“The Post”

“The Post”

Dir; Steven Spielberg.  Starring; Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk.  2017.  PG-13.  Color.  116 min.

The Post Movie Poster

Society desires to learn from the mistakes of the past.  History continues to be cyclical.  “The Post” tells the story of a group of Washington Post reporters breaking the news that political corruption has spanned several Presidents, coming to a head during the Nixon administration.  A story of evil that should have ended almost 60 years ago.  The screenplay by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer is even more important today than it was when these journalists originally broke the story.

Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, a full-fledged Journalist.  He is seasoned and understands the politics of reporting at a newspaper in Washington.  Meryl Streep plays Kay Graham, the owner of the prestigious Washington Post.  Graham has become a rich debutante, and is concerned more with her papers numbers than actual reporting.  After a long series of events, Bradlee has his hands on the famous Pentagon Papers, and a story that could help take down even the President himself.  Kay Graham has a choice to make.  Does she pander to the elites or does she publish a story that is true and honest?

Before the Facebook/Instagram/Twitter era, newspapers had the power to hire and fire politicians in America.  That cyclical nature of history I mentioned is what “The Post” taps into so well.  It reminds you that before “Net Neutrality”, people had to fight against the “Vietnam War”.

“The Post” is made by true professionals.  The screenplay is fantastic.  What the film lacks is edge, and that is what keeps it from being great instead of just really good.  We have a legendary roster of actors and filmmakers.  Spielberg, Hanks, Streep, cinematographer Janusz Kamiski, composer John Williams.  This is a movie full of brilliant people doing their best job of doing everything by the numbers.  There is no passion here.  Spielberg must have his characters make their speeches about how important this subject is instead of just letting the human beings tell the story, because that is what he does.

“The Post” takes some time to catch its footing, but the ending will have you rooting in the theater.  I would ask TRUMP supporters to see this film, and I’m guessing that is what Spielberg is going for.  This is not a classic by any means.  It is full of flaws, but this film tells an important story.  If I am a history teacher at a High School, “The Post” is an excellent choice to show American history in the 1960’s.  A history that is unfortunately being repeated.  One 16-year-old standing up against corruption makes this film worth making.  I tip my hat to Spielberg for knowing that concept rings true here.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Darkest Hour” Film Review

Darkest Hour Gary Oldman

“Darkest Hour”

Dir; Joe Wright.  Starring; Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas.  2017.  PG-13.  Color.  125 min.

Darkest Hour Movie Poster

Before Japan and America got involved, Hitler was clearly in control during WWII.  Countries in Europe were dropping like flies, and it appeared that Britain would be the next to fall.  The higher ups of the British Parliament were insisting on entering negotiations of surrender to a madman.  Winston Churchill was the only one who said “to hell with this”, igniting his country to fight back and help defeat Hitler.  “Darkest Hour” is the portrait of a brilliant man, complete with all his flaws and weaknesses.

Director Joe Wright focuses squarely on the rooms where powerful men decided how to shape a war instead of the act of war itself.  We begin with the current British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) being forced to step down from his post during the current threat of invasion.  A furious debate ensues, and Winston Churchill is eventually elected.  Like all politics, many in Parliament strongly oppose Churchill’s election.  He is swimming with sharks, but Churchill is ultimately focused on protecting his country and defeating Hitler.  King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn, fantastic as always) is struggling to figure out how to lead his nation.  An intimidating figure like Churchill scares him.  However, the King is not an idiot, and knows full well that Churchill is the man best suited to guide the British Empire during the greatest fight they have ever seen.

“Darkest Hour” presents Winston Churchill as a human being.  He is an angry alcoholic who constantly needs a cigar in his mouth to keep his mind clear.  His wife Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) hates his antics, but after 20+ years she is invested in the brilliance of the man she loves.  His typist Elizabeth (a shyly confident Lily James) provides Churchill with insight in between his insults and glasses of whiskey.  Gary Oldman gives the best performance of the year as he does not just embody his character, he is Winston Churchill.

