On the Basis of Sex and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features
Directed by Mimi Leder
Wait, didn’t we get this movie last year? Oh right! That was a documentary! Well I guess since we got that we need a fictionalized version of the story to make a double feature out of, but at the very least this IS an individual whose story is worth getting the BIG HOLLYWOOD treatment and it’s not like we couldn’t use a GOOD biopic to balance the scales after last year’s big mistake. Look, it was a pretty rough start to the year and the movies haven’t been doing much for me, so maybe the inspirational story of one of America’s most celebrated judicial figures could help me get out of this poor mood! Or it could be another disappointment in a year that seems all too willing to hand those out left and right; especially since this was originally screened in 2018 but got pushed back into the 2109 dead zone for the rest of us. In any case, let’s find out!!
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) has had to deal with quite a lot in her life! She managed to go to Harvard at a time when few women were able to, and got her law degree there as well as at Columbia; all the while taking care of her daughter as well as her husband Martin Ginsburg (Armie Hammer) who had some serious health issues while they were in school. It was all worth it though because now they both have their law degrees and they can live out their dreams of being lawyers! At least that’s the plan as Ruth, who managed to navigate the harsh male dominated world of academia, still hasn’t managed to land a job in the harsh male dominated world of law firms. Oh well. At least she got a teaching job which she excelled at for quite a few years, but one day Martin comes across a case that may just be the one the two of them have been looking for. You see, they became lawyers because they wanted to do good in this world and fight for equality, and one of the things that has always a bugbear of theirs is how Men and Women are defined differently under the law and are therefore treated differently like in regards to workers’ rights and inherence. The case that Martin found though is an instance where the laws negatively affect a man because Charles Moritz (Chris Mulkey) cannot claim a tax credit despite meeting all the qualifications for it… except for the fact that he is a male bachelor. I know, it sounds UTTERLY RIVETING to hear people talk about tax laws, but this is the kind of thing that can really take a pickaxe to the existing status quo and a ruling in Charles’s favor could be the rallying point for other similar laws to be overturned! With the case of a lifetime in their laps, the Ginsburgs begin to work the case with the help of the ACLU run by Mel Wulf (Justin Theroux) as well as a personal hero of Ruth’s Dorothy Kenyon (Kathy Bates) who’s resistant at first due to a lifetime of learned cynicism, but might just be willing to give them the push they need to be taken seriously. Can Ruth and Martin successfully overturn this law and get Charles that sought after tax credit? What kind of resistance will they face from the government that has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are? FOOLISH MORTALS! NO ONE CAN STOP THE RBG!!
Sorry to Bother You and all the images you see in this review are owned by Annapurna Pictures
Directed by Boots Riley
This is a great time of year because once the summer blockbuster season starts to wind down we start to get some really great stuff from the indie scene right before the Prestige Films and the Oscar Bait start to take over the multiplex. Sure, August is normally considered a dumping ground for mediocre movies (I’m wary about Slenderman to say the least) but that’s more to do with the BIG releases rather than the harder to find stuff in the fancier theaters which is pretty much exactly what we have here today as I had to make a bit of a drive to catch this on the big screen. Now I’ve been keeping my eye on this film since the trailers started to pop up due to its interesting style and oddly relatable premise, at least from what they were selling us on, and most importantly I could really use something other than super hero flicks and The Rock to fill out my GOOD MOVIES list for this year! Does this bizarre little story manage to be just as good as I hoped it would be, or was I just too eager to find something new that there was no way it would live up to my expectations? Wouldn’t be the first time this year (*cough* Thoroughbreds *cough*)! Anyway, let’s find out!!
Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is a man just trying to survive day by day and constantly wondering if anything he does will ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things. After all, once he dies and his theoretical children die and then THEIR theoretical children die, will there be ANYONE left to remember him or the fact that he just barely managed to get a job working as a telemarketer? His girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) thinks he’s worrying too much about all that and she’s content to work on her art projects in between gigs as a sign flipper, but with the world slowly going to hell in a handbasket (a new company called WorryFree is basically reintroducing slavery by praying on the impoverished) it all just seems pointless unless he can REALLY start to make some money and find what it is that he’s good at. As it turns out though, he has a knack for this telemarketing thing once he finds his “white voice” (David Cross) and is on the fast track to being a POWER CALLER which is basically doing the same thing only for more money and selling stuff other than encyclopedias. However, his rise to the top has some roadblocks along the way as his fellow workers are staging a strike just as he’s about to make it as a POWER CALLER, and said promotion doesn’t come without its own problems and indignities that slowly start to tear at Cassius’s soul and creates a divide between him and Detroit. Throw in some colorful characters like Squeeze the leader of the telemarketer’s strike (Steven Yeun), Steve Lift the CEO of WorryFree (Armie Hammer) who’s about as big of a douche bag as you’d imagine, and the mysterious Mr. ******* (Omari Hardwick) who represents the future that Cassius has waiting for him if he sticks it out at his new job for just a little bit longer. Can Cassius find a way to use his talents for massive financial gain without losing his soul in the process? Just what is WorryFree up to, and how does it connect to this Telemarketing Company as well as Cassius himself? Is there like a hotline I can call that’ll explain this movie to me, because I feel like I STILL don’t have a clear grasp on what the heck was going on!
