Series Review: The Good Lord Bird (2020)

We all agree that slavery was one of the worst things in human history, right? Alright, good. At least we’re on the same page on that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Good Lord Bird”.

The story follows Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a young slave who gets freed by abolitionist John Brown (Ethan Hawke) and then joins his merry band of freedom fighters. And we follow Onion as he follows along on Brown’s crusade to free the slaves. What I found fascinating about “The Good Lord Bird” is the interesting use of of tonal shifts to tell its story. While at its core it’s a serious drama about the liberation of shackled people, the writers use a surprising amount of comedy throughout, which adds quite a bit of nuance to proceedings. But it’s not just a tonally unique slavery drama, but it’s also largely a coming of age story, since we get to see how this young boy gets to evolve while following along with Brown’s crusade. And while this sounds like it could be quite messy, it really isn’t. I found the story here to be utterly engrossing and entertaining, having me utterly engaged throughout the seven episodes.

The characters in this are colorful, flawed, surprisingly layered (like an onion, HA!), and really entertaining. Joshua Caleb Johnson plays Onion, the young slave who becomes part of Brown’s gang. He has quite an interesting and highly enjoyable personal arc in this, while also serving as the audience in this story, being our look at Brown and his antics. And I think Onion is a really fun protagonist, with Johnson giving a great performance. Next we have Ethan Hawke as John Brown, preacher and abolitionist. He is a fascinating individual, being really passionate about the emancipation of the slaves. And when I say passionate, I mean PASSIONATE, borderline fanatic. His heart is of course in the right place, it’s just that he’s maybe also a bit gung ho about it all, making his methods seem a little insane at times. But that’s what makes him such a fascinating character. And Ethan Hawke is terrific in the role, selling every bit of Brown’s eccentric personality wonderfully. We also get supporting work from people like Beau Knapp, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Ellar Coltrane, Mo Brings Plenty, Nick Eversman Daveed Diggs, and many more, all giving top notch performances.

The score for the show was composed by Jamison Hollister, and I thought it was really good. If you’ve heard a western score in the lat 30 years, you probably know what you’re getting. A fair bit of strings, high energy, and just a vibe that says “this is a fun western”. There’s also a fair amount of licensed songs used throughout, and they work surprisingly well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the novel of the same name by James McBride, “The Good Lord Bird” was developed for Showtime by Mark Richard and Ethan Hawke, with writing and directing by a whole load of cool people. And the craft on display here is superb. Usually when I watched a tv show, even ones on high budgets with super talented crews, I can still usually tell by how it’s shot that it’s a tv project. But I don’t really get that feel here. They’ve taken careful steps to make sure it blurs the line between cinema and television with their shots and camera movements here. This comes partly from Peter Deming’s beautiful cinematography, and partly from the directing which crackles with energy and feels so lively. This doesn’t mean that anything feels rushed, because the crew really know when to slow down and let moments simmer, creating a perfect balance between the fun, the emotionally charged, and the exciting.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

“The Good Lord Bird” is a highly entertaining, fascinating, and unique take on slavery-themed drama, and is one of the best shows of 2020. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Good Lord Bird” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Good Lord Bird” is now completed.

Ethan Hawke has two modes in this show: Low grumbly growling and PASSIONATE, THROAT-RUINING SCREAMING.

Series Review: Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun – Season 1 (2020)

It’s quite inspiring to see internet people gain some level of mainstream attention. Not like through some kind of controversy or douchebaggery that we’ve seen from some over the past few years. No, we’re talking about those who just worked hard at their craft and then found themselves getting bigger projects. This is such an occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all… to “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun”!

While I usually explain some sort of overarching narrative in this section of my reviews, this one is going to be a little different. Because this show isn’t some typical story-driven thing. It’s a sketch series with each episode having some weird theme (or “Word of the Day” as they call it) that each sketch is mildly connected to. But with this being Aunty Donna, you can never really expect where they’ll go with it. It’s basically just the boys doing their usual shit, on a slightly bigger budget. And since they have a brand of humor that is very much their own, then this isn’t really for everyone. They’re weird, unpredictable, goofy, absurd, and even slightly surreal. And being an Aunty Donna fan, I am so glad that they’re unique style is retained here. I’m not gonna say that all the sketches here caused huge laughter, but I can happily say that I was always smiling at least. Then there of course were huge laughs throughout. Basically if you’re already a fan of the Aunty Donna crew and their weird style of humor, then you’re definitely gonna enjoy this, as it’s 100% that. As for any other people who aren’t familiar with them… then I don’t know if you’ll enjoy it. Give it a try, I guess? Maybe you’ll enjoy some of the wordplay? Or one of the song numbers? Or a performance? Who knows. Either way, I enjoyed it all a lot.

