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

Now before reading this and before balking at the fact that I consider BLACKKKLANSMAN to be Spike Lee’s best film…ever…just know that I have seen Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X, 25th Hour, He Got Game, Summer of Sam, Inside Man…I’ve seen most of his filmography, yes, even the very mediocre remake of Oldboy. I can 200% back up with all my film watching confidence in the world tell you that Blackkklansman is (my) favorite Spike Lee film. It is a masterpiece of epic proportions that make it required viewing in the times that we are living in today. It speaks to several layers of racism, media coverage, politics, and even employment all at once that makes up a remarkable, entertaining, shocking, thoughtful, and heartfelt true story. If this doesn’t come away with a couple of Oscars come Feb 2019, everyone should be ashamed of themselves.

Everything about this movie is special. From the hard hitting opening with a cameo by a very well known famous actor, to the gut punch of a ending stinger showing real life events of horrors we have to deal with today, to every grand thing in between, is masterful. The movie is based on a true story of Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in Colorado Springs, Colorado police department that successfully infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan. He does this by calling them himself and having his detective partner Flip (played by Adam Driver), do all the in person stuff. All the intricacies of how he does it and how he keeps it so long I’m going to let the movie show you, because the journey is the full ride. One could argue that Spike Lee’s films for the past decade have been mostly point and shoot films, with none of his signature style that he gave us in his early movies such as Do The Right Thing or Malcolm X. One could also argue those are the only movies we was allowed or hired to make so his heart wasn’t really in it. Well, please welcome Spike Lee back into the fold. His direction here is flawless. You can tell his heart and soul was completely in this picture. He has some of his signature style mixed in with some new ultra cool shots that reminded me of the great blaxploitation films of the 70’s, they even mention a couple such as Shaft and Superfly.

I also loved how the movie didn’t just go right into Ron Stallworth infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. The film starts as a slow burn that just keeps escalating and escalating until the fantastic finally where everything was paid off. They start off Ron going undercover at a Black Panthers meeting where actor Cory Hawkins speech as Kwame Ture is breathtaking and powerful. Ron Stallworth also has a love interest in the movie played by Spider-Man Homecoming’s Laura Harrier. And their relationship in the film is one of the best romantic subplots I have seen so far in films of 2018. It naturally progresses and it felt real, not manufactured or rushed. Interestingly enough, I can’t fail to mention that Ron Stallworth is played by Denzel Washington’s son (yes, THAT DENZEL) John David Washington. Evidentally, his son obviously inherited some of his father’s acting chops, because he is incredible in this. Heck, everyone is incredible. You don’t think Adam Driver can act? Compare his performances in this and the Last Jedi, if that doesn’t prove this guy can act, I don’t know what will for you. He is great as Stallworth’s Jewish detective partner and their chemistry shines.

Heck, Topher Grace, who I think is an absolutely terrible one note actor, gives the best performance of his career as David Duke (real life ‘grand wizard’ of the Klu Klux Klan). They show a little clip at the end of the film of the real David Duke, and my God did Topher do his homework to actually portray this weird and awful individual. Another individual that you probably hadn’t heard of because his career is mostly in Finnish movies, and he just broke out here in America with the show Vikings is Jasper Pääkkönen, who plays Felix Kendrickson, a very nasty racist who tries to prove that Flip isn’t who he says he is the entire film.

This movie is powerful and easily one of the best of the year. And again, in my opinion, I think this is Spike Lee’s best film. He took the time, passion, and love, pouring his blood, sweat, soul, and tears into this film, and it completely pays off. Its message is powerful, the story is amazing, it walks that fine line between comedy, dark comedy, and drama, and is entertaining the entire run time. Come nomination time, this movies title will probably be said over and over again. In fact, if it doesn’t, there may be some serious backlash towards the Academy. It really is a near perfect film. Please check it out, it is vitally important that you do.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE MEG (no spoilers)

There is enough evidence to support the on going (probably now scientific) fact that there will never be a shark attack/thriller movie as masterful or better than Jaws. You know that meme of that guy with the table sipping coffee, with a sign in front that says, “blah blah blah is better/the best/equal to blah blah blah, change my mind?” Jaws can easily be on that sign, and I don’t think one person could come to the table and argue against it. Jaws itself had a awful production history if you look into it, the studio and even Spielberg himself worried it was going to be a disaster. You know how you don’t really get that many good looks at the shark, which turned the film into a “getting scared of the unknown rather than the known” type situation? That wasn’t supposed to happen. You were almost always supposed to see the shark. Well, now we have the technology to show the shark. Deep Blue Sea was one of the first movies to attempt using Hollywood’s upgraded technology to do another shark attack movie. And you have to give Renny Harlin and the screenwriters some balls for not just simply trying to remake Jaws. No, the story was self contained and tried to make the sharks smart and shit. The result? A movie I remember my dad taking me too when I was only the age of 13, and me loving every single damn minute of it. Watching it years later, to me, a lot of it still holds up. Mostly the animatronics, the acting, direction, shots, and mood hold up. The shark SFX do not. But honestly, that movie will always be remembered for Samuel L. Jackson’s mid movie speech alone. And isn’t that the points of most movies is? To be remembered?

