Mary Poppins Returns and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
This is one of the weirder cases of nostalgia I’ve had because I don’t have nostalgia about this story or the documentary from 2010. I have nostalgia for a review of it. Around that time I had just learned about Spill.com (which is now more or less split between Double Toasted and One Of Us) and one of the earliest podcasts I had heard from them was a series of reviews about films they saw at SXSW 2010 which included a review of the documentary. So when they announced this movie, I actually was rather interested to see it because I had never gotten around to the documentary but that review for whatever reason always stuck with me and so seeing a big budget studio adaptation of something I had THAT tertiary of knowledge for would be interesting; not to mention seeing what those same critics thought of this movie as well. Does this story of a man who found a way to cope with his trauma through the use of imaginative and painstakingly detailed art pieces manage to convey the raw emotional power of this man’s life and work, or are we stuck with another treacly adaptation that fails to live up to the material it’s based on; including the critically acclaimed documentary? Let’s find out!!
Loosely based on the true story of Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carrell), this movie follows the story of Mark who was nearly beaten to death by five Neo-Nazi monsters who did so after they learned that Mark enjoyed wearing women’s shoes. Fortunately Mark survived and the men were caught, but sadly he lost his memories, a lot of his motor skills (making it nearly impossible for him to write or draw), and has been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder since. In order to cope with what has happened, he created a World War II village named Marwen in his yard and stages elaborate action scenes and character moments using dolls that represent him, the Nazis who beat him up, and the women in his life who helped him afterwards. This includes Anna (Gwendoline Christie) a nurse who visits him once a month to bring him medication and check on his physical health, Julie (Janelle Monáe) a physical therapist with one leg who helped him walk again and has since been traveling the world and running in marathons, Caralala (Eiza González) who is Mark’s coworker at his part time job, Roberta (Merritt Wever) who works at the town’s hobby shop and has helped Mark get the parts he needs to bring this made up town to life, and Suzette (Leslie Zemeckis) who he may not know in person but has starred in some of his FAVORITE films! Sadly, the one doll that is based on Wendy (Stefanie von Pftetten) who the town is partially named after (Marwen is short for Mark and Wendy) has been permanently removed and put into the RIP bin for reasons that aren’t made explicitly clear but can be somewhat inferred as we learn more about Mark’s life as well as the struggles and demons he’s had to work through. One such demon is the Belgian Witch Deja Thoris (Diane Kruger) who is the cause of many of Marwen’s woes and has a very distinct counterpart in the real world that you’ll have to keep an eye out for while watching them movie. Things seem to have been going along like this for some time now, but when Mark gets a new neighbor across the street named Nicol (Leslie Mann), well it looks like Marwen’s about to get a new resident which will certainly add a few more stories to the town’s ever expanding lore, but maybe this is the point where he takes things too far with his work; not to mention the overwhelming stress he’s feeling about the attack now that the men responsible are going to finally be sentenced for their crimes. Will Mark be able to face his attackers in court and put the incident behind him once and for all? Will Nicol understand what Mark is going through or will his behavior cross some very clear lines that he seems completely oblivious to when dealing with women outside of his fantasy world? Is it just me, or should they start making Marwen merchandise at some point? I want that Deja Thoris doll!
Battle of the Sexes and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Well THIS is certainly a pleasant surprise! I may not know all the details, but I’m certainly aware of the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Robbie Riggs which has always stuck with me despite only knowing about it by watching the back half of a TV documentary around fifteen years ago. I’ve always liked tennis as a sport and the build up to the phenomenal match was ridiculous and felt like a flash in the pan moment in history which did end up having a big impact on everything simply for how much confident men were that she was gonna lose and then had that whole perception shattered on live television around the world. Is there any way that a film can do justice to this once in a lifetime event and remind us all of how important this was in the first place? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about the infamous match between world renowned tennis player Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and world renowned FORMER tennis player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) which was played up in the media as THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES and the match that would once and for all prove that women have no business competing in MAN PLACES like tennis; something that wasn’t helped by Riggs’s absurdly derogatory and over the top chauvinistic stunts. Of course, there was a lot more to the story than the over the top theatrics leading up to it which includes the establishment of the Women’s Tennis Association, Billie Jean’s romantic relationship with another woman Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), and even Bobby Riggs’s financial woes that may have been the driving force for setting up this match in the first place. So much was on the line for Billie Jean to succeed, yet with so much working against her, it was quickly becoming a task that seemed impossible to overcome. Would she be able to find the strength to overcome the odds and prove herself once and for all? How will she be able to maintain a relationship with another woman in a time when that was much more frowned upon and life destroying than it is today? How can one person navigate all this nonsense being constantly thrown at them and STILL manage to keep from knocking all these jerkwads upside the head!?
The Big Short and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Adam McKay
So the guy who directed both Anchorman Movies, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys is gonna sit here and try to tell us about the housing crisis? Yeah right! Who’s gonna take THAT seriously!? Wait, they’ve got Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, AND Ryan Gosling? It’s also written by the writer of Moneyball? Well I certainly didn’t see THAT coming. Then again, it’s not like he hasn’t taken on relevant targets in the past. Just look at Anchorman 2! That took a lot of pot shots at Fox News and the media in general, even if it was surrounded by a lot of stupid. So can the guy who brought us four Will Farrell man-child movies manage to make something a bit more mature while still giving it a proper sense of humor, or will this be just another painful example of someone who is WAY out of his depth and has no idea what the hell their doing and go back to his old shtick to give us Step Brothers 2: Now There’s Three of Them or Something? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows several people in the years leading up to the big financial crisis of 2008 brought about by the crash of the housing market. As we interweave between these stories of people who saw it coming, it’s slowly dawns on them (and the audience) just how absolutely unattainable the market was at the time and just how corrupt the system got which is what led to everything going to hell. That’s really about it as most of the characters serve as either audience avatars or exposition machines to keep the audience in the loop as to what’s going on. It’s definitely more about giving the us an idea of the scope of the problem rather than telling personal stories within them, but a couple of the character eek out an arc here and there like the young investors Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley (John Magaro and Finn Wittrock) who are new to all this and get caught right in the god damn middle or even Mark Baum (Steve Carell) who’s already got it out for the big banks and at first sees this as just another thing to call them out on until he realizes how dep the rabbit hole goes in all of this.