The 15:17 to Paris: A Train-wreck of Epic Proportions (Some Pun Intended)

09fifteenseventeen2-master768Clint Eastwood is a filmmaker I greatly admired for a large part of my life. The fact that he could be so masterful both in front of and behind the camera was astounding to me. He cemented his legendary status as an actor in Sergio Leone’s ‘Man With No Name’ Trilogy of the 1960s, and did the same for his reputation behind the camera with films like Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River and Gran Torino under his belt. He was someone I greatly looked up to in my youth, mostly because of his incredibly intense and charismatic presence in all of his films.However, times have changed. Just like Eastwood himself, I’ve gotten a lot older, and the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been able to notice the crumbling foundation behind Clint Eastwood’s fast paced and slapdash methods of putting together films. This has resulted in everything he’s made after Gran Torino being either uninspired or just flat out bad.  Even though films like Hereafter, Jersey Boys and American Sniper were all very disappointing, they are nowhere as horrendously incompetent as The 15:17 to Paris.

Where do I even begin with this one? If you showed me this film with no prior knowledge of its existence, and then you told me that it was directed by Clint Eastwood, then I probably would’ve laughed in your face. This movie is an absolute mess from the start. The entire first thirty or so minutes of the movie take place when our main heroes are children, and this is without a doubt the worst directing Clint Eastwood has ever done. The camerawork is shoddy, the dialogue is horrendous and cliched, and the acting is on a whole other level of bad. Everything about this film is wrong, but if you were paying attention to the production details of it, you’d have seen this coming from a mile away.

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Films That Made Us Happy in 2017: Faces Places

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Most of the films I’ve covered on this site thus far have been very dark and gritty critically acclaimed dramas, or completely terrible and underwhelming misfires. Because of this, it may seem like I only enjoy depressing and cynical things. This is not true. In reality, I’m a giant softie.

One minute I’ll be watching a really disturbing and sad episode of Black Mirror, and the next I won’t shut up about how fantastic Paddington 2 is. However, as much as I love Paddington 2, the film that has made me the happiest this year is Faces Places. This is a new documentary from the famous French street artist JR, and the very famous French filmmaker Agnes Varda, who was the only woman making films in the French new wave. She and JR seem like very different people at first, but they end up being the perfect people to helm this film.

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Black Mirror Review: USS Callister – The Most Twisted Episode of Star Trek Ever

landscape-1508343510-screen-shot-2017-10-18-at-171757For those of you who are familiar with Black Mirror, you know that this show is not for the faint of heart. It has an incredibly cynical and disturbing worldview on not just technology, but on the human race as a whole, and how technology negatively influences them. Episodes like The National Anthem, Fifteen Million Merits, and more recently, Shut Up and Dance have been infamous for showing the absolute worst qualities in the characters, and giving them the worst consequences possible. However, USS Callister changes up the formula by starting the episode with a very sympathetic portrayal of its main character. We begin with a segment from the popular 1960s TV Show Space Fleet, which is very obviously parodying the 1960s Sci-Fi aesthetic of Star Trek. In this segment, we see Captain Daly (Jesse Plemons) being worshipped by his crew as a hero in a very over the top and cheesy way. From this, there is a harsh transition from the vibrant colors of Space Fleet to the bleak and muted ones of real life. In the real world, Robert Daly is an employee at a video game developer. He is a pretty lonely and unappreciated person in real life, but in his simulation, he’s the one who calls all the shots.

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Pottersville: The Worst Christmas Film of This Decade

PottersvilleJust when you thought Christmas movies couldn’t get worse than Christmas with the Kranks, here comes this film to take the title of “most mean spirited Christmas movie ever made.”

There’s bad movies, then there’s bad Christmas movies, and then there’s Pottersville, a movie so full of bad decisions that you’d think you were watching a live adaptation of Brendan Frasier’s acting career. For a film with such a huge and popular cast, it feels very cheap and sloppily thrown together. This so called “Christmas Film” really has nothing to do with Christmas or the Christmas spirit until the end of the film when they try to sloppily throw together a message about loving and appreciating one another. Everything about this film is just wrong, from the writing, to the acting, to the portrayal of furries, which I will definitely get to, to the strange and off-putting look of the film.

