.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 81/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

While the slow and deliberate pace of “Coming Home” might scare away some people, I found the movie to be a heartbreaking and engrossing drama. It has a really good plot, good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and terrific directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Coming Home” is a 9,64/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Coming Home” is now completed.

Since we’re talking about Zhang Yimou, let’s put some pressure on distributors. I’ve been waiting for his latest movie, “Shadow” to come out here for quite a while. Where is it, yo? Gimme.

Academy Awards 2020: Best Music Nominees

Well howdy there, ladies and gents. It’s me, Markus, taking a breakation from my vacation. For the past two years, some friends and I have been making blog posts about the various Oscar categories, discussing what we think about the nominees and which we think should/will win. And now we’re doing it for the third time. And as with the previous two years, I will be handling the music categories. So, let’s get into it.

Best Original Score

We’re gonna kick off this little post with the best original score nominees. Not much else I can say about that. Y’all know what a score is. So I might as well quit my stalling and talk about the various nominees.

Alexandre Desplat – Little Women (Sample: Plumfield)

The first score we’re talking about is the one for “Little Women”, the latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, brought to the screen by Greta Gerwig. The score was composed by Alexandre Desplat, one of the best composers in the business. And as per usual, he has delivered something pretty spectacular. Often it delves into jovial period piece tunes, the likes we don’t hear much of anymore. But there are also often times where the score goes very mysterious, giving the overall score a really unique vibe when you switch between that and some of the more light tracks. Then there are a few more emotional pieces as well, and those sound great too. Overall, it’s another hit from Desplat.

Randy Newman – Marriage Story (Sample: What I Love About Nicole)

Next up is the score for Netflix dramedy “Marriage Story”, written and directed by Noam Baumbach, scored by Randy Newman… I’m sorry, it’s so weird to see his name outside of “Toy Story”. Anyway, his score for “Marriage Story” almost sounds like it could fit within a Pixar movie. Because there’s such a balance of grounded human drama with an almost fairytale-esque vibe. And while I have not seen the movie yet (don’t kill me), I get the feeling like this score would give it quite an interesting feel. I like it.

Thomas Newman – 1917 (Sample: Tripwire)

The third nominee we’re talking about is Sam Mendes’ recent war epic “1917”, scored by Thomas Newman. For a war movie score, it is surprisingly understated. That’s not saying there aren’t loud, intense tunes here. Just saying that compared to some other war movies, the score never makes itself as big and brassy, often relying on other kinds of instrumentation to create an emotional intensity that is wholly its own. And it is pretty god damn stunning to listen to. I can imagine it being quite effective to hear within the movie itself.

Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker (Sample: Hoyt’s Office)

Next up is the score for “Joker”, a different kind of DC comics adaptation, brought to us by Todd Phillips, and score by Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir (who also did the music for 2019’s “Chernobyl” mini-series). And this score sounds like something right out of a horror movie. Not because there are plenty of sudden stings to make your 12-year old cousin jump, but more in how it relies on low, often eerie instrumentation to create an unsettling vibe that will get under people’s skin… it certainly got under mine.

The one and only John Williams – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Sample: Battle of the Resistance)

For our final score today we have the one and only John Williams’ final entry in the long running “Star Wars” franchise. There’s not much to say other than it’s another “Star Wars” score. Lots of loud brass to create an overwhelming feel of grand adventures. I can’t really go more in-depth with it, as everything you can say about a “Star Wars” score has been said a kajillion times before. All I’ll say is that it’s good… because “Star Wars” music is always good.

Who I want to win: Joker.
Who I think will probably win: Little Women or 1917.

Before we move onto our next category, my friend Maddy has sent in a little paragraph about this year’s score nominees I’d like to share with you all:

Score is a very exciting category this year, and I think the two front runners are Joker and 1917. If Hildur Guðnadóttir wins for her Joker score she’ll be the first woman to win in the category, and if Joker is going to win anything I’d be ok with it being this.

