August Movie Releases

Can you believe it’s already August? Seriously, where has the all the time gone, geez. Anyway, August is filled some movies that could have potential. It’s also the last month of the Summer Movie Season, also known to some as studios’ “dump month,” especially toward the latter half of the month because the kids are going back to school. Although, that seems to be less of the thing as the years have gone by. Let’s hope that it is not the true case.

 

2nd

Limited Release – Them That Follow

Set deep in the wilds of Appalachia, where believers handle death-dealing snakes to prove themselves before God, Them That Follow tells the story of a pastor’s daughter who holds a secret that threatens to tear her community apart. The film stars Alice Englert, Walton Goggins, Kaitlyn Dever, Lewis Pullman, Thomas Mann, Jim Gaffigan and Olivia Colman.

 

Limited Release – Luce

Based on a play by J.C. Lee, who also wrote the script; a married couple (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher (Octavia Spencer) threatens his status as an all-star student.

 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Universal Pictures

Synopsis: Directed by David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2), lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and outcast Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain (Idris Elba) threatens the future of humanity. Hobbs & Shaw co-stars Vanessa Kirby, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis and Helen Mirren.

Thoughts: The first spinoff, surprisingly, of the Fast & Furious franchise, Hobbs & Shaw follows up on the great bro-chemistry of Johnson and Statham from The Fate of the Furious, and it looks as ridiculous as you would expect from a Fast & Furious spinoff. Add in Elba as “Black Superman” and Kirby as a new Shaw sibling.

 

 

9th

Limited Release – Brian Banks

An All-American football player’s (Aldis Hodge) dreams to play in the NFL are halted when he is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison. Years later, he fights to clear his name within an unjust system. Brian Banks co-stars Greg Kinnear, Sherri Sheperd, Melanie Liburd and Tiffany Dupont.

 

Limited Release – The Peanut Butter Falcon

Zak (played by Zack Gottsagen, who really does have Down Syndrome) runs away from his care home to make his dream of becoming a wrestler come true. The film co-stars Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, John Hawkes, Jon Bernthal, Jake Roberts, Mick Foley, Thomas Haden Church and Bruce Dern.

 

The Art of Racing in the Rain – 20th Century Fox

Based on the novel by Garth Stein, through his bond with his owner, aspiring Formula One race car driver Denny (Milo Ventimiglia), golden retriever Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner) learns that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life. The Art of Racing in the Rain co-stars Amanda Seyfried, Gary Cole, Martin Donovan and Kathy Baker.

 

The Kitchen – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, BRON Studios, DC Vertigo

Synopsis: Written and directed by Andrea Berloff (co-writer of Straight Outta Compton), who is making her directorial debut, and based off the comic series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle; The wives of New York gangsters (played by Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss and Tiffany Haddish) in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s continue to operate their husbands’ rackets after they’re locked up in prison. The Kitchen co-stars Domhnall Gleeson, Common, James Badge Dale, Bill Camp, and Margo Martindale.

Thoughts: When I read that McCarthy, Haddish and Moss were going to do a comic book movie adaptation I was pretty interested considering the subject matter. Granted, I had never heard of The Kitchen, but the trio itself is interesting enough to get me in the theater.

 

Dora and the Lost City of Gold – Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, Nickelodeon Movies, Walden Media

Dora (Isabela Moner), a teenage explorer, leads her friends on an adventure to save her parents (Michael Pena and Eva Longoria) and solve the mystery behind a lost city of gold. Dora and the Lost City of Gold co-stars Eugenio Derbez, Jeff Wahlberg, Madeleine Madden, Temuera Morrison and the voices of Danny Trejo as Boots and Benicio Del Toro as Swiper.

 

 

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Lionsgate, CBS Films, Double Dare You, Sean Daniel Company, Entertainment One

Synopsis: Based off the acclaimed novel by Alvin Schwartz, produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Andre Ovredal (Trollhunters, The Autopsy of Jane Doe) a group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark stars Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Natalie Ganzhorn, Gil Bellows, Kathleen Pollard, Javier Botet and Dean Norris.

Thoughts: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has been in the works for a quite a while with del Toro having been attached for so long, but ended up handing over the directorial duties to Ovredal, who made the terrific The Autopsy of Jane Doe. The movie will be blend all the stories together with an interconnect story were the book is written by the mysterious Sarah Bellows. Overall, the thing looks damn impressive, and the fact that it’s a pretty much unknown cast, I think it works a hell of a lot better.

 

 

14th

The Angry Birds Movie 2 – Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Rovio Animation

The flightless birds and scheming green pigs take their beef to the next level. The voice cast includes Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Rachel Bloom, Maya Rudolph, Awkwafina, Dove Cameron, Tiffany Haddish and Sterling K. Brown.

