Tag Archives: Jason Clarke

Cinema Dispatch: Pet Sematary

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Pet Sematary and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer

I don’t know about this one.  I mean I liked the original Pet Sematary and Stephen King adaptations in general, but the trailers are just not doing it for me.  For the most part I think I’m turned off by JUST how big of a tonal shift it is from a bright and colorful yet creepy tale of magic and grief into something that looks to be aping Hereditary which is doubly worrying considering the ONE BIG similarity between the two.  I have a certain limit when it comes to horror (mainly when you replace creepiness and suspense with misery and suffering), and I am not prepared to see a beloved classic from the eighties go down that same route just to chase a trend.  Still, even if the LOOK of the thing may be drastically different there’s still the original story which is quite well thought of for a reason, and I could just be looking at the original through rose tinted glasses.  I remember the movie in the broad strokes, but a lot of the nuance for me has been lost to time (it’s had to of been a decade at least since I saw it) and perhaps this one will do a great job of recreating all that I’ve forgotten about the original!  Wishful thinking perhaps, but there’s only one way to find out!!

The Creed family has just moved to a little out of the way country town in the middle of Maine (because nothing spooky ever happens THERE!) so that the father Louis (Jason Clarke) could take a less demanding job at a University hospital which will allow him to spend more time with his kids Ellie and Gage (Jeté Laurence and Hugo Lavoie/Lucas Lavoie) as well as his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) who’s already getting some bad vibes from this place right off the bat.  Eh, maybe it’s just nerves from her TRAGIC BACKSTORY that I’m sure will come into play later in the movie!  Anyway, Ellie learns about a place in the woods behind their house called the Pet Sematary where children (who don’t know how to spell) bury their dead pets in some sort of local ritual.  This is all well-known and expanded upon by the Creed family’s neighbor Jud (John Lithgow) who’s lived here all his life and may know even more about this place than he’s letting on.  Now as the family seems to finally be settling in, tragedy strikes as Ellie’s cat Churchill is hit by a truck on the road RIGHT outside the house (SEEMS A LITTLE BIT DANGEROUS IF YOU ASK ME!) and now Louis has to break the bad news to her which is not going to be pleasant, but Jud has an idea on maybe fixing this problem which may be more than just him being neighborly.  What kind secrets does this little town have that Jud can show Louis, and what will it end up costing the both of them in the process?  Will Louis be able to live with the knowledge that Jed is about to reveal, and what will happen in his own life to temp him to abuse this mysterious power?  Seriously, is that cat gonna get its own spinoff!?  The filmmakers are just in LOVE with that thing!

 

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“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. HIIIIISSSSSSS!!”

 

 

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Cinema Dispatch: Fishing for Answers in Serenity

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Serenity is owned by Aviron Pictures

So now that it’s been a week since Serenity graced theaters, you’ve all had a chance to go see it and get your mind blown or hear other people regale you with their stories of seeing the movie themselves!  When I went to go see it, I was coming down with a pretty nasty cold and perhaps that’s why I ended up liking the movie more than a lot of other people (it’s got a pretty abysmal score on Rotten Tomatoes), but I do think that there’s something at least INTERESTING in the movie’s ideas even if it’s not the most coherent use of a wacky twist and a high concept I’ve seen in a movie.  Well everyone else has already given their unfiltered opinions on what the movie actually means and how well it pulls of its absurd twist, so why don’t I go ahead and give you mine!  First things first…

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Just What the Heck is Going on Here?

