The Disaster Artist

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: M

Directed by: James FrancoThe Disaster Artist

Screenplay by: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber

Based on the book: “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made” by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

Produced by: James Franco, Vince Jolivette, Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver

Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Jacki Weaver, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Bryan Cranston, Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Jason Mantzoukas, Hannibal Buress, Paul Scheer and Sugar Lyn Beard.

James Franco: “For this movie to play in cities around the world means there is something more going on than just an espically bad movie that’s fun to laugh at with a group of people. ‘The Room’ is unique because of Tommy Wiseau, who put his whole heart into his project. ‘The Room’ has what other bad movies don’t have, which is pure passion.”

Based on the true story and book written by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, The Disaster Artist is about the making of, The Room, AKA the, Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made.

Director and star, James Franco embraces the role of Tommy Wiseau – a man who embodies the saying, that Truth (or here, a man) really is stranger than fiction.

Beginning in San Francisco, two aspiring actors, Tommy (not Tom) and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) meet in acting class: Greg, shy and nervous and Tommy, filled with unrelenting self-confidence… And no talent.  Together, they make an odd yet perfect team.The Disaster Artist

Making a pact to become movie stars (just like James Dean), they move to LA to make the big time.

Tommy, has an apartment in LA and a seemingly endless pit of money where to this day, no one knows the source, nor where he really comes from.  Tommy claims he’s from New Orleans but sporting a Slavic accent he can’t disguise, it’s hard to believe.  He’s a mystery.

What can be believed is his passion.

After being constantly rejected by Hollywood, Tommy decides to create his own film, starring himself as the hero while also writing and directing the disaster that becomes, The Room.

Acting, writing, anything creative, really – it’s just so hard to become successful yet so many people try.  As producer J.J. Abrams says to Tommy, Just because you want something doesn’t mean you’re going to get it.

It’s heart breaking because we’ve all been there at some point – seeing the want turn into a caricature of ourselves.  Most give up.  Not Tommy.

It’s funny.  Tommy’s funny because he wants it so bad.  And the beauty of the film is the ability to be able to laugh at what the weight of the obsession turns people into: ‘It’s human behaviour’.  That’s what Tommy wants to show the world.  His own unique view of what it is to be human.

James’ performance as Tommy gives that perfect balance of a unique strangeness with insight into a demanding yet warm heart.

Not that the script writers had to go far for material.  It’s all there, even down to the side-by-side shots of the original movie versus the remake of the same scenes just to show how incredibly bad, The Room really is.

I had a great time watching this film – the story hilarious and full of heart and well-cast with James and brother Dave showing the bromance between the two unlikely friends of Tommy and Greg.  And the clever way the film was put together, blending the original with the remake, just added to the fun (make sure to stay until after the credits!).

Only in Hollywood could you find a guy like Tommy – although he’s from New Orleans, right?!

Justice League

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MJustice League

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Screenplay Written by: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon

Story by: Chris Terrio & Zack Snyder, based on characters from DC, Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Produced by: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg and Geoff Johns

DC Super Heroes: Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and Ray Fisher as Cyborg

Also starring: Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta and Joe Morton as Silas Stone, and expands the universe by introducing J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf, and Amber Heard as Mera.

Based on characters from DC comics, Justice League is a team of superheroes brought together by Wonder Woman and Batman to fight against the world’s old nemesis, Steppenwolf.

Previously conquered in the ancient past by the Amazons, the inhabitants of Atlantis before the city sunk into the sea, and even the gods; they all fought side-by-side to stop the warlord from Apokolips from taking over the world.

Now, Steppenwolf has returned with an army of parademons (think a cross between an insect and vampire) to claim what he believes is rightfully his.

After seeing Wonder Woman in the recent film set during World War I, Justice League is present day – depicting an, approaching-middle-aged Batman and the ageless yet, powers-unseen-by-the-public, Wonder Woman.Justice League

Now that Superman is dead, the population is grieving and unable to see any hope for the future – chaos is gaining power as the people sink into darkness with newspaper headlines asking, Why are all the superheroes disappearing?  With Prince and David Bowie pictured alongside Superman.  Which I thought was quite clever, but also depressing, right?

I was also beginning to think the film was going to be a history lesson into each character.

Yet, the introduction of: Aquaman, shown to be just as strong on land as under water; Flash, the hero in training and Cyborg, a biomechanic meta human (and a new addition and update in the current techi-driven world), was necessary and brief.  And somewhat offset by the antics of Flash, adding some light humour to the mix.

