We’re back with a few more movie reviews, and I’ve got to say that I’m starting to enjoy this format! I still get to watch the movies I want to, but now I can watch them on my own schedule and I keep things nice and succinct. The only problem is that I’m not getting these out in a timely manner, but relevance is overrated, am I right!? Anyway, let’s take a look at three movies that I’m sure you saw a while ago but are still interested to hear what some guy on the internet has to say about them! Let’s get started!!
Bullet Train is owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by David Leitch
A hapless assassin given the codename Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is on a very simple mission to retrieve a briefcase on a train heading to Kyoto. Naturally, these kinds of things never are that easy and he laments his bad luck while dodging other assassins on the train, and is haphazardly embroiled in a plot that is bigger than he could possibly imagine and seems to be heading in one very bloody direction.
I’m not a guy who will turn his nose up at over-the-top action spectacles or something that is intentionally cheesy and a movie like this should have been my jam by default, but even the best ingredients will go to waste if given to an untalented chef, and I just found this whole thing to be insufferable. It’s convoluted without being clever, smarmy without the charm to make up for it, and artificial to the point that nothing seems to actually matter. The only part of the movie that resonated with me was the relationship between Lemon and Tangerine as Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson had great chemistry and added some genuine heart to an otherwise insincere story, and while I feel like this is one of the most Monkeys’ Paw wishes imaginable, I’d kind of like to see what could be done with a spinoff focusing on them specifically. Andrew Koji also stands out from everything else with a very angry and desperate performance that’s still about as one-note as everything else in the movie, but at least it’s a different note being played and does a great job playing it. Everything else though is just laden with insufferable dialogue and compounding coincidences that just drain any investment you can have in the characters or the plot itself; especially our protagonist who is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. For that kind of story to work, it has to ultimately circle back around to them actually being the right person to be there, but that would require a level of emotional investment that this movie is just unwilling to extend and so Brad Pitt feels like as distant to the story as those of us sitting in the theater watching him awkwardly stumble his way through a place he doesn’t belong; like an uninvited party guest asking everyone where the bathroom is. With the threadbare story, the quip-tastic dialogue, and the general lack of impact or weight from any of the narrative beats, it falls somewhere between a Rick and Morty episode and one of those award show skits with a bunch of celebrities are comically inserted into another movie. If we take it on these terms, as little more than entertainment fluff with a bunch of famous people in it, does it manage to work? Sort of, I guess. It’s competent in its action and the actors are fine for what they’re asked to do, but it’s also not that inspiring or clever in its shallowness and I had my fill of everything it had to offer well before it got to its big cameos at the end. At best it’s a misguided attempt from Hollywood to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle magic of early Tarantino as well as the director’s own early success with John Wick, and at worst it’s the cinematic equivalent of Steve Buscemi in a backwards baseball cap asking his fellow kids how they are doing. It’s not without its charms, but why settle for the smoothed-over corporate version of stylized action shlock when the genuine article is easier to find than ever?
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios
Directed by Jason Woliner
Remember when Borat was a thing? I mean EVERYTHING feels longer ago these days, but that movie was a genuine phenomenon for a while there and launched Sacha Baron Cohen into stardom. Fourteen years later, he finally returns to the character and gives us the sequel that… well we REALLY haven’t been waiting for since Bruno was kind of the sequel already, but perhaps the sequel that we NEED right now considering everything that’s going on in the world. Will this movie be VERY NICE like the first one, or will it get old faster than when everyone was doing Borat impressions? Let’s find out!!
