Category: Movie Reviews


 

front-runner

Like Jason Reitman, I’m old enough to remember hearing the names ‘Gary Hart’ and ‘Donna Rice’ on the news, but way too young to have any context for it at the time. ‘The Front Runner’ makes its case as one of those ‘pop culture turning points’ where our obsessions with the personal lives of public figures makes some of our best and brightest hesitate from putting themselves into high profile positions.

Hugh Jackman’s bonafides are untouchable now: iconic superhero, more than hold his own as a song and dance man.  So it’s cool in a ‘what can this guy not do?’ kind of way to watch him play a character who is trying a little too hard/ a little too defensive about hiding a major ‘flaw’ in his personality.

As has become the norm with Reitman at this point of his filmography, the supporting cast is a treasure trove of actors he’s worked with before (Vera Famiga, J.K. Simmons) and other character actor heavyweights (Alfred Molina) who fill out the cast and get the audience to question what is the ‘right answer’?  Does the media spend too much time on frivolous stuff?  If someone has a history of questionable judgment in their personal life, does that automatically mean they’d be a terrible leader or lack professionalism?

‘The Front Runner’ asks the questions but doesn’t give the answers.  Thoughtful but not overly serious (the Reitman style).

Worth seeing.

 

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btas

Don’t know why it took the Honest Trailer guys so long to get around to this, but it was done well.  Give credit where it’s due.

Enjoy!

 

 

stuhlbarg

While Chalamet is still on my radar, today is the perfect day to post this.

‘Call Me By Your Name’ on the whole left me kind of cold, but THIS monologue (which I’m told they pulled directly from the book without changing it)…

Performed by one of our best character actors Michael Stuhlbarg, this is dealing with the first time you get your heart crushed, and the unconditional love of a parent, and being reminded not to let yourself become so jaded and cynical you deny yourself the chance to ‘feel’ again, and a lot more.

In a three minute monologue.  I have no shame saying this cuts me to the bone every time I watch/listen to it.

Enjoy.

 

beautiful-boy-x750

I knew the subject matter of this film, and it’s still not an easy two hours.

Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carell carry this two hander, about the relationship of a father and son, as the son has a lifelong fight with drug addiction.  Every family has some version of this: the person you love unconditionally and who you sincerely feel like they mean well, but they continually go down a path that you can’t comprehend.  And Steve Carell (and the story’s structure) does a great job of going through every stage: complete disbelief, trying to understand, rage, disconnection; all of it.

As far as Chalamet goes, as the movie went on I thought of him as both a young Bale (an actor already committed to ‘Method’ at a super young age) and a young Leo (I want to say ‘Basketball Diaries’ was his serious druggie movie without Googling?).  I mean, if he’s already positioned as the teenage serious actor fast tracked to the A list, there are worse career trajectories.

Not even November yet so I’m not going to say either of these are ‘top 5’ performances this year.  But they could be.  We’ll see.

 

nwa

It’s been said but it’s worth repeating: there’s a lot of ways ‘Straight Outta Compton’ could have gone way wrong, but it’s still a supremely watchable movie.

And I know I’m not the only one who was all in when this instant classic scene started.

You have

  • he’s now known as ‘Chad’ from Insecure playing DJ Yella
  • ‘Weak in the Knees’, an all time classic beat in its own right
  • The first verse of ‘Gangsta Gangsta’, which is up there in ITS own right as great ‘this is who we are’ bars

It was like this is in the theatre opening weekend, it’s like this when I hear the song in the car (it’s LA baby), it was like this sitting at my desk:

‘You don’t like how I’m living well…’

(the middle finger goes up…)

Classic!

Enjoy!

 

 

las-vegas-getty

It occurred to me today that this will (probably) be the first year in at least a decade that I don’t hit up Vegas.

Two things:

At this point, I’ve done ‘Vegas Birthday’, ‘UFC Fight Weekend in Vegas,’ ‘Hangover in Vegas’, ‘New Year’s in Vegas’… there’s not really any all new variations I haven’t experienced yet.

And two, with ten or so weeks still to go, I’ve hit up the Bay Area twice, I’ve started doing film festivals again, I’ve seen family members and frat brothers I haven’t seen in years… I could call it a year socially right now and it would already be a gigantic step forward.  And I’m not remotely done.

So, until next time, Sin City.  There will be a next time I’m sure, but for now, one of my all time favorite movie sequences came to mind to start this week.

Enjoy.

 

 

margaretbowman_profile

Taking you into this weekend with one of my favorite scene stealing performances in recent memory…

I rewatched ‘No Country for Old Men’ last night and forgot Margaret Bowman played a motel clerk in that one.  Not a hugely memorable role, but it made me go back and look up her one scene in ‘Hell or High Water’.  I remember seeing this in the theatre in Dallas.  Even watching it over again a few times this morning: she straight up kills this scene.  Nothing but joy and character actor envy.  You get one of these over the course of a career, you’re good.

Enjoy!

 

 

eltonjohn_001-2

Caught the trailer for the new Elton John biopic.  I don’t know.  I’m still a little more interested in the Freddie Mercury biopic, but that’s just me.

Anyway, the Elton trailer did put me in the mood for one of my favorite (sad) love songs.  So lyrical.

Enjoy!

 

 

Creed-2-Poster-Adonis-Michael-B-Jordan

I think this has been forwarded me to about 20 bazillion times in 2 hours, and I still can’t get enough of it.

Can’t wait.  Can’t wait…

Have a good weekend!

 

 

QUINCY-1998-FNL-copy

Quincy Jones has had a career and a life that just won’t me duplicated.

EGOT.  He opened the door for Oprah to go to the next level.  He opened the door for Will Smith to go to the next level.  Nearly any creative I know would feel like his 90th biggest accomplishment would easily be their 1st.

So it’s impressive that ‘Quincy’ does such a good job of giving an overview for how much he’s done over the years while blending in enough of a personal element to balance the story out.

I could be hear all day talking about Q’s accomplishments, so I’ll just pick a few highlights:

  • Sinatra is one of my guys, so the chapter detailing their relationship was riveting for me.  How much respect Frank had for him, how Q was right there with Sammy when Sinatra spoke up about really integrating Vegas, the album ‘Sinatra at the Sands’ (a personal favorite).  All gems.
  • Like Kendrick said, my generation was introduced to Q through MJ.  The music nerd in me was equally happy to hear him credit Rod Temperton as one of the great songwriters, but getting behind the scenes footage of their professional bonding over ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’ was cool.
  • I should have figured as much, but Q produced the concert that opened the Smithsonian African-American Museum.  Just seeing him walk through the pop culture exhibit and realize he produced or worked with damn near every person in the music section is another shake your head ridiculous moment; but seeing this man still producing massive events in his 80s is…humbling.

The film is co-directed by his daughter Rashida (side note: I’m far too young to know of a young Peggy Lipton, but seeing her with no context, my first reaction was still, ‘Oh, that’s Rashida Jones’ mom), and it’s well worth the two hour watch if you’re any kind of pop culture nerd.

High recommend.