There’s a lot of different characters in this, all very colorful, most a ton of fun. And since I don’t wanna spoil those, I’ll just move on. But I will however say that the cast is on top as per usual, with our main trio of Broden Kelly, Mark Bonanno, and Zachary Ruane are as great and energetic as ever. We even see a few of their regular collaborators throughout, such as Michelle Brasier and Ben Russell. There’s even a few surprising guest appearances at a few points…
But yeah, this cast is great.

This show is well shot and edited. Yeah, not much else I can say there. It’s familiar territory for the boys in terms of overall craft, just slightly better looking thanks to that Netflix money. So you know, that’s pretty cool. Kudos to the production crew.

At the time of writing, it doesn’t have many scores on my usual sites. But here’s the Rotten Tomatoes link for future reference. And here’s the Metacritic one. And then we have imdb.com, where it (AT TIME OF WRITING) has a score of 9.1/10.

So yeah, season 1 of “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun” is indeed a big ol’ house of fun. I found it to be hilarious, charming, and very well performed. So time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun” season 1 is a 9.76/10. So while it ain’t for everyone, I still give it a “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun” season 1 is now completed.

I watch Aunty Donna and it makes me chuffed…

Movie Review: Da 5 Bloods (2020)

*Ron Perlman voice activated* War, war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Da 5 Bloods”.

In the present day, four African-American Vietnam veterans travel back to the country they once battled in to find the remains of their fallen comrade, and bring him back to the States. But as we soon learn, there is a bit more going on with this situation than just men wanting to pay respect to their brother. “Da 5 Bloods” is a fascinating movie in the sense that it evolves quite a bit over time. It has its main goal of course, but then it also uses various tangents to make points about a lot of real life things, from the Vietnam war, to the messy relationships of the characters, to history of race within the States. It’s a very ambitious narrative, which I respect quite a lot. And there’s a lot to like about the story. But I also feel like the amount of content here ultimately hurts the story somewhat. You really feel the 150 minute runtime at multiple points, and the sheer amount of threads within this narrative does make it feel somewhat messy sometimes. I was mostly invested in what was going on, and I would still say that it’s a good story… but also a flawed one.

Whereas the story can feel a little iffy at times, the characters shine, always being extremely interesting. Their different personalities make for fascinating chemistry, as there’s clearly a brotherly bond between the group, but then there’s other aspects of their personalities that clash, and I thought that made for some electrifying cast dynamics. I won’t go into too much detail on each one, as they’re better left experienced. But I will say that Delroy Lindo plays possibly the most complex character in this movie, and his performance is fucking amazing. The rest of the cast is great too, filled with very talented people like Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Norm Lewis, Jonathan Majors, Chadwick Boseman (R.I.P) and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Terence Blanchard, and it was very good. Sometimes it creates a subtle and emotional vibe that creates a lot of dramatic tension and maybe some heartache, and at times it’s slightly more bombastic for various reasons. It’s not my favorite score that Blanchard has composed, but it still works really well for this movie. There’s also some licensed music used throughout, and those tracks work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“Da 5 Bloods” was directed and co-written by Spike Lee, and I will say that he’s done a really good job with it. The dude somehow manages to bring a big, epic scope to this project while still managing to keep us intimate with the characters. The movie just feels grandiose, like one of those older war epics, even though it never really focuses on any actual warring. The movie also plays around with aspect ratio in some fun ways. In the present day it’s a nice wide 16:9, but when we get flashback’s to the early 70s, it goes in on a 4:3 aspect ratio, which I thought was a nice touch for the storytelling. Also, there’s some grisly images in this. Really grisly… just thought I’d mention that.

