Uncut Gems and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24
Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie
Good Time wasn’t one of my favorite movies of that year by a long shot, but it’s also a movie I keep thinking about even now as the filmmakers clearly made something wildly compelling even if it wasn’t exactly for me. If nothing else, I was eager to see what they did next as I really believe they can make a movie that’s not just great but one that I’d like as well, which is why when I first heard of this new movie they were making AND that it would be a dramatic turn for Adam Sandler, I knew that this had to be a top priority that I needed to see as soon as it came out! Okay fine, AFTER Star Wars, but this was locked in for second place! Do the Safdie Brothers improve on their last film and make a film that’s even better, or was all the potential I saw in Good Time actually the peak of their creative vision? Let’s find out!!
Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) runs a jewelry store out of New York City where he makes a tidy living selling exquisite trash to those looking for something Gaudy more than Elegant, but most of the money he makes is then funneled into his gambling addiction which means he gets to talk to sports stars, have nice apartments, and live a life of relative comfort, but he’s also in deep with loan sharks (Eric Bogosian, Keith Williams, and Tommy Kominik) who want nothing more than to rip his heart out right out of his chest since that’s about all they’ll get from the guy who can’t stop throwing all his money away on terrible sports bets. Still, he’s got an ace up his sleeve which is this opal he got straight from a mining company in Ethiopia which he plans to sell at an auction for up to a MILLION dollars. Seems like he’s got it all sorted out, but of course when you’re a guy whose got as much bad blood as he does, those people who want something from him could easily derail everything in an instant, and Howard himself can’t seem to keep his own behavior under control long enough to get the money and clean the slate; especially when he “loans” the opal to basketball player Kevin Garnett (playing himself) and for whatever reason he can’t be reached and his go between guy (Lakeith Stanfield) is being awfully cagey for some reason. Can Howard get the opal back in time to sell it and get his life back in order? What sorts of comeuppance will he have waiting for him the moment he gets the money and what if it comes for him sooner than that? I mean if he’s THAT deep in the red, can’t he just make Happy Gilmore 2? Nineties nostalgia is ALL the rage now; tell me that wouldn’t make a hundred million at the box office!
The Dead Don’t Die and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Two things I’m not particularly well versed in are zombie movies and Jim Jarmusch movies; the former because I find many entries in the genre to be tedious and the latter because I haven’t gotten around to them yet. Good thing I get to kill two birds with one stone here as I guess even he couldn’t resist the allure of big box office gold with yet another zombie film! Then again, we’re kind of on the other side of the whole zombie craze, so maybe this is the PERFECT time for his indie sensibilities and surprisingly extensive connections to make the ultimate commentary on the modern interpretation of the genre! Or maybe it’s just a goofy comedy with the dude from Star Wars and Selena Gomez. The point is that you can never pin this guy down to just one thing, so it’s probably both at the same time. The REAL question though is whatever it ends up being, is it any good? Let’s find out!!
Police Chief Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) are living out their lives patrolling the small town of Centerville without much to worry about other than Hermit Bob (Tom Wait’s) possibly stealing chickens and the dead body in their police station that someone from the big city promises to pick up real soon. The town is filled with lots of colorful characters like Farmer Miller (Steve Buscemi) who’s a racist jerk, Hank Thompson (Danny Glover) who’s clearly getting too old for whatever it is that he does, and Bobby Wiggins (Caleb Landry Jones) who runs a really cool gas station filled with old school horror movie merchandise, and all of them certainly have their concerns about reports of the Earth being pushed off its orbit due to arctic fracking, but it’s not something they have much control over so they just keep doing what they’re doing. Sadly for the citizens of Centerville (except for Farmer Miller because screw that guy), the grave environmental catastrophes thousands of miles away seem to be having a global effect and the dead start to rise from their graves. Chief Robertson and Officer Peterson, along with the third and final cop in the town Officer Morrison (Chloë Sevigny) have to figure out the best course of action for dealing with this nonsense and they could use a little help from the new undertaker in town Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton) who seems to know her way around bladed weapons and might just have a plan for dealing with the undead rising from their graves. Can the cops as well as the rest of the citizens of Centerville survive this literal night of the living dead? What can be done even if they do survive it now that the Earth has changed its orbit and the moon is now glowing for some reason? What even was the last zombie movie I saw? Does Overlord count?
