Cinema Dispatch: Deep Water

Deep Water and all the images you see in this review are owned by Hulu

Directed by Adrian Lyne

Movies may be returning to theaters, but the Pandemic has irrevocably muddied the waters between theatrical movies and straight to streaming. Pixar’s splitting the difference with one of their movies going to streaming while other is a theatrical exclusive, and all the major streaming services are sacrificing box office bucks in the hopes of roping in a few more views; Netflix being the most blatant as far as I’m concerned what with Knives Out 2 going straight to their service. It’s certainly been good for me as I’m already paying for these things so I might as well check out what’s on them, and one movie caught my eye this week. It’s a movie I never heard of until a few days before it was to come out, and yet it’s starring the former Batman and Agent Paloma from the last James Bond movie! How did something with such high-profile actors fly under my radar like this? Was Hulu hoping we won’t notice it as they sandwich it between Seth Macfarlane cartoons and whatever the heck Letter Kenny is, or is this just further evidence that I am out of touch and just barely managed to catch a great movie before it sailed right over my head? Let’s find out!!

Vic Van Allen and Melinda Van Allen (Ben Affleck Ana de Armas) are an upper-class married couple who have an… interesting relationship. It’s unclear how much of this is formalized or agreed upon, but it’s clear that Melinda is having sex with other men and that Vic is aware of it. For the most part, he just stands there and plasters a smile on his face while she does her thing, but it’s clear that this is eating him up inside and he starts getting more and more aggressive in his “handling” of this situation. Melinda seemingly has no compunction about this and presumably doesn’t care much for Vic’s feelings, but then Vic is no peach either and his need for control only gets more desperate and more uncomfortable. Just how far will Vic go to hold tight on what he believes is rightfully his, and how will Melinda react to these cages he wishes to put up? Is there something underneath all this contempt that they have for each other, and is it somehow darker than the animosity with which they deal with their problems already? See, back in my day they would just go on Springer and get it all out in the open, but nope! Just gonna bottle it up until someone writes a really inappropriate rant on Facebook!

“She’s so *#!@% that ^&^@#$!”     “Well, HE can’t even %$%#*!”     “JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!”
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Cinema Dispatch: No Time to Die

No Time to Die and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Cary Fukunaga

Even without the year-long delay caused by a global Pandemic, there was a pretty long wait between this film and the last one which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence as Spectre turned out to be rather disappointing, and this coupled with Craig’s public comments about continuing to play the part made it hard to assume anything other than a troubled production as a studio scrambled to find out where they went wrong after Skyfall was such an overwhelming success.  That, and the Bond franchise is not exactly known for quality swansongs for their stars.  I mean I liked Diamonds Are Forever quite a bit, but that’s still a ludicrous movie to end the Connery era, and A View to A Kill is only saved from being the worst of the Moore era by Octopussy being such a disaster right before it.  Heck, even Pierce Bronson’s final film is so off the wall that some speculate it’s all just a dream sequence!  So yeah, with a disappointment preceding it, a wonky track record for the franchise, and a five-year production cycle when the Craig films usually only needed three, there were a lot of auspicious signs even without COVID coming to upend the entire film industry!  Still, you can never count James Bond out as every failure inevitably leads to another success down the road, and the Craig era has been a definite standout in the franchise’s fifty-year history.  Does Craig’s final film buck the conventions and become a standout in an already impressive run, or will we need to wait for another Bond to bring this series back to life?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Spectre, James Bond and Madeline Swann (Daniel Craig and Léa Seydoux) are enjoying their hard-fought victory over Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Chrstoph Waltz), but as with any Spy story, paranoia starts to creep in and an attack from Spectre leads James to believe that once again he has been betrayed by the woman he loves.  With little ceremony and huge amounts of salt, James cuts Madeline out of his life and spends the next five years bumming around on a beach until an MI6 scientist (David Dencik) is kidnapped with a secret weapon that MI6 VERY much doesn’t want to get out into the world, but even more so wants to keep it under wraps.  M, Moneypenny, Q, and the new 00 Agent Nomi (Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, and Lashana Lynch) are doing what they can but Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) of the CIA is well aware of what’s going on and convinces Bond to come back for one more mission and perhaps show the new recruits Logan and Paloma (Billy Magnussen and Ana de Armas) a thing or two about this line of work.  All is not as straightforward as it seems however as the kidnapped scientist is just the smallest tip of the ice burg for a mysterious plot devised by an even more mysterious man (Rami Malek) that is in some way connected to Madeline.  Can James Bond return to the life he left behind for one last mission, or has the years of hard drinking and heartbreak taken their toll?  Was Madeline a deep agent the whole time for whomever this mysterious man is and Bond was right to mistrust her?  Never mind the NEW bad guy; what’s Blofeld up to these days?  Has he gotten that eye looked at?

