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.

Series Review: Watchmen – Season 1 (2019)

That’s right, it’s not just christmas contrivances you’ll get. Regular reviews will show up too, I ain’t forgettin’ my roots. So, let’s talk about a comic book thing.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Watchmen” season 1!

Set in an alternate version of 2019, “Watchmen” follows a whole bunch of people, as they try to navigate the strange and intense happenings of this world they live in. And that’s pretty much all I’ll say in regards to explaining the core plot, because it’s such a weird and unique experience that if explained further, it would risk kinda ruining it. But I’ll say that the ways it ties into the classic comic book are really neat, and even looking at it without really knowing much (if anything) about the comic, it’s still a highly entertaining and unique journey that has a satisfying beginning, middle, and end.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and just really interesting. Regina King plays Angela Abar, an undercover police officer who more or less serves as the main protagonist of the story. She’s tough, but she does also have a vulnerable side that makes her feel more human and relatable. And King is great in the role. And that’s all the cast I’ll go into, as some reveals are better left experienced (kinda like the plot). But I can say that the cast is filled out with people like Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Sara Vickers, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Louis Gossett Jr, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, James Wolk, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and good god damn, they did a phenomenal job with it. They do some tracks that are quite exciting and cool-sounding, while also providing some tracks that are a bit more dramatic and emotional. They have created a score that not only covers every emotion one needs created for a show like this, but also fits the weird and unique style of everything else in the show. There’s also some licensed tracks used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes too. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the classic DC Comic by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore, “Watchmen” was developed for HBO by Damon Lindelof, who also served as lead writer, while giving directing duties to a whole bunch of other people. And the craft on display here is absolutely superb, creating a world that is familiar (thanks to it technically still being earth), and yet a bit alien, thanks to its awesomely off-kilter tone. The directing is energetic, but also suspenseful, fun, and engaging. The cinematography too is stunning, giving us some great lighting and framing. And with all this said, episode 6… some of the best craft in a tv episode this year, from the shots, to the editing, to the directing… it’s fucking spectacular.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Watchmen” is one of the best new shows of 2019. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing, directing, cinematography, and editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Watchmen” is a 9,90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

I know I called this season 1, but I sincerely hope there are no more seasons. This is a perfectly contained package.

Movie Review: Gone Girl (2014)

Gone-Girl-Desktop-Background-Wallpaper

When a new crime-drama/thriller comes out I get pretty curious immediately. They attract me like a bloody venison attracts a wolf, especially if the movie looks somewhat good. Sure, there is a lot of shit out there among the crime-drama/thrillers, but I can usually escape that in one way or another. Now then I heard about this little movie one day in late summer 2014. So when I heard about it I looked it up I noticed something pretty cool… it was directed by David Fincher. If you didn’t already know, David Fincher is my favorite director. Hell, he made my favorite movie of all time, “Fight Club”. So of course the excitement started building inside of me. Unfortunately I missed it when it came out in October, but now I finally got a chance to see it. So what did I think of it? Does it hold up to previous works of Fincher? Or is it awful? Let’s take a look!

Boys and girls… “Gone Girl”.

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) are living a happy little life. They got a nice house, they own a bar together with Nick’s sister Margo (Carrie Coon) and they got a cat. But on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary something weird happens… Amy has disappeared. I guess you can say she is a “Gone Girl”… okay I’ll stop now. So of course Nick get the cops involved in it all since he suspects kidnapping. But as the story goes on you start to wonder if Nick did it. And from there on we have one of the best stories of 2014 and possibly even the 2000’s. Not only do we have the main thing of Amy being gone (girl) but you also have Nick constantly being hounded by the media and being constantly shit upon by everyone. And I think the movie explores perfectly. It is also fun to note that this movie keeps bombarding you with twist after twist without it feeling forced or showy. Most movies that have big twists simply use them like “Hey, look at me! I use twists, I am so smart!” and come off as stupid. What “Gone Girl” does is give us a ton of twists and make them all relevant and interesting. It was also fun how I was kept interested through the entire runtime (two and a half hours) and never got bored. Good job “Gone Girl”!

The characters are all unique, incredibly fleshed out and really well acted. I am going to be completely honest, I think this is Ben Affleck’s best performance. Yes, he was really good in “Argo”, but here he really showed his talents. And Rosamund Pike, holy shit! She was fantastic in the movie! It is rare to see an actress be this good and steal the show this much. Still, I am probably easily impressed considering I have only seen her in “Jack Reacher” prior to this. Not that she was bad, she just wasn’t this amazing in that movie. And I know, I have to add my opinion on Tyler Perry in this movie… he was really good. I am not a fan of his movies, but here he showed that he can act if given the right script and director. That is the case with most actors… except for Sam Worthington, he can’t act. Overall the performances and characters in the movie were great.

This is the third time I have heard a score form Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and once again they impress me. These guys sure do have a great track record and I don’t think they know how to make a bad score. Just like in “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” the score is cold, haunting and chilling. There were scenes that got really disturbing and bone-chilling by this score. I thought the score was great! I’ll admit, it’s not something I’d start up at a party, but it is still a great score that is worth any praise.

