Category Archives: United States

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THOROUGHBREDS

What Anton Yelchin does in THOROUGHBREDS is amazing. In what is probably going to be his last theatrical release (he died in Summer 2016), he managed to take a very cookie cutter one dimensional character that was written a little half hazard on the script, and turn him into a full fledged supporting 3rd co-lead with multiple layers on the screen in the handful of scenes that he’s in. RIP Anton, your acting in this just proves that we truly lost a great talent not even in your prime. Anyway, for the rest of you reading this, there are 5 new movies coming out this weekend, including the high profile A Wrinkle In Time, which I’ll review Sunday, and this film is the ONLY film out of those getting good reviews, and it’s probably the film you are least likely to see because it is in limited theaters. That’s a shame. Because along with Date Night, Black Panther, and Annihilation, it’s one of the best of the year so far and is probably going to become a cult classic. Try as you might, unless you see this in theaters, you can’t say you were with it from the beginning if you don’t see it.

I loved this movie. It is basically, “what if Wes Anderson went really really fucking dark in one of his comedies, like darker than he’s ever been…although obviously not really directed by Wes Anderson.” It’s weird, it has those symmetrical shots (but not annoying so as Anderson always does it), it has witty dialogue, quirky characters, and insanely good acting. I can’t believe this was shot in 2016 right before Anton Yelchin died. Why did they hold it back so long? I understand maybe holding it because of Yelchin’s real life death however holding it for almost two years seems a bit overkill. It is really good and the studio should have more faith in it. If you have no idea what it is about, without spoiling anything, it involves two teen girls, one who doesn’t feel much of anything and has to fake her ways with emotions, played by Olivia Cooke, and one who feels everything and is trying to be friends with the other one, played by Ana Taylor Joy, plotting to kill Ana Taylor Joy’s stepdad. Anton Yelchin plays an older drug dealer that may or may not be part of the girls plans.

That’s all I’ll tell you. The genius of the film and of the script is how little it tell you till almost the very end of the film. Instead, it gives you context clues about the girls’ past to make you piece together what had happened before the events in the film take place. It was quite brilliant. My only complaint is that they shouldn’t have gave it to the audience near the end who couldn’t piece it together themselves, it really isn’t that difficult. The film is very witty, in that you have no idea and cannot predict how everything is going to turn out. You think it is going to go one way, it goes another, and then it does even another detour. I love the climax in this. LOVE it, I love the shots of it, the brilliance of the timing, the acting, the shock value, etc. I won’t obviously reveal what ultimately takes place, but everything about it is beautiful and perfect.

What more can I say about the dialogue in that although it feels true and sophisticated, it’s still witty and fun and it doesn’t try and play Juno on you. The acting in this already bumps it up a notch. Anton Yelchin isn’t in this as much as the two girls are, but whenever he is on screen, he is electrifying. He completely turns his drug dealer into a 3 dimensional character with his dialogue delivery and his facial ticks and body expressions. It was amazing. While I was listening to him give his dialogue, I was thinking, “damn, anyone else playing the role probably would’ve played it too straight for us to even get into the character.” He’s just that brilliant. But Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy are fantastic in this as well, especially Cooke. I always liked Cooke from Me, Earl, and The Dying Girl and can’t wait to see what she does as Parcival’s love interest in Ready Player One. The first time I aw Anya Taylor-Joy in anything was The Witch, which I didn’t particularly like. But after Split and this, she is really, really growing on me as an actress to look out for come awards time one day. Both of them.

You need to find the closest theater to you and see Thoroughbreds if you can. It’s a quirky cult classic in the making, reminding you of excellent ones such as Ghost World or Heathers while having a mind of its own and not being a copy cat. I really enjoyed my time with this one and I think with a little patience you will too. At least see it for Anton.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: RED SPARROW

As most of us can probably agree, any movie that Jennifer Lawrence makes has got to be better than mother!, it just has to. mother! is the end all, be all of bad films directed by a cry baby who gets mad every time someone doesn’t like his student film. Wait, wasn’t I reviewing RED SPARROW? Oh yes, well of course Red Sparrow is better than mother! In fact, Red Sparrow is actually pretty decent and yet again showcases how amazing it is that Jennifer Lawrence is this great at acting, dropped out of middle school, and didn’t even take acting lessons. Is it the end all be all of Russian/American tension spy flicks? No. Could you consider this just a Black Widow movie with a title. NO. I’m tired of people saying that too. Red Sparrow is its own thing, and it does it pretty well.

I’m disagreeing mostly with the critics on this one. I admit it is a little too long, as probably 30 minutes could’ve been cut from its 2 hr and 20 minute run time, but it has a solid story and will keep most of you guessing till the very end. I guessed how everything was going to play out 40 minutes in, but still had fun with the journey to get there. Some critics are claiming that the movie is really hard to follow. Yeah, only if you are not paying attention at all. For a quick synopsis for you, it is about a ballerina (Lawrence), after getting into a career ending leg injury, is recruited by her uncle into the Sparrow program, spies and agents that use their sexuality to get what they want. There is a mole in the Russian syndicate, and only an American CIA operative (Joel Egerton) knows who it is as he does a shit ton of drops with him. The American is the ex-ballerina’s target, but when the game of cat and mouse gets complicated, who is playing who, and what is the ultimate goal?

