Tag Archives: Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: OCEAN’S 8 (minor spoilers)

I was relieved to discover that OCEAN’S 8 was actually quite decent. Decent and enjoyable enough to be better than the sloggy 12 and 13, but nowhere near the greatness of 11 or Logan Lucky (Logan Lucky has nothing to do with the Ocean’s series other than being another heist film and directed by Soderberg who did all the rest but this one). It fits comfortable somewhere right in the middle. The heist was fun, and the star studded women and their chemistry to one another definitely made this one of those “female driven reboots” to actually check out, unlike the abysmal Ghostbusters we got a couple of years ago. While the story is a bit of a straight point and shoot affair (it is missing the cinematic sting of Soderberg for sure), a definite soft reboot/remake/sequel to 11 (like Force Awakens was to A New Hope), and some predictability issues, the entire being of it has just enough to give it that oomph to see where it could go if they were to possibly make a 9 and 10 (which they most definitely will). If you see this movie and wonder where the hell I got my enjoyment of it, because not a lot of critics or audiences liked it, just know that I have a soft spot for heist films.

Why? Because I believe you have to have an incredibly talented imagination and have superior skills to even write something as intricate and detail oriented as a heist film. I get truly impressed easily I guess (probably why Inception is my favorite film of all time). You get one detail wrong in those films, everybody will be all over your ass. The films starts like the first one does, with Sandra Bullock’s Debbie Ocean, getting out of jail after a five year stint, and looking for revenge and riches. Only this time the revenge isn’t with someone that took your wife/husband, this revenge deals with the man her sent her to jail in the first place. We are let known that this is a sequel to the Ocean’s 11, 12, and 13 (even though this is called 8) because we learn that *minor spoiler alert* that Danny Ocean has just recently passed away. Although the film does leave hints that he might not necessarily be dead if George Clooney would be interested in doing a quick cameo or small role. There are also a couple of quick surprise guests from the previous film, one of them truly being incredibly funny and putting a smile on my face. Anyway, Debbie Ocean wants to rob a $150 million dollar Cartier necklace that they are going to try and get out from under the vault it has been in for more than 50 years and get it on the neck of a celebrity (a fictional one played by Anne Hatheway) and then steal it at the annual Met Gala. The rest of the details I’ll leave be so you can see the movie and enjoy the caper for yourself.

The intricacy of the heist and mainly the chemistry of all the women together made the film be better than average. Sandra Bullock is honestly just kind of Sandra Bullock in this film, but her leadership role and her dynamic with Cate Blanchett, who is definitely the woman Brad Pitt in this movie with her suave as hell character, makes up for her lack of dimension. Anne Hathaway is probably the one that shines the most here, playing the ultimate celebrities’ celebrity, completely aloof to what is going on and everything being about her, her, her. The one that probably gets the least screen time and character development is Mindy Kaling, who at least plays it straight laced and isn’t just being Mindy from The Office or The Mindy Project again. Right behind Hathaway would be Helena Bonham Carter, who always brings her A game, and plays a fun yet neurotic famous fashion designer that joins the heist because she in debt to the IRS. And then right behind Carter would be Rihanna, who I think is a better actress than she thinks she is, having come off of this as an actual cool character and her brief yet most memorable stint in last year’s Valerian. Awkwafina (is it really pronounced like the bottled water?!?), who basically is Matt Damon’s pick pocketing role has several scenes to shine, and Sarah Paulson is just as good here in anything that she does (which is a lot). The cast bounces off each other with grace and charm, and their scenes together are definitely better than the ones apart.

Gary Ross (who did Pleasantville ((still his best film)) and the first Hunger Games film) is behind the camera on this one, and frankly, his inferiority to Soderberg shows. Steven Soderberg, even with the flimsy 12 and 13 had a great visual style that reverberated throughout all the films, even at their lowest points there was something interesting on camera. Here, with Ross, it is mostly a point and shoot affair, and anything visually interesting you would assume he just completely ripped off from Soderberg. Maybe we could get Steven to come back for 9? His direction isn’t horribly mind you, but it is just plain Jane. I am though wondering if they had to film this very fast because of everyone’s schedule, so visual flair got in the way of actually getting a complete film in the can? Who knows?

