Sunday, November 13, 2016

And the Reviews Keep On Comin'!

More SAG Awards Foundation Screenings, because I'm #Blessed to be a working union actor.

A Monster Calls A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mom's terminal illness.: This is a fantasy/drama (at last! More Fiction!) that will be released on January 6th. HEAVY on the drama, heavy on the fantasy element, told using just about every visual storytelling method that exists. It's a fictionalized autobiography, written by a woman who died of cancer. The movie is her son's pre-grieving process, and the storytelling is thick and sometimes difficult to navigate.

Performances are honest. Art direction is probably what will be nominated for awards, because the transitions from live-action to animated watercolor paintings to cgi to ??? are pretty phenomenal. But that is what makes the story so thick. Sigourney Weaver is fantastic as the estranged Grandma, when she has no dialogue (she can't really maintain her British dialect); thankfully, her nonverbals are spot-on.

I left the theater emotionally drained, and I wasn't sure how to say here what I felt needed to be said. I described my experience to Stephen, and he gave me this phrase as my "rating": Hard Watch, but if you're up for it, it's probably worth your time/energy.

Paterson Set in the present in Paterson, New Jersey, this is a tale about a bus driver and poet.: To be released on Mommy's birthday (December 28th).

Kids, if you have any faith/belief in what I say about these movies, I need you to NOT BOTHER with this movie. I bit the bullet for ya with a free screening, but honestly, I threw away three hours of my life to do so. You remember when I was forcing myself to blog Every Single Damn Day because I thought I had something to prove? Do you also remember when I QUIT blogging Every Single Damn Day because what I "had to say" was so fucking boring to me that I couldn't put you, my readers, through all that agony and torture anymore?

That ^ is what I watched on a big screen today, a life so BORING that I would honestly kill myself if it were mine. Kylo Ren is living that boring life, and he's really the only one on the screen that we hope-beyond-hope something will happen to. The woman who plays his wife is either such a bad actress or is so poorly written and directed that we just can't help but hate her. {We are not meant to hate her, FYI}. Save your money. Unless it costs you no more than $0.00 to see this film, Skip It By Any Means Necessary.

Poor Adam Driver, having to attend these screenings and sit through Q&A's... and he's never watched any of his films! Yup, that's right, kids, he's "one of those" actors who refuses to watch himself onscreen! He managed the Q&A, but it's probably for the best that he didn't have to sit through this flick. And yes, it will gain a small niche audience of pretentious, pseudo-intellectuals. I ain't that.

Elle A successful businesswoman gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her.: This one is Out There, on The Big Screen (probably near you), Just Released. I was confirmed to see it on Saturday, at the same time as my screening for Paterson. I opted out of this one, because I think I'm not in the right frame of mind to watch a thriller yet, so I'll try again when they send me another invite to another screening. (So Many Screening invites these days!) After sitting through the Paterson screening, maybe I was, in fact, in the right frame of mind for a gory slasher/thriller. Oh, well. :/

Manchester by the Sea An uncle is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy's father dies.: To be released on November 18th, this one is, oh, great, approximately the same story as A Monster Calls! Good thing the Q&A will have a bunch of people and there will be coffee and donuts prior! W00t!

... So, yeah, coffee and donuts. I got in line pretty dadgum early to make up for missing out on the last time they made that offer, and boy, howdy, did I make up for it. Put my sweater on a 3rd row aisle seat and carbo-loaded. It was more like chocolate croissant than donuts (that I ate, at least), and were they ever "worth it" (My Life Motto: if dessert is "worth" eating, it is worth eating first)! Didn't see that they had actual milk or cream to add to coffee (rather than powdered nastiness), so I opted for a cuppa Earl Grey and Moroccan Mint tea... and oj with cranberry on the side. Whilst lingering over my gnosh in the lobby, I approached a guy I thought I knew. Turns out, I only "know" him in the same way you do, from television. We had a pleasant, brief chat, and after my sixth croissant, I downed the last few drops of tea in my cup and headed in to take my seat. Like I said, I made up! ๐Ÿ˜‹