“Da 5 Bloods” has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

“Da 5 Bloods” may not be perfect, but it’s still a very good drama about some very interesting people. It has a pretty good story, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Da 5 Bloods” is an 7.99/10. So even thought it’s flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Da 5 Bloods” is now completed.

If Delroy Lindo doesn’t get the Oscar, we riot.

Series Review: Primal – Season 1 (2019 – 2020)

I’ve made it clear a bunch of times that I am a big fan of animation. Western, Japanese, you name it. I often even think animation has an edge over live action, thanks to not having as many limitations since all the images are completely drawn up, and not shot with some camera. They’re not bound quite to the same rules as an actor on a set. So anyhow, let’s talk about a cartoon.

Ladies and gents… “Primal” season 1!

The story of “Primal” tells the tale of a caveman (Aaron LaPlante) who recently suffered a terrible tragedy, which leads to him teaming up with a carnivorous dinosaur. And we follow this unlikely duo as they learn to work together to survive a dangerous and insanely violent prehistoric world. The narrative in “Primal” is interesting because it’s not really one overarching narrative. It’s really more a series of events in the lives of our two protagonists, a sort of “day in the life” kind of deal. Except instead of being a mundane life, their days involve running from or fighting off hostile creatures. And while this sounds like it could be a little samey, the writers manage to find new and creative and frankly fucked up ways for our heroes to struggle for survival. On top of that, this show has no dialogue. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given who the creator is, but it’s still interesting to see. And I must say that it’s masterfully handled. Even with zero spoken words, everything that needs to be said is beautifully shown purely through visual storytelling of the highest caliber. And the way they use this for the various little stories throughout this season is fantastic. Not a single episode went by where I wasn’t completely invested.

While this doesn’t really have a huge cast of fleshed out character, the few we do get are still great. These are namely the caveman and the dinosaur (credited as Spear and Fang respectively), our main characters. Both stubborn, both tough, but both also capable of being vulnerable and surprisingly complex. Seeing how their bond evolves over the course of the ten episodes is really cool, and I loved every second of that. And while there is no real dialogue, I will still say that Aaron LaPlante’s many shouts and grunts as Spear are terrific. Truly ape-like and cavemanish.

The score for the show was composed by Tyler Bates & Joanne Higginbottom, and I think they did a terrific job with it. They use a lot of familiar brass, percussion, and woodwind stings in ways that really capture the intensity of the prehistoric carnage of this show. However, they do know when to pull it back as well for some decently emotional tracks. It’s just solid stuff.

“Primal” was great for Adult Swim by Genndy Tartakovsky. And if that name doesn’t quite ring a bell, it should be known that he also created “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Samurai Jack”. So yeah, he’s a bit of an animation legend. Speaking of which, how is the animation here? Breathtakingly fantastic. There’s a lot of creative color uses throughout, which when combined with different angles and dynamic movements, makes for one of the most well animated shows I’ve ever seen. This of course also translates into action scenes, which are amazingly well done and also insanely brutal. If you’re in any way squeamish, don’t watch this show, at all. It’s one of the bloodiest, most violent, and least fuck-giving cartoons out there. It even brings some of that nastiness up from a 10 to a 40 in episodes five and seven, the latter of which being one of the most disturbing things I’ve watched in a long time. Hell, even episode 1 is quite upsetting and unforgiving. But yeah, the craft on display here is spectacular… and insanely uncompromising.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.7/10.

While the uncompromising brutality of “Primal” season 1 may put some people off, I for one find it to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent years. It has a great story, good characters, good grunts and screams, great music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Primal” a 9.95/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

Man, when Genndy was let loose from the shackles of family friendly content, he really went all out.

Movie Review: Hereditary (2018)

Trauma, we all experience it in one form or another. Aaaaaaand with that, you should be aware that the jokes won’t be flowin’ throughout this post. So let’s just get one out of the way right now, before shit gets serious. What do you call in Aussie actress who fetches her paycheck? Toni Collect.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Hereditary”.

