Hell or High Water

Funny thing, we saw this on the same day we saw Sausage Party. Thank goodness we saw this one second. On a day when we saw what will probably be one of my least favorite movies of the year, Hell or High Water comes in and saves the day.

The plot was very, very simple and overall it was almost a set of three character studies that was the common thread throughout the movie. Everything about it was just perfect. The pacing. The setting. The acting. The writing, which was unexpected since the same guy wrote that piece of garbage Sicario.

Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster (why doesn’t that guy get more work?) were especially good, and New Captain Kirk was pleasantly surprising. I guess he has more range than I thought. Overall I’d describe this as a modern day American western noir, and somehow all those words together work.

Since I apparently notice cinematography a lot now… it was exceptional. You could randomly pause the movie on any frame and it would be a work of art. There were a lot of rather technical camera moves, actors hitting their marks, camera hitting its mark, all Steadicam or dolly work. I didn’t notice any shaky-cam at all. Aside from the great ‘substance’ of the movie, it was beautiful to look at.

Anyway, big thumbs up. I don’t see this getting a really wide release but if you like this kind of thing it’s worth seeking out.

Sausage Party

I wasn’t originally going to bother with this one, the trailers didn’t make it look very good. Then it hit over 80% on Rotten Tomatoes and some critics I like (Richard Roeper, Michael Philips, OA Scott for Christ’s sake) gave it a positive review, so I figured what the hell. And then I dragged my wife along with me to make matters even worse.

This was crap. Garbage. I like juvenile comedy as much as the next guy, but this was somehow worse that I imagined it could be. It was like juvenile comedy that was actually written by a juvenile. You can be juvenile and smart at the same time, but this was just horrid.

They tried to construct a sort of religious parable, and I commend them for the attempt. It must have looked good on paper, but the execution was not much beyond a third-grader’s grasp of world religions. It cut a pretty wide swath and offered no insight. I know, I know. It’s a cartoon. I wouldn’t normally be so harsh but this cartoon aimed high and missed so thoroughly I can’t bring myself to cut it any slack.

I think I chuckled a little bit maybe twice. Mostly because it’s hilarious to hear swearing in Salma Hayak’s voice. I’d rather have watched an entire movie of that, with nothing on the screen.

If you imbibe in the chronic, and get really, really high before seeing this, maybe it would be somewhat funny. Maybe. But you’d have to be higher than Snoop Dogg on an average day for this to even make a small dent in your funny-bone.

Don’t Think Twice

Funny! I like.

This is a film from Mike Berbiglia that seems to cut a little deep because you know a lot of it is probably biographical.

It’s essentially about a group of improv comedians, where one of them gets a cherry gig on SNL (not called SNL in the movie, though) and how it changes the dynamic of the group. Some in the group want to make it big but perhaps haven’t had the guts. Some people are just fine being starving artists and don’t feel like they belong in the big time. While others are desperately trying to make it big while pretending they are content in their podunk little theater playing to 10 people a night.

Anyway, it was really funny, poignant, happy and sad all at the same time. Surprisingly effective and much better and more insightful than I expected it to be.

Suicide Squad

I had high hopes for this one. But alas, the were dashed.

Not dashed too hard, but this one showed a lot of promise and failed to deliver on it.

They were smart to focus on Harley Quinn on the trailers. I know everyone’s all ga-ga about Margot Robbie. Yeah, sure, she’s hot. But she can also act. I didn’t like Wolf of Wall Street but she was very good it in, maybe better than Leonardo. And she’s very good in this.

But, much to my surprise, Will Smith was also very good. Joel Kinnaman was good. Cara Delevingne was actually pretty good, except for that weird gyrating thing she was doing toward the end. Plus there were a few other characters hanging around.

I think that may have been part of the problem. Too many characters, not enough background. Marvel did good by having a few standalone character movies come out prior to The Avengers. Then they didn’t have to waste time on who they all were, where they came from, etc. Suicide Squad didn’t have that luxury so they had to start the film with a bunch of vignettes about the characters, where we don’t really get to learn much about them.

