Let The Past Die

The Last Jedi

 

*SPOILERS FOR DAYS*

 

 

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Last Jedi is a strange movie. There’s no getting around that. It’s paced oddly. (Poorly in certain spots) It’s full of weird looking creatures and off center character beats, and more weirdo philosophy than the seven movies that preceded it combined.

It’s also Carrie Fisher’s best performance of the five that she’s in, a fitting goodbye to a legend that we all love, allows Mark Hamill to play the comedy that he’s excellent at, deepens both Kylo Ren and Rey, and executes a B-Plot with exactly 0 white guys. (Seriously, the B-Plot heist is centered around Poe, Finn, new character Rose, Leia, new character Vice Admiral Holdo, and a surprise appearance by Benicio Del Toro.)

I need to see the movie again before I really evaluate it. But I enjoyed it immensely, if only for it’s truly spectacular moments. (This is why I want to see it again. I felt similarly about Revenge Of The Sith, so I want to watch it a bit more calmly.) Rey and Kylo fighting off Snoke’s guards after Kylo assasinates him. The force connection between Rey and Kylo convincing each of them that the other can be turned. Luke’s final conversation with Yoda. (Who after 40+ years is finally fed up with the Skywalker boys and their shit) The Star Wars version of the battle of Helm’s Deep. (Just when you thought there was nothing left from Tolkien for this series to mine!) Holdo’s sacrifice. Leia using the force to survive in space. That final moment between Luke and Leia. Luke brushing his shoulder off after a barrage of bullets in the battle.

The plot is what it is. There’s a maguffin, there’s a confrontation, there is, truly the best saber battle we’ve seen yet. The performances are strong, the character beats mostly work. The themes discussed including legacy, corruption and hope are well explored. It’s way too long. There’s definitely fat that could be trimmed, but for the most part it’s worth it.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say. I’ve got plenty of family time to log this week, and talking Star Wars with my family is my favorite thing.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Coco
  4. Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  5. Battle Of The Sexes
  6. Dunkirk
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  8. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  9. Thor: Ragnarok
  10. Justice League
  11. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  12. The Dark Tower
  13. Cars 3
  14. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
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Remember Me

Coco_(2017_film)_poster

You know how sometimes you see something at just the right moment in your life? Like there’s a weird confluence of events that leads to you sitting in a theater with a bottle of Miller Lite crying like baby on a Saturday morning?

That’s kind of what’s happening with me and Coco…

You guys know at this point that stories about art, family and faith are heavy hitters for me, so like, I was primed for Coco to begin with, but there’s also a deeply touching subplot about aging family members, which given some personal stuff these past few years absolutely destroyed me.

From a purely objective standpoint Coco is a brilliant work. It’s tightly scripted, stunningly animated with delightful music and memorable characters. It may be my new favorite Pixar flick, it’s certainly in the top 3.

But regardless of where it sits in canon, it’s a wonderful movie about figuring out your place, and the price of dreams.

Bonus: Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is very cute with some good jokes and some OK songs. It is WAYYYY too long to be placed in front of a feature. Also, I’d imagine if you weren’t just back from Disney World where “That Time Of Year” was played at least once an hour…you might find the song more amusing and less groan inducing.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Coco
  4. Battle Of The Sexes
  5. Dunkirk
  6. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  7. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  8. Thor: Ragnarok
  9. Justice League
  10. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  11. The Dark Tower
  12. Cars 3
  13. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers:

Duck Duck Goose: No.

Ferdinand: MMmm… Maybe? Seriously, it looks quite charming, and I can’t get over how good a pick for Ferdinand John Cena is.

 

I Don’t, Not, Like You

Justice League

I spend a lot of time thinking about superheroes. (Obviously). Less lately, but still, a lot of time.

I wonder sometimes if I didn’t think about superheroes so much, if I’d be able to enjoy superhero movies more, which then leads me to believe that it depends on the movie. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Wonder Woman made me think about Grant Morrison, about ambitious storytelling, and about big ideas and superheroes. (In all honesty, I was pretty drunk when I saw that movie. Every other time I’ve tried to watch it, I fall asleep.)

Justice League didn’t make me think about any of that, but, I definitely enjoyed it more than BVS, but this was a fanservice movie, and I’m a fan. This is a movie where Alfred teases Bruce Wayne about having a crush on Wonder Woman. This movie is not for beginners. (Something I also said about Man Of Steel by the way.) There’s too much buried in there, too much history that’s unspoken and hasn’t been laid out in other movies. Too many moments like Cyborg saying, “Boo-Ya” as he hacks a Mother-Box. Too many oblique references to Apokalips, and Darkseid. Too many half asses explanations of Atlantis and Arthur Curry’s life.

