Hosts: An Ever-Rotating Lineup of OOU.Net’s Unusual Suspects
That’s right, your favorite geek conglomerate website is now doing audio movie reviews! The cast of reviewers is subject to change even movie to movie, we have a whole rogues gallery of cinema outlaws, but one thing you can always count on is that these funny and insightful film reviews will always be, in some way, Highly Suspect.
OUR REVIEWS FOR LIMITED RELEASE AND VOD FILMS, SCREENER SQUAD, YOU CAN FIND RIGHT HERE.
JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM
Director Chad Stahelski returns with the third chapter in the post-puppy ass-kicking series John Wick. After the events of part 2, John (Keanu Reeves) is on the run from the entire world as he has been excommunicated from his society of assassins and has a huge marker on his head. Calling on old favors from some new stars in the series like Halle Berry and Anjelica Houston and deciding who among his old friends he can still trust, John and new pup try to work the system (and kill, like, hundreds of people) to find a way out of his untenable situation. But does it hold up to the first two? Listen to Chris, Alan, Ben, Lara, and Harris suss it out.
The author of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien gets the biopic treatment here in Tolkien. Nicholas Hoult plays the legendary fantasy author as a young man as the story vacillates from his time at Oxford getting to know his future wife (Lily Collins) and his experiences in WWI. Throughout it all is his friendship with three other young men, a ‘fellowship’, if you will, and how that friendship guided him towards, well, you know. Much like the rest of the reviews out there, our review crew went from loving it to pieces to meh. Listen to Chris, Cat, Alan, and Frank decide if this film has the true ring of greatness, or if it should be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom.
I mean, it’s not like a gender-switched remake of the comedy classic (a remake in itself) Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a bad idea. Not at all. And with Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway as the two primary scoundrels who have teamed up to con the men who have done women wrong, it really sounded like they had something here. Well, as you’ll hear Ben and Alan tell it, not so much. Listen to their review of the comedy The Hustle right here.
It’s not like I WANTED to see a film about a group of old ladies who decide to form a cheerleading squad. My choices in life led me here, such as it is. So, I chose to hope for the best. Why not, when you’ve got a cast with some truly interesting actresses like Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, and Rhea Perlman? Why not, indeed. Listen to Marco and Chris try to make lemonade as best they can with their review of the movie Poms.
POKEMON: DETECTIVE PIKACHU
Has it finally happened? Is there a GOOD video-game movie? And is it based on Pokémon? In a Roger Rabbit-esque world where humans and these weird creatures live side by side, a young man (Justice Smith) has come to the big city to deal with the mysterious death of his father only to find a Pikachu with a detective hat that he can actually talk with (apparently this is not the norm) with the voice of Ryan Reynolds who spurs him on to investigate what happened and see if his father is actually dead after all. While I thought it bizarre that so many folks on our crew were deeply excited about this movie (the whole Pokémon craze missed me) it was even more bizarre that the film was not bad at all. Listen to Chris, Matt, Morgan, Ben, and Alan give you the rundown.
*You are walking along a beach. The sun is shining, the trees are swaying lightly in the breeze. All is beautiful. Then you notice a bottle washed up at the edge of the shore. You pick it up and see a note inside. Opening it, you uncurl the hastily scrawled document inside. It reads:*
I don’t know how long I have. Chris is preparing the mixing board but soon we will have to talk about it. The thing. The thing he made us do. Uglydolls. Movie Review. I can’t focus on the words or my head starts to swim. How in the world did they get the money to make a 91-minute animated musical commercial for a so-so kids toy at this level of… Hold on, he’s looking around. What does he expect, that we can find mirth here? That there is any joy left in us at all? How can we pretend? Oh God, the mics are on. Pray for us…
Listen to Chris, Marco, and Beau review the UglyDolls Movie right here.