The movie is more sophisticated than that, but saying anything else would ruin anything. The great Jeremy Irons, and the always reliable Mary Louise Parker are involved and in this as well, and they are good with the very small and limited roles that they have. This is completely the Jennifer Lawrence show. She is almost in every scene, with yes, a heavy Russian accent that I didn’t mind and got quite used to fast, and she puts her acting chops to great use. I don’t think Jennifer Lawrence has ever really phoned in a performance, even with the terrible horror movie House At The End of The Street, and she was really the only good thing in mother!. There is never once where I’ve looked at one of her performance and have thought, “Yeah, that is just her playing herself.” She really is my favorite actress.

Also, Joel Egerton is always good and underrated in everything that I see him in. If you don’t really know who that is, he’s been in several things like Uncle Owen in the prequel Star Wars Trilogy, The Gift, and he played the cop orc in Bright.  Don’t be fooled by the marketing on this one either. This is not an action film. In fact it is closer to torture porn than it is an action film with some very cringe worthy scenes of knife stabbings and skin peelings. If those don’t float your boat then this movie might not be fore you. Director Francis Lawrence, who directed Jennifer in the last three Hunger Games films, has made a pretty film here too. The shots and cinematography are dark and somber and I liked watching how everything came together. It is definitely his best film since Catching Fire.

Well, nothing much left to say other than if you enjoy a decent spy flick that is light on the action but focuses more on the realism, you’ll like this one to. Is it one of the years best films at the end of 2018? Hardly. But there are much worse films to watch, and ones that will completely waste your time. This doesn’t waste your time, in my opinion.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DEATH WISH (2018)

You know what? I enjoyed the new remake of DEATH WISH. I also think it is Eli Roth’s best film. So sue me. And yes, I’ve seen all of Eli Roth’s films, and I’ve seen the original Death Wish and I’ve also seen The Brave One, which was a halfassed attempt at trying to say a movie was not a remake of Death Wish by giving it a different title and casting Jodie Foster in the vigilante role. And if you’ve read the original novel, you know that the original Death Wish isn’t even a faithful adaptation. I’m going to throw an even more controversial ember into this fire I’m creating. I don’t even think the original is that much of a classic outside of Charles Bronson’s performance. There I said it. In the original, *spoiler warning*, he doesn’t even go after or find the original killers that killed his wife and hurt his daughter. So needless to say, this Death Wish is completely different from both the novel, the original film, and the hidden remake of The Brave One. And this is the one I enjoyed the most.

And I know, most critics that have seen it haven’t enjoyed it, but I think that is mostly due to the fact that they think the film is ill timed, which it sort of is but that didn’t get in the way of my movie watching experience. The movie has a lot to say actually on how stupidly easy it is to buy a gun in America. One whole scene is a joke about it. And there is a shit load of gun violence, commentary on the police and their lack of response, commentary on being a vigilante, etc. And I know what happened three weeks ago and thinking about it saddens me but this movie was originally was supposed to be released in late November near Thanksgiving, but they moved it because that weekend was already overcrowded with 6 other films. This weekend its only competition is another R rated movie Red Sparrow (review on Sunday). So I pushed all that to the side, and let’s push that out of the way and get to my real review.

I thought the movie was a lot of fun, well directed by Roth, and Bruce Willis gives his best performance since Looper, basically because it looks like he actually wanted to film this. Bruce Willis breaks down in tears two to three times in this movie, with one emotional scene with Vincent O’Donofrio, who plays his brother, and I was mouthing, “Oh My God, is this what is feels like to watch Bruce Willis actually try giving a damn and acting?” He was quite good. At the beginning of the film, I was nervous because he seemed to be bringing with him his phoned in VOD performances of the last couple of years, but then once his family is gunned down his performance goes completely 180, and he actually plays a grieving widowed doctor with vengeance in his heart. I think that might have been director Eli Roth’s intention. Let’s make them think Bruce Willis will phone it in, and then about 20 minutes into the film punch them in the nuts. If that’s the case, it worked.

Seeing Bruce Willis be the good guy and take the law into his own hands and shoot and kill and cut open and torture really bad people was just fun to watch. Eli Roth knows his audience and who comes to see his films, so there is a little horror blood and gore here and there just to wink and satisfy his fans. A scene where Willis is cutting open a major nerve to torture a bad guy is very cringe worthy and hard to watch but the payoff visuals are beautiful. Eli Roth also directs a club shoot out really really well. It seems like he wanted to make this film and took his time actually planning what he was going to shoot and how to shoot it. Good for him. Because like I said earlier, it is easily his best film.

