Movie Review: Mank (2020)

A brand new movie from one of my favorite directors, available from the comfort of my own home? Sweeeeet.

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… “Mank”.

Hollywood, 1940. We follow Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), a drunken, opinionated writer as he goes through the tumultuous process of crafting the screenplay for a little movie called “Citizen Kane”. But it’s not just him sitting at some typewriter, rubbing his temples all movie. Because this movie jumps back and forth in time a little bit, showing us Mankiewicz’ struggles in the “present” (circa 1940), but also his antics and encounters with various Hollywood figures in the early 30s. I have mixed feelings about the narrative here. On one hand, it is a pretty interesting look into 1930s Hollywood and the politics within it. But on the other, I never felt emotionally invested in what was going on. I was interested by what was going on, and was certainly never bored… but never did I feel truly hooked. It just feels a bit hollow at times. Again, I wouldn’t call it bad, I did enjoy the narrative on some level, but never did I actually feel any emotional connection to what was happening in front of my eyes.

The characters in this vary in terms of interest. Luckily our main character is at least one interesting figure. He’s Herman J. Mankiewicz, an alcoholic, highly intelligent writer who both gets along and butts heads with many figures within the Hollywood system. He is most certainly an interesting figure that livens up proceedings a bit. And Gary Oldman does a great job in the role. In supporting roles we also see people like Amanda Seyfried, Tom Pelphrey, Lily Collins, Charles Dance, Tuppence Middleton, Joseph Cross, Tom Burke, Jamie McShane, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and I think they did a good job of it. Their score has a way of really capturing the era the film’s set in, cleverly utilizing some jazzy percussion and a decent bit of unique woodwind usage. It’s hard to properly explain, but I do think their music fits the period perfectly, and it works quite well within the movie.

“Mank” was directed by David Fincher, and written by his late father Jack. And I think Fincher did a good job here. You can tell that he and his production crew really did their damndest to make this movie feel old school and, and I would say that they did that quite well… at the expense of one thing. At no point does this feel like a Fincher film. As a fan of the guy, I’ve learned to pick up on a lot of his tricks and stylistic choices… but they are nowhere to be seen here. It’s hard to explain, but what Finchy brings to his films in terms of style isn’t really here. And that’d be fine, if Fincher’s style wasn’t one of his most defining features. There’s no denying that it’s very well directed, even if it lacks what I love about this director. But to end this section on a high note: Erik Messerschmidt’s cinematography is superb, making perfect use of light, shadows, and the monochrome. It’s a visual treat.

This movie just came out, but already it’s been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it (AT THE TIME OF WRITING) has a score of 7.6/10.

While there’s a lot to admire about it, I didn’t find “Mank” that emotionally investing. It has an okay story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, great (if slightly off) directing, and excellent cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mank” is a 7.77/10. So while flawed, I’d still recommend watching it.

My review of “Mank” is now completed.

I actually haven’t seen “Citizen Kane” yet… maybe I should fix that some day.

Movie Review: Lady Macbeth (2017)

That’s right, this summer isn’t just about films from my own country. I can review other things too if I’m in the mood. And right now I am in the mood to review something not in my own language.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Lady Macbeth”.

19th century England. Katherine (Florence Pugh) lives in an unhappy marriage that she’s been forced into. But as we follow her throughout the movie, we see her evolution as she slowly comes into her own, which may or may not stir some shit up in the house. Now, when the movie started out it felt somewhat familiar. A romantically inclined period piece drama with themes of personal liberation. However, as it went on it started leaning into directions I didn’t expect. And I really feel like this gradual shift in tone and even genre really helps “Lady Macbeth” stand out among the crowd of period dramas out there. It helps give the movie a unique identity and impact that I haven’t really seen before. It goes to some dark fuckin’ places at times, and I’d argue it really helped the storytelling out quite a bit. It is slow paced, which might put some people off, but I for one really found the story engrossing.

