The Hustle (US release date 5/10/2019)

Why, just why? If you want to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels just watch the original 1989 version because this was just not worth seeing! All they did was flip genders and update the con for the times. While Rebel Wilson is a phenomenal actress the script the gave her just did not bring the laughs. Steve Martin got more with less. During his scenes as the imbecile brother he had iconic moments that my husband and I will still quote to each other and I saw that movie as a child. This time I mildly chuckled, if that. Anne Hathaway slept through the entire movie. I don’t know what has happen to her. She was a great actress in her teens and has just gotten hammier and hammier. All I can say is she has finally proven definitively it is possible to give nothing and overact at the same time. Script wise the jokes they added to the movie, added nothing. If you want to empower women, write original scripts that are actual good. And maybe have a woman write or Director!? Please don’t waste your money or your time and see this movie. I’m sorry this is coming out a week late, Hopefully I saved a few of you from a mistake.

The Hustle (US Release Date 5/10/2019)
Director: Chris Addison
Writers: Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning, Dale Launer, Jac Schaeffer (Lone Woman writer involved
Cast: Anne Hathoway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Tim Blake Nelson, Ingrid Oliver
Production Company: MGM
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j5hwooOHVE

Tolkein (US release date 5/10/2019

Tolkien is a fascinating look at one of the greatest writers of the 19th century. His use of language is eloquent, incredibly descriptive, and detailed. I remember reading the Hobbit as a young teen and being amazed at how completely Tolkien brought me into his world. One of my friends even said Tolkien studied the star placement of different time periods so he could describe the sky accurately. I totally believed this, because his writing is descriptive to a fault in places. I have read all five of the ring series books and they definitely contributed to my love of the scifi/fantasy genre. So, was I excited to see this movie, Yes, Fan-girl Maybe not, but Giddy!

What I loved about this movie was the way they let us see Tolkien writing process. The glimpses into his history was interesting, but glimpsing his imagination made real, and his interest in language and hearing his thinking process was so fascinating. As a writer myself I just ate it up. I know it was artistic license, but I found it beautiful and fascinating. My favorite scene in the whole movie was his diner with Edith when they were discussing language. He brings up the word Cellar Door and he tells her how beautiful it sounds. She in turn argues that words are not beautiful just because of the way that they sound but because of the meaning we give them. She then ask him to make up a story about Cellar Door. We then get to listen to him create a story using just a word and it is amazing.

The little touches through out the movie are so great. Use of color and cinematography are fantastic. Creating grand fantasy scope and reminding you of scenes that will take place in his books like the dark riders, the trolls and Smaug. You see everything that he wrote as he saw it during his quest in the trenches. Beautifully filmed and played for any fan of his books to suss out. His four friends are the characters of his fellowship and the solider taking him through the trenches is on of the most important characters of the books. Also played by Kallum Tolkien himself. This movie is well done and worth seeing. The trench warfare scenes are worth seeing on the big screen while the intimate scenes Tolkien’s past can be watched on the small screen of you living room. Nicholas Holt does an excellent job as usual but it is Anthony Boyle’s performance that I loved the most. His friendship and unrequited love shown through on the screen. Making Holt’s grief more poignant in the end. Lily Collins was a fair Edith and I could have taken or left it. Dome Karukoski gives us a sweeping epic and a heart felt drama in a single film, much like Tolkien himself a well done translation of bluring the line between the writer and his work.

Tolkien (US release date 5/10/2019)
Directed by: Dome Karukoski
Written by: David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford
Staring: Nicholas Holt, Craig Roberts, Laura Donnelly, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, and Kallum Tolkien, and Colm Meaney
Production Company: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Chernin Entertainment
Preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Girzu81oS8Q

Brigthburn (US release date 5/23/2019)

Biologically speaking life is driven by the acquisition of resources with the least expenditure of energy and passing our DNA on to the next generation. We see this the most in parasitic creatures. They use others to do the work for them, even having other creatures parent for them while expending zero energy to get the resources their young will need to survive. It is a fantastic if harsh system for them if you are simply looking at the numbers. Cow birds sneak their eggs into the nest of other birds. Then their young are fostered, usually at the expense of their own children. This is because they usually hatch first and grow larger faster demanding more food and time earlier than the foster birds own children. Sucks, but at least mom didn’t out right kill anyone right.

Then there is the of world of the parasitic wasp. One parasitic wasp , H. argyraphaga, lays its eggs in a spiders abdomen where it will have lots to eat when it hatches. But not before controlling the spider from inside and forcing it to build a web of protection from the torrential monsoon rains it will sleep trough during its metamorphosis. When done with the web, the larva finish its meal, chucks out the spiders husk and spins its own pupa. Thanks mom!