In case you haven’t heard of this monstrosity, Pottersville is a film about a man, very lazily played by Michael Shannon, who in response to his wife’s infidelity, decided to dress up as Bigfoot and run around his local town of Pottersville in a drunken rage. In response to this, everyone in the town believes they actually saw Bigfoot, because in the universe of Pottersville, everyone is too stupid to distinguish the difference between a rubber mask and fucking Bigfoot! In response to all of these Bigfoot sightings, the town of Pottersville begins attracting a lot of attention, and chaos ensues. Sounds AMAZING, right? Well, if this didn’t look like an ABC Family original series from 2006, maybe it could’ve been interesting. But instead, what we get is a contrived and awful mess of badly timed humor, wooden performances, and an all around terrible film.

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Wonder Wheel: The Double Standard of Hollywood

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Here we go again.

I’ve always felt guilty for enjoying Woody Allen’s films, especially his new ones. I’m usually very interested in what he puts together, but this film in particular really caught my interest. I was mostly interested because this was Woody’s first movie to fully take place in New York in a while. Second, the trailer looked gorgeous. This is Woody’s second film shot on digital after Cafe Society, and it looks beautiful. Also, just like every new Woody Allen movie, the cast is amazing. I was really excited to see this for a while, but then the negative reviews started coming in.

That immediately drained my excitement for this movie, and for a while, I was considering just not seeing it. I mean not seeing a movie by an alleged pedophile wouldn’t be the worst thing I’ve ever done. But, as fate had it, I was stuck in Santa Monica, I didn’t want to drive home because traffic was bad, and I needed a way to kill two hours. So, I rushed down to the Laemmle Monica Film Center, pulled out my MoviePass (I wasn’t gonna spend real money on this crap), and got one ticket for Wonder Wheel. Coincidentally, this was the same theater I saw the film Brawl in Cell Block 99, which was a sleazy 1970s throwback that felt dirty to be watching in a theater. Watching Wonder Wheel made me feel just as dirty, although for completely different reasons.

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Review: Phantom Thread: Who Better to Do Fifty Shades of Grey than Paul Thomas Anderson?

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Pictured Above: Daniel Day-Lewis in the role of Reynolds Woodcock in PHANTOM THREAD. ©Focus Features (2017).

From the snarky title, you may think I hate this film, but I promise you, that is the opposite of how I feel.

Every film fan and film student loves it when a new Paul Thomas Anderson film comes out. He’s directed six critically acclaimed films (and Inherent Vice), and his style is so unique that you could tell he directed it by watching just a five minute clip with no context. Much like Scorsese, Tarantino, Kubrick and Spielberg, I consider Paul Thomas Anderson one of the great auteurs of our time, and I’m very happy I’m alive during a time when I can see his films in a theater.

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Phantom Thread is the story of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a dressmaker well into his 60s, who has a very particular way of living and treating others. He is both eccentric and reclusive, giving off a sort of Charles Foster Kane vibe at times. His very strange way of living is challenged by Alma (Vicky Krieps), a French waitress he meets when going out for breakfast alone one day. From this interaction on, we see Reynolds and Alma develop a very beautiful, complicated, and at times twisted relationship, that is one of the most unique on screen romances portrayed in a very long time.  Continue reading “Review: Phantom Thread: Who Better to Do Fifty Shades of Grey than Paul Thomas Anderson?”

Review: Darkest Hour: The Problem with Biopics

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Lily James stars as Elizabeth Layton and Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright’s DARKEST HOUR, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jack English / Focus Features

Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen this movie before at some point.

You know what movie I’m talking about: that true underdog story of a man or woman, who was very disliked in the beginning, breaking through their social barriers to make real change, whether that change be in politics, film, music, etc. This film I’m describing is your standard biopic.

The term bio-pic is short for biographical picture, so this sub-genre of film mostly focuses on true life stories of real and influential people, and most of them subscribe to the formula mentioned above. The most popular, and effective biopics use this formula, but make variations to it. The best examples of this would be films like The Aviator, Goodfellas, Walk the Line, Lawrence of Arabia, Ray, and more recently, The Disaster Artist. There are even films like this that break the mold that I mentioned previously like Love & Mercy, Malcolm X, Ed Wood, Man on the Moon, Frida, Secret Honor, The Social Network, Raging Bull, I’m Not There, and Steve Jobs, which use non-linear structures or examine short periods of time in the persons life instead of trying to cover every one of their accomplishments in a two hour time frame.

landscape_movies-walk-the-line-joaquin-phoenix.jpgHowever, the films that have actually perfected this formula are few and far between. The majority of biopics are incredibly stale, bland, and lazy ways of big studios trying to win an Oscar. These films range from being flat out bad (Jobs, Gacy, I Saw The Light, Hidden Figures, J. Edgar, American Made, Amelia, Gold, Jersey Boys, American Sniper) to being painfully average like The Founder, Lincoln, Bleed for This, and most recently, Darkest Hour.

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