By no means is this a great film.  You will see a minimum of fifteen speeches about how important this war is to the point where the screenplay gets old, and that is just in the first hour.  And I thought Spielberg was obsessed with telling the audience what to believe!  The film pounds you in the head instead of simply telling its story.  The Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel is also lacking.  There are some fantastic long takes, but in closed quarters like Parliament or Churchill’s house, Delbonnel insists on using forceful lighting to make the audience look at what he wants us to without being stylistic about it.  “Darkest Hour” insists on telling the audience how important it is instead of simply being important in its own right.

Fortunately for us, a fantastic cast has been put in place here, led by the magnificent Gary Oldman.  You will forget about this films missteps very quickly.  “Darkest Hour” is a thrilling look at a historic moment in history.  Winston Churchill is a legendary figure, and receives the legendary performance he deserves from Gary Oldman.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Bright” Film Review

"Bright" Will Smith

“Bright”

Dir; David Ayer.  Starring; Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace.  2017.  TV-MA.  Color.  117 min.

"Bright" Movie Poster

“Bright” is the jaw-dropping new fantasy action film from director David Ayer.  Jaw-dropping in the sense that it is so awful you will be incapable of closing your mouth as you are constantly screaming at your television due to the stupidity of what is happening before your eyes.  Characters are one-dimensional, action sequences are loud and obnoxious, and the script is racism 101 as presented by the unintelligent.  The director of “Suicide Squad” has out done himself in presenting us with an exercise in non-sensical moviemaking.

In an alternate reality, Orcs, Elves, Fairies, and various other mystical creatures have existed alongside humans for thousands of years.  In the modern day, Elves have become the rich elite and Orcs are the impoverished working class/gang members (white people versus minorities, in case Ayer doesn’t make the metaphor blatantly obvious enough).  Will Smith plays officer Daryl Ward, a South Central L.A. cop hardened by years of policing one of the most dangerous cities in America.  His new partner is Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton, the only actor actually trying in this mess), the first Orc police officer in history.  Ward hates his new partner, as humans hate Orcs in general.  Jakoby has dreamed his whole life of being a cop and, despite the blatant racism throughout the precinct, he is proud to wear that shield.

During a routine neighborhood stop, the two men encounter Tikka (Lucy Fry), a young Elf frightened and afraid.  She has stolen a magic wand from her sinister boss Leilah (A forgettable Noomi Rapace), who must get it back to bring about the apocalypse, or something like that.  Magic Wands are the ultimate weapon, but only a Bright can yield such power.  Don’t ask me why or what makes one a Bright, just go with it.  Corrupt cops, dangerous Mexican gangsters, and evil Elf ninjas quickly learn that the trio have a wand, and all will stop at nothing to get this powerful weapon for themselves.  Thus ensues an overlong chase sequence of random explosions and night club shootouts as Ward and Jakoby fight for their lives to protect the world from ultimate destruction.

Almost nothing in this film makes sense.  Bad guys walk into rooms and just start aimlessly shooting machine guns at the camera.  Cars flip about on a whim, constantly defying gravity and logic.  My favorite example of how dumb this movie is comes with the head of the Mexican gang, who is in a wheelchair.  He wants the wand so he can walk again.  Our heroes and the gangsters get into a multi-block car chase, shoot at each other as they run through countless clubs and apartments, before the gangsters finally have them cornered.  Out of nowhere, the head honcho literally rolls in to make his menacing speech.  The guy is in a damn wheelchair, how the hell did he keep up with all this chaos?!  And on top of that, as soon as his speech is done, three Elf ninjas show up out of nowhere and take out a legion of gangsters just in the nick of time so that the heroes can escape and the action can continue.  Keep in mind, this is just ONE example of the idiocy that exists here.

“Bright” is on the intelligence level of Sunday morning cartoons, such as a “My Little Pony”.  If this were made for four-year-olds, I would have no issue.  Instead, Ayer tries to infuse this story with the same gritty realism that made him famous with his far superior “End of Watch”.  Needless to say, that was a bad idea.  Corrupt cops, violent street gangs, and strip clubs mixed with magic wands and Orc racism is utterly laughable.

