All posts by Zach A.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: NETFLIX’S MUDBOUND

Well, I think Netflix may have just officially entered the Academy Awards race with MUDBOUND. This movie is incredible. Punches you in the stomach multiple times for one hell of an emotional wallop. It is also one of the best films on race and class relations I’ve seen in the past decade, along with Detroit earlier this year. The film is a 2 hour and 15 minute slow burn yet it is still extremely entertaining (the fact that I couldn’t take my eyes away from it sitting on my couch at home says something) and it gives its audience a well-earned and incredible final act. This movie is required viewing I think by any movie lover. And you really don’t have any excuse not to see it. You can sit on your lazy ass and watch it at home. Don’t have Netflix? Borrow it from a friend weirdo.

MUDBOUND tells several stories but at the heart of all of it is two families, one white and one black, both living in the same region in the south. The husband of the white family has a younger brother off fighting in the sky in World War II, and the black family has a son that is fighting on the ground in tanks in World War II. Once the boys come home, the white soldier coming back with extreme PTSD, they strike up a unlikely friendship, much to the chagrin of the racist town folks and the racist father of the white soldier. The white husband also had a wife that may or may not have feelings for the younger brother as well. And the black soldier holds a secret from the war, something that would not be tolerated at all in the town that they live in.

This movie has perfect plot progression/storytelling/etc. You think the movie is about the husband and wife white family, then the movie switches on you and you think it is about the black family, and then it switches again and it is the relationship between the white younger brother and the black son, and then it switches again to the town and white father dealing with that relationship, all while being consistent and solid with tone and structure. It’s perfectly plotted and the transitions are masterful. The best part of the movie are obviously the conversations and friendship between the white younger brother and the black son, talking about their war experiences, and the shit they are having to go through when they come back from war. It’s very heartfelt, and comes to a conclusion you might not see coming.

It deals with race, class, bigotry, and family with a strong iron fist, not sugar coating anything for the sake of the audience. At the center of all the conflicts and hatred is a good message that doesn’t try and tack you on the head a thousand times with a hammer to try and get its point across. The acting here is also amazing, but if I had to pinpoint anyone, it would be Garrett Hedlund as the white younger brother soldier. This is his most shining role to date and I would be disappointed if he didn’t get a best supporting nomination out of this. Everyone else is fantastic here too, including Jason Clarke, Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, and even Jonathan Banks, but Hedlund shines every scene he is in. You feel his PTSD, his love for his friend, his heartache. Every time he is on screen is an experience.

The end of the film is what truly got me. Didn’t see what was coming and it hit me in the…how do people say it nowadays…the feels? It’s a fantastic ending, culminated in a near perfect picture that will definitely be re watched in the future. That is what I liked about this film. It isn’t too unwatchable and doesn’t play with your emotions with over the top torture and bloodshed that films like Detroit and 12 Years A Slave do. While it still doesn’t sugarcoat anything, it is a film that transcends¬† that uneasiness with a scene like that and structurally puts it into the film where you aren’t wincing and can’t wait for the scene to be over (even though there is one part like that, it actually doesn’t show too much, which I appreciated).

Conclusion: It’s simple, if you have Netflix or can get access to it, Mudbound is required viewing. It is one of the years best films and has to be seen to be believed how near perfect it is. The test for me with watching a film at home is if I’m distracted with other things on the internet or something else happening around the house. I just held my kid, he slept the entire time, and the 2 hours and 15 minutes completely blew by me. It is a experience that has to be seen to be believed, and one of the most important films of 2017. Steam it now damn it!

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI is not only one of the year’s best films, it deserves all the Oscar buzz and attention it is getting. It is an incredibly original film that makes you think, feel, and completely enthralling to watch. This feature film is Martin McDonough’s third (his other two are the incredible In Bruges, and the pretty good Seven Psychopaths) and he is still on a role. He takes his time writing and directing another film, and it is a tactic that a lot of filmmakers should follow (Tarantino does and we all knows how great his films are too). This is a movie that any film buff is required to see, as it is that rare form of art that gives so many messages across while doing it in a very unique way. I loved this film, and can’t wait to watch it again.