Fourteen years after the first film came out, we find Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) imprisoned in his country of Kazakhstan for bringing shame and ridicule to its people after being part of such a silly movie. His chance at redemption comes however when the Kazakhstani government decides to send a gift to the Great Leader Donald Trump and gives Borat the opportunity to deliver it to his best buddy Michael Pence while recording his journey. With his gray suit, well-trimmed mustache, and a heart full of dreams, he heads to America to await the President’s gift and then deliver it to DC. However, things go awry when the box arrives and inside he finds NOT Kazakhastan’s prized monkey named Johnny to gift to The Donald, but instead his daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) and a bunch of monkey bones. It seems that she wanted to join him on his journey and also got very hungry during the trip, so now Borat must find some other way to appease the Orange Leader. Upon realizing that the Cheeto in Chief likes young women, he decides to clean Tutar up and give her as a gift so she can become a princess like Melania Trump which Tutar is all for considering the alternative is to live her life in a cage; as is the Kazakhstani custom for women who are not married yet, and at fifteen years old she’s already over the hill! Will Borat make good on his promise to deliver his daughter to Mike Pence so his country can finally stop being the laughingstock of the world? What will Tutar learn about herself now that she’s in the land of the free and the home of the Whopper? Just how many douchebags did he beat off with a stick to get the shots he needed!?
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Marielle Heller
I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever actually sat through an entire episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and if I had it was WAY too long ago for me to remember, so while the guy has always been a presence in my life simply by way of cultural osmosis, I never really got to experience him the way that many other people did. The impact was always felt, especially when PBS and public television were still things before the rise of YouTube and streaming services, but what made the show work so well and what made Mr. Rogers such an enigmatic figure for many generations? Well I guess if I wanted to know the answer to those questions then there wouldn’t be a better time to do it then this brand new biopic, right? Well actually the documentary from last year would probably be the best bet which I still need to see at some point, but this movie is a decent runner up! Does it
You’ll be forgiven for thinking that this movie is mostly about Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), but ACTUALLY the movie is primarily focused with Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys); a writer for Esquire Magazine who’s been assigned to cover Mr. Rogers for a piece about heroes right at the time he’s dealing with some serious issues in his personal life. You see, Lloyd has spent the better part of his life avoiding his father Jerry (Chris Cooper) who did some really awful stuff in the past that Lloyd has had no reason to forgive, and yet his sister (Tammy Blanchard) gives him an opening back into their lives at her wedding which eventually leads to Lloyd’s wife Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson) wanting to make inroads with his as well; a movie that utterly baffles Lloyd and puts a serious strain on their relationship which was already under a great deal of stress as they just had a baby. All this is swirling around in his head which isn’t helping his lack of enthusiasm for writing a puff piece about a children’s entertainer, and yet something about Fred Rogers intrigues Lloyd; particularly the utter sincerity with which he approaches everything and everyone around him which is either a genuine extension of himself or possibly a mask for something much darker than anyone would have assumed from such a sweet man they see on television. Is there truly something there for Lloyd to uncover behind the kind face and the red sweaters? Will these interviews with such a noble seeming man perhaps give him some perspective on his own issues and how he’s been handling them up to this point? Most importantly of all, do we get any juicy behind the scene details on the set of the show!? Probably not, but we can always dream, right?