Avengers: Endgame and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
My displeasure of Infinity War is well documented in both my review and the follow up piece I did, so I was frankly not looking forward to this one. Still, the two films they’ve done since then, Ant-Man and The Wasp as well as Captain Marvel, were really great entries in the genre and confirmed that Marvel could still make a great film if they wanted to, and if nothing else it’ll be worth ripping off this Band-Aid once and for all and letting things get back on track before Thanos butting his ugly purple head in. So hey, if I HAVE to be here I might as well try and find something to enjoy about it! Is this the perfect conclusion to not just Infinity War but to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it currently exists, or does the first iteration of this franchise and these characters continue the utter disappointment from the LAST time we saw them? Let’s find out!!
After the events of Infinity War which (SPOILER ALERT) ended with Thanos (Josh Brolin snapping his fingers and wiping out half of all living creatures in the universe, the remaining Avengers are stuck in a world on the brink of collapsing and with no real way to fix things. I mean, they could go after Thanos and kick his head around a bit, especially now that Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is here to provide some cosmic backup, but would that even fix anything at this point? The real question is whether or not those people can be brought back, Thanos or not, and after some time with no ideas they get a visit from one of the lesser known among them Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) who might just have the answer they’re looking for what with his experiences in the Quantum Realm and all that entails. The remaining Avengers which include Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), uh… whatever name Rhodes is going under now (Don Cheadle), as well as honorary members Rocket (Bradly Cooper and Sean Gunn) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), and a barely held together Hawkeye (Jeremey Renner), now have a mission in place (and a rather odd one at that) to bring things back to the way they were before, but it’s incredibly risky and could actually make things worse if they DON’T succeed. At even less than half their usual strength since everyone is still dealing with the trauma of what happened can The Avengers manage to pull off one more spectacular feat of heroism against the one foe they couldn’t overcome? What dangers will they have to face along the way, and are all of them able to confront them with steadfast determination and the will necessary to succeed? If this IS gonna be the last one of THIS specific kind of Marvel movie… maybe we could get a Star Wars crossover? I mean it’s now or never, right?
Suspiria and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios
Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Look if the choice is between an Argento film getting a remake or Argento making another movie, let’s just say I know better than to ask for the latter. Yes, in our never ending quest to make sure every movie gets remade every thirty years (*cough* Pet Sematary *cough*), the Dario Argento classic is getting its chance at nice and shiny new version that if nothing else seems to have some serious talent backing it; not just with actors Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton as the leads, but the guy who directed Call Me By Your Name (a film I still haven’t gotten around to seeing) heading up this reinterpretation. Will this be even HALF as scary as the original film’s trailer with that super creepy skull reveal, or will all the talent in the world fail to capture what Argento did all those years ago? Let’s find out!!
The movie for the most part follows Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) who is a rather gifted dancer from the far off lands of the US Midwest and has moved to the Markos Dance Academy in 1977 West Berlin. It was rather fortuitous by the way that there was even an opening for her because one of the other dancers (Chloë Grace Moretz) JUST SO HAPPENED to “leave” the school and has “gone back home” despite none of her friends having no idea that she was doing that or even getting a phone number to reach her at. Yeah, it doesn’t take long to realize that suspicious things are going on behind the scenes, and while the movie is coy with details and specifics it definitely seems to be a bunch of witches running this school; not figuratively even though some of them can be quite unbearable, but in a very literal sense. It seems that the coven is in need of… a sacrifice I think and that Susie might just be the one they’re looking for; assuming they can manage not to screw this whole scheme up before she’s ready. Easier said than done I’m afraid because despite the presumed head witch Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) knowing just what is at stake if they act recklessly, the rest of them seem to have their own agendas that might just conflict with Blanc’s as well as the secretive Miss Markos (Tilda Swinton again) who we hear is quite eager to get this sacrifice ready to go. None of this is helped by the missing girl’s therapist Dr. Josef Klemperer (wait, that’s Tilda Swinton too!?) who is looking into the school to see if any of the girl’s claims about secret cults and magic powers might prove to have at least a shred of truth to them and if there was some foul play involved with her disappearance. Will Susie uncover the horrifying plot against her and find a way to escape such an unfortunate fate? Just what are the witches hoping to achieve with her, and is it in all of their best interests to play along with the scheme? No seriously, that’s Tilda Swinton as the old guy!? Why didn’t anyone tell me before I saw the movie!?