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Since we’re going to be analyzing some of the film’s themes, we might as well start with a spoiler filled recap of the entire narrative.  For the first half of the movie, we’re following Matthew McConaughey who’s on a small island named Plymouth and he’s obsessed with catching a tuna fish that he calls Justice.  During his meaningless existence of waking up, not catching the fish, and drinking himself to sleep at night, he gets visited by his ex-wife played by Anne Hathaway who offers him ten million to kill her utter scumbag of a husband played by Jason Clarke, and also he had a son named Patrick with Anne Hathaway and the two of them have been viciously abused by Jason Clarke.  This back and forth goes on for some time as McConaughey keeps hemming and hawing over whether he should do it, but the whole time something seems off.  Anne Hathaway seems to have jumped out of a noir thriller and Jason Clarke is an absurdly exaggerated caricature of a bad person; not to mention that there’s this one dude in a dorky suit trying to find McConaughey the whole time but always just misses him.  Is there something else going on here?  Well yes there is!  When the mystery man played by Jeremy Strong finally catches up to McConaughey, he offers him a super duper fish finding device to use that will hopefully catch him that tuna once and for all which would be a good way to spend an afternoon instead of maybe sort of killing a guy.  Not that Jeremy Strong somehow KNOWS anything about that!  Okay fine, he does.  McConaughey ends up getting him to spill some of the beans (the rest of the puzzle he puts together himself) and we find out that what we’ve been seeing up to this point has NOT been a charming little island, but instead a simulation.  That’s right!  We’re in the Matrix!  Okay, more specifically we are inside a video game.  Which video game pray tell?  Well it turns out that IN THE REAL WORLD McConaughey’s character is actually a dead army veteran who left behind a wife (Anne Hathaway) and a son (Patrick).  His wife remarried an abusive construction worker (Jason Clarke) and so he spends all his time programming this video game where his dad is still alive, his new dad is a dangerous mob connected monster instead of some abusive loser, and his mother is a wealthy femme fatale instead of… well we don’t really get an idea of what Real World Anne Hathaway is like, but I’m sure that Patrick put just as much exaggeration into her character as he did everything else.  Now things are starting to come together as the somewhat unbalanced way that the characters were drawn start to make sense from the perspective of a confused and angry teenager who is finding a way to escape the horrors of his real life.  This does raise a few questions however about whether Patrick is directly controlling McConaughey and whether or not he truly has any free will, but if we’re gonna let Wreck-it-Ralph slide on that stuff, I think we can let it slide here!  Anyway, McConaughey starts to question everything around him and begins to see where the “seams” are in the programming which starts to react in a rather hostile manner to his break in the routine.  His “role” in the game as it were is to catch the fish, and entertaining the idea of murdering someone is clearly going against the programming at which is why he’s getting the ire of the NPCs that populate the town who keep telling him he should just catch the fish, and he even runs into a few… let’s call them “traps” that are intended to keep him on the right path.  This is also a rather confusing point in the narrative as it’s clear that Patrick is the one programming all of this… but it’s also clear that the scenario here about McConaughey killing Jason Clarke is what he wants… so did he add this scenario to the game?  If so, why is the rest of the game telling McConaughey not to do it?  That is something I wish the movie had a better grasp on, but in any case, despite ALL the resistance he gets from the other NPCs and whatnot, he does manage to kill Jason Clarke in the most symbolically ridiculous way possible.  He takes him out on the boat, manages to get the Tuna called Justice onto one of his poles, and hands the pole to Jason Clarke without strapping him in properly which causes him to be pulled overboard and dragged down to the bottom of the sea… by Justice.  GET IT!?  This is where things take a dark turn as while this is going on, Patrick has taken a knife that his father once owned (a knife we see Virtual McConaughey use frequently in the movie) and stabs the REAL WORLD Jason Clarke to death off screen.  Now this raises questions as to whether or not these things were happening simultaneously, if McConaughey was being directly “controlled” by Patrick as he simulated killing his own step-dad or if this may have been some bug Patrick witnessed that inspired him to do it, but I won’t get diegetically nit-picky here because the thematic thru-line itself is rather consistent.  Patrick feels that he needs to TAKE JUSTICE by killing Jason Clarke, and that attitude is reflected in the game as well as this specific scenario he either intentionally made or just somehow managed to work its way into the code he already wrote.  The movie ends with Virtual McConaughey getting a phone call from Patrick who says he’s gonna rewrite the game, and moments later a Virtual Patrick shows up.  The two reunite, the credits roll, and the house lights turn on before anyone has a chance to really grasp just what the heck it is they witnessed!  Now as I said in my review, I did enjoy this movie before the big twist when it was just a run of the mill Cohen Brothers knock off, and I enjoyed it after the reveal in terms of understanding the metaphor and what they were trying to do with the concept.  Maybe it’s not particularly deep, but I did find at least a few neat ideas about video games and how we can relate to them with the text of the film, so let’s go over some of those now!