The plot wasn’t that great, either. They’re assembling the Suicide Squad to do the government’s dirty work, but then one of the squad goes rogue, and the rest of the movie is about them trying to reel her back in. I actually wanted to see them do the promised dirty work, not just bring one of their kids inline. I thought it was originally just going to be a quick side-story, but then I realized that the movie was half over, so that was going to be it. Lame.

I think they’ve already decided to do a standalone Harley Quinn/Joker movie, which is good. Leto and Robbie can carry that. I hope they put a Deadshot movie together, that’s something I’d want to watch. I might even be intrigued by an Enchantress movie, were she goes back in time to ancient Egypt and wreaks havoc on King Tut or some shit like that. But the rest of the squad was just sort of there, uninteresting.

Star Trek Beyond

Meh. Not the best Star Trek film in the reboot. I feel like the plot was pretty thin or something. It was okay, but the other two were better.

They introduced a new female character that I kinda like, I hope she sticks around. Her not 100% command of the English language was pretty funny. And she can kick people in the face. Can’t go wrong with that.

Jason Bourne

Fucking garbage. I hated it. I’m done with Paul Greengrass. I’m tired of his fucking shaky-cam. I’m tired of his too-close fight scenes. I’m tired of 15 seconds of car chase that has 7 cuts in it. I’m tired of the quick zooming in and out. I’m tired of the new crop of CIA agents coming in thinking they’ll outsmart him only to have him outsmart them in the end.

The first two were pretty good. The third was okay. Let’s not talk about that one with Hawkeye in it. This one was just lazy and dumb. For all I know they could have cobbled it together from scenes from all the other movies and just replaced people’s heads. Lame.

It’s been a while since I felt this much contempt for a movie.

Captain Fantastic

It took me a while to get into this one, but it turned out to be really good. The crux of the plot is that Viggo and his brood drop out of normal society to live in the woods, but (not a spoiler), the mom dies.

The interesting thing to me was that the movie, to me anyway, was really a character study of the dead wife, told through the eyes of everyone else in the movie. Everyone had a different perspective on who she was, and it turns out people can be pretty complex. It was an interesting way to write it and I can’t say I can remember a movie in recent memory where the main character was dead the whole time (except maybe The Sixth Sense, but that’s a different type of movie.)

We happened to be at a theater where it was playing later in the day, and an advertisement on the screen said that the director was going to be there for a Q&A later in the evening, so we signed up. Turns out the director/writer was someone you may have heard of:

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Okay, hard to see. We were in the back. But that’s Gavin Belson from Silicon Valley. It was weird seeing him in a non-yelly, non-asshole context, but he was a really nice guy. We happened across him on the sidewalk afterward and chatted him up for about five minutes.

Anyway, once I got past my notion that Viggo’s character was just kind of arrogant, and realized the movie was really about his wife, I got into it. And, per usual, we got to see Viggo’s junk. Can’t go wrong with Viggo’s junk.

The Infiltrator

Damn, this was good. It tells the true story of how US Customs helped take down Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel in the 80’s. If even half of this movie is true, real life for the main characters (played by Bryan Cranston and John Liguuzamo) was nuts.

There are disguises, fake identities, a fake wife, a fake wedding, hotel rooms, mansions, parties, wires, guns … all the entities that make up a good story, and this one is apparently mostly true.

Lady Ghostbusters

Yawn!

In the first place, I’m one of those guys that grew up in the 80’s and didn’t really like the original Ghostbusters. It’s okay, I guess, but I watched it a few years ago and it didn’t really hold up for me.

The reboot has a simpler plot, plus the lady ghostbusters. I think the main problem is that all four of the new busters are pretty funny on their own, and dividing screen time four ways somehow diminishes the end product. The original only really had two comedians in there so I think it worked a little better, comedy-wise.

It wasn’t a bomb, it had its moments, but with fewer stars or maybe replacing two characters with less funny people may have made it work.