 

 

16th

Blinded By the Light – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Ingenious Media, Levantine Films, Bend It Films, Rakija Films

In 1987, during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain, a teenager learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen.

 

47 Meters Down: Uncaged – Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, thefyzz

Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves.

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Annapurna Pictures, United Artists Releasing, Color Force

Based on the novel by Maria Semple, and co-written and directed by Richard Linkalter; A loving mom (Cate Blanchett) becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.  Where’d You Go, Bernadette co-stars Kristen Wiig, Billy Crudup, Judy Greer, Emma Nelson, Zoe Chao, Troian Bellisario and Laurence Fishburne.

 

Good Boys – Universal Pictures, Good Universe, Point Grey Pictures

Three sixth grade boys (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon) ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls and trying to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party. Good Boys co-stars Molly Gordon, Lina Renna, Will Forte, Lil Rey Howery and Retta.

 

 

21st

Ready or Not – Fox Searchlight Pictures, Vinson Films, Mythology Entertainment

Synopsis: A bride’s (Samara Weaving) wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game. Ready or Not co-stars Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, Elyse Levesque, Adam Brody and Andie MacDowell.

Thoughts: I didn’t really know too much about this one until I saw the trailer, but I was instantly hooked. The cast is filled with some pretty decently known names. Plus, the idea of a kid’s game turning into a full-blown survival thriller sounds great to me.

 

23rd

Limited Release – Brittany Runs a Marathon

A woman (Jillian Bell) living in New York takes control of her life – one block at a time. Brittany Runs a Marathon co-stars Lil Rey Howery, Micah Stock and Michaela Watkins

 

Overcomer – Affirm Films, Provident Films

The movie will unpack a pivotal issue in the life students and adults alike

 

Angel Has Fallen – Summit Entertainment, Millennium Films, G-BASE

Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is framed for the attempted assassination of the President (Morgan Freeman) and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat. Angel Has Fallen co-stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Piper Perabo, Nick Nolte, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson and Danny Huston.

 

30th

*Playmobil has been moved to December

 

Don’t Let Go – Blumhouse Productions, Briarcliff Entertainment, OTL Releasing

After a man’s (David Oyelowo) family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece (Storm Reid). He’s not sure if she’s a ghost or if he’s going mad, but as it turns out, he’s not. Don’t Let Go co-stars Mykelti Williamson, Shinelle Azoroh and Byron Mann.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

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October Movie Releases

It is October ladies and gentleman!

This month looks pretty great and, yet again, some early Oscar nominations could come out. Of course, let’s not forget that it is the month of Halloween, however, unlike past years; it seems there is only one big horror film coming. But let’s stop talking about them and actually get to them!

Also, Happy Early Halloween!

 

5th

A Star is Born

A musician (Bradley Cooper) helps a singer and actress (Lady Gaga) find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral. Another remake of the classic film – the last starring Kris Kristofferson and Babra Streisand – the film is not only Cooper’s directorial debut, but has also gotten a lot of praise in the festival circuit. A Star Is Born co-stars Dave Chappelle, Bonnie Somerville, Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Harney, Anthony Ramos and Sam Elliott.

 

Venom

When Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life. To say Venom is dividing fans would probably be an understatement, especially when there a brief time when there was a very small hope that Venom could exist in the MCU. Of course, that’s not the case and Venom will be the first movie in Sony’s Marvel Universe, which is already starting to grow with other movies lined up. All that said, Venom doesn’t look too bad to me. Will it be good? Well, let’s hope so. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, Venom co-stars Riz Ahmed, Michelle Williams, Jenny Slate, Reid Scott, Michelle Lee, Jared Bankens, Sam Medina, Scott Haze and Woody Harrelson.

 

12th

Limited Release: The Oath

Written and directed by Ike Barinholtz – who also stars in the movie – in a politically divided America, a man struggles to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday without destroying his family. The Oath also stars Tiffany Haddish, Billy Magnussen, Carrie Brownstein, Nora Dunn and John Cho.

 

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Halloween comes to life in a comedy adventure based on R.L. Stine’s 400-million-selling series of books. I was pretty surprised with the first Goosebumps, and it looks like the sequel isn’t a direct sequel, but rather its own thing, but still in the same world. The trailers haven’t really shown too much, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but here’s hoping the sequel doesn’t disappoint. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween stars Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Madison Iseman, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong and Jack Black.

 

Bad Times At The El Royale

Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption – before everything goes to hell. This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I read it was happening. Written and directed by Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods), the movie looks like a stylized thriller that will probably not go the way we think, and I’m all for it. Bad Times At The El Royale stars Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Cailee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Nic Offerman and Chris Hemsworth.

