Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: OVERLORD (no spoilers)

Out of all the wide releases this weekend, instead of seeing the umpteenth version of the Grinch or a unnecessary reboot of a Dragon Tattoo no one asked for, I decided to see J.J. Abram’s produced OVERLORD, which I think was once billed as being in the Cloverfield universe somehow, but really isn’t…it is it’s own unique picture. This is essentially a B-movie plot you’d find in a SciFi Channel Original or some straight to video schlock in a $5 discount bin, but with an A+ production value. What I’m meaning to say is that I enjoyed it quite a bit, and in parts even found it to be great and masterful. At points it even got to being in the realm of fucking badassdom. If I could compare it to another movie, I’d say look at what From Dusk Till Dawn accomplished. From Dust Till Dawn is essentially two movies. The first half of the film is a story of two criminal brothers on a killing/crime spree, and then at about the half way point, it’s a film about surviving the night by a group of vampires. This film starts out as a World War II gritty man on a mission film, and then about half way through…

Well, if you’ve seen the trailers, it looks like zombies right? Trust me when I saw there is a lot more too it than that and when they who, what, where, when, and how is explained, everything is much more satisfying than all the promotional material led you to believe. Some people are calling this is Tarantino remade Inglourious Basterds into a fucked up Sci-Fi B movie, and they happen to be way off. Tarantino has that edge of not taking his films too seriously (funny tidbit is that he wrote and co-starred in From Dusk Till Dawn), always winking at the camera every five or ten minutes. Overlord takes itself completely seriously. No nods or winks to the camera. No subtle dialogue inferring how ridiculous this all is. Completely serious. The first half of the movie completely works as a small scale yet large consequence little 4 man on a mission movie. The plot? To get to this church run by Nazi’s to take down the communication tower before D-Day. The film just starts you in the shit, with troopers about to jump off the plane right in the middle of chaos. No scenes of exposition before about how everyone got there (thank God), instead we just learn about the characters through their action in the film and through little breathing room bits of dialogue the film has (always a great film technique, exposition scenes should’ve died in the 90s).

Obviously what they find there isn’t all that its been cracked up to be. And that’s where I’ll leave it. Again, if you’ve seen the trailers and stuff, you’ve seen some pretty messed up horrific shit, but story wise you’ve only scratched the surface. And that’s where I in parts loved this film, it defies expectations in some areas. It defies expectations some in who lives and who dies. It defies expectations with Wyatt Russell’s (Kurt Russell’s son) Ford character, several times actually. It defies expectations with the “zombies.” The film does have some problems though, one of them being that the four war boys run into this French young woman that takes them in and hides them from the Germans and reveals that her aunt is very “sick” and to not go into her room. Ultimately, I thought this would have some huge payoff in the end but it doesn’t and is very anti-climatic what happens to her. Sometimes, specifically at the beginning, the film was really dark and it was hard at points to see what was going on. And some of the dialogue is a bit bland and choppy at times. But those are minor complaints with how much entertainment value this film has.

I will go even on the record saying that you might enjoy this even if you don’t like horror movies that much. The film is just a lot of fun even though it is completely taking itself seriously. There are a bunch of great other things in this film too. Wyatt Russell has never been better in a film (he is currently on AMC Lodge 49 and played Channing Tatum’s bromance in 22 Jump Street). With his performance here, I say if they ever want to reboot or do another true sequel to the “Escape From: films, that he could even take over his father’s role as Snake Plissken. The real main lead, played by Joven Adepo, is played with perfect innocence, doing what is morally right, until those situations come up where you just have to fight for your life. The young french woman, played by a newcomer, Mathilde Ollivier, plays that bad ass sassy no damsel in distress role perfectly, and John Magaro and Pilou Asbaek play a great comic relief and main bad guy respectively.

Oh, and the make up/CGI effects in this are just fucking amazing and killer. Wonderful job. I’m glad it wasn’t all CGI and I think it could’ve been distracting, instead it does a near perfect mixture, very nice to look at. The action is good, the last 25 minutes is just one big chase action set piece that was very well well directed. And I loved how the movie doesn’t end on how conventional action/horror movies would end. It’s just a very well made fun/serious film that has a lot of heart and originality. A breath of fresh air in a weekend full of umpteenth tries and reboots that I probably will not see in the theater (I had a ticket for Girl In The Spider’s Web on Friday, but returned it, as scathing reviews and my tiredness led me to choose some shut eye, I have no intention of rescheduling). So yeah, Overlord was pretty damn good. Not a masterpiece by any means, but I can see people discovering it at a later date and watching it over and over again. Check it out now if you can though, especially if you can think of a theater with really good sound.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? is a simple little true story criminal tale with career making performances from Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. I liked it. Go see it. Maybe a nomination or two. The End.

