Cinema Dispatch: The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time and all the images you see in this review are owned by Netflix

Directed by Antonio Campos

It looks like Warner Bros non-stop protestations that movies and movie theaters are back has failed to materialize as the world is still ravaged by a pandemic and studios are still shy about putting anything out to overwhelmingly empty theaters.  I guess it means we’re going back to the Netflix well once again which is perfectly fine as we ALL need to do our part to keep people safe, and they’ve been putting out a steady stream of original movies so I’m pretty much spoiled for choice until the world decides to reopen again.  So with the breadth of Netflix’s catalog in front of me, which one do I choose?  Well it was either Cuties or the new movie with Robert Pattinson, and as much as I hear good things about Cuties (and hear bad things from the absolute WORST people about it), I had to stick with my main man Robbie P and see what he’s up to!  Does this movie satiate the listless masses for another week of perpetual lockdown, or does the dour tone of this movie hit a bit TOO close to home right now?  Let’s find out!!

Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) is your typical sweet kid from the country with a definite chip on his shoulder.  He has a strong sense of right and wrong, but given enough of a push he can be convinced to take serious action against those who slighted him and his family.  Perhaps he got that mean streak in him when he was a kid (Michael Banks) and his father (Bill Skarsgård) used to do the same thing.  Perhaps it has to do with his mother (Haley Bennett) who died of cancer when he was young and the… interesting actions his father took during that time.  Still, he doesn’t have much to complain about considering he lives with his loving grandma (Kristin Griffith) and… let’s go with half-sister Lenora (Eliza Scanlen) and leave it at that.  To get into the specifics there is something I’ll leave the movie to explain, but needless to say that things are pretty good for him, and as long as they aren’t surrounded by a bunch of terrible people to set Arvin off, things will go just fine for them!  Well I hate to break it to you, but there are some bad people in this little town and Arvin is stuck right in the middle; between the devils all around him and the devils within himself.  Does the world push Arvin to take drastic measures to restore order in the face of injustice, and can one man survive in a world full of bad people?  What will Arvin lose of himself in this story of pain, loss, and vengeance, and is there any sort of light at the end of the tunnel once he’s found the justice he seeks?  This sounds like a superhero origin story, though PROBABLY not the one that Holland usually plays.

“I’M BATMAN!!”     “Wait, I thought I was Batman?”
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Cinema Dispatch: Tread

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Tread and all the images you see in this review are owned by Netflix

Directed by Paul Solet

Another week, another bout of isolation, restlessness, and binge-watching coupled with a release calendar with more holes than our government’s COVID-19 response strategy.  It’s funny because it’s relevant AND devastating!  So without much to talk about other than that Beyoncé movie that I haven’t gotten around to, I decided to try my hand at something I’ve never done for this site before, and that’s review a DOCUMENTARY!  Well okay, I SAY a documentary, but let’s be honest; this is just as much a narrative adaptation as it is that, with the copious amounts of reenactments and the spectacle of its final act, but nonetheless, I’m still gonna count this as uncharted waters for me!  Is this a fun, informative, and at times heartbreaking portrayal of a man pushed to his limits, or does this fail to make its too wacky to be fake premise all that interesting?  Let’s find out!!

Marvin Heemeyer lived in Granby Colorado for over a decade; running a successful muffler shop, driving his snowmobile on the weekends, and all-around getting along with his friends and neighbors.  What no one seemed to know, or only suspected without confirming, is that underneath his pleasant exterior stowed a rage that would fuel him to do something drastic on June 4, 2004.  If you’re not familiar with the story like me then I won’t give it ALL away here, but let’s just say that it involved heavy machinery, a lot of property damage, and a design aesthetic somewhere between Mad Max and the Wacky Races.  The documentary takes us from the start of his time in Granby to the day of THE INCIDENT with interviews of people who were there at the time and, perhaps most enlightening, the words of Marvin Heemeyer himself who left an audio manifesto of sorts to tell his own side of the story of how he got to where he ultimately ended up.  Just how far will one man go to rectify the slights and misfortunes that he believes the world has handed him?  Is there more to the story than one man’s out of control persecution complex that led to this horrifying yet bizarre event?  Heck, maybe everything was just fine but this guy saw Falling Down on cable one too many times!

