Phantom Thread and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Is this it? Are we done playing catch up with 2017? I just absolutely LOVE IT when studios hold back on releasing Oscar Caliber Films to the general public until weeks after they’ve already been reviewed, examined, and voted on! VERY helpful for the small time outlets who don’t get critic screenings or screener discs sent to us! Oh well. It’s certainly too late for films like this and I, Tonya to be considered for my best of 2017 list (which I’m SURE Neon and Focus Features absolutely CRUSHED about, but I must stay firm!), but that doesn’t keep them from potentially being good movies that you should check out! Better late than never I suppose, though it’d be nice if Hollywood would stop releasing EVERYTHING awards worthy in a two month period to only VERY selective markets; ESPECIALLY when half the time they don’t even get the awards they’re looking for! Does this movie deserve the countless accolades it has accrued in the tail end of Oscar Season, or is this the latest victim of a hype machine that severely overestimates its actual quality as a film? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the story of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) who unfortunately shares the name of a crappy Billy Bob Thornton comedy, but aside from that he’s a meticulously detail oriented dress maker who extends his obsession with perfection to his personal wife as well as his work life. His schedule is quite regimented, his appearance is consistently maintained, and his relationships to others are carefully filtered through his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) who’s basically the only person keeping him on track and able to focus his eccentricities on something that’ll keep the lights on. One day, Reynolds goes off to the countryside and finds a waitress named Alma (Vicky Krieps) that he is immediately smitten with. He asks her on a date, they have a lovely dinner, and by the end she’s half naked while he’s dictating measurements to his sister who’s writing them all down for future reference. Whether or not Reynolds is TRULY attracted to Alma rather than the shape of her body is not entirely clear, but she goes away with him back to the big city to be his protégé of sorts and to help him model the dresses he makes. However, because neither one of them are all that great at communicating, the expectations they put on each other that neither of them are able to meet start to put a strain on the relationship and could potential be volatile enough to destroy his life, her life, and even his sister’s life as everything could come crashing down upon them if they can’t sit the hell down and decide what they really mean to one another. Will these two act like grownups and get their issues resolved before they explode in a fiery maelstrom of passive aggressive horror? Will either one of them start contemplating drastic actions that will certainly not solve their underlying issues? Wait, isn’t this the plot to like… every romantic comedy ever?
Look! There’s a beach! This is TOTALLY a Nicholas Sparks movie!
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?
Mother! and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
I’ve never really been a fan of David Fincher, yet I’ve very much appreciated Aronofsky despite them sharing quite a few similarities; mostly in regards to just how dark and cynical they can be when it comes to their subject matter. I guess Aronofsky still manages to CARE about his characters even when they’re terrible people or getting mercilessly destroyed which is something that feels absent from a lot of Fincher’s work like Fight Club or Gone Girl; both are about terrible people but never seem to get past simply PRESENTING us with their unpleasantness. Aronofsky’s different, especially with movies like The Wrestler and Black Swan which are straight up tragedies about broken people trying desperately to get their lives together and failing miserably in the process. Now we have Mother! which, aside from the gratuitous punctuation, seems to be in the same vein though leaning much more on horror tropes and absurd excess than a more focused psychological horror narrative and seems to be in the same vein as Noah (another one of his movies that I like) at least as far as just how far he’s willing to take the strangeness of it all. Is this another classic to add to his already impressive catalogue, or has he made his biggest misstep since The Fountain? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a HUGE spoiler, but AFTER that we follow around a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who lives with her husband (Javier Bardem) in a REALLY nice house that is in desperate need of repair, but at least it gives Jennifer Lawrence something to do while FAMED POET JAVIER BARDEM putters around not writing anything. Still, she seems perfectly content with her day to day life of fixing the place up and making it look more hospitable… but everything changes once some guy and his wife (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up at their doorstep and Bardem is MORE than happy to offer their house, their food, and their personal space to the couple with no consultation from Jennifer Lawrence. Things escalate from there, but in ways I’d rather not spoil as the movie goes place you really couldn’t imagine from the trailers which sell this as a much different film. Does Jennifer Lawrence find a way to assert herself and regain control of what is hers? What is Javier Bardem’s deal with letting these people come in in the first place, and what ulterior motives do they have? No seriously, Aronfosky. What the fuck did you do here?