And here’s one from Martin:

This would appear to be a straight up battle between Guðnadóttir and Newman. But even 15 nominations later, and after producing a stirring, breath-taking score for 1917, there’s a substantial chance that Newman could lose out yet again. Which begs the question, what has he got to do to end his run without an Oscar?! If she wins, Guðnadóttir will become the first woman to win since the score category became one single category. While Desplat’s score for Little Women was delightful, it’s unlikely he’ll be claiming his third Oscar. The nomination for Williams does feel like a token nomination, and is more of a celebration of his work in general, given that his score for The Rise of Skywalker was, like the film itself, unremarkable. For the “Portals” track, in Avengers: Endgame alone, Alan Silvestri was deserving of a nomination.

Best Original Song

As with all other years, not only do score get nominated for Oscars, but individual vocal tracks do too. Which means we gotta talk about them as well. So here we go.

I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away, Randy Newman – Toy Story 4

Speak of the devil and he shall appear, it’s our old buddy Randy Newman doing music for “Toy Story”! If you’re like me, you’ve enjoyed Newman’s vocal tracks from previous movies. And this is another addition to that pile. It’s a fun-sounding song about something way more mature than one expects from an animated film about toys.

I’m Gonna Love Me Again, Elton John & Taron Egerton – Rocketman

“Rocketman” is a movie about Elton John. And it seems like the sir gave us a new song in conjunction with it, sung by him and the film’s star, Taron Egerton. And man, this is some fun shit. This is the kind of stuff I’d love to hear at parties (if I were invited). It’s seemingly about self-love, something we all need a bit more of. Combine that with the funky instrumentation and talented vocalists, and you got yourself one hell of a song.

Stand Up, Cynthia Erivo – Harriet

Cynthia Erivo, talented actress and wonderful singer recently starred in “Harriet”, a movie about former slave Harriet Tubman. Not only did she nab a best actress nomination for her role there, but she also managed to get a nom for best original song. And it’s a well deserved one. “Stand Up” is a beautiful soul song about standing up and being free. It’s a strong tune wonderfully brought to life by Erivo’s great voice and obvious passion for the themes and story.

I’m Standing With You, Chrissy Metz – Breakthrough

“Breakthrough” is a movie that seemingly no one saw, but here we are, talking about its one Oscar nomination. Written by Diane Warren and performed by Chrissy Metz, “I’m Standing With You” is a fairly standard soul/pop ballad that you’d hear in any old drama movie. It’s not bad, if I heard it again I wouldn’t be upset. But it’s not one of those I’m gonna be humming and remembering in a week.

Into the Unknown, Idina Menzel & AURORA – Frozen 2

“Frozen” getting a sequel was never in question. And that sequel getting another Oscar nominated song after… that other one that shall not be named… was also never really in question. And guess what? This is less ear-bleeding than that other one. It’s way less of an annoying earworm. Though while Menzel’s voice is nice to listen to, It’s the instrumentation and background chorals that intrigue me. That shit is great. Yeah yeah, Menzel does a good job, but I like the background stuff more here.

Who I want to win: (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.
Who I think will probably win: Into the Unknown.

Remember Maddy from before? Well, she’s back with some choice words about the original song category:

Best original song is such a dead category this year, with no one song being a stellar stand out (at least in comparison to past years eg Shallow/ Let it Go). I don’t really know which way it will go, but think it will probably be Elton.

And here’s Martin again:

While Rocketman definitely could have got a few more nominations (Costumes and Best Actor), the one nomination it has picked up is likely to end in triumph for the Elton John biopic. As well as her nomination for Best Actress, Cynthia Erivo’s soulful performance of “Stand Up”, probably represents its closet challenger. However, a victory for Elton would be a fitting tribute to a true legend of the music industry.

So those were the music categories for the 2020 Oscars (airing tonight). Who do you want to win out of all of these? And do you have any scores or songs that got snubbed in the nomination process? Frankly I’m sad that the score for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” didn’t get any love by the academy. Anyway, leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one.

Collaborators:

FiveThreeNinety

Through the Silver Screen

Plain, Simple Tom

Perks of Being Nath

The Agony of Apathy

Hey, y’all. I hope you’re all doing well. This’ll be a slightly different post than the ones I usually make. It’s not something too severe, so there’s no need to feel worried. Just don’t expect the laid back discussion of media that I usually unleash upon your feeds.

