Category Archives: United States

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FLOWER (currently on disc and VOD)

So a little earlier this year I won…several signed posters of this movie FLOWER, signed and starring the incredible hot Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy, Set It Up, Why Him?, Before I Fall) and signed and directed by Fonzie’s son Winkler. At the time Flower was a very independent independent movie still in theaters, and it never broke out enough to warrant a Cinemark, AMC, or Alamo Drafthouse theatrical release, and instead stayed at the Angelika and so forth, and wasn’t really there long (psst, your independent film probably won’t get far if it is 53% on Rotten Tomatoes). Anyway, I really wanted the poster because I really wanted Zoey Deutch signature, but wasn’t going to make any real effort to see it in theaters unless I could get a visit credit or points for it at my local theater. Well, it came straight to VOD pretty fast, and since I had some credit on VUDU and the film was extremely cheap, I just bought it for about $3 bucks out of my pocket.

The result? Not bad. I don’t think it deserves in the 50’s on Rotten Tomatoes, but definitely somewhere mid 60s. The movie is a short 95 minutes, but I feel like maybe some of the relationships weren’t fully developed and the payoff at the end didn’t exactly well, pay off. Let me try to describe to you what it is about without getting into a late in the game last act dark twist that makes the film worth watching at least once. 17 year old Erica (Zoey Deutch) loves giving blowjobs. Yep, and she loves it so much that she gives them to way over-aged males, has her friends film the aftermath, and then extorts them for money/drugs so she won’t tell on them. Her dad is currently in jail and her mom has had many boyfriends, but it looks like this new one will stick, and along with him comes a mentally unstable future 18 year old stepbrother that is about an inch away from a complete and total meltdown. He reveals that he was sexually molested by a teacher in middle school and reveals that person to be a man named Will, a older man that Erica happens to have a crush on and sees at the bowling alley with her friends every time she goes.

And that is where I will stop. What the movie tries to do, which involves the payoff, makes the story seems like it is going to be about the relationship between Erica and her stepbrother. And some of it is, but I didn’t feel there was enough of a development for the ending that we get. Instead, I think the story focuses a little too much on Will and the molestation thing with the stepbrother. Especially when the dark twist hits, it completely takes away from Erica and the Stepbrother’s relationship for 10 minutes, and then realizes it got off track and just forces it and rams it down our throats in the last 15 minutes of the film. The dark twist was good, but there were too many distractions from plot point A. Part of the distractions is her friends that film the blowjob stuff and then try to join in on the plot point B storyline involving Will. I think that if you had cut those characters out early, and just had Erica and her stepbrother go on that little adventure, the payoff would’ve actually sense. I’m not saying that it completely doesn’t. It does. And that maybe have more to do with the fact that Zoey Deutch is great and bat shit crazy in this and Joey Morgan, who plays the stepbrother, plays a damaged teen very well. And their chemistry is good together, I just didn’t think there was enough of it.

Also, the plot involving Will the teacher, played by a too straight laced Adam Scott in this, kind of has an ending I didn’t really care for. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but his arc ends by something that is told to us, rather than shown to us, to have everything in the film that happens justified, and it really doesn’t work. His character shows a little behavior that warrants some things, but no scene is given to us to make the stuff that happens down the line any plausible. You’ll know it when you see it and when it is told to you. There is a story told at. Adam Scott doesn’t bring much to the role unfortunately, and I really like him in a lot of what he does. Kathryn Hahn plays Erica’s mom and even though she’s really only in a handful of scenes, she is great as always.

Anyway, if you can find this for free, I’d recommend a one time watch. But other than that, don’t go out of your way.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SICARIO – DAY OF THE SOLDADO (no spoilers on this or the first movie)

It’s going to be a little tough reviewing this movie since I’m not going to give away any important revelations from the first film. Needless to say I’ll be speaking in code and if you’ve seen the first movie and are reading this you’ll know what I am talking about. If you haven’t seen the first movie, stop what you are doing right this very instant and find it somewhere streaming, because it is an excellent film. And so is this one. SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO is a masterful sequel, as good as the original, well, hold up. I’ll issue my minor complaint right now. It is 99% as good as the original. The only 1% of this movie I didn’t like was how obvious they set this movie up for a part three, to complete the Sicario trilogy, since writer Taylor Sheridan has said in countless interviews he sees this one big story as three films. This movie is fantastic on its own but the last 3 mins had to be stupid bridge building like they do in other part 2 films. But other than that, this movie is enthralling, tense, bat shit crazy at times, incredibly acting, incredibly entertaining even though it is a slow burn thriller, incredible cinematography, and incredible direction. Which if you think about it, it’s actually an amazing feat considering you DON’T have the same masterful director as you did in the first one with Denis Villenueve, and you DON’T have your masterful cinematography this time around with Roger Deakins. It just makes this sequel much more legit in my eyes, because if the same behind the camera people were involved, you could just chalk it up to “figures.”