Toy Story 4 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pixar and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Josh Cooley
Sigh… I THOUGHT I WAS DONE!! I thought that after the third film we’d reached the perfect end point for this series, but instead of coming up with a new idea or even rebooting the franchise entirely, here we are again with the same cast, the same toys, and even more Randy Newman. I’ve been pretty down on Pixar recently with Incredibles 2 being a HUGE disappointment for me and being rather lukewarm on Inside Out, but they can still do great films like Coco when they put their mind to it and that fact only makes me even more tired that we’re dipping into the same well one more time. Who knows though, right? I mean, they managed to make Toy Story 2 one of the best sequels of all time and even made the third film a perfect closure for these characters and this world! Can they somehow pull it off a third time by making this beating of a dead horse not nearly as horrific as that metaphor implies? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the third film, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and all their pals (Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Don Rickles and Estelle Harris) are living with Bonnie and her toys (Kristen Schaal, Timothy Dalton, and Jeff Garlin); enjoying their new lease on life having avoided both the garbage dump and the day care of infinite horrors. Still, Woody isn’t quite as happy as the ending of the last movie would have indicated because he is no longer the top toy in the room which is led up by Dolly (Bonnie Hunt) instead. Feeling out of place and probably more than a little bored, he sneaks into Bonnie’s backpack for her first day of kindergarten orientation where he slyly helps Bonnie through the emotionally turmoil and even gets her to make a new toy out of trash and craft materials. The new toy named Forky (Tony Hale) does indeed come to life which comes to a surprise to Woody and everyone else, and what’s even MORE surprising for a kids movie is that this little bugger is determined to throw himself in the garbage because he’s aware he’s an unholy abomination unto the world and needs to return to the trash from whence he came! So the good news for Woody is that he now has a new lease on life being Bonnie’s protector by way of protecting Forky, but the bad news is that Forky turns out to be a HUGE handful and he manages to escape out the window during the family road trip. Woody goes after him, slowly trudges to the town the family is staying at, but as it would JUST SO HAPPEN, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) who went missing between Toy Story 2 and 3 is in this town as a lost toy; helping other lost toys find kids to play with in the park and living her life to the fullest as a STRONG INDEPENDENT badass! Seems like a perfect little reunion if it wasn’t for the fact that Forky is kidnapped by the EVIL Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) who is a doll in an antique store looking to replace her broken voice box and wants the one embedded in Woody’s toy guts. Can Woody and Bo save Forky from whatever maniacal machinations Gabby has in store for him? Will the rest of the toys be able to distract the family long enough so that Woody and Forky can return in one piece? Seriously, how has a porcelain doll managed to last this long out in the wilderness? Is she ACTUALLY made out of Adamantium!?
The Post and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Oh good! Now that it’s officially 2018, the rest of us can FINALLY see the best movies of 2017! Because THAT doesn’t seem like a backwards approach to releasing critically acclaimed films; ESPECIALLY ONES BY THE MOST FAMOUS DIRECTOR OF ALL TIME! Sigh… whatever. My feelings about theatrical release schedules aside, there’s been a lot of buzz about this movie being yet another Awards Darling what with the big name cast, the legendary director, and the timely subject matter given the political climate we are currently and TORTUROUSLY living under. That said, I’m not always the biggest fan of movies that seem so perfectly designed to soak up Oscars (*cough* The King’s Speech *cough*) and while I didn’t give it the most GLOWING review at the time, I do think that Spotlight is an unreasonably high bar for any film to try and reach which certainly seems to be the goal here given the topic at hand at hand the pedigree behind it. Then again, how can you go wrong with Spielberg? If your answer to that question is Hook by the way, you’re just flat out wrong. HOOK IS AWESOME!! Anyway, does Spielberg manage to eke out yet and another cinematic masterpiece to add to his collection, or is this simply relying on his name to sell it both at the box office and with critics? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows The Washing Post during the time The Pentagon Papers (a study of the likelihood of victory in Vietnam that indicated that the government knew there was no chance of winning yet still committed forces there anyway) were being released by The New York Times and Nixon’s Justice Department was doing what they could to stop it. Now The Washington Post wasn’t doing so well as its owner Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is seen as an ineffective leader for reasons that CLEARLY have very little to do with her actual abilities (I WONDER WHAT ELSE IT COULD BE!?) and was in the middle of trying to find outside investment when this all started to unfold. The editor in chief Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is itching to get his hands on some of the papers that The Times had gotten and were forced to stop publishing due to a federal court injunction (COMPLETELY unprecedented in American history), but even if he WERE to find the it’d be a huge risk for everyone involved; especially Miss Graham who has the most invested in the company. Eventually though, one of the assistant editors Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) manages to get his hands on not just the parts The Times obtained, but more or less the WHOLE damn report straight from the source itself Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys). With Ben having EXACTLY what he wants and a staff of likeminded reporters to back him up, it all comes down to Miss Graham to decide whether or not the risk of publishing these documents in her paper outweigh the potential good that having such documents out there will do for journalism and first amendment rights. Even then though, if they jump the gun and the Nixon Administration wins whatever court battle would certainly lie ahead, that could lead to an even WORSE seizure of unchecked executive power. Will Kay find a way to get the truth out there without losing everything else in the process? What can The Justice Department and Nixon do to this newspaper and its staff if these documents are released in spite of the injunction placed on The Times? The REAL question is, will this movie win MOST of the awards or ALL of the awards?
