We’ll Always Take Care Of You

I walked into Knive’s Out with a bit of a “show me” attitude. I’d heard it was great. I’d heard there was a sweater. I didn’t want to walk out of the movie feeling like it was overrated.

It’s not.

This movie fucking rules.

Daniel Craig is great in this movie. The Agatha Christie vibes are strong. The main character, Marta, played by the lovely Ana De Armas is so relate able caught up in a viper’s nest of preppy weirdos. And oh, these preppy weirdos. Christopher Plummer is the murdered patriarch, Jamie Lee Curtis is his daughter, Don Johnson her husband (also thanks to Watchmen I was so excited to see Don Johnson), Toni Collette is the widowed daughter in law who stuck with the clan and Michael Shannon is the youngest son. The grandkids, Jacen Martell and Katherine Langford are two of the grandchild, a budding internet Nazi and Smith College Feminist respectively. And then there’s Chris Evans as a beautiful New England prep school asshole for the ages. (He’s the one who wears the sweater. It’s just a ratty fisherman’s sweater. I own five of them. They’re very cozy and yes, Evans looks quite sexy in it. But he looks sexy in everything. I get the hype of the movie. I do not get the hype of the sweater.)

Rian Johnson is a great creator. I loved Brick, I loved Looper, I loved this. The Last Jedi is a movie that I have watched. I’m also, as the kind of person who likes seeing movie stars, excited for what this movie means for both Evans and Craig now that they’re out of their franchise handcuffs. I love them both as Captain America and James Bond but they’re capable of so much more, and this a great way to remind people of that.

Rankings!

  1. Knive’s Out
  2. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  3. Jo Jo Rabbit
  4. Frozen 2
  5. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  6. Avengers: Endgame
  7. Rocketman
  8. Detective Pikachu
  9. Zombieland: Double Tap
  10. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  11. Downton Abbey
  12. Joker

Trailers:

I was running a little late so I didn’t see them all but what I did see:

Uncut Jems: I like when Adam Sandler really acts. He’s quite good at it. And Idina! She’s having a bit of a year. (Her new Christmas Album A Season Of Love is great!)

Bombshell: Oy. The thing is, I love all the women in this movie. And John Lithgow. I just am so tired, you guys, and I don’t think I have the bandwith for a movie about sexual harassment and Fox News. Though Charlize is excellent casting for Megyn Kelly.

The Next Right Thing

If Disney is going to keep throwing out movies where Princesses sing awesome songs and fulfill the hero’s journey, I’m gonna keep watching them. Or watch what I can of them through the tears.

Frozen 2 follows through on the first movies promise in a number of ways. For one thing, Anna and Elsa are front and center, telling their own story, feeling their own feelings, saving each other and everyone around them with the power of their love and bond. Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell are to be commended for the work they’ve done with these characters. The songs are very good. Nothing quite as catchy as “For The First Time In Forever” or “Let It Go,” but “Into The Unknown,” “Show Yourself,” and “The Next Right Thing,” have more narrative power. And hey! Kristoff got a song all to himself. “Lost In The Woods” is delightful but I’d listen to Jonathan Groff sing scales for three minutes so I might be too receptive an audience for that one.

The rest of the movie is very good. It’s visually stunning, and like I said, hero’s journey, for both sisters. I’m into it. There’s also a scene where Elsa sings about embracing your true self and stops the destruction fueled by colonialist lies with a flurry of rainbow glitter.

Which is the gayest shit ever and I’m so happy it exists.

Rankings!

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Jo Jo Rabbit
  3. Frozen 2
  4. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  5. Avengers: Endgame
  6. Rocketman
  7. Detective Pikachu
  8. Zombieland: Double Tap
  9. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  10. Downton Abbey
  11. Joker

Trailers

Onward looks DOPE AS HELL. Seriously. I’m a sucker for “what happens when fantasy societies evolve” as a conceit.

Soul also looks great. I’m down for what’s going on at Pixar these days it seems.

Trolls: World Tour: I am every distracted whenever I see this trailer because I keep trying to figure out if that “Drop Button” is a McElroy. Do we know yet? I believe people thought it was Griffin. (This shows how much I care about this movie. Which is not at all, if there aren’t McElroys.)

There were others but nothing really stuck…

 

You’re Not One Of Them

Jo Jo Rabbit is a lovely movie. It’s trangressive as hell and wildly hilarious in places. (Sam Rockwell is a treasure and somehow knowing how great he is, and knowing how every time people talk about him they’re talking about how great he is, I still think he’s underrated.) There are a few things going on in Taiko Waititi’s satire that I think are worth discussing.

