Category Archives: Cinema Dispatch

Cinema Dispatch: Queen & Slim

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Queen & Slim and all the images you see in this review are owned by

Directed by Melina Matsoukas

Seriously, how weird is it going to be when Daniel Kalula finally sells out?  True he was in that Johnny English sequel that I haven’t actually seen, but his career since 2015 has been an absolutely sterling one with great performances in Sicario, Get Out, Black Panther, and Widows.  Now he’s back with this film which looks to be one of the standout films of awards season, so we can only hope that his star continues to rise or that his inevitable cash in project is one that is utterly hilarious; like when Laura Linney showed up in that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel or how Nic Cage’s first film after Leaving Las Vegas was one-two-three punch of awesome nonsense called The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off.  ANYWAY!  With this movie taking on such a hot button subject matter with a great cast and a stylish looking presentation, does it manage to be one of the best films of the year or were we all fooled into seeing an utter train wreck?  Let’s find out!!

Ernest Hines and Angela Johnson (Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) who I don’t recall ACTUALLY being called Slim or Queen in the movie, are out on a rather mediocre first date when the Sword of Damocles that hangs over all people of color in this country comes crashing down on their heads in the form of a traffic stop.  Within minutes of doing absolutely nothing, Ernest has a gun pointed at him and Angela is reaching for her cell phone to get this on film for both their sakes.  The racists cop (Sturgill Simpson) doesn’t take long to shoot the unarmed woman in the leg and Ernest has no choice but to tackle the cop, wrest the gun away, and in the ensuing conflict he shoots the cop dead; leaving the both of them in a dire predicament.  Know what is waiting for them if they get taken alive (which in and of itself seems like a slim possibility) Ernest and Angela get in the car and start driving as fast as they can to Angela’s uncle’s place a few hours away for shelter where they can regroup and come up with a plan.  If they can somehow get to Florida and find a plane to take them to Cuba they should be safe at least for the time being, and so Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) gives them a bit of cash, a decent car, and the address of an old army buddy (Flea) who may just be able to get them that plane.  Along the way however, they must contend with the closing in manhunt, staying under the radar, and making snap decisions on who they can trust, where they can hide, and just how much they can trust those they meet along the way.  Can Queen & Slim manage to survive this journey and avoid the corrupt system that condemned them before they did anything wrong?  What impact will their story have on the country and on those they meet along the way?  Did any of those rich old jerks from Get Out think about these realities of being black in America when they were switching brains?  I DIDN’T THINK SO!!

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“I had to kill four white people for my freedom already, and now I have to deal with THIS!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Playing with Fire

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Playing with Fire and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Andy Fickman

There are SO many movies that I needed to catch up on.  I could have seen Midway, Harriet, Black and Blue, but nope!  Given the opportunity to catch up on SOMETHING that might have had some sort of message or Oscar aspirations, I went with the John Cena family film.  You may not agree with the choices I make, but I stand by them.  ANYWAY!  Mr. Cena hasn’t had quite the meteoric rise to stardom as his wrestling counterpart Dwayneson The Rockson Johnson, but his comparably sparse filmography is compensated with a lot of quality films.  The Marine was a fantastic little B action film, he got a lot of praise for his appearances in Trainwreck and Sisters, and Blockers is an uproarious funny comedy with a lot of heart where he manages to hold his own against seasoned veterans such as Ike Barinholtz and Leslie Mann!  Okay, he had a brief role in Daddy’s Home 2, but no one’s IMDb page is spotless.  The point is that John Cena seems to be following the same trajectory as Daniel Radcliffe or even his wrestling contemporary Dave Bautista; people who have already made all their money and so they can be choosy and experimental with the roles they decide to take.  The question then becomes, is there something in this Nickelodeon comedy about firemen watching a bunch of bratty children that rightfully drew Cena to the role, or is this a huge misstep for a guy who’s been savvy enough to avoid them for the most part?  Let’s find out!!