The Movie... is a languidly-paced, laugh-out-loud heartbreaker of a tale. It's beautifully written, well-directed, and beautifully performed. Casey Affleck is superb in his simplicity of grief, and so believable in the flashback scenes to happier (or just earlier) times. The ensemble cast holds him up as well. I was never bored, even though it is a slow-moving "slice of life". I know for grief, kids, so I was with him all the way. Either he's a tremendous actor or he knows for grief, or (most likely) both. I was able to ask at the Q&A whether they'd had the luxury of filming the "past" prior to "present day" (not necessarily in chronological order, just get the past done so he'd have the scenes to reflect on). There are very few films out there that have that luxury. This one didn't. The logistics of a shooting schedule can be so complicated that you wrap out a specific location before moving to the next, and I have a feeling that they shot mostly in Manchester-by-the-sea (a real place in Massachusetts, USA) before moving on to any of their 3 or 4 locations. Which means, nope, not gonna be finished with past before jumping forward in time to "today". Which just reinforces my belief that Casey Affleck is an as-yet-un"discovered" gem; a phenomenal actor with real chops. I look forward to his next flick.

So, if you're mired in grief yourself and need a reason to laugh through it all, See This Film, (and then look for the bar scenes - my laughter may have been inappropriate, but it was solid and genuine). If you know people who are mired in grief and you'd like a chance to understand them a little better, See This Film. If you just like a well-told story with lots of Massachusetts accents and humor, then you'll want to See This Film. There was minimal (if any) handheld camera work, and the only "action", per se, is in the bar scenes, plus the one raging fire (there's a raging fire). If nothing I've said here appeals or applies to you, then stay home and wait for it to come to your small screen. It might gain some award "buzz", but I'm not on the Nom(inating) Com(mittee), so I don't know what it could be up against.

Deadpool A fast-talking mercenary with a morbid sense of humor is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a quest for revenge.: Um, yeah. This was released way back in February, and probably a lot of you saw it, and I may have even already reviewed it! We bought the Blu-Ray when it came out, and We Love It. But I got really excited when I saw there would be a screening on Sunday, and I could take Stephen, and Ryan Reynolds was scheduled for the Q&A. I didn't get a confirmation, and maybe Stephen will just want to watch our Blu-Ray sometime soon. No matter what, as long as you're not easily offended or watching with your young kids, this one is Highly Recommended. ๐Ÿ˜

Doctor Strange A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.: Stephen and I went to see this at our walking-distance theater today, not at a screening, because there are no screenings available for it, just seeing movies on the big screen the old fashioned way (buying tickets). I LIKE comic book movies (yes, I just "reviewed" Deadpool without any additional viewing of late). I LIKE the Marvel Universe that includes The Avengers, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and Doctor Strange. I don't yet "Get It" how they all tie in, because I don't read the comics from whence these movie ideas have sprung, so I'm pretty lost on backstory.

That said, I enjoyed Doctor Strange. Stephen says it's a pretty "accurate" origin story, and once we've watched it a couple more times (on Blu-Ray, probably), we'll both have a better understanding of all the things we likely missed today. I'm down with that.

Visually, this film would seem to be equal parts The Matrix, Inception, and Edge of Tomorrow. There is an unfortunate amount of handheld camera work, and not in the usual places, the fight scenes. For heavy cgi (fight scenes), the camera tends to be "locked off" so you can shoot green screen "plates" where you lay the effects in later. So the handheld stuff is just when you're alone in the room with ONE character (or maybe two), looking at a face or an object. Gawd, PLEASE Make It Stop shaking!

Ennyhoo. Benedict is great; the ensemble is great; the vfx are great; the story's pretty good; Benjamin Bratt was a welcome surprise; I didn't mind Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One. If you like comic book movies and/or the Marvel Universe and/or either of the Benedicts this movie so adeptly employs, then you should See It. Heck, at this point, you may already have!