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Cinema Dispatch: Serenity

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Serenity and all the images you see in this review are owned by Aviron Pictures

Directed by Steven Knight

Independent of the movie itself, I’d just like to say that this is PROBABLY the worst January I’ve had in quite a few years.  Not only did I get the flu which knocked me out of commotion for about a week, I THEN got a really nasty cold that I’m dealing with right now as I try to push through the fog and sinus congestion to try and create cogent points about this movie which certainly could use a much clearer head to talk about.  Seriously, we started the month off right with a crappy horror film and a Shyamalan Greatest Hits piece, but now we’re getting THIS utterly absurd art piece!?  It’s way too early in the year and I’m way too sick to stay all that coherent, but maybe that’s the best way to truly experience this movie which, after all feels like a total fever dream!  Is this movie as good as everyone says and its qualities can shine through even if I saw it under less than ideal conditions, or was this the last thing I should have gone out to see when I barely had my wits about me?  Let’s find out!!

Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is a fisherman on the small island of Plymouth who works with his friend Duke (Djimon Hounsou) to take rich jerks out on the ocean so they can catch big fish to brag about on Instagram or whatever.  Mostly he does this so that he can pay for the OTHER days he’s on the ocean looking for… HIM.  You know who I’m talking about!  That ONE FISH that has eluded our hero and has occupied all his thoughts since… THE INCIDENT.  After yet another unsuccessful chase for his Great White Whale, which is actually just a big Tuna Fish, he is greeted by his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) who has somehow tracked him down to this nowhere island and wants to make him an offer.  You see, Karen has since married this total monster named Frank (Jason Clarke) who abuses her as well as the son she had with Baker before they split up (Rafael Sayegh), but she can’t simply divorce him or run away because the guy has some serious mob connections.  For ten million dollars as well as ensuring that his son no longer grows up in an abusive household, she wants him to take Frank out on a fishing trip and throw him overboard.  Seems simple enough, but there’s a whole lot of grey area for things to go wrong and Baker is quite hesitant to carry out his ex-wife’s dirty work.  However, there might be more going on than meets the eye as this latest bit of drama seems to have stirred up something on the island of Plymouth that Baker either never noticed or chose to ignore before now; not to mention the sudden appearance of some dude in a suit (Jeremy Strong) who REALLY wants to get a sit down meeting with Baker about something urgent.  Is Karen being completely truthful about what is that she wants Baker to do, and can Baker pull off such a scheme if he needs to?  What is it that’s suddenly so off putting about the island, and is it in some way connected to the sudden reappearance of his ex-wife?  Just how many video essays will be made about the DEEP MEANING of this movie, and how many will actually make sense!?

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“ALL WE ARE IS DUST IN THE WIND!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Winchester

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Winchester and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate and CBS Films

Directed by Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig

SERIOUSLY!?  We managed to go through ALL of January without a single notable horror movie!?  Okay, I mean there was that INSIDIOUS movie but that one doesn’t count because… I didn’t see the other films.  MY POINT IS that it’s been PRETTY light so far for a month known almost EXCLUSIVELY for terrible horror films, and for me this is the first one of the new year so I’m STILL gonna consider it a January horror film!  Besides, that’s not even a particularly hard rule of thumb considering last year’s worst horror abomination Rings didn’t make it out the gate until the first week of February either.  Will this be another entry in the never ending list of terrible first of the year horror movies, or are the people behind this just too darn talented to make the same mistakes that everyone else did?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the story of Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) who is the widow of William Winchester; the man who started the Winchester Repeating Arms company and got SUPER rich doing so.  Now she has all this money, but she’s been using it to build and rebuild and rebuild and add on and then do some MORE rebuilding on here house.  Why is she doing this?  Well she believes that the ghosts of the victims of Winchester rifles, instead of haunting say… their murderers, are haunting her house and I guess the multiple rooms and weird architecture confuses them or something.  Anyway, Dr. Price (Jason Clarke) has been sent by the Winchester Repeating Arms company to assess the mental fitness of Sarah in an attempt to oust her from the company, but he’s not interested in being their lap dog and seems to genuinely want to help her; not like he’d get away with being so duplicitous what with her niece Marion (Sarah Snook) watching his every move.  Of course, things start to get strange almost immediately as Eric starts to see creepy things of his own and Marian’s son Henry (Finn Scicluna-O’Prey) is “sleepwalking” all over the place.  Is Miss Winchester correct in believing that there are ghosts in her house and that they’re after her for what her company’s weapons did to them?  Does Dr. Price have a much deeper connection to this place than either he or Sarah initially thought?  Why does it matter if the house is a confusing maze of dead ends and random staircases!?  GHOSTS ARE NON-CORPOREAL!!