But I still had fun with Ocean’s 8. And my wife, who saw it with me, liked it quite a bit as well (she had to go pee really really bad with still 50 minutes left and managed to hold it in, so that says something) It isn’t the end all be all of heist films, but that is ok, it wasn’t meant to be. It is just meant to be a quick fun summer film that you can just play along and get away from reality for for a couple of hours. I mean if you pointed a gun to my head and said, “you have 5 seconds, another all female Ghostbuster film, or Ocean’s 9 with the same cast?” I would quickly choose Ocean’s 9, no question. Female driven reboots can work, and this one proves that it can. But hopefully, maybe next time, we could get something that could become a classic. This just wets the appetite.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HOTEL ARTEMIS (no spoilers)

Over the weekend, if Hereditary was the movie that disturbed me the most, then HOTEL ARTEMIS was the most fun. I know, I know, the Rotten Tomato score doesn’t reflect that. But like all of my friends tell me, sometimes you just have to tell RT to go fuck itself. This is one of those times. This movie, while kind of ripping off the hotel in John Wick, was fun, weird, and crazy enough for me to consider it more unique from John Wick where I am going to believe that writer/director Drew Pearce maybe took that idea and made it his own. The film features an all star cast. You have Jodie Foster giving her best performance in decades, you have This Is Us’s Sterling K. Brown just radiating coolness, you have Jeff Goldblum being…well yeah Jeff Goldblum. You have Charlie Day finally playing someone other than Charlie on It’s Always Sunny, you have Sofia Boutella being as sexy as ever (and now right under Jennifer Lawrence for me in terms of celebrity crushes) and you even have Dave Bautista playing a different kind of role. Zachary Quinto and Jenny Slate are in this too and are great in the scenes they are in. Yeah, a lot of recognizable names. And while the movie has some predictability to it, my eyes never left the screen to look at my watch to see when the film would end. It is a wholly enjoyable tight 95 minutes of hammed up, scenery chewing performances, a little bit of action, and a weird little fun plot.

HOTEL ARTEMIS is a hotel, that is also a one woman hospital, that caters to injured criminals looking for someplace local to stay/hide. The hotel has strict rules. No weapons allowed inside. You must have membership to get in. No fighting or killing the other patients. No exceptions. Well, if there weren’t any exceptions we wouldn’t have a movie right? The movie takes place actually just ten years from now, 2028, and Los Angeles is currently under riots because apparently clean water is really hard to get these days, and a clean water company is cutting a lot of people off. Sterling K. Brown’s character and his brother get injured during a non related robbery and go to Hotel Artemis for safekeeping and medical care. Jodie Foster’s character runs the hotel, with Dave Bautista as her very loyal orderly. Little do the brothers know that the hotel is almost booked up, with some of the occupants looking to break the rules that night for their own gain, and that the true owner of the Artemis is about to pay a visit.

And that’s all I will tell you. The fun of the movie is going through the story, seeing what some of the criminals true intentions are, seeing who lives and who dies, and seeing all the actors ham it up. It’s very predictable mind you, but as I’ve said before in other reviews, it doesn’t matter if the journey is incredibly intoxicating. And it most definitely is here. I loved the slightly futuristic world. Enough tech for the world to advance just a little bit in a decade, and enough resources plummeting to make the riots seem timely, but not enough to make your eyes roll. I loved the tone of the film as well as the dark look of Los Angeles during the riots. I loved, loved, loved Jodie Foster’s performance as the one and only nurse that takes care of the criminals that happen to seek help. She’s neurotic enough to completely follow her rules and not move an inch, completely OCD in each and every way, but enough of a give to be able to have a redeemable arc. It’s her best performance since…well, I don’t know when, well, actually maybe Silence of the Lambs. Sterling K. Brown is great here to, radiating such cool that my hetero man crush on him just keeps going up after this, People Vs. O.J. Simpson, and This Is Us. Dave Bautista isn’t Drax here either, and Sofia Boutella is so damn charming and sexy its unbelievable. And is Jeff Goldblum having a Blumessiance? He very well could be. Zachary Quinto also proves he needs to be a psychotic leading man in his own movie. Instead of going through the rest of the actors one by one, trust me when I say they were all pretty good.