The whole movie is from the perspective of Jo Jo, a sad, lonely ten year old boy in Germany towards the end of World War II (the inevitability of Germany losing the war at this point hangs over the whole film) who idolizes Adolf Hitler and longs to belong, thinking he’ll find that belonging in the Hitler Jungon. Keeping the camera at JoJo’s height, only revealing for sure things that he knows for sure (we, as educated adult viewers can glean more nuance but it’s not in the text, deliberately and brilliantly.) makes the film more whimsical than it could be otherwise.

JoJo, like many kids, has an imaginary friend, unlike many other kids, his imaginary friend is Hitler. As JoJo’s perspective shifts, so do his interaction with Hitler, at first JoJo’s Adolf is a chummy cheerleader, by the end, he’s a bellowing lunatic. Waititi plays Hitler himself and it’s an interesting performance.

And then there’s the matter of Jojo’s ghost. His mother, Rosie (warmly played by Scarlett Johanson, in a role that she’s quite good in. I have mixed feelings on Johanson, who I think can be wonderful when a part suits her, but is limited as an actor) is working with the resistance and is hiding a Jewish teenager in their walls. JoJo learns this and decides rather than turn Else, the girl in, to use her to study Jews, and of course learns that she’s human.

JoJo Rabbit has it’s heart in the right place, is creatively shot, and masterfully performed. It addresses the really important issue of radicalizing youth, and how to break that programming. (While it is not the job of the oppressed to educate their oppressor, it is helpful for young people who’ve been radicalized to interact with those they previously considered themselves above to realize you know, we’re all human and stuff.)

Anyway, I was a big fan of the movie. I’m really looking forward to watching it again, actually, because I’m sure there’s more to analyze here.

Rankings

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Jo Jo Rabbitt
  3. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  4. Avengers: Endgame
  5. Rocketman
  6. Detective Pikachu
  7. Zombieland: Double Tap
  8. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  9. Downton Abbey
  10. Joker

Trailers

Ford V Ferrari: I am so excited for this movie. I’ve mentioned before that, “well meaning adults who are good at their jobs” is one of my favorite genres, and I have a feeling this qualifies. Also, Matt Damon and Christian Bale getting to play smiling charmers is going to just be a hoot!

Knives Out!: It better be good. I want it to be good. It should be so so so so so good.

Doctor Sleep: Looking forward to this one too. I’m going to try to see it this weekend, but I make no promises.

A Hidden Life: I know Holocaust dramas aren’t always great, in fact they are often maudlin and difficult to watch. This looks kind of like that, but I’ve always enjoyed Terrence Malick’s work and also, I’ve been reading about Franz Jagerstatter in a superficial way since I could read. (Catholic culture can be weird) so seeing this story on the big screen will likely be worth it.

Zombie Kill Of The Century

I love the movie Zombieland. I just like zombie movies in general, actually, and Zombieland also has other things that I like, sarcastic quips, Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone among them.

So, I knew I was going to at the very least enjoy Zombieland: Double Tap. And I did. It also includes a few other things that I really like, love triangles and Rosario Dawson. HOORAY!

Zombieland isn’t the best movie ever, but it’s a good one, so obviously it’s sequel is also not a great movie, but an adequate one. It’s fun, funny, the kills are good and it’s final set piece is reasonably impressive, for a midlevel zombie comedy.

There’s also a bunch of Elvis jokes, a dumb hippy kid who tries to convince Abigail Breslin’s Little Rock that he wrote, “Like A Rolling Stone,” which is genuinely hilarious, especially once she reveals that she was only hanging out with him to get away from her suffocating family and because he had weed. “I know who Bob Dylan is you idiot!”

Also, that final set piece? It involes Rosario Dawson running over a bunch of zombies with a monster truck.

I’m sorry, I’m human, that’s just plain wonderful.

Rankings

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. Rocketman
  5. Detective Pikachu
  6. Zombieland: Double Tap
  7. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  8. Downton Abbey
  9. Joker

Trailers

Knive’s Out: My level of hype for this movie is astronomical. It looks so so so so so so good.

Doctor Sleep: After finishing the book, I’m even more excited for this. I like that they’re making Dan and Abra’s first contact seem a little bit creepy.

Charlie’s Angels: This is going to be the gayest lady movie ever isn’t it? Whatever, I’m in for the wigs alone, but the action looks pretty sweet too and is Patrick Stewart Charlie?

