Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ROMA (Netflix, no spoilers)

If you are a casual movie goer yet still keep up with the reward circuit, you might be wondering what this ROMA movie is that is being nominated for all these awards and how to watch it. If you have Netflix, well I have some good news for you, it just premiered on the service yesterday! And if you are a dummy and already knew that, yet spend the amount on one ticket to see it in a theater that would pay for one whole month for Netflix, well…I already called you a dummy didn’t I? Roma is a pretty good movie, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who has directed some great films such as Gravity, Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, and Y Tu Mama Tambien.

Apparently this movie has been a passion project for him for years and years. And you can tell that every bit of love from his heart went into making this. The movie is set in 1970 and shows the year in the life of a live in housekeeper that works for this middle class family with a bunch of kids that have a mother that is oblivious to her husband not wanting to be around anymore. It is called Roma because it is referring to the Colonia Roma district of the city. The film is subtitled and black and white, and it is one of the most gorgeous films of 2018.

The cinematogrphy and shots are crisp, vibrant, and sharp. Definitely wouldn’t have looked as great if it were in color. Cuaron uses real locations to pull the viewer into the movie with his visuals. A lot of the shots consist of the camera panning from left to right or right to left, with careful choreography that feels natural. All of the actresses/actors are complete unknowns, but even with kids playing a big part in it, everything feels real with real emotions. Cleo, the films protagonist, especially great, with parts of her journey I don’t want spoil here, emotional enough to make me almost shed a couple of tears.

IF you are an award watcher completest, Roma is a must see. It is a lengthy 2 hrs and 15 minutes, but it kept my attention throughout the whole thing, mainly because of the visuals. The best sequence has to be Cleo shopping in the middle of the Corpus Christi Massacre, the camera work alone should get Alfonso Cuaron some kind of Oscar this year. If you don’t like reading subtitles or don’t like black and white films (how could you), this might not be your cup of tea. I enjoyed it though, always enjoy great film making.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SPIDER-MAN INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (no spoilers)

I did a short review yesterday, let’s see if I can replicate it. Because to really dig into the plot of SPIDER-MAN INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is to reveal a lot of what happens in the movie, aka spoilers, and this movie is so much fun in the discovery of what is happening that I don’t want to do that. The teaser trailer to this almost a year ago we knew that the movie would be about Miles Morales and that he was talking to a Peter Parker. The newer trailers/tv spots let on to the fact that there was so much more going on, more Spider people, and I wish I hadn’t have seen them. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a bunch of cool surprises in the film, but if they would’ve kept the fact that there are multiple Spider people that don’t belong in Miles Morales world more of a secret, it may have even had the chance to be my favorite Spider-Man movie. But don’t worry, still love it and it is pretty damn close, probably just under Homecoming and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 for me.

And even with the multiple Spider people in the movie, the film manages never to lose focus of Miles Morales journey and doesn’t make the same some of the other Spider-Man movies have made, aka, too many villains, or in this case, too many heroes. And even though there are multiple villains in this as well, the film still manages to keep its perfect balance. That is a rare feat. You could say the main boss is Kingpin, with The Prowler, Scorpion, and one surprise villain I dare not reveal here being sidekicks, but even the Kingpin is subdued to a supporting role, his part not over staying its welcome. Story wise all you need to know is what the trailers have shown you. This story is an origin tale about Miles Morales becoming a Spider person, but sort of flips that origin tale on its head, by coming up with a unique story that involves other Spider people from other dimensions. I’m not going to reveal how Kingpin or any of the other bad guys are involved and not going to reveal how the dimensions collide in the first place.

It’s amazing given how many people there are in this movie, how every one gets a complete well rounded character arc, shit, even Aunt May. (well…I guess maybe except for Scorpion, but that’s okay, he didn’t need one). And it still gives room for Miles Morales to have the most beefed up character arc of all. Some parts of the movie are pretty emotional, and the story earns those emotions. The look of the movie is unique as well, and it makes me want to go back and possibly watch it in 3D. This is a comic book movie that actually looks and feels like you are reading/watching an actual comic book. The textures, style, and colors of the animation are vibrant and fantastic, something I have never seen before. The movie also works with the voice acting. Everyone does a fantastic job, but I have to give props to Nicholas Cage as Noir Spider-Man. Now I just want a movie with that character with Nicholas Cage reading beautiful dialogue to me for two hours.

