Movie Review: Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021)

You know what’s kinda weird? Despite being a musician since childhood, I’ve never really been a huge fan of musicals. Or I should say, live action musicals. I don’t know why, it’s just a weird quirk of mine. But on occasion there might be one that cracks my grumpy heart. Is this one of them? I guess we’ll find out.

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, gents, and non-binaries… “Tick, Tick… Boom”

The story follows Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield), a young, aspiring theater composer as he struggles to keep his life afloat, trying to balance love, friendship, and putting together his first musical. I really loved the storytelling within “Tick, Tick… Boom”. There are moments it can seem slightly scatterbrained, but I think it really adds to it, since it perfectly encapsulates just how hectic Jon’s life is. The story takes an interesting look at the man’s life as well as the struggles of trying to be creative in a world where that can’t be a guarantee of success. But what carries the story the most is the sheer amount of heart. Right from scene one, it carried this warm, sincere charm that had me immediately hooked, and carried it all the way to the ending. It’s just such a nice and emotionally resonant story that hit me in a way that I haven’t felt in quite a while.

The characters here are colorful, charming, layered, and overall just all feel very real. Something about them all made them feel like actual people and not just characters performed by actors. Our lead character, Jon, was just an absolutely endearing and fascinating character that I loved following throughout the movie. And Andrew Garfield was absolutely fantastic in the role. Then we also get supporting work from people like Robin de Jesus, Jonathan Marc Sherman, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, Bradley Whitford, MJ Rodriguez, and more, all giving terrific performances. It’s just a damn good cast.

The music in this was composed by Jonathan Larson, and I loved all of it. The instrumentation, the melodies, the lyrics, it all comes together beautifully to create tracks that make me want to dance, cry, laugh, rethink my life… it’s all wonderfully introspective and I think all actors brought the songs to life marvelously.

Based on the autobiographical musical by Jonathan Larson, “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is the directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda, and I think he did a really solid job. His direction can be a little rough around the edges at times, but even then, it’s really good for someone making their feature debut. The man has worked with musicals in different ways for years, so he has a good grasp of how it should work, and that experience and talent does help elevate his direction a little. Speaking of musicals, I love the way the musical numbers are handled. They flow nicely, and they’re wonderfully edited, beautifully moving between people and spaces in ways that few other musicals do. So yeah, this is really well helmed.

The movie just came out, but so far it’s been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

“Tick, Tick… Boom!” is a fantastic little movie that I absolutely loved. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, and really good directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is a 9.90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Tick, Tick… Boom!”

I’m gonna end up listening to that soundtrack a lot, aren’t I?

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 10)

Hello there, friends, I hope you’re doing great. Not many more of these to go. So soon enough you’ll get a break from my holiday rambling. Just gotta be a little bit more patient. Also, this post is dedicated to my good friend over at iamjacsmusings. He’s not dead or anything, he just helped me pick this one.

So today we’re talking about “Anna and the Apocalypse”, a British indie musical-horror-comedy released in 2018. It’s about Anna (Ella Hunt), a young woman who finds herself trying to survive the zombie apocalypse along with a group of other people, while also trying to find the group’s loved ones. And how will they accomplish this? By bashing the zombies of course! And also SINGING! So it’s a holiday zombie movie that also features people singing and prancing around. It’s one of the most unique mixtures of elements I’ve ever seen in a movie. Yes, we’ve seen holiday musicals. Yes, we’ve seen British zombie comedies. But we’ve never seen all those four combined before… I think, I could be very wrong. Either way, “Anna and the Apocalypse” was my first exposure to it. And it’s a fun time. It’s a breezy jaunt filled with endearing characters, fun jokes, and some really boppin’ tunes.
Now, it does struggle a little bit in the tonal department. I get that a zombie apocalypse is gonna have some serious shit going on (even “Shaun of the Dead” had that), but the shifts in tone don’t feel quite as seamless. It’s not enough to ruin the movie, but it does bring it down a little bit. But with this said, it’s still a fun time.
“Anna and the Apocalypse” is a fun little zom-com-holiday-musical, and definitely worth checking out this holiday season if you haven’t already. And with that, I’ll just leave you with one of the catchy tunes in its soundtrack.