Fuck, I haven’t even gotten to my review of THE MEG have I? Fear not, I am trying to make a point. With Jaws, being the masterpiece, and I had seen Jaws before Deep Blue Sea, when going into that theater with my father, I knew that I needed to shut my brain off to probably enjoy it. As a rule of a cinematic lovers thumb, in my book, a rule of a marathon of movies is 3 related but not directly related (aka sequels) together back to back to back, pauses for peeing and eating (although if you are smart enough you don’t even need those breaks).To look at the other side, a directly related marathon consists of 4 movies that are all sequels, prequels, what have you together. You could have a zombie marathon consisting of Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead, and Shaun of the Dead. A Swarzanegger marathon of Running Man, True Lies, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Alas, I have never had a shark marathon. It’s always just been a double feature consisting of Jaws and then Deep Blue Sea, or vise versa, depending on the mood. It’s true that I haven’t seen every single shark film, and if I would’ve pursue it I couldn’t found a different one that I liked. But I can’t stand Sharknado, Sharktopus, Open Water, Shark’s Tale, 47 Meters Down. I think the closest it has ever gotten has been Blake Lively in The Shallows, but the movie takes itself so seriously that when the ending is unapologetically goofy and physics wise doesn’t make sense, it ruined all that came before.

With The Meg, I finally have my shark attack marathon that I’ve been desperately wanting since 1999. As with Deep Blue Sea, The Meg mostly plays it straight although at points walks that fine line of sillyness (but doesn’t get to the extremes of any terrible SciFi made for television movie). Some of the SFX are fantastic while some aren’t as precise as if there was maybe a little more time spent on them. But the acting is very well done, especially from our always reliable go to tough man Mr. Jason Statham. I’m warning you though, if you go into this expecting Jaws like epic storytelling, just don’t go in. Turning off your brain during this is a must to enjoy, but enjoy it you will if you do.

I loved that the movie, like Jaws, took its time when showing the massive prehistoric shark and even after it is revealed doesn’t go all George Lucas Episode 1 filling it in the frame the entire time. The movie actually cares about its story, and only shows or brings back the shark when it serves it, nothing too obligatory (that stood out in my mind). The movie even had the balls to bring about a mid act twist that you can completely see coming if you ever saw the movie Lake Placid.

Jason Statham is of course perfect for his tough guy role and BingBing Lee is good (even though their relationship and chemistry seems a little force), and everybody else in the film, even Dwight Schrute himself Rainn Wilson, all get their moments to shine, although one of the best parts and jobs done in the film was Masi Oka (Hiro from Heroes) small part in the film.

Just like Deep Blue Sea, this movie is a blast seeing it with friends or family. It is also one of those films that when it hits home video you should see it with a group of people, point laugh, make fun of it, or get jumpy. It gets that good feeling late summer tone just right. If I had any complaints, is that is wish the movie would’ve doubled down on its box office bet and had just shot and kept it for an R rating. I have a feeling the R rating (with gratiouitous gore and Statham cursing a whole lot more) could’ve made the movie even better and more of a blast, where it could’ve even gotten close to my love of Deep Blue Sea territory. Also, the consistency with the size of the shark with each shot I would say is off but considering that we are dealing with SFX here, it’s very minor.

So, if you love Jaws and Deep Blue Sea and have been clamoring for that shark attack flick itch since 1999 (or if you hate Deep Blue Sea, totally understandable, and you’ve been waiting since 1975), The Meg should fit that bill. Go into it with low expectations and turn off your brain and I guarantee you won’t be turned off.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: EIGHTH GRADE (no spoilers)

Hopefully, we’ll see, this is going to be one of my shorter reviews because really even saying anything that happens in EIGHTH GRADE is a bit of a spoiler. Because the movie is a very tight and lean 90 minutes, and when looking back at the trailer, I feel that even it gives too much away. All you really need to know about this movie, is that its about a girl named Kayla that is one week from finishing eighth grade, that star Elsie Fisher (she’s not really a newcomer, she’s been in a couple of things and is the voice of Agnes in the Despicable Me movies) is a revelation, and that stand up comedian/actor Bo Burnham wrote and directed this. Yes, THAT Bo Burnham. The one that does all those jokes and shit while playing the piano. He was also recently in Rough Night and The Big Sick. His debut here is nothing short of astonishing.

Eighth Grade perfectly captures and depicts the school experience the most realistically that I have seen in any school film/television show/entertainment format that I can remember. Yes, even more realistic that 13 Reasons Why. And the realistic aspect that 13 Reasons Why even captured in Season 1 was almost completely thrown out the window in season 2. The entire time watching this film I was taken back to my very awkward and embarrassing middle school years. This film hit every right note I can think of to that experience, and it even goes one further and enhances it to our more tumultuous times as of recently, including sexual harassment and extreme bullying. I don’t know what actress Elsie Fisher is like in real life, but in this, she is extraordinary. I really don’t think she is playing herself, and if she isn’t, she is that good. Every like, uh, stumble in her speech felt completely real, that by near when the 90 minutes are over, when her and her dad are having what is basically a fire side chat, I had a lump in my throat, because I really felt for her character of Kayla.