The story could have gotten messy trying to give weight to each hero, but it worked.

Each character had their own personal conflict to conquer, giving the film layers beyond action.  And I could feel the humanity of Batman, not quite metahuman, his self-professed only super power being rich.

The need for this super-powered Justice League team fighting together stems from the power of Steppenwolf – the super villain.

The film flashes back to the past, giving Steppenwolf backstory, yet I wanted more grit, more than just another villain wanting to conquer worlds.  I would have also liked to have seen more of his home world of Apokolips…  But I had fun watching this film.

Gal Gadot has continued to shine as Wonder Woman and the sparks of humour from Ezra Miller as Flash were funny.

I wasn’t blown away, but Justice League was a fun ride – more of Aquaman in the water next time!

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA 15+The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos

Written By: Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou

Produced by: Ed Guiney, Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Alicia Silverstone, Bill Cam.

Director and co-writer of, The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos, has returned with another psyco-drama, medical mystery, that revolves around Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), a cardiac surgeon and his family including his ophthalmologist wife, Anna (Nicole Kidman) and son Bob (Sunny Suljic) and daughter (Raffey Cassidy): a seemingly happy family.

They lead a controlled, perfected and always logical expression of everyday life.

Until Steven’s friendship with young Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless 16-year-old who’s expressed interest in becoming doctor, becomes increasingly sinister leading to Steven having to make an impossible choice.

It’s only in crisis any individual of the family shows any emotion.

And this constant calm while faced with the truly bizarre sets the tone of the film.

The nature of Martin matches the sociopathic behaviour of the family, husband Steven taking Martin under his wing, to befriend and become one with his family.The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The scene of Martin getting to know the children highlights the strange nature of the characters in this story, making the impossibility of unexplained sickness believable.

Showing surgeons talking about the mundane after facing the confronting task of heart surgery is a picture of a surgeon’s normal day.  But as the film progresses, so does this response – like the bizarre is the mundane: the camera work focussing in, slowly down that narrow hospital corridor, to MRI scans and lumber puncture’s, so real and awful but what happens to many, many times in a hospital setting.

To pan away from Martin, standing in a car park, to daughter, Kim, waving from the hospital window.  Like the normal is on the outside looking in through a window to the inexplicable.  Like the world has been disturbed, inverting Martin’s absurd world onto the focus of his revenge.The Killing of a Sacred Deer

It’s a strange story but shown well with the hint of the disconcerting given with the opening clang of rising clash of the soundtrack.

And there’s some heavy weights in the cast with Colin Farrell (after featuring in, The Lobster) returning in his role as Steven, and Nicole Kidman as his wife.  Nicole’s performance was exceptional as Anna, being able to express a probing puzzlement and shock, looking for explanation for why her children are becoming sick, all in a look from an obviously intelligent mind.

And yes, the story works.

But it’s just such a heavy, absurd story.

This film took me to dark places, so much so, I was reminded of an article I recently read entitled, ‘The Dark Side of Doctoring’ – posted by an ENT, Head and Neck Surgeon, discussing the depression and suicide of doctors when they experience loss of control, support and meaning because of their career.

I like dark humour, but most of the time I found, The Killing of a Sacred Deer troubling.

Unlike, The Lobster, that allowed moments of lightness – dancing and love (of sorts), there was an unrelenting here that waved more into the dark.

I’m still frowning in wonderment.

Suburbicon

GoMovieReviews Rating:
SuburbiconRated: MA 15+

Directed by: George Clooney

Written by: Joel & Ethan Coen, George Clooney and Grant Heslov

Produced by: George Clooney and Gran Heslov

Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Oscar Isaac.

Director George Clooney has collaborated with the Coen brothers (No Country For Old Men) to package together one dark, tasty treat.

This is a story that could only be set in the 50s.  A setting I initially found off-putting, the feeling the formula of 50s dark comedy already been done.  But I was pleasantly surprised by the clever script and how the 50s attitude was used to create a rising tension and darkness of bigotry and racism in the story.

Suburbicon explores the real America, back then, the racism and petty nature of society hiding behind perfect houses, set hair and freshly mown lawns.  The idea of a suburb is a new-found way of living – affordable post war housing built outside of the city where families can grow with kids hanging out with the neighbours and everyone’s safe and secure and the same.  Until the Mayers move in.

