Series Review: StartUp – Season 1 (2016)

Before we get started with the review itself, I just want to take a second to mention that I think crypto seems like complete fucking bogus. Aaaaand that is all, let’s get into the main thing.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “StartUp” season 1.

When they happen to cross paths for various reasons, a timid banker (Adam Brody), a struggling entrepreneur (Otmara Marrero), and a gangster (Edi Gathegi) team up to try to launch a new form of digital currency, all while a corrupt federal agent (Martin Freeman) lurks around, causing trouble. I found the story of “StartUp” to be pretty enjoyable… but seldom did it go beyond that. There’s a few moments where it perked up a bit more, a few dramatic turns where I was like “Hey… a bit of drama!”. Otherwise it’s sort of just another perfectly enjoyable crime-drama featuring good people and bad people crossing paths in various ways. It’s kinda hard to describe how I felt about the storytelling here, because it doesn’t stick out that much. It’s just sort of there, serving up 10 episodes of not-bad-but-also-not-great story. I wasn’t ever bored, but never did I find myself super engaged either. Like I said, it’s roughly seven hours of alright crime-drama storytelling.

The characters in this are all decently interesting. Not necessarily the deepest ever, but they had enough going on to the point where I found them quite engaging. First off is Nick Talman, a kind-hearted banker who decides to help another one of our leads with her project. He’s arguably one of the blander characters in our cast, but he works as a good buffer to balance out the cast. Plus, Adam Brody gives a really nuanced performance, which does add another layer of depth. Next we have Ronald Dacey, a family man and gangster. He is my favorite character in the show, because he shows a lot of interesting layers, all while having one of the more substantial arcs of the season. And Edi Gathegi is absolutely fantastic in the role. Next we have Izzy Morales, the entrepreneur and hacker who sort of gets the ball rolling on that new digital currency thing. She’s driven, she’s flawed, she’s layered, and she’s just generally a really interesting character, with Otmara Marrero giving a damn good performance. And then we have Phil Rask, our resident bent federal agent. He’s an interesting fella, works really well in terms of writing… so let’s talk performance. Rask is played by Martin Freeman, an actor I like a lot. And when he has to be a little quiet, friendly, vulnerable, that sort of stuff, Freeman’s good, that’s the type of stuff he works for. But he also has a good amount of moments where he has to be menacing and a bit of tough guy, aaaaaand I just don’t believe Freeman in those moments. He is acting his heart out in those moments, which I do have to give kudos to. But he really feels a bit miscast in this role. Like I said, I like Freeman a lot, and he has his moments in this, but on the whole he feels a little off for the part. As for supporting cast, we got people like Tony Plana, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Jared Wofford, Aarony Yoo, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Chris Hajian, and I think he did a good job with it. The score’s mostly based in an electronic, synthesized sound to sort of fit with the whole tech, start-up type setting/story we got, and while it doesn’t necessarily stick out in my mind, I did think it worked well enough for the show. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout the season, and they all work well for their respective scenes.

“StartUp” was created by Ben Ketai, with writing and directing over the season being done by him and various other people. And I think the direction on display here is alright. It does everything it’s supposed to, but never sticks out that much in my mind. Shots are well done and well paced, action beats are handled just fine, it’s just fairly solid craft on the crew’s part. Again, much like the story, it’s well done, but also doesn’t go above and beyond. It’s good.

This show/season has gotten a mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has a 36% positive rating.  On Metacritic the season has a score of 52/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 7.8/10.

While it does stumble a little bit in some regards, season 1 of “StartUp” is still a solid enough crime-drama. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “StartUp” is a 7.66/10. So I’d say it’s worth watching.

My review of “StartUp” season 1 is now completed.

“The future of currency”, my ass.

Movie Review: Unhinged (2020)

On the Crowe again, just can’t wait to watch Russ Crowe agai- Oh hi, didn’t see you there. Uuuuuhhhhh… let’s talk about Russell Crowe road movie.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Unhinged”.