Will Smith has made some horrible movies throughout his career, always banking on the audience to care because he has that “Fresh Prince” charisma.  In “Bright”, the only time Smith seems to be trying comes during slow motion shots of him shooting a shotgun while looking cool.  Fun drinking game, every time Smith yells “Oh Shit!” take a drink.  That way you won’t be sober by the end of this film, and hopefully the alcohol helps you forget what just happened over the last two hours.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” Film Review

Star Wars The Last Jedi Kylo Ren

“Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi”

Dir; Rian Johnson.  Starring; Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Mark Hammill.  2017.  PG-13.  Color.  152 min.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Movie Poster

The most powerful film franchise in history returns with “The Last Jedi”, the eighth installment in the galactic Skywalker saga.  It was the second biggest opening ever behind only “The Force Awakens”.  In this new installment, the plot thickens as the first order gains power while our main hero Rey (Daisy Ridley) learns the ways of the force from the now old and wise Luke Skywalker (Mark Hammill).  The space opera continues, but does it live up to the original classics?  Not even close.

I will keep this review spoiler free for the most part in case you are one of the five people who have yet to see it.  Instead, I will describe the positives and negatives in generalizations.

It is impossible not to get excited for a “Star Wars” movie, no matter how good or bad the previous installment is.  Now owned by Disney, this current trilogy has breathed new life into the franchise, and created a whole new generation of Star Wars fans.  My anticipation was sky high for this latest installment, even though I found “The Force Awakens” disappointing and vastly overrated.  “The Last Jedi” was a let down, but it was not a total failure.

The opening space battle between the resistance and the first order is fantastic.  It hits the audience like a freight train right away, and is pure “Star Wars” excellence.  The ending is unbelievable, and will have you cheering in the theater.  I will not reveal what happens, let’s just say what Luke Skywalker does is awesome, and a great piece of writing for a film like this.  In between those two moments, this movie kinda sucks.

Leia floating in space?  Luke drinking breast milk?  Emperor Snoke hanging out in a giant red room because that is what bad guys do?  These are just a few of the elements where you will scratch your head and wonder how actual adults with millions of dollars would think this was a good idea.  The original trilogy is all time great.  The prequel trilogy is all time awful.  This new trilogy is all time mediocre.  It has excellent moments, but lacks consistency.

The biggest problem here is the characters, or lack there of.  Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is the only interesting person in this new series.  The resistance fighters led by Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dammaron (Oscar Isaac) are boring heroes.  Rey is a solid main character, and centering this new trilogy around a female hero is great, but she certainly is not iconic.  The late Carrie Fisher as General Leia seems to be collecting a paycheck more than embodying the character she made famous.  The side characters are absolutely useless, in particular Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), and DJ (Benico Del Toro).  All three are excellent actors in their own right.  In this film, it feels like they’re more excited to be in a “Star Wars” movie instead of delivering good individual performances.  Kylo Ren is the only one the audience cares about.  He’s complicated, driven, and a great bad guy.  This comes as no surprise as Adam Driver is the best actor this franchise has ever had.

In the original series, we received a plethora of interesting characters.  Princess Leia had spunk and fight in her.  Darth Vader was classic evil.  With the side characters, we got the awesome Lando Calrissian, the wise Yoda, the moody yet hairy Chewbacca,  the disgusting millionaire-esque Jabba the Hut (Donald Trump anyone?), and the ultimate role model Obi-Wan Kenobi.  What drove the original films was Han Solo.  In between the lightsaber battles and depressed Skywalker family tropes, Harrison Ford made the films fun without making them cheap.  We have none of that in this new trilogy.  After Kylo Ren, it is hard not to forget this new cast three days after walking out of the theater.

My second example comes with the head honcho villain, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis, doing his motion capture acting once again).  This will be the only spoiler I give in my review.  This guy has been touted as the new big evil, similar to Emperor Palpatine.  When we finally get a full scene with him, we find Snoke hanging out in a red room surrounded by red soldiers because you as an audience need a color to know that this guy is bad.  Then a fight breaks out, and Snoke is killed off.  What?  Why was this character introduced in the first place?  Completely useless.