Some parasitoids go inside ant nest and attach their eggs to the ant larva. Then they chemically disguise their eggs so they are accepted as ants. Even when it becomes an adult wasp the ants still treat it as an ant, feeding and grooming it until the chemical wears off and the adult leaves the nest to mate. Talk about lazy deadbeat.

Oh but It gets worse, There are even hyperparasitoids that parasitize the parasitic wasp! One wasp tracks the chemicals emitted by caterpillars infected by wasp larva and then lay their eggs on the larva already eating the caterpillar. These parasites are not the heroes however. They simply eat the existing parasites and leave then eat their way out of the caterpillar, emerging covered in viscera in their full adult glory! You see it is not just in their nature to kill, it is in their nature to take everything they need to survive and then destroy what raise them. Their life cycle cannot be completed with out the death of what raised them. It is with this glorious knowledge in mind that I watched Brightburn last night. (Yes I Studied bugs in college and I am complete nerd).

What does all this have to do with a superhero/horror movie you ask? Well slight spoilers follow:

The writers of Bright burn asked the question what if Superman was not a beneficial relationship with humanity (a symbiote) but instead a parasite? What if he did not start out with his powers, but instead was bullied in school? What if instead of getting advice from loving alien parents, his pod whispered dark thoughts? What if superman was a 12 year old kid? we’d be totally fucked right, or would loving foster parents be enough to save us in the end? The only hint we get to Brandon’s actual origin is a scene in school where the kids are asked about the difference between bees and wasp. Brandon offers that bees are pollinators and wasp are predators. Some are even parasites. This and some strange chanting are the only insights into what may be driving Brandon’s behavior. Is this nature, because nurture was very normal.

I loved the details put into the costuming, Brigthburn (he is called this because this is the town in which he first emerges) does not have a perfect costume like superman, but instead has manipulated his own blanket. What I like about it is the insect like face. It elongated his head and over time, because it was knit, stretched so the eye holes became rounder (like a bugs or wasp) and the shoe lace mouth he used to sew the front becomes very mandible like completing the look. They also furthered his otherworldlyness by altering Superman’s smooth flying movements and speeding up the framework. This made him harder to follow, he seemed to zip around and jerk from place to place much like and insect. They also added insect sounds to the foley work adding to his alien nature. All in all Brightburn is creepy as fuck

There is gore to his kills leaving no doubt that he is no superhero. Jackson A. Dunn does a fantastic job flipping from a smiling sweet young child to a disturbed boy with a major superiority complex. His coldness borders on the spectrum and I loved it. Matt L. Jones confrontation scene with Brandon was hands down my favorite in the whole movie, just the right amount of humor. David Denman did an amazing job playing a conflicted father with a horrible discussion to make and I felt awful for Jenifer Holland. Script choices aside, I believed her performance. I felt there could have been some tweaks to make the script better, but overall my audience was pleased. A few people even cheered and guffawed out right at the end. This movie balanced out the horror well with some great comedic moments and the general audience will have fun. Billy Eilish comes in strong at the end with “Bad Guy” giving the movie the perfect send off. Overall director David Yarovesky did an excellent job and I would go see this in the theater.

Brightburn (US release Date 5/23/2019)
Director: David Yarovesky
Writers Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
Starring:Jacks A Dunn, Jennifer Holland, David Denmar, Matt A Jones, Meredith Hagner, Becky Wahlstrom, Gergory Alan Williams
Distribution Company: Sony Pictures
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0391pRUFIY

Avengers: Endgame (4/26/2019)

First some quick history:

This movie has been eleven years in the making. The Avengers movie franchise began with the first Iron Man movie on May, 2 2008. This movie introduced US to Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark, an Iconic, irreverent and arrogant superhero. I still remember the “Oh damn” feeling I got when he announced to the world “I’m Iron man.” Here was a superhero that did not hide behind an alternate, secret identity but proudly said, yes I am that bad ass! I loved him. Next came the Incredible Hulk reboot with Edward Norton, I love Ed Norton in most anything, but I have to say I am glad he did not continue the roll. Mark Ruffalo has made the hulk a truly beloved character and I can’t see anyone else in the roll. Before the first Avengers movie on May 4, 2012 they also introduced Thor with Chris Hemsworth on May 6, 2011 (thank God Jane did not continue in the movies long!) and Captain America: the First Avenger on July 22, 2011 with Chris Evans. We now had all of our hero’s and were ready for the first true Avengers movie and it grossed a little 1.5 million dollars world wide and it only cost them 220 million. In fact all six of the first movies cost 1.076 billion dollars to make and made a little over 3.8 billion dollars world wide. So of course they kept making movies.