After she has an altercation with a man (Russell Crowe) while in traffic, Rachel’s (Caren Pistorius) day turns into a living nightmare as the man begins stalking and terrorizing her. What I like about the story in “Unhinged” is that there’s no pretense of greatness here. At first glance it’s a popcorn thriller, and upon further inspection, still a popcorn thriller. And that is sort of the story’s biggest strength, as it’s just 80 minutes of relentless tension, Crowe chasing Pistorius around, wreaking havoc. It makes it a bit of  a breeze to watch.

The characters in this are fine. Rachel, our leading lady hasn’t really been given much in terms of personality, but what little there is works well enough to make me root for her, and I think Caren Pistorius does a really good job with the material. Now, let’s talk about the man… that’s how he’s listed in the credits, so don’t blame me for the vagueness. Anyhow, Russell Crowe is fucking terrifying in this. Just an unhinged, surprisingly calculating psychopath that I never really knew what to make of. He’s just a mysterious agent of chaos, and Crowe’s performance is absolutely fantastic. Anytime he was on screen, he was electrifying. Supporting cast’s solid too, limited though their screentime may be. Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, Austin P. McKenzie, Juliene Joyner, they’re all good.

Score for the movie was composed by David Buckley, and I really liked it. Nice mix of electronic sounds with a few regular instruments every now and then, helps to add nicely to the tension throughout. Sure, it’s not the most groundbreaking of scores, but it worked well for this movie. So yeah… good stuff.

“Unhinged” was directed by Derrick Borte, and I think he did a really good job behind the camera. Action scenes are well shot and feature some really gnarly stunts and even grisly violence at times that really add to the intensity of the movie, making the danger of the situation and Crowe’s character feel all the more visceral. Borte really knew how to make the most out of the premise and out of Carl Ellsworth’s script, crafting some really suspenseful scenes that never really let up until the credits.

This movie’s been pretty mixed in its reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 48% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 40/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.0/10.

Is “Unhinged” one of the greatest movies ever? No. But if you’re like me and you like brisk, tense, pulpy thrillers right out of the 90s, then I can easily recommend it for a rainy afternoon. It has a fun story, okay-ish characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Unhinged” is a 7.88/10. So I’d say it’s worth a rental.

My review of “Unhinged” is now completed.

Vroomssel Crowe

Series Review: The Journalist – Season 1 (2022)

Journalism! I got nothing else, I thought that excited expression might inspire a more nuanced intro on the importance of journalism, but I got jack shit. So I guess we should just get into the review itself.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Journalist” season 1.

Japan, 2019. We follow journalist Anna Matsuda (Ryoko Yonekura) as she doggedly investigates suspicions of government corruption. At the same time, we follow a few of the people working within said government, seeing their personal conflicts as they deal with covering of said corruption. I found the story here to be kind of a mixed bag. It’s a slow burn investigative drama, happily showing you the tedium that comes with both the journalism and the governmental bureaucracy. And at times I do like that, for a good chunk of the show (mainly episodes 2-5) it is decently engaging. Even the melodrama in those episodes can be pretty enjoyable. First and final episodes however feel like they drag a bit, and even the better middle episodes never do anything particularly outstanding. It’s one of those narratives that shows great potential, and even does engage for a fair bit of the runtime, but never quite hits the heights it reaches for. So for the most part I enjoyed the story here, despite some of its flaws.

The characters in this are all decently interesting, working well to make the show a little more engaging. I think some of my favorite ones here are the ones who work within the government, as the show actually does an alright job of exploring their inner conflict with having to deal with some shady shit. I can also happily say that the cast in this are all great, featuring people like Ryoko Yonekura, Go Ayano, Ren Hanami, Keisuke Hoashi, Ryusei Yokohama, Shinobu Terajima, and more, all delivering damn good performances.

The score for the show was composed by Taro Iwashiro, and I think he did a really good job with it. For the most part it relies on a melancholic piano to create this serious and emotional tone that I think works really well for the show. There are also occasional strings, guitars, and percussion used for extra impact in certain scenes, and I think that works pretty well too.