Jake Carson (John Cena) is the head of a unit of Smokejumpers in the California wilderness; saving lives, looking cool, and never wavering from their sense of duty!  Cena in particular has a bright future ahead of him as the current Commander of the state’s Smokejumpers (Denis Haysbert) is looking to retire soon and Cena is on his short list, so all he has to do is make sure his firehouse located deep in the forest is ship shape and ready to impress!  With his faithful crew of Mark, Rodrigo, and Axe (Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo, and Tyler Mane) working hard to keep things in order, there’s no WAY he’ll blow this opportunity… right?  Well as it turns out they get a call about a burning cabin in the woods where they find three children, Brynn, Will, and Zoey (Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery, and Finley Rose Slater), unharmed and yet without their parents nearby.  Since Jake and his crew were the first on the scene, it is incumbent upon them to keep these kids safe at the firehouse until their parents turn up which turns out to be no small task for the rigid and humorless Jake who soon learns just how easily he can lose control of the situation!  Can these four smoke jumping superhero dudes survive a weekend with three bratty kids?  Are they REALLY this obnoxious for seemingly no reason, or is one of them actually scheming behind their backs and looking for the right opportunity to strike?  Seriously, if you were caught in a fire and needed rescuing, wouldn’t you want these guys to do it?  John Cena, Obama’s anger translator, Luigi from the Mario Bros movie, and the guy who played Michael Myers?

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This is like the best fan fiction I never knew I desperately needed…

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Cinema Dispatch: Frozen 2

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Frozen 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

You know, I actually went to Disney World a month or two back and I REALLY enjoyed Epcot!  The sights, the food, the stores with lots of cool stuff in them; they even had a Frozen ride at the Nordic section of the park!  And uh… well we waited about an hour to get on it, Elsa sang at us for a bit, and then it was over.  Kind of disappointing considering how long it took to get there.  Anyway, let’s talk about this sequel to a movie from six years ago.  Is it the continuation to Elsa’s story we’ve all been waiting for, or has Disney already sucked the Frozen cash cow completely dry by the time they deigned to give us a sequel?  Let’s find out!!

Several years after the events of the first film, Queen Elsa has continued her uneventful reign as the leader of Arendelle along with her sister Anna who seems perfectly content to while away her days hanging out with the magical snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) as well as her boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff).  Elsa on the other hand seems a bit antsier about the drudgery of daily life and even starts to hear the voice of someone calling out to her from the mystical forest which has a dark history behind it.  Apparently there was some sort of war between Arendelle and the native tribe of that forest known as the Northuldra and the magical spirits of the forest have closed themselves off from the rest of the world until humanity can get its problems straightened out.  Fortunately for Elsa (though unfortunately for Arendelle), it seems that the magic deep inside the forest is starting to seep out and is causing problems for the kingdom, so Elsa has no choice but to find out what’s going on in there and Anna has no choice but to follow her.  Oh, and Kristoff and Olaf go in there as well, but it feels like a bit more of a choice for them; unless they can only live if there’s a steady stream of screen time.  Can Elsa and Anna figure out what’s causing this surge in the magic, and what it may be trying to tell them?  What secrets from the past will they uncover during this journey, and will they be ones they want to uncover in the first place?  Seriously, is Kristoff there just because he’s got a ride?

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“What do you think we’ll find in there?”     “DO NOT WORRY!  KRISTOFF AND HIS MIGHT STEED WILL FORGE AHEAD, ISN’T THAT RIGHT?”     …     “The mighty steed said yes.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Knives Out

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Knives Out and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Rian Johnson

I gotta tell you, I was in LOVE with this movie from the very first trailer!  Seeing great actors like Michale Shannon, Toni Collette, and Daniel Craig, on screen with Captain America in a movie from the Last Jedi guy, AND it’s a juicy as heck murder mystery?  What more could one person ask for!?  Even with the best of trailers however, there’s always a possibility that what we saw was a cleaned up version of the best bits while the finished product is a compromised and messy waste of time; the Suicide Squad approach if you will.  Can Rian Johnson prove once again how great of a filmmaker he is despite how… “controversial” his last film was, or is this just more fuel to the fire for the more obnoxious anti-fans of The Last Jedi?  Let’s find out!!

