Movie Review: Sweet Virginia (2017)

Not sure what to say here really. I can usually come up with some pseudo-clever intro for these relating back to the movie. But right now I got jack shi- Hey look, it’s Punisher!

Ladies and gents… “Sweet Virginia”.

Sam (Jon Bernthal) is a former rodeo star who now runs a motel. One day a young man (Christopher Abbott) checks in and the two strike up a friendship. But what Sam doesn’t know is that this young man is a drifter who recently committed a triple homicide. So now we have our little thriller movie. And while it seems like I might’ve spoiled the movie, I only told you what happened in the beginning. I gave you what you needed to know. And is this plot any good? Yes and no. Let’s start with negatives… the pacing in this movie is weird. And by weird I mean that it drags at times, which is weird because it’s a 90-minute movie. And while I have no problem with a slower pace, it really dragged at times and wasn’t necessarily the most interesting in those parts. Now for the positives. In the parts where the pacing isn’t weird, the plot is tense and has some quite interesting aspects to it. And in those parts it does embrace the more thriller-y sides of this thriller, and it makes those parts suspenseful and pretty entertaining. Overall the plot here is… fine.

The characters her range from really interesting to… just being there. Jon Bernthal plays Sam, our protagonist. While he’s moved on from his old life, you can tell that he’s still slightly troubled by those times, making him a bit more of an interesting character. And Bernthal is of course great in the role. Christopher Abbott plays Elwood, the young and troubled man that Sam befriends. He can seem like an okay dude at first, but has a propensity for violence, and I found his character to be quite interesting in that way. And Abbott really impressed me here, I thought he was great. Then we have Imogen Poots as a woman named Lila, and while Poots gave a really good performance, the character wasn’t great. You can tell that the seed for her character was planted, but it had not fully grown yet. Then you have Rosemarie DeWitt as a character named Bernadetta. Same as with Poots, her performance is really solid, but the character could’ve used a bit more work. So in summary, the characters here are inconsistent in quality, but at least the performances are great.

The score for the movie was composed by Brooke & Will Blair, and they did a good job with it. Sure, the score doesn’t do anything unique, as it has similarities to other thriller scores, but it’s still really good and it does help to elevate some of the scenes throughout the movie.

The movie was directed by Jamie M. Dagg and I think he did a good job with it. It’s tightly directed, and shots have a nice flow to them. He also manages to get a lot of good tension out of multiple scenes. The dude really impressed me in that sense. And the cinematography by Jessica Lee Gagné was really good.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 78% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

While flawed, I still think “Sweet Virginia” is a really good movie. It has a fine plot, mixed characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/cinematography. My flaws, as previously mentioned, are that the plot drags quite a bit at times, and that a good amount of the characters are kind of uninteresting. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Sweet Virginia” is an 8,45/10. While flawed, I still think that it’s definitely worth a rental.

My review of “Sweet Virginia” is now completed.

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
Sweet Virginia…

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”.