When I made this blog, I set up a bit of a schedule, with only occasional pieces put out. But after a while, when I’d gotten a feel for the entire thing, I loosened it quite a bit, posting whenever I felt like talking about something (usually a movie). And that worked out for me, as it helped my blog grow to a decent degree while giving me some wiggle room in case my schedule ever threw stuff for a loop. And even if I had a very loose posting schedule, I managed to keep a semi-regular rhythm to it all. For the past year, however, things have been a bit different in that regard. I’ve not been able to post quite as much as I have in the past. I can already see how y’all are typing in the comments “Oh you’re probably busy, so we understand”. But I’m both unemployed and not studying, giving me a very open schedule. So what’s keeping me from doing this?

As you could see in the title of the post, and in this thing posted right above this paragraph… Apathy is to blame. Don’t think I don’t like you guys. You all are great, and the constant supporting of my reviews and other antics I cherish with every inch of my heart and mind. I just don’t get as enthused about writing as I used to do. I watch a movie, and when I think “I might review that”… nothing. There’s been multiple occasions this year alone when I’ve had that thought but not fulfilling it. I like giving you guys content, but there’s just something in my mind keeping me from doing it.

Maybe I’m just burnt out.

Don’t think I’m enjoying this lull in not writing. Sure, I might be doing fun things I enjoy… but not being able to put out content for y’all causes me agony. I love blogging. It’s just that six years of doing it semi-regularly maybe has me a bit fucking knackered in the noggin.

Arnold might be onto something.

Don’t think I’m quitting now, there’s still a ton of movies and shows and tunes that need my terrible opinions showered on them. Just know that if I’m taking a little while until my next piece, just know that it’s for my own mental well-being, and to hopefully be rid of this apathy.

I love you guys. Have a good one.

Movie Review: Blindspotting (2018)

Life is fucking messy. You might think you have it figured out, but then something comes out of god damn nowhere and screws with you. You couldn’t see that coming. There are a lot of blindspots like that.

Ladies and gents… “Blindspotting”.

Collin (Daveed Diggs) has recently been released from prison on probation, and has to try to keep himself out of trouble so he doesn’t get thrown back in. This causes him to reevaluate his life and in turn his relationship with his best friend (Rafael Casal). What I find interesting about “Blindspotting” is its various subject matters and the way(s) it tackles them. There is some dark stuff throughout the movie, but the filmmakers also show us some of the more lighthearted aspects of the lives of these guys. And the way these tones are balanced throughout is incredible. Yes, I’ve seen movies mix drama and comedy before, but the way “Blindspotting” does it, I’ve never really seen. It’s quite a fresh and compelling story that I loved following.

The characters in this are flawed, nuanced, and just really interesting. Daveed Diggs plays Collin, the guy who the movie mostly focuses on. He’s a good dude who’s done some bad stuff, and seeing him try to keep his life from going down that path again is utterly compelling. And Daveed Diggs is fantastic in the role, really bringing a lot of depth to the role. Rafael Casal plays Miles, Collin’s best friend since they were boys. He’s a bit of a wild card, and I’ll just leave it at that, and that he’s a really interesting foil for Collin. And Casal is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Ethan Embry, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music in “Blindspotting” largely consists of hip-hop, and while I don’t think I’d listen to most of the tracks in my spare time, I do think they all contributed to the movie in some interesting way that worked for each scene. There is apparently also a score by Michael Yezerski here, but I don’t remember hearing something like that, so I can’t really comment on it. The rest of the music though… Good.

The movie was written by its two stars, Rafael Casal & Daveed Diggs, with directing duties being handed to Carlos López Estrada. And the passion behind the craft here is infectious, which adds a lot to the technical talent on display. The way Estrada brings us into each scene with the characters often makes it feel like I was a bit of a fly on the wall of each conversation, I felt truly transported into it. Estrada also shows on multiple occasions how good he is at building suspense, making for some truly great sequences. And as I alluded to early on in the review, this movie is part comedy. And I found those bits to be really funny, which I did not expect, as I kinda thought this’d be more of a straight up drama. But yeah, the comedy in this is hilarious.

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 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“Blindspotting” is a clever, unique, and refreshing dramedy that shouldn’t be missed. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, good music, great directing, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Blindspotting” is a 9,88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Blindspotting” is now completed.

Choose a life, choose a job, choose a car- Wait, that’s “Trainspotting”…

Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Good grief, that title stylization is such a double-edged sword. Looks neat, and is a great piece of wordplay… but god damn, it is a pain to keep in mind when writing it out. Oh well, that’s all the time we’re spending on that, let’s get into the review.