But overall, the movie was good, enjoyable, well performed. (GIVE AFFLECK WHATEVER HE WANTS TO KEEP HIM AROUND! HE IS GREAT!) Not a world shaker, but you know, not everything has to be.

Oh, Also, you know Gal Gadot and all of the Amazons are amazing, but we knew this, so, there you go!

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Battle Of The Sexes
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  6. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  7. Thor: Ragnarok
  8. Justice League
  9. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  10. The Dark Tower
  11. Cars 3
  12. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers:

Alpha: Puppies! The origin story. No but in reality this movie looks SUPER dumb, but the dogs look cute

I don’t remember any of the other trailers…which does not bode well…

I Bet You’re Wondering How Thor Got In This Cage

Thor-Ragnarok-banner-3-1-600x372

I think I’m in a minority here, so you’re about to hear a rant.

greatly enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok. I thought it was a well made, wonderfully paced movie with some stellar performances and more than a few surprise tricks up it’s sleeve. Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchet were sublime additions to the cast. (Though I missed Natalie Portman and Jamie Alexander, not to mention Kat Dennings.) Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are fantastic as Thor and Loki, embodying these characters as they always have from minute 1. Jeff Goldblum is a delight. Idris Elba and Mark Ruffalo kill it.

Here’s what I didn’t love. I get that Guardian of The Galaxy was a colossal monster of a hit, and very unexpected, I get that Marvel Studios has never quite known how to pitch a Thor movie. Saying, “let’s make it as much like Guardians as possible,” though? I’m not sure that worked either.

The “jokey jokes” didn’t always land for me, especially in a series that I always felt had some excellent comedy in it. (The scene in the first movie where Thor demands a dog or cat big enough to ride ALONE cements there was always humor here.) The comedy that did work for me were things like Hulk claiming Thor is “Banner’s friend” rather than his. Loki’s discomfort at being in the vicinity of Hulk, as well as Thor’s test of throwing things at his brother to determine if he had corporeal form.

The larger intergalactic plot, of Thor on Sarac, while fun and cool, didn’t engage me the way that the Asgard stuff (Odin’s death, Hela’s invasion, Heimdall evacuating the city) did. That’s always been where the stuff I liked about Thor lived though. (Well, and in his relationship with Jane, which, I get, was a necessary casualty here, because Natalie Portman, the human being, didn’t want to be in the movie.)

Doesn’t mean I didn’t love Valkyrie (Seriously, Tessa Thompson ROCKS HARD!) or most of the big action set pieces. Or our requisite shirtless Hemsworth scene. I really liked it. Marvel doesn’t make bad movies, I just don’t think this one was as drop dead awesome as the rest of the internet does.

Still really good though.

Rankings!

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Battle Of The Sexes
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  6. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  7. Thor: Ragnarok
  8. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  9. The Dark Tower
  10. Cars 3
  11. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: First time seeing it on the big screen and OMG YOU GUYS! We’re so close, and it’s going to be awesome.

Black Panther: Do you wanna know what’s nice? Ryan Coogler found space for Michael B. Jordan in this movie. (Did we think he wouldn’t?) I’m not sure how to articulate how excited I am for this movie, because it’s deep in my gut.

12 Strong: Siggghhhh, I mean, I love this cast, so, there’s that. Fun that Michael Shannon gets to play a good guy. I may see it.

Movie Season, Moving Forward:

Here’s the deal y’all! I know I’ve been slack this year, it’s for a lot of reasons, but I’ve started a new day job! (This is an invariably GOOD thing. Trust me!) And I’ve got a Disney trip in just over a week! (WEE!) But, the good news is that the new day job is a lot closer to my apartment and pays me more money, so I’ll be able to close out movie season fairly strong, as the Oscar-bait movies come out. (There’s also a small independent theater walking distance from my apartment, so…yeah…)

Aless and I are trying to figure out what we’re doing for Justice League, as I’m leaving for Disney the morning after opening. We may delay by a whole week. (This is WEIRD for us, but you know, it’s DC, we didn’t even do Suicide Squad together…) Coco will for sure happen, and we’ve already got our Star Wars tickets.

 

“I’m Done Talking, Let’s Play”

First of all, yes, I did go see a movie. YAY!

And that movie was Battle Of The Sexes, which was excellent. So double YAY!

And Aless was with me. So TRIPLE YAY!

Battle Of The Sexes itself really good. Emma Stone is fantastic, the focus of the movie is completely different than I thought it would be, but we’ll get there. If you’re unfamiliar with the “battle” at the center of the movie, it refers to an exhibition tennis match between long time champion Billie Jean King and retired Hall of Famer Bobby Riggs. It was a media circus, a referendum on women’s sports and a defining career moment for King.