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“Hey, Marv!  What-cha doing in there?”     “NOTHING!  JUST BUILDING… BIRD FEEDERS!”     “Well that’s just swell!  Let us know how we can help as you are a loved and cherished member of this community!”     “JUST GO AWAY!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Fatal Affair

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Fatal Affair and all the images you see in this review are owned by Netflix

Directed by Peter Sullivan

I’ve seen my fair share of Black Romance Thrillers in my time, even Tyler Perry’s… interesting take on the genre, and if nothing else they tend to be ENGAGING if not always GOOD.  Well… maybe not The Perfect Guy which I recall being rather dull on top of being not especially well made, but in any case, as soon as I learned that Netflix was releasing one of these under a suspect title (if The Asylum hasn’t already made a knock-off thrill with this same name, I will be VERY disappointed) and starring Omar Epps, I was there ready to see it unfold!  Heck, one of my biggest regrets from last year is that his theatrical film Traffik came and went before I got a chance to see it, so perhaps this is my chance to redeem myself and give this man the credit he so rightfully deserves!  Does Netflix have yet another hit to brag about in this era where streaming is king, or is this just another mediocre outing that’s sole purpose is to bolster Netflix’s catalog?  Let’s find out!!

The life of Ellie Warren (Nia Long) has turned a corner and there’s nothing but blue skies ahead!  Her husband (Stephen Bishop) was hurt recently but is finally recovering, they got the big beautiful beach house they’ve always wanted, and as soon as this big case is over at the law firm, she’s going to start her own practice so she can finally be a literal Girl Boss instead of just being the figurative one at the office!  Heck, things get even better when an old college friend of hers named David Hammond (Omar Epps) is hired by the law firm and they get to catch up on old times!  Boy, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?  It’s like a whole lot of life has slipped away between her carefree college days and her grown-up life where her own daughter (Aubrey Cleland) is the one in college now.  In fact, things are getting kind of stale, aren’t they; especially with her husband who’s kind of a mope ever since the accident.  Maybe David has something to offer Ellie… IS WHAT I WOULD BE SAYING IF SHE WASN’T A PERSON OF SUCH HIGH VIRTUE!!  Sure, she makes out with him at a dance club, but she regrets it immediately and cuts all contact with David just to make it clear that she’s NOT INTERESTED!  That’s not good enough for David though who’s got a chip on his shoulder and a degree in Information Security, so for the next few weeks, he makes her life a living hell; calling her constantly, finding ways to ingratiate himself into her social circle, and even making fake screenshots of text conversations that apparently everyone would be willing to believe in a heartbeat.  Will Ellie be able to escape from the tightening grip of David’s obsession?  Why has he chosen now to make his big move on her, and is there something in his past that’s even darker than what we’re seeing now?  Who wants to bet this dude’s Twitter feed has more red flags than a MGTOW forum?

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“When you look at me, what do you see?”     “A collection of molecules arranged in such a way that you arbitrary get more rights than I do as a man.”     “Uh…huh.”     “Want to subscribe to my YouTube channel?”     “I’m gonna pass on that.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Da 5 Bloods

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Da 5 Bloods and all the images you see in this review are owned by Netflix

Directed by Spike Lee

It’s not often that a film gets released at the EXACT moment it should be, but leave it to Spike Lee to make a movie worth talking about at a time when its message couldn’t be more relevant.  I’ve certainly liked more of Spike Lee’s movie’s than I haven’t with Chi-Raq being a downright masterpiece and it’s like movie studios are giving us anything else worth watching at this period of time (including Disney who thought putting Artemis Fowl on Disney+ was a better idea than just chucking it in a garbage can), so consider me pumped to see something important instead of just spending another evening watching reruns and staring at the ceiling!  Is Spike Lee’s timely examination of Black people’s relationship to the Vietnam War and by extension the systems created it which are still in place to this day, or is Lee like the rest of us and finds himself missing a step in these unusual times?  Let’s find out!!

