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Cinema Dispatch: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios

Motion Pictures

Directed by Rian Johnson

And we’re back for our yearly song and dance to the empire George Lucas created and Disney is rebuilding!  Not that Star Wars ever really went away (nor did its fans who were perfectly willing to still spend money on it), but the last few years have been just the shot in the arm the franchise needed in order to make it more than a nostalgia artifact that won’t go away into something that will resonate with audiences today and maintain its throne as KING OF THE BLOCKBUSTERS.  Now that we’re at the second installment of the new trilogy, will it be yet another example of Disney getting this formula right, or have we already started hurtling head long into the dark side… by which I mean the movie is not very good?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up not long after the events of the first film where The First Order is understandably peeved over the destruction of the Star Killer Base and are on a warpath to hunt down the remnants of The Rebellion; more or less whittling them down to a single flagship desperately trying to find a place to hole up until the heat dies down.  Unfortunately for them, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) along with his own flagship are right on their tails and are blasting away at the Rebel ship’s shields until they can get a shot in and blow the whole thing up; effectively killing the resistance and all the loveable characters onboard.  Said characters include Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who’s having trouble ceding to the Rebel Leadership which is primarily General Leia and Admiral Holdo (Carrie Fisher and Laura Dern), Finn (John Boyega) who’s all fixed up after the fight against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the engineer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who’s sister recently died in an attack and wants to help Finn in saving everyone who’s left on the flagship.  While Finn, Pie, and Rose are working out a way to save the ship while subverting the Rebel Leadership, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is off on Planet Nowhere with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trying to coax the latter into going back to The Rebels and giving her Jedi lessons, while Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)… well he’s keeping the Millennium Falcon warm in case either of them needs it.  Need it they might though considering how dire the situation is with The Rebels and Rey can’t exactly wait around for Luke to stop being a grumpy pants; especially with Kylo Ren growing more and more desperate to prove himself which only makes him that much more dangerous of a blunt tool for Snoke’s greater ambitions.  Will The Rebels find a way to survive this unceasing onslaught by The First Order?  Will Rey find her place in this conflict and become the Jedi Master that everyone can look up to in these trying times?  Will Luke teach her all those lessons he kinda sorta learned from Yoda and Obi-Wan!?

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“Do, or do not.  There is no try.”     “What do you mean there’s no try!?”     “Huh. You know, I never really understood that part either.”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Disaster Artist

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The Disaster Artist and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24

Directed by James Franco

I may not be as over the moon in love with The Room as plenty of other people are, and it has admittedly lost a bit of its charm once you realize just how misogynistic the whole thing is, but it certainly has my respect as being one of the more unique examples of a GOOD BAD MOVIE due in no small part to the auteur himself, Tommy Wiseau.  Now he’s far from the only ridiculously cocky creatives out there who write, direct, and star in what they perceive to be their one true masterpiece (*cough* Old Fashioned *cough*), but with Mr Wiseau there’s a genuine sense of mystery about the guy as many details of his origin are STILL unknown to this day (HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE IN THE INTERNET AGE!?) and his… shall we say UNIQUE brand of acting certainly sets him apart from many of the other low rent struggling artists out there.  No doubt there is a VERY interesting story to tell about this one guy, his one movie, and his friendship with co-star Greg Sestero, which the wannabe auteur himself James Franco has opted to do by adapting Greg’s book The Disaster Artist into a motion picture; one that he directs, produces, and stars in of course.  Will this examination of one of Hollywood’s biggest oddities be a worthwhile exploration of the creative process and what it truly means to be an artist, or are we just desperately trying to milk a novelty that had lost its luster many years ago?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the journey of two men; aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and… I guess aspiring actor as well Tommy Wiseau (James Franco).  The two meet in an acting class where Greg finds the eccentric weirdo with bad hair and a worse accent rather endearing for his utter fearlessness and ability to throw himself out there in ways that Greg is still struggling to do despite his hopes of becoming an actor.  Because of Greg’s admiration for Tommy and Tommy’s love of being admired, the two move in together and work their way through Hollywood; getting small gigs here and there but nothing that will truly set them apart from the thousands of other working actors cluttering the streets of LA.  After a particularly rough string of bad luck, Tommy eventually starts writing his own movie and wants none other than Greg himself to be the co-star.  The Room is what he titles his masterpiece and he funds it himself with his seemingly unlimited supply of money but things go from awkward to unsustainable as Tommy’s ego and complete inexperience with the process starts escalating tensions with the cast and crew and even with his best friend Greg who’s trying to stick by him but is finding it hard and harder to deal with Tommy’s unpredictable behavior.  Can Tommy find it within himself to get past his issues and foster a good working environment for the only people in the world who are helping him achieve his dreams?  Will Greg stand by his best friend, or will he realize just how much Tommy is holding him back?  WILL THE WORLD EVER UNDERSTAND THE BRILLIANCE OF THIS ONE MAN’S VISION!?