Michael Ealy and Meagan Good are such an adorable young(ish) couple in The Intruder, it almost seems a shame to sic a crazed Dennis Quaid on them. But let’s face it, if we’re here for anything at all, it’s just to see crazed Dennis Quaid. Here he plays Charlie Peck, an affable enough seeming guy who sells his beautiful childhood home in the Napa Valley to the Howards. He’s obviously protective of the property and says he wants just the right couple who’ll really take care of it. Seems cute at first until he keeps showing up, and showing up, and showing up. Yes, this is a crazy stalker movie. It’s like we’re back in the 90s. But is it any good? Listen to Patience and Chris give their review.
Of all the least likely onscreen romantic pairings, Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen have to be up there near the top. Seth Rogen plays Fred, a freshly unemployed hard-left journalist. Charlize Theron plays the Secretary of the State with Presidential aspirations. When it turns out they knew each other when they were kids, she hires him to script write for him. He’s a casual drug user, she’s someone who reads wiki synopses of popular shows and movies so she can be aware of current pop culture. He’s a super-intense idealist and she’s filled with hope but a realist. Can anything make this work? Apparently, the answer is, yes, as our crew dug the heck out of this one. Listen to Chris, Harris, Marco, Kim, and Alan give their thoughts.
It all comes down to this, the culmination of all the previous MCU films into one big star-studded event. How will they (or will they even) reverse the effects of ‘the snap’? How will they defeat Thanos? This ending chapter (to this arc) answers pretty much everything you’d want to know. And don’t worry, we spend the first half of our review being VERY careful to be spoiler free….and then, with a warning, we go full tilt spoilery. Listen to Chris, Beau, Zach, JC, and Ben say goodbye to an era in this Avengers: Endgame movie review.
No, it’s not the Kurt Cobain biopic (although you’d really think there would be one by now). It’s the directorial debut of actor Max Minghella who is here to tell us the story of a shy Polish girl (Elle Fanning) living in a small European town. She wishes she was singing in front of crowds instead of milking goats (don’t we all). Her chance comes with an American Idolesque show Teen Spirit that is auditioning nearby. Only able to go with the help of a local down-and-out once-celebrated opera singer as her manager, she chases that brass ring. We really love Elle Fanning at Oneofus but were worried this felt more like a vanity project. How does it hold up? Ask Chris and Johnny Neill: they’re ready to serve up their review.
THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA
The Conjuringverse adds another distant corner to its world (albeit, half-heartedly) with The Curse of La Llorona. Taking place in the 70s we meet Anna (Linda Cardellini). She’s a widow with two young children and a social work job that has led her to a family that believes that an old curse has descended upon her children. La Llorona, the weeping ghost who takes children and drowns them (it’s a whole thing), is apparently not a vengeful specter to be fucked with and lo, soon Anna’s two children are marked for a watery grave. What can stop her? Does the church help? Will Latino mysticism come into it? Can we expect to see Annabelle make a shameless cameo? Chris, Beau, and Ben are here to give you the details.
Here’s my impression of me finding out about this Hellboy movie: “Are we really doing this? Are we really abandoning Guillermo Del Toro’s already built universe for, what, a Neil Marshall horror-heavy version with the likeable-but-he’s-no-Ron-Perlman David Harbour taking over the title role? WHY?” Always one to hope for the best and not focus on the bad expectations once I’m in the seat, I said, “Chris, you never know. This could be exactly what this beloved (?) character needed, a fresh start. Let’s find the good”. That was a tall order. Because Hellboy, rather infamously at this point, is NOT good. Not good, at all. So then we go back to the WHY. We do our best to try to make sense of what went so horribly askew here. Listen to Chris, Marco, and Ben do their best to puzzle it out.
THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT
Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård are cousins who work in high tech but they are tired for working for someone else (namely, their boss played by Salma Hayek) and they want to strike out on their own with the idea of a physical fiber optic line laid between Kansas and Wall Street that would increase communication time by one microsecond. Which, I know, doesn’t sound like much but when it comes to stocks trading, that’s an eternity and billions of dollars. Hayek smells blood in the water and so the two have to stay one step ahead of her and battle against time to get their project finished. Sounds like maybe a heist movie? A wacky comedy? At the very least something based on a true story? It’s none of those things. As to what it IS, you’ll have to listen to Ben, Chris, and Frank in their review.
