Keeping Up With the Joneses

“Finally got to take advantage of the $6 Tue movies at a nearby theater! Although, I almost made an impulse decision not to. When buying my tickets, I noticed that there was a screening of the stage version of Frankenstein starring Bennedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller that started in two minutes. But not only would the price have been 3x higher, I just didn’t have it in me to watch something that likely required brainpower. I’d had a long and rough day, and I just needed something mindless to entertain me, so I stuck with the original plan. It ended up being exactly what I needed.

Zach Galifianakis (I got my team a point at trivia last week for knowing how to spell his name!) and Isla Fisher (love her) star in this light on the action heavy on the comedy as a typical suburban couple with a quiet and predictable life in their quaint little cul-de-sac. At least it’s quiet and predictable until Jon Hamm (who needs to do more comedy) and Gal Gadot (love her too) move in next door, and there’s a good chance they’re undercover spies.

Again, keeping in mind that I said I needed something mindless, I really enjoyed it. I think the cast has a lot to do with that because they were flawless and funny and fully engaging. For all of them, it was a great showcase. Zach and Isla were a bit more grounded than usual, we don’t see funny nearly enough from Jon, and we haven’t seen it before from Gal, and they all knocked it out of the park. Sure, the material wasn’t exactly original, but they sold it like it was. And that’s why it made for a great night out at the movies.

Keeping Up with the Joneses – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

“So a few years ago, Tom Cruise did his first Jack Reacher movie. I remember it being a perfectly serviceable action movie, but not much else. Therefore I expected pretty much the same out of its sequel, which is basically what we got. Decent low level action film, good chance for Tom Cruise to show off without being too flashy, and nothing that’s gonna stand the test of time too long. But it’s a fine way to kill a couple hours.

There are two really good things that I think came out of this movie though. One was him recapping all his films with James Corden as promo. The second is the realization that Cobie Smulders deserves her own action franchise, because damn! We’ve seen her rock the military attitude as Maria Hill in the MCU, but girl can do that and kick some butt. Wouldn’t it be cool if she had her own original series to rule? Oh I should also point out that this movie seemed to make a point of having a good gender balance in their military characters, which I very much appreciated. But yeah, please please please, Ms Smulders to save the world on screen please

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – \m/ \m/ \m/”

American Pastoral

“I was so excited to be able to see a movie that opened (I think) only in LA and NYC. I didn’t even really do my homework to see what it was about. I’d seen the trailer once and it caught my eye. Throw in that it starred Ewan McGregor in his directorial debut, and I was sold. Except I prolly should have checked into a bit more. I kept on expecting more to happen, something twisted and dark, and it never really did. Rewatching the trailer just now, I see how it’s cut to tease a psychological thriller (the use of “”Mad World”” certainly evokes that), and that’s not at all what it is. Or at least this film adrenaline junkie would not consider it a thriller.

McGregor stars as a family man in the 60’s married to Jennifer Connelly and raising Dakota Fanning. Fanning’s character is an angsty teenager, angry at the world and wanting to protest anything and everything. Her political rebellions begin to tear the family apart. I honestly spent half the movie just wondering where it was going. And not in an edge-of-my-seat-whats-gonna-happen-next sort of way, but more of a huh-whats-the-point. I mean I sorta get what the point was, but I couldn’t help but feeling like we were only scratching the surface of something deeper that I was dying to tap into.

Our cast was fantastic (mega bonus points for also including Uzo Aduba), and the visuals were rich and striking. I just wish I could have been more invested in the story. We had a couple points where it started to get interesting, building some mystery, and then it would always end up flat and unsatisfying. Shame really to waste what could have been a beautiful film on a weak screenplay.

American Pastoral – \m/ \m/”

3 Ninjas

“Anaconda. Dragon Slayer. Unforgiven. All movies I saw for reasons similar to why I saw 3 Ninjas. Not that I really need much reason to see a movie, and that’s all I have to say about that.

My immediately reaction within the first thirty seconds was “”Holy 90’s nostalgia, Batman!””. The score, the dialog, the family friendly quality, the racial insensitivity, all of it screams early 90’s kids movie. I was skeptical of the package’s claim that it combined TMNT and Home Alone, but yes, very accurate statement as it would turn out. You have the easily defined characters of the turtles who know martial arts and the hijinks of home alone. Very fun.

And really totally unnecessary to watch, but hey, yay 90s”

The Accountant

“I’m pretty sure I’ve made this observation before, but one thing that kinda sucks about seeing movies as often as I do (and I’ve been getting into a rhythm of doing so again out here), is seeing the same trailers over and over again. It’s why I refuse to watch trailers online except in extreme circumstances. But even movies I’m excited for will start to get annoying eventually, and such was the case with The Accountant.

