Tag Archives: Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: NORMAN – THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER

First off, way too long of a title. Second off, Richard Gere’s performance is absolutely amazing and one of his best. Third off, not a bad film at all! NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER is about a Jewish business man, Norman Oppenheimer, desperate to make contacts to make a name for himself, that buys a pair of expensive shoes one day to a low-on-the-totem-pole Israeli politician, whose life dramatically changes when that politician becomes the Prime Minister of Israel three years later. Thankfully, the film doesn’t just rely on Gere’s performance but shows an interesting aspect to politics and deal making in general that pulls the entire project away from mediocrity to a film a recommend watching one day if you have the time.

You haven’t heard of this film? Of course you haven’t, it is only playing in independent cinemas and Cinemark Legacy right now, but it did run pretty well in the festival circuit earlier this year and last year. Watching Norman going around and trying to make all these contacts and business deals that he doesn’t know whether he can fulfill or not is very intriguing and nerve wracking. You want to believe in the character of Norman so much that you want to see him pull all of this off, but know that the man is actually grasping at straws. When he triumphs, the audience feels it, but when he fails, it hits the audience deeper, knowing that the newfound success could of in no way lasted because of Norman’s other handshakes that have been going on.

And I’ll say this, the movie completely sticks the landing, meaning the ending. The ending is one of the best parts of the movie, with all the pieces of the puzzle and all of the holes being filled. It’s an emotional climax that will truly make you think. Don’t worry, won’t spoil it here, but that leads me to the case that the title of this movie is the worst thing about it. Not only is it too long, but it is also kind of a spoiler per say. They should’ve just called it Norman The Fixer or maybe it’s original title Oppenheimer Strategies. But there have been movies with atrocious bad titles that have ended up being good, so just add this one on to the list.

The supporting players in this, while small, are good, but ultimately just serve to boost Gere’s performance. You have a lot of famous faces like Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi, and Dan Stevens, that fill in really unimportant roles that were mainly hired to boost up the poster and get people in seats. I should mention that the Israeli Prime Minister, played by Lior Ashkenazi, is the only other sort of stand out performance in this. That’s the only other really meaty role, especially toward the end.  But Richard Gere alone should make you want to watch his film. He has always been an extraordinary actor but here he is masterful. He has all of Norman’s tics, facial expressions, and concerns down pat, and I would watch this movie again simply by just watching his performance alone and leave out the story elements.

But like I said, the story elements make the entire film work. This film isn’t a masterpiece per say, but it is very, very good. This is one of the films I am more likely to remember down the line than not, especially it’s masterwork of an ending. My only real complaint about the film is the title and a little of the pacing in the middle. But if that is all you have to complain about, best to maybe keep it to yourself.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CHUCK

No, I’m not reviewing the once great television series starring Zachary Levi, I’m reviewing the movie (which you can only see at Cinemark West Plano right now), CHUCK, starring Ray Donovan’s Liev Schreiber about boxer Chuck Wepner, who was the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone writing Rocky which won a shit load of rewards. Chuck was a okay boxer, known mainly for almost going a full 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali back in 1975 (we get to see this fight, which is one of the highlights of the film). As far as sports biographical pics go, it is harmless, not being great, but definitely not being bad, too long, or boring either. If you are a sports biographical pic, and you are neither great nor bad, you kind of get lost in the crowd.

Which is what will happen with this film for me. I’d say in a couple of years I will hardly remember it other than I thought it was a good one time watch with a stellar performance by Schreiber. I have a feeling though an extra 30 minutes that seemed to be missing from this film could’ve gone either way. It could’ve made it too long and boring and not added much to the film, or it could’ve made the film more in-depth, better, with more amounts of character development. I don’t know unless I see this 30 minutes. Not to say the film was edited badly, but the movie is only an hour and 40 minutes, which for a biographical pic, is quite short.

I would’ve honestly liked to see Wepner actually fight the bear (yes, he fights a bear in a ring as a publicity stunt claiming to be true, looked it up and it was) but I guess it would’ve been really bad CGI and PETA would’ve been pissed. But looking over Wepner’s career, the movie hardly ever goes into the thick of it. Instead we are mostly treated to his downfall (with drugs of course) after he takes Rocky filming all those awards too seriously and starts to use that as a crutch when talking to people. I would’ve also liked to see his relationship with his second wife Linda develop a little bit more than it did (played by the underused but always wonderful Naomi Watts). I also forgot to mention this: Jim Gaffigan has a small role as one of Wepner’s friends, and what a role it is. You can hardly recognize Gaffigan at all in his zany role. If there is another reason to maybe check out the film one day, it is Gaffigan as well.

There is unfortunately nothing new with downfall pictures anymore. I think if the film would’ve focused a little more on Wepner’s success in boxing mixed with the downfall, it would’ve been a more memorable picture. Maybe a little boring, but a little more accurate and meaty.  Also the guy that plays Stallone in the film is excellent and I’m wondering why they didn’t show Wepner sueing Stallone like he did in real life, that would’ve been interesting. Instead, the film will get lost with all the other boxing/sports biographical pics you have already seen. And if you miss this one, you don’t really miss anything other than a decent one time watch that you will forget mere months or years later. I feel a little bad but I can’t deny that the boxing pic, with the exception of Creed a couple of years ago (and some of Bleed For This), is dead. I recommend, but not enough to go out and seek.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews presents ALIEN: COVENANT