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 5)

Ho ho hoMYGOD, DID I LEAVE THE STOVE ON!? Nah, I didn’t, I was just messin’ with ya. So anyway, who’s up for more holiday hijinks with Uncle Markus? Let’s go!

So today we’re talking about “A Very Murray Christmas”, a Netflix christmas special directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Bill god damn Murray. The story is about Bill Murray, famous actor and comedian, as he tries to host a christmas variety show. His plan get halted however when a horrible snowstorm prevents his friends/guests from coming to New York to join him. So we follow him as  he tries to make the best of this horrible night, singing, dancing, and just generally having a good time with the people he can find. There really isn’t much of any story here, it’s just Bill Murray goofing around with various people he meets, which includes some pretty notable names making cameos throughout. But yeah, there isn’t really much I can say.
Do you like christmas songs? Do you like Bill Murray? Then you might enjoy this. It’s only like 55 minutes long, and it’s on Netflix. So it’s not really that much of a commitment/investment. It’s a decent way to kill an hour this holiday season.

On the fifth day of christmas, Bill Murray sang some songs
Because he wanted to fix the night’s wrongs

12 Films of Christmas (Part 9)

Holy shit, we’re already nine part into this silly series. That means there are only three parts left… damn, time sure does fly.

Out of all the movies I’ve done for this so far, this is the only one I had set from the start since it’s a yearly tradition for me to do on the 21st of December every year. The movie (if you didn’t know from the image, you cave dweller) is “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) is the pumpkin king, the very face of this magical place called Halloween Town. He has however gotten quite tired of Halloween and want something new in (after)life. Then one day while walking through the woods he stumbles upon a portal that leads him to Christmas Town, and this gives him the idea to take on christmas. And as you probably gathered from the opening of this paragraph, I love this movie, it’s one of my favorites. It has a fun story, fantastic animation from Henry Selick and his team, catchy songs, and some of the most memorable character designs in any movie ever. From the second I hear the opening notes to “This is Halloween”, it sucks me right into it and I am happy that it does. Out of every christmas movie available out there, this is my personal favorite.

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

12 Films of Christmas (Part 1)

Hello there! You might be asking yourself “Markus, what the hell is this?”. Well, for the past two years, in the 12 days leading up to christmas (December 24th) I have had a series of posts where each day I talk about a christmas song. I’ve had a lot of fun talking about christmas music here, and I’ve gotten some good comments from people about it all, whether it would be because they already liked the song or if it’s a new one to them. However, this year I decided to do something slightly different. For 2017 I wanted to talk about films (big and small) where christmas is featured. Of course, I missed making my first post yesterday (because “Star Wars”), so you’re getting two of these today as compensation. So, let’s get into part 1 of the 12 Films of Christmas.

So for the first one we talk about something that has become quite a christmas tradition, especially in the United States. I am of course talking about Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the 1966 version). To be completely honest with y’all, I had never actually watched this until today. I had only caught small snippets of it in movies, TV, and internet videos. So I thought now was a good a time as any to finally watch it and see what all the fuss is about. So for anyone not aware, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is about a green creature known as The Grinch who absolutely hates christmas, and then cooks up a plan to try to steal the christmas joy from the people of Whoville. So then The Grinch’s shenanigans ensue. Did I like this? Yeah, it was alright. I obviously have no nostalgia for it since I never watched it as a kid. But as an adult I can watch it and appreciate it for what it is; A fun and innocent little short film about the christmas spirit. Boris Karloff provides the narration and also voices The Grinch here, and his delivery of everything is just perfect. Also, having the distinct designs of Dr. Seuss combined with the direction of animation legend Chuck Jones makes for some wonderfully creative and energized animation that kept me entertained. And that’s really it, it’s entertaining at best. I have no deep feelings for this since I watched this for the first time today, but I did enjoy it and can see why people love it so many years after it’s release. Really, it’s an easy and pretty fun watch if you have half an hour to kill.

