Thursday, December 12, 2019

Doctor Sleep Movie Review


Stephen King Doctor Sleep Movie Review

For me, Stanley Kubrick's version of THE SHINING is the one I always go back on. I saw it first, and never read Stephen King's novel until years after the 1997 miniseries. So of course when I finally read the book, Kubrick's actors and shots are the ones that filled my imagination's place mats. I never read Doctor Sleep (not yet, but I know the Cliff's Notes version), but my visions for the film are going along the same path as they always have.

What's genius about director Mike Flanagan's handling of King's material, is that he successfully found a way to blend King's and Kubrick's versions without insulting either one in the process. DOCTOR SLEEP is as close to a perfect companion piece to the original film than I ever thought we would get. No spoilers here, but Flanagan (who also wrote the screenplay) knows and respects Stephen King so much, that he sprinkles King Universe Easter eggs throughout the film that only fans will probably notice. Even some of the sets, dialogue, camera angles, and character movements are meticulously recreated from the original film. Strangely though, in spite of all of the attentions to detail, the vibe from before feels different this time around. The constant sense of dread wasn't here for me, even though the near constant sound of a heartbeat tried its damnedest to do so.

There are some really cool moments in DOCTOR SLEEP. Sadly, there's even a ton of fan service that gets a tad overshadowed because READY PLAYER ONE already did something similar back in 2018. Regardless of the fear factor being lessened, a good and sometimes heartwarming drama takes up the slack and made me wish for more of it. Ewan McGregor made me believe that he was a grown up Danny Torrance. Kyliegh Curran as Abra, a young girl who shines, was really good and never fell into the annoying child actor cliche that stays too long. She holds here own and the film is better because of it. Rebecca Ferguson as the main villain, is the film's strongest asset. She plays a horrible person who I loved to hate. The rest of the cast is effective as well. I just wish that there could've been a little more insight into Ferguson's group than what we get here, which is everybody just dealing with the moment at hand. There are some imperfections here and there, and it never reaches the impossible heights set by its predecessor, however DOCTOR SLEEP is a treat for the fans in more ways than one. I counted at least 237.

Doctor Sleep Movie Review

Doctor Sleep (2019)
R | 2h 32min | DramaFantasyHorror | 8 November 2019 (USA)
Years following the events of "The Shining," a now-adult Dan Torrance must protect a young girl with similar powers from a cult known as The True Knot, who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.

Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Stephen King (based on the novel by), Mike Flanagan (screenplay)
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran

Ford v Ferrari Movie Review


Ford v Ferrari Movie Review

Here's an example of just how good FORD V FERRARI is: In the theater that I was sitting in, people behind me and people in front of me would have full volume conversations about the film during and after each scene with no regard for anyone else in the place. It got to a point where I was seriously considering having an intentional psychotic outburst before getting a manager and pointing the culprits out like Donald Sutherland in 1978's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. I, was, pissed. But then something happened. The film became so mesmerizing to watch that I suddenly wasn't bothered by the rude bastards anymore. Instead, I took their inconsiderate banter as spectators in a crowd during an intriguing event.

That is exactly what FORD V FERRARI is; a fully engrossing work of art that hits just as hard during slow moments as it does with the high octane ones. There is something special here that director James Mangold has assembled. The feel of the era (by my guesstimations) is detailed ever so effectively. The racing scenes feel fresh and pull you in with the camera close ups and masterful editing. Whoever thought up having the audience get involved by taking them through the trial & error testing process with Christian Bale and Matt Damon, is brilliant. Those scenes made me feel like I was standing on the side of the track and/or in the passenger's seat. There are even subtle little things going on in the background at times that complete the emotional delivery of certain scenes.

Bale and Damon have got a buddy thing going on that flows so naturally between them. It's an absurdity that these two haven't shared the screen together before now. Regardless of how cool or dislikable certain characters are, every single actor absolutely brings it in FORD V FERRARI. Above the many great dramatic moments that this film has to offer, there were two contrasting scenes that really nailed it home for me. One was when Damon takes out his boss played by Tracy Letts for a quick road test to show him the power and intensity that comes with high speed racing. That scene is invigorating, hilarious, and surprisingly poignant. The other scene is when Bale takes his son played Noah Jupe out on a landing strip and explains to him about the perfect lap. The sun has just set, the background noise is subtle, and the two just sit there and have an intimate father/son moment. There's no yelling, fighting, or roaring engines. Just a perfect moment. Mangold really shows here how much of a passion project FORD V FERRARI was for him. This is a bonafide crowd-pleaser. I'm not even into cars and I still was interested the entire time, even when others couldn't shut up long enough to enjoy the moment. 

Ford v Ferrari (2019)
PG-13 | 2h 32min | Action, Biography, Drama | 15 November 2019 (USA)
American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.

Director: James Mangold
Writers: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
Stars: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal

Knives Out Movie Review


Rian Johnson Knives Out Movie Review

Would you like to know what the smart thing for Rian Johnson to do was after making such a split down the middle for fans film like THE LAST JEDI? It was making a highly entertaining distraction like KNIVES OUT. Before seeing this film, I was on the fence about Johnson while feeling unsure about how badly he messed up "THE SAGA". Sure he had already done the under-appreciated LOOPER and a couple of BREAKING BAD's best episodes, but it's hard to forgive the guy who turned Luke Skywalker into a grumpy old hermit before killing him. Having said that, I can tell that this film here is better suited to his talents.