Based on a movie of the same name, “The Journalist” was written and directed for Netflix by Michihito Fujii, who I think did a really solid job here. His direction has this cold, slow burn feel to it, which complements the story quite well, and even adds a surprising amount of suspense to it at times. Even in the moments where the writing doesn’t fully engage, Fujii’s direction has a way of keeping me at least somewhat interested in the scene. So yeah, he did a good job with that.

The show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic the general consensus seems to be a 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.1/10.

While it never quite reaches the heights of its ambition, and even drags at times, season 1 of “The Journalist” is still a pretty solid political/investigative drama. It has a pretty good story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Journalist” is a 7.21/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

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

Come for Go Ayano, stay for… I don’t know, stuff being pretty good, I guess.

Movie Review: Hotel Artemis (2018)

At last, first review of the year not featuring a movie starring Ghostface. Don’t get me wrong, I loved going through the “Scream” movies, but a bit of variety doesn’t hurt, you know. So with that out of the way, let’s do this.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries, let’s check in at… “Hotel Artemis”.

Los Angeles, 2028. The city has been torn to shreds by constant riots. In the middle of this chaos is Artemis, a hotel/hospital dedicated to treating criminals, run by a woman known as The Nurse (Jodie Foster). And we follow her on what might be the most hectic night in the establishment’s history. I mostly enjoyed the story here. When it focuses on the lean, colorful contained thriller aspect, it’s a lot of fun. Where it does falter though is when it tries to go for a more serious tone, developing the backstories of the characters. Wanting to add more nuance and emotional depth to the narrative isn’t an inherently bad thing, but the writing isn’t really strong enough for it to feel successful, which does make those sections feel like a bit of a drag. Luckily, those parts aren’t the main focus of the movie, so for the most part it’s an enjoyable story… bar those select few sections, I mean.

The characters in this are decent, all stand out enough from each other, and work well for the story. But what does elevate them beyond just being passable are the actors. Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sophia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Zachary Quinto, and more appear in this movie, and there’s not a weak link within the cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Cliff Martinez, and I think he did an okay job with it. As with most of his work, it’s based heavily in synths, and I think it fits with the neon-soaked, dingy style of the movie. It’s not Martinez’s best or most memorable score, but it worked fine for the movie. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes.

“Hotel Artemis” was written and directed by Drew Pearce, and I think he did a pretty good job. His style does have this fun, almost comic book-ish charm that really keeps each scene feeling fun and charming. His action scenes are also pretty well handled. Not perfect, but they’re generally well made and fun. What also adds to the overall quality of the craft is the cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung, which is beautiful and really adds to the feel of the movie, making each scene even more engaging.

This movie’s not been super well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 58% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.1/10.

While it does falter a bit when trying to be more serious, “Hotel Artemis” is an enjoyable contained thriller. It has a pretty good story, okay characters, great performances, okay music, good directing, and great cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hotel Artemis” is a 7.23/10. So while it is flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth renting.

My review of “Hotel Artemis” is now completed.

Welcome to the Hotel Artemis, such a dingy place, such a dingy place…

Movie Review: Scream 3 (2000)

We’re 75% through this little journey, my friends… or well, 60% if we count the new one that’s not even out ye- fuck it, we’re only counting the old(er) ones for now. And without further ado, let’s get into the review itself!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream 3”.

A few years have passed since the murders at Windsor College, and Sidney (Neve Campbell) has moved to a remote new place somewhere in California. Meanwhile, a third movie in the “Stab” franchise is being made, which prompts another killer to come forth and kill people involved with the production. “Scream 3” had the perfect setup for a deep cut satire about Hollywood and filmmaking and such, but sadly falls flat and completely misses in that regard, largely due to it not being written by series mainstay Kevin Williamson. That said, I don’t hate the story here. Yes, it’s more convoluted than it needs to be. Yes, it does lack the satirical edge that made the first two movies as good as they were. Yes, it makes some baffling decisions at a few points. But it’s still a decently fun horror story that at times has some nice suspense or a good joke. So yeah, not as good in terms of actual storytelling, but it’s stil. decently enjoyable.