Free Fire and all the images you see in this review are owned by StudioCanal UK
Directed by Ben Wheatley
I honestly don’t get excited to see movies all that often. For one, I’m gonna see the damn movies whether or not they’re any good, and on top of that the only movies that seem to get a big marketing push nowadays are big franchise pictures like the MCU, the DCCU, and even The Fast and the Furious. This movie however was the exception to that rule as I caught the trailer a few times and fell in love with the concept right away. A real time gun fight set in the seventies with Sharlto Freaking Copley in it!? Damn! That’s almost too good to even show up in my local theater, which… spoiler alert: it didn’t and I had to drive to the one forty minutes away. See, while everyone was gushing over The Nice Guys last year, it just didn’t quite do it for me as much as it did for everyone else, and this seems like the kind of thing that was not only going for that kind of look and feel but was much more in my wheelhouse as far as the overall tone and the central conceit. Needless to say that this has been a long day coming and I’m hoping for the best while bracing myself for… well not the WORST as the trailers showed way too much promise for THAT to be the case, but at the very least I hope it’s better than mediocre. Does this manage to live up to my rarely lifted expectations, or am I doomed to be disappointed by a film that showed a whole lot of promise? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with essentially two groups of colorful people in the gaudiest seventies fashion meeting in a warehouse to broker a gun deal. One side is led by Chris (Cillian Murphy) and a few Irish gangsters (Michael Smiley, Sam Riley, and Enzo Cilenti) while the other side is led by Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and his associates (Babou Ceesay, Jack Reynor, and Noah Taylor). In the middle are Justine and Ord (Brie Larson and Armie Hammer) who seem to have brokered the deal between the two sides and therefore probably have the most investment in everything going smoothly. Of course, we wouldn’t have a movie if everything was hunky dory, and eventually bullets start flying after a few altercations and outburst from some of the less professional individuals on each side. That’s it. The rest of the movie is watching to see who gets killed next as they trade bullets and yell insults at each other for the next eighty minutes, and it’s pretty damn awesome! Does anyone manage to make it out of this factory alive? Was there a more sinister plot in play than anyone on either side realized before they started shooting at each other? Can we please get Sharlto Copley a Marvel movie or something!? He’s like the new Nicolas Cage and I want to see him in everything!!
The Birth of a Nation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Nate Parker
To tell you the truth, I was not looking forward to seeing this and was up until the last minute figuring out if I wanted to take a pass on this considering the controversy surrounding the filmmaker’s past deeds. Ultimately, I am a film critic and decided that I might as well have an informed opinion on something rather than avoiding the topic. Not to say that someone choosing not to see this is making the wrong choice as it’s not anyone’s place to tell anyone else what to go see at the theater (I avoided that last Dinesh D’Souza film like the plague despite it sticking around for an embarrassingly long time at one of the theaters I frequent), rather I’m just letting you know what my reason was for deciding to review this film. Does it manage to be a great film even with the controversies surrounding it, or will this be so bad that we can easily dismiss the film and its director? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about the life of Nat Turner (Nate Parker who also writes, directs, and produces) who famously led a slave rebellion in 1831 that killed a bunch of slave owners before… well go read the Wikipedia page or watch the movie to find out what happened. But what about his life BEFORE killing white people? What drove the man to commit such acts of violence, especially considering how deeply religious he was? After all, wasn’t one of the commandments THOUGH SHALL NOT KILL? Well we get those answers as the rebellion itself is the climax to a character study of one man who faced indignity after indignity throughout his entire life and even saw it first hand when his master (Armie Hammer) had him go around to other plantations to preach the word of God to those slaves to keep them nice and complacent rather than rebellious and stabby. What other challenges did Nat have to face before turning to the sword? Well, you’ll just have to see the movie to find out!
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Guy Ritchie
We get a movie based on this show, and yet I STILL can’t get a Hogan’s Heroes reboot!? It looks the Hollywood remake machine is going all the way back to the Cold War with this re-imagining of a series that was made well before Rocky solved the Cold War by kicking Dolph Lundgren’s ass. I’ve never seen the show before, but a good old fashioned spy thriller in the vain of From Russia with Love would be a nice change of pace from the other stylish spy flicks we’ve been getting recently. Not only that, but having Guy Ritchie at the helm of something set in an era that’s known for its unique brand of style seems like a perfect pairing of director and film, so there’s plenty to look forward to here. Still, you can’t say that Guy Ritchie has been one to look at for great stories which is pretty evident by his PREVIOUS adaptations of a popular series that didn’t take long to go completely off the rails. Will this be a return to form for the venerable director, or is this just another weak outing from a guy who never learns from his mistakes? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins in early 1960’s Germany with American Super Spy Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) making his way to East Berlin. His mission is to get a local mechanic (Gaby Teller played by Alicia Vikander) to assist him in finding her father who was a former Nazi nuclear scientist and has recently gone missing. The mission is fairly simple. Convince Gaby to help the US and sneak her out of East Berlin. Things get complicated however when Soviet Super Spy Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) is acutely aware of what’s going on and tries everything in his power to stop the duo from crossing the border into West Berlin. Fortunately for the good old Stars and Stripes, Solo succeeds in his mission leaving the not so good old Hammer and Sickle twisting in the wind. Except not really! For some reason, the Soviet government and the US government decide to work together to find Gaby’s father, so now Solo and Illya have to work together to stop whatever scheme he, or possibly his kidnappers, are planning. So wait, they couldn’t come to an agreement to work together until AFTER Solo and Illya tear their way through East Berlin? Wouldn’t that have complicated any ongoing negotiations? Oh well, at least we now have our premise. It’s a spy action-comedy with the tension between Solo and Illya working for opposing sides in the Cold War informing much of the comedic strife and genuine tension throughout the movie.