I read something recently talking about this film and a couple other recent ones that complained how about there’s a current trend of movies that are obsessed with twists. The Accountant is certainly a poster child for that. Batfleck stars as a high functioning autistic man whose skill with numbers has made him the go to accountant for some shady people. And then seemingly every five minutes we find out some new shocker about him. Except most twists weren’t as shocking a they’d think. Perhaps it’s another symptom of seeing too many movies, but I picked up on far too many of the subtle clues and open threads to really be surprised by anything.

And I find myself completely blanking on what other thoughts I had. JK Simmons and Anna Kendrick are awesome. I was concerned about how they’d portray genius, and it wasn’t as badly stereotypical as I expected, but didn’t quite nail it. Oh Jon Bernthal’s pretty awesome in general. Am I done?

The Accountant – \m/ \m/ \n”

Desierto

“This might be dangerous. I discovered that one of the nearest theaters to me, which is also one of the cheaper ones, has a Dave and Busters in the same complex. After considering movie hopping (also one of the few where I could feasibly do so), I instead opted to spend 30 bucks playing that Wizard of Oz game I’m obessed with and its Star Trek equivalent. But this blog isn’t about arcade games, it’s about the movie I saw before playing the arcade games.

I wanted to see this because it was framed as a real life thriller. A problem I often have with the genre (although its more true for horror) is that so many of the scenarios are rather unrealistic, so it only allows me to feel up to a certain level of fear. Now Desierto may not depict a situation I’m likely to find myself in, but it’s one that feels like it could potentially happen.

Gael Garcia Bernal (love him) stars as an immigrant crossing the border into the US. While trekking thru the desert, his party is attacked by an American (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who caused me to spend the whole movie going back and forth trying to figure out if it really was him) wielding a rifle, killing most of the group on sight. Bernal is stuck in an open and unknown space with harsh elements and a zealot with a gun and a good shot. Oh and a dog. (PS-I don’t wanna give a spoiler, but as an animal lover there was one particular scene that was tough to watch).

The downfall of a film like this is that there’s no real plot or character development, so your pacing and action need to be spot on. We got pretty close. I definitely felt the urgency of the situation, and the film did a good job of conveying the sense of danger. While there were a few lulls, I found my mind filling in the gaps thinking about the current political state for immigrants. The movie was careful about not being too preachy with its themes, while still being clear on where it sided. I had some moderately profound thoughts while watching, but I guess Dave and Busters erased them.

Desierto – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

The Girl on the Train

“Yesss! We are out of the end of summer doldrums and starting to hit that boost of dark thrillers that will lead us into award season. And with that is one of the first movies of the end of the year that I was really truly psyched for. From the time the book came out until the time the movie was released, all I’d hear was positive comparisons to Gone Girl. Yes please! Okay so it turns out Gone Girl was better, but that’s a very high bar to clear. We’ll get to that.

First, the quick recap. Emily Blunt is the titular girl, Rachel, who rides the train every day drinking vodka from her water bottle and staring at a young and in love couple from her window. When the young woman goes missing, Rachel finds herself caught up in the drama, and her involvement may go even deeper than she realizes.

It was dark and suspenseful and pretty much what I was hoping for on that front. The best delivered promise was Blunt’s performance, a career best. And I just love that such a mess of a woman can be a lead character. Us gals are just as complicated and as interesting as the boys, and this showcased the shadier side of the street in that regard.

Okay so my issues with the film were twofold. The first being the pacing, put me right to sleep. Sure, I was there slightly later than ideal, but I think things could have moved along a bit better, which leads us into point two. I solved it too quickly. A clue that was framed as a twist ended up pointing right to the answer, at which point, I lost some interest. There were some other cool twists and turns, but not to Gone Girl’s level.

So maybe the film wasn’t perfect, but I’m glad that it highlighted women who also aren’t. I think it’s still a step in the right direction for film, and accomplishes far more than half of the less memorable crap we’ve (I’ve) been seeing this year.

The Girl on the Train – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

Doctor Strange

“””Is anybody actually excited for Doctor Strange?”” a friend asked the other day. “”Um, yeah, I am”” I responded. I continued by saying that A) Marvel always knocks it out of the park and B) just when they start getting too formulaic and simple, they bring out something really unique and just kill it. I cited Guardians and Ant-Man as examples. I basically got a “”touche”” in response.

I was thinking about the Marvel vs DC (filmwise at least) debate a bit more during the film, and the most important distinction I figured out was that Marvel is always trying to bring something new. If you look at everything in the MCU, the weakest films are the straight up sequels. But the new introductions of characters and the new concepts are so much stronger. I complain sometimes about the surfeit of origin stories, but when it comes to new to me characters, these have been stellar. Just think back to when the Avengers each first debuted. The mainstream (myself included) knew nothing about those guys individually, but now they are the greatest superpower in pop culture. As opposed to DC who keep showing us characters we already know, and rehashing their origins, and not really giving us any new information. C’mon DC, dig deep into your archives and give us something we haven’t seen before.