In this new animated film from Laika studios, Hugh Jackman plays a ‘myths and monsters investigator’ (IE: cryptozoologist), Sir Lionel Frost. Sir Frost wants nothing more than to be accepted by his adventuring peers led by the mustache-twirling Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry). Unfortunately, he’d rather see Sir Frost die from his hired thug (Timothy Olyphant) than accept him into their ranks. An adventure to find the Sasquatch leads him to the creature (Zach Galifianakis) who turns out to want nothing more than to find others like him. A pact is made to get the newly dubbed Mr. Link to the snowy home of the possibly mythical Yeti. To do it, they’ll need the help of a map in the possession of Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana) who isn’t thrilled about the idea. Will they survive their harrowing journey? Could this possibly live up to Laika’s last film Kubo and the Two Strings? All these answers and more in the review with Chris, Beau, and Michael right here.
Are you ready for a new spate of body-switching comedies? I mean, this is technically someone just de-aging, but it’s the same formula more or less. Regina Hall used to be the nerdy science girl in school everyone picked on. Now she’s powerful, rich, and the one who does the bullying of all her cowering employees and especially her personal assistant (Issa Rae). But when a little girl puts a curse (magic spell, whatevs) on her, she becomes her childhood self again (Marsai Martin) and has to rely on her assistant’s help to keep things together at work while she negotiates her biggest fear: going back to her old school. Check out our review with Chris, George, and Alan and see why Little isn’t as bad as you’d imagine (but probably not too far off either).
I know some of you would like to ship Robert Pattinson out to space but I can only assume you’ve not been watching his post-Twilight output. He’s really proven himself as an actor and someone who likes to work with really interesting directors. High Life is no exception to that as he’s being lensed by the legendary (if you’re French or really dig art films) Claire Denis. He plays one of a group of prisoners that have agreed to go on a possibly suicidal space mission to study a black hole in exchange for their freedom. Told in a non-linear fashion we are initially shown that Pattinson, and an infant, are the only survivors. What happened to Mia Goth, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, and the rest of his shipmates?High Life reveals the mystery at its own pace. And Chris and Alan reveal their feelings about High Life. Check out the review here.
The very first comic book superhero to get adapted into a film (in 1941) finally gets a second round with the release of the DCU film Shazam. Once a more popular hero than even Superman, the originally titled Captain Marvel (forced to change his name over a lawsuit with DC, and 20 years after that being bought by them) this oft-ignored character in the modern day has finally gotten his chance to come back. And so has the DCU, some would say. Zachary Levi is Shazam. And so is Asher Angel. See, Shazam is actually a 15-year-old kid named Billy Batson, going from foster home to foster home as he refuses to give up the search for his missing mom. After defending a handicapped fellow foster kid (Jack Dylan Grazer) from bullies, an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou) from the last of a line of protector wizards summons him and gives him the magic power of Shazam. So, whenever he says his name, he becomes the fully adult Captain Mar…er…Shazam. At first what we’re dealing with here is the old Tom Hanks movie Big (which the movie decidedly tips its hat to), with a goofy montage of ‘what powers do I have’ and lots of ‘gee whiz’. Eventually, we get to the big bad, Mark Strong as Sivana, a former potential Shazam candidate who was found ‘not worthy’ and since has spent his life looking for validation that his experience really happened, only to come into magic powers (but f’d up ones) himself. How does this rank in the sizable field of superhero films? Listen to Chris, Alan, Ben, and Zach give you the details.