After the death of one of their relatives, the Graham family does their best to move on. But that isn’t so easy, as increasingly strange and disturbing things keep happening around them. Talking about the narrative of “Hereditary” without getting into too many details is difficult, as I feel it is one best left experienced knowing as little as possible. Because it’s not some typical horror narrative, and don’t worry, I’m not pulling out that whole “elevated horror” bullshit. I’m just saying that if you’re expecting spooky jumpscare fest number gazillion, then you’re gonna be sorely mistaken. “Hereditary” is mostly a slow burn family drama that also happened to get under my skin thanks to some bone-chilling imagery, tragic and believable writing, and an eerie atmosphere. It’s been a while since I watched a scary movie that got under my skin this much, while also keeping me emotionally invested in the drama.

The characters in this are flawed, damaged, nuanced, and simply enthralling to watch, and a lot of that comes down to the stellar cast. Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, and Ann Dowd are all fantastic in their respective roles. There’s not a single weak link in this entire cast.

The score for the movie was composed by one Colin Stetson, and I think he did a great job with it. It’s eerie, it’s emotionally charged, it’s tense, and it just generally fits the movie quite well, often elevating some already stellar moments throughout. It’s not one of those I’m gonna find myself listening to in my spare time, but I did think it was good.

“Hereditary” was the first feature film written and directed by Ari Aster, who also did “Midsommar” (which I talked about last year). And holy fucking shit, this dude knows what he’s doing. Whenever someone gets to make their first feature, there’s something that might feel rocky about the craft… but not here. Aster shows skill far beyond his years, building an unsettling atmosphere and suspense seldom seen in modern horror. And when mixed with Pawel Pogorzelski’s often symmetrical and very rigid cinematography, you get a movie that is both beautiful and unsettling to look at. Speaking of unsettling visuals, I should warn that there’s some incredibly distressing visuals at a few times. I can stomach violence and gore and stuff… but some of the stuff here managed to get a strong reaction from me. So consider yourself warned.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

“Hereditary” to me is a visceral and haunting horror-drama like no other. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and excellent directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hereditary” is a 9.89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Hereditary” is now completed.

Give Toni Collette an Oscar, you cowards.

Movie Review: Cronos (1993)

More spooky content coming your way. And this one kind of fits within a Month of Spooks tradition. For multiple years now, I’ve covered a movie from this director. And this is the only one of his movie’s I had not seen yet. So yeah, this is exciting for me.

Damas y caballeros… “Cronos”.

The story follows Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi), an antique dealer who one day comes across a strange device. And when he activates this device, it does something to him, something that starts turning him into something… not very human. So to put it bluntly, this is a different take on vampire mythology. And I found it to be quite enjoyable. Like with most other movies by this director, “Cronos” focuses more on the heart and humanity of the situation, leaning in towards the emotional spectrum of it all. And I found myself quite engaged by that. The only parts that didn’t fully click for me is the central antagonist, who is an old, sickly man (Claudio Brook) seeking eternal life. I don’t mind that cliché being used in a story, as I think it has some merit. But the way it’s used here feels a little undercooked. If a little more time had been spent with the antagonist, allowing us to get to know him more, then maybe I had been a little kinder to that aspect of the narrative. Or hell, maybe it could’ve been dropped to focus more on the antique dealer’s transformation and personal plight. But you know what? As it stands, I do still enjoy the narrative and its very charming narrative, as it does have cool ideas and plenty of heart.

The characters in this I find decently interesting and entertaining. Federico Luppi plays Jesús Gris, the antique dealer who goes through this strange vampiric transformation. He’s a kind, warmhearted man who lives mainly to take care of his wife and his granddaughter. And that’s where a lot of his personal conflict lies, between the rising bloodlust of his transformation and simply wanting to care for those he loves. And it’s quite the interesting character arc, with Federico Luppi giving a fantastic performance. Claudio Brook as the old man seeking the eternal life gives a solid performance, though as previously stated, I wish there maybe was a little more to him as a character. And then there’s Ron fucking Perlman as Angel, the old man’s nephew, a tough guy/charismatic dick. And he makes up for some of the old man’s shortcomings purely by the virtue of Ron Perlman being fucking awesome. And in supporting roles we see people like Margarita Isabel, Tamara Shanath, and Daniel Giménez Cacho, who all give really solid performances.