Based on the true events that unfolded in Levittown, Pennsylvania in 1957, where William and Daisy Meyers became the first African American family to move to the town, only to be subjected to 500 people yelling abuse on their front lawn, complete with the hanging of Confederate flags and a burning cross…Suburbicon

Suburbicon builds on the tension; cracks begin to form in the community, with well-mannered folk becoming increasingly agitated by the presence of the family.

And then, Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) and his family, Rose (Julianne Moore), her twin sister Margaret (also Moore) and son Nicky (Noah Jupe) are tied up and robbed in their own home – something must be done.

The Lodges are a seemingly normal family with twin sister Margaret visiting often to help Rose who’s wheelchair bound after a vehicle accident.

And I use ‘seemingly’ as the story of the film is the depiction of the family unravelling as the robbers, Louis (Alex Hassell) and Sloan (Glenn Flesher) return to pressure Gardner causing the film to turn in dark and completely unexpected ways.

This is a surprisingly violent film but made in such a way that the shock is funny.Suburbicon

It’s a dark film, that clever script and direction using that 50s flavour to show the violence like an old-school detective movie with images of shadows and jagged edges of broken glass instead of blood and guts.  The soundtrack also adds to that crime/detective flavour.

But there’s much more here than a cloak and dagger crime story.

The audience is shown life from the way the son, Nicky, sees the world.  Like the innocence of childhood is the only normality in the story.  And this is beautifully shown in the friendship between Nicky and the Mayers son, Andy (Tony Espinosa).

Add the well-balanced pacing where each twist and reveal is shown with dead pan delivery, I couldn’t help but appreciate the timing and cleverness of the script.

The Snowman

GoMovieReviews Rating:
The SnowmanMA15+

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson

Based on the Book by: Jo Nesbø

Screenplay by: Hossein Amini and Peter Straughan

Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Piodor Gustafsson, Robyn Slovo,

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg with Val Kilmer and J. K. Simmons.

Waking up from another bender, lead detective, Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), needs a case to distract him from drinking.

When he receives a disturbing letter signed-off with a picture of a snowman, he may have found the case.  And as the film continues and the bodies pile up, Harry’s eyes become clearer.

Based on Jo Nesbø’s global bestseller, the attempt to condense, ‘The Snowman’ into a film was not entirely successful.

There’s so much going on in the film that I have to say, my confusion grew as the film continued.The Snowman

The inclusion of so many characters, like Rafto (Val Kilmer), another disgraced drunken detective and Mathias (Jonas Karlsson) a detective thrown in the mix for reasons unknown led to time wasting red herrings.

Which is a pity because the main storyline was good.

But without the depth of character given in the novel, a lot of time was spent scratching my head asking, Why?

An avid fan of the Jo Nesbø novels, I was excited to see his story come to life on the big screen.  And Michael Fassbender suited the role of Harry, if not better looking and smaller than imagined from the text – he was a sincere brute, playing the damaged sincerity of a complicated man perfectly.

I also liked Rebecca Ferguson as the junior recruit, Katrine Bratt.

However, the rest of the cast felt superficial with so many and so little backstory.

The English language used, instead of the novel’s original Norwegian, followed on like the book being translated, so I didn’t mind as that’s how I read the book.  Another successful example being the English version of Wallander, set in the original series’ native Ystad, Sweden, yet the characters speaking in English…

The setting of The Snowman was filmed entirely in Norway with the snow falling and the vast landscape keeping the feel from the novel authentic.

Director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) has used that feeling of vast space and isolation to build the creepy feeling of The Snowman watching.  But that’s as creepy as the film gets.

The Snowman didn’t live up to expectation because the momentum and therefore suspense was lost by trying to fit too much into the story.

I liked Fassbender as Harry, the setting was beautifully captured, and the story was good.  But could have been much better with a more focussed plot.

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Happy Death Day

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Happy Death DayRated: M

Directed by: Christopher Landon

Produced by: Jason Blum p.g.a. Blumhouse

Written by: Scott Lobdell

Director of Photography: Toby Oliver

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews and Charles Aitken.

‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’.

Reminiscent of Groundhog Day (released in 1993 where Bill Murray lives the same day, over and over), Happy Death Day has Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe (La La Land)) living the same day, but at the end of her day, she gets killed by a baby-masked psychopath.

Set on the Loyola University campus in New Orleans, there’s that sorority vibe – think: Tree waking up in a dormitory to face Carter (Israel Broussard (The Bling Ring)) the morning after an obviously heavy night on the booze, to the walk-of-shame back to her sorority house to face her fellow sisters.