There is nothing more to say about this film other than that the direction was good, the action wasn’t too heavy and over the top, and it made me interested in taking another trip to the hotel somewhere down the line (with the box office take this weekend though, I doubt it). This is one of those very, very good switch off your brain times at the movies. Drew Pearce hasn’t done much, in fact this is his directorial debut, which he does have a good eye with framing and other camera work/skills that can only get better from here. It is definitely his best screenplay work to date, considering that he only came up with the story for Rogue Nation, and only wrote Iron Man 3 and one other Marvel One-Shot. Maybe something even more original next time, and not so predictable could come out of his future that to me, could be bright. But this is here, now, and this will do, because I definitely enjoyed my stay.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FIRST REFORMED (no spoilers)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a film ending can truly make or break your film. It doesn’t matter how fucking good the movie is before that ending, if your ending sucks, has a WTF kind of punchline, or you are too ambiguous, you could lose your audience. Now let’s go to director Paul Schrader before I get to reviewing his new film starring Ethan Hawke that you probably hadn’t heard of, FIRST REFORMED. Paul Schrader is a pretty great screenwriter, and kind of a meh director. And his screenwriting has definitely been hit or miss. More of a hit in the 70s and 80s and a couple of huge misfires past the 1990s (by misfires I mainly mean The Canyons and The Exorcist prequel). He is known for mainly being a Scorcese collaborator, writing great classics as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Bringing Out The Dead. Now the ending to Schrader’s new movie is going to divide a lot of people. Critics think it is fucking brilliant, but I’ve heard some audience members aren’t fucking having it, from what I’m reading. I’m going to say that while I think the ending could’ve been much much better than it was (it goes down the predictable route, then then quickly switches gears and goes into “what the fuck territory? with a huge salt load of ambiguousness), it was a bit of a let down, as I feel that Schrader was basically almost copying the ending of Taxi Driver in its “what the fuck”ness. Only Taxi Driver’s ending really really worked. This one, on my initial thoughts, made me say “huh?” when it cut to black. The ending kind of works the more you really think about it and the themes and the weighty moral center the film’s core has. I can’t really get into it without revealing it so if you know me personally, hit me up and I’ll tell you. I’m still recommending the film though, because the dialogue and everything leading to the end is pretty damn brilliant, and so is Ethan Hawke, who gives us his best performance…ever.

Very quickly, the movie is about a protestant pastor who is very ill, very alone (reasons revealed in the movie), and very dedicated to the First Reformed church, a church that is about to have its 250th anniversary. The church has mainly become a tourist attraction, with not a lot of regular daily attendees and worshippers. He’s trying to get ready of being part of the 250th anniversary celebration, collaborating with a much bigger church syndicate run by Cedric The Entertainer (yes, him, but also his best performance…ever, not comical really at all). At the beginning of the film, one day after mass, a pregnant wife, played by Amanda Seyfried (great here too), that wants that pastor to talk to her husband, who is a very depressed, very radical environmentalist, who doesn’t want to bring a child in this world that according to him, is dying. Once meeting with this individual, he begins to questions his beliefs, and his life takes a very different turn. That’s about all I can tell you before I get into the twists and turns of the thing. However, when these twists and turns come, you can eventually see where this movie is going to end, or where you think it will. I have to give it to the ending a little bit for not hitting bullseye on that particular mark, but surely there could’ve been something more concrete and original.

What I did love in this film was the dialogue, the handling of the timely weighty themes, and Ethan Hawke’s Oscar worthy performance. His initial sit down with the environmentalist is long and lasts about 10 minutes, but the way they talk and bounce off of each other in this conversation, just proves that you can keep people’s attention without any action or any new age camera work. The conversation tenses up where it needs to and tells the audience its message without getting too…pun intended…preachy. The whole film I was surprised didn’t really get in your face with the preachy. And it had every opportunity to, and every right to as well. The film is essential a Church versus big corporate pollution companies versus the Pastor’s morals and faith. Every conversation is just nuanced enough to have you guess where the conversation would’ve went if written by a less experienced screenplay writer. But this is Paul Schrader’s we are talking about here, even with his misses, he is still a veteran screenplay writer that we should be able to trust 100%, good or bad movie (can’t say the same for Akiva Goldsman though…)

Ethan Hawke’s performance is nothing short of brilliant, his best since Training Day and Boyhood. He is almost in every scene and he lights up every second of it. There are times where he could’ve completely jumped the gun and over acted, but instead goes the subtle route, to bring a more believable and realistic character to the screen. It’s spectacular to watch and if the ending had completely destroyed my faith in all of the film (it hasn’t, I just thought it could’ve been a little better) I would still recommend the film based on his performance alone. And maybe to even see Cedric The Entertainer (who goes by his real name here) play completely against type. I probably didn’t think the movie is a masterpiece that some critics are claiming it to be because, to be honest, I’m just not that religious. But I do get enough of it to know what the movie was trying to do, basically asking the question, “will God forgive us?” and thinks that it accomplished what it set out to tell, better than average.