The score for the film was composed by Javier Álvarez, and I think he did a good job. It’s pretty unique for a horror score, going for a weirdly charming and quaint vibe that I guess is to catch the vibe of the quiet life our protagonist lived before the device. And I do think this unique soundscape works to the film’s advantage.

“Cronos” is the feature film debut of one Guillermo del Toro. And talk about starting your career with a bang. Even in this first feature, while not perfect in its construction, del Toro’s style shines through brilliantly. The tone and style we enjoy in his later movies is very much here, just on a smaller, slightly less refined scale. And that I think largely helps the movie stand out a lot. He knows how to bring us close to the characters, to feel intimate with their situation. And when you mix that with Guillermo Navarro’s beautiful cinematography, you get some of the most impressive craft I’ve seen for such a small, low budget feature debut.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 70/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.7/10.

While not my favorite of del Toro’s movies, “Cronos” is still a highly entertaining and impressive little movie. It has a good story, pretty good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/cinematography. *Ahem*. My final score for “Cronos” is an 8.32/10. So while flawed, Is till think it’s worth buying.

My review of “Cronos” is now completed.

So now I’ve seen all of del Toro’s films. Whoa.

Movie Review: Ready or Not (2019)

ReadyOrSpooks

Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togevah today. Alright, enough of that. Time for Month of Spooks content.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Ready or Not”!

Grace (Samara Weaving) is a lovely young woman who’s going through the happiest day of her life, finally getting married to her beloved Alex (Mark O’Brien). And after the main wedding it is time to take part in Alex’s family’s wedding tradition of playing a game. The game chosen is hide or seek. What Grace doesn’t know however as she goes to hide is that the family will hunt her down using lethal weapons… ain’t that fuckin’ lovely? And I’ll just come right out and say it, I fucking loved the story in this movie. It may not be that deep or heartwrenching, but it’s insanely entertaining. It’s a fast-paced thriller with a dark sense of humor, never leaving me bored at any point. And even though it has a lot of humor to it, the story still manages to create a suspenseful and sinister vibe that keeps it from just feeling silly. It rides the line between thriller and pitch black comedy beautifully. And it’s a complete blast to follow.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, entertaining, and pretty interesting. Samara Weaving is excellent as Grace, a kind, sassy woman whose life gets flipped turned upside down. Seeing her development over the runtime is interesting, and Weaving’s performance really sells it all amazingly. Mark O’Brien plays Alex, Grace’s new husband, a man in conflict with his two sides. One side just wants to save his wife, and the other understands that this is some sick, fucked up tradition that has to happen, and that conflict is pretty cool, with O’Brien giving a great performance. The last one we’ll go slightly in depth with is Adam Brody as Daniel, Alex’s brother. He’s taking part in this weird tradition, but you can always tell that he’d so jaded because of it. He’s not enthusiastic, but he’s also not strictly for it… it has just worn him down, which makes him an interesting wild card in the story. And Brody is fantastic in that role. We also get some supporting work from Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, John Ralston, and more, all doing great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Brian Tyler, and I think he did a damn good job with it. It’s not exactly the most original score I’ve heard, but it is a solid enough thriller score with enough bombast and subtle creepiness to make it an enjoyable addition to this movie.

“Ready or Not” was directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and I must say that I’m really impressed by their work here. They know how to keep ratcheting up the intensity in scenes, always keeping me on edge with what was going on. Sometimes they succeed with this through fast-paced chases, and sometimes it’s achieved through slower points that focus more on a creeping suspense. And holy fuck, some of the violence in this is really nasty. I know horror has a penchant for brutality, but it’s worth noting that it’s rare for it to get to me like it did here. It’s brutal in a way that makes me squirm, without completely sacrificing the overall fun factor of the entire thing. Still… yikes.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

I absolutely fucking loved “Ready or Not”, it’s one hell of a good time. It has a great story, great characters fantastic performances, good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Ready or Not” is a 9,90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Ready or Not” is now completed.

Can someone please make a video game out of this? Like, can we task Creative Assembly to do that?

Movie Review: Angel Heart (1987)

Ladies and gentlemen of the interwebs, it is that time of year again. The time where I for a full month focus my blog in on the spookier side of entertainment. I welcome all of you to the 6th iteration of The Month of Spooks! So let’s enter the nightmare.