The final example I would like to address is the Porgs.  With “The Return of the Jedi”, George Lucas was destroyed for introducing the Ewoks.  It was an obvious move to sell toys and cuddly pillows.  The Porgs are the same thing.  The difference?  In “The Return of the Jedi” the Ewoks, while admittedly silly, impact the plot of the movie.  These teddy bears help defeat the evil empire.  In this film, what do the Porgs actually do?  What is their purpose for existing other than to sell pillows?  “Star Wars” is about selling toys, I get it, but you have to give reasoning for these creatures to exist.

So now, after sitting through hours of nonsense, we come to the ending.  This is unbelievable popcorn entertainment filmmaking.  You will be on the edge of your seat.  It is one of the best sequences in recent years.  That is what defines this new trilogy.  We see unbelievably stupid stretches of filmmaking, then we get brilliance.

“Star Wars” is a giant in the world of film, deservedly so.  I am glad that a generation of kids have a new appreciation for the series, and I hope they revisit the originals.  “The Last Jedi” is not awful, but it is very disappointing.  I am not sure how it will all end with Episode IX, but I hope they return to the model of consistency the originals had.  It is better to be really good for two hours instead of being awful for an hour and a half then suddenly be amazing for fifteen minutes.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“The Disaster Artist” Film Review

The Disaster Artist James Franco

“The Disaster Artist”

Dir; James Franco.  Starring; James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen.  2017.  R.  Color.  104 min.

The Disaster Artist James Franco

As the title suggests, James Franco has created a movie that looks at a disaster with compassion, hilarity, insight, and honesty.  This is the true story of a mad man who dreams of being a Hollywood movie star.  It speaks to the core of every person who dreams of fame and stardom.  Is a project you put your heart and soul into ever a failure?  “The Disaster Artists” boldly says NO!

Tommy Wiseau is a fascinating human being.  In 2003 he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in “The Room”, a film that has become notorious for being one of the worst movies of all time.  Made for six million dollars out of Wiseau’s own pocket, it grossed $1,800 its opening weekend.  The movie was a “disaster”.  Over the years, it has become one of the most celebrated midnight movies in America.  It is a charmingly awful cult classic, similar to “Plan 9 From Outer Space” or “Manos: The Hands of Fate”.  Where did Wiseau get the money for the film?  What country is Wiseau actually from?  How old is this guy?  Who knows, and he certainly will never give us the answers.

James Franco plays Wiseau, in the best performance of his career.  He is neurotic, egotistical, and borderline insane.  During a theater acting class, a shy dreamy-eyed actor named Greg Sistero (an excellent Dave Franco), watches Tommy give a ridiculous re-enactment of the “STELLLAAA!” scene from the famous Tennessee Williams play “A Streetcar Named Desire”.  Wiseau’s acting is ridiculous, but Greg is awe-struck by the man’s boldness on stage.  Greg approaches Tommy, and an unlikely friendship is born.

Tommy has a strange accent, claims he is only 22 years old, and insists he was born in New Orleans.  He is clearly a liar, but his charisma is infectious.  Desperate to break into acting, Greg agrees to move with Tommy to Hollywood.  The two men make a pinky-promise, at the grave site of James Dean, that they will make it big.  After months, both are being worn down by the process of trying to break into the Hollywood acting scene.  The lies Tommy tells are becoming more evident every day for Greg.  Then, one day, Greg suggests that Tommy should just make his own movie.  A spark goes off in his head, and Tommy begins writing his “Opus”.

Production finally begins on “The Room”.  It is a trainwreck.  Tommy quickly becomes a dictator director.  The crew whispers every day about how awful this movie is going to be.  The only person who believes in the project is Greg, Tommy’s only true friend.  Little did everyone know “The Room” would become so bad that, in a strange way, it was actually great.

Praise for this excellent satire belongs first and foremost to James Franco.  Just like Wiseau, he is the films writer/director/producer/star.  Acting wise, Franco is unrecognizable in this role.  An Oscar nomination should be in his future.  He gives everything to this character, and makes a seemingly awful person sympathetic and human.  It is clear watching this film that “The Room”, and Wiseau himself, have a special place in Franco‘s heart.