This movie has been marketed to hell, so if you haven’t seen a trailer you probably don’t go to the movies all that often. It is about a woman, played to perfection by the incredible Frances McDormand, who puts up three billboards that ask the local police why they haven’t done more to locate the perpetrator of her daughter’s rape and murder seven months prior. The billboards mainly out the town’s local sheriff, played by Woody Harrelson, who should have won an Academy Award by now, and the police department he works for. The town itself and everyone’s lives go into a tailspin after she puts up these billboards, with people dealing with racism, sexism, inner turmoil, and redemption. And I loved the films ending, as it doesn’t go the Hollywood route, and is the perfect amount of ambigiousness that motion pictures need more of nowadays.

I’ve already pinpointed Frances McDormand’s performance, but the other standout performance that is likely to also get a Oscar nomination is from the very underrated Sam Rockwell, who plays one of the police department’s racist cops. He is the most layered character in the film and his arc goes to places that not even the most qualified movie buff could predict. His performance and story will surprise you.

Although the trailer is comedic in tone, make no mistake, this is mainly a drama with moments of comedy (you don’t see all the comedy in the trailer thank God). And I love how the film really isn’t a who dun it as much as it is a character study of complicated people and why they do certain things. It is incredible. The films is about two hours and it flies by the seat of your pants, and you wish you could stay in these character’s lives just a little bit longer. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell are certainly my top choices to win Academy Awards this year, and if Dunkirk doesn’t win Best Picture, I wouldn’t mind if this one instead.

I’ve told you all to go see Coco this weekend and I remain true to that. Families should go see Coco, and more families that are in adult age that love movies should go see Three Billboards, especially if you are really into awards season as this will be nominated for a shit ton of things. In Bruges is still my favorite film of Martin McDonough even though this is more of a reward darling than that one was, but Three Billboards is still solid as a rock and a masterpiece of its own. I love original tales, and this movie is the reason why I still haven’t given up on originality in Hollywood. A spectacular film.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS is a very noble effort in trying to do something with A Christmas Carol that isn’t straight up remaking it, but still kind of is, and the result is okay…but still kind of boring. The mad rush energy you see in the marketing of this film, if you’ve watched the trailer, doesn’t translate to the screen, instead it is kind of a slow burn with a few little dashes of energy that are unfortunately short lived.

Although it is a little bit interesting how Dicken’s real life woe’s translated to him writing A Christmas Carol so well. And the acting by Dan Stevens (who ladies still swoon over) is quite good. For me though, like any other adaptation of A Christmas Carol (except for Scrooge, Bill Murray makes it completely re-watchable), this is a one and done affair, never to watch it again, but it doesn’t mean it was truly terrible.

I don’t need to explain much of the plot of this film. Charles Dickens has had a couple of flops and needs money fast. It is mid October and he thinks he can come up with a story about Christmas in 6 weeks to print and distribute. Trying to sort through his woes of past and present, he uses real life experiences to create the classic A Christmas Carol. And that’s about it, you get a retelling of A Christmas Carol in the process just in case the entire story isn’t already seeped into your head.

Dan Stevens (the Beast in the new live action Beauty and the Beast) saves this film from being a complete and entire bore. He is invested in playing Dickens and it shows that he wanted the role and knew that he was good at it. The acting is good all around, including Christopher Plummer, who probably should’ve played Scrooge instead of Jim Carrey in Robert Zemekick’s retelling motion capture film we got about a decade ago.