Just kidding. Sometimes simple is a little better and a little refreshing. The movie is based on the true story of autobiographical writer Lee Israel, who’s career was so short lived, she quickly ran out of money, and in the early 90s, decided to make forgeries of letters that were “written” by deceased authors and actors, and sold them for top dollar. When reading up on her she actually had a career before becoming an autobiographical writer, mainly being a freelance journalist for magazines and in 1960s and beyond. But the movie doesn’t touch on that, it focuses right as she decides to make forgeries for money.

The movie is very tight (perfect run time), entertaining, and I was surprised about how well the humor works in this movie. I laughed out loud quite a bit, specifically the parts where she monologues the forgeries she is writing. The film is very formulaic, so if there are any movie buffs out there that can’t stand that anymore and want to see something different, you might not want to check this out. It has the typical rise and fall plot + an epilogue redemption sort of thing. Very simple fare, but I feel that if the film is entertaining to boot and the performances are more than average, then those familiar beats can be forgiven.

And the performances are where it is at. This is easily Melissa McCarthy’s best performance. Ever. Yes, better than Bridesmaids. She is fantastic here and is able to use her comedic ability to her advantage and actually not try to just Adam Sandler up everything this time. She makes Lee Israel somewhat sort of a sympathetic character even though we really should have no sympathy for her. Whether she gets nominated or not Oscar wise just depends on the other performances that have yet to be released. In a saner Hollywood community, Richard E. Grant would be a shoo in for best supporting actor as a old gay, not friend, but aquaintance, that helps her sometimes with selling her forgeries. Their chemistry is wonderful, playing off of each other on screen.

So like this simple little movie, my review will be that simple. If I spoil any of the forgery fun then I should be put in movie jail. I enjoyed this little film and while I wouldn’t buy it, I think if I could it on television or Netflix sometime I would definitely watch it through. Completely recommend this if you are a Melissa McCarthy fan, but I swear if she puts her husband in one more film…yeah yeah it’s cute that they work together on everything, but like Adam Sandler’s friends, it’s starting to get a tad annoying.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

Unless Christian Bale blows everyone including me away as Dick Cheney in the film Vice that comes out late December, give the Best Actor Oscar to Rami Malek for BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Easily. Within the first five minutes of the movie, I no longer saw Rami Malek, I saw him as Freddie Mercury and couldn’t believe it was someone just playing a role anymore. I was speechless by the end of the film, and could’ve watched a whole different movie with him playing Freddy Mercury for another two hours (we’ll get to that later). The rest of the movie? It’s a standard, very, very fictionalized bio pic of Queen. It does nothing new on screen that you haven’t seen in a musical bio pic before. I’ve heard that a lot of what is on screen, either didn’t really happen, or is a bombastic take on what did really happen. And if you look on Rotten Tomatoes and see the semi-low score from critics, you’ll know that was really their chief complaint. But if you look at the box office, and the audience score on RT, you’ll know that people really didn’t give a shit whether it was fictionalized or not. Me? I’m somewhere in the middle. The movie is never ever boring, they certainly get the music right, and I consider it a privilege seeing Rami Malek’s tremendous work. However, I would now ask that some studio re hire Malek while he is still young looking, and get him to do a more serious bio pic, R-rated, more into the darkness of his life and soul that what I just saw in this.

I think a lot of people would agree with me that if you don’t know Queen, you don’t know music. Several of their songs are stamped into my memory so hard that every so often one of them gets stuck in my head for several days at a time. But if you want their real story, I would suggest watching interviews with the rest of the band, or people that were close to them, heck, maybe even their Wikipedia page, because I believe you will get more truth out of those articles and sound bites than you did in this film. I’m not going to do a full comparison on here, but it’s safe to say that a lot of the ways they came up with songs in the movie, didn’t happen the way you see it in this movie. And yes, I get that with a lot of true stories, filmmakers have to bombastically put fictionalized accounts in the film, because if they didn’t, the studios wouldn’t know how to market the movie, and the movie wouldn’t make any money. Case in point, this movie made $51 million this weekend and is the second highest musical bio pic opening weekend ever. What if a different movie was made, a more down to Earth version, hard Rated R, looking really deeply into Freddie Mercury’s troubled life? Would it have made more or even as much as this one did? I’m very highly doubting it.