“The Room” is so bad that one should not care about how it was made.  James Franco does care, and he has made a fantastic movie about an unknown story.  It is a beautifully hilarious reflection on what most would consider a failure.  For all the dreamers out there, “The Disaster Artist” is the movie for you.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Lady Bird” Film Review

“Lady Bird”

Dir; Greta Gerwig.  Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Laurie Metcalf.  2017.  R.  Color.  94 min.

Lady Bird Film Poster

“Lady Bird” is the story of a girl trying to navigate her way through adolescences. Adults always say that this period in life is not important. In reality, high school is the bridge between childhood and being a grownup. This is one of the most important times for all of us. “Lady Bird” is a simple movie. It is insightful, funny, depressing, and inspiring all at once. Just like high school.

Saoirse Ronan plays our titular character, Christine.  She has decided, based on her own merits, to go by Lady Bird. She is entering her senior year at a catholic school in Sacramento. In Lady Bird’s head, her parents come from two different planets. Her mother Marion (an excellent Laurie Metcalf), judges every move she makes. Her father (Tracy Letts, in full contemplative form), just wants the best for Lady Bird. She idolizes her father, and despises her mother. In reality, they both love her in different ways. Just don’t tell Lady Bird that.

Lady Bird meets her first boyfriend in a school play, and he might be gay. The second boy she loves is in a band, and cares little for anything other than himself. Lady Bird tries so hard, but she cannot catch a break when it comes to romance.

At its core, “Lady Bird” is the story of a mother and daughter. A mother who is so afraid to let her little girl go. A daughter who so desperately wants to have her own identity. There is something very genuine to life about this story.

The script is pitch perfect, as it encapsulates teenage life. Our characters say the wrong things constantly. Mother and daughter argue over a dress. Girl and boy have an awkward moment after sex. Best friends love and hate each other. It is not fine tuned like “adult” movies, which only adds to its brilliance. It lives in a world of adolescent behavior, making it more “adult” than so many lesser movies.

Director Greta Gerwig has made a movie based on her life. She avoids being pretentious, and enters the realm of honesty. This film has set a record on “Rotten Tomatoes” for its perfect score. Critics are gushing over it. It is not a classic, but it is really good. Damn good. The high school boys have their “Avengers” or “Transformers”. Guess what guys, “Lady Bird” is smart, and better than those films.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” Film Review

Three Billboards Frances McDormand

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Dir; Martin McDonagh.  Starring; Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell.  2017.  R.  Color.  115 min.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Movie Poster

Life is a mixed bag of unavoidable tragedies and unexpected moments of humor.  While the characters populating “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” are not necessarily identifiable to most people, they are relatable to the flawed human beings we all are.  This is a full-bodied film that grows and evolves with us to a conclusion that brings the experience full circle.

The advertising campaign for “Three Billboards” seems quite standard for a movie like this.  While having a serious undertone involving the death of our main character’s daughter, the trailers and TV spots lead us to believe this will be more of a quirky comedy ala “The Coen Brothers”.  After seeing the film, it was clear how brilliant a marketing strategy this was.  The depth and complexity of this story goes far beyond what you are thinking it will be as you enter the theater.  This is a tough, haunting movie that will surely stay with you long after your initial viewing.

Our story centers around Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), an outraged mother who’s daughter Angela was brutally raped and burned alive seven months ago in the small town of Ebbing, Missouri.  The local police department has made no progress in finding Angela’s killers, and Mildred feels it is time to push the envelope.  One day, driving home on a back road, she notices three rundown billboards on the side of the street.  She has an idea, and visits the towns advertisement “executive” (Caleb Landry Jones) to inquire about the price of renting those billboards.  She makes him a generous cash offer, and instructs that the billboards display a controversial message directed at local police chief William Willoughby (an excellent Woody Harrelson).  The billboards will go up on Easter Sunday of all days.

Willoughby’s second in command, Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell in the best performance of his career), is patrolling the quiet back roads when he notices a black man finishing up a large orange billboard with the words “Why Chief Willoughby” written in bold black letters.  Dixon threatens to arrest this man, then he is directed to look at the previous two billboards.  As Dixon says to Willoughby when he calls him on the phone, interrupting his easter dinner, “Chief, I think we have a problem.”