Are you a fan of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”? How old were you when you first watched it? Feel free to tell me any and all thoughts in the comments below, I’d really like to hear what you guys think.
Have a good one.

Movie Review: Baby Driver (2017)

VROOM! VROOM VROOM! What? That’s what cars sound like… don’t fucking judge.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, right now I got to tell you about the fabulous, most groovy… “Baby Driver”!

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young man who also happens to be one hell of a getaway driver. And after being brought in by his boss (Kevin Spacey) he finds himself having to take part in a heist that is seemingly doomed to fail. So now we have our heist plot. And I thought it was pretty great. Now, it’s not just about this guy pulling heists with a couple other people. It’s really about this guy and how he deals with falling in love, while dealing with this dangerous situation. And it’s so well handled, because it’s presented both as a fun, fast-paced action flick and a tense thriller. There’s also a surprising amount of drama in here that works very well. And it’s just an incredibly well handled plot.

The characters here are fun, unique, and really interesting. Baby, like I said, is a young and highly skilled getaway driver. What I didn’t mention though is that he uses his personal playlists to keep him moving in life. He also has a lot of layers to him, with us getting to see most sides of him. The cold and calculating driver, the traumatized young man, the music loving fun dude… he’s just a really interesting character. And Ansel Elgort is great in the role. Lily James plays Debbie, a waitress that Baby meets and falls in love with. And Lily James is really good in the role. I also have to mention that I actually bought into their romance. It was cute. Kevin spacey plays Baby’s boss, Doc, and he’s great in the role… it’s Kevin fucking Spacey, what else did you expect? Jon Hamm (aside from being unnecessarily handsome) plays Buddy, one of Baby’s colleagues (for lack of a better word), and he’s a tough and charming man. And Hamm was great in the role. Eiza Gonzáles plays Darling, Buddy’s wife and partner in crime (HA!). A tough, fun, and sexy lady. And Gonzáles was really good in the role. Jamie Foxx plays Bats, another one of Baby’s colleagues. He’s kind of a psychotic asshole, and he was quite a cool character. And Jamie Foxx was great in the role. We also got to see Jon Bernthal, CJ Jones, Lanny Joon, and Flea in supporting roles in the movie, and they were all great. It’s overall a really well acted movie.

The score for the movie (yes, there was a score) was composed by Steven Price. It wasn’t too prominent in the movie (as we’ll talk about in a second), but when it was used it was used very well to build up tension and such. Now, onto the real meat of the music. And by that I mean, let’s talk about the soundtrack. ’cause this movie uses a lot of licensed tracks used throughout. Not only are most of those songs fucking great, but they also play very integral parts in the filmmaking itself. Really, they are used absolutely perfectly in the movie.

This movie was written and directed by Edgar Wright and I think he did a fantastic job here. His directing is slick, fast-paced, and really tense, perfectly suiting the plot he wanted to tell. Which brings us to the music. The directing and editing perfectly matches the music. It’s almost like a musical in how the music is used in combination with the directing and editing. I mean, the action scenes here are absolutely fantastic. Not only because they are like 99% practical, but because they are timed to the beats of the songs, which is really fun to see. Gunshots, cars drifting around, jumps, everything is choreographed to match the music. But the quieter moments too are often done to work with the music. The amount of love and care that went into the craft of this is astonishing and gives me hope for the movie industry. Must’ve been a pain if an actor or stunt person missed a beat and had to redo it.

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 86/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10 and is ranked #183 on the “Top 250” list.

“Baby Driver” is one of the coolest and most exciting action movies to come out in recent years. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/choreography/editing. Time for my final score. *Vroom*. My final score for “Baby Driver” is a 9,90/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Baby Driver” is now completed.