“Well, James… have the lambs stopped screaming?” “Have you gotten tired of telling that joke?”
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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: Blade Runner 2049

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Blade Runner 2049 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures and Sony Pictures

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Yup!  Blade Runner sure was a movie, wasn’t it?  I mean I was always more into eighties Carpenter than eighties Scott, but it’s clearly a movie that’s impact can still be felt to this day from science fiction films like The Matrix and Dark City to anime like Ghost in the Shell and Akira.  Heck, even the live action Ghost in the Shell looks as much like the original Blade Runner as it does the source material!  Many of us have been living in this film’s shadow for as long as we’ve been alive, and so the prospect of a sequel seems rather quixotic considering how hard it would be to not only live up to that movie’s actual merits but to also live up to the sense of scope and impact that it ended up leaving in its wake.  Does the director of that one movie where Jake Gyllenhaal meets a giant spider have what it takes to stand with one of the titans of the genre, or will this project collapse faster than Rutger Hauer’s plan to not die at the age of four?  Let’s find out!!

One more thing!  Some people may consider a pertinent detail that we learn five minutes into the movie to be a spoiler.  I don’t REALLY see it as a spoiler considering how early it is in the movie, but I figure I’ll just put up a SPOILER WARNING here just in case you want to go in completely blind.  TURN BACK NOW IF YOU MUST!!

We good?  Okay, so the year is 2049 and the movie begins with Agent K (Ryan Gosling) who we learn within the first five minutes of the movie is a replicant which is an artificially created human but ALSO a cop for the LAPD.  A Blade Runner in fact which is a cop that specifically hunts replicants!  Hence the title… though I’m still not sure WHY they’re called that considering he uses a gun and tends to leisurely stroll from place to place.  Anyway, replicants haven’t been a problem for a while now as the CURRENT big bad organization Wallace Corp has fixed all the kinks that were in the Nexus 6 models from the first film (they had a tendency to rebel and kill humans) but K still has to hunt down these old timers whenever one crosses their path and we see him at the start of one of these missions as the movie begins.  Once the deed is done (in GRUESOME detail), he ALSO discovers something else that’s on the replicant’s property that shouldn’t be there but holds secrets that could turn this world on its head.  Oh, and in case you were wondering OF COURSE Deckard (Harrison Ford) is somehow involved, so K has to not only find answers as to what exactly they found but where it came from and who else knows about it.  While on this super-secret assignment that I’m not gonna spoil, he also has to contend with Wallace Corp head honcho Niander (Jared Leto) as well as his replicant assistant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) who seem to know exactly what’s going on and are keeping tabs on him just in case he either discovers too much or finds something that they’re looking for as well.  Will K unlock the mysteries that are so mysterious that they can’t be discussed here?  Will they in some way deal with his mysterious past which is a mystery even to him?  JUST HOW MANY SECRETS CAN ONE MOVIE HAVE!?

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“This is GREAT!  What’s your secret?”     “I’M NOT TELLING YOU!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: War Dogs

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War Dogs and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Todd Phillips

The guy who burned out after the FIRST Hangover movie has decided to try and go the Adam McKay route; mainly by making a comedy that ALSO has brains and a message about contemporary America.  I mean, at least this will probably be better than giving him time to do Hangover 4: The Revenge.  Not only that, but the trailers look like there might be something there to enjoy.  Maybe not great, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this mildly amused me the same way Our Brand is Crisis and Whisky Tango Foxtrot did which seem to be covering some of the same ground, albeit with a lot more violence in this one.  Can this movie manage to be a fun and engaging exploration into the world of weapons contractors, or is this just a guy who probably peaked seven years ago drying desperately to jump on a bandwagon?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows David Packouz (Miles Teller) who’s some twenty something loser bumming around Miami; working as a massage therapist while trying to get a bed sheet business off the ground.  Right off the bat it’s clear that this guy is a Grade-A loser, but opportunity comes knocking when an old friend from middle school Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) moves back to town and has started a weapons contracting firm to sell supplies to the military.  David, having nothing else going on and a kid on the way with his girlfriend Iz (Ana de Armas), agrees to work for him despite his… moral objections I guess?  Well whatever makes him hesitant about the job quickly falls away as the small company starts winning tiny contracts from the government; slowly building up their clout and influence.  Over time though, it’s clear that Efraim wants to go really big really fast and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there, even working with Henry Girard (Bradley Cooper) who’s well known and respected in the industry, but is shady as all hell and is even on the US Terrorist Watch List.  Will the two be able to keep their head above water as they sink deeper and deeper into the seedy and dangerous world of illegal gun trading?  Will the government turn a blind eye to this duo just so they can get the weapons and ammo they need to fund the war on terror?  Are these REALLY the faces of people you would trust with multi-million dollar contracts paid with the use of taxpayer money?

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Hell, they’re probably a lot less dangerous than BP, and we give those guys a SHIT load of money!

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