Mildred Hayes has declared war on the local police department.  Chief Willoughby chooses to look at it as a chess match.  Revealing anything more about the plot would be an injustice to anyone seeing this for the first time.

Writer/Director Martin McDonagh is a rare craftsman when it comes to creating a script and movie that continues to learn at the same pace as the audience.  His “In Bruges” has become a cult classic, and his more recent “Seven Psychopaths” was a brilliant indictment on Hollywood.  “Three Billboards” gives us the base model for a compelling story, then so much more is revealed.  Issues of race, motherhood, hatred, divorce, love, respect, and acceptance are just some of the themes touched on here.

Frances McDormand, one of the greatest actresses in the world, was hesitant to take the role initially.  She felt that, in today’s America, a woman at 58 would never have a child still in high school.  Her husband, Joel Coen, convinced her to do it, and her character is subsequently one of the best mothers in film history.  Or is she?  Her still living younger son Robbie (Lucas Hedges), might have something to say about that.

The key performance, and “conscious” of this piece, is Sam Rockwell as Dixon.  His character is racist, drunk, and power hungry ever since he became a deputy four years earlier.  Dixon is particularly good at abusing citizens and getting hammered at the local bar before he has to be a deputy the next morning.  A black-and-white film would force you to see this man as evil, no matter who you are.  “Three Billboards” has the strength to let you make your own decisions.

“Three Billboards” is a film for everyone.  It never questions the characters decisions, it instead observes them.  You will laugh, cry, gasp, then smile when you would never expect to.  This is a modern day classic.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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Continue Reading

“Mudbound” Film Review

Mudbound Movie

“Mudbound”

Dir; Dee Rees.  Starring; Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke.  2017.  R.  Color.  134 min.

Mudbound Movie Poster

Netflix may very well have a film that finally gets the streaming giant into Hollywood’s big dance that is the Oscars.  “Mudbound” is a harrowing portrait of racial tension in rural Mississippi post-WWII.  The treatment of African-Americans before the civil rights movement is one of the biggest stains in our countries history, and this film pulls no punches in its depiction.  Centering around a black and a white war hero who return home to a world more horrific than the battlefields in Europe, “Mudbound” bravely tackles a tough subject through the human beings who lived through it.

The film opens with two brothers digging a grave for their father in the backyard of their family farm.  Rain pours down on them, and the hole becomes an engulfing cavern of mud and darkness.  The next morning, the brothers attempt to bury a bland wooden coffin.  A black family rides by on a horse-and-carriage.  The eldest brother asks for help with the burial.  The family’s father says no words, but it is clear that something has happened between them.  What that tragedy is will be revealed to us over the course of this story.

We now begin years earlier.  Jason Clarke plays Henry McAllan, a working-class man who has yet to marry.  He is set up with a 31-year-old spinster named Laura (the always excellent Carey Mulligan).  Laura is kind and pretty in her own way, but shy and she still lives at home with her parents.  We learn from a voice-over by Mulligan that Laura never really loved Henry, but with the pressures facing women to marry in the 1930’s, he was decent enough to settle for.  She refers to Henry’s marriage proposal as a business proposition.

Laura soon meets Henry’s younger brother Jamie (Hollywood heartthrob Garrett Hedlund), who instantly sweeps her off her feet with his charm and lust for life.  They of course could never act on such feelings.  Henry and Laura have children and eventually start their own farm.

Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) lives with his family in a rundown shack on the McAllan’s land.  Hap is Henry’s head farmhand, and often treated like less than a man because he is black.  His wife Florence (Mary J. Blige) is hired by Laura to help with the children.  This is a small town in Mississippi where black’s are referred to by the “N” word on a daily basis.  The systemic racism is embodied by Pappy MaCallan (Jonathan Banks from “Breaking Bad” fame), an evil human being that Henry puts up with because this monster happens to be his father.  Hap and Florence work hard, tolerating daily abuse in order to put food on the table for their four children.  Plus, what other choice does a “colored” family have back then?

