Highly Suspect Reviews

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.

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THE MUSTANG

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.

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GLORIA BELL

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.

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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.

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US

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…

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CAPTAIN MARVEL

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.

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CLIMAX

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.

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GRETA

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.

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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.

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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.

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EVERYBODY KNOWS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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THE PRODIGY

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.

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CAPERNAUM

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.

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MISS BALA

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.

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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.

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SERENITY

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”.

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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.

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GLASS

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. :/

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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.

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THE UPSIDE

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.

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ESCAPE ROOM

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”.

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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?

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VICE

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.

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DESTROYER

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.

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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).

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COLD WAR

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.

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AQUAMAN

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.

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CHECK OUT PAGE 26 of HIGHLY SUSPECT REVIEWS

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