Category Archives: Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME is one of those films where I recognize everything about it that is making it special to audiences, critics, the Academy, and it is a actual decent one time watch, I personally would never watch it again. And it’s not the gay thing at all. Even though I feel awkward in the theater watching two men fall in love with more explicit sexual scenes than Brokeback Mountain had to offer, that’s not and will never be a reason why I personally hate or don’t care for a film. Like the Seinfeld episode, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” In fact the films paints a perfect picture between the love between two men in Italy in the 1980s. The dialogue and situations of the sexual frustrations between the two feel real and the film takes its time to develop them, much more than Brokeback Mountain ever did. And the movie has one of the most memorable finale dialogues I have ever heard. It’s just one of those films I don’t have any interest in ever watching again. You know what I’m talking about.

It’s not a meh film, or even a bleh film, it’s a “yeah that was interesting, ok, on to the next Oscar contender film!” The acting in this is incredible. Timothy Chalamet, Armie Hammer, and Michael Stuhlberg are all incredible in this film, especially Stuhlberg and his final dialogue while talking to his son on the couch at the end of the film. Also, the film captures the 80s and I assume it captures Italy at that time well (I’ve never been). The cinematography is actually quite beautiful and I thought it was interesting how director Luca Guadagnino filmed most of the movie with the camera wait high looking up at the actors. It worked and kept my attention throughout the entire thing.

The movie is about an American student (played by Armie Hammer) that stays with his professor and his family in Italy in 1982. Him and the 17 year old son (played by Timothy Chalamet) form a bond that turns out to be more than friendship. It explores this sexual angst to perfection. The film also hits the message really well how America didn’t tolerate homosexuality at the time (and lets face it, for some individuals, it never will), without hammering that message on the head. It was subtle, yet not too subtle for the viewer to not understand why some of the characters act and do some of the things that they do. The movie is about ten to fifteen minutes to long, a trip between the two boys feels sort of rushed and more of an after thought to add onto the film, when something else could’ve taken its place and been more needed. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. Their trip just feels choppy, choppy enough to have been almost cut completely.

But the film takes its time to establish the bond between the two men, and it does it masterfully well. More so than Brokeback Mountain, which I always felt their bond was a little forced to move the plot along. Just a word of warning, while this film is a lovely film about homosexual love, it is pretty specific with some of its scenes, and earns its R rating. I’m not saying to not see it if gay stuff bothers you, I’m saying you might want to watch out maybe seeing it with your entire family to not have an awkward drive home. More of a date or couple or lover film.

So this film is good and I am giving it a recommendation. A good recommendation. I just personally won’t watch it again, because I don’t need to. I got everything in one sitting and I don’t know if I would forget the film enough to deserve another. The film is worth seeing for the end speech by the boy’s father alone, and is the reason why Michael Stohlberg might get a nomination for that one scene alone. It is pretty powerful. This movie is for all mature adults out there looking for a good artsy fartsy film. It’s better than Brokeback Mountain, which I always thought was overrated.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DOWNSIZING

DOWNSIZING is another 2017 Oscar potential film that again doesn’t use its brilliant concept to its full potential. And yet its another film that the critics are wrong about during the holidays. It’s not as bad as critics are saying, not even close, but I’ll be the first to admit its a one time watch only, nothing more, and nothing less. But it features a very Oscar supporting performance nomination. But yet again, it’s supposed to be somewhat of a comedy and I only laughed really hard once and near the end. I think the problem that critics had with this movie is that they expected another Alexander Payne masterpiece and they didn’t get what they wanted under the tree.

Which you can’t expect that from every high profile filmmaker. Every single director, every single one, has a couple of misses as well as hits. Tarantino, Spielberg, Scott, Kubrick, all of them have a film or two that you probably wouldn’t want to revisit the rest of your life. So to expect the same kind of quality with every single of one their films and then bitch like little babies when it isn’t your way and even refuse to see the good in the film is ridiculous and your critic title should be completely stripped away. And Downsizing isn’t necessarily a misfire from Payne, it’s just not as good as his previous films, and that is ok.

And like I said in paragraph one, it doesn’t even get close to the full potential of its brilliant concept. Although I do admit that the story does go in a couple of places I didn’t expect. A scientist wants to find a solution to overpopulation and he finds a way to shrink people down to the size of your thumb, and they make a little giant city filled with these people to help the world not get over crowded and die so fast. Matt Damon plays a straight every day man that due to some financial woes, wants to shrink down because him and his wife’s financial problems will be solved (they say that their $112,000 that they have to their name translates to $12.5 million dollars in downsizing land). He does the shrinking process, but his wife, played by Kristen Wiig, abandons him at the last minute. Instead of a lavish lifestyle in downsizing land, he has to make due with a dead end job with customer service and living in a somewhat okay apartment complex. But an upstairs neighbor and one of the Vietnamese women that cleans the upstairs neighbors apartment enters his life, and things change forever.