For sequels, we have Iron Man 3, Thor: the Dark World, and Captain America: Winter Solider in 2013 and 2014. We also have new characters introduced with Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1, 2014) and Ant-man (July 17, 2015). The official Avengers property during this time was Avengers: Age of Ultron written and directed by Josh Whedon and released in May 1, 2015. The price tag of these six movies was slightly higher, 1.179 billion dollars but the brought in a little over 5.271 billion dollar world wide. Marvel, Paramount Pictures, and Ultimately Disney had found their cash cow and it was unstoppable all thanks to Kevin Feige the genius producer responsible for all of the Avengers films.

Finally for phase three, there are ten movies Captain America: Civil war, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spiderman Homecoming, Thor Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel and Finally Avengers: Endgame. To date they have spent 4.601 billion dollars making these movies and made 19,848,985,785 dollars world wide. Endgame alone has made over 1.2 billion for its opening weekend making it the highest grossing movie of the year according to frobes1. Amazing success, at least monetarily! If you want a synopsis on each movie check out either the Wikipedia site on the Marvel Cinematic Universe Films or Marvel Cinematic Universe fandom.

But how are the movies?

Well I did not like Infinity Wars that much to be honest. I felt the movie was a little too long and the ending just pissed me off. The stones felt like a giant McGuffin and the movie felt too busy. It was just OK and I’ve never felt compelled to re-watch it. I liked Captain Marvel, though I feel like she is too powerful, but hey, it fits the source material so what can you do. Thor’s last movie was a riot and Homecoming was the best Spiderman movie ever made! The fact that in general I love these movies gave me hope that Endgame, despite being three hours!! long would be OK and I would not find my self bored or regretting the midnight screening.

How was it? Best Movie Yet!

This film did not feel like three hours and I was never tired. The movie keeps you interested and engaged, even the scenes that are not integral to the plot are integral to the characters. In the beginning of the movie there is a small scene with Nebula and Tony Stark as they are stranded in space. They are playing table top football. It is a nothing scene but it shows you Nebula’s developing humanity as she begins to build connections with these characters. If they had cut it and just moved to her taking care of Stark later it would not have worked as well. Their would have been no connection building. There are lots of scenes like this, scenes that work not for the amazing special effects or big action but for the moments you share with the characters.

There is plenty of action and big special effects too. The ending battle, I can mention it because it is a super hero movie so of course, almost got a standing ovation at one point from the audience. People out right cheered. And it was well deserved! The action was well shoot and not so convoluted you could not follow it. Which in a lot of special effects bonanzas these days are a problem, you just end up watching color blobs thrash on the screen. These were clear and well rendered graphics.

Every actor brought their A game. Robert Downey Jr. was a dramatic master piece as usual. But man I loved Hemsworth. Thor’s struggle with their failures in the last movie are epic and I love him in comedies. It’s difficult to balance real inner struggle and silly comedy and he did it beautiful. Watch his expressions, they’re beautiful. He is fantastic here and it is Thor as you have never seen him.

I could write so much about this movie. Renner’s story as Hawkeye got to me so bad. As a mom, Yes I am playing that card again, I was right there with him and could see myself reacting exactly like him. I do not want to give anything else away so all I can say is go see this movie! See it twice, because I am sure you missed something the first time. I know I did! This series deserves to be ranked so High, the movies are not dark and brooding, they are fun, well lit with amazing special effects, but more importantly they have amazing stories and characters we actually care about!

Avengers: Endgame (US Release date: 4/26/2019
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcMBFSGVi1c

1Hughes, Mark ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Is Already The Highest-Grossing Film Of The Year

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2019/04/28/avengers-endgame-is-already-the-highest-grossing-film-of-the-year/

The Curse of La Lorona (US Release Date 4/19/2019)

This was the weekend of tears. We could choose between Breakthrough a drama about a teen who falls through the ice and ends up in a coma (tear jerker in the extreme) or La Llorona about a crying specter who preys on children. Yeah!