The Turning: YOU GIVE ME ALL OF THE GOTHIC HORROR. ALL OF IT. We wants it. The precious. (Evil demon children. Also is this literally a modern take on The Turning Of The Screw? Because that’s awesome. I should read that. I like the James I have read…)

Bad Boys For Life: I am glad Will Smith is back. I’ve missed him. I didn’t see Aladdin and I still haven’t seen Gemini Man, so I get that my excitement may seem less than wholehearted, but it isn’t.

Countdown: No. I mean, it looks fine, just, not for me.

They Don’t Care About People Like Me

There’s a moment at the end of Joker where I literally burst into uncontrollable giggles.

I was pretty sure going in I wasn’t going to enjoy the film. I hate when movies feel the need to apologize for what it is. And Joker feels like this Batman fellow sure is ridiculous and we’re sorry we have to reference him at all in this story about a murder clown, but AH, Superhero flicks are the only thing that get greenlighted anymore even though they aren’t real cinema.

Anyway, that moment is during the riot that’s being caused by Arthur Fleck, AKA Joker’s murder of talk show host Murray played by Robert DeNiro, we zoom in on a movie marquee, and it reads simply, “Zorro: The Gay Blade.” I glanced at my friend Margarita who was sitting beside me and we both shrugged and started laughing.

Sure enough, Bruce, Thomas and Martha Wayne emerged from the theater, and are forced by the crowds into an alley. One of the rioters follows them calls them out and shoots. The pearls go flying, Bruce weeps over the bodies of his parents.

Because heaven forbid we don’t see the Wayne’s die a millionth time.

Anyway, that’s just one thing about Joker which is a messy, unfocused, derivative flick, that think it’s deeper than it is, and has some showy acting that’s cool to watch but not enough to make it sing.

Believe the hype about Joaquin Phoenix here, he’s very good. The movie isn’t but his performance is quite impressive, eerie and off putting from jump, not a version of the character I’d ever come back for more from (I prefer my Joker on the zanier side of menacing) but interesting and stunning.

Amusingly the only scenes that I found remotely interesting were the ones that involved Bruce Wayne. Due to some plot stuff that barely matters because this is a garbage movie with a script that makes no sense at all, Arthur becomes convinced that Thomas Wayne is his father. (He also might be? But Unreliable Narrators abound in this flick. And not in a fun interesting Fight Club or Gatsby way.) So he shows up to Stately Wayne Manor, and does clown tricks at a baffled Bruce by the gate. (I think I said out loud, “Why doesn’t Bruce just punch him in the face?”) Eventually Alfred comes out (he is not identified as such, but he is a middle aged British man and protecting Bruce, so you know, Alfred.) and basically tells Fleck to take a hike and also that he’s a deranged weirdo. Arthur doesn’t like that at all, so he later stalks Thomas to a gala fundraiser to watch Modern Times which you should definitely watch instead of this movie because it is excellent. When Arthur confronts him, Thomas punches him in the face, which is of course, the start of a wonderful family tradition. (I don’t know of a specific instance, but I’m sure Damian and Helena have both punched Joker in the face several times.

Anyway, in summary, movie bad, Phoenix, pretty great in it, Batman parts, ridiculously hamfisted and deeply enjoyable if you are like me, and will take your Batman content wherever it is offered. (I was also the only person on planet earth who stopped watching Gotham because, “I would like this show to focus on preteen Bruce Wayne staring into the middle distance.”)

Rankings

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. Rocketman
  5. Detective Pikachu
  6. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  7. Downton Abbey
  8. Joker

Trailers:

My disappointment at Birds Of Prey not being here was quite large.

The Rise Of Skywalker: That John Williams music is basically an emotional grenade for me. My God, I can’t believe how soon this is coming up.

Doctor Sleep: I swear I’m going to read and review the book soon. The movie looks excellent though, and I love Ewan.

Richard Jewell: I remember the bombings (We were in Atlanta for the games) but I don’t remember any of this. (Being 9, I didn’t really follow the story, just was glad that my family didn’t get blown up.) This looks interesting though.

 

 

 

The End Of An Era

I have, complicated, opinions on Quentin Tarantino. The man is a certified piece of crap, racist and sexist in the most insidious, “did that really happen?” ways. Not to mention the way he’s got that successful young white dude thing where his personality and work kind of atrophied after his biggest success.

I haven’t loved a Tarantino movie since Inglorious Basterds (which is still my favorite of his) at least until this one came along.  Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood is a melancholy love letter to the kind of movies that Tarantino loves, the sordid blood soaked B-list flicks of yesteryear.