Also, the father, played by Josh Hamilton (not of Texas Ranger fame), is also fantastic as the dad. His reactions and his speeches to his daughter felt so real and honest that he almost, ALMOST, pushed that lump in my throat to tears streaming down my face. This movie is fantastic, and if you haven’t heard of it (although that would be weird, it is being heavily marketed as the independent film of the summer), you need to skip watching the trailer and just find a movie theater near you that is playing it and trust me on this. It is better than seeing shitty unrealistic drivel and shit like The Spy Who Dumped Me. Bo Burnham’s eye for the camera and the dialogue in his script are breathtaking, and if he has to take a break from acting or doing his stand up routine to give us more films like this, I’ll embrace it with open arms.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME (no spoilers, sneak preview)

THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME really comes out this coming Friday, August 3rd, but it had a nationwide sneak preview Friday night. Sneak previews like this always mean one of two things. Either the movie is really really really good, but they don’t think the general public will be interested in it, so a sneak preview allows them to get some advanced word of mouth…or…the movie is so fucking bad that they hope the modern audience members who don’t know any better laugh at the stupid shit that might as well been written by immature 17 year old and then will falsely spread a false good of mouth to other modern audience members who don’t know any better, getting trapped in the mediocrity. So, if my second explanation on the “sneak preview” is longer than the first, where do you think my opinion lies? In reality, there is a secret option C that combines explanation #2 with the fact that one of the best films of the year to also out this weekend is also in the spy genre. So anybody seeing Fallout Thursday night or Friday during the day, needing more of a spy genre fix, go and see the sneak preview. Boy…how much of a mistake my wife and I made with that decision?

Mission Impossible Fallout is one of the best films of the year. The Spy Who Dumped Me is one of the worst. It is a hour and a half of unfunny stupid scenes upon really unfunny stupid scenes that basically just contain Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon screaming in a bunch of different weird ways, hoping one of them will make you laugh if they add the sentence, “what the fuck is going on?!” If you thought Kate McKinnon was weird in the Ghostbusters reboot/remake or unbearable in Rough Night, she takes the cake in this movie, and is the most Godly unfunny annoying character she has ever been. I’m wondering if she is really only funny on Saturday Night Live, and everything else she is in you kind of just want to chop your ears off and stab your eyes out. Even in the new episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, she doesn’t seem like she has an off switch, and was painfully unfunny in that as well. I still think she is very deserving of those Emmy’s she has won for SNL, and I find her funny and delightful on that show, so maybe it is just that the material on SNL is better than anything she has done so far movie wise, but she’s getting awfully close to how sick I was of Melissa McCarthy in the few projects she had after Bridesmaids.

In fact, speaking of Melissa McCarthy, this movie tries so hard to be Paul Feig’s SPY, but doesn’t even come close to any of the laughs that film had to offer. The movie is about Mila Kunis, who gets dumped by Justin Theroux, and her best friend Kate McKinnon tries to console her, so they decide to burn his personal items left over at her place. He is involved in this really dumb and terribly shot opening action sequence, and when he gets the text that she’s burning his shit, he calls her telling her not to (mainly because that McGuffin is one of those items), and he’ll come back and apologize and explain everything Two CIA agents, one played by that main guy from Outlander, explaining that he is a spy and he is involved on a dangerous mission and bad guys might be after her to. Then the bad guys do come after her, and both her and her friend are internationally on the run. Yada yada yada, Gillian Anderson is wasted as the CIA boss, yada yada yada, can’t trust anyone, yada yada yada, terrible fucking third act.

The plot is so stupid, and it seems like the writers of this and Skyscraper teamed up and somehow came up with the exact same ultimate McGuffin, both contained on a thumb drive. Only this movie tries to be funny and have the thumb drive being shoved up both of their vaginas to keep it away from the bad guys. Are we not past shoving shit up the butt and vagina jokes? The last funny one was maybe Girl’s Trip and only God knows the funny one before that. The movie is rated R, but honestly would have had the exact same effect if it were PG-13, and all of the F words were taken out and it didn’t show a really stupid sight gag of a male characters dick and balls. The exact same effect being not funny. Everything in the movie is highly predictable, and every single character in the movie is really really dumb and stupid.

Mila Kunis doesn’t play anyone new either, she’s as if Jackie from That 70s show was thrown in a shitty R rated comedy. Please for the love of God skip this movie when it comes out August 3rd. I normally am a wannabe critic that says to please still see whatever you want even if I give it a bad review, but like this year’s A Wrinkle In Time, this is just so bad that I can’t do that this time. If you were really looking forward to it and still really want to see it, wait for a Netflix drop of it or until it is rentable for only $1. You’ll only find this funny if you thought that I Feel Pretty or Life of the Party was funny. Just really unfunny writing, with unfunny performances, with people trying to scream at each other for laughs. Forget about having to dump this film, this wouldn’t even get a 2nd date.

Just escape the cubicle already

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