Next up: Mr. Church and The Bronze (unless I book work for Tuesday and/or Wednesday). How are you feeling about all these reviews? You haven't been commenting... maybe you don't care? Maybe you'd like me to talk about the day of work I had last week, or the hotspot Smokey seems to have developed on his neck (that we are keeping a very close eye on as we treat it)? Lemme know; I'm writing all this for you, too!


  1. Oh how I love me some Casey Affleck! I'll look for this one after the 18th. I will probably have to wait for DVD, though, as I live in the middle of nowhere and we generally just get the big commercial films. Thanks for the reviews. I really enjoy them!

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Yeah, it was lovely, but I don't know how widely they'll be releasing it.

  2. I loved Dr. Strange. That was a great movie.

    So, for the MCU, cause I'm a huge nerd, I'll give you the coles notes version (Spoilers ahead for those that haven't seen Dr. Strange).

    So, the basic movies themselves are just that: Movies about the heroes. The movies stay close to home, but also venture into the MCU's great big universe. The movies themselves will eventually culminate into the next 2 Avengers movie which comes out in 2018 and 2019 and will end Phase 3 of the MCU and take us into Phase 4 (each phase ends with an Avengers movie). The MCU is trying to show how large their universe is by bringing you into space and other dimensions, and showing these powerful characters like Ronan, Dormmamu, etc... and most importantly Thanos (the big purple guy that sits in the chair in Guardians). Thanos is the end game. Thanos wants to take over the universe and win the love of Death (Death in the MCU is portrayed as a female omnipotent being). Thanos is already very powerful, but to do what he wants, he needs all of the Infinity Gems. There are 6 Infinity Gems altogether:
    Space Gem (Tessaract)
    Mind Gem (Loki's Staff and now in Vision's forehead)
    Reality Gem (the Aether from Thor Dark World)
    Power Gem (from Guardians of the Galaxy, now with the Nova Corp)
    Time Gem (Eye of Aggamotto Dr. Strange)
    Soul Gem (yet to be found...or has it?)
    When all six gems are combined in the Infinity Gauntlet, it gives the wielder extreme power. Once Thanos has this, all of the Avengers and Guardians will need to come together to defeat him somehow.

    So that's basically it in a nutshell whether you wanted to hear it or not. :D

    1. Thanks, Lee. That does help. I knew when Wong told Doctor Strange that the doohicky was an Infinity Stone, that we were definitely all in the same universe (altho I had forgotten about the ร†ther).

      I'm not looking forward to "the end" of the Marvel Universe, as I'm enjoying the journey with previously-unfamiliar characters.

      #TeamThor #TeamIronMan #TeamStarlord #TeamWeNeedMoreStrongFemalesWhoseCodenamesICanRemember

    2. I don't think it will end any time soon. This "end game" will only end Phase 3. They'll then go into Phase 4 and so on. I'm sure some other big baddy will reveal themselves.

      If you want females, just wait for Captain Marvel in 2 years, to be played by Brie Larson. She's not only the star of the movie, but she's extremely powerful.

    3. I take 'em as they come, rather than "looking forward" to something 2 years down the pipeline. It's good that there are enough true fans out there to keep the stories coming. I'm just a fan in the moment. ;)

  3. I'm loving the reviews. Of course, I wouldn't mind hearing about your work either.

    Saw Deadpool. I love an action movie that keeps me laughing too. I bought the digital copy when it became available.

    Just saw Dr. Strange, which had more humor in it than I thought it would. I liked it. When I asked my wife what she thought she just said, "It was strange." I'm not sure she was intentionally going for the joke or not.

    1. I'm going with YES, she was being wry.

      I'm happy to keep reviewing, when I haven't much else to talk about (more than 140 characters).

      When this round of screenings slows, maybe I'll talk about work or the cats or holidaze or whatnot (I mean, um, YEAH, that's what I'll talk about!)

      In the meantime, 3 screenings on the slate so far for the week! I hope I get to work, too. ;)


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