The characters in this are flawed, quite layered, and just overall quite interesting. Florence Pugh plays Katherine, a young woman who’s been forced into an unhappy marriage with a rich dickhead. Due to her situation she is a bit repressed, but over the movie we do see her evolving quite a bit as a character, making her really fascinating to follow. And Pugh is terrific in the role. The and the supporting work from people like Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, and more is all pretty great too.

The score for the movie was composed by Dan Jones, and it was good. Compared to so many other movies that use musical tracks in every other scene, this score only appears at a few points. And even then, none of the tracks are loud or particularly attention seeking, going for a more low-key suspense/emotional resonance, and I think that works pretty well.

Based on a novel by Nikolai Leskov, “Lady Macbeth” was directed by William Oldroyd. And I think Oldroyd did a really good job with it. He makes the most of the remote location the film is set in, really creating an engaging atmosphere that enhances the storytelling. And the cinematography by Ari Wegner is pretty fantastic too, both in the wide shots of the moorlands, and in the more cramped indoor scenes.

This film has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

“Lady Macbeth” is a uniquely engaging period piece that I highly enjoyed. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, good use of music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Lady Macbeth” is a 9,64/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Lady Macbeth” is now completed.

Florence Pugh? More like Florence Prettyfuckinggoodatacting.

Series Review: Peaky Blinders – Season 5 (2019)

Yes, I finally got the opportunity to catch up. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’d know that I’m a big fan of this show. I’ve reviewed every season (*not so subtle nod*), and I’ve loved each and every one of them. So now we got the question: Does the latest outing land on that list, or is it somehow a big pile of disappointment? Let’s have a look.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Peaky Blinders” season 5.

1929. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) tries to balance his life as a politician with keep tabs on his family business, all the while antagonistic forces, including fellow politician Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin), fight against his every move. More scheming, more violence… more “Peaky Blinders”. And I’ll be up front about my thoughts, I loved the plot this season. There’s a lot going on, making episodes feel very dense, but it’s handled in such a smooth and clever way that you never get lost. The tone also feels darker and more dire than before, partly due to it being set during one of the toughest times in modern history (the depression), but partly also because it focuses so heavily on Tommy’s rapidly deteriorating mental state. There wasn’t ever really a moment in the season where it felt like I could figure out what was gonna happen next, due to clever and subversive drama that was brought to life by the spectacular writing. I was on the edge of my seat for all six episodes, and I adored every minute of it.

The characters of season 5 are just as flawed, nuanced, human, and interesting as they’ve ever been… maybe even more so, due to developments in the previous season and in this one. Seeing Tommy go so far down in the abyss this season was enrapturing, and Cillian Murphy is once again fucking amazing in the role. Arthur has possibly had the biggest arc in the entire show, and it’s interesting to see him at this point in his life, wonderfully portrayed once again by Paul Anderson. Helen McCrory is still an absolute badass as Aunt Polly. Sophie Rundle, Finn Cole, and Harry Kirton all kill it once again in their roles. Aidan Gillen was once again great as Aberama Gold. Let’s talk newcomers. First up we have Sam Claflin as Oswald Mosley, who apparently was a very real person. Now, I can’t speak to how accurate Claflin’s portrayal was to the real deal, as I am neither old nor British. I can however talk about his role in the show. He’s a level-headed, scheming, and highly intelligent conservative politician, clashing with Tommy’s ideology and work at multiple points, making him a most dangerous opponent, even without guns or violence. And Claflin is great in the role. Then we got Anya Taylor-Joy as Gina, the recent wife of Finn Cole’s character Michael. It’s not clear at first what purpose she’ll serve within the show’s dramatic developments, but soon enough you’ll find out, and she’s made an intriguing part of the cast. And Taylor-Joy does a good job in the role. The entire cast is fucking great, yo.

As with previous seasons of “Peaky Blinders”, season 5 relies on a lot of licensed music to add to its storytelling, mainly within the hard rock and blues-rock genres. When I first heard it back in the day, I was very much taken aback by it. But now it’s so ingrained in the show’s identity for me that I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are also a few tracks made for the show, brought to us by Anna Calvi, and those are good too.