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GENIUS!!

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Cinema Dispatch: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Martin McDonagh

To tell you the truth, I never really liked In Bruges.  It was fine I guess, but I never found it all that compelling and the ending is just a contrived mess that’s about as bad as sixty percent of the twists Shyamalan has come up with.  And yet, there are a lot of people out there that like that movie as well as McDonagh’s other work, so naturally the buzz around this film was huge right off the bat which only grew once the trailers started coming out and we got to see some of Frances McDormand’s acting.  At the very least, it manages to grab your attention with its unorthodox title (A COMMA!?) and even more unorthodox premise that will hopefully take advantage of the ideas that seem baked right into this material.  Does this manage to live up to the hype that its beloved director and solid marketing campaign has built up for it, or will this end up a huge stumble for everyone involved?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) driving down the same road she’s driven down for years and years; heading home after a long day at work and trying hard to deal with the grief over her daughter’s death.  Not just any death too!  She was raped, murdered, and burnt to a crisp, so forgetting about that is proving to be a bit difficult, especially since the cops never found the guy who did it.  That’s when Mildred comes up with an idea.  On this road she’s traveled many times before are three billboards that no one has used in decades, so she decides to purchase the ad space and put up signs reminding the denizens of this small town that the police still haven’t caught the murderer.  Now obviously this ruffles some feathers down at the station, particularly Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) who’s about as dumb and racist of a cop that you’d expect from a story like this and to a much lesser extent Sherriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) who’s leading the stalled investigation and is the primary target of Mildred’s ire.  Things begin to get much more heated around town as several people begin to question (and stupidly try to attack) Mildred and her decision to put this spotlight on something that everyone would rather not think about and leave up to the cops.  Mildred is having NONE of this and starts kicking ass and taking names at everyone who looks at her sideways which only escalates tensions further in this ticking time bomb of a standoff with her on one side and the rest of the world on the other.  Will Mildred finally get justice for the death of her daughter whose killer roams free while the police do nothing?  Just how far will Mildred go in order to get what she wants, and will she lose touch between what can and cannot be justified in her righteous quest?  Just how much saltier will Frances McDormand get in this role before she wins that Oscar gold!?

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“I’d like to tell the Academy that they can kindly fuck off and die, even if I win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.  No wait, ESPECIALLY if I win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Lady Bird

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Lady Bird and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24