Your move, action movies.

Movie Review: La La Land (2016)

Confession time: I am not a big fan of musicals. At least not live action musicals, Disney animated musicals I have no real problem with. It’s easy for me to believe that a cartoon would burst into song and dance. A real person, not so much. So even when a musical has a lot of buzz around it, I go into them mildly skeptical. I’m not saying that I’m against musicals, just that they’re my least favorite kind of movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “La La Land”.

Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress, struggling to get parts in movies. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist not getting a lot of great gigs. Both live in Los Angeles, and after they run into each other a couple times they start dating. And we follow them as they through the ups and downs of their relationship and respective careers. And I thought the plot here was quite good. It follows a lot of familiar beats that we’ve seen in other romance movies, but it does it in such a charming and well written way that I don’t mind the familiar aspects of the story. It also has a very inspiring message about going for what you want and achieving your dreams. It really is a love letter to the dreamers out there in the world. And I liked that. It is overall a good plot.

The characters here are likable, charming, and fairly interesting. Mia, like I said, is an aspriring actress who wants to get her big break, but struggles to even get any part in various movies she’s auditioning for. But she keeps going even if she sometimes doubts herself. And Emma stone is great in the role. Sebastian is man who’s passionate about jazz, wanting to play it to people even though he isn’t always allowed. And Ryan Gosling is great in the role. I also want to mention that Stone and Gosling share some really good chemistry, they were really likable together. We also get musician John Legend in a supporting role here, and he actually did a good job. J.K. Simmons also shows up briefly in the movie, and while he doesn’t do a lot I’d still say that he’s great… come on, he’s J.K. fucking Simmons, he’s always great. And yeah, it’s an overall well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Justin Hurwitz, and the stuff he made here was great. It’s charming, it’s fun, it’s dramatic, it’s beautiful, and it just overall fits the movie very well. And I guess we should talk about the sung songs since this is a musical. They are incredibly catchy, and compared to a lot of other musicals, are very well inserted into the movie. In a lot of musicals there’s no good flow between normal scene and song/dance number, the stuff just happens suddenly. But “La La Land” is one of those rare cases that has good flow between scenes and songs, which I really appreciate. It also helps that the songs are great and just fun to listen to. So yeah, the music here is great.

This movie was written and directed by Damien Chazelle, the man behind the excellently excellent “Whiplash”. And he really shows what a talented director he is here. Everything has a lot of energy to it and it flows very nicely, making for an interesting watch. I do also think Linus Sandgren’s cinematography helps it out. Also, WOW look at all the colors! If you think about it, a lot of popular movies these days have a pretty drab color palette. But “La La Land” puts in a lot of color, making for one of the most pleasant viewing experiences in recent years. I also love the retro vibe that this movie has, despite it being set in modern day. The opening titles, retro. The clothing, retro. The overall style of the movie, retro. The movie is such a delight in terms of style.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% 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 #134 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 6 Oscars in the categories of Best actress (Stone), Best director, Best cinematography, Best original score, Best original song, and Best production design. It was also nominated for an additional 8 (wow!) Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best actor (Gosling), Best original screenplay, Best film editing, Best costume design, Best sound mixing, Best sound editing, and Best original song. 

“La La Land” is a really solid musical dramedy. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *La La LAAAAAAAA*. My final score for “La La Land” is a 9,77/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “La La Land” is now completed.

That was delightful… which is the exact opposite of “Whiplash”.

Movie Review: The Nighmare Before Christmas (1993)

night-before-christmas-moon

I love it when you have a certain type of movie and then give it a sort of unique twist. Kind of like how “Bad Santa” I reviewed the other day was a christmas movie that was a dark comedy that didn’t always make you feel good. The movies that stick out like that are the ones that people are going to remember after watching it. And if we are sticking to the theme of christmas for a while I have to mention how many christmas movies are the same. So seeing a christmas movie that is a bit different is really refreshing. And today we are taking a look at such a movie. A movie from when I was young(er).