The characters in this can be a bit of a mixed bag. The returning ones remain the highlight, with their relationships and personalities developed further, and with Arquette, Campbell, and Cox once again delivering damn good performances. As for newcomers, some of the characters are a decent bit of fun, and some are just kinda meh, with one in particular falling really flat due to the convoluted narrative. At least the supporting cast are all solid in their roles, featuring actors like Parker Posey, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Foley, Deon Richmond, Jenny McCarthy, Emily Mortimer, Lance Henriksen, and more.

For the third time in a row, Marco Beltrami came in to do the music, and once again he’s polished his style even further, leading to arguably my favorite score in the series so far. It does have some of the loud brass and such again, but it’s still surprisingly subdued, making for a pretty eerie score that manages to elevate the movie, even when the script stumbles. As for licensed music, there’s a little bit of that used throughout, and it’s all pretty good. This movie has good music, yo.

As I previously stated, Kevin Williamson didn’t come back to write this (boo), but at least Wes Craven stayed on as director, and once again he did a really good job. He could manage to wring a lot of energy and suspense out of a scene, making it very watchable, even if the event itself isn’t super interesting.

This movie’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 41% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 56/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.6/10.

While its let down by a weak script, I still had a decently fun time with “Scream 3”. It has a meh story, okay characters, great performances, great music, and really good direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Scream 3” is a 6.97/10. So while it’s flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth renting.

My review of “Scream 3” is now completed.

One more to go…

Movie Review: Before I Wake (2017)

Good *insert the time of day you read this in here*, hope you’re doing well. Time for more spooktacular content. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Before I Wake”.

Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) are a loving couple who have made the decision to adopt a young boy (Jacob Tremblay). What they don’t know however is that this boy carries a special, strange secret. The story in this movie is an interesting one, often leaning more towards a dark fantasy rather than outright horror… at least early on. Towards the later half it leans heavier on the horror elements. And I must say that I found the story here quite enjoyable. It has some interesting themes that we’ve seen discussed multiple times in works by this director, and while this isn’t his most engaging or nuanced take on the subject matter, it’s still a generally well written and enjoyable narrative that managed to creep me out a few times.

The characters in this are alright, not the most deep or interesting ever, but they work well for the story. Kate Bosworth does a really good job as Jessie, Thomas Jane is great as Mark, Jacob Tremblay is of course great as Cody, the kid that the couple adopts. And then you also have an interesting supporting cast, featuring people like Annabeth Gish, Dash Mihok, Kyla Deaver, Jay Karnes, and more!

The score for the movie was composed by Danny Elfman, along with the Newton Brothers (talk about one hell of a teamup), and I’d say they did a solid job together. It’s an ambient score that manages to build a fair bit of drama, helping add a good bit of emotion to certain scenes. There’s also of course some classic loud horror hits, and they work fine, even though we’ve heard that sort of stuff a kajillion times.

“Before I Wake” was directed and co-written by Mike Flanagan (hell yeah), and also has a bit of an interesting production history. Apparently Relativity Media bought the rights in 2014, slating the film for a 2015 release, but later got pulled due the company going bankrupt. Eventually after much back and forth it then landed in the hands of Netflix, who finally released it in 2017 worldwide… except for the states who got it in 2018. So yeah, it’s an interesting tale. Anyhow, back to Flanagan.
This man doesn’t miss when it comes to directing. Even in this film, which isn’t one of my favorites he’s done, he still does a damn good job. His direction has this simmering, slowly burning, often dreamlike vibe that just makes each scene a hell of a lot more engaging.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 66% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

While not my favorite film from Flanagan, “Before I Wake” is still an enjoyable little horror-fantasy that I can recommend. It has a good plot, pretty good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Before I Wake” is a 7.44/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “Before I Wake” is now completed.

I don’t know about you, but before I wake, I sleep.