 

First Man

Based on the book by James R. Hansen, and directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land), First Man is a look at the life of the astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling). First Man will follow the legendary space mission that led to him becoming the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. First Man already has some buzz around it with the festival circuit run, but also because of the “controversy” that the movie won’t have the Flag Planting. Either way, First Man will be one of the big movies to look out for this month, and during award season. First Man co-stars Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot, Ethan Embry, Patrick Fugit, Lukas Haas, Shea Whigham and Ciaran Hinds.

 

19th

Limited Release: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Based on the true story, and an adaptation of the memoir of the same name, by best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) and follows Israel, who falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. Can You Ever Forgive Me? Co-stars Richard E. Grant, Julie Ann Emery, Alice Kremelberg and Jane Curtin.

 

Limited Release: What They Had

Bridget (Hilary Swank) returns home at her brother’s (Michael Shannon) urging to deal with her ailing mother (Blythe Danner) and her father’s (Robert Forster) reluctance to let go of their life together. What They Had co-stars Taissa Farmiga, Aimee Garcia and Josh Lucas.

 

Limited Release: Mid90s

Written and directed by Jonah Hill, making his feature-film directorial debut, Mid90s follows Stevie (Sunny Suljic), a thirteen-year-old in 90s-era LA who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop. The movie co-stars Lucas Hedges, Na-kel Smith, Alexa Demie and Katherine Waterston.

 

Serenity

Written and directed by Steven Knight, writer of films like Eastern Promises, Locke (which he also directed), TV series Taboo and Peaky Blinders and the upcoming The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Serenity follows the mysterious past of a fishing boat captain (Matthew McConaughey) that comes back to haunt him when his ex-wife (Anne Thaway) tracks him down with a desperate plea for help. Ensnaring his life in a new reality that may not be all that it seems. I’m a fan of Knight, so I’m always eager to see what he does next, however, the trailer for Serenity does feel like it’s biting off more than it can chew, so hopefully that’s not the case, especially because the cast is stacked. Serenity co-stars Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong and Diane Lane.

 

The Hate U Give

Based on the novel of the same name by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give follows Starr (Amandla Stenberg), who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil (Algee Smith) at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right. The Hate U Give co-stars Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Common, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, K.J. Apa and Anthony Mackie.

 

Halloween

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago. I don’t care what anybody says, I’m pumped for Halloween. Sure the idea that the movie was co-written by Danny McBride and David Gordon Green, and directed by Green – the guys behind Pineapple Express and Eastbound & Down – is pretty out there, but with the blessing for John Carpenter, and produced by horror superhouse company Blumhouse, what’s not to like? Halloween co-stars Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Virginia Gardner, Miles Robbins, Toby Huss, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle and Will Patton.

 

26th

Hunter Killer

An untested American submarine captain teams with U.S. Navy Seals to rescue the Russian president, who has been kidnapped by a rogue general. No, this is not a made up movie, and no, you haven’t traveled back to the 80s. This is a real movie happen in 2018, and it looks bonkers as hell. Hunter Killer stars Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Linda Cardellini, Toby Stephens, Zane Holtz, Common and the late Michael Nyqvist.

 

Johnny English Strikes Again

After a cyber-attack reveals the identity of all the active undercover agents in Britain, Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is forced to come out of retirement to find the mastermind hacker. Johnny English Strikes Again co-stars Olga Kurylenko, Ben Miller, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Jake Lacy and Emma Thompson.

 

What are you looking forward to?

Mini-Reviews – Justice League, Lady Bird, Coco & Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I know I’ve been slacking on my movie reviews, so please forgive me for that, I have been watching movies but I haven’t had a real chance to sit down and write full reviews. So this is going to make up for it, with some of the big movies I’ve watched. Movies not included are Daddy’s Home 2, Roman J. Israel Esq., Murder on the Orient Express.

 

Been a while since I’ve done one of these, so please, bare with me. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Lady Bird

Director: Greta Gerwig

Writer: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Odeya Rush, Timothee Chalamet, Jordan Rodrigues, Marielle Scott and Tracy Letts.

Synopsis: In the early 2000s, an artistically-inclined seventeen year-old comes of age in Sacramento, California.

 

Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial effort, Lady Bird is a great coming-of-age story following Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who wants out of her town but is not financially able to go to a big college. It also doesn’t help that her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is working non-stop and thinks she should think more logically about college. During all of this, we follow Lady Bird, which is what she wants to be called, go through her final year at school, love and thinking what her future holds for her.

