Tag Archives: A24

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: Good Time

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Good Time and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24

Directed by Ben Safdie and Josh Safdie

Oh boy!  Is this another movie that I walked into with no idea what it’s about or even what kind of movie it is?  IT SURE IS!  It’s called Good Time, so how could it be anything but a barrel of laughs!?  Then again Robert Pattinson isn’t known for his comedy work, unless we’re talking UNINTENTIONAL ones.  Who knows?  It’s certainly been getting a lot of praise and was even one of the big hits from Cannes this year, so maybe it’s at least worth a shot!  Is this the kind of film that we’ll be talking about at the end of the year come award season, or is this yet another example of a festival darling being overhyped and underperforming once it takes a shot at mainstream audiences?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Brothers Connie and Nick (Robert Pattinson and Ben Safdie) leaving the office where Nick sees a social worker that is assisting with his situation (he has a mental disability) and going to rob a crappy bank in Queens.  Sadly their skills at robbing the bank are even crappier and Nick ends up getting pinched by the cops while Connie just barely escapes with very little money to show for it.  From there it’s a series of blunders as Connie tries to find a way to get Nick out of jail; either through scrounging up enough money to post bail or through more creative means.  Each plan he comes up with is somehow worse than the last and the number of victims he leaves in his wake starts to build up as his methods become more and more desperate the longer he goes on without a legitimate solution to his problem.  Can Connie survive this night long enough to get his brother out of the big house, and will his freedom be enough to justify the ever increasing cost Connie is paying to get it?  What colorful and wacky characters will he meet along the way, and will any of them turn out to be the answer he’s been seeking?  Is there a chance that he can LITERALLY run away from his problems!?  Hey, when all else fails it’s worth a shot!

 

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“Running, Running, Running, RUNNING!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: It Comes at Night

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It Comes at Night and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24

Directed by Trey Edward Shults

I have to see movies ALL the time which means I see a lot of trailers over and over again, and while it doesn’t really affect my opinion of a film once I see it, it does make the movie going experience a bit more tiresome.  That’s why I love it when there’s a trailer that genuinely intrigues me and does something different from everything else I have to sit through when waiting for the movie to start.  That was the case with this film which was very minimal in its approach and yet EXTREMELY effective as it was mostly a long slow shot as we got closer and closer to a red door.  WHAT’S BEHIND THE DOOR!?  Well the day has come for us all to find out!  Will this be a new benchmark for the horror genre, or was it a REALLY great trailer for a mediocre movie?  Let’s find out!!

We start the movie with someone clearly dying of a horrific disease and their family surrounding them; wearing gas masks and saying their final goodbyes.  The head of the household Paul (Joel Edgerton) and his teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr) take the sick man who turns out to be Travis’s grandfather (David Pendleton) out into the woods, put him out of his misery with a bullet to the head, and set the body on fire before burying it.  Clearly something bad has happened to the world and this family which also includes Travi’s mother Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) is trying to survive.  The modicum of stability they built up however is disrupted when a man named Will (Christopher Abbott) breaks into their house looking for food for his family, and after an intense interrogation scene Paul decides to let him and his family which includes his wife Kim and their little son Stanley (Riley Keough and a child actor known simply as Mikey with no other acting credits) stay in the house that’s been fortified to withstand… whatever it is that’s out there.  Of course, this being a post-apocalyptic film, things start to go wrong rather quickly as the greatest threat is not the virus, or zombies, or whatever could possibly be happening… its MAN HIMSELF!  Will everyone in this house learn to chillax and survive with one another, or are they all too paranoid to let the other’s live?  What is Travis hiding from everyone else and what is the cause of these dreams he keeps having that are keeping him up at night?  Is this gonna turn out to be a sequel to The Village!?