Ladies and gents… “Angel Heart”.

New York, 1955. Private investigator Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) gets hired by the enigmatic Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) to find a singer who’s gone missing. But as Harry investigates this disappearance, things start taking a darker turn than originally expected. What’s intriguing about “Angel Heart” in context to this month’s theme is that it isn’t immediately horrific, starting out more as a pulpy detective thriller that over time evolves into more of a psychological affair, building a looming sense of dread and paranoia. And I think the evolution is beautiful and electrifying. I am a fan of detective fiction, so to see it evolve into a horror story is fascinating to me, especially when THIS well. Never was there a moment I was bored, and many moments had me truly glued to what was going on. It’s a fascinating and creepy story that went places I didn’t expect, keeping me on edge throughout its entire runtime.

The characters in this are pretty interesting, all feeling relevant to the plot while also being engaging in their own right. Mickey Rourke plays Harry Angel, silver-tongued, snarky gumshoe from Noo Yohk. At first that is the side we see of him, something very familiar. But over the movie he develops in some interesting ways that I don’t wanna spoil. And Rourke is great in the role. Robert De Niro is great as the mysterious Louis Cyphre. We also get supporting work from people like Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Higgins, Brownie McGhee, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Trevor Jones, and I thought it was great. Like the narrative, it shifts a bit in genre, which is fine because of how well composed it is. Sometimes it’s eerie and suspenseful and sometimes Courtney Pine seduces you with his noir-inspired saxophone solos. It’s good shit. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes too. So yeah, this movie has some good music.

Based on the novel “Falling Angel” by William Hjortsberg, “Angel Heart” was written and directed by Alan Parker (recently passed away, R.I.P). And I think he did an excellent job here. His directing hearkens back to old detective noir while still bringing the uncompromising imagery and suspense of 80s horror, and it mixes together wonderfully. This is especially evident when paired with Michael Seresin’s breathtaking cinematography. The combo makes for an insanely well crafted film.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 61/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

“Angel Heart” is a beautifully crafted and disturbing gumshoe horror that I loved watching. It has a great story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for Angel Heart” is a 9,87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Angel Heart” is now completed.

Man… young Mickey Rourke was a handsome motherfucker.

Series Review: The Righteous Gemstones – Season 1 (2019)

Quick anecdote before we get into this sermon… I mean review. I actually started watching this as it aired last year, but forgot to keep up with it. So I decided to finally remedy that recently. So now that it has been done, l can at last talk about the show.

Ladies and gents… “The Righteous Gemstones” season 1.

The story follows the Gemstones, a family of devout televangelists delivering the word of god to huge amounts of people on a regular basis. And we follow them in a peculiar period in their lives when a lot of their dirty laundry and hypocrisies start bubbling towards the surface. Now, looking at that setup might make one expect this show to be purely “Fuck Christianity, fuck religion”, that’s at least what I thought  going into it. But surprisingly, it doesn’t go for that low hanging fruit. Now, it does poke fun at organized religion and mega churches at times, but it does it in a way that still is respectful towards those who believe in the Christian beliefs. The characters in the show aren’t shysters and con artists, they genuinely believe in god and want to spread his love and teachings… they just also happen to be a little tempted by the less than savory sides of life sometimes. And I must say that I generally enjoyed the story here. It’s a darkly comical family tale with a surprising amount of nuance… however, I do have some issues with the storytelling here. It does feel a little unfocused and scatterbrained at a few points. It doesn’t always feel like they have all their priorities straight for what they wanna do with the narrative. If they had trimmed down some sub-plots a bit, maybe it could’ve felt less messy. But despite being a little less focused than it could’ve been, it’s still an enjoyable story.

