Rocketman: A Theater Must See!

While I love Elton Johns music, I have never known much about his life. I am not one of those people who follows the lives of stars and knows everything about them. Their is nothing wrong with those people, its just not my thing. It’s kind of like going out to dinner, I just want to eat my food, I don’t want to meet the chef. Only that has changed a lot since current events, and now if the chef turns out to be a major ass hat, I go to another restaurant. Anyway, so I never knew much about Elton John and went to this movie blind.

So apparently did a few of the other people in my audience. The movies opens with the line “My name is Elton Hercules John and I am an alcoholic and cocaine addict and…” So you see this is about the sex, drug and Rock and roll years. Not the good times, but the times that make the music great!

Everyone loved the movie. You can’t help it, the music is infectious and the acting is amazing. Taron Egerton looks so much like Elton John that at the end of the movie as they transition from the actor to an actual EJ video its hard to tell. Richard Madden is a complete and believable hateful bastard as Reid Johns abusive boyfriend/personal manager and Jamie Bell is fantastic as Bernie the one who wrote the lyrics for all of those songs we love so much. The performance I absolutely loved the most though was of Elton Johns mother by Bryce Dallas Howard. She projected such longing and disappointment in his younger years and such apathy and disapproval in his later years. The mother is always blamed they say, but sometimes there is a reason.

As with his concerts, this movie is a visual spectacale stimulating our eyes as well as our ears. Beyond the costumes, the sets, clothes and dances all help to tell us the story of Elton’s life. For example if you watch the dance they do while Reggie is singing “Saturday Night’s Alright” while he is a teenager. You will see him moving through different cultures enjoying music and dances, but never participating. Always hanging back. Always on the outside. Everything in this movie is a deliberate and a part of the story. It a beautiful way to share a life worth telling. Thank you Elton John for sharing your story with us. If you want to see this movie go see this movie in the theater where you pick up on everything, the small screen and sound system will not do it justice!

Rocketman (US release Date 5/31/2019)
Director Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Lee Hall
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Gemma Jones, Bryce Dallas Howard
Production Company: New Republic Pictures, Maru Films, Rocket Pictures, Paramount Pictures
Preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3vO8E2e6G0

Godzilla King of Monsters: Why do Americans Keep Trying?

Full disclosure, I grew up on Godzilla movies and have a soft spot for this genre, but Why oh WHY do American’s think they can make these movies? They just keep screwing up! First the Matthew Broderick debacle! What the hell was that one about? Now this series, and while it has made over a billion dollars worldwide for the studios I can help but feel they SUCK!

First we had the 2014 Godzilla movie that did not contain Godzilla. It was so focused on the human story that it panned away from every fight Godzilla had, barely showing any action. We got plenty of shots of the damage the Kaiju caused, but what good is that. In fact the movie was so bad I completely forgot everything about it and had to re-watch it just to write this much about it. And I had seen it twice before!

Next is the series is Kong Skull Island from 2017. This was an OK movie with a really cool looking Kong, but the story line really failed. Huge plot holes and some drag in the middle, I could not watch this one a second time. Sorry guys I tried and got too bored, and this one has giant spiders!

Then we come to our feature Godzilla: King of Monsters. While this movie definitely has more Godzilla (YEAH), it also has more of everything being two hours and two minutes long. I actually checked my phone a few times during the movie because it is too damn long. Learn to edit people! There was a lot that could have been cut. The Kaiju are now environmental warriors, this is Eco-terroism at its finest, what a crock! Sorry if I”m spoiling anything but this script was utter shit! I can’t begin to point out the holes or ridiculousness because it was garbage! While there may have been moments I enjoyed, Yes Ken Watanabe was great, Millie Bobby Brown did a fantastic job and is rising star. For a child actress she brought emotional depth to her scenes as she struggles with what her parents have done and the consequences of their actions. But it just wasn’t enough to make me care about everyone for the whole movie. I am a big baby and cry at most things I watch, I never shed a tear because I could not become emotional involved in a movie that never got me to give a damn.

I liked the monsters fighting and I loved Mothra, I have always loved him and seeing him fight was great, but the family crap got old fast and the twist there were too predictable. Every “twist” I had written down in my notes way before they happened, not a single surprise. Its one thing to make a two hour movie, it’s another thing to make one that feels like a two hour movie. Wait for this one to come out on a streaming platform so you can pause it. And then you can watch it just before, wait for it, Godzilla vs. King Kong the final installment in this four part series! If you want a better Godzilla movie watch

Godzilla King of Monsters (US Release Date 5/31/2019)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ven Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Aish Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Cinematography – Lawrence Sher
Production Company – Legendary Pictures
Preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B12REtkl2KY

The Perfection: I ate my lunch while watching and was just fine!

So I heard the hype about this movie and thought I would check it out. “Movie so gross it will make you vomit!” This is just hype to get you to watch the movie. While the movie has some violent and graphic scene I have seen much worse. I don’t particularly like gross out horror, but in this instance the violence fit the script. It was at no point done just to see how much they could get away with, until the very end scene that is. That one they could have cut. Then they would have had a perfectly acceptable movie. While not an award winner, it was mildly entertaining. Some people might find it triggering as it deals with child abuse and child rape.