It is the end of WWII and Germany is a bombed-out mess. People struggle to survive as allied troops move in for the reconstruction. Keira Knightley is an Englishwoman joining her colonel husband, Jason Clarke, in Hamburg, as he proceeds with the operation. They are sequestered in a sizable mansion that belongs…or belonged…to an architect and his teenage daughter. Having seen the camps where German survivors are being placed, Clarke feels that with such a huge house it would be crappy of them to force the two to leave, much to his wife’s chagrin. But Clarke is busy with the military operations and gone a lot and the architect is played by Alexander Skarsgård so OMG SEXY TIME. How can a forbidden romance movie with Knightley and Skarsgård not be smoldering? We had VERY different opinions as to the quality of this film in our review. Listen to Chris, George, and Ben fight it out.
Disney has been making mad bank off these live-action-ish remakes of their classic animated properties so here comes the weird mutated baby no one wanted…oh, except for of course Tim Burton. It’s kinda his whole schtick. The tale of the little elephant with giant ears who can fly has been DRASTICALLY changed for this version (before you ask, no crows). Michael Keaton most notably joins the story as, erm, evil Walt Disney? He wants the little elephant for his own and screw everybody else. Other than that you have Colin Farrell looking disarmed as he tries to figure out what he’s supposed to be doing in this film, Eva Green as a trapeze artist who…well, pretty much the same as Farrell, and Danny DeVito as the character who actually seems alive. So yeah, not big fans. But listen to Chris, Alan, and Frank on the review to see how it all played out.
The Mustang is basically an advertisement for a program that lets convicts train wild horses to be brought to auction. However, considering that, as the film touts, it boasts the lowest recidivism rate for prisoners involved with it, we’ll let that slide. Matthias Schoenaerts plays an incarcerated violent felon. Laconic and misanthropic, he would rather keep to himself but the prison’s psychologist (Connie Britton) gets him a job working outside by the horse stables for the aforementioned program. He’s just shoveling manure but crabby horse-breaking show-runner Bruce Dern spots him and puts him on the team. How well can that go for a guy who can’t even relate to other humans without getting violent? Check out Chris and Alan on the review.
Academy award-winning director of A Fantastic Woman in 2017, Sebastián Lelio, follows up his win with the English language remake of his 2013 Chilean film Gloria. What you’ve got here is a display piece for Julianne Moore’s impressive talents as a performer…but not a whole heckuva lot else. Here she plays Gloria, a long-divorced empty-nester who is looking for something outside of her day-to-day lonely life. Going to discos at night, she unenthusiastically seeks companionship and ends up with Arnold (John Turturro). He seems great at first but maybe there’s more to him than meets the eye. Or less. We were kinda mixed about this one but still admitted there was plenty to admire about it. Listen to Chris, Ben, and Beau give their review.
RUBEN BRANDT, COLLECTOR
HOLD UP! DO NOT MOVE. I know, this title doesn’t exactly grab you. But what if I told you this was one of the best films we’ve seen yet in 2019 and in fact, one of the most innovative animated films ever made? Uh-huh. So stick around while Chris, Beau, and Alan describe the film Ruben Brandt, Collector to you. The story follows the titular Ruben who is a famous (and unreasonably successful) art therapist who takes 4 of his patients who happen to be master thieves and gets them to steal the world’s greatest paintings for him. Very odd, very fast-paced, filled with equal parts cool action and fine-art meta-humor (yes, now that’s a thing), the film left our critics deeply impressed. Check out their review here.
Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort as a director, Us, may not be so much a ‘horror comedy’ as his first filmGet Out, but it is no question, a horror movie. Well, just ask him…Case closed. Lupita Nyong’o plays Adelaide, happily married to Gabe (Winston Duke) with their two kids Zora and Jason. It’s holiday time and the fam is all packed up to stay in a summer home on the lake and near the beach where Adelaide originally grew up. Only something is haunting her. A past, a memory, a doppelganger, a funhouse on the beach…what happens when those memories, and an entire family of crazed doppelgangers, come to call? Peele explores this and the dark underbelly of America’s past (metaphorically) in this horror (NOT THRILLER…NO, I WON’T LET THIS GO) that also stars Elizabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Listen to what Chris, Marco, Ben, and Patience had to say about it…
Wow, the 21st film in the MCU and still going strong. This time the story goes back to the 90s in this kinda prequel to the entirety of the film series with Brie Larson as an amnesiac space soldier and member of an alien race who when she ends up on Earth searching for a shapechanging enemy terrorist (Ben Mendelsohn) she teams up with a young and very much alien-naive Nick Fury (Sam Jackson) to deal with the aliens, investigate her memory flashbacks that seem to involve the Earth, and generally blast the hell outta the haters. How does it stack up in the Marvel Movie line-up? Beau, Chris, and Harris not only deliver a history of the character in comics but their review of the movie right here.