The Curse of La Llorona is in The Conjuring universe, but takes place outside of the main characters stories. This is a story line that highlights Hispanic history and traditions. Though slightly changed in for the film, as with every traditional story portrayed in pop culture, the story of the weeping woman is found in Mexican folklore and has played an important roll in Hispanic culture. This is not her first appearance in American culture, she has been popping up more and more lately in mainstream culture. The Curse of La Llorona also shows US audiences Curandera faith healers and some of their traditions. In a some what controversial step they invited Curanderas to perform limpias, spiritual cleansing before the screening of the film. Some Curandera who were invited attended the screening and others protested.

My screening of the film was on a Saturday night at 6:30 pm because I unfortunately had to work late Friday. The theater was half full and lets just say the audience was very enthusiastic. They yelled at the screen to warn the characters and tell them when they were doing something stupid. Every jump scene was accompanied by several loud screams. The first few times it was funny but it quickly got annoying. It took a suspenseful movie and made it a comedy. Some of the audience really enjoyed this, a few of us eventually just ignored it. When La Lorona revealed her non-spectral form during the climatic ending, a tone deaf audience member yelled out, she’s not even pretty. I guess they would have been more happy with a blonde chick. I thought Mariosl Ramirez is a very beautiful actor and when made up to look like a ghost she was pretty gross. Special effects did a good job making her creepy.

As a mother I found the movie uncomfortable. I love the horror genre, but since I have had my child I do find there are some boundaries I do like being crossed. Kids are to be protected not hunted. As La Llorona got more aggressive I became more stressed and wanted the movie to end faster. The first mother to loose her kids, driven mad with grief, even tells Anna (played by Linda Cardellini) she prayed to La Llorona to take Anna’s kids and bring her kids back. F’ed up and crazy! I can’t believe she didn’t smack her. I mean I know grief makes us crazy, but that is heartless.

Raymond Cruz plays the Curandera they must turn to because the church, with all of the bureaucracy would take to long to help. He is stiff and plays the roll with dry humor. I was on the fence as to weather or not I like him this time. I have enjoyed his work so much in breaking bad, the closer, nip/tuck and even Alien : Resurrection (Not a great movie, but he had fun in it.) I think the problem here was less his acting and more the movie. It was just OK. Some of the scares were legitimately good as were some of the chuckles. I appreciated the fact that it was a Hispanic movie with Hispanic actors. But in the long run this was not a five out of five. It had some drag and in the end is just a scary ghost story. There is nothing wrong with that though. It worked for what it was, it scared people.

As the audience was leaving one girl said “That was a great movie.” another audience member stood up and said “That ain’t true. That was not a movie you bring your grandmother to. Your children to either.” then she turned around and left with her family. In the bathroom I listened to a group from the audience discuss their experiences with haunting. The movie started discussion and they had a fun evening. So I get a big boisterous group and go have fun with the movie.

The Curse of La Lorona released 04/19/2019
Director: Michael Chaves
Staring: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Marisol Ramirez, Patricia Velasquez
Distribution Company: Atomic Monster and Warner Brothers Media
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOV-xMYQ7sk

Hellboy (US Release Date 4/12/2019)

I was hesitant about this movie going in and at first I did not mind it. I loved Ron Pearlman’s Hellboy, he was mouthy, full of angst and did not give a sh**. How could they top that. Then there was David Harbour, of Stranger Things. He has given us a Hellboy who is less sure about his place in the world. His Hellboy doesn’t like killing his own kind. He feels conflicted about the purposes his father has raised him to fulfill. His performance had depth and nuance and I loved it. “So I’m devil’s spawn and a Nazi, Thanks Dad.”

But then every character in this movie except his father and a medium Hellboy once rescued (Alice Monaghan, played by Sasha Lane) either wants Hellboy dead or is actively working to destroy him. The entire movie is a conspiracy against the main character. Hellboy is the destroyer of the world so he must be destroyed, but what about Mils Jovovich’s character Nimue? She spends so much of the movie being assembled that she barely has a part. No one trust him to save them because he is a monster so he has to be the bad guy. Personally, If I was surrounded by such jerks my whole life I might not be inclined to save the world either. I get that they are trying to do a fish out of water, don’t judge a book by it’s cover kind of story. But this one is just not written well.

The main problem with the story is that Hellboy has always been linked to Nazi’s and the occult which this movie has plenty of, but instead of sticking to characters story Andrew Crosby decided to change things up a bit. Hell boy meets Arthurian Legend? While I will be the first to admit I am not a Hellboy comic book reader, I can read comic character synopsis and know enough of the characters history to know the writer this is completely out of left field. What is this BS!!!.

MAJOR SPOILER WHILE I RANT!