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Honestly, that would have been a MUCH better movie…

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Cinema Dispatch: Moonlight

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

Directed by Barry Jenkins

I don’t get to see a lot of independent films where I live, and the few chances that I do get to see them usually involve a long drive to a faraway theater with exorbitant prices.  Such is the case with this film which has been getting a whole lot of buzz recently, especially with Hollywood’s recent push to diversify itself (and with Birth of Nation having more baggage than they expected).  My knowledge of LGBTQ+ cinema is somewhat limited, though even then I’m not even sure the best way to define that.  I’m pretty sure that saying John Waters or Gus Van Sant are “gay filmmakers” is right on the money as their work often centers around LGBTQ+ characters and their struggles, but what about directors like Lee Daniels or Rob Marshall?  Sure, you can point to most of their movies and point out themes and messages that can be relatable to those in the LGBTQ+ community, but would you put The Butler or Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides along alongside Gus Van Sant’s films?  Hell, what about movies that are explicitly about LGBTQ+ issues but are directed by those who aren’t in the community such as Brokeback Mountain, To Wong Foo, or even this film which was written by a gay man (Tarell Alvin McCraney) but directed by a straight one?  Look, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who can give you a better answer to that question than I can, so I’ll just stick to what I at least PRETEND to know best; namely talking about the movies while making snarky comments.  Is this the film that truly lives up to the ideals that Hollywood has failed to live up to and will get all the credit it deserves, or is this a mediocre endeavor that the cynics in the Academy will glom onto just to make themselves look better?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the life of Chiron and is presented to us in three distinct segments.  We see him when he’s small and is known as Little (Alex Hibbert), when he’s a teenager and the nickname has been dropped (Ashton Sanders), and as an adult when he starts using another nickname Black (Trevante Rhodes), and in each one they show a little bit more of his struggle.  What struggle is that exactly?  Well it doesn’t take long to figure out that he’s gay which everyone around him seems to pick up on and, for the most part, use it against him.  His mother (Naomie Harris) is dealing with her own problems with addiction so this just seems like an unbearable inconvenience for her and plenty of kids in school just bully him because he seems different.  Now it’s not like the whole world is against him as a local couple, Juan and Teresa (Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monáe), try to give him some guidance in his life, and he has a friend named Kevin (Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, and André Holland) who tries to keep his spirits up even though he’s got his own growing pains to work through and his own share of bad choices to make.  Will Chiron ever feel accepted in a world that seems tailor made to keep him down?  How will decisions that he and his family make at certain points in his life affect him later on?  Most importantly, WILL YOU JUST KISS HIM ALREADY!?  YOU BELONG TOGETHER!!

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“Just a kiss?”     “What was that?”     “By Lady Antebellum.  I’ve got it on my phone.  Do you want to listen to it?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Swiss Army Man

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Swiss Army Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24

Directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

From the guys who brought us Dogboarding and the Turn Down for What music video, we now have the feature film debut of the duo simply known as DANIELS (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert).  A lot of great filmmakers started out with shorts and music videos before becoming household names, just look at Spike Jones, David Fincher, and Michel Gondry.  True, that list also includes Michael Bay, but you can’t peg a winner EVERY time, and it’s not like he’s never made ANY good movies!  Can these green filmmakers prove themselves to be the next big thing with their movie about a farting Daniel Radcliffe corpse?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Hank (Paul Dano) who’s been stuck on a very small island for some time and is ready to kill himself when something washes up on the shore.  It’s not Wilson from Castaway, but instead is a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) who seems to have the uncanny ability to fart continuously and forcefully enough for Hank to ride his ass back to civilization!  Well sort of.  He hops aboard the Daniel Radcliffe express and washes up on a new shore, but there’s a forest between him and presumably other people, so he starts hiking his ass through the woods carrying the dead body with him in case he needs anything else from it.  At one point though, it’s clear that this is more than a magical farting corpse, but is instead a LIVING magical farting corpse who actually has all sorts of wacky powers that are discovered along the way.  Hank gives him the name Manny and they quickly become friends because… well there isn’t anyone else around, now is there?  Manny by the way has a whole lot of questions about what it’s like to be human and about life itself, so Hank has to keep answering these annoying and probing inquires while he uses the body to get whatever he needs to survive.  Is the body actually alive which would mean Hank isn’t as crazy as he thinks he is?  What is the story behind Manny in the first place and are there memories to be uncovered?  Were the filmmakers dared to see how many fart jokes they can put in a movie and STILL get it to be an indie darling?

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“Fart you magnificent bastard!  Fart us all the way to FREEDOM!!”

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