Ok, so the word Sicario, if you look it up, means hitman. And the first movie is about the CIA, with help from a mysterious agenda Benicio Del Toro’s Alejandro, bringing Emily Blunt’s character along, tracking down people from cartels that are responsible for dozens of bodies found in this home near the border, and a bomb goes off there killing several police/government officials. There is more to the story than that, especially the end game for Alejandro, but if you haven’t seen the movie, I don’t want to waste any reveals, because they are extremely good. The first movie was Emily Blunt’s characters point of view and her story. She is not back for the sequel, and I love how writer Taylor Sheridan didn’t try to make up some excuse to cram her in this one. Instead, the point of view shifts to Benicio Del Toro’s Alejandro and Josh Brolin’s Matt Craver, who is a leader of the Department of Justice’s special task force. They both have ample screen time in the first film, but with this, crank that notch to 11. Just like the first film, there is also one small point of view from the drug/trafficking side of the story. In the first one it was a male security guard, in this one it is a young boy. Their stories both start off separate, and how they merge into the main one are both a treat to watch. The only thing I’ll tell you about this plot is that the film starts with a brutal hard to watch terrorist attack in Kansas, people from Mexican cartels are identified as responsible and Brolin and Del Toro set up a mission of revenge. Of course, there is more too it than that, but the beauty of it is going along for the ride.

Not to forewarn you, this is not an action movie. It is a slow burn thriller with action beats throughout only when necessary. The story is with the characters, locations, and dialogue, it isn’t with bullets or explosions, so if you want that kind of movie, go find Michael Bay and give him a reach around. Everything in this film worked for me up until the last 3 minutes of the film, and even that was a minor nitpick. The score is fantastic, there was no fat in this film, I was eagerly awaiting to see where this story would go, I tried to predict it, but I was wrong on every level. Benicio Del Toro is amazing once again as Alejandro, he was born to play this character. Josh Brolin is usually always good and always brings his A game, and here is no different. A lot of his dialogue had me chuckling in my seat. And as I said earlier, there are a couple of bat shit crazy moments in this film, but one is particular was ballsy (you’ll know it when you see it). And while you might have to suspend some belief, the brutality of the aftermath of said scene was enough to believe it was plausible.

Anyway, the fun of the movie is discovering for yourself. If you are looking for an action movie, go somewhere else. There is action, and what little of it is strong and brutal, but not enough if you are expecting a rough ’em up and shoot ’em up movie. But if you love those slow burning plot pot boilers and love great storytelling and fantastic acting, with action beats only when necessary, look no further. But make sure you watch the fucking first movie before seeing this. You won’t have a clue of what really is going on and seeing the first film is critical to enjoying the plot and the character arcs. Bring on Sicario 3.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

I know that most documentaries fly over the heads of modern moviegoers, but surely you have heard of the new documentary, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?, which is about the wonderful human being named Fred Rogers and how him and his show Mister Rogers Neighborhood had a huge impact on a lot of people. If you haven’t I’m surprised because they have promoted the shit out of this thing. I haven’t seen a promotion for a documentary this hard since Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. Well, I can see the hard push for regular people to see this film, because it is probably one of the best documentaries ever made, it is now my personal favorite (beating out Michael Moore’s Bowling For Columbine and Sick for me), and to tell you the truth, I think that this film should be required viewing, not just be everyone in North America, but by every living breathing human being on this planet.