I had heard a lot about Lady Bird during its film festival run, and when I finally got the chance to see it, I can see why people really loved it. Gerwig’s writing was fantastical, nothing ever felt forced and Ronan is simply amazing as Lady Bird. The main thing for me about the movie is, despite the movie being set in 2002, it doesn’t really feel that way. Sure we have flip-phones and the whole, “the government is going to put trackers on us” mentally by one of the characters Lady Bird interacts with, and the news of attacks overseas by our government, but the time period isn’t really that important – at least from my point of view of watching.

The thing that makes Lady Bird work for me is the chemistry between Ronan and Metcalf. Any time they are on the screen together it makes the film pop, and it’s both fun and hard to watch as you see them argue and fight one minute and then suddenly have a heart-to-heart the next. It would be really hard to imagine if none of these ladies including Gerwig, are not nominated for the major award shows.

All in all, Lady Bird is a greatly acted film with top notch writing and humor that feels real. While I did feel it loses only a slightly bit of steam near the end, the cast and the script really make Lady Bird worth the while.

Lady Bird

4 out of 5

 

 

Justice League

Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon

Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Joe Morton, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard, J.K. Simmons, Diane Lane, Henry Cavill and Ciaran Hinds

Synopsis: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

 

Justice League has had a long and hard road to get to the big screen. From the scarped George Miller-directed movie, to the DCEU’s battle to get fans and critics to go all in for their movies, the movie has finally arrived and it’s just okay. If you didn’t know, Zack Snyder directed the movie at first, but had to step down for the reshoots because of the death of a loved, and Joss Whedon – who had done some script work – came in to take over.

To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of hopes for this. I still had the bad taste of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with me, but I was willing to really give Justice League a chance. Unfortunately, Justice League was a huge misstep for me. The CGI was really off in places – I’m looking at you Henry Cavill mustache removal!

Justice League has a rather simple plot; Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) gathers together the team of the Amazon, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the speedster Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), the loner Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and the cybernetically enhanced Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to stop the threat of Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), an intergalactic threat that comes to Earth to find the Mother Boxes, cubes with massive power. It’s up to them to stop him and save the world.

The problem with Justice League is, besides some of the terrible CGI, is it doesn’t really take the time to get to know the new characters. We know Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman, but we get the cliff notes of Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg, which doesn’t help considering we’re suppose to care for these characters, and they’re the new big characters we’re going to follow. Miller’s Barry is too jokey; Stone’s Cyborg is a bit too stoic – although he does loosen up at the end – and Momoa’s Curry/Aquaman is a bit too “bro” for me, which is fine for a new approach, but I didn’t really get into it.

All in all, despite all that, yes, Justice League does have some fun and cool moments, but a lot of the negatives and drawbacks of the movie – some I didn’t even mention – really make it hard to enjoy the moments entirely. Justice League does take the DCEU into the right direction of more hopeful and fun, instead dark gritty. Hopefully, the DCEU continues down this route, otherwise the franchise is in a lot of trouble.

Justice League

2.5 out of 5

 

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

Director: Martin McDonagh

Writer: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, John Hawkes, Amanda Warren, Samara Weaving, Kerry Condon, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Clarke Peters, Sandy Martin, Zeljko Ivanek, Abbie Cornish, and Peter Dinklage

Synopsis: In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder, when they fail to catch the culprit.

 

Martin McDonagh, who directed In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, is a director that I will also keep a look out for now. When I found out about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and the cast, it immediately jumped into my “Must Watch” list, and I’m glad I did, because this was a film that really stuck with me.

The film follows Mildred (Frances McDormand), who has recently lost her daughter in a brutal way, and after the police have seemed to give up on the case, she decides to buy three billboards that target the police for not doing their jobs. The billboards get the attention of the police, more specifically Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), and the townspeople who are heavily against them. The film then follows Mildred as she deals with everyone seemingly against her, and Dixon and Willoughby trying to finally figure out the case.

There is a lot more going on in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri that I won’t even hint at here, mainly because this film really does lend itself on knowing the least amount of information possible to thoroughly enjoy it and really get into the world that this movie takes place in. I will say it’s a dark comedy, so prepare yourself for that, and if you seen McDonagh’s other films, then you’d know what to expect.

I will say Frances McDormand is great as always, but I’d argue that this movie belongs to Sam Rockwell. He’s absolutely fantastic in this, and dare I say, this is one of his best performances he’s ever done.

All in all, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a wonderfully entertaining dark comedy with great performances by Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. Seriously do yourself a favor and try to avoid anything about the movie, and go watch it.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

4.5 out of 5

 

 

Coco

Director: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina

Writers: Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich

Voice Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Edward James Olmos and Benjamin Bratt

Synopsis: Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to work out the mystery.