Series creator Steven Knight handled writing for all the episodes, with Anthony Byrne handling direction on all six episodes, and Si Bell doing the cinematography. And the craft is the best the show has ever given us. Plenty of impressive camera movements suck us further into the character drama, with some gorgeous wide shots on occasion to make us go “Wow!”. The show’s always been impressive from a craft standpoint, but they’ve truly stepped up their game this time around.

The show/season has of course been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it… exists. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.8/10 and is ranked #54 on the “Top 250” tv list.

I think it comes as a surprise to absolutely fucking no one when I say that I loved season 5 of “Peaky Blinders”. It’s a darker season that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout all of it, furthering my investment in the characters. It has a great plot, fantastic characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Peaky Blinders” season 5 is a 10/10 (fuck yeah). So of course it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Peaky Blinders” season 5 is now completed.

If you haven’t (for whatever reason) watched this show, THEN BY ORDER OF THE PEAKY FOOKIN’ BLINDERS, YOU WILL.

Movie Review: There Will Be Blood (2007)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of a sudden I want a milkshake.

Series Review: Peaky Blinders – Season 4 (2017)

As some of you might know, I have reviewed the previous three seasons of this shows before (nudge nudge, wink wink), and I honestly loved them all. So I was of course excited for the fourth season. So now that I’ve finally watched it I can give you my thoughts on it. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Peaky Blinders” season 4.

It’s christmastime, and everybody is trying to enjoy the holidays. But when Tommy (Cillian Murphy) receives a letter he realizes that his family will be in danger. So he has to bring the family together so they can defend themselves against their newest foe: A group of American gangsters led by the dangerous Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody). So now we have our Peaky plot. And it’s still great. The plot here is tense, dramatic, filled with twists and turns, and never failed in keeping me engaged. There’s an air of mistrust and unease after the end of season 3 across the entirety of this season, and it adds so much to the quality of it all. So yeah, this is a great plot.

I’m not gonna go too in-depth with the main/returning players here, since I’ve talked about them so much in my previous reviews. But I can say that they’re all damaged here, and they’re all a bit different since the end of the previous season, adding another compelling side to them. Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Finn Cole, Sophie Rundle, Harry Kirton, Joe Cole, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Kate Phillips, Ned Dennehy… they’re all fantastic. Now for some of the newer people. As mentioned earlier, this season introduces Adrien Brody as Luca Changretta, an Italian-American gangster who’s coming for Tommy and the others. He’s a ruthless, cunning, and calculating villain. And Adrien Brody is inconsistent in the role. The writing itself is great, and there are moments where he can be quite menacing. But at a lot of points his delivery is almost like a caricature of Marlon Brando in “The Godfather”. It doesn’t take away too much from the show, but it is quite noticeable. Then we get Aidan Gillen as Aberama Gold, a Romani Gypsy that Tommy starts working with after the Italians make their entrance. He’s a clever and cool man who got a few tricks up his sleeve. And Gillen is really good in the role. And then of course we see the return of Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons for a bit. And he’s as awesome as ever. There are more actors throughout the season, but if I get too in-depth I might accidentally spoil stuff and also be here all night. But let it be known that this is overall very well acted.

The music here is interesting as there are some tracks composed specifically for it by Martin Slattery and Antony Genn. And those tracks are great. But let’s face it, everybody is here for the licensed rock tracks used throughout. And if this is your first time hearing about this, let me quickly explain. “Peaky Blinders”, despite being a period drama, has rock music in it… and it fucking works. Anthing from Nick Cave to Johnny Cash to Arctic Monkeys to a fuckload of other ones… and it works surprisingly well. All the music here’s great and it all works well within the show.

The show was created by Steven Knight, and he wrote all the episodes this season. And all the episodes here were directed by David Caffrey, who I think did a damn good job. He captures that gritty yet stylish “Peaky” flair that has been in all the seasons so far. And the cinematography by Cathal Watters is fantastic. There’s also some action in this show, and it’s tense and exciting. And really violent. ’tis awesome.