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… “BlacKkKlansman”!

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is a young, black police officer in the 70s. He’s an ambitious young man, looking to make a real difference. And one way he intends to do this is by starting an undercover operations to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan with the help of one of his colleagues (Adam Driver). So now we have our quite unique story setup… and good god damn, I loved seeing how it unfolded. What makes it work so well is how impressively they balance tones. On one hand, it’s an undercover cop movie featuring one of the most horrible organizations in the worlds, which is very serious. But then they also acknowledge the bizarreness of a black man making an attempt to enter the Ku Klux Kunts, and have a bit of fun with that idea. So it manages to both put me on the edge of my seat with some of the darker aspects, and have me smiling at some of the more lighthearted and fun moments. It’s also remarkably fast-paced. The movie has a 135 minute runtime, but I never felt that, it moved at a brisk pace that kept it from getting dull. It doesn’t rush through things though, when it needs to slow down and soak in a moment, it does that. But yeah, it’s well paced and well written and highly entertaining.

The characters here are flawed, nuanced, colorful, and overall just quite interesting. John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, the young cop at the center of this story. He’s smart, highly determined, but also a bit of an underdog considering he’s like the only black officer in the department. And he’s one of the more uniquely compelling protagonists of recent years. And Washington is fantastic in the role. We then have Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman, Stallworth’s colleague who joins in on this batshit undercover operation. He’s a bit torn between some various things we learn about him throughout the movie, and it makes him quite fascinating to follow. And Driver is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Laura Harrier, Robert John Burke, Michael Buscemi, Ryan Eggold, Jasper Pääkkönen, Paul Walter Hauser, Topher Grace, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for “BlacKkKlansman” was composed by Terence Blanchard, and it was great. There’s a consistent theme that gets woven throughout various tracks, making for a consistent emotional quality while still giving it a few different spins. There are of course a few unique tracks as well, and they are very good too. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and those work quite well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has good music.

Based on a book by Ron Stallworth, “BlacKkKlansman” was directed by Spike Lee. And he did a great job, he really brought his A-game here, giving it a fierce energy that makes it stand out among so many movies in recent years. His direction manages to capture the broadness of this whole operation while never sacrificing the intimacy with the characters. And this makes it absolutely electrifying. And Chayse Irvin’s cinematography is stunning, complementing the storytelling wonderfully. There’s also a surprising amount of comedy throughout the movie, and it’s very funny. It helps to digest some of the bizarre and darkly uncomfortable aspects of this story.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best adapted screenplay. It was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best original score, Best director, Best supporting actor (Driver), and Best film editing.

Despite it’s annoying-to-write title, “BlacKkKlansman” is a fantastic and highly unique bio-pic. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, great directing/cinematography, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “BlacKkKlansman” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “BlacKkKlansman” is now completed.

This kind of stuff is why I love movies.

Movie Review: Crawl (2019)

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by crocodilians, potentially due to watching a fair bit of “Crocodile Hunter” as a kid. And possibly also because they’re badass. Either way, it baffles me that we barely get any movies featuring them, at least with decent budgets. So I’m excited to finally get to talk about such a movie.

Ladies and gents… “Crawl”.

When Haley (Kaya Scodelario) goes searching for her dad (Barry Pepper) during a devastating hurricane, she finds herself trapped in their old family home’s crawlspace, not only having to survive the vicious weather, but also a bunch of alligators swimming around. It’s a B-movie premise… but I really liked seeing it unfold. There’s enough self-aware brains within the writing to make it work. It nicely shifts between being a suspenseful monster movie and a decent enough family drama, the balance is just right. I’m not sitting here saying that it’s the greatest storytelling ever put to celluloid. But what I am saying is that it knows what it is, and works with it to create a fun and engaging popcorn thriller that managed to scare, make me feel tense, and invest me in the struggle of the people at the center.