The neighbor is played by Christoph Waltz, who basically plays himself in this, but the Vietnamese helper/cleaner lady is played by Hong Chau, who is so hilarious and great in this she is probably going to get that nomination for supporting actress and deservedly so. Her speech about “what kind of fuck you give” near the end of the movie was the only time I truly laughed out loud and had tears in my eyes with how funny it was. The true problem with the movie is that it bogs down in the environment/pollution/overcrowded/world is ending problem and why we suck as human beings, instead of showing a lot of ways why downsizing could solve everything. We see Matt Damon carrying a big rose at one point and we see giant crackers in a giant saltines package, but that’s about all the being small jokes we get in the film. Well this is a chuckle worthy explosion in the end but you’d think with a movie about being tiny there would be a shit tone of being tiny jokes. There are only a handful. Which is weird.

And the solution to all these world problems is downsizing, so why does the movie eventually come back to these problems near the halfway point in the film. I feel that the film could’ve went in another direction story wise and the end result would’ve been much better. The end is kind of cliched character decision wise, making the entire two hour and ten minute runtime kind of a mixed bag. I do give credit to Alexander Payne not going the sex joke route of being tiny, despite its R rating, but he could’ve given us more smart laughs instead of a couple of chuckles and one big guffaw at the end. But he had a good idea and the movie is very watchable, for one time at least. The real problem is that it could’ve been so much more, and with a filmmaker who has brought us that so much more before, it turned out a little disappointed. A solid effort, but it diminishes its returns pretty fast.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: PITCH PERFECT 3

I’ll aca-start this off by saying PITCH PERFECT 3 is easily the worst of the Pitch Perfect movies. Now to say I am not qualified to review these movies is heresay. I loved the first movie, loved it, and I think it is a classic in terms of those types of competition movies in the same group as Bring It On. The second movie was okay and sort of entertaining for the most part. But you can tell that the screenwriter of the first didn’t think there would ever be a sequel to this series and had no idea where to take the second one. But at least they came up with something realistic if not totally original. With this film, a 20 minute subplot completely fucks up everything. And the movie doesn’t even waste time hinting at the subplot. In fact, it’s so insane, it starts out with this utterly bombastic stupid subplot, goes to something that was actually quite creative story wise, and then goes back to the stupid subplot near the end. They had a 75 minute decent movie and ruined it by stretching it to 95 minutes.

I won’t spoil this subplot, but I will say it involves an actor I respect, John Lithgow. Now Lithgow is a utter genius in projects (see The Crown) but he also takes those paychecks (see Daddy’s Home 2), and this was clearly a paycheck gig. In fact, I wonder if he was working on Daddy’s Home and Universal walked over to that lot and offered him another million to do this stupid thing. What I liked about the Pitch Perfect movies, is that even though the Acapella Group contest was sort of a weird yet charming type competition movie, it was mostly all grounded in reality. This 20 minute subplot in this movie says, “fuck reality, we are Hollywood and have absolutely no ideas left. Let’s also put in the Fat Amy can do karate and shit!”

And its a shame because the rest of the movie isn’t that bad. The fact that all the Bellas are struggling with their jobs and want to do one last thing together is admirable, and really the only place the series could’ve gone. They get together to join a musical road/air show to support the military troops. In the middle of it they find out the sponsor, DJ Khaleed is going to pick one of the acts to start for him on his tour. The Bellas biggest competition is another girl band that uses instruments, is lead by Ruby Rose, and their band name is EverMoist. People that know me know that I hate the worst moist and every time it was said in this I almost started coughing (but I assure you that isn’t a reason why I didn’t like this movie). They have some funny and interesting little side competitions riffs and the music all the groups do and mix up is move in your seat worthy and nice to listen to.

And the conclusion of the girls normal life stories is nice and wraps everything up in a little bow. All the acting is the exact same from the first two. Anna Kendrick and all the other ladies, including Rebel Wilson, are still quirky and likable (the subplot doesn’t ruin Rebel Wilson’s charm, just the story). The only thing I didn’t like is that it ditches Anna Kendrick’s and Rebel Wilson’s love interests from the first two films in two lines of dialogue. I can’t stand when they do that but oh well, life isn’t perfect anyhow, so it’s forgivable. Hopefully everything being wrapped up means that their isn’t a fourth one. Because the movies are getting increasingly worse since the first. If that happens, you should know it is finally time to quit (although we’ll probably get some straight to video 4th involving none of the original actors and it will be like 5th graders doing it in elementary school). But I don’t normally count VOD sequels as true sequels, unless you are a Chucky film.