Anyway, this is where I am going to cut it short. This movie is fantastic and deserves to be seen on the big screen, possibly maybe even in 3D. It’s a really fun journey, and there is no way they could’ve made a live action version of this story to make it work. Keep on with the Tom Holland MCU sequels, but I want sequels to this as well. Now, about whether your young kids, younger than 6 should see this or not. It’s rated PG, but that’s for the cartoon like violence and fighting. There is no language whatsoever in this. Word of warning, there are two pretty emotional Mufasa like deaths early on in the film (one closer to the middle) that could rattle them up. But the rest of the movie is light, action packed and fun. So if they are huge Spider-Man fans, even at like 4 or 5, they might really dig this movie, and are sure to dig it even more once they get older. This is a fantastic, awesome, spectacular, any phrase from any dimension you want to use to describe a fucking awesome Spider-Man movie. Oh, and stay after the credits for one of the funniest post credits scenes in Marvel history.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: AT ETERNITY’S GATE (spoilers for the life of Vincent Van Gogh and shit I guess)

I swear to God this review for AT ETERNITY’S GATE will be short. I swear. The only reason I saw this movie is because Willem Dafoe is up for a Golden Globe, its been said that he has a very high chance for a Oscar nom, and I heard it is his best performance to date. If all of us was given an actor’s name and had to name our top three favorite performances, and I was given Willem Dafoe, I would say Boondock Saints, The Florida Project, and definitely this film. This is some of his best work if not THE best. The movie itself is not a whole biography of Vincent Van Gogh (the title of the film is the title to one of his pieces of art work), just an “imagining” of the painter’s last mentally unstable and sort of psychotic years. Basically where he painted a shit load of painting in a short time period, cut off his ear due to the loss of a friendship with another famous painter (Paul Gauguin, played by Oscar Isaac), and then eventually shot himself? The question mark on that is because the movie imagines how he got shot in the stomach a different way other than that it is historically recorded that he shot himself due to his mental instability.

The movie is good. I would probably never watch it again, but it was good just by the fact that Willem Dafoe’s acting is incredible in it. If you look at the poster you’ll see other famous names such as Mads Mikkelsen, Rupert Friend and the previously mentioned Oscar Isaac, but going to the film for them would be a waste of time considering that all of them only have one or two short scenes. This is the Dafoe show, and he completely rocks the house. I did like the storytelling aspect as well, kind of imagining what Vincent Van Gogh was going through when he was in a mental institution and then just roaming around the country side drawing and painting. I like how it wasn’t a by the number biography of the end of his life. What I did like however was some of the aesthetic and weird camera choices. Some of the visual artistry in this film is simply beautiful, and then other times it seems like the director his having a stroke while holding the camera. Sometimes the shots had wayyyyyyy too much shaky cam at random intervals, sometimes the camera would travel weirdly and unpleasantly and too close to the other actors faces, and at one point some of the visuals are muddle because it seems like the camera cracked in half as the bottom have of some of the shots are blurry as fuck.

And I get that it was probably to represent Vincent Van Gogh’s frame of mind, but the inconsistency and awkward timing of those decisions kind of annoyed the fuck out of me. But if you are a Willem Dafoe fan, and I am, this is required viewing at least once. He’s incredible in it and if nominated for an Oscar, it will be well deserved. The film itself just doesn’t have any staying power to ever be mentioned again by me, other than a quick reference if someone asked me that 3 best performances question on Dafoe. Aka, wait until you can somehow see this for free. I did it, this is my shortest one in a long time, hooray!!!