Nearly fifty years after their tour in Vietnam, the remaining members of The Bloods return to Vietnam to reconnect, remember the good times, and find their fallen comrade Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman) who died during the war and whose body is still out there.  Our surviving members are Paul, Otis, Eddie, and Melvin (Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, and Isiah Whitlock Jr) as well as an unexpected fifth member David (Jonathan Majors) who’s the son of Paul and wants to keep an eye on him during this trip.  Now that’s all MOSTLY true, but there are some details missing such as the fact that The Bloods buried a whole bunch of gold back then and are out here to find it along with Stormin’ Norman to secure their retirements, though saying that to the US government who’s gold it is they’re digging up (it was supposed to be delivered to the Vietnamese government that was declared a loss after the plane crashed), so they omitted that part when they appealed to both countries’ governments to explore the area.  And so the journey begins, with our heroes telling stories of their time in the war, confronting the demons of their past, and hopefully leaving the country far richer than they entered it.  Will The Bloods find what they are looking for in this country they left long ago, and will it be what they came to find in the first place?  What hardships will they face along the way, and will their struggles ultimately be in vain?  How the heck is it that the ONE dude to die in the war was Black Panther!?  Isn’t he bulletproof!?

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“Did you find any vibranium yet?”     “That joke wasn’t funny the first time you made it, and it sure as heck isn’t funny the FIFTIETH time you made!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Last Days of American Crime

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The Last Days of American Crime and all the images you see in this review are owned by Netflix

Directed by Olivier Megaton

With the world descending into righteous fury at the systems that have failed them for generations, there hasn’t been a whole lot of film news out there that has kept me on a regular routine which will certainly be a lurch if things DO ever get back to normal and they finally start releasing those movies we were supposed to get months ago.  The only thing I’ve seen AT ALL about film in the last week or so (besides the Bill and Ted trailer which dropped the day I’m writing this) is some movie on Netflix getting the coveted ZERO PERCENT ON ROTTEN TOMATOES award, so here we are I guess; I’m gonna waste my time watching a movie that everyone already knows is terrible and it’s somehow going to be the most productive thing I’ve done since I, a grown-ass man, vomited up two thousand words telling you why the Scooby-Doo movie wasn’t very good.  Can this movie with a very unwieldy title at least be better than THAT movie; especially since this has the edge of NOT charging you an arm and a leg to see it?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows a man named Graham Bricke (Édgar Ramírez) who certainly acts like such as he joylessly and emotionlessly goes from one horrific violent crime to another in what I can only assume is a near-future Michigan that’s about three months and a few missed orders from Deer Park from turning into a Mad Max hellscape.  Things are about to be changed for the better, at least as far as the government is concerned, as  they’ve developed a SUPER SCIENCE MIND CONTROL SIGNAL that will prevent anyone from knowingly committing a crime which I’m quite certain is what those 5G conspiracy theorists believe is actually going to happen.  In any case, the people in this movie haven’t figured out how tin foil hats work and so they’ve resigned themselves to losing their free will; at least in the United States.  Canada hasn’t developed a MIND CONTROL RAY and so the border has become fully militarized as people get shot to pieces trying to cross; all of which sounds like the filmmakers are trying to make a point but darned if I can find out what the heck this movie is trying to say!  Bottom line is, Bricke gets recruited by some dude named Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt) for one last heist to steal a whole bunch of money from a government vault in the city before booking it for the Canadian border mere minutes before the government turns on their MIND CONTROL RAY and who have helpfully provided everyone with a countdown clock to the second as to when that will happen.  Joining the crew is Cash’s girlfriend Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster) who may or may not be the brains of this operation, and throw into that a conspiracy involving the death of Bricke’s brother to make a perfect storm of bad planning and bad timing for this heist that has to go off without a hitch!  Can Bricke outrun his own past and set himself up for a nifty little retirement in the land of hockey and poutine?  Does Cash have an ulterior motive to all of this that could get in the way of Bricke’s meticulous professionalism and throw this whole operation into chaos?  If you were going to follow anyone into a ridiculously convoluted heist, would it REALLY be a guy who looks like an off-brand Jason Mewes?