Suddenly, Pearl Harbor happens, and America is at war.  Younger brother Jamie enlists to be a naval pilot, holding illusions of becoming a war hero.  Hap’s son Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) enlists in the army, hoping to escape the cycle of oppression he has known his whole life.  Both men experience the harsh realities of war through unexpected onslaughts of violence, but “Mudbound” is not a war film.  This story is about what happens when these American heroes come home.

Jamie returns a raging alcoholic, choosing to numb the pain of war one bottle at a time.  Because he is white, he can get away with anything, including crashing his car into a creek completely hammered with the police happily towing his car home.  Ronsel comes back proud to have been a part of America’s victory over the Nazi’s.  Yet, because he is black, is still not allowed to use the front door of the local supermarket.  With the common bond of a soldier, Jamie and Ronsel develop an unlikely friendship.  Having seen the world, Jamie does not share the level of systemic racism Henry has that was passed down by their bigoted father.  He may have become a drunk, but he never lost the will to be a good man.  With his new found pride, Ronsel refuses to bite his tongue to these white racists the way his father Hap raised him to.  What he does not realize is that this behavior could get him  or his loved ones lynched.

This is a film driven by it’s outstanding cast.  Jonathan Banks is the embodiment of evil, going to depths few actors would have the strength to reach.  Jason Mitchell has another strong dramatic turn here, playing Ronsel with conviction and heart.  Mary J. Blige shows she has serious acting chops as Florence, a mother who lives with the hope of a better future for her children.  Garrett Hedlund is perhaps the biggest surprise here.  He has made a career as a teen heartthrob, from “Friday Night Lights” to “Tron: Legacy”.  His performance has depth and evolves with the character.  In a lesser film, I would call these standouts.  Here, they are examples of a stellar cast from top-to-bottom.

The first act is admittedly jumbled as director Dee Rees tries to find the film’s footing.  Long internal voice over monologues are employed by each character early on to explain what is happening instead of simply showing us, which does wear on you.  Once this film focuses on Jamie and Ronsel’s experiences after war, it becomes a powerful reminder of what men are capable of, both positively and negatively.  The cinematography by Rachel Morrison shows this farm town as a thing of beauty to be admired, adding to the impact of the atrocities taking place.  Racism has been the focal point of many films throughout the years and, until it no longer exists, is a topic storytellers must continue to tackle.  “Mudbound” is an important movie, one that helps us never forget things that once took place.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Justice League” Film Review

“Justice League”

Dir; Zack Snyder.  Starring; Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Mamoa.  2017.  PG-13.  Color.  120 min.

Justice League Movie Poster

About a week ago, a very close friend of mine, Justin Bowles, a highly intelligent man with no ties to the film industry but a fan of good movies, asked me why DC was so far behind Marvel when it comes to their respective film universes.  I did not have a solid answer.  Then I saw “Justice League”, and the answer became more clear.  Comic book movies are inherently silly for the most part, but if they are true to their characters, they can be an enjoyable popcorn experience.  “Justice League” could not possibly care less about its characters.  This movie is much more concerned with popular actors posing in slow motion.  The plot is nonexistent, the villain is a CGI mess, and the only reason for this cast of heroes to exist is to be on a movie poster.

“Batman vs. Superman” was a commercial success, mainly on the name alone.  Both critics and fans have shunned the film since.  That was just a taste of how bad DC movies could be.  In the aforementioned film, Superman dies.  So its up to Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), to gather a team of heroes that DC assumes you care about.  Other than Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), we don’t even know who these people are.  The comic fans are screaming “These are all classic characters“, and Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) is getting his own solo pic coming out next year.  However, in the context of this film universe, none of them are established.  You would perhaps think that this movie would have semblances of character development.  Nope.  Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman, and The Flash (Ezra Miller), basically just show up when Batman gives them a call.  Their respective backstories are an afterthought.

The plot involves a CGI villain named Steppenwolf (The voice of Ciaran Hinds from “Game of Thrones” fame) attempting to take over the world.  Behind this menacing baddie is a legion of wasp-like-goggle-wearing creatures that seem terrifying until they get popped in the face by Batman.  What is Steppenwolf’s plot?  Why the destruction of the world, naturally.

