The Grudge and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Nicolas Pesce
In the great debate that I ASSUME exists, I was always more of a The Ring guy than a Grudge fellow; mostly because I’ve actually SEEN the Ring movies (at least the Western ones) and haven’t seen any of the Grudge movies (not even the Western ones). Things might change however as The Ring had its chance to reassert its relevance, but instead completely missed the mark with the awful Rings, and if nothing else this one looks to be trying to build a stronger and more intense atmosphere than the cheap cash in nature of Sadako’s most recent Western adventure. Is this the movie that will finally get those of us to jump on the Grudge train, or is this the perfect illustration of why we never bothered with it in the first place? Let’s find out!!
Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) has just arrived in town and is still reeling from the death of her husband, but is managing to eek out a somewhat stable life with her son Burk (John J Hansen) with her new job at the local police station. Her partner Detective Goodman (Demián Bichir) has some clear baggage from something that Muldoon hasn’t sussed out yet, but when a body shows up with an address to the nearby spooky house, it’s time for her to uncover whatever secrets are being hidden from her. It turns out that the first owners of the House, The Landers (Tara Westwood, David Lawrence, and Zoe Fish), were all murdered by the wife. The realtors who were trying to sell the house for them (John Cho and Betty Gilpin) ALSO wound up dead under similarly grim circumstances. There were other occupants who arrived after them, you can probably guess how they ended up, and now Muldoon is sniffing around the place which will no doubt attract the attention of whatever ghost, curse, or GRUDGE as it were, that is affecting the people who get near this place. Will Muldoon not only uncover the secret of all these mysterious deaths but also stop the bloodshed once and for all? What is the entity that is behind all of this, and what is after aside from endless slaughter and mayhem? Is it just me or did they seriously oversell John Cho’s presence in the trailers? I’m getting flashbacks to that Godzilla movie that had Bryan Cranston in it for like twenty minutes!
Widows and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Steve McQueen
Is it time for another cinematic confession? Alright, so I’ve never actually seen a Steve McQueen movie all the way through. I’ve seen bits and pieces of Shame and I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave, but based on those films and what we’ve been shown of this one I get the feeling that I’m not gonna be the biggest fan of his work. What can I say? I’m not the biggest fan of overly oppressive mood pieces even if the subject matter justifies that tone, but unlike other kinds of movies of filmmakers that I’m not too fond of I’m rather open to what this guy has to say here because even if I don’t like what I see on screen at least I’m fairly confident that the director is trying to ENGAGE with their audience instead of completely alienating them (*cough* Eli Roth *cough*). Will this film be the perfect introduction to the director’s body of work, or did he already reach his peak and nothing else will quite measure up to it? Let’s find out!!
Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) is just having a TERRIBLE week! Not only did her husband (Liam Neeson) die in a horrible fiery explosion, two million dollars went completely up in smoke which she is now being held responsible for since said two million was STOLEN by Liam Neeson and his crew of crooks (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, and Coburn Goss) from a local gangster who’s the slightest bit miffed about all this. It’s made especially bad because said gangster Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) is also running for local office against the golden boy Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and could have used all that ill-gotten gain to fund his campaign; presumably through shady 501(c) groups considering where the money came from. Thanks, Citizens United! Anyway, him and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) have given Veronica a week to pay him back which is PROBABLY not all that feasible, but as luck would have it her husband left her a notebook that had detailed plans for their next heist; one that could not only pay back Jamal but will give her a nice payday to keep her afloat while she figures out what to do next with her life. She enlists the help of two of the widows, Linda and Alice (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) as well as Bell who is another person in need of some fast cash (Cynthia Erivo) to hopefully pull off this heist, though without any actual experience committing crimes, pulling guns, and breaking into places, their success seems dubious at best. Will Veronica and her slapdash crew of desperate widows manage to pull off such a dangerous heist? What exactly happened the night their husbands died, and could it have had anything to do with this plan that was left behind? Is it just me, or could this easily be an Amanda Waller prequel?