This show/season has been well received (from the little data I can gather on my usual sites). On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists but has no real score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,8/10 and is ranked #57 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Yeah, season 4 of “Peaky Blinders” was great. Had a slight nitpick, but nothing to break it for me. It has a great plot, great characters, great acting, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Like I said, I found Brody to be a bit inconsistent here, but it doesn’t ruin it for me. Just takes me a tiny bit out of it at some moments. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Peaky Blinders” season 4 is a 9,60/10. This means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Peaky Blinders” season 4 is now completed.

PEAKY FOCKIN’ BLOINDEHS!

Series Review: The Frankenstein Chronicles – Season 1 (2015)

IT’S ALIVE, IT’S FUCKIN’ ALIVE! JEFF, GET THE CAMERA… ‘CAUSE IT’S ALIVE!

Ladies and gentlemen, these are… “The Frankenstein Chronicles”.

London, early 19th century. Inspector John Marlott (Sean Bean) discovers the body of a dead child washed up on a shore. Upon further investigation it is found out that this child is made up of body parts from a whole bunch of kids, all stitched together. So it’s up to Marlott and his partner Nightingale (Richie Campbell) to find whoever did this and bring him/her to justice. So now we have our 19th century crime-drama. And is it any good? Yeah, I’d definitely say so. Is it perfect? Not really. But damn, it sure did impress me quite a bit. They create an interesting enough plot here that kept me engaged all the way through, filled with twists and turns. And while it has “Frankenstein” in the title, it isn’t a strict “Frankenstein” story, but rather creating an entirely new thing relating in some way to Mary Shelley’s classic story. My only flaw with the plot is the finale. It isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, it even has some pretty damn cool things happening in it. But compared to the relatively slow burn of the rest of the episodes, it felt like it rushed a little bit. It’s a minor flaw, but I thought it would be worth noting. Overall the plot here is really good.

When it comes to the characters here, only three of the main players I found interesting. The rest I thought were a little bland and forgettable. Sean Bean plays John Marlott, the inspector leading this investigation into the stitched together child. He’s a deeply troubled man who has experienced some shit in his past, and Sean Bean is absolutely fantastic in the role, often acting the shit out of a scene with just his eyes, he really knows how to do troubled really well. Richie Campbell plays Joseph Nightingale, Marlott’s partner in this investigation. He’s a bit more of a lighthearted presence than Marlott, but he’s still a fairly serious and interesting character. And Campbell is great in the role. The final one I want to properly go through is Elosie Smyth as Flora, a young woman that Marlott meets during his investigation and makes an ally out of. She’s a damaged individual, but she does get a somewhat good arc here. And Eloise Smyth does a really good job here. And while I think pretty much all the other characters were kind of meh, they weren’t necessarily bad. Their writing is fine, and the actors do really well in their respective roles, but their characters weren’t really as memorable or interesting as those three I mentioned before. So this is overall well acted, with some flaws in the characters.

The score for the show was composed by Roger Goula and I think he did a really good job. His score is eerie and atmospheric, perfectly capturing the intended tone of the show. It also managed to give me some chills throughout, which helped elevate some already kind of chilling scenes.

This show was created by Benjamin Ross & Barry Langford, and written/directed by various people. And they manage to create some really interesting stuff here. Their directing looks really good and managed to create a feel of unease from the very first frame. There are also some scenes here that are pretty suspenseful, adding to the already good quality of the show. I also want to mention that the period detail here is amazing, they really made it feel like the early 19th century.

While there isn’t much on this show where I usually steal reception data from, it seems to have been pretty well received (as far as I can tell). On Rotten Tomatoes it does exist, but has no score on there. On Metacritic it doesn’t exist at all. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“The Frankenstein Chronicles” is a pretty damn solid show. It has a really good plot, okay characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. My only flaws with it come from my minor problem with the finale, and most characters being pretty unmemorable. Time for my final score. *IT’S ALIVE!*. My final score for “The Frankenstein Chronicles” season 1 is an 8,98/10. While flawed, I’d say that it is definitely worth a watch.

My review of “The Frankenstein Chronicles” season 1 is now completed.

IT’S ALI- Okay, I’m gonna stop that now.