Movie Review: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Are my eyes deceiving me, or is this another Month of Spooks post? Well it is! And what’s the deal today then? Exorcism? Interesting, let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”.

When a priest (Tom Wilkinson) is accused of causing the death of a young woman (Jennifer Carpenter), lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) takes his case, soon finding herself diving into deeper, and more complex waters than she ever could have expected. If you read the title of this movie, you expect a straight up horror flick, right? Well, that’s not quite what we have here. “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is actually for the most part a courtroom drama, with some flashbacks interspersed throughout that are mor horror-focused. And I personally liked the courtroom stuff quite a bit, as they provided a thematically and dramatically interesting debate on science vs. religion. But then we have the flashbacks to what happened with the character of Emily, and I kind of tuned out of those, because they leaned too much into typical horror tropes, without generating any actual scares. There’s decent atmosphere in those bits, but there’s no actual tension or terror, and I was uninterested in the storytelling in those bits. So yeah, the story here is a bit of a mixed bag.

The characters in this are all pretty interesting, and I like the way they’re used throughout the movie. Even when the storytelling loses me in those flashbacks, the characters are still decently engaging. And a lot of that comes from the spectacular cast, containing people like Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Jennifer Carpenter (who steals the show), Colm Feore, Campbell Scott, Henry Czerny, and many more.

The score for the movie was composed by Christopher Young, and I think he did an alright job with it. Some of the track resonate decently, creating some good emotion. But some just feel a bit overbearing as they just try to create this droning horror-y sound. So the score can feel like a mixed bag at times, even though I can’t blame Young himself.

“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” was directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson, and I think he did a really good job with. Derrickson is a director who’s work I’ve enjoyed before, and this was his cinematic debut, so it was exciting to see where it started for him. And he definitely has a style and skill that was well beyond his years. Even though I didn’t find the horror bits scary in this, Derrickson’s direction still kept it slightly interesting.

This movie has not been super well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 44% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 46/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.7/10.

While it is a bit of a mixed bag, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” can still be recommend for its courtroom drama and electrifying cast. The story is alright, the characters are okay, the performances are fantastic, the music is okay, and the direction is really good. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is a 6.97/10. So while it’s very flawed, it’s still certainly worth a rental.

My review of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is now completed.

Your honor, I will exorcise my rights to plead the fifth.

Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 6 (2001 – 2002)

Been a while since we did one of these, wasn’t it? Hold on, lemme check… Yup, December 2020, Jesus Christ. Shocking delay aside, my rewatches and reviews of this show finally continue. So let’s fucking gooooooo. Oh, and spoilers for the end of season 5, because that stuff ties into a few plotlines for this season. So if you haven’t watched that and don’t want spoilers… begone, come back later. As for the rest of y’all…

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 6.

Picking up months after Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) heroic sacrifice at the end of season 5, she gets brought back to life by her friends. And we follow her as she’s reeling from that, seeing how what effect it has on her, all the while a new, yet familiar threat rises in Sunnydale, along with the usual subplots of the various members of the gang. Season 6 of “Buffy” has some interesting ideas within its narrative, and even has some great episodes and moments. But in the grand scheme of things it is quite dour and joyless. Yes, there is still fun to be had, ranging from the delightful “Once More With Feeling” to the charming “Tabula Rasa”, the latter of of which featuring one of my favorite visual puns in anything ever. But despite there being a decent amount of good stuff, there’s also a lot of things that really drag down this season for me. There’s the aforementioned tonal issues. The first half of the season isn’t quite as bad for that, but good god, the back half is almost pure misery all the time. Occasionally the seriousness leads to some good drama (the last episode for example, I think is damn good), but generally it becomes such an onslaught of pain that it becomes numbing. What doesn’t help is the general big bad of this season, which is a few people who’ve appeared in previous seasons. Not inherently the worst idea, and their specific plotline is oddly prescient to our society today. But in terms of how well it works within the show? Not really a big fan. They just become kind of annoying and don’t really add anything in terms of dramatic value. I see a lot of potential throughout the season, and there are some great fucking ideas throughout, but they either feel undercooked, incorrectly utilized, or missed. So yeah, in terms of story this season is a very mixed bag.