Now Hell boy is the great, great grandson and hell-spawn of King Arthur? This was the story they came up with? This was the story the decided to reboot the Hellboy franchise with? Why because the King Arthur legend did so well for Transformers? Or no maybe it was the outstanding success of the Guy Ritchie King Authur: Legend of the Sword from 2017 that inspired them.

Come on? When Merlin came out of his hallow and told hell boy this ridiculousness I outright laughed out loud in the theater. I just could not hold it in. The movie had finally gone too far. I’d had enough of Mila Jovovich sleeping through the movie as Nimue the immortal witch and I finally broke. Now we have Excalibur to top things off and only Hellboy with his Arthurian blood can wield it. Will he use it to save the world or destroy it. I would say watch the movie and find out, but the story is so predictable I am sure you can guess the ending and figure it out yourself. Please do not waste your money or your time. While David Harbour is an excellent Hellboy the script is so bad the movie is not worth watching unless it cost you nothing.

Hellboy: US Release Date 4/12/2019

Director: Niell Marshall

Starring: David Harbour, Ian McShane, Mila Jovovich, Thomas Haden Church, Sasha Lane, and Daniel Dae Kim

Distribution Company: Lionsgate and Millennium Media

Best of Enemies (US Release Date 4/5/2019)

Some movies come out at the perfect time. There is so much division in this country right now. Republicans and Democrats will not even date each other much less take the time to listen to each other. Hate and intolerance has become the acceptable trade on social media, in public and in most media forms. In such a time a movie where two people of such different and insurmountable backgrounds who come together and overcome that obstacle to become lifelong friends is a message we all should be required to watch.

The movie opens with interviews from both CP Ellis and Ann Atwater. CP Ellis talks about how it felt to be inducted into the “invisible empire” and what it meant to him. Ann Atwatter discusses how she believed it was important to fight what you believe in, “whatever you believe in stand on it.” We are then introduced to CP Ellis at a clan meeting. We gain incite into his world, we see what drives him, how he thinks and how the clan prays on those who feel isolated. “We’re n endangered species you understand.” says CP, once you join “you will no longer be an outsider.” The picture painted in benign and inclusive, to white men, until the next scene when CP, Ford and two others shoot up the downstairs of a young woman’s house who is sleeping with a black man.

Ann Atwater is introduced in a councilman’s office as she argues with him about a absentee landlord who is neglecting and evicting his black tenets . Bernadette, the woman he is representing, does not even have a toilet in her house. When the councilman is flippant to their issue, she smacks him upside the head and begins to berate him. The head of the council comes in and tells her they will allow her to speak the town council meeting. This appeases her and the women leave the office.

In this way we are introduced to the two leaders of this small community in Durham, NC. Ann Atwater takes care of the black constituents and CP Ellis watches out for the white community. The two know of each other and are at odds when asked to. At the town meeting CP is asked to bring “his people” to show support for the landlord, even though even he agrees the man is a “Piece of shit.”Councilman Carvie Oldham needs to make sure he shows public support for both sides while making sure he does not let the paying constituents down. They town council is as prejudice as you’d expect a council of white men in the south in 1971 to be.

When a fire breaks out in the black school the town council responds by sending the children back to the same school! The NAACP sues to integrate all schools in Durham immediately and the judge rather than make a ruling decides to hold a Charrette. A charrette here refers to an intense period of meetings by a group of people to collaborate prior to a deadline. It was originally conceptualized in France in the 1900’s for architectural students to tackle design problems. The Charrette is when the real movie begins. It is when people really begin to listen to each other and struggle with the idea of integration and who the real enemy is. The more they work together to organize the meetings, to work on just understanding what integration of the school system would even mean, the more they understand where each side is coming from. As the vote nears tensions rise as the those in power try to ensure they will have enough votes to win.

Even knowing history and the outcome of this story I cried when CP cast his vote. I was moved by the ending of this movie. The performances were fantastic! Taraji P Henson is transformed as Ann Atwater and became the activist. The looks and glances she gives in each shot were glimpses into Atwaters state of mind. Simply withering! Sam Rockwell gave a riveting performance and I believed his struggles as he fought to be a good man for his family and “his people.” This is the writer and directorial debut of Robin Bissell and he came out with a strong piece of work. He got all of his actors to give subtle and believable performances. I urge everyone to go see this movie right away!

Best of Enemies: US Release Date 4/5/2019
Director Robin Bissell
Starring: Taraji P Hensen, Sam Rocwell, Babou Ceesay, Anne Heche, Gillbert Glenn and Bruce McGill
Distributed by: STX Films