The Justice League are pretty slick, and they would be even cooler if Superman (Henry Cavill) somehow came back to life to save the day.  Spoiler Alert, he does.  What ensues is a punch fest that showcases each hero’s powers.  Aquaman spears bad guys and yells “Yeah!”, Wonder Woman slides and swipes villains at the knees, The Flash runs and creates lightning effects, Cyborg uses science jokes while crushing the onslaught of bad guys, and Batman is the best part because he’s Batman.  Right on schedule, Superman defeats everyone.  There are plenty of expensive effects employed, yet no inspiring action sequence for the audience to remember.

Whenever we watch a comic book movie, the audience knows the score.  The heroes will win.  If the element of danger is removed completely, then why should we care in the first place?

The only piece of acting worth noting comes between Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), as they mourn the death of Superman in the previous film.  Somehow these excellent actresses take their poorly written dialogue seriously.  They bring a level of gravity to a movie that does not deserve their talents.

Zack Snyder is a fascinating filmmaker, and I mean that in the worst way.  When a plot is called for, he replaces it with slow motion shots of dudes trying not to look at the camera.  If there is about to be an introspective moment, he removes us from that with an action sequence.  This is the director DC has decided to lay the future of their franchise on.  They will make millions opening weekend, for now at least.  Their films will continually get worse and worse.

“Justice League” will be the butt of the joke for comic book fans 10 years from now.  Similar to a “Batman & Robin”.  If you thought Joel Schumacher putting nipples on Batman’s suit was funny, just wait until people reflect on Ben Affleck‘s costume having six-pack abs, or the uniform for The Flash having shoulder pads similar to a 1980’s business woman.  I highly recommend avoiding “Justice League”.  If you truly love these characters, please read one of the comic books instead.  This is two hours of your life you can never get back, unless you never walk into the theater.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Sing Street” Film Review

Sing Street Image

“Sing Street”

Dir; John Carney.  Starring; Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aiden Quinn, Maria Doyle-Kennedy.  2016.  PG-13.  Color.  106 min.

Sing Street Movie Poster

Being a teenager is hard.  You have pressures adults forget about.  “Sing Street” captures these thoughts perfectly.  Can I make it in a new school?  Does the pretty girl like me?  Are my parents about to get divorced?  Our main character says to hell with that, let’s start a band!

Conor (an excellent Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), is forced by his parents to enroll in a new catholic school in Dublin, Ireland, circa 1985.  It will save his parents money from the private school he was attending.  The priest running it is an asshole.  The bullies call him a queer.  Despite all of these awful things, Conor sees a beautiful girl named Ann (Kelly Thornton) across the street.  She is the stuff dreams are made of, at least in his eyes.  Conor approaches her and claims that he has a band, and she must be a part of their next music video.  The girl smiles at him, and says she will be there, sending him off with a wink.  Now Conor has to get a band together in a few days.

Through a series of convenient circumstances, a band is created.  The band’s name is inspired by the catholic school they are attending, the real life Irish Catholic school Synge Street Christian Brothers School.  “Sing Street” is the perfect option.  To their surprise, the girl shows up for their music video, instantly doing makeup for these clueless boys.  The shoot is a mosh up of teenagers in a back alley who are inspired by Michael Jackson and Duran Duran videos.  However, the music is good.  Conor has a talent that the girl is attracted to.  Thus begins a love story that is genuine.

“Sing Street” is by no means a perfect movie.  The band comes together very fast and are instant talents.  The girl does not inspire you to care about her, but our main character does.  However, this film captures being a teenager perfectly.  It is about a boy in love with a girl, and it earns the cheesy moments.  In particular with the song “Drive it Like You Stole It”, a dream sequence Conor has when the girl does not show up.  Our main character is lost, and all he can do is perform.  Every person important to him shows up, and a dance sequence ensues.  In a lesser film, this would be ridiculous.  Here, it is a full-bodied showcase of a boy who is desperate to be happy.

With a great 80’s soundtrack accompanying it, “Sing Street” is a film I would recommend to every teenager.  It has it’s heart in the right place.  Director John Carney clearly loves the power of music.  You will roll your eyes at the beginning.  Then, out of nowhere, you will find your foot tapping the ground to the beat of this movie.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

Follow on Bloglovin
Continue Reading