 

I am willing to admit that I had serious doubts about Coco. I knew that Pixar had been working on a Dia de los Muertos movie for a while now, but I was a huge fan of another Dia de los Muertos film called The Book of Life. However, Coco completely blew me away. The movie follows Miguel, who is banned from playing, listening or even thinking about music, but like all kids, he doesn’t follow his family’s rule. Miguel is inspired by a deceased musician from the town, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), and through magic, enters the Land of the Dead on The Day of the Dead to find de la Cruz and find his place in the world.

Along his journey there, he meets his deceased family and a con man named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal). But, Miguel finds out that he has to get back to the living world before he’s stuck in the Land in the Dead forever.

Like any Pixar movie, the movie has a great story, great characters and amazing visuals. The beautiful and bright colors of The Land of the Dead really pop and I kind of wish we could see more of it as a whole, and not just sections. I also liked that they really dug into the actual culture of everything, and it’s cool to see that represented in a movie like this.

More importantly, and the thing that will put any movie on my list of anything, this tugged on every emotional string that I had. I’ll admit, I was on the verge of tears A LOT. The characters actions and even some of the music, more specifically “Remember Me” started up the waterworks.

All in all, Coco is a great film with eye-popping visuals and an amazing soundtrack. I will admit, something in the final act was a little jarring, especially for a kids and Pixar movie but I guess it worked out at the end of it all.

Coco

4.5 out of 5

 

‘The Edge of Seventeen’ Review

edge_of_seventeen

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig

Writer: Kelly Fremon Craig

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Hayden Szeto, Alexander Calvert, Woody Harrelson, Eric Keenleyside and Kyra Sedgwick

Synopsis: High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Coming-of-age films are always a fun experience. Some of them touch a nerve and bring back memories, while others could alienate some people because they didn’t have or share some of those experiences. However, most of them all share one thing in common: we’ve all thought like these kids at point or another, and we all love seeing a character transform in front of us in a a very human way.

The Edge of Seventeen follows high school junior Nadine (Steinfeld), who isn’t like her peers. It doesn’t help that she’s in the shadow of her perfect older brother Darian (Jenner) and has a strained relationship with her mother, Mona (Sedgwick). The only good thing in her life is her lifelong best friend Krista (Richardson), who she can also count on. However, after finding out that Krista and Darian slept together, Nadine feels betrayed and cuts Krista out of her life. What follows is Nadine trying to figure out what to do with her life, and that includes dealing with her nerdy and awkward classmate Erwin (Szeto), her from afar crush and local school bad boy Nick (Calvert) and her rapport with her equally sarcastic history teacher Mr. Bruner (Harrelson).

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Like the coming-of-age films before it, the film isn’t really plot-driven but instead follows Nadine through her misadventures after finding out Krista slept with her older brother and the two have started dating. However, the good thing is that everything feels real. Sure, Nadine follows the trope of being a bit more sharp witted than a real teenager but that doesn’t take away the fun of the film and of her mishaps, which are pretty funny to watch.

What also makes Nadine a great character to follow is how Steinfeld plays her. Nadine could have easily been an unbearable and unlikeable character, and I’m sure some will see her that way and she is to some extent, but Steinfeld plays her so well and with a great amount of charm and wit that it actually makes us invest in. And yes, we want to see her grow and even go through her unfortunate situations and encounters. It also nice to see Steinfeld let loose a bit and find a role that lets her showcase her full potential like she did back in True Grit.

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The rest of the supporting cast is also great and play off each other really well. Blake Jenner has had a breakout year starring in this and Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! Haley Lu Richardson as Krista never comes off as distance or mean, we actually feel for her when Krista and Nadine fight. Hayden Szeto as Erwin is one of the biggest highlights of the film, and someone I hope we all get to see in future films. Woody Harrelson is the other cast highlight as his relationship and back-and-forth between Steinfeld and him is what makes the film just fly by. Kyra Sedgwick as Nadine’s mother has her own arc in the film that was nice to watch unfold.

All in all, The Edge of Seventeen isn’t perfect, as it loses some steam for just a bit, before it picks up again. It’s also not the best or a groundbreaking coming-of-age film, but one that you should definitely take the time to watch. The cast overall is fantastic, and its easily one of the best movies of the year.

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The Edge of Seventeen

4.5 out of 5

November Movie Releases

It’s Turkey Month ladies and gentlemen!

Happy Early Thanksgiving! It’s now at the point that we have a great film or films coming out every week and some that will for sure divide films fans. Now let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s coming out!