I’ll admit this right up front, I teared up during this film. Fred Rogers was an extraordinary human being, and after this documentary, I don’t know how anyone couldn’t put him in a top ten human beings of all time list. This is a man that had no skeletons in his closet, no secret crimes committed, not a secret pedophile or homosexual (at the time, hopefully no one would really care about him being a homosexual if he was one now), he was completely the image and stature of the man he gave and showed us on television. A man that had a genuine love for all children and cared about their upbringing and well being, not a mean bone in his body, and used a cheaply made show on PBS to get his message of love and understanding not just to children, but to adults that would watch the program as well. The documentary interviews friends and family, from people that were on the show, and some who were never on camera and only behind the scenes. His sons said they had a wonderful childhood with him, his wife says he was a wonderful husband, everybody who worked with him have fond memories and don’t think one negative thing about him. It is absolutely unbelievable, yet believable. He was basically what we hoped Bill Cosby was…until you know.

This is the kind of documentary we need right now. This documentary shows what the human condition in all of us should and could be. Not to go into any real spoilers or anything but the part of the documentary that made me tear up is right after Fred Rogers died and they were holding a funeral memorial service for him, there were people across the street protesting Fred Rogers, claiming he was a homosexual and/or that he didn’t disapprove of them, and that him and his show made everyone in today’s world feel like they are more privileged than they should be. I almost couldn’t stand watching that scene, knowing that there were human beings that were utterly that stupid and ignorant to be thinking those things and actually having the gall and time to do them. Shows how low our world has sunk. But you know what? If Fred Rogers were still alive today, he wouldn’t hate those people, he wouldn’t want revenge and try to find skeletons in their closets to present to the world. He would probably just smile, shrug, and just go about doing what he kept on doing for so many years. He would probably just say that they were misunderstood individuals. That takes courage, and shows the true measure of men, women, children, what everyone on this world could hold in their hearts if everybody just really tried. The part I am describing sounds depressing, but the documentary is anything but. It is uplifting, sweet, inspiring, endearing, and all the other positive words to describe it that could come out of my mouth right now. It really is one of the best documentaries every made. And if you are reading this and haven’t went out to check it out. Do it immediately.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: AMERICAN ANIMALS

AMERICAN ANIMALS is a pretty good little independent film that is making its way around your local theaters right now. It is based on the true story of four students from Transylvania University that kind of go rogue on their suburban upbringing and decide to steal several very rare, very expensive books from the special collections library that they have at the University. They think it will be easy, since there is essentially no cameras, only motion detectors and the fact that one librarian is the only one that is keeping an eye on the books at all times. They think they have the perfect heist, but little do they realize that even meticulous planning of a heist can go horribly wrong if one thing from your plan doesn’t go as you think. The three most recognizable names from this movie that you might know are Evan Peters (who has been in multiple American Horror Story seasons and plays Quiksilver in the X-Men Films), Blake Jenner (Everybody Wants Some and he used to be married to Supergirl Melissa Benoist), and Ann Down (who is in fucking everything, from The Handmaid’s Tale to The Leftovers to the recent Hereditary).

What I liked most about this film was that even though actors were playing the real people, the movie is kind of a side documentary as well, because they have the real people involved in that heist doing commentary on what they were thinking at the time and why. And some of them might be unreliable narrators. This storytelling device was brilliant and if not included in this movie, I don’t think the film would’ve worked as well. Seeing the students meticulous planning, from how they are going to steal these rare books to how they are going to sell them without getting caught is very well done. The heist itself is a nail-biting extravaganza. However, we’ve seen heist movies that contain both these devices before, but the fact that they added the real people to give side commentary on the action, I thought was utterly brilliant.

Everybody acting wise is good in this film, but Evan Peters is absolutely fan-fucking-tasting. I know an Oscar nomination doesn’t seem likely since a lot of people haven’t heard of this film, but if it were to be some kind of home video sleeper hit right before awards season, I could see Peters getting a best supporting nomination. He is fantastic and steal every scene he is in, and during the actual heist he is masterful. Obviously because the real men that did the real heist commentating on the whole action laid out before your eyes, obviously means that they probably didn’t get away with it in the end. But it doesn’t make it any less fascinating. It only heightened the experience.

So if this movie is playing near you, I high recommend giving it a whirl. I’m a sucker for heist films, and I’m more of a sucker for true heist films. Just to get inside the mind of these people and why they did what they did is something to marvel. Granted, I know they are bad guys, but wait until you watch the movie before you throw rocks at me sympathizing with some bad people. This was a really strong, really engaging independent film. Maybe they can do the real person commentary for more stories like this.