Gaspar Noé is kinda a madman. No one makes more extreme, ambient, experiential, experimental films than him (that get a wide release, anyway). His latest film Climax is certainly no exception. Sofia Boutella is the only recognizable actor here, as a lead member of a group of French dancers throwing a party in an abandoned school. These guys like to party but whoo boy. It shortly turns out that someone in their group has dosed the sangria with some sort of extreme hallucinogen and oh shit…we’re definitely watching a Gaspar Noé film here. Much like his other films, Climax is not for your casual filmgoer. But how does it rank with Chris and Alan? Listen to this Climax Movie Review to find out.
Director Neil Jordan tries his hand at the obsessive stalker thriller sub-genre with Greta. This time it’s the previously stalked (in Elle) Isabelle Huppert doing the stalking and the stalkee is little girl lost Chloë Grace Moretz, a self-proclaimed naively sweet girl doing her best to not be eaten alive in the big city of New York. When she finds a purse left on the subway, despite her roommate’s (Maika Monroe) exhortations to take the money out and be done with it, she tracks down the owner. The seemingly adorable French lady (Huppert) is grateful to receive her property and starts a friendship with the young girl, who is grateful for an older woman in her life as her own mother passed away recently. But lo, this older lady is CRA-ZEE and shit goes sideways. Way sideways. Check out our Greta movie review with Chris, Frank, and Beau.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
Hiccup and his lovable dragon Toothless return in this third and final (?) chapter in the How To Train Your Dragon trilogy that has been surprisingly quite excellent so far. This time, dragon overpopulation and a nasty new dragon hunter (F. Murray Abraham) put the dragons in danger and Hiccup seeks for a way to ensconce them in the titular Hidden World…but humans aren’t welcome there. Will this break up the friendship? Will Toothless get it on with a White Fury dragon (phrasing) and make adorable little Fury-draglets? Listen to our reviewing crew of Ben, George, and Matt Frank discuss.
NEVER LOOK AWAY
Are you ready for over three hours of German Academy Award-nominated viewing? Well, our critics Alan and Lara sure were. Now you can hear for yourself whether it’s worth your time to see that Best Foreign Language film nominee and I think I can safely say that they voted AYE. The story follows the life of art student Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling), who is loosely based on the famed painter Gerhard Richter (who disavows the movie, but whatever). It follows decades of his life, his love story, the Nazis, the Russians, and more. Despite its running time, it sounds like our reviewers found it mesmerizing. But don’t trust me, listen to the review right here.
Two-time Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi returns with this mystery film featuring two actors we’ll ALWAYS watch together onscreen, Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. During a big family wedding in a small town outside Madrid, Cruz’s teenage daughter is kidnapped. While the big extended family tries to figure out where the money will come from for the ransom, fingers are pointed, old scandals are brought to light, and everyone is a suspect. But will this live up to Farhadi’s previous two winners, A Separation and The Salesman? Chris and Frank are here to give you the goods.
ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?
Rebel Wilson hates romantic comedies. Well, no, probably not, but her character in Isn’t it Romantic sure does. As she’s more than willing to tell anyone who’ll listen. In detail. For some time. But when she hits her head she wakes up inside of the tropeyist, Rom-Com fantasy world imaginable with every cliche she detests and finds she has no choice but to play through it to be able to get back to her own world. Such as it is. Lessons are learned. Songs are sung. Our critics had mixed reactions but overall…hey, not so bad. Listen to Chris, Kim, and Ben give their review.
ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL
Robert Rodriguez got the job of adapting the popular classic manga Battle Angel: Alita but when James Cameron is watching over your shoulder, well, you tend to step it up. Rose Salazar (plus some CG big-ass eyes) plays Alita, a cyborg whose pieces were found in a junk pile by Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz) who reconstructs her but she can’t remember her past. But when danger rears its head, her battle instincts kick into play and it’s clear that her past might be pretty complicated and pretty dangerous. Lots of ass-kicking follows and there was more than enough top-notch F/X and action sequences for us all to recommend Alita, but it’s definitely not without its problems. Listen to Chris, Harris, Matt, and JC give their review.
HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U
The sequel to 2017’s surprise hit with both audiences and critics is here and…quite frankly, given the track record of horror sequels to big commercial hits, I’m not sure we were expecting much. The sequel returns pretty much the ENTIRE original cast and shakes things up again, with surprises and plot-change-ups all over the place and the comedy even more dominant than in the original. In fact, the entire movie was a big surprise in the tonal changes which pleased some of our critics more than others. Listen to Chris, George, and Ben do their review.
THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PIECE
Everything WAS awesome but now, in this sequel to the surprise hit The Lego Movie, the world of Bricksburg has become Apocalypseburg; the decision by Will Ferrell’s character at the end of the last movie to let his kids play with his exquisitely crafted Lego town has led to ruin. Especially by the little sister who has brought in the destructive and haphazardly built Duplo beasts. Regularly, the Lego wasteland is raided by aliens from the ‘Sistar’ system but our protagonist, Emmett, still sees the world through awesome-colored glasses, much to the chagrin of everyone around him. That is, until the aliens come for his best friends and lady-love. Emmett must hitch-up his courage and go on an adventure beyond the Stairgate, rescue his friends, and stop the fabled ‘Our-Mom-Ageddon’ from happening. But, what you’re asking yourself is this: a lot of the success of that first movie was due to the sheer shock that a Lego movie could be as good as it was. Does the sequel have a shot at being as good? Listen to Chris, Ben, Alan, and Beau weigh in.
It may have taken director Nicholas McCarthy awhile to get going on his directorial career, but at age 40 he released the low-budget, but much beloved The Pact. Now, on his third film, Nic takes on the ‘demon seed’ genre of horror films, telling the story of Miles, a genius child. Also, a child who might be possessed by something evil, or that’s what his mom (Taylor Schilling) thinks. Things go bump in the playpen and our critics, Patience, JC, and Miguel, think that’s kinda ok. Listen to their review right here.
It’s time to start watching all the Oscar nominees that we missed along the way and Capernaum, a Lebanese film up for Best Foreign Language Film, leads the pack. This moving drama follows a 12-year-old boy as he becomes disconnected from his grifter family and ends up having to take care of an infant child himself. We didn’t all see eye-to-eye exactly on this one, but there were few complaints. Listen to Chris, Marco, and Ben in the review.
Director Catherine Hardwicke brings us this remake of a Mexican film featuring Gina Rodriguez as an innocent caught up in Tijuana between the charismatic leader of a drug cartel who has abducted her (Ismael Cruz Córdova), a super-corrupt police force, and the slimy DEA who don’t care if she gets hurt or if she’s guilty or not as long as she helps them. Eventually, she’s gonna blow and start shooting folks, that much is sure. But does it happen soon enough? Listen to the review with Chris, Lara, and Aaron to find out.
STAN & OLLIE
Two of the most beloved stars of the post-vaudeville/early film comedy scene, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, are given the ‘final days’ biopic treatment here by Jon S. Baird starring respectively Steve Coogan and (the already nominated) John C. Reilly. Largely looking at their final European tour, Stan & Ollie is certainly bittersweet and melancholy but in a good way. Listen to Chris, Ben, Marco, and Alan give their review.