The characters here… you know, the characters of this show are usually a highlight. And obviously I still generally love them, but something about their development throughout this season is, once again, a mixed bag. Buffy herself remains pretty great, and her arc this season is one of the better ones, with Sarah Michelle Gellar once again absolutely fucking killing it. The only other arc I’ll talk about in a slightly longer format is that of Spike, played by James Marsters. Back in the earlier seasons he was the best. A Billy Idol-inspired vampire who was a crackerjack of charisma, violence, and badassery… Spike this season is a pathetic simp, and it’s one of the biggest mistakes the show’s made. Marsters still kills it with the material given, but the character’s development just doesn’t work. The rest of the cast, some get good stuff, some get less good stuff. Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Amber Benson, Emma Caulfield Ford, Michelle Trachtenberg, Anthony Head, they all put in good work.

The score for this season was composed by one Thomas Wanker (don’t laugh). And I think he did a good job. His style is generally understated, having a lower, more subtle tone that carries through, which I think sounds really good. This season also saw the return of Christophe Beck, as he did the music for the episode “Once More, With Feeling”, an episode which has some top tier tunes. So yeah, that’s cool. As for licensed tracks, there’s a handful used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

Season 6 of “Buffy the Vampire slayer” was, as always, written and directed by a whole slew of talented people, all bringing something interesting to it. It’s all generally well shot, with solid action and effects for the time.  Editing in some scenes can be a little too quick, but on the whole the craft is good. I don’t really know what to add, these guys basically found their groove around season 3, and there’s been much different in terms of improvement, it’s just a show that is well put together.

This season has been quite mixed in its reception. It has a 63% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. On Metacritic it has an audience score of 4.9/10. And while there’s no season average, the show overall has a score of 8.2/10 on imdb.com.

Season 6 of “Buffy” is, as you’ve most likely gathered from my ramblings, a bit of a mixed bag. While it does sport some really good episodes and moments, on the whole it’s quite a mess. The story is mixed, the characters are pretty good, the performances are great, the music’s really good, and the directing is really solid. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 6 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a 7.20/10. So while it does have a fair bit of missteps, I’d still say it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 6 is now completed.

Just one more season to go.

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 2)

Hohoho, and a good evening to you (it’s evening where I am at the time of writing, shut up). So anyway, shall we continue with this silly little series of mine.

’twas the night before christmas and all throughout the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Okay, that was not right, as there were actually two siblings up all night. Waiting for Santa all of his toys, so to not get caught by him they shouldn’t make noise. But for there to be some plot, their plan works out not. So now the siblings must give a hand, to help Santa save christmas all across the land. Aaaaaand I can’t keep that up anymore, back to non-rhyming jackass Markus. But yeah, I think you get the gist of the plot for “The Christmas Chronicles”. It’s a fairly standard kids’ christmas adventure film narrative, that has some nice moments throughout. And the two kids playing the siblings are really good in their roles. They deliver their lines well, they have good chemistry, and they even bring some nice charisma to proceedings. But that’s enough of that, let’s talk about the main event here.
KURT FUCKING RUSSELL PLAYS SANTA CLAUS. I swear, the pitch meeting probably went something like
“So imagine Santa Claus… ”
“Yeah?”
“But Kurt Russell!”
“Here’s moneys”.
Who knows, maybe I’m wrong. But it sure feels that way. Like I said, the narrative doesn’t do much to stand out, but it manages to still pop a bit within the crowd of holiday hijinks thanks to Kurt Russell. He brings that rugged charm of his to this role, and it is endlessly entertaining to watch. Every time he was on screen, I smiled. He is terrific, I don’t know how else to put it.
So to try to tie this present together, “The Christmas Chronicles” is a fun enough family adventure that stands out thanks to Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. It is maybe a little too long, but overall it’s still a fun enough little holiday adventure on Netflix.

On the second day of christmas, this film in my mind seared
The image of Kurt Russell’s glorious beard

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.