Unforgettable and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment and EuropaCorp
Directed by James Ponsoldt
So you’re telling me that there’s a movie with Emma Watson, John Boyega, Tom Hanks, AND Patton Oswalt!? This is either gonna be the greatest movie of all time, or a HUGE disaster if they managed to rope in THAT kind of cast for an EVIL GOOGLE movie! Now techno-thrillers aren’t always the easiest idea to sell considering how hard it is to truly capture something that the world interacts with on a very intrinsic level on a daily basis which runs the risk of not fully understanding the material that is being explored (*cough* The Lawnmower Man *cough*) and even ones that succeed in that still tend to have a rather short shelf life considering how quickly technology changes and therefore what we fear about them does to. Does The Circle manage to surpass expectations to become that one rare techno-thriller that ISN’T completely laughable, or is it yet another failed entry in the genre? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Mae Holland (Emma Watson) getting the chance to work in the Customer Service department of The Circle. What is The Circle? Well, it’s basically a social media account a la Facebook, but with a lot more functionalities tied to it… so basically a Google+ account if anyone actually gave a shit about those. The Circle is ALSO the gigantic facility where all the employees work and most of them end up sleeping, eating, socializing, and partying for months on end; barely getting a glimpse of the outside world from their little techno-paradise. They’re all led by their charismatic leader Steve Jobs… I mean Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), who drags them all into an auditorium every damn week to tell them what crazy idea they’ll be working on next with his second in command Tom Stenton (Patton Oswalt) standing off to the side and making sure everything goes according to plan. Now the longer Mae stays there, the more obvious that these people are acting just the TINIEST bit silly what with their undying devotion to the idea of THE CIRCLE (whatever the hell it’s supposed to represent) and them being one big interconnected community with no secrets. After all, if you know something, then why not post it for the world to see? She’s not the only one slightly skeptical about all this as some dude who just likes to hang out on the outskirts of the cool parties (John Boyega) also doesn’t trust what The Circle is up to, but then he doesn’t seem to be doing anything to stop it. Anyway, The Circle’s plans for world domination… I mean effective social media services, gets creepier and more invasive as time goes on; eventually sweeping Mae right in the middle of it as she soon becomes a spokesperson for The Circle and what it represents. Can Mae put an end to… whatever the hell The Circle is planning before it’s too late, or has she already drunken the Kool-Aid? Will John Boyega get to do anything in the movie, or is he basically just a cameo? Is there anyone less threatening than Tom Hanks, even when he’s trying to be a bad guy?
Inferno and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Ron Howard
Oh hey! I guess this is the reason Tom Hanks has been around so much recently! His recent Saturday Night Live appearance was absolutely fantastic and honestly just what we needed during this very stressful time of the year. Now I thought The Da Vinci Code was a decent enough film, and while I haven’t seen the sequel Angels and Demons, it’s mostly due to laziness rather than a real lack of desire to see the further adventures of Robert Langdon; especially considering that Ron Howard is still helming these things. Can they manage to make decent thriller out of yet another Dan Brown novel, or has this series already grown stale? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with good ol’ Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) waking up in a hospital in Florence with a bleeding skull and no memory of how he ended up there or what the hell he’s doing in Italy in the first place. He doesn’t have much time to figure out what happened though as within minutes of him waking up, he’s attacked by a rouge police officer and only manages to escape with the help of the on duty nurse Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones). It doesn’t take long after looking through his personal affects that he’s trying to solve some mystery left by Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) who’s some asshole tech billionaire (oxymoron, I know) who’s SO concerned about overpopulation that he creates this super virus that will kill half the Earth’s population and will be release on the world in twenty four hours and FOR SOME REASON left a series of clues to find the damn thing so that Langdon can Sienna can stop him. Of course, the reason why they have to follow the clues instead of getting Jack Bauer to beat the location out of him is because dumbass jumped off a tower and went splat after being chased by World Health Organization agent Christopher Bouchard (Omar Sy) who was trying to stop him. Of course, the World Health Organization is ALSO after Langdon for some reason that probably has to do with that block of time that he cannot remember. So not only does he have to run from renegade cops, but also from the WHO that I guess will only slow him down on his quest to find where the virus is and how it will be released upon mankind. Can Robert solve this mystery despite recently suffering a head injury, and are the answers locked up in his slowly recovering mind? Will the World Health Organization get its shit together long enough to be of some ACTUAL use in this situation rather than getting in Langdon’s way? What is it with rich assholes thinking they can kill their way to a better world!?