Are you ready for this? I don’t think you’re ready for this. NO ONE was ready for this. Matthew McConaughey is a private fishing boat captain obsessed with this really big tuna he can’t seem to catch. Djimon Hounsou is his reluctant first mate. Anne Hathaway is his ex who shows up to say that her rich, abusive husband, Jason Clarke, needs to die and she’ll pay him to do the deed. And then a bunch of weird TWIST COMING stuff happens. This is…inexplicable. But we do our best. Listen to Chris and Lara review the movie that Chris calls, “The Showgirls of Black Mirror episodes”.
THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING
]Joe Cornish, who previously brought us the delightful Attack the Block, finally got off his duff and directed a second film, strongly making the case that when it comes to working with child actors and genre adventure films he’s at the top of his game. A young boy in modern day finds Excalibur in a stone and discovers he has to learn the nobility of the knights (and teach others) in order to stop the return of King Arthur’s half-sister and greatest enemy, Morgana Le Fay. Chris, Michael, and Ben got to see this and can’t wait to tell you about it.
M. Night Shyamalan returns to the universe of his second film Unbreakable with this sorta combo-platter of movies. Glass features from that film Bruce Willis as David Dunn, a super-strong/somewhat invulnerable real-world superhero as well as his counterpart villain, Samuel L. Jackson as the mega-intelligent Mr. Glass. From M. Night’s last film Split (which added on an easter egg at the very end tying it to the Unbreakable film) James McAvoy returns as the serial killer with multiple personality disorder, Kevin Crumb who’s got a more-than-human beast inside. The three of them are held at a psychiatric institute by a doctor who specializes in people who believe they have superpowers (Sarah Paulson). I’m sure nothing will go wrong with her incredibly well-thought-out plan. :/
ON THE BASIS OF SEX
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a very visible (albeit old and shrunken) hero to the left of late and the documentary about her life RBG was celebrated as one of the year’s best. So, of course here comes Hollywood with the not-even-close-to-as-good biopic about her; well…Ruth when she was young and sexy, as played by Felicity Jones with Armie Hammer as her equally young and sexy husband. The film picks a time to focus on and that is her post-collegiate years trying without success to get an actual job as a lawyer (which generally, if anything, she was overqualified for) and then the first sex discrimination case she got to argue which was a landmark event and the beginning of her successes in that legal field. But does it feel real? Is it fun to watch? Listen to Chris, Frank, and Ben lay out their cases.
As I’ve been saying since 2011, that French film The Intouchables is great. So funny and heartfelt. You can rent it from Amazon or other places and you WILL NOT regret it. Or, I guess, if you’re one of those BUT SUBTITLES people, you can watch this Americanized version of the true story with Bryan Cranston as a wealthy, cranky, quadriplegic who hires irreverent, criminally inclined, parolee Kevin Hart to be his caregiver (largely just to be difficult). Despite all logic, the two become friends and yadda yadda magical life transforming…you get the gist. Nicole Kidman is in this thing too. Listen to Chris, Ben, and JC give their reviews.
Five attractive young people meet when they get a mysterious invitation to an extremely well-funded Escape Room game. All being very different people they have to find ways to work together to survive the game as one room leads into another becoming increasingly more elaborate…and deadly. There, I’ve written the logline for the film. Can I go now? Wait, it’s by the guy who did The Taking of Deborah Logan? That was pretty good, And it’s got Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs Evil), Logan Miller (Love, Simon) and Deborah Ann Woll (Daredevil) in it? Maybe we’re actually on to something here?
WHAT WILL OUR TEAM OF INTREPID CRITICS DECIDE? WAS IT WORTH CHRIS, ALAN, AND KIM’S VOYAGE TO THE THEATER TO SEE A JANUARY HORROR FILM OR ARE THEY LESSER FOR IT? TURN TO PAGE 23 FOR “IT WAS WORTH IT” OR PAGE 72 FOR “NOW THEIR BRAINS ARE MUSH”.