 

 

4th

Limited Release: Loving

Loving has been getting some great reviews on the film festival circuit, and it helps that the film is based on a true story. Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial couple, are sentenced to a prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married. The film also stars Will Dalton, Alano Miller, Chris Greene, Sharon Blackwood, Nick Kroll, Bill Camp, Marton Csokas, and Michael Shannon.

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Trolls (Animation – 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Animation)

Yes, a movie about those lovable toys from the 80s is getting a feature-length filmed. Does it really matter what it’s about? You’re taking your kids to go see whether you like it or not! The voice cast includes Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Zooey Deschanel, Gwen Stefani, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhane Wallis, Russell Brand, Ron Funches, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor and John Cleese.

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Hacksaw Ridge (Biography War Drama – Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Cross Creak Pictures/Vendian Entertainment/Demarest Media/Icon Productions)  

Mel Gibson returns to the director’s chair with this film that follows WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who served during the Battle of Okinawa, who refused to pick up a gun and kill, and became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Say what you will about Mel Gibson, the man knows how to direct and the film looks great. Hacksaw Ridge also stars Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Rachel Griffiths, Matt Nable, Vince Vaughn and Hugo Weaving.

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Doctor Strange (Fantasy Action Adventure – Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures)

Marvel is once again being ambitious by bring the magic side of the comics to life. After his career is destroyed, a brilliant but arrogant surgeon gets a new lease on life when a sorcerer takes him under his wing and trains him to defend the world against evil. Scott Derrickson directs Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange aka Doctor Strange, Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Scott Adkins. The film looks pretty trippy and, yes, does have an Inception-vibe, but with a cast like this, and director Scott Derrickson onboard, we’re looking at another big hit for Marvel.

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11th

Limited Release: Elle

Based on the novel by Phillppe Djian, and directed by Paul Verhoeven, the film follows a successful businesswoman (Isabelle Huppert), who gets caught up in a game of cat-and-mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her.

 

Limited Release in 3D: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Comedy Drama – Sony Pictures/TriStar Productions/Marc Platt Productions/Dune Films)

Directed by Ang Lee and based on the novel by Ben Fountain, 19-year-old Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) is brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks the film shows what really happened to his squad – contrasting the realities of war with America’s perceptions. The film doesn’t look that bad, and Ang Lee is doing the interesting move on filming the movie in a high-frame rate. The film will star Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Makenzie Leigh, Tim Blake Nelson, and Steve Martin.

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Shut In (Drama Thriller – EuropaCorp/Lava Bear Films)

A widowed child psychologist (Naomi Watts), who lives in an isolated existence in rural New England with her comatose son (Charlie Heaton), gets caught in a deadly winter storm. However, that’s not her only problem as she starts to question her reality and tries to find a boy (Jacob Tremblay) she recently lost under her care. The film looks pretty creepy, and the isolation aspect could lead to some great moments. The film also stars Crystal Balint, Tim Post, Clementine Poidatz and Oliver Platt.

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Almost Christmas (Comedy – Universal Pictures)

A dysfunctional family gathers together for their first Thanksgiving since their mom died. The cast includes Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Jessie Usher, Omar Epps, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, and Kimberly Elise.

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Arrival (Sci-Fi Drama – Paramount Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/21 Laps Entertainment)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario), the film takes place after alien crafts land around the world, an expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. Arrival has some good things going for it. Villeneuve is a great director and has a cast of Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma. It also helps that early reviews have been nothing but positive, even saying Arrival could be a surprise Oscar contender.

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18th

Limited Release: The Take (Action Drama)

A young con artist (Richard Madden) and former CIA agent (Idris Elba) embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France. The film was originally titled Bastille Day, a special holiday in France, the film was pushed back and delayed after the attacks in France, and is now getting a release date. The film also stars Kelly Reilly, Charlotte Le Bon, and Anatol Yusef.

 

Limited Release: The Eyes of My Mother (Horror Drama)

A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life. The film looks rather creepy to be honest, and the fact that the film is shot in black and white makes it all the more.

 

Limited Release: Manchester by the Sea (Drama)

An uncle (Casey Affleck) is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies, but is also dealing with his own personal troubles. Manchester by the Sea looks absolutely fantastic, and I’ve hear NOTHING but good things about this. The film also stars Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Matthew Broderick, Josh Hamilton and Tate Donovan.

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Limited Release: Nocturnal Animals (Drama Thriller)

Based on Austin Wright’s novel “Tony and Susan,” an art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale. Again, another film with a great cast that I’m surprised is getting a limited release. Nocturnal Animals stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laura Linney and Michael Shannon.