The characters in this, while not the deepest, are written with enough nuance to make the viewer care for them, at least on a surface “I don’t want to see these guys die” level. Kaya Scodelario plays Haley, a young woman with some emotional baggage that affects her relationship to her dad. She’s clever, resourceful, and determined, and makes for an interesting protagonist that I enjoyed following. And Scodelario is great in the role. Next we have Barry Pepper as Dave, Haley’s dad with whom there’s some past issues with. I don’t have much to say, as he’s not as well defined in personality as Haley, but I still found him decently enjoyable/interesting. And Pepper is great in the role. And seriously, when was the last time we saw Barry Pepper in a movie? Dude was in everything for a while, and then he just suddenly wasn’t. Oh well, it was nice to see him show up here.

The score for “Crawl” was composed by Max Aruj & Steffen Thum, and I think they did a pretty good job with it. Some basic emotional strings, some neat horror stings, and a few other things. The score here doesn’t do anything new, but intead does all the familiar things well, creating a solid soundscape for the movie.

“Crawl” was written by brothers Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, with Alexandre Aja handling directing duties. And the craft on display here (for its relatively low budget) is pretty damn good. They really manage to create an oppressive atmosphere that helps the movie stand out in both the disaster and monster sub-genres. Even the huge storm is given a real presence that makes it feel far from cheap. Now, let’s talk about the real stars here… the gators. As expected, they’re CGI, because real gators would be too dangerous. But even for CG animals, they work quite well here… for the most part. Their animations are great, really lifelike, which makes them quite intense. Where I have to leave a slight criticism though is the texturing. Yes, they got the general gator appearance right, but it feels like they could’ve used another render or two. But I can also forgive it because of how low the budget was, and because of the presence the overall animations on the gators gave off. Quick warning too: As you probably expect, there’s some gore in this, but it’s also quite vicious. Not just blood for blood’s sake, but some genuine brutality happens. Just putting that out there in case anyone’s a bit squeamish.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

I know it sounds like I shit on it multiple times throughout, but I want to make it very fucking clear that I highly enjoyed “Crawl”. It’s a damn fine monster movie (yes, alligators aren’t monsters, but what else would you call this style of movie?). It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing, effects, and atmosphere. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Crawl” is a 9,57/10. So it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Crawl” is now completed.

See you later, alligator…

Movie Review: Last Breath (2019)

Hello and welcome to 2020, friends! To kick it off I decided to review something I haven’t looked at in a while: A documentary. The last time I did was in 2015. I don’t know why it took me this long to get around to it again, but I think we should stop dwelling on that and instead just get into this.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Last Breath”.

“Last Breath” is about a group of men who work with diving in the North Sea, doing maintenance on underwater structures. However, during this one dive, something goes wrong and one of them gets stuck down there with a very limited oxygen supply, forcing his colleagues to find a way to try and save him. The movie is partly interviews with the people who worked on this operation, mixed with recreations of what went on, as well as actual footage from the incident. Now, while this approach is simple and something we’ve seen before in other documentaries, I feel like it still works in this movie’s favor. It’s a simple story of a terrifying situation, so there’s no real need to complicate how it’s told. It’s simple, but effective. They get you invested in the people involved with some quick behind-the-scenes goofing from one of the crew members filming on the ship, and then the main incident happens. Now we have a scary setup that manages to retain good tension throughout the rest of the runtime. Yeah, it’s well told and I was utterly invested from start to end.

The music for the movie was composed by Paul Leonard-Morgan, and before we get to discussing this movie’s music, I just wanna go on a quick sidenote. It is so weird seeing his name again. Don’t think I’ve seen his name attached to a movie since 2012’s “Dredd”. Anyway, back to “Last Breath”. His music is very good. It has a solid mix of emotionally resonant strings, with some electronic flourishes at one or two points. Some might call it emotionally manipulative, I call it good.

“Last Breath” was directed by Richard da Costa and Alex Parkinson, and I think they did a good job with it. The way they mix old, real footage with recreations is pretty great, and while they stylistically look different due to differences in technology, they still make the transitions feel natural. And even taking the new footage on its own, it is really well handled. Especially in terms of cinematography, I thought that was fucking stunning. Kudos to Alistair McCormick for those good looking shots. But yeah, the way it all comes together is really well handled.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

“Last Breath” may be simple in its approach, but it’s still a damn fine documentary that put me on the edge of my seat. It has an interesting story featuring some interesting people, its music is very good, and the way it is shot, edited, and directed is pretty damn great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Last Breath” is a 9,67/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Last Breath” is now completed.

Kicking off 2020 on a high note.