It just depends what type of movie goer you are if you will love or hate this film. Paul Shrader early work enthusiasts will love it to death, people that can’t stand religion will probably never watch it or be that interested, religious people will like it until the ending, and modern audience who need explosions and simple tales with absolutely loathe this film. Me? I’m right after the Shrader enthusiasts, I really really thought it was great up until the ending. Now the ending didn’t ruin it for me, it was different enough not to be predictable, I just thought it could’ve been meatier. Say what you want about Hollywood’s lack of originality, but it is film’s like this that get lost in the shuffle that contradict those plights.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HEREDITARY (no spoilers)

HEREDITARY is the most deeply disturbing and unsettling film I have seen in my almost 32 years on planet Earth. It’s one of the few horror pieces to make me want to watch it again so I can catch all the clues from the beginning of the story that lead to revelations at the end, but then again I don’t want to watch it again because of the disturbing images, themes, sequences, and other shit that is probably going to give me nightmares for some time to come (I had a nightmare last night). It is also one of the few horror films that I went and did research on to find out if some of the lores and myths presented in the film were actually true (and they are, which makes the movie even grander considering it isn’t a whole bunch of fucking jibberish). This isn’t a “jump scare” kind of film. Those films are reserved for kids in their teens and very early 20’s that don’t know any better and wouldn’t know a good horror film if it were to completely shove itself up their ignorant asses. This film is a slow burn type horror. It is extremely complex and intricate. There are throwaway lines of dialogue you think are just things written to pass the time but end up becoming very important at the very end of the film. The film kept me guessing. I truly want to see it again, it is one of the horror masterpieces not just of our generation, but of all time, ranking with the greats. This film is the one to disturb me the most since I watch the original The Omen when I was a kid, and trust me, I don’t scare fucking easily.

Like I warned you, the film is a slow burn, but even with that slow burn, the acting and atmosphere keeps things interesting. Then about, 25-30 minutes into the 2 hour adventure, something utterly fucking shocking and disturbing happens that I didn’t see coming. That one sequence and a little bit after that kept me engaged with the film and I was haunted by thinking what would happen next. And all the trailers and tv spots have done a good job hiding all the secrets and surprises from everyone, even what the film in the end is truly about. The director, Ari Aster, I can’t believe this is his first feature length film (he has done some shorts in the past). His direction here is almost top notch perfect, and I can’t wait to see what we get from him in the future. Oh, I forgot to mention he wrote this thing solo as well. Hopefully he is as consistent or gets even better from here and doesn’t go the way of M. Night Shaymalan.

I really don’t want to tell you anything about this movie, but if I can just do one sentence, it won’t give away a thing: A middle aged mother has just buried her old mother who she didn’t really care for and the rest of her family of four, including her strange looking young 13 year old daughter, deals with the aftermath. Hopefully I didn’t give anyway away, I don’t think I did. Like I said, the movie does a great job of spreading tiny tiny clues throughout the film where you don’t know what it is truly about I’d say until the last 5 to 10 minutes. I thought that was brilliant. A movie that shows their cards within the first 15 minutes of its run time, especially a horror movie, is always doomed to failure in my opinion. Even a short 85 minute film. But this is a grueling, treacherous 2 hours, but in a good way. I guess. I know I’m building up this movie a lot with praise, but do I really ever want to watch it again? My movie brain says absolutely yes, but my sanity says absolutely not.

Toni Collette, and I’m basically copying other critics when I say this, gives the performance of her career. She’s always great in anything she does honestly, especially a show called The United States of Tara, but here she is completely, mesmerizingly good. It’s definitely her best big screen performance since her great supporting turn in The Sixth Sense. All the actors are great in this. Alex Wolff, who you might know as playing one of the Boston Marathon bombers in the movie Patriot’s Day, out acts his more famous brother, Nat Wolff here. His facial expressions in this are buried deep within are mind. The girl that plays the young 13 year old daughter, Milly Shapiro, is so good she’s disturbing as fuck here too. And Gabriel Byrne does a fantastic job as the low key father that just wants what is best for his family and tries to keep everything and everyone sane.

So that’s it. That’s all I’m going to say. Go see this film if you love and cherish horror films. It is not to be missed. It is being praised as high as It Comes At Night and The Witch, both of which I didn’t care for all that much. I guess critically third praise is the charm? I was thinking of it as I left the theater and it was still embedded in my mind when I got home. I eveb had a nightmare last night with some of it. And the more I research about the film, it gets even better and has me want to brave through a second viewing, just so I can catch all the little hints and clues throughout every scene, shot, and line of dialogue. Don’t spoil yourself with this film, you might not regard it as highly if you know what is coming. But then again, I’m not you. It’s the most unsettling film I have ever seen. Don’t see this film if you don’t like being disturbed. This film isn’t for the faint of heart or for scaredy-cats. You just have to ask yourself one question. Are you brave enough?