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Cinema Dispatch: Murder on the Orient Express

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Murder on the Orient Express and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

I’m hardly what you’d call “well read” as most of my cultural education comes from television and movies followed by people TALKING about television and movies, so while I’m aware that there’s a book out there called Murder on the Orient Express written by someone whose work I should really get around to reading, I don’t actually know what the story is about nor who the killer is which I GUESS would make me the target audience for a slick Hollywood retelling of the story starring some of the most beloved character actors out there… and Johnny Depp.  I’m certainly excited to see this as I do love me a good mystery, and seeing a movie is ALMOST as good as reading a book… right?  Anyway, does Kenneth Branagh manage to successfully bring the Agatha Christie classic to the silver screen once again, or does the brilliance of her work get lost in the midst of his vision for the material?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the famed detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) solving yet another world class mystery in the heart of Jerusalem and is now ready to take a much deserved vacation to recharge his mystery solving batteries!  As luck would have it, he runs into an old friend named Bouc (Tom Bateman) who gets him a ticket on the one and only Orient Express which Bouc is the director of.  Sadly for Poirot’s plans of leisure, not only does the train get stuck in an avalanche but one of the passengers (Johnny Depp) comes down with a bad case of MURDER!  With only some minor cajoling from Bouc, Poirot begins to investigate The Case of the Stabbed Dude by looking into the pasts of all the other passengers (Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Marwan Kenzari, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Sergei Polunin, and Miranda Raison) to see if there’s anything to connect one of them to the guy sleeping in a pool of his own blood.  Will Poirot uncover the criminal mastermind who was unfortunately enough to be sharing a train ride with the world’s greatest detective?  Just who was the man who got viciously murdered, and what could have motivated someone to commit such an act?  Wait… isn’t it a bit TOO convenient that the train JUST SO HAPPENED to get stuck after a murder is committed!?

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LOOK OUT, POIROT!  IT WAS THE TRAIN ALL ALONG!!

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Cinema Dispatch: Happy Death Day

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Happy Death Day and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Christopher B. Landon

There are very few premises that will get more on board with a film than “like Groundhog’s Day, but…” and honestly I’m not even sure why.  That movie is certainly a phenomenally crafted comedy that I revisit from time to time, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite films of all time.  I guess it really is just how great of an idea that premise really is as I see it as basically THE perfect interpretation of a Bottle Film (it allows limitless possibilities while also having an enormous constraint) and its one of the few ideas that gets me to eagerly start putting together scenarios of what I would do in that situation.  Throw a murder mystery in the middle of it, and you have something that could be not just a GREAT film, but an absolute classic for the genre!  Can this movie POSSIBLY reach the lofty goals that it sets for itself, or will this be a bigger waste of time than Before I Fall?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Tree (Jessica Rothe) waking up in an unknown dorm room with a guy she doesn’t really know named Carter (Israel Broussard) and heads back to her sorority so she can ignore the fact that today is her birthday.  She ignores calls from her dad (Jason Bayle), brushes off her roommate Lori (Ruby Modine) who’s at least making an attempt to make her birthday a little bit nicer, and just goes through her usual routine as if there’s nothing special about today; even going to see the married professor she’s sleeping with (Charles Aitken).  At the end of the day, when she’s heading to her own surprise party, it turns out today is NOT going to be a normal day because someone in a crappy baby mask (the school’s mascot… for some reason) stabs her and she… wakes up in the same dorm room she did that morning.  Same guy, same day, same ignored phone calls from dad.  Oh, and also the same murder.  Clearly she’s doomed to repeat the same day over and over again until she finds out just who it is that’s killing her each night which may not be an easy thing to do considering how many people she manages to piss off on a regular basis, though murder DOES seem to be a bit extreme to be just anyone she knows so she’ll need to narrow down the suspects as each night (and each death) brings her closer to the truth.  Will Tree be able to put an end to this endless cycle of misery and stabbings by unmasking the one person on campus who wants her dead?  Is every day TRULY a repeat of the last, or does something linger every time the clock goes backwards?  Just how many absurd and hilarious ways will Tree have to experience the ice cold hand of death before this is all over!?

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“OH MY GOD!  THEY KILLED TREE!!”     “YOU BASTARDS!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Holy MOTHER of Pearl!

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Mother! is owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

So I guess we’re gonna have to talk about this one again, huh?  It certainly seems that everyone else is getting in on the action with various think pieces about what the movie actually means and how audiences are reacting to it, which… I guess I can’t criticize because I’m currently doing the exact same thing, but I’m still feeling a bit irksome about how much publicity this movie is getting when what I saw really didn’t merit all the hoopla.  Making matters worse is the fact that CinemaScore (a poll of general audience moviegoers) have given the film a rating of F; bringing back the tired argument about how art films are just too GOOD for mainstream audiences to understand.  I mean… sure, I’ve certainly held firmly on one side of that debate in the past (I bring up Michael Bay as often as possible), but after seeing the film itself, I just don’t think this is the one for some of the more snobby among us to lord over the undiscerning masses, because… well if you read my review, you’d know that I am rather close to absolutely hating this film; stopping just short of that due to the technical acumen, the finely tuned tension curve that’s constantly raising the stakes, and Aronfosky’s undoubtedly strong command of cinematic storytelling.  Make no mistake; this isn’t an amateur hour shit show like God’s Not Dead 2 or Incarnate.  This is a phenomenal filmmaker who tried to do something great but I feel has failed in spectacular fashion, and while I do understand the reasoning behind for softening ones opinions about a movie that genuinely tries THAT hard (the story of Icarus is usually seen to be a tragic one), I just… couldn’t.  Too much about this movie is misguided for me to want to give it much of a pass, at least as far as my own feelings on it as I think it’s STILL probably a movie worth seeing at some point even if you ultimately hate it the same way I did.  So I guess that begs the question, what is it that everyone seems to be getting out of this movie, and why do I feel it was done so poorly?

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Movie Review: Jurassic World

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Jurassic World is owned by Universal Pictures

WARNING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS. I will be using a rating scale of 1-10 (1=crap, 10=excellent)

The movie Jurassic World over shot my expectations as a sequel to the iconic movie from 20 years ago Jurassic park.

Special Category: Dinosaurs 9

We get to see a few new and really big Dinosaurs.

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