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (no spoilers)

Just when I think a genre is dead, done and possibly gone, comes another movie that gives a nice little delightful spin on it, giving a few more steady miles out of a car that has been sputtering on fumes for years. In this case, its the zombie film. During the time where Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil franchise was beating a dead horse with sequel upon sequel of tiresome zombie antics, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead brought life back into the genre for a brief time, so did Shaun of the Dead, and so did AMC’s The Walking Dead and so on. The Walking Dead’s ratings have been slumping pretty bad these past couple of years, showing that maybe this way overdone set up has finally hit its peak (I missed the entire last season and haven’t watched any of this season, so I’m feeling the fatigue too. Now, while ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE didn’t pour a whole tank of gas into the genre car, it actually had me invested enough where I actually cared about some of its characters, looking forward to each step of the journey, and cared about the quality of songs.

Oh shit, that’s right, I forgot to mention HOW this movie reinvigorates the genre a little bit. This is actually a zombie Christmas musical. If you look really, really hard into this, its almost a complete re make of Shaun of the Dead, but with different characters and motivations, songs replacing Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg dialogue, and a school replacing the Winchester. Don’t worry, it’s not a total rip off, just some pretty noticeable similarities. They both play off the zombie genre to interesting results, and they both become semi-serious near the end of their run times. I am trying to do research on this movie, mainly trying to uncover how much this movie cost to make. Because during the whole thing, you can tell this was made on a next to nothing budget, and what is impressive about the whole thing is how much it works without any kind of money. Basically, the less it cost to make this thing, the more impressed I’m going to be when I find out.

But what clinches this movie in being the light delight that it is the songs themselves. The songs are 100% completely original, and two of them, Hollywood Ending and Soldier of War are so damn catchy they are still in my head a day later after viewing the movie. And you know my rule, not only one thing can make a movie, its got to be a combination of things. Thankfully, the songs aren’t the only things that work in the films favor. The movie has actual character development, and the movie does have a couple of minor shock/twists, where I didn’t see a couple of deaths coming where I actually got me a little sad we wouldn’t be seeing that character the rest of the movie anymore. Also in doing my research the cast actually sang the songs, it was a bit difficult because you can obviously tell in the movie that the songs were added post production and the actors are lip synching while dodging and diving zombies, but with the fact that they didn’t use other people’s voices I have to give them credit for. I do wish though that there was a zombie tale where a real human being didn’t end up being the tale’s ultimate bad guy/girl. Can’t just the threat of zombies be enough? (Now that I think about it, there wasn’t really an ultimate bad human in Shaun of the Dead, was there?) Thankfully though the bad guy/girl here plays it nice and just the right amount of over the top to be a little memorable, even if his/her evil song feels rushed and not quite so catchy.

The main star of the movie is obviously Anna played by Ella Hunt, who I haven’t seen in anything before this. She’s quite good, and I can see her going places if she picks the right projects in the future (this was definitely a good pick). Actually, all the acting all around is good. The only real complaint I have is that I wish this movie had quite a bigger budget going into production, because most of the zombie kills are extremely lacking, using fake blood CGI splurts and some of the hits happening off screen or away from the camera. And I understand you can only do so much with a next to nothing budget, so my complaint really isn’t warranted, especially when the make up to the zombies was actually better than it had any right to be. Imagine a movie like this with a $100 million budget. It could go to more locations, the song and dance numbers would be more epic and grand, maybe even making the story a little better than just being separated from parents and/or other friends and trying to get from location A to location B. But like I said, that isn’t the movies fault. I give credit where credit is due. They had a simple zombie story, turned it into a musical, and spent every penny of what they had with what they could afford. The films emotional beats worked, and when the movie went dark, it went dark. It is a crisp 92 minutes and doesn’t overstay its welcome. I’m glad that everyone in making this film ended up getting this a theatrical distribution, but I have a feeling it might’ve played a lot better if Netflix would’ve bought and premiered it on its streaming service, or if it premiered on another streaming service or went straight to VOD. There was only 5 other people in this large theater I was in and kind of felt sad for the movie. But after watching the two hour $150 million dollar shit fest that was Bumblebee, something simpler was just what I needed. I have a feeling this movie will catch on and become a cult classic in later years. It just needs time for people to discover it.

Just escape the cubicle already

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