Directed by Greta Gerwig

So who would have guessed the surprise hit of Oscar season 2017 would be an indie coming of age story about a young woman who’s desire to be an artist and to see the world is straining against her down to Earth family that love her unconditionally but are hard on her because they only want what’s best?  Admittedly it DOES tick off quite a few check boxes in the Oscar Bait checklist, but then again a lot of movies that SUCCESSFULLY pull this kind of material off really are deserving of all the accolades they get and it’s not often that something receiving THIS much praise from such a large majority of film critics doesn’t have SOMETHING to offer… unless we’re talking about The King’s Speech.  Pointless and petty jabs at old movies aside, does this manage to be the critical darling that earned its title by being a superb film, or will the sterling reputation of this film be short lived as it fades into the background like many other supposedly great films that don’t hold up under scrutiny?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) who’s about to enter her senior year of high school and is still not sure what she wants to do afterwards which is putting her in constant conflict with her mother (Laurie Metcalf).  Okay, well actually she KNOWS what she wants to do and that’s to find an arts college on the East Coast willing to take her in so she can get the heck out of Sacramento and be about as far as realistically possible from the life she’s living now, but her mom doesn’t want to hear all that and is insisting she go to a much closer college.  Not helping matters is the fact that her dad (Tracy Letts) just lost their job and is having trouble finding another one which makes the chances of out of state schooling that much more infeasible.  For the rest of the year, Lady Bird needs to find a way to escape from her less than engaging circumstances while also just trying to survive day to day life with her friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) giving her moral support throughout.  Will Lady Bird find a way to fulfill her dream of NOT living in Sacramento?  Why is her mom in so hard on her all the time, and is all that Tough Love really helping her to be a better person?  WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG!?

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“Will you back me up on this, Larry!?”     “Nah, I think you’ve got this handled.”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Star

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The Star and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment

Directed by Timothy Reckart

Man, Coco was such a good movie.  Too good in fact!  I need to find a way to bring myself down to Earth again if I want to be fair to any other movie coming out this year.  Wait, is that what I think it is!?  A POORLY ANIMATED RELIGIOUS FILM… WITH TYLER PERRY!?  JACKPOT!!  It seems that movie going audiences had the good sense to ignore this film to go see Coco instead which seems like an INCREDIBLY obvious move given how uninspired the trailers look, but let it never be said that I am not a fair critic and will try to give everything at least a CHANCE to try and impress me!  Okay, I know better than to hope much from ANY religious film not made by Darren Aronofsky (and even THAT is a bit of a crapshoot), but compared to some of the OTHER films in that category, there’s no way it could be THAT bad… right?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the misadventures of one Bo the Donkey (Steven Yeun) who remained aimless and nameless for most of his life working in a mill and only getting brief glimpses of the outside world.  His one dream though is to be part of the Royal Procession which… I guess is like a super lame parade or something?  Anyway, he’s given a chance to escape with his wise cracking friend Dave the Dove (Keegan-Michael Key) and he winds up hiding out with a newly married couple; one of whom seems to have gotten to the whole pregnancy thing a little early.  Yes, this hapless donkey winds up in the possession of Mary and Joseph (Gina Rodriguez and Zachary Levi) with the former giving him the name Bo and the latter being a total throwback to goofy nineties sitcom guys; as if the entire male cast of Friends was fused together into one not especially charming homunculus.  While this is going on, a trio of camels (Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, and Tracy Morgan) are carrying the Wise Men across the desert in search of the new king who’s due in just a few months and end up running into King Herod (Christopher Plummer) who doesn’t take too kindly to there being another king out there and sends his scariest brick shit house of a guard with two mix-matched attack dogs (Ving Rhames and Gabriel Iglesias) to go hunt down the happy couple and murder them to bloody chunky bits.  Bo the Donkey gets wind of this and decides to help these two out before running off to join the Royal Procession and even meet a friendly sheep along the way named Ruth (Aidy Bryant) who left her flock to follow the titular star to… whatever’s at the end of it (spoiler alert: it’s Jesus).  Will Bo the Donkey keep these two safe and deliver the savior unto us so that we all may be saved from the burning fires of Hell?  Will King Herod realize that sending only ONE dude to stop the only person who could challenge his throne was a really half assed approach to this problem?  Can animals be saved and accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior?  I’m just curious what’s gonna happen to Bo once he dies considering how much he busted his ass (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) to help Jesus out in the first place!