I don’t have to mention anything about the camera work since it’s a David Fincher movie. I have praised the camera work in his other movies before, so I don’t have to mention it again. Let’s just put it like this: It is as fantastic as always! One thing that is worth knowing about this movie is how it is based on a book with the same title by author Gillian Flynn. Now that might sound kinda standard and not too worth noting at first glance, but here omces the fun part; She also adapted it into a screenplay. And you know what? The screenplay was awesome!

Now how did this movie do in the reception department? Pretty fucking well if you look anywhere. On Rotten Tomatoes it got an 88% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it got a 79/100. And on imdb.com it has an 8,3/10 and is ranked #127 on the “Top 250 list”. As of this review the movie has gotten one Oscar nomination (only one) in the category of Best Actress in a leading role (Rosamund Pike) which I really hope wins because she was awesome.

“Gone Girl” is a daring, dark, disturbing, unique, well acted, incredibly well shot and got some really great performances. It also got a great original score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Now for my final score. Where is it? Oh crap, it’s gone (girl). No, found it… I sat on it. My final score for David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” is a 9,85/10 and it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
49920178

“Gone Girl” is now reviewed.

You don’t know what you got till it’s…

Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

afa9b525

Remakes are something I always have a bad feeling about. I am cautiously optimistic if trailers look good, even though the entire thing can go to shit. A lot of remakes actually do go to shit… like Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” remake. There are a few remakes that I like though, such as “Godzilla” (2014) and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. And if you’re wondering about my thoughts on the “RoboCop” remake then I can tell you that it wasn’t bad… just a little boring. Anyway, today we are taking a look at a remake I was not positive about since it is based on source material coming from my home country, Sweden. I was also afraid that they could never get as good as the original Swedish movies. I was not optimistic about it at all… until I a few years later saw that it was directed by David Fincher (“Fight Club”, “Se7en”) who is a director I really like. Then I got a little hope. And now we are talking about it on my blog… oh yes.

Girls and boys… “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.

I can’t compare story on this and the original movie because it is basically the same story, so I know it will be good. Here is the basic story: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) got some legal problems. So then after those problems have erupted and taken to court he is for some reason hired by rich person Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to find out what happened to his niece Harriett a long time ago. But Mikael doesn’t have to go through it alone since he gets help from mysterious hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). And dark, twisted, weird and interesting things happens after that. The idea of the story is one that I really find interesting because it shows the worst in human beings and what can drive people to do certain things. And how is the execution here? It is honestly pretty fucking good. I was really worried how Hollywood could take a Swedish story that got Swedish characters and is set in Sweden and make it at least decent. But Fincher once again proves that he knows what he is doing with his directing skills. The exectuion here didn’t feel sloppy or forced in any way, it just (surprisingly) worked. There were a few details that were changed, but nothing too major. So the execution was overall good.

The characters stay true to how they were in the books and original movies. They all have their little issues that make them unique and they are portrayed well here. I was especially impressed with how great Rooney Mara was as Lisbeth. Sure she is no Noomi Rapace, but she definitely gets the job done. The only problem character/acting based in this movie was how some people had stupid accents while some sounded like they should. Case in point: Daniel Cragi sounds like Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara got a weird accent going. It is nothing really game-breaking in this movie, but it just sounds a little weird.

The soundtrack by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor was dark, chilling, depressing and overall fantastic. It really helped set the mood of the movie (dark, creepy, tense, depressing, cold, isolated). And when it comes to the music I have to touch on the brilliant selection of song for the opening credits. Especially since David Fincher movies usually have opening credits with good/fitting songs. And in this case the song is a very dark and weird cover of “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. I really think it worked to the movie’s advantage and really helped set the mood for it early.

Back on the topic of the opening credits, the song is great, the visuals are trippy and awesome and the opening credits are in general great. But I shouldn’t expect anything less from a David Fincher movie. And with that said, the camera work in this movie is fan-fucking-tastic! David Fincher is pretty much the king of making good looking movies with a dark and dirty tone. Also, fun fact: This movie was actually shot in Sweden just so they could get everything right. Good job, people!

Now ow did this movie do among people and critics? Well it actually did pretty good. On Rotten Tomaotes it got an 86% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a 71/100. Roger Ebert really seemed to like it since he gave it 3,5/4 stars (his score for the original movie was 4/4 stars if you’re wondering). On imdb.com this movie has a 7,9/10. It also won 1 Oscar for Best Film Editing. But it also had an additional 4 nominations; Best Leading actress, Best cinematography, Best sound mixing, Best sound editing.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a remake that actually works and doesn’t buthcer the source material. It also got great performances, a good soundtrack and is directed with extreme care. Time for the final score. My final score for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a 9,01/10. I really feel like this movie could have been better so it doesn’t get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”, but it is definitely worth buying.

Review of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is now done.

I was seriously ready to hate on this movie.