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“BOO!!”     …     “What?  Ah, damn it!  She’s not in this room either.  WHERE THE HECK IS SHE!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Terminator Genisys

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Terminator Genisys and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Alan Taylor

They BETTER not make another Back to the Future movie is all I’m saying.  Oh Hollywood.  Is there no pile of garbage you won’t slap a brand onto and sell it for matinee prices?  Do you even give a shit anymore, or am I just that naïve that I didn’t expect this to suck more than an industrial strength vacuum?  Another Terminator film is upon us dear readers and as hard as it is to believe, this is the worst one.  Now I haven’t seen Salivation since it was in theaters, but even THAT one managed to suck without pissing me off (at least as far as I recall).  This one though?  Oh you have NO IDEA what’s in store for you if you choose to spend your hard earned cash on this instead of more useful things like Taco Bell and lottery tickets.  If you HAVE seen it already, I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.  Just remember that you’re not alone.  A lot of us witnessed this tragedy and we will all heal with time.  You know what might help though?  Sharing the pain with others.  Let’s get started.

Terminator Genisys (THAT’S NOT HOW YOU SPELL THAT!!!) is basically the Back to the Future 2 of the Terminator films only the quality is more on the level of Beastmaster 2.  The movie starts by retconning Salvation where we see an alternate version of the future and the events that led to Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney who may remember from LAST year’s astoundingly terrible action film I, Frankenstein) going back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) as he did in the original.  When he goes back though, everything has changed from the first film.  Not only is there a T-1000 specifically hunting him, but Sarah Connor has already gone through the training she went through between Terminator 1 and 2, AND she’s also got a friendly Terminator that she calls Pops played by the lovable Austrian action star.  It turns out that in THIS version of events, a T-1000 went back in time and tried to kill her when she was a child.  It succeeded in killing her parents before getting destroyed by Arnie (I think) and she’s been living with him since then, training to become a warrior and the mother of the savior of humanity.  How any of this works in the timeline is one of the great mysteries of cinema along with the Three Men and a Baby Ghost and the Munchkin Suicide.

“So wait.  Your future son sent his own father back in time to impregnate you?”     “That was the plan originally, but things have changed since then.”     “Hold on, how do plans change when THEY’RE in the future and YOU’RE in the past?  Shouldn’t they know what the plans are then?”

“So wait.  Your future son sent his own father back in time to impregnate you?”     “That was the plan originally, but things have changed since then.”     “Hold on, how do plans change when THEY’RE in the future and YOU’RE in the past?  Shouldn’t they know what the plans are then?”

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Living on Netflix: Lawless

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Wow.  It must be a stretch for Shia LaBeouf to play a dumbass kid who gets in way over his head, right?  Lawless stars him as one of three brothers who run a moonshining trade in rural Virgina during Prohibition, and it was the last mainstream film he’s been associated with.  Sure, he’s in a Lars Von Trier movie that’s coming out soon, but I doubt that’s gonna be in your local multiplex if you see what I’m getting at.  Despite his toxic public persona, he has been able to prove himself as an actor on a few occasions, but it’s gone far past the point where anyone want to give him the benefit of the doubt anymore.  All that said; is Lawless another example of him showing off his acting chops, or is it yet another chance for him to make a complete ass of himself?  There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to KEEP ON READING!!!

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