Doctor Strange and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Scott Derrickson
So on the one hand, I don’t’ really have any love for Doctor Strange as a character, and I’m still a bit salty that they didn’t cast Hugh Laurie in the role which I have been fan casting since the film first got announced all the way back in what, the beginning of phase two? On the other hand I’ve been a fan of C Robert Cargill as a film critic all the way back in the good ol’ days of Spill, so there is a part of me that wants this to succeed just because I like that ONE GUY. Then again it’s a Marvel movie, so it’s going to succeed anyway. LOOK! It’s complicated, alright!? I don’t put myself is some sort of cryogenic fridge between movies so my “precious objectivity” is working at peak efficiency! Actually, I should probably look into that and see if I can skip most of the next four years… ANYWAY! Does Doctor Strange deliver on all the weird fun that the trailers are promising, or is this another cookie cutter entry in the ever expanding Marvel canon? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is a world renounce Neurosurgeon with an ego the size of Hulk’s biceps and ends up smashing the hell out of his car while texting. Fortunately, the only part of his body that was harmed was his hands, but unfortunately he can’t be neurosurgeon if he can’t even pick up a pencil. Now instead of starting a diagnostics department and act super snarky to his subordinates, he instead blows his fortune trying to get his hands fixed to no avail while also pushing away his only real friend Christine (Rachel McAdams) due to his increasingly bitter outlook on life. His last resort is this temple in Kathmandu Nepal which healed someone else with even worse debilitating injuries and finds someone to take pity on him in the form of Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who takes him to see THE ANCIENT ONE (Tilda Swinton). She blows the puny human’s mind away with what can only be described as a drug trip, but I think the implication is that she just gave him a small taste of what the universe has to offer, and she begrudgingly takes him on as a disciple despite his arrogance and penchant for being whiney. Of course, there might be ANOTHER reason why she wants at least one more meat shield training at their monastery. You see, the LAST prized pupil of The Ancient One was some jerk named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who’s now trying to do some bad stuff and will probably be coming for her bald ass soon enough, so the more bodies on hand to absorb energy blasts, the better. Will Stephen Strange find what he is looking for in the teachings of the ancient one? What is Kaecilius after and why is he so pissed about everything? Seriously, what the hell were they smoking when they were making this?
Hail, Caesar! and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
Now that January is finally out of the way, we can get to the GOOD movies, right? Well… February isn’t exactly the best month for movies EITHER what with Valentine’s day being an invitation to release terrible rom coms, but then we ARE dealing with the Coen Brothers who have a pretty damn good track record when it comes to movies. Is this going to be another classic film in their catalogue, or is way below their usual standard of excellence and just be a decent film? Let’s find out!! The movie follows around Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) who is the head of Capitol Pictures and an all-around problem solver for everyone who works there. He makes sure the bills get paid and that the movies stay under budget, but he also pulls actors out of embarrassing situations, pays police to stay quiet, and that Capitol Pictures keeps a respectable image despite the chaos that is brought before him each and every day. The day that the film takes place on turns out to be an eventful one as Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) who is the star of the studio’s biggest film, Hail Caesar, has been kidnapped. Not only that, but another big star at the studio DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is having a baby out of wedlock which Eddie needs to find a way to cover up, and another one of the movies on the lot needs a lead actor but the only guy available is Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) who has only starred in cowboy pictures and they need him to somehow act in a classy movie about New York socialites. Will Eddie be able to deal with these problems and more as the day goes on? Will the world finally get an idea of just how mad the movie business is, or can Eddie keep everything on the down low despite several reports prying into the studio’s affairs? Do we get to see Josh Brolin slap the shit out of George Clooney!?