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
Barry Jenkins follows up his Best Picture-winning Moonlight with this adaptation of a lauded 1970s novel. The story follows a young African-American couple (Kiki Layne and Stephen James) who fall for each other deeply only for James to get falsely accused of a crime and sent to jail right as Layne discovers she’s pregnant. The story follows the family’s attempt to free James and it explores the depth of police corruption, brutality, and racism rampant at the time while still holding that candle of love up high out in the darkness. Your critics for this one are Ian, Frank, and Lara. Why not listen to what they have to say?
The director and writer of The Big Short returns to take on more ‘spoonful of sugar’ political stories with his biopic of George Bush’s Vice-President, Dick Cheney. Christian Bale does the full body transformation again (he says for the last time) into the considerably heftier Cheney with Amy Adams playing his wife Lynn. It’s hard to list all the great performers in this film playing recognizable figures from the Republican party. You can check out the Wiki page for that. But can we say what an odd and comedic way this is of telling a true story that arguably put us directly in the nightmarish political space that American currently finds itself in? We all agree on that, but there are some diametrically opposed viewpoints on whether or not it’s hysterical or just depressing. Listen to Chris, Ben, Frank, and Alan argue it out.
Nicole Kidman plays the roughest version of herself imaginable in the new film from the director of Girlfight and The Invitation, Destroyer. She plays a police detective who once many years previous went undercover with Sebastian Stan into a Los Angeles gang and (apparently) it ended tragically. All these years later and it appears that the leader of the gang who got away is back and sending a message to Kidman. Can she get past her alcoholic haze and extreme burn-out to deal with the situation? Listen to Chris, CJ, Alan, Lara, and Frank review.
WELCOME TO MARWEN
Robert Zemeckis directs (and believe me, he won’t let you forget it) Welcome to Marwen, a narrative adaptation of the amazing 2010 documentary Marwencol. In this ‘heightened reality’ version, Steve Carell plays Mark Hogancamp, an artist who was beaten nearly to death in a hate crime. Now, years later, he is starting to recover using an elaborate fantasy town he has built next to his house called Marwen: a WWII besieged Belgian village complete with dolls based on himself and people in his life who act out elaborate stories that he takes pictures of. So art therapy healing, a decent cast of folks including Leslie Mann and Merritt Weaver, impressive use of mocap animation of the actor’s faces onto the dolls…what exactly is wrong here? It’s not so easy to put the finger on but Chris, Frank, Marco, and Alan do their best.
BEN IS BACK
All seems quiet and calm in suburbia in the home of Holly (Julia Roberts) and Neal (Courtney B. Vance) Burns. They go to church, their kids are in the choir and church play, it’s all so very precious. Everything gets shook up when Ben (Lucas Hedges) returns without warning, the junkie son they had all but given up on. Only Holly seems determined to make this work, but even Ben isn’t as sure as she is. When someone steals the family dog, Ben and Holly take off to try and track down some of Ben’s old drug-related connections to see who might have revenge-dog-knapped and things get more than a bit tense. Listen to Ben, Lara, and Alan discuss the mysteries of Ben (the cinematic one, not our critic).
Pretty much the other top choice for Best Foreign Language Film this year up against Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, is Polish director Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War. Already on the no-brainer list for nomination since his 2015 Oscar win for Ida, Cold War has already made the shortlist. This beautifully shot (in 4:3!) film tells the story of a young singer/dancer and her instructor in Soviet controlled Poland who have a love that goes on for years, often interrupted by separation and political divisions. Listen to Chris, Marco and Frank sing the praises of this one.
James Wan takes this helm of the movie I really thought I’d never see in my lifetime. The DC comics character of Arthur Curry, better known as Aquaman, is played again here by Jason Momoa where he has to work with Mera (Amber Heard) and Vulko (Willem Dafoe) to get a sacred trident so he can take the kingship of Atlantis and stop his brother (Patrick Wilson) and his human ally Black Manta (Yahya Abdul Mateen II) from starting a war with the surface. I can’t say I was honestly surprised by how I ended up feeling about it, but I was kinda surprised by everyone else’s take on it. Listen to Chris, Aaron, Zach, Taylor, and Ben debate the relative merits of the film here.