The Foreigner

The Foreigner

Watchability Factor – Must Watch
The Foreigner is the best action movie since John Wick. A smart script that packs emotion without sacrificing pacing is what makes this the kick ass movie of 2017. Instead of the cartoonish, CGI style fighting that has ruined most action movies, The Foreigner delivers down and dirty, hand-to-hand fighting scenes that are exciting AND make you feel the characters can actually get hurt.

Jackie Chan is perfect as Quan, the grieving father relentlessly pursuing the men who killed his daughter in a terrorist attack. He’s empty and devastated with nothing to lose yet always in control. Pierce Brosnan as Liam Hennessy the ex-IRA fighter turned politician is his adversary, the ying to Quan’s yang, who has everything to lose. That sense that the stakes are high for these two men and everyone around them—that they are all human is what keeps you invested from the opening to the very last frame.

The Foreigner works on every level. The directing is decisive and assured, the editing is seamless, the cinematography is both lush and gritty, and the acting is top notch. There isn’t one misstep in The Foreigner. The only mistake would be for you not to see it.

Arrival

Arrival

Watchability Factor – Watch and stream Arrival

I recommend seeing Arrival even though it is extremely slow. I actually fell asleep for a bit in the middle. I wish the execution of this film matched the level of its intelligence with an equal measure of drama. It is worth seeing though for the mind-blowing ideas that it presents and Amy Adams delicately mesmerizing performance. Arrival has a cerebral, dreamlike quality that delivers an emotional punch at the end that would have made this a more accessible film if the filmmakers had found a way to weave that emotion throughout the rest of the story.

Please leave him on Mars

Please leave him on Mars

What is the best thing about The Martian? I believe no animals were harmed during the making of the film. Unfortunately, I can’t make the same claim about human beings unless you go to the movies to be bored. If that’s the case, then this movie is for you. What a huge, major disappointment.

There is absolutely no tension whatsoever in this movie. Matt Damon is Mark Watney, an astronaut who is accidentally left behind on Mars when his crew believes he has been killed in the storm that forces them to abandon the planet. This sounds like a great premise that will keep you on the edge of your seat. But, the light, spunky, throwaway “I Will Survive” tone of the movie not only robs it of any suspense but also makes it seem like being stranded on Mars is no biggie. There are tons of people back on earth at NASA wringing their hands and telling us how horrible it is and Jeff Daniels is apparently without warning woken up out of bed to appear in the movie and proclaim doom.

The problem is I don’t believe it for one second because I know I’m watching a movie the entire time. I also don’t care about a single character in this movie because they are all caricatures instead of fully developed, three-dimensional human beings. Which brings us to the 3D. There should be a special test or license that filmmakers, other than James Cameron and Alfonso Cuarón, have to take or get in order to be allowed to make a 3D film because almost no one on this planet knows how to do it. Like the recent Everest, every time there is a wide shot in the film that involves movement, it looks like we’re watching miniature toys on screen. Considering the exorbitant price of a 3D ticket, they should be able to get it right. Otherwise, why are we paying so much money??

I don’t fault the actors. They really aren’t given much to work with. When the defining trait of Jessica Chastain’s character is that she likes disco music and this is supposed to make us connect with her because she’s just like us, she listens to Vicki Sue Robinson instead of Mozart, you know you’ve got a problem. I’ve been told this is from the book—don’t care, it doesn’t work.

The best movie about astronauts stranded in space is still Apollo 13. I have seen this film countless times and it still sucks me in every time. I know they’re coming home alive, yet I’m still riveted by the story and the characters; the humanity and the emotion—no 3D glasses required.

 

 

Dear_White_PeopleDear White People gets off to a rough start. The first half hour is clunky and heavy-handed and comes off as a college freshman paper on every possible race issue in the U.S. The film starts with an inciting event and then flashes back to the people and forces that came together at an Ivy League university to set off the pivotal incident.

Dear White People centers around Sam White (I told you this movie is not subtle) who hosts the campus talk show of the film’s title where she rails against racist stereotypes and attracts the attention of the university president. As the story settles in, a few real characters emerge, the most fully developed, funny, and lovable of those is Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) the nerdy, aspiring reporter who as a gay Black male has been a victim of bias from his own community essentially branding him an outcast. Continue reading »

Gone_GirlI was not in a rush to go out and see Gone Girl because not only had I read the book and would know every twist that was coming, but I hadn’t bought into some of those surprises or liked the ending. The film directed by David Fincher stays true to the book with some minor alterations necessary in order to keep the movie from running ridiculously long.

Like most book to film adaptations, there is quite a bit of nuance that is lost. I won’t give specific examples so as not to give anything away. This much you already know from the title–Gone Girl delves into the disappearance of Amy Dunne, the beautiful wife of the equally attractive Nick Dunne. The book explores in much more detail and more effectively, the arc of Nick and Amy’s relationship. Continue reading »

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