It’s also his way of saying goodbye. He’s mentioned he was thinking of retiring after this, so we’ll see.

Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood weaves the fictional story of TV Cowboy Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his best friend/stuntman Cliff (Brad Pitt) together with the creepy and tragic tale of real life starlet Sharon Tate and The Manson Family.

Tarantino uses the ticking clock of the Tate’s murder beautifully, and the ending is cathartic and elegiac and stunningly Tarantino.

*Spoilers From Here On Out*

 

 

 

As four of Manson’s followers park in front of Tate and Polanski’s mansion (Rick lives next door and one of the kids played by Maya Hawke in a bit of generational symmetry) Rick comes out drunk and furious to berate them, telling them to go loiter elsewhere. Furious, the three remaining change their mind and go to attack Rick instead of Sharon. They’re met by Cliff, who then beats them to death.

There’s so much blood in this scene, if it were any other director. But this is Tarantino and the finale is downright restrained by his standards and all the more glorious because of it.

We need to talk about Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate though. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood casts Tate as a kind of bright light, a flip side flower child to the glassy eyed and shadowy Manson kids, who are presented from jump as feral and creepy and off. (Margaret Qualley plays Pussycat, the one we get to know best and she’s great.) Robbie is a star. I’ve never not enjoyed her presence in a movie and she imbues Sharon with a sort of gorgeous unbound joy. She’s dancing in every frame. She’s smiling and laughing and exuding sunshine. Some hay has been made of her lack of lines, but her silence speaks here. It’s warmth and light and an incredible performance.

I mentioned Tarantino’s use of dramatic irony here. Anyone who knows their Hollywood history knows about Tate’s fate. It’s tragic and awful and pointless. Tarantino, who rewrote World War II to have a bunch of Jewish-Americans burn Hitler to death, here saves some people from pointless violent death at the hands of monsters. This is being dissected, but it’s also part of what gives the movie it’s melancholy. “Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if things could have gone this way? If this young woman and her child could have lived and fulfilled their potential? If her friends could have had theirs?”

The movie isn’t perfect but it’s wonderful.

Rankings:

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. Rocketman
  5. Detective Pikachu
  6. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

 

Trailers: 

JoJo Rabbit: I think I need to read this book to get a sense of what I’m getting into. I trust Taika Waititi but this seems like pretty blunt satire, even for me.

Good Boys: I had high hopes for this, because I thinking letting a movie about middle schoolers have an R rating would allow for conversation that actually matched middle schooolers, but this looks like it’s leaning into an adult view of “haha the kids say swears and don’t understand sex talk, isn’t that weird?” which is not what I wanted.

 

The Original Gods

I’m in the minority of people who actually really enjoyed Gareth Edward’s Godzilla, it’s not a good movie, but it’s a watchable one and the Godzilla parts are great. The human parts are terrible. Just terrible.

That trend continues in it’s sequel, the deeply silly compulsively fun Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.

Since Godzilla emerged from the sea in 2014, Monarch, the secret military group, has been hunting other “titans,” in hopes of studying and controlling them. Vera Farmiga plays their top scientist who has invented a doohickey that emits sonic freqeuncies that calm the beasts. She’s married to Kyle Chandler who is also a Godzilla scientist. Their son was killed in the 2014 attack and their daughter, Millie Bobby Brown, now follows her mom around learning all about Kaiju.

Charles Dance plays an eco terrorist who wants to destroy human kind with Kaiju, I think? Vera Farmiga’s team is made up of Ken Wattanabe, Bradley Witford, Thomas Middleditch and Zhang Zhiyi. Their military arm includes O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Anthony Ramos. Senator CCH Pounder wants to shut them down.

I am obsessed with this cast and they were in way too much of this movie. This is a movie about Godzilla and King Ghedera fighting. And also Mothra and Rodan fighting. I really don’t care about Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga’s marital problems when there is monster fighting to see.

The monster fighting is glorious. It’s also hella dumb. But in the best way. I haven’t watched Kong: Skull Island, but I understand it’s in the same vein.

Just, like, Americans are bad the people part of Godzilla, maybe we should stop trying and just watch the monsters fight now.

Rankings:

  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  2. Avengers: Endgame
  3. Rocketman
  4. Detective Pikachu
  5. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

Trailers:

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: God, it looks good, I’m really really looking forward to it.

The Kitchen: *exhale* I hope they ALL GET ALL THE NOMINATIONS for that movie, it looks spectacular. (And I have every intention of reading the GN)