Logan Lucky and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fingerprint Releasing and Bleecker Street
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Oh hey! Wasn’t this guy supposed to retire like five years ago? Last I heard, he was done making movies and Behind the Candelabra was supposed to be his last film! I guess it’s never easy for someone in this business to TRULY retire (didn’t Jet Li try to do that like fifteen years ago?) and it’s usually a good thing when they don’t. I mean sure, not EVERYONE manages to make their best films in the latter half of their career, but Soderbergh has been a solid talent for some time now and I think we’re better off with him at least TRYING to stay game than just giving it up all together. Will his latest effort confirm just how much he was missed for the maybe one year at most he stopped directing stuff, or was his initial instinct to quit at the peak of his career the right call to make? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) getting fired from his construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway due to a pre-existing injury that the company found out about. Now if you ask his brother Clyde (Adam Drive), he’ll tell you that this is just yet another example of The Logan Family Curse which he believes to be responsible for an IED blowing off his hand and forearm, and while the guy is clearly the superstitious type, it’s not like he doesn’t have a lot of evidence backing him up. Jimmy losing his job is just another burden for him to carry on top of his somewhat messy divorce with his wife Bobbie Joe (Katie Holmes), his straining relationship with his daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie), and just the general suckiness of living in North Carolina where the Drinking water is almost always at risk from shoddy chemical plants who just keep spilling their shit into the supply. Maybe this is all a sign for him to go the Walter White route and make money in a less than ethical way just to get some of the weight off of his shoulders and live just a bit more conformably. He may not be cooking meth, but he DOES plan to rob the very speedway that he worked for because he knows that the money is transported through a series of tubes that go from the individual (and overpriced) merchants to the big vault down below. Even with his little inside tip, it STILL seems like a tough job to pull off which means he’ll need a little extra help from demolitions expert and current inmate Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) as well as his rather dumb yet completely loyal brothers Fish and Sam (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson); not to mention his brother as well as his sister Mellie (riley Keough) who’s an expert driver and the perfect wheel woman for this job. Can this ragtag group of misfits manage to pull off the heist to end all heists right under everyone’s noses? How exactly do they hope to not only get in the vault and steal all that money in the first place, but make sure they don’t get caught after the fact? Is this where the James Bond movies will end up going? Hey, it’s at least more coherent than the LAST movie!
“The name’s Bang. Joe Bang.” “Wait, so your first name is Bang-Joe?”
Assassin’s Creed and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Justin Kurzel
We all knew it was only a matter of time until they took a stab at making the next great video game movie, and since Warcraft turned out to be such a disaster there’s a nice big opening for Ubisoft to take the throne as the first company to get this right. Now the trailers really don’t inspire much hope as it looks like a bunch of overqualified actors in a routine action film, but then maybe that’s enough to make this a GOOD film (a feat unto itself at this point) even if it can’t quite be a great one. Does this manage to be the sign of things to come as studios begin to buckle down and seriously try to crack the code on adapting video games to the big screen, or will Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat still be the high bar that no one else has inexplicably been able to reach? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Cal Lynch as a young boy (Angus Brown) walking in on his mother (Essie Davis) with a stab wound in her neck and his dad (Brian Gleeson in the flashbacks and Brendan Gleeson in the present) with a bloody Assassin’s blade and wearing a very uncomfortable looking coat considering the scene seems to be set in New Mexico or something. Little Cal doesn’t have long to contemplate this as a whole bunch of black vans with hired goons rolls up on the house and tries to kill the both of him, but Cal manages to escape. Well, not for TOO long as we jump to present day where Little Cal is now Handsome Cal (Michael Fassbender) and is on death row for… some reason. Except not really! Apparently a super science corporation named Abstergo arranged it so that the state would PRETEND to kill him and then hand the poor sap over to Sofia and Alan Rikkin (Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons) who want him for their nefarious ends… I think. Apparently Cal is the Great Great Great Great Great Great (and so on) grandson of some Assassin from the fifteenth century and was ALSO the last known person to have the McGuffin of ultimate power… I mean the Apple of Eden. Using this giant crane device which is supposed to the Animus, they’re gonna send his brain back in time to live out the memories of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha and find where he left the damn thing so they can find it and use it for whatever the hell it is they want to use it for. This of course is assuming that NO ONE MOVED IT OR FOUND IT IN FIVE HUNDRE YEARS, but I’m sure This all makes sense if I played Brotherhood or something. Will Cal be able to locate the Apple and gain his freedom in the process? What about all these OTHER assassins that Abstergo has collected and are housing in this Science Gulag? Are they gonna be all that happy that Cal is working to help find this artifact? Is there ANY reason this fucking thing had to be so damn complicated!?
The guy jumps around and stabs people. It’s not that hard!!