The morning after the eighty-fifth birthday of famed mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), he is found dead by his nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana De Anmas) with this throat slashed open by a knife, and because of his massive wealth and greedy family members it only makes sense to investigate things a bit further despite it looking like a suicide.  Not only that, famed detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) with his rich southern accent was brought in to investigate by a mysterious correspondent who sent him no identifying information but a wad of cash to find out if there was foul play or not.  His entire family was in attendance the night before and most of them stayed the night in the giant and ridiculously furnished mansion complete with a giant display of knives that looks like a rejected Game of Thrones prop, so there was plenty of opportunity for someone to get the drop on him and possibly make it look like a suicide.  The suspects include his children Linda and Walt (Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Shannon), his children in-law Richard and Joni (Don Johnson and Toni Collette), and his grandchildren Hugh, Meg, and Jacob (Chirs Evans, Katherine Langford, and Jaeden Martell); all of whom are bizarre in their own way, but hardly seem to be the types to kill unless VERY highly motivated.  The key here is not finding the right method or the most capable suspect, but who had the most REASON to kill, and chance are it has to do with money as Harlan seems to have upset quite a few people at the party last night, though everyone is staying rather tight lipped about it.  Can Detective Blanc find the truth among all the lies, misdirection, and self-serving half-truths?  Which member of this eclectic family has the most to gain now that Harlan is gone, and who has the most to hide?  Is the big twist at the end that Detective Blanc was ACTUALLY Joe Bang in disguise this entire time!?

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“There was a time where I thought cracking bank vaults would solve all my problems.  Then I realized that my true passion was in cracking cases.  And also cracking bank vaults.  That’s just fun!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Parasite

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Parasite and all the images you see in this review are owned by CJ Entertainment and Neon

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

The first movie I ever saw on Netflix streaming was Lady Vengeance by Park Chan-wook who is one of the filmmakers in the South Korean New Wave of cinema; along with the director of this film who’s made The Host and Snowpiercer; neither of which I’ve seen which is why I referenced an incidental fact about a tangentially related movie a moment ago.  As much as I’ve liked the films of Park Chan-wook like Oldboy and The Handmaiden, I haven’t really explored the rest of this movement in South Korean cinema as much as I should as I’ve seen MAYBE ten minutes of I Saw The Devil and twenty of The Good, The Bad, and The Weird.  That all changes today however as I’m here to see a movie that has gotten a bajillion awards and even breaking through at the US box office!  Is this the movie as good as everyone says it is, or will I end up being a Grumpy Gus yet again telling you that everyone else is wrong and you should always listen to me?  Well, I mean… you should listen to me ANYWAY, but let’s find out!!

The Kim family, consisting of son Ki-woo, daughter Ki-jeong, mother Chung-sook, and father Ki-taek (Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin, and Song Kang-ho) are a family living in South Korea that are so lower class that they literally live below everyone else in a basement apartment.  They can barely afford food on a daily basis, they have to steal wi-fi from the people upstairs, and pretty much all the life has been sucked out of them.  And yet the family being rather smart and talented for the most part (I’m not sure what the dad brings to the table) which makes you wonder if that whole “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” thing is total nonsense perpetuated by those who were already handed everything in life!  Well things might just be turning around for them as Ki-woo’s friend Min-hyuk (Park Seo-joon) drops a huge opportunity on his lap with an English tutoring gig for the daughter of a very wealthy family nearby and all he has to do (despite being very good at English already) is pretend that he actually went to university and make up some backstory that sounds impressive.  Fortunately the wealthy Park family is somewhat gullible as the mother Park Yeon-kyo (Cho Yeo-jeong) buys Ki-woo’s ploy so easily that he thinks it might be worth getting everyone else in on the scheme as well.  While he’s teaching Park Da-hey (Jung Ji-so) English, his sister will teach the son Park Da-song (Jung Hyun-joon) art therapy, their mother will be the housekeeper after they find a way to oust the current one Moon-gwang (Lee Jung-eun) and the father will become the chauffeur for the father Park Dong-ik (Lee Sun-kyun)

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No coasters!?  THE MONSTERS!!

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Cinema Dispatch: Charlie’s Angels

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Charlie’s Angels and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

I’ve never seen the Charlie’s Angels movies from the early 2000s, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the original TV series either.  Heck, I’m pretty sure the closest thing I’ve seen to it was Totally Spies, and while that has its fans, it’s pretty much been dropped into the memory hole with dozens of other 2000s shows that you don’t remember.  So if nothing else, I can at least come into this series with a relatively fresh perspective, and I’ve got to say that I’ve been pretty interested in what we’ve been shown so far; particularly the cast which looks to be amazing and the fact that it’s being directed by Elizabeth Banks who has been gaining some momentum as a voice behind the camera as well as in front of it.  Does this reboot of the seventies classic bring the franchise into the twenty first century; at least for the second time?  Let’s find out!!