KNIVES OUT is plain and simply, fun. From its beautifully shot beginning to its hilarious ending, I was thoroughly amused. In the style of those old murder mysteries, KNIVES OUT gives you just enough to be suspicious of everyone, but not enough to be prepared to tell everybody "I told ya so!" afterwards. Hell, the murder is solved halfway through before revealing more dastardly motives. The misdirection here is just as admirable as it is fun. The camerawork with angles compliment the mansion sets and know exactly when to be up close and personal. There's almost as much fun done with the house and props as there was with the dialogue.

To be honest, there were a few things in the beginning of the third act that had me figuring out who the real culprit was way before the reveal. Call bullshit if you want, but I've seen so many of these types of films that I notice things. I really don't feel like naming and ranking every actor, however I will give praise to the entire cast (except for the oblivious kid on the cellphone). Having said that, the biggest standout performances come from Daniel Craig, Chistopher Plummer, and Ana de Armas. Armas essentially plays the film's main character, and she brings a sympathetic innocence to her role. With just her tear-filled eyes alone, she could disarm a charging bull. Plummer makes acting look so easy, and his short amount of screen time made me wish for just a little more. Craig who starts out quiet and in the shadows, slowly breaks out of his shell and delivers a tour de force performance that culminates with the final sequence in all of its scene chewing splendor. KNIVES OUT takes a stab (couldn't help myself) at an overdone genre and nails it out of the park. I think the last whodunnit that I had this much fun with was CLUE. Okay, and even a handful of moments from ACE VENTURA PET DETECTIVE. See this in theaters so that Johnson will stay more focused on his planned sequel, and not on muddying the force any further.

rian johnson knives out

Knives Out (2019)
PG-13 | 2h 10min | ComedyCrimeDrama | 27 November 2019 (USA)
A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.

Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack Movie Review



As someone who knows next to nothing about the MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM franchise, I have no business trying to review one of its films. Before seeing the picture, I remember asking myself questions like: "Is it like ROBOTECH?", "How much do I remember about ROBOTECH?", and "Isn't it like that GUNDAM STYLE video that's hugely popular on YouTube?". That last one's a joke, but my actual ignorance is not that far off from it. So because of a lack of options for this particular week at the theaters, my buddy got all excited when I told him that the 40th anniversary celebration of MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM had a one time showing of 1988's MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: CHAR'S COUNTERATTACK. He knows animation (and even some anime), so when he said "Let's go see that one!", I said okay because aside from some questionable passion for 90's Nickelodeon cartoons, his likes on that medium is solid.

Now, there's a reason that I spent so much time explaining myself before finally getting to the actual review. It's because this movie confused the crap out of me. MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: CHAR'S COUNTERATTACK is not bad by any stretch, yet my lack of previous connection to the series combined with how all over the place the story goes, left me in a near state of confusion for its entirety. I was able to kinda sorta catch on to the film's gist, while still having to adjust to scenes jumping back and forth between people who rarely or never interact with other ones who have an overall importance as well. Sound confused? Good. Now I'm not alone in this.

The animation is typical for its era, while an occasional injection of early computer graphics makes some scenes much more cool to look at. Don't get me wrong, I admire the style even though it's nothing that much different from VOLTRON and the like. The leader's political story line that is interspersed with the actual Gundam suit pilots, is a contrast in tone that I never fully caught on to. At times it almost felt like watching a GODZILLA film that got an American overdub version with added scenes or something. The pacing was just odd. There are scenes where one second the characters are working on something while talking about relationship drama, and then immediately afterwards those same people are in the middle of a battle. Or certain characters will change their entire attitude and persona after a couple of words with somebody.

I won't go so far as to say it's wrong, but it sure is different and it kept me scratching my head more than a few times. Also, there's an ambiguous ending where I didn't know what the hell was going on. I know that if I saw the series that lead up to this film, it would've maybe helped. However, I got the impression that the entire series probably pulls this type of intentionally confusing shit all the time. Although your impression from this review is probably going to be that I have a negative view on MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: CHAR'S COUNTERATTACK, I must admit that despite its flaws and my lack of knowledge, I actually enjoyed this movie. It had energy, worthwhile battle scenes, and a sense of humor. I liked it so much that I even tried to find the original series by any legal streaming means necessary, but still came up short. Apparently, the original three MOBILE GUNDAM SUIT series's are only available over here on home video. Why? There's a huge market over here that should be seeing this stuff. Get on it people! The 40th anniversary special has an after credits interview with director Yoshiyuki Tomino where he kinda sorta explains his motivations for how he made the film. Like the film itself, you only get half answers which tells me that's just the way he likes it.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack (1988)
Kidô senshi Gandamu: Gyakushû no Shâ (original title)
2h 4min | AnimationActionDrama | 12 March 1988 (Japan)
Amuro Ray and Char Aznable settle their rivalry once and for all during the Second Neo Zeon War.

Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino
Writer: Yoshiyuki Tomino
Stars: Tôru Furuya, Shûichi Ikeda, Hirotaka Suzuoki