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Expanded Release: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

 

Bleed for This (Biography Drama – Open Road Films/Verdi Productions/Magna Entertainment/Bruce Cohen Productions/Younger Than You)

Based on the story of World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), who after a near fatal car crash which left him not knowing if he’d ever walk again, made one of sport’s most incredible comebacks. The film doesn’t look to bad really, and I’m a bit surprised it’s only getting a limited release. Bleed for This also stars Katey Sagal, Aaron Eckhart, Ted Levine, and Ciaran Hinds.

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The Edge of Seventeen (Comedy – Sony Pictures/STX Entertainment/Gracie Films)

High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) when her best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), starts dating her older brother (Blake Jenner). I didn’t really think anything about this, I thought it would be just another teeny bopper movie, but I saw the trailer and it does looks pretty damn funny. The film also stars Woody Harrelson, Alexander Calvert, and Kyra Sedgwick.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Fantasy Adventure – Warner Bros.)

Set 70-years before the events of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling brings us back to the Wizarding World by following writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who ends up in New York with a secret community of witches and wizards, and has to track down fantastic beasts that have gotten out of his magical briefcase. Harry Potter series director David Yates comes back to direct and also stars Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol, Samantha Morton, Dan Fogler, Colin Farell, Ron Pearlman, and Jon Voight.

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23rd

Expanded Release: Nocturnal Animals 

 

Rules Don’t Apply (Comedy Romance Drama – 20th Century Fox/RatPace Entertainment/New Regency Pictures/Shangri-La Entertainment/Demarest Films)

Warren Beatty returns behind the camera after twenty plus years, and follows an unconventional love story of an aspiring actress (Lily Collins), her determined driver (Alden Ehrenreich), and the eccentric billionaire (Beatty) who they work for. There was something about the trailer that doesn’t grab me, and if the trailer has trouble define what tone it’s going to take, that is a bit of a problem. The rest of the cast is also great with Haley Bennett, Alec Baldwin, Taissa Farmiga, Matthew Broderick, Steve Coogan, Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Candice Bergen and Martin Sheen.

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Allied (Thriller – Paramount Pictures)

Robert Zemeckis directs and Steven Knight (Locke, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Peaky Blinders) writes Allied. Set in 1942, Max (Brad Pitt), a French-Canadian spy, falls in love and marries French agent Marianne (Marion Cotillard), after a mission in Casablanca. Max is notified that Marianne is likely a Nazi spy and begins to investigate her. Allied also stars Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode, Raffey Cassidy, Charlotte Hope and Jared Harris.

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Bad Santa 2 (Comedy – Miramax/Broad Green Pictures)

The long awaited sequel to Bad Santa will finally arrive, and fans look to be excited. The film will bring back Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) as he’s roped into another heist by his fresh-out-of-jail -sidekick Marcus (Tony Cox) to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve, the problem is that Willie’s mother, played by Kathy Bates, finds out and joins in. The film will also stars Christina Hendricks, Brett Kelly, and Ryan Hansen.

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Moana (Animation – Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

A young woman, Moana (Auli’I Cravalho) uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson). The film is being directed by longtime Disney animated film directors Ron Clements and John Musker, who have directed films like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, and The Princess and the Frog. The rest of the voice cast includes Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, and Alan Tudyk.

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25th

Lion (The Weinstein Company/See-Saw Films/Aquarius Films/Screen Australia)

Based on the novel by Saroo Brierley, a five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Caluctta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he set out to find his lost family. The film stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, and David Wenham

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Miss Sloane (Drama Thriller – EuropaCorp/FilmNation Entertainment)

An ambitious lobbyist, played by Jessica Chastain, faces off against the powerful gun lobby in an attempt to pass control legislation. The film also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Allison Pill, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Dylan Baker, Douglas Smith, John Lithgow and Sam Waterston.

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What are you looking forward to?

‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ Review

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Director: Richard Linklater

Writer: Richard Linklater

Cast: Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Temple Baker, J. Quinton Johnson, Will Brittain, Forrest Vickery, Tanner Kalina, Austin Amelio, Zoey Deutch, Juston Street and Wyatt Russell

Synopsis: A group of college baseball players navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Richard Linklater is back with his fun, coming-of-age film, and spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused with Everybody Wants Some!! I have to admit, I haven’t seen Dazed and Confused is a long time, but you don’t really have to had watched it to enjoy and fall in love with Everybody Wants Some!!

There is a good chuck of characters in the film, it follows a baseball team after all, but our main character we follow is Jake (Jenner). Jake was the star pitcher in his high school team, but now he’s on a team that has the best players of their respected teams, he isn’t as special as he thinks. As the movie begins we see Jake move into the teams house, we get introduced to most of the team that is “lead” by star hitter McReynolds (Hoechlin) and Roper (Guzman). The rest of the team include smooth talker Finnegan or Finn (Powell), who takes Jake under his wing a bit and has – and looks – a very Matthew McConaughy vibe to him, Dale (Johnson), the pothead Willoughby (Russell), cocky and “hotshot” player Jay (Street) and other freshman players Beuter (Brittain) and Plummer (Baker).