Elena (Naomi Scott) is a scientist working at some business company on some new technology that will revolutionize the power industry through… I guess computer coding?  The invention in this case is called Calisto which is a little box the size of an Echo Dot or a Google Home that can somehow power entire rooms and even buildings.  However, there is ONE itty-bitty flaw with it in that it can cause people to have brain aneurisms through some sort of bug that Elena is SURE she can fix, but her misogynistic boss (Nat Faxon) won’t let her because they have to get it to market and he wants to take all the credit for it.  If only there was an agency that understood her plight as a woman in tech and could help her stop a supervillain plot at the same time.  Oh wait!  There is!  The Townsend Agency consists primarily of Bosleys and Angels; the latter being the agents who go on missions and the former being the ones to coordinate the Angels.  The two angles who got assigned to Elena’s case are Sabina and Jane (Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinska) and it should be a straightforward Exposé of company documents, but when an assassin (Jonathan Tucker) shows up and takes out one of the Bosleys (Djimon Hounsou), things have clearly escalated to a point far more seirous than Elena had ever imagined.  With the help of a new Bosley (Elizabeth Banks), the three women team up to try and take () back from the evil company and find out just what it is they plan on doing with it in its current deadly state.  Will Elena prove herself to be a true Angel in the making despite a lifetime of being under the thumb of patriarchal and woman unfriendly industry?  What are Sabina and Jane’s story, and will they find excuses to clash with one another when they really should be working together to save the world?  Most importantly of all, does this succeed in empowering women to be in silly spy movies just like men can!?

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“Why does SHE get the gun?”     “Do you know how to use a gun?”     “I mean… it’s the principal of the matter.”     “WHAT principal!?”     “Uh… feminism?”     “Yeah… no.”     “You’re right.  My bad.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Jojo Rabbit

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Jojo Rabbit and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Taika Waititi

I don’t know if I’d classify this as Oscar Bait even though it’s set in World War II which is like half the criteria right there, but it’s certainly a film that’s been on everyone’s radars for months now; somewhat due to the controversial subject matter, but mostly because of the filmmaker behind it who’s really blown up in the last few years and for good reason.  Thor: Ragnarok was one of the most exciting films in that Phase of the Marvel franchise, and everything we’ve seen of him since then has only increased his status in the public eye.  Now we have his first directorial film since Ragnarok which is a satire of Fascism at a time that couldn’t be more relevant, so you can’t say that the guy doesn’t swing for the fences!  Is this a brutal and necessary take down of the ideology that’s been infecting global politics for a few years now, or is the film just not equipped to tackle such a heavy subject matter no matter how much talent there is behind it?  Let’s find out!!

Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) is a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany who wants nothing more than to become a true fighter for the cause and even has Hitler as his imaginary friend that gives him pep talks and dubious advice.  He hopes that the camp he’s about to attend for the Hitler Youth will be the turning point in his life as he becomes a TRUE man and uses the skills he will learn to not only fight for the Aryan race, but become Hitler’s right hand man as they exterminate the dastardly Jews off the face of the Earth!  Yeah… Jojo is kind of a messed up kid all things considered, but he’s also seemingly too sensitive to REALLY become the monster that the rest of the Nazis around him have become, and he gets the nickname Jojo Rabbit when he refuses to kill a rabbit to prove his manhood.  Instead he tries to throw a grenade which goes horribly wrong and leaves him with a bunch of scars on his face and a leg that doesn’t work as well as it used to.  Because of this he has to spend more time at home with his mother (Scarlett Johansson) who he suspects may not be fully on board with this whole “Nazi” thing; a suspicion confirmed when he finds out that she’s been protecting a Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) who’s been living in a secret room within the walls of the house; specifically the walls in the room of Jojo’s sister who seems to have died at some point during the war.  With his own family seeming to turn against the ideology he loves and the man he believes to be a hero, will Jojo come to terms with the failings of the Nazi ideology and join his mother in resisting their influences?  The allied powers seem to be advancing on his village, so will he have to fight against them at some point despite his bad leg and lack of a killer instinct?  If Hitler is such a good leader, then why hasn’t he fixed all this kid’s problems and made him a true blue Nazi solider?  Checkmate, ten year old kid!!

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“Jojo, it’s just not gonna work out.”     “What are you saying?”     “Look, it’s not you; it’s me!  We can still be pen pals though!”

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