The characters here are all flawed, colorful, and surprisingly nuanced, and to see how their personalities at the start clash with various developments in the show is pretty intriguing and entertaining. Danny McBride, Edi Patterson, Adam Devine, and John Goodman are all terrific as the main four Gemstones. And in supporting roles we see people like Walton Goggins (the absolute fucking standout), Tony Cavalero, Tim Baltz, Cassidy Freeman, Skyler Gisondo, Scott MacArthur, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music for the show was composed by Joseph Stephens, and it was alright. Fairly standard stuff that never really stands out. The only original music track that stands out is a sung song we experience in a flashback, and it’s absolutely wonderful. As for licensed tracks, there’s a handful throughout the season, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“The Righteous Gemstones” was created by Danny McBride for HBO, with writing and directing by him and a bunch of other awesome people (including David Gordon Green). And I must say that the craft behind the show is pretty damn good, featuring a lot of visually pleasing shots and clever camera movements. It’s not often that a comedy makes this much of an effort to captivate in terms of directing, editing, and such, but “Righteous Gemstones” certainly did, and I appreciate that. Now, let’s talk about the humor in this. It’s an intriguing mix of dirty and crass jokes that stoners and teenagers can laugh at, with some decently clever stuff within dialogue at times. Now, some of it lands and some of it don’t. Sometimes I laugh hard and sometimes I sit with a blank stare. It all really goes up and down at times. But overall I’d say it’s pretty funny.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.0/10.

While it does have some flaws within its narrative, season 1 of “The Righteous Gemstones” is still a highly enjoyable batch of episodes that I can still recommend. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, great directing/cinematography, and decently funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Righteous Gemstones” is a 7,89/10. So while it is quite flawed, I’d still say it’s worth watching.

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

Flintstone, Gemstone, John Goodman plays ’em all. Yabba-dabba-Amen.

Movie Review: Mulan (1998)

Confession time: I have never actually watched this movie before. I know dishonor on me, dishonor on my cow, blah blah blah. But I then thought that since Disney recently released their live action remake, I might actually give this animated version a go (finally). So let’s get down to business.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mulan”.

Fearing that her father might die if he goes to war, young Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) steals his gear and pretends to be a man so she can take his place in the army. We all know the basic setup at this point, even if you haven’t seen this movie. And the way it’s handled here I quite enjoyed. It’s not without fault however. There are parts of the story that I feel they glossed over a bit, kinda rushing through some aspects in an effort to get to the “good stuff”. That’s not to say that the story here is bad, it’s still a fun family adventure without a good message at its core. I just wish it maybe slowed down a little more to let certain moments simmer more. But as it stands, the story and the way it’s told is still quite entertaining.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, fun, and surprisingly nuanced at times. First up is Mulan, title character and very relatable person. While the people around her want her to be a fancy girly-girl to honor her family, even though she’s not like that at all. And to see her development in the movie from somewhat clumsy and insecure to someone a bit more tough and confident, that’s engaging. And Ming-Na Wen does an excellent job voicing Mulan. Next we have Mushu, a guardian dragon who sets out to help Mulan become a hero… even if he’s only doing it for his own gain. He’s mostly there to bring laughs, but I think the filmmakers found a good balance in that and making him a valuable part of certain emotional developments. And while it might seem slightly jarring to put Eddie Murphy in a role like that at first, I must say that he was great in the role. Then you also get supporting work from people like B.D. Wong, James Hong, Harvey Fierstein, Soon-Tek Oh, Miguel Ferrer, Pat Morita, Frank Welker, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music of this film is quite good. The main score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and it’s an absolute treat for the ears, creating a lot of emotion through the various tracks, giving us a some great background ambiance. Then you have the songs (’cause you know, Disney) that were done by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel. While I don’t think that all of them are among the upper echelon of Disney musical songs, they still generally work pretty well for the movie. The peak of the tracks is of course “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (sung by Donny Osmond), a most excellent montage song. So yeah, overall this movie has good music.

Based on a Chinese folk legend, “Mulan” was directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook (with writing credits given to a shitload of people, good grief). And I must say that the craft on display here is absolutely superb. The art style for example takes inspiration from traditional Chinese artwork, and blending it with traditional Disney animation to create an absolutely stunning look for this movie that feels wholly its own. The animation is especially breathtaking in motion, where it shows great fluency that is a treat for the eyes.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.6/10.

While its storytelling isn’t the best, due to its fast pace, “Mulan” is still another winning movie within the Disney catalogue. It has a good story, good characters, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mulan” is an 8,77/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Mulan” is now completed.

Sometimes you just a need a film that can make you smile. This one did that for me.