Life of the Party and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Ben Falcone
This isn’t the most object thing to say as a film critic, but there really are times where the success of a movie or the people behind it makes me hate the end product just a little bit more. Adam Sandler’s entire career is based around this, and absolute dreck like Fist Fight and Daddy’s Home 2 are bad enough that their success only intensifies what I found lacking in them; especially with Daddy’s Home 2 which was so bad AND so successful that it pretty much poisoned the first film for me which I thought wasn’t THAT bad and somewhat enjoyable. I bring this up because I get the feeling that many people feel that way about Melissa MicCarthy and her movies, and yet I’ve never had anything but praise for her as a performer. Okay, I wasn’t a fan of Bridesmaids and I still haven’t seen Identity Thief or Tammy, but her track record has been pretty strong as far as I’m concerned and even her low end efforts like The Boss are still better than plenty other comedies that don’t seem to attract as much ire; not to mention the absolute shit storm that blew up over that AMAZING Ghostbusters movie! Now she’s back to “ruin” yet another one of your treasured eighties films as this movie seems to be an update on Old School starring Rodney Dangerfield, and I hope the next film she does has her working on a golf course or traveling back in time to meet her parents in high school; just to see how far she can piss off “passionate” fanboys who can’t stand to see their original films (THAT AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE!!) being updated for a new audience! Does this latest effort manage to do for college frat humor what the new Ghostbusters did for comedian driven adventure films, or is this a disappointingly low effort outing from one of the most talented comedians of our time? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Deanna Miles (Melissa McCarthy) dropping off her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) for her final year of college which SHOULD be a celebratory day… but it all goes to hell when her jerk of a husband Dan (Matt Walsh) informs her on the ride home that he’s divorcing her, he’s already seeing someone, and he’s gonna sell the house. Well that stinks! What the heck is she gonna do to support herself now that her husband is gone and she hasn’t worked in years; not to mention that she never finished college which closes her off from most job opportunities! Wait a minute… COLLEGE! THAT’S IT!! She’ll enroll in the same college as her daughter to finish up that final year and get her degree in… Archeology! Because the market is bursting at the seams for someone with THOSE qualifications I guess! Oh, that’s not important! The important thing is that Maddie’s mom is gonna be at the same place as her and will be SUPER embarrassing! Well actually, Maddie’s sisters as the Sorority (Gillian Jacobs, Adria Arjona, and Jessie Ennis) take to her rather quickly and she soon becomes the talk of campus; even getting invited to parties and hooking up with sexy stud Jack (Luke Benward)! Oh, and I guess she’s got to attend her archeology classes taught by Chris Parnell, but forget that! It’s time to put the MOM back in MOMentous College Experiences as she teaches the youngsters about being responsible adults and they in turn teach her how to cut loose! Will Deanna manage to pass her final classes to get that degree, or will the pitfalls of college life distract her from reaching her dreams? Will Maddie gain a newfound respect for her mother now that they’re spending so much time together, and what will the divorce do to her relationship with her as well as her dad? Will Melissa McCarthy retain her title as one of the most bankable stars in the country, even when she’s doing a cheap college film!?
The Disaster Artist and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24
Directed by James Franco
I may not be as over the moon in love with The Room as plenty of other people are, and it has admittedly lost a bit of its charm once you realize just how misogynistic the whole thing is, but it certainly has my respect as being one of the more unique examples of a GOOD BAD MOVIE due in no small part to the auteur himself, Tommy Wiseau. Now he’s far from the only ridiculously cocky creatives out there who write, direct, and star in what they perceive to be their one true masterpiece (*cough* Old Fashioned *cough*), but with Mr Wiseau there’s a genuine sense of mystery about the guy as many details of his origin are STILL unknown to this day (HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE IN THE INTERNET AGE!?) and his… shall we say UNIQUE brand of acting certainly sets him apart from many of the other low rent struggling artists out there. No doubt there is a VERY interesting story to tell about this one guy, his one movie, and his friendship with co-star Greg Sestero, which the wannabe auteur himself James Franco has opted to do by adapting Greg’s book The Disaster Artist into a motion picture; one that he directs, produces, and stars in of course. Will this examination of one of Hollywood’s biggest oddities be a worthwhile exploration of the creative process and what it truly means to be an artist, or are we just desperately trying to milk a novelty that had lost its luster many years ago? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the journey of two men; aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and… I guess aspiring actor as well Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). The two meet in an acting class where Greg finds the eccentric weirdo with bad hair and a worse accent rather endearing for his utter fearlessness and ability to throw himself out there in ways that Greg is still struggling to do despite his hopes of becoming an actor. Because of Greg’s admiration for Tommy and Tommy’s love of being admired, the two move in together and work their way through Hollywood; getting small gigs here and there but nothing that will truly set them apart from the thousands of other working actors cluttering the streets of LA. After a particularly rough string of bad luck, Tommy eventually starts writing his own movie and wants none other than Greg himself to be the co-star. The Room is what he titles his masterpiece and he funds it himself with his seemingly unlimited supply of money but things go from awkward to unsustainable as Tommy’s ego and complete inexperience with the process starts escalating tensions with the cast and crew and even with his best friend Greg who’s trying to stick by him but is finding it hard and harder to deal with Tommy’s unpredictable behavior. Can Tommy find it within himself to get past his issues and foster a good working environment for the only people in the world who are helping him achieve his dreams? Will Greg stand by his best friend, or will he realize just how much Tommy is holding him back? WILL THE WORLD EVER UNDERSTAND THE BRILLIANCE OF THIS ONE MAN’S VISION!?