Well, that was a fucking fun ride. I LOVED ALIEN: COVENANT. Completely blows Prometheus out of the water. And that’s really funny because it is more of a Prometheus sequel than it is a true Alien prequel. Of course you actually get Xenomorphs again in this movie but the mythology, theology, and over all sci-fi integrity that Prometheus brought is front and center in this film. I am not going to lie, I am an unabashed Prometheus fan. People didn’t like it because it asked more questions than it answered, it was weird, they didn’t like the Engineers, there were no Xenomorphs. But I saw a more complicated film that tried to do something new that people hadn’t seen before than to just explain what the fuck a “space jockey” was. But Alien: Covenant is for both Prometheus fans and it is also trying to win back the people that didn’t like Prometheus very much. And I think it exceeds on all levels.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t even touch Alien or Aliens in terms of quality and being a masterpiece. But it does get closer than anything that came before it. So yes, the best Alien film since 1986’s Aliens. I’m not afraid to say that. If you are expecting a click, click, click action bonanza you are going to be extremely disappointed. You get more of the slow burn that the first Alien film gives. Lots of exposition, and a slow crawl toward the nightmare you know is before you. And when things do get going, they never let up until the end. The action is pretty stellar and the special effects are fantastic. Well most of them are. If I do have one complaint is that some of the shots of the aliens in action could’ve used a little more polish. But the worlds, ships, and environment are so real and awe-inspiring to look at since the world of Avatar.

But Zach, is it scary? Well, there are some very gross and disturbing parts. It gives you probably the most graphic gore infested Alien film to date. But I wouldn’t say it is scary. More tense and action oriented, with a dreadful and sinister vibe. Not like horror jump scares left and right. Which is okay. Cheap jump scares don’t work anymore. Dread is always the perfect recipe. Ridley’s Scott’s direction in this is near pitch perfect. I am very glad he came back to the genre that he started and is treating his series like Michael Bay does with Transformers, but instead of keeping dropping his baby like Bay does, he actually nurses and cares for it. All the shots here are wonderful to look at and the set design is fantastic. And if you are looking for answers to Prometheus, while it still asks a couple of questions we will get with the inevitable third film, you get some huge answers the last film asked, and those answers are delicious and satisfying.

The acting is better here too. Michael Fassbender shines in everything he is in and here is no exception. He is perfect playing an android and seems to be really into his role. The film has a couple of smarter characters in this than the last one two. Danny McBride, Katherine Waterson, and Billy Crudup are fine here, but they are no Fassbender and definitely no Sigourney Weaver. McBride is actually really quite impressive here, considering that he is playing a little something more serious than the usual assholes and obnoxious characters he plays. Waterson is one of the better female characters to date, showing a more impressive strong female character that has some smarts as well as brawn. But like I said, this is the Fassbender show.

I love this film. I already want to see it again. If you like it depends on how much you love the Alien franchise and how much you liked Prometheus. It’s a direct Prometheus follow up while also trying to lean it’s way more toward the Alien mythos and atmosphere. The perfect combination in my eyes. I see it traveling straight more toward an Alien environment in the third one, with some last minute insights wrapping everything up leading us to the events of the first film. I thought this was a really great film with a lot of cool ideas, awesome action, beautiful cinematography, relentless gore, and just a whole lot of fun. Also, love the mixture between the score of Prometheus and Alien. Just a really cool melting pot of a movie.

 

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SNATCHED

So I saw Amy Schumer’s right boob today…not sure how I feel about that… I do know how I feel about the movie SNATCHED. It is fucking terrible. One of the year’s worst. I chuckled, MAYBE, once. It wasn’t funny, especially when about 30 minutes of the 90 minute runtime is Amy Schumer again talking about her vagina and other vagina jokes that I’ve heard before, none of them clever. And when you have a comedic genius Goldie Hawn in your cast, and you barely use her, and not in the way you are supposed to, it’s slapping a lot of film enthusiasts in the face. This woman was in Private Benjamin, and you have her playing an unfunny mother that just complains throughout the whole movie and doesn’t really do anything comedic. This film is an absolute crime to watch, and one of the worst comedies to come out in a very long time.

You know what another crime is? Having a cameo that looks like it might’ve been written for Hawn’s real life partner Kurt Russell and instead hire Law and Order SVU’s Christopher Meloni. Would’ve been perfect with Russell, but are you really surprised considering the rest of the movie sucks as well? Amy Schumer has not been funny since Trainwreck. That is the last time I thought her genius that she does have in her still somewhere shined with her talents. Thank God she didn’t write this, otherwise I would maybe say that her career is over. No, the blame of all of this goes to the screenwriter that single-handedly ruined the new Ghostbusters, Kate Dippold. The Heat sucked, Ghostbusters sucked, and this sucked. As in baseball, she’s out, and should never come back.

Everything in this film is predictable, down to getting kidnapped, escaping, getting help…it’s just all boring and has been done countless times before. It’s just vagina jokes galore, and Amy Schumer just whining for two hours. Goldie Hawn is just wasted here. She’s made some classics and is a classic comedian (Overboard anyone?), but this is just bad, considering that she hasn’t done a movie since The Banger Sisters. Not her fault that she is a two dimensional character, she was just written that way, and you can tell she is struggling trying to make something of the material.

This is going to be a really short review because there is really nothing to talk about artistic wise here. The writing sucks, the direction is basically point, shoot, and cut, and there is nothing unique about this movie at all. The jokes all fall flat, they even make Ike Barenholtz unfunny. It’s just a very very very bad comedy. If you need to see something funny, snatch something else at your local video store, you’re better off.