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Living on Netflix: Power Rangers – Life’s a Masquerade

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and all the images you see in this recap are owned Saban Brands

Episode directed by Robert Hughes

It’s that time a year for us to start enjoying all the SPOOKINESS in the world as well as the endless amount of crappy horror sequels that we PRETEND to enjoy ironically but actually like them quite a bit (*cough* Children of the Corn 3 *cough* The Fly 2 *cough*).  However, for those of us who just aren’t feeling it this time around I made a list of really great Halloween specials that will get you in the festive mood without all that gratuitous blood and gore that just feels a bit unnecessary right now.  Let’s face it, the world is in pretty rough shape, and while I LOVE me some bone crunching, blood gushing, slasher trash… I just can’t get into the spirit the way I could in previous years and I’m guessing there are others who would agree with me or at the very least were looking for a bit of variety to their Halloween playlist.  Now I capped that list off with something that came as a HUGE surprise to me which is the episode of Power Rangers that we will be looking at today!  Power Rangers vs Frankenstein!?  Not only does that sound like the most amazing premise of all time, the episode ACTUALLY manages to live up to the absurd awesomeness that you’d hope to get from that!  Just how well did they pull this episode off!?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with the Power Rangers Jason, Billy, Trini, Zack, and Kimberly (along with the newly reformed Green Ranger Tommy) helping Ernie set up the Angel Grove Youth Center for the Halloween Party where all the teenagers can go and celebrate away from the horrible influences of sex and booze!  As always, Bulk and Skull are on hand to help; not necessarily to help any of THEM, but to help the audience enjoy the episode that much more because Bulk and Skull are the absolute best thing about this series.  I LOVE these two and I always find their shtick hilarious, though the initial gag this time around is a bit odd as Skull apparently has nothing better to do than hit himself in the head with a staple gun.  Okay… I mean I guess he’s frustrated that it’s not working, but that has to be like… the WORST way to go about it!  At least Bulk’s gag here is a lot simpler with the classic PAINT CAN ON HEAD bit, though the paint here is obviously some sort of cream.

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“You look like Storm Shadow crossed with the Pillsbury Dough Boy!!”     “Oh a wise guy, eh?  COME HERE, YOU!!”

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Jumping the Soapbox: 10 characters that should be in Marvel vs Capcom Infinite

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Marvel vs Capcom Infinite and all the images you see in this editorial are owned by Disney, Marvel, and Capcom

So with the announcement of a new fighting game, particularly one that has as much fan service potential as this one, the number one question on everyone’s mind is who they’ll be adding to the roster.  Well, since I have my own little platform to scream from, here’s my list of the ten characters they should add to the new game!  Oh, and if you notice a lack of Capcom characters on this list, well you should probably read what I wrote about the game’s reveal trailer.

Honorable Mention: Agents of Shield Stage

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Look, I love Coulson too, but the characters in this show don’t have enough going for them to take up a spot in this game.  All together though, there’s definitely enough there for a really cool stage on the Globemaster where you could have Coulson and Melinda cheering on the action while Leo and Jemma are doing science stuff or whatever.  That’d be pretty cool to see, and they’d be able to fit all sorts of Easter Eggs in the background for the big Agents of Shield fans out there!  You’re not gonna be able to fit everyone from the MCU in here as playable characters, nor should you, but there are still plenty of ways for them to be a part of this game otherwise.

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Living on Netflix: Red State

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Kevin Smith is a director that I’ve defend as damn good if not always excellent.  Movies like Clerks and Dogma are still original and entertaining, while Clerks 2 is a straight up classic in my book.  That said I’ve kinda stepped back in recent years and avoided stuff like Cop Out and Red State which seemed to indicate a change in the once great film maker.  Well it’s time to fix that!  In celebration of the release of his latest film Tusk, I’m gonna take a look at his last movie Red State.  It seems appropriate considering that  both appear to be quite similar in tone and even has the same actor playing the bad guy in both films.  Is this movie gonna be an auteur director proving himself outside of his comfort zone, or yet another step in his continued slide into irrelevance?  Only one way to find out, and that’s to keep on reading!!

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Living on Netflix: Filth

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You know, I don’t think people give James McAvoy enough credit.  Sure he’s gotten a lot of critical success through the X-Men movies, but take a look through his filmography and you’ll see some serious acting chops.  By far his most extreme character to date is the unhinged Edinburgh detective Bruce Robertson in this adaptation of the 1998 novel of the same name.  Does Filth showcase McAvoy’s true acting prowess as well as the depths he’s willing to go, or is it a huge misstep for an actor in the prime of his career trying to prove himself by taking on the role of an unlikable prick?  There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to keep reading!

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