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Finn (Glenn Powell), Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), Jake (Blake Jenner), Dale (J. Quinton Johnson), and Plummer (Temple Baker)

The whole film takes place days before the new semester starts, so you can only imagine what these college kids are going to do before classes start and their baseball season begins. From going to clubs, to riding around in their cars listening to music at the time, hooking up with different women, and well anything else really, we get a good vibe to every character we get. No character is wasted as all of them have their own moments to shine, and despite some questionable behavior you still feel like you want to be part of the team and hang out with these guys.

Jack is the most grounded of the team and our anchor for the film, and even when he meets Beverly (Duetch), the female role that has any sort of substance, the film doesn’t lose its steam or tone, it continues to keep going and his interactions with Beverly feel real. Which is one of the things that Linklater is so great at doing and is one of the best at; making his characters feel real.

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Jake (Jenner), McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), and Roper (Ryan Guzman)

Linklater does a great job of making you feel like you’re back in early 80s. From the production design of every set, the (awesome) soundtrack, the clothing and hair, the nuances, and overall feel of Everybody Wants Some!! The film was resonate with everybody, which is fine, but there is surely something in this that anyone can relate to, and that’s the great thing about Linklater as a director, his films can resonate with just about anyone.

All in all, Everybody Wants Some!! should resonate with some viewers on more than one level or another. All the cast members have their moments to shine, and all of them feel real, which makes the film feel more real, if that makes sense. Sure, the movie is like a few other coming-of-age films we’ve seen, but it’s the characters that make the film worthwhile and fun as hell to watch.

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Everybody Wants Some!!

4.5 out of 5

‘After Earth’ Review

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Dir: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo, and Zoe Kravitz

Synopsis: A crash landing leaves Kitai Raige and his father Cypher stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.

 

*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always.*

 

On the surface After Earth is a sci-fi movie that stars the Smith family powerhouse of Will and his son Jaden. Along with that, the movie is also a coming of age story of sorts with the added effect of a strained father and son relationship.

The story is set 1,000 years after humans have left a now uninhabitable Earth behind and relocated to another planet named Nova Prime. Nova Prime has its own dangers: monstrous aliens that hunt humans. So of course we learn to adapt and get a very brief scene that shows the humans fighting back and pretty much the only scene we get to see Will’s Cypher Rage do anything (more on that in a bit).

Anyway, we follow his son, an aspiring Ranger named Kitai Raige (Jaden) as he tries to impress his father. Kitai however doesn’t exactly have all the qualities it takes to be a Ranger and it disappoints him and knows that it will disappoint his father. However, the two get a chance to have some bonding time as Cypher after coming home briefly has to leave again and takes his son. While traveling something, obliviously, goes wrong the ship is forced and crash lands on the now quarantined planet of Earth.

The only survivors are Kitai and his badly injured father who has to stay on the ship and help guide his son to retrieve a distress beacon from part of their wrecked ship that’s many miles away. Sounds simple right? Well add Earth’s wildlife that has evolved drastically as well as the animals that Kitai has to go through. Still sound simple? Well aboard the ship was a captured alien monster known as an Ursa that has escaped its cage and is know roaming around.

After Earth may have the stigma of being directed by M. Night Shyamalan but Shyamalan actually has been able to craft a movie that, wait for it, is passable. The movie has some pretty good effects going for it but nothing we haven’t really seen before. Probably the best special effect is of the monster Ursa that looks pretty scary once we get a good look at it and maybe the shifting blade.

Although there are some brief roles by Zoe Kravitz and Sophie Okonedo as the female members of the Raige family, this is basically a two-person show, with Jaden Smith really being front and center. Will Smith on the other hand really just sits down for the whole movie and leaves his son to do all the running, jumping and fighting. The dynamic between the two was a bit rough at times. We know Will Smith for being charismatic but his character here restrains his emotions to the point that his performance comes across as wooden or bland, although it makes some sense for this character. Jaden on the other hand has his moments to shine but his facial expression all kind of looked the same. Also, the accents the have in the movie kind of took me out of it. I don’t want to be that person that hates the entire movie because of a small thing and I’m not in this case, I’m just wondering why they made that decision.

All in all, After Earth isn’t the best movie but it surely is passable and hopefully Shyamalan can ride off this and get back to some of his former stride.

After Earth

3 out of 5