The direction is good and the screenplay is tight, I was just bored. It was just boring to me I think because I know the story like the back of my hand, and it didn’t add anything to make me perk up and stay awake. I would only recommend this movie if you are a die hard A Christmas Carol enthusiast and can’t wait to read it each and every Christmas. I’ve read a little background work on Dickens and it seemed like they didn’t pull any of his real life woe’s out of their ass, which is commendable, but I’m just tired of all the adaptations, I’m getting to the point where I’m about to say ba-humbug.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DISNEY/PIXAR’S COCO

At first what I thought was going to be a complete rip off of 2014’s The Book of Life, but instead of bullfighting it was replaced with musicians (spoiler alert: it’s not), DISNEY/PIXAR’S COCO surprised me. Not only is it easily the best animated film of 2017 (with some of the only other movies like Cars 3, Boss Baby, Lego Ninjago, was this really that hard of a category to win?) but it is also another Pixar masterpiece. I absolutely loved it and even had a lump in my throat at the end, which rarely happens to me anymore (yeah I know I mentioned it happened as well last week during Wonder, fuck you). It is the perfect family film that blends tradition, forgiveness, heritage, family, identity, and dreams into a story with heart that contains rich and vibrant animation. You can tell this movie was made with love and care, and it shows throughout the entire hour and 49 minutes.

The reason you might think this is a complete rip off of The Book of Life at first is because both movies deal with the Mexican holiday of Dia De Muertos (Day of the Dead) and while that one was bullfighting, this one deals with musicians. The Book of Life was ultimately a ho-hum affair, not even using original music (they sang recent hit songs) and the story completely diverts from the one Coco tries to tell and The Book of Life didn’t really earn my emotions, I found it to be quite…boring. But thankfully, Coco is the exact opposite. Really great original music, not boring in the slightest, earned laughs and earned heart. It tells the story of Miguel, who was born into a family of shoemakers because Miguel’s great great grandfather left the family to pursue a music career (guitarist, song writer and singer) and never came back. Well, Miguel has that talent, and wants to show it to the world despite his family not wanting any of the members having anything to do with music because of the asshole great great grandfather.

Miguel wants to play at a talent show contest on Dia De Muertos, and after his grandmother finds out his secret and bashes his guitar, he finds and tries to “borrow” a famous other one in the masoleum of a late great famous musician named Ernesto De La Cruz. When he strums the guitar though, he is literally taken to the Land of the Dead. I don’t want to say too much more about the plot to ruin it, other than he has until sunrise to find some sort of way out of the Land of the Dead or become a permanent resident. The last thing I’ll say is that he meets some old dead family members and a drifter named Hector. Trust me, there is much more to the story and a big twist I didn’t see coming (although I should have) until my wife whispered her hypothesis really quickly to me in my ear about halfway through the movie.

What I ultimately liked about this film, I read up on the history a little bit before watching it, is that one of the films writers, Adrian Molina, was upgraded to co-director because he knew a lot about Mexican traditions, Dia De Muertos, and other cultural things, and even did more research while making the movie, trying to perfect everything and not have made up things flying out of his ass. It shows here. Everything about this film shows that it was handled with extreme care. I looked up some of the Mexican traditions, and the traditions of Dia De Muertos after seeing the movie, and everything is dead on accurate. I appreciate that level of detail. Also, this movie is completely made up of Mexican actors and actresses for the voice talent, bringing even more of an authenticity to the project (unlike The Book of Life, who had um…Channing Tatum do a voice).

Another winning part of this film is the animation. The animation is top notch, making Cars 3 look like it was designed by monkeys with Windows ’95 (or was John Lasseter too busy to make the animation stand out and using his time trying to get “friendly hugs from women”? Too soon?). Wonderful vibrant colors, and an excellent attention to detail make this one of the Pixar films where you could watch it a million times and always discover something new. This is the perfect Thanksgiving/holiday movie. I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a film for everyone, and not meant to be seen alone. Take your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, kids, friends, I guarantee they will all enjoy it. I myself cannot wait to watch it again.

Mini Review of the animated short before Coco: OLAF’S FROZEN ADVENTURE

If you are one of those people that thought Frozen was highly overrated, this short probably will not change your mind. It is a longer short, running at about 10-15 minutes, and has Olaf running his snowy ass around town trying to find traditions for Elsa and Anna to celebrate on Christmas. I myself loved Frozen, and loved this little short, where the songs again are quite memorable and didn’t seem just thrown together. Would’ve preferred an original Pixar short though, but I’ll take what I can get.