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“Companions before transubstantiation, AM I RIGHT!?”     “I’m pretty sure that’s not even a rhyme…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Coco

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Coco and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina

I’m far from the only one to have Pixar fatigue, but it has been WAY too long since I’ve gotten excited for another animated film from them.  Even the prospect of Incredibles 2 only fills me with a mix of ennui and meh, so what hope does this film have to bring me back around on the studio?  Well it’s not a sequel for one which is a good sign and its premise, while not what I would call unique (*cough* Book of Life *cough* Grim Fandango *cough*), at least appears to be fleshed out (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) as all the trailers show an immense level of detail and craftsmanship in every frame as well as an amazingly diverse cast that looks to bring an underrepresented culture to the big screen.  Hey, after the mostly positive reception and commercial success of Moana, it makes sense for Disney to stick with the formula; though hopefully we haven’t reached the point of diminishing returns just yet.  Will this be the standout animated film of the year like we’re in the golden age of Pixar, or has ship already sailed for one of the biggest giants of the industry?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins by telling us the history of the Rivera family where Imelda Rivera (Alanna Ubach) was stuck raising little Coco as her husband walked out on them to live out their dream as a world famous musician.  She didn’t let that get her down that she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and spent the rest of her life making shoes and teaching her family to make shoes; all the way to the present day where SHE may be dead and gone, but Coco is still around (Ana Ofelia Murguía) as the oldest living relative of the Rivera family and the great grandmother of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez).  Now despite Imelda more or less banning music in the Rivera household which is a tradition that has carried to this day, little Miguel can’t help but want to be a musician like his hero Ernesto de la Cruz who was a famous musician long ago and is still fondly remembered in Mexico to this day.  In fact… maybe there’s a connection between the guy who walked out on Imelda to become a famous musician, and this famous musician that Miguel is obsessed with right now!?  Maybe he’s the long lost great great grandfather and the only one in his family that would understand his love of music!?  Well Miguel is certainly convinced of this after finding some photographic evidence and decides to… rob Ernesto de la Cruz’s grave so he can use his guitar to win a talent competition?  Okay… seems a bit extreme, but whatever!  THE KID’S GOTTA PLAY!!  Too bad that robbing a grave gets you a one way ticket to the afterlife as Miguel finds himself more or less a ghost to those in the living world and eventually finds himself in the city of the dead where all the people who died are now skeletons; including Imelda Rivera and the rest of his extended family!  Will Miguel find a way to get back home before his brief vacation among the dead turns into a permanent residency?  What will he be able to learn about himself and his family during his treat; including the elusive Ernesto de la Cruz who may be able to help Miguel live out his dreams as a musician?  How the heck is a human supposed to survive in a city of the dead anyway!?  It’s not like any of the residents have lungs, so do they even have oxygen there!?

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“Does he count as contraband, or should we sign him in as a pet?”

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Super Recaps: Riverdale Chapter 9 (La Grande Illusion)

Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW

Episode directed by Lee Rose

We’re back with another episode of THE MOST CONVOLUTED ADAPTATION OF A COMIC EVER!  Seriously, this show is so unbelievably dense with plot (both in the hyperbolic and literal sense) that it makes Batman v Superman look damn near intelligible by comparison.  What this show has over that movie however is decent acting from most of the actors, genuinely funny moments (as well as plenty of unintentional ones) and even though everything just kind of jumbles together into one impenetrable mass of manufactured intrigue, at least some of the stories here are interesting enough to hold your attention whenever the show bothers to bring them back up (*cough* Skeet Ulrich *cough*).  So to catch everyone up, the big revelation at the end of the last episode is that Polly Cooper is now living with The Blossoms because… reasons I guess, and it’s basically throwing everyone relevant to this story for a loop.  On top of that, we get a scene of Hermione and Veronica Lodge discussing THEIR overly convoluted plot and it makes we question why I’m bothering with this if it has to take five minutes out every episode just to catch everyone back up on all the convoluted bullshit that happened in the last episode before getting into THIS episode’s convoluted bullshit.  OH RIGHT!  I REMEMBER!  There are a handful of characters that are always fun to watch on screen and we’re reminded of that as Cheryl spends the next few minutes trying to seduce Archie into going with her to some sort of Blossom family event!  For some reason I keep forgetting that!

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“Why hello there, Archie Doll!”     “Miss Blossom, you’re trying to seduce me!!”

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