Sully and all the images you see in this review are owned by Miramax and Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Clint Eastwood
It has been a while since I’ve seen a Clint Eastwood movie. I’m pretty sure the last one I saw was Gran Torino which was pretty excellent and honestly a really good swansong for the ACTOR Clint Eastwood even if he’s continued to direct since then. Still, I definitely have some catching up to do here, and what better way to do so than with his new movie about his favorite subject? Heroic men doing awesome things and then people trying to punish them for it! Turn in your wings Sullenberger! YOU’RE OFF THE CASE!! Does this look into one of America’s modern folk heroes turn out to be another winner for the venerable director, or is Clint Eastwood just spinning his wheels at this point? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins a few days after the Miracle on the Hudson, where Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and his copilot Jeff Sliles (Aaron Eckhart) managed to not only land their plane that had blown BOTH engines into the Hudson River, but managed to do so without losing a single passenger! All’s good then, right? Well… there inevitably has to be an investigation to find out what exactly happened and if Sully endangered more people doing what he did rather than trying to head back to a nearby runway. Fair enough I guess, but compound that with the whole world staring at him while ALSO dealing with the Post Traumatic Stress of the crash itself, then you’ve got a recipe for a man about to snap under the pressure which won’t exactly help his case that he’s a trained and objective professional who’s decision to land in the Hudson was the best one. Can Sully convince the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) that he shouldn’t be shit canned for being a hero? Will he handle this immense pressure with grace and inhuman composure? Is the insurance company not gonna cover this!?
Bridge of Spies and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios and 20th Century Fox
Directed by Steven Spielberg
We’re well into the Oscar season by this point, but now it’s time for the BIG guns to strut their stuff, and you can’t get any bigger the Steven Spielberg!! It also seems that he’s found a niche that he’s starting to get comfortable with considering this is his second historical film based on a bunch of lawyers and politicians arguing during a very contentious time in our country’s history. Does Spielberg remind us once again why he’s one of Hollywood’s greatest living directors, or will this be one of those lesser films he makes that we’ll all forget about as soon as his next film is made? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins in 1957 with the arrest of Soviet Spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) and the media storm that surrounded it. When it comes time to actually try the bastard, the US government hires a law firm to represent Rudolf so that at least it can APPEAR to be a legit trial instead of a kangaroo court. Unfortunately for everyone, the man the law firm assigns to the case is James B Donovan (Tom Hanks) who actually believes in the constitution and won’t just let the legal system run all over this guy. For doing the right thing, he ends up drawing unwanted attention from hot heads looking to see some Soviet scumbag hang as well as the ire of the FBI who want him to tell them everything that Rudolph has said in their meetings which would obviously be a breach of attorney client privilege. While this is going on, we occasionally cut to Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stonewall) who is a US solider training to be a spy and will one day fly a stealth plane of USSR territories to take covert pictures. Will fate conspire to put him in a similar situation as Rudolph Abel finds himself now? What kinds of consequences will James incur for himself, his law firm, and his family for simply believing in and fighting for what the constitution guarantees? Just how many awards will Spielberg win for directing a period piece political thriller starring Tom Hanks!? Like… fifty?