Thankfully, not too much is made of the college life because jeez, we’ve all seen that too many times before…  It just lends a fun element to an otherwise slasher movie.  If you can call a slasher movie fun.

The story-line of the film is a Happy Death Dayhideous nightmare, where Tree gets killed over and over.  And the killer’s baby mask is freaky.

So, yes, it’s a scary movie.

But the tension is broken with these comic moments of Tree the bitchy, stuck-up character, able to make fun of herself.

Hats off to Jessica Rothe – if you didn’t like her character than the film would have just fallen over.  But there’s a down-to-earthness to her, making the other characters like the snobby house president, Danielle (newcomer Rachel Matthews) all the more ridiculous and funny.

You’d think the same scenario of waking up to the same day would lead to a boring story, but the script (written by Scott Lobdell) plays around with the concept, the changes made by Tree as she becomes aware of her fate, waking up over and over, is offset by the sameness of the day, shown in different ways, the wit making the waking nightmare, fun.Happy Death Day

And I’m happy to say, director, Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4, he then wrote and directed the spinoff Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, 2014) has pulled all the elements together, collaborating with: Aussie director of photography, Toby Oliver (upcoming Insidious: The Last Key), production designer, Cecele M. De Stefano (TV’s Empire), editor, Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity series), costume designer, Meagan Mclaughlin Luster (10 Cloverfield Lane) and composer Bear McCreary (10 Cloverfield Lane).

And it just feels like the team had fun making this movie.

Particularly showing the range of Jessica Rothe, shining through all the moments from, bitchy to scared to brazen to vulnerable.

Jason Blum has produced yet another cool film.  I always keep an eye out for Blumhouse because I know I’m in for a scary treat.

I’m not saying Happy Death Day is a mind bender that throws you for days like Get Out or Whiplash.  But it’s a great entertainer with a clever story-line.

Song To Song

GoMovieReviews Rating:
MSong To Song

Directed and Written by: Terrence Malick

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezk

Produced by: Sarah Green, Nicolas Gonda, Ken Kao

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Lykke Li, Val Kilmer.

Song To Song is a series of moments captured up close and pieced together to create a love story.

There’s minimal dialogue with the thread woven by the voice-overs of the main characters: BV (Ryan Gosling), Cook (Michael Fassbender), Faye (Rooney Mara) and Rhonda (Natalie Portman).

I had to find my way out of you, to life.

It wasn’t an easy film to watch as the many moments are made through different shots, angles and movement, switching perspectives to show light casting shadows, to leaves swirling in water; the affection of lovers through hands intertwined, socked feet being bitten, a smile or thoughts voiced-over a stare.

I tried to be kind.   It only made me colder.

Director and writer Terrence Malick has reached for the stars with this film.  Creating something aesthetically beautiful but also self-conscious.

The poetic narration of the characters worked well with imagery but the dialogue spoken felt fake and forced.Song To Song

It was like the camera was left to roll, then all the good bits taken and edited into a story that was decided later.

By making a film this way, there’s natural moments of wonder and laughter but it also felt like the actors were self-aware.

Ryan Gosling shone as BV – the warmth of this nature and ready grin making me almost jealous of Rooney Mara as Faye.  I really didn’t like her character at the beginning of the film – that coy, little girl act, grating.

But as the film progressed, I was immersed into the story gaining a better understanding of the character, Faye.

The film’s loosely based on BV making a record deal with the super successful and rich party-boy, Cook.Song To Song

They travel around (with Faye in toe, of course) to places like Mexico and many other different houses and spaces including music festivals.

There’s cameo appearances from the likes of Anthony Keidis, Iggy Pop and Pattie Smith as themselves.  Yet, BV, Cook and Faye kept in character (somewhat), trying to keep that loose storyline – the narrative sacrificed to include some cool footage into the film.

I’m all for the aesthetics but it made some parts of the film unnecessary as the fluidity of the story was lost to include the beautiful and poetic.

Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman make an appearance on the fringes of the film, the story losing itself amongst other people, only to find itself again with BV and Faye, making the journey moving, annoying, boring and sometimes completely absorbing.

It’s a different kind of movie.  I think the film has taken itself too seriously and yet, not seriously enough.

Malick has created a film like an art installation.  Like Andy Warhol filming actresses while interviewing them as they did whatever they wanted as long as it was interesting.  There’s the same feel here.  But revolving around the theme of sex and love – some parts worked, some didn’t.

I appreciated the reach and push made of this stellar cast.  I just wish it didn’t feel so pretentious.

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