Back to Strange, yes, it was another superhero origin story. But this dude is different. He’s more of a spiritual fighter, tapping into the mystic, and studying his way to power. I found myself really identifying with him, and while I can’t entirely put my finger on why, I think it is that thirst for understanding. Early on when he first meets The Ancient One, who will become his teacher, she says to let go of trying to understand everything. I felt like she was speaking directly to me, because that’s often a downfall of my enjoying a film. I have to know how it all works and fits together. I made a point right then to stop trying to figure it out and just go with it, which made for a much more pleasant experience. I think it also just makes sense to me the idea that if you put in enough time and study, you can achieve greatness. That’s something my Daddy firmly instilled in me, and it was really cool seeing that idea turn out rather well for the doc. The other thing I liked is that while I’m not into the meditative aspect of it, some of the foundations of the Doctor’s mystic studies shared a lot with the foundations of yoga, which I’m obsessed with. So he gets bonus points for that.

From there, sure it’s a kind of formulaic Marvel origin movie. But just because it follows a formula doesn’t make it bad. Everything built around it, from the characters to the dialog to the effects were top notch, and that’s how you make a formula work. You use it as your base to start from and not as your driving force. Take note, DC.

Yeah so the doc might not replace Cap as my favorite person in the MCU, but he’s at least in the running now. I just love how different he was without straying too far from home. At least for me, different is how you win me over.

Doctor Strange – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

Deepwater Horizon

“I finally made it to the nearby dine in theater! I’d wanted to go right away, but evening ticket prices were way too expensive to justify on a likely crappy movie, and I hadn’t found the right one. Instead, I found the right time, being able to drag my ass there to a before noon show this past weekend. And what Boston girl at heart can resist a Mark Wahlberg movie?

Wahlberg stars in the story of the Deepwater Horizon, the oil rig that caused the BP oil spill a few years back, the largest and most devastating in history. The film aims to give a voice to those workers who were caught in the middle, many of whom lost their lives in the disaster. On that front it is very successful.

The film does not shy away from painting the BP men as the villains of the tale. The blame is almost too much, but in this context, the blame is not undeserved. We see the men who worked hard every day to keep the rig running, who fought back when the authorities tried to cut corners to save money, and who came to each other’s aid during the crisis. The film was very emotional and moving at times.

But it was also a bit of a mess. I have two major beefs with it. One, the dialog was really hard to pick up. Thick southern accents quickly spitting out technical jargon is hard to follow, without subtitles at least. I feel like I missed out on so much because of that. The second issue for me was with the action sequences. The first few blasts looked amazing. At least to my eye, it seemed like they chose practical effects over computers where possible, and it looked fantastic. But then it all just got very muddled. Aside from Wahlberg, I couldn’t really tell who was who, or where people were going, or what they were doing. It was pure chaos. While I’m sure the real event was pure chaos, you want something sleeker on film.

Overall though, I’m glad to have went. The story, incomprehensible dialog, was fascinating. I really appreciated being able to put details to a story that I’d only ever heard in sensationalized generalizations. I also appreciate a story that highlights true every day heroes, and that was certainly was the heart of the film.

Deepwater Horizon – \m/ \m/ \m/”

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

“Okay this blog schedule is really going to hell, and you know what, I’m okay with that. A big part of the point of the move was to break out of my routine and if that means I’m not consistently getting to the movies and not consistently getting to my computer, but I’m living it up in the big city, then that’s a worthy trade off. But I still gotta get in at least one movie a week. I mean, I haven’t gone crazy.

Two things we all know to be true. 1-I love Tim Burton. 2-He’s been off his game lately. Therefore, I approached Miss Peregrine’s with caution. On the surface it looked like it had the magic that I love this man for, but so have some of the recent clunkers. I don’t think I even saw more than a single trailer, so other than the basic premise, I had no idea what to expect.

The film follows Asa Butterfield’s Jake, who sets off in search of answers after hearing his grandfather’s cryptic dying words. The journey leads him to Miss Peregrine, the caretaker at a home for children with special powers. Jake learns the truth about his past and the threats that face his future. Wow that line was cheesy.

Did it work? Yes and no. The most glaring issues were plot and pacing. The movement in the story was so plodding and slow. And then it just got really confusing. You just had to sort of go with it, lest an explanation drag things down even more. So all of that could have worked.

But not all was lost. We may not have reached Edward Scissorhands level, but these are the best characters and world that Burton has inhabited in a while. His whole mojo may not be back, but it’s a step in the right direction, and that gives me hope.

I also want to give an MVP award to Samuel L Jackson, who I have never seen have more fun than he did here, not even when working with Tarantino. He was seriously chewing that scenery like it was covered in sugar, and brought genuine life to an underwritten character. Runner up to Eva Green, typically hit or miss in my book, who really picked a role that works for her. Maybe won’t live on in infamy like Vesper Lynd, but has the potential to be as iconic. Oh Allison Janney, Judi Dench, Terrance Stamp, and Chris O’Dowd showed up too. My buddy and I had really funny reactions unexpectedly reading all their names in the opening credits.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – \m/ \m/ \m/”