What the studio probably should and could do now, but won’t, is have someone write a more personal Freddie Mercury bio pic now, Queen being still in it, but they take a back burner to Freddy Mercury’s homosexuality and AIDS battle, and yet still re cast Rami Malek in the role, and make a much much better thought provoking film than this one. They now have the foundation of the box office success of Bohemian Rhapsody to go on, and Malek’s fantastic performance. That won’t happen though, because the studio won’t want to take a risk with a R-rated more true story pic, and that is sad. That being said, this movie does have re watch value, but that is only because I could watch Rami Malek as Freddie for hours and never be bored, and it is fun listening to all of Queen’s hits over and over and over. How is everybody else’s acting compared to Rami Malek’s? The word I would use is serviceable but completely forgettable. Lucy Boyton (Sing Street) couldn’t been fantastic if she was feature in the film more. The only one memorable role would be that of Mike Myers as a fictional producer that doesn’t want to use Bohemian Rhapsody as Queen’s new featured single on their new album because “it’s too long and nobody will bang their heads to this song.” And the reason why this scene is memorable is just because it is Mike Myers winking to the fact that him and Garth head banged to Bohemian Rhapsody in Wayne’s World back in the early 90s and made the song even more popular than it already was.

The movie is colorful, vibrant, and yes, well directed by Bryan Singer even though the studio is trying to keep his name out of it as much as possible due to his aggressive behavior on set and those gay rape allegations from years ago. Other than Malek’s performance, the Live Aid performance at the very end, and the music, the movie is just standard and adds nothing new to bio pic genre or even film in general. It’s still memorable but on the cusp of being forgettable due to the fact that a lot of things are fictionalized. It does go over Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality and contracting AIDS, but it didn’t do it enough. There is different or another film in there somewhere, 30 minutes longer, with Malek still in the lead role, but more in depth with what was going on with him personally, a film that really got inside its head. This should’ve been that movie, so while I’m a little bit disappointed, I still got something special with Rami Malek. Sometimes you just have to accept the silver lining.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BEAUTIFUL BOY

BEAUTIFUL BOY has a strong second act that is unfortunately has a very uneven first act narrative lead in. It’s still a decent film, filled with great performances, especially Timothy Chalamet, who I think will definitely be a name you’ll see as a supporting actor nominee during this year’s Oscar’s. But there are plenty other drug addiction movies that are for more intricate and moving that are more worth your time *coughRequiemForADreamcough* but this isn’t a terrible film by any means, just really, really unfocused.

The problem with the first act/first half of the film is that it jumps around in time almost every two or three minutes, becoming very disjointed and hard to get into the characters or the seriousness of the story. I believe that if the movie started chronologically, and maybe a flashback or two near the very end of the film, the movie could’ve been masterful. Instead, the time jumps stop about half way into the film, and it is too little too late for the movies second half to complete earn the audiences emotional impact it is supposed to have.

The movie is based on memoirs by both a father and his son, that deal with his son’s meth addiction and how it affected not just him but everyone around them. The movie definitely made me want to read the memoirs, hoping that they had more focus and didn’t jump back and forth in time constantly and too much like this one did. I have a feeling their thoughts and feelings were better constructed and actually had a smoother flow in the books than this movie did.

I’m honestly surprised the studio on this film didn’t see the first cut of the film and asked that the director, Felix Van Groeningen, unscramble it all and come up with a better cut. I looked up this director to see if I’ve seen any of his other work, and I haven’t. Unfortunately I don’t know if this guy’s vision on this project will get him anywhere, as I feel that anybody could’ve directed this, as it seemed like just another “point and shoot” affair. Also, and this might be just a side nit pick here, but the musical choices at certain scenes during this film felt highly inappropriate and awful, not even nearly matching the drama unfolding onscreen.

It is the performances that elevate this movie from being just mediocre, to half way decent. Steve Carrell delivers another astonishing performance to his already luxurious career. And even though he has had stronger performances in other films, namely Foxcatcher and Little Miss Sunshine, he still proves that sometime in the future, with the right role, he might be an Oscar winner. It is last year’s Oscar nominee for Call Me By Your Name Timothy Chalamet who completely and utterly steals the show. He is amazing here and every scene he is in, no matter how jumbled up it was, he was utterly captivating. (side note: Amy Ryan play Steve Carrell’s ex wife and mother to Timothy Chalamet’s character, which took me out of the film a little bit, because I started imagining Michael Scott and Holly Flax’s marriage after Dunder Mifflin going extremely wrong)

Anyway, if you need a recent cautionary tale about drug/meth addiction, this is half way decent, and is worth watching just for Carrell’s and Chalamet’s performance. Maybe the first half of the film will not bother everybody. I’ve told all of you many a time again that I look too hard into these things. The jumping constantly back and forth and time and not having a solid narrative structure might be lost on most audiences, and they won’t care. Because if there is one thing to say about this movie, it is never boring, which can’t be said about a lot of the films I have seen in 2018.

Just escape the cubicle already

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