This movie suffers from not know what it wants to be so it tries to be everything, a psychological thriller, a horror movie and a drama. In the end it never achieves anything fully. The acting by Allison Williams and Logan Browning is superb but they end up with a cliché ending and bizarre end scene that just makes no sense. Up until then I am following along with the movie and willing to let them drag me along. Even though I question what’s the end game the whole time. I guess the writers did not know either because it is obvious the whole time there is no way for this to end well for anyone.

As with most Netflix movies the special effects are not as good as blockbuster theater movies. Body damage aside, digital effects have that plastic look (Green, yellow vomit with slightly glowing maggots) and shadows are off. Otherwise its watchable. I’d say there is plenty else to watch if your looking for a good movie. However if your like me, some times you’ve seen everything and you just want something new. If that’s the case, this a fair few hours that you don’t have to pay the theaters to see. The twist aren’t hard to spot, but if you’re watching it while cleaning you might have to back it up occasionally. I’ve watched it once, but I won’t be doing it again.

The Perfection (US release date May 24 2019)
Director: Richard Shepard
Writers: Eric C Charmelo, Richard Shepard, Nicole Snyder
Cast: Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Alaina Huffman, Steven Weber
Production Company: Miramax, Capstone Film Group
Preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q57D6kF5B1k

Booksmart: Smart Girls can be Fun Too!

Another ‘Chick Flick’ touches a nerve. This time however, it is in the most delightful of ways! Booksmart took me back to those awkward, delicious moments in high school that only the truly young and unfettered teenager can experience. I recognized everyone in this movie, done with just a slight bit of movie flare to make them iconic, but not a joke or unrelatable. Yes everyone was a troupe or stereotype, but I also knew a lot of these troupes too. I would have liked to see a few of them turned on their heads, but the movie did a great job of hitting its comedic notes and not going so far I was too uncomfortable to laugh.

While Molly and Amy chose to rise above their peers and focus on academics so they could get into good schools, their peers were busy having fun, getting a life and also getting into good schools. Me I was more like Gigi in school or T ripple A, that weird girl everyone ridiculed and made up rumors about. The only thing missing from this movie was sexual assault but hey, it’s a comedy so let’s keep it light, right!

Let’s unpack some of this movie shall we? Molly and Amy’s confidence ruled. While I played at being that confident and was really chicken shit inside, they thought they were the shit! They felt their superiority fully, which is filmed so well in the opening scene as we watch them strut to a rhythm only they can hear. Who needs music when your awesome! This scene is edited beautifully as it goes from fun – with music – to awkward – silent – and we see them in reality.

Could they be faking it? I was good at it, I had everyone fooled. I remember one mourning during my weekly “Skip Breakfast” at the bagel shop. I ran into a senior who joined me. As we talked he admitted he had liked me for a while but was always afraid to ask me out. I walked to school looking so angry he was afraid I’d bite his head off if he stopped to talk to me. And considering I put my cigarettes out at the school door, it was obvious I did not give a fuck what anyone else thought. I really had them fooled, because I definitely cared what everyone thought. I just hated school and figured most of the people in it hated me. Were Molly and Amy the same?

On the Last day of school Molly’s world is shaken as she overhears a group of kids talking about her in the coed bathroom. (Same thing happened to me in my middle school Library, only it was my friends and it was devastating) Molly handled it like a boss and confronts them only to find out that instead of being superior to these people she is just like them. They are going to good schools too, Tripple A is even going to Yale! Only instead of spending all of high school studying and ignoring fun, they partied and acted like teenagers too. Freak out in 5-4-3-2-1.

The cinematography by Jason McCormick is fantastic at this point! The ‘water balloon’ shots are absolutely beautiful. I adore the time lapse face shot, the use of framing and color. I love the way the entire movie is shot, but this was my favorite scene.

When Molly comes back to reality she decides that they must party on this, their last night of high school. Thus the premise of the movie and so the festivities begin.

While some of the humor is crude, it is done with a restraint that Super bad lacked. Those dramatic scenes in the movie serve to give this film a vulnerability it needs. At times I laughed so hard tears came out. At other times I worried if their friendship would make it. While I agree that it is relying on a traditional story line, it is told with skill, sensitivity and humor that comes right up to the line. I went to a 4pm showing so the crowd was older. The couple next to me was much older. I loved their response at the end when the lights came up at the end. The wife sat silent and the guy said, “Well I thought it was funny.” Me too. If you need something to take you mind off a few things and just laugh, this is a movie to see.

Booksmart (US Release date 5/24/2019)
Director: Olivia Wilde
Writers: Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman
Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Skyler Gisondo, Molly Gordon, Billie Lourd
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzE8kz8iGTM

The Hustle: Fails on all Fronts!

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

Tolkien: Fantasy meets Biopic

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: Nature vs Nurture – what if Superman were bad?

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