But the movie was completely ruined by the stupid John Lithgow subplot for me, and there is not way to look past it. It starts terribly at the beginning of the film, hints at it a couple of times throughout the film, and then ends even more terribly than when it started. I wonder with all these petitions for different cuts of films nowadays (like people wanting a Kevin Spacey cut of All The Money In The World or a Zach Snyder cut of Justice League) if we could get a new cut of Pitch Perfect 3 where its only 75 to 80 minutes. Who knows? I only know one truth: it’s time…for the Bellas…to end.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: I, TONYA

I do admit it, sometimes a little over hype is that one little factor that keeps a really good movie from being great. While watching I, TONYA, I knew I was watching a very good movie, but not a great one. And while I was watching I was trying to determine what it was. Usually if it is over hype, I will view the movie another time and form an opinion there. And I do believe it was a little over hype here. About 47%.  This film has gotten such stellar reviews and some even called it “the best of the year” and starring who I think career wise is already excellent and is still only at her beginning, I mean, who wouldn’t get excited? Don’t get me wrong, this is still a really great movie, but I was expecting a masterpiece, and unfortunately it just didn’t get there for me. I always have this feeling in the theater when something is absolutely masterful. I got it while watching The Wolf of Wall Street. I got it watching Pulp Fiction. I got it watching Inception. I’ve got it with dozens and dozens of movies. And just like this year, just like The Shape of Water and The Disaster Artist, wanting that feeling again, it just never showed up. Oh, and the skating effects were a little jarring to say the least, could’ve been polished up.

And while I do blame 47% on over hype, I do have to blame 47% on execution. The trailers and advertising for this film makes you believe that this film is based of the interviews and testimonies of Tonya Harding, her ex-husband, her mom, her bodyguard, and a couple of others, leading to conflicting events on who was really responsible and who really thought of the plan of the incident where someone was hired to bash Nancy Kerrigan’s knee/leg, giving Harding an advantage in the 1994 winter Olympics. The film starts out by people pointing fingers and saying that and this did and did not take place and taking several approaches to a couple of events. But about 30 minutes in, the movie stops that and kind of just straights shoots it, which was a little disappointing. I wanted it to keep going off the wall fucking bonkers, completely using the unreliable narrator device that this movie had locked up and ready to use.

I love the unreliable narrator device. I think that it is still a untapped resource in Hollywood films today and could still be used to make some pretty damn great entertainment. It works so well in The Usual Suspects and Gone Girl. And reading all about the Nancy Kerrigan incident, it seems like it could’ve been used to perfection here. I mean, with these colorful, weird, and sometimes out right nuts characters, could we really keep them at their word? The answer is a solid no. So why couldn’t the movie do that the entire 2 hour run time? It certainly had enough time to do events a couple of times over in different points of view to really confuse and confound the audience. Let them make the decision on whose to blame. But nope, 30 minutes in, it almost abandons that premise and tells a straight story. Now, I wouldn’t have minded it abandoning it, but it really needed to come back at the end, when the investigation with the incident was at its peak. Now THAT would’ve been an entertaining finale. But no, it just tells us and hints and some confusion, it doesn’t show us. And if you’ve remember my earlier reviews, you know how much I am a fan on showing rather than telling.

But it is still a really good movie. Let’s not get too far off track. I really liked it a lot and could watch it again in the future. And that is probably because of the performances. Margot Robbie, who should’ve gotten a Oscar nomination for The Wolf of Wall Street, is utterly fantastic here. She shows that she is young talent not to be messed with, and even though I do not think she will win the Oscar for her performance here, she is sure to win one in due time. She plays Tonya Harding with that grace she tried to show the people watching, with that underlying dangerous attitude she had to have because of her vicious mother. Which, by the way, I think you can give Allison Janney the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress here. She is downright despicable, but we can’t help but laugh at her disgusting and monstrous attitude. I have never seen Allison Janney better, she gives one of her finest performances here.

But the real MVP, that I’m really surprised doesn’t have much Oscar buzz, is the great Sebastian Stan, who plays Tonya Harding’s ex husband Jeff Gillooly. He is absolutely phenomenal here and steals every single scene he is in, even from right under Margot Robbie. His portrayal of Jeff as a bit of a love struck, dumb as nails, but as abusive as sin individual has that spark that I look for in a Academy Award worthy performance. I think people will look back, especially if he isn’t nominated this year, as the performance that makes him stand out above the rest. I know he is the Winter Soldier, but that role is fucking peanuts to this. This is master class in acting and in ten years, people will look back at his no nomination as a huge and unbelievable snub.

Also, as I mentioned above, the skating effects are pretty jarring and terrible. And that is the other 6%. If something (I don’t know how, I’m not a filmmaker) could’ve been done about that, it might’ve made the movie a little more presentable. But seeing Margot Robbie’s head basically just copied and pasted onto a profession skater double like a five year old would do with photoshop, is almost as bad as the fake baby in American Sniper. Maybe just, have someone skate and just not show her face next time. We don’t need close ups of Robbie skating, the movie isn’t exactly about her skating per say, it’s about her character, her life, and what she did/didn’t do.

So like The Disaster Artist and The Shape of Water, I, Tonya is a really good movie that is missing a couple of elements from being great. Some of it was over hype, some of it was the device that they only pulled the trigger half way on, some of it was the jarring skating effects. You might think differently than me, and I hope that you give this movie a shot if you’re interested, mainly because of the fantastic and masterful performances. But the next time they have a perfect opportunity to the perfect unreliable narrator story, they better just hold down their finger on the button, and never let up.