Jacks and Sallys… “The Nightmare Before Christmas”.

The story of this movie is that there are several “towns” that all represent one of the several holidays of the year. You have one for easter, one for christmas but the one we are entering tonight is the one leading to “Halloween town”. And this town is basically run by “The Pumpkin King” Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon). When Halloween is over for the year Jack goes to contemplate life he finds these doors which lead to the other towns. And since this is a christmas movie he stumbles into the Christmas door and enters “Christmas town” where he learns a lot about christmas. And after that he wants to get christmas to Halloween town… and as you may expect it doesn’t go too well. Now I think this premise is awesome and can lead to some of the most clever situations in any christmas movie ever… and I was right. This movie is funny, it’s clever, it’s heartwarming, it’s creepy and it got more personality than a lot of christmas movies these days. It is one of the most original and clever stories I have ever experienced from a movie, and that just makes me all kind of happy! The only minor flaw about this plot is that certain parts might (for some people) feel a tiny bit rushed. But since I thought the story was paced really well I have no problem with it.

The characters are really well fleshed out and interesting. Yes, some of them don’t even get names or that much dialogue, but that is okay because you still know who the hell they are. There is the wolfman, there are the vampires, there’s the creature from teh Black Lagoon. See, easy! But to be more serious the characters are varied enough that they never bother you. And the ones that get a lot of screen time are great. Such as Jack who is one of the most loveable characters ever. Sally (Cahterine O’Hara, returning for a christmas review) is his sort of love interest while also being the first one to realize the whole “Bringing Christmas to Halloween” thing is a bad idea. And the villain of the movie, Oogie Boogie (Ken Page) is pretty great. He is witty, he is cool and got the best song in the entire movie, by far. And the voice acting in the movie is really good too. I think the actors were perfectly chosen for the characters they are voicing in the movie. My two favorite voice performances are probably those of Chris Sarandon (Jack) and Ken Page (Oogie). They bring so much humanity and just overall fit. And I can safely say that the characters and voice acting in the movie are overall great.

The soundtrack for the movie just might be one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. Danny Elfman did an excellent job composing a score that really caught the overall feel of the movie. But the regular bakcground score isn’t what we want to talk about, oh no. We want to talk about the musical acts our characters take part of in the movie. They are all pretty great. I think my favorite might be the Oogie Boogie song. It is jsut so jazzy and cool and I simply love that stuff. I’ll leave a link to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw0aoVpFCDw

The animation in this movie is in my opinion fantastic. I am a huge fan of stop motion animation and the since the animation in the movie is both stop motion and really well done I think it looks great. Sure, some parts might look slightly jittery in places, but overall it looks great. I am especially surprised how they got some of those parts done because there are no signs of CGI in this movie. So yeah… animation is great.

The title may say “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” but he didn’t actually make it. Yes he was part of creation and story, but he didn’t actually direct it. The direction was actually done by Henry Selick who have done a bunch of otehr movies. Including the excellent stop motion kid-friendly horror movie “Coraline”. Just thought it could be fun to mention.

This movie as far as reception among both critics and people have been pretty great. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. This is also one of the few and weirdest examples of a movie that has no score or review on Metacritic. Hell, it doesn’t even exist one there. Roger Ebert however got a review where he gave the movie 3,5/4 stars calling the movie

“filled with imagination that carries us into a new world”

On imdb.com the movie has a score of 8,1/10 which usually means it would be on the “Top 250 list” which this movie isn’t. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the catefory of Best visual effects.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is one of the most creative and original movies I have ever seen. It got a fun story, good characters/voice acting, great music, great visuals and can work for the entire family. So now I am going to hand out my final score. My final score for “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a 9,78/10 which of course grants it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
49920178

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” finally has a review!

Some of you might ask me when you see this review “What’s this!?