The acting is good all around. I already talked about Willis giving a wanting to be there and trying performance. Vincent O’Donofrio playing his brother was actually quite good here too and the best thing I’ve seen him in since Netflix’s The Punisher. Elizabeth Shue plays the scared and tortured and eventually killed (not a spoiler, it’s in the trailers) wife really well and the girl that plays the daughter is good in the scenes she is in. Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise play two detectives trying to help solve everything, and even though Norris gave off his Breaking Bad character vibe, he was still good to watch as well.

To me, even though I thought it was better, for those that hold the original near to their hearts, it is a harmless remake. It is completely different, and the only thing that stands the same between the two is Brosnan and Willis doing that finger pistol thing they do at the end of the films. This is a more personal movie as Willis is actually trying to find the people that did this to his family while also being a vigilante. It was different enough to be enjoyable. It isn’t one of the years best films, and won’t be by a long shot. Just a guilty pleasure, with much much worse films and much much worse remakes and reboots out there.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GAME NIGHT (no spoilers!)

Actor Jesse Plemmons is worth the price of admission alone for this, and he isn’t even a main character. Ah yes, now I finally get to review my favorite film of this past weekend, and favorite film so far this year (yes, that’s right, I liked this more than both Black Panther and Annihilation), GAME NIGHT. Game Night is hilariously wonderful and a completely entertaining comedy that is a laugh a riot from minute one all the way to its end credits. For any kind of comedy, that is a rare and major feat. Usually comedies will be hilarious for the first 30 minutes, get muddled in the middle, but have a hilarious conclusion. No, not this film. I laughed throughout the entire hour and 40 minutes and didn’t find any lag periods. This is a film I could watch over and over and over and over and over again and enjoy it each time.

From the writers of Horrible Bosses and the revamped Vacation movie, this is easily their best comedy effort so far (they sort of co wrote Spider-Man Homecoming but that is a different animal altogether). For this film, you have probably already seen the trailer to it, but if not, DO NOT WATCH IT. Just go see this film. The trailer doesn’t give most of the film away, as there are several really cool 3rd act surprises I wasn’t expecting, but not seeing the trailer may enhance your enjoyment. But for a quick little synopsis, it is about this couple, played by Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, that have a weekly game night that they host for friends. Jason Bateman’s brother, played by the great Kyle Chandler, comes into down and want’s to beef up Game Night. No boards, no dice, no pieces, someone from their group is going to be taken, and they have the night to solve it, and the winner gets his awesome new sporty classy vehicle that he drove to the get together.

Well, it turns out, everything is not what it seems, because right when the ‘someone’ is taken begins, something is off and weird, and the brother is trying to scream that “this isn’t part of the game.” And I am going to leave it there. All six of the players go on wacky side quests and adventures to find out what is really going on but trying to win the game at the same time. I would consider it a dark comedy, seeing that it goes in some violence and zany places at times, but not too dark, just that right amount to keep it from completely losing its audience. There are twists and turns and revelations, and all of it comes together in a nice and tight film that didn’t need any trimming or anything added onto it.

As for the acting, I know that Jason Bateman plays basically the same character in every film. He does have range, and if you watch projects such as Ozark, The Change Up, and The Gift, you’ll see that he is capable of playing somebody other than the dead pan normal everyday schemo. But I think he loves playing that guy and he does it so fucking well. As for Rachel McAdams, this is the best she has been since Spotlight and Mean Girls. She is fantastic in this and that is because it looks as if she is having so much fun making the film. Another great thing about this movie is that even though they are the two leads, the other four players in this movie get their moments and time to shine, giving them some pretty hilarious character arcs. New Girls’ Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury’s marriage is put to the test when she reveals during a drinking game that she may have slept with a celebrity when they were on a break before they got married. Billy Magnussen plays a tolken jock good looking blonde dummy that finally brings an older not dumb blonde not supermodel date, Sharon Horgan, that maybe give him a run for his own intelligence.

Everything in this comedy comes together so well. The zany, wacky adventures are just that, zany and wacky and fun. Like they are supposed to be in comedies. It didn’t feel that the filmmakers were trying too hard for genuine laughs, as about 95% of the jokes stick the landing, and even the 5% that aren’t are still chuckle worthy. The greatest thing in this film though is Jesse Plemmons (who you may know from Breaking Bad, Fargo Season 2, The Post, etc.), who plays a police officer neighbor to Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams’ married couple. He is so God damn creepy and awkward in this movie it is so pitch perfect, I will not tell you anything more about him so I don’t spoil any surprises, but needless to say, he is envious of Game Night ever since his wife left him and they don’t really invite him over anymore.

I loved this film. Love, love, love it, and can’t wait until it hits blu ray so I can watch it several more times. I really liked it that much and I may be over hyping it for you. But I don’t really give a shit. I really enjoyed myself and the sold out audience at my showing seemed to love it as well. Even the end credits are pretty enjoyable. The films has some pretty cool insane cameos as well. What’s really funny is that I know some people that actually have game night’s themselves. This movie seems to be better and funnier than the real thing. See this with anyone, it is a crowd pleasure to be sure.