But that match is barely even a part of the movie. It’s much, much more about King, her sexual awakening, (King’s a lesbian, but was married to a man for most of her 20s.) the founding of the Virginia Slims Women’s Tour, and her push to have equal prize money for female champions (A fight she won. The US Open was the first tournament to comply. Billie Jean King is THE SHIT you guys. Read about her.)

Stone’s performance is exceptional. Actually every performance in this movie is exceptional, but she sets the tone. Her confusion as she falls in love with her hairdresser is palpable, her standing her ground is exceptionally rendered.

Steve Carrell brings a broken childish humanity to Riggs too. His story is less compelling but still interesting, an aging addict trying for one last score. He plays Riggs as complicated, a little confused, and somewhat backward (though nowhere near as backward as he came off publicly.)

The supporting cast gives really strong performances, with standouts (naturally) from Alan Cumming and Sarah Silverman. (Seriously, if Silverman doesn’t walk away from awards season without at least a few dozen nominations and at least one statue, I’ll be shocked.)

Overall this is a solid movie, made revolutionary by the life of it’s subject.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Battle Of The Sexes
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  6. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  7. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  8. The Dark Tower
  9. Cars 3
  10. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers

Goodbye Christopher Robin – I was sobbing at the trailer for this. Forget about the actual movie, I mean, I’ll see it, but oof.

Wonderstruck – I’m pretty sure I read this book and really enjoyed it. The movie looks really good though.

Eventually The Tower Will Fall

The Dark Tower

On this level of the Tower, one near our own, in fact possibly even Keystone Earth, they sure refer to it as such over and over again in this movie, Jake Chambers isn’t the son of an indifferent depressed mom and a cocaine addicted status obsessed network executive, but the son of a dead fire fighter and a grieving but loving mom, and an indifferent stepfather.

Other than those details though, this is Jake, lonely, possibly crazy, sweet as pie, Jake. Strong with the touch (though they call it the Shine here, as a way to link us up even further to Stephen King, which, when you think about it, with all the talk of psychics and other worlds, that Danny Torrance and Carrie never come up in the books is WEIRD), and drawn to a terrifying mansion in Dutch Hill where he defeats a demon and finds his way through a portal to Mid-World, where he comes upon Roland Deschain.

And this is Roland, he is carrying the horn of Eld (SQUEE!) hardened and obsessed with revenge. He’s lost the path of the beam, though, he’s after Walter, who this time around is running a breaker facility, and wants Jake to be the one to finally bring the Dark Tower down.

Look, I get that if you’ve been waiting 30 years, this movie might not do the trick, but nothing will. I however was satisfied, and would be happy for more. (NO EDDIE! GIVE ME EDDIE!) Idris Elba and Matthew McConnaghey are excellently cast, and I really enjoyed McConnaghey’s performance, as the idea that Walter is kind of bored of this whole dance is enticing. The first thing we see is a bunch of psychic kids scrawling 19 all over the place, and while Jake enters Mid-World, he sees “All Hail The Crimson King” scrawled on a wall, and they’re on the run from Taheen employees of The Sombra Coporations and we even pay a visit to The Dixie Pig, so I was happy. (Not totally though, because like, where’s Susannah?) I half expected a moment where Jake hands Roland a soda for the can to read Noz-A-La.

In edition to the two perfect leads, we get Dennis Haysbert in a brief but perfect spot as Stephen Deschain. (In my head, I’m seeing Audra McDonald as Gabrielle. I’m not sure why…except that I love her.) And frankly, this movie is kind of bonkers in a way that fits with The Dark Tower, if a little stripped down and way less violent and scary.

It ends with a bullet between the eyes for Walter and Roland and Jake off to find other worlds, (and hopefully, Oy!) so maybe with enough money and luck we’ll see more and the rest of the Ka-Tet of 19 is waiting.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Dunkirk
  4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  5. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  6. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  7. The Dark Tower
  8. Cars 3
  9. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers:

We were pretty drunk, and late, so I didn’t remember many trailers. But whatever that plane crash movie with Idris and Kate Winslet is…well, that looks pretty good.

 

 

 

All We Did Was Survive…That’s Enough

Dunkirk_Film_poster

There’s a moment towards the end of Dunkirk when a small fleet of personal fishing and pleasure boats break through the fog to the French beach and the thousands of men stranded there begin applauding and cheering.

It’s one of those, “not a dry eye in the house” moments that feels truly earned by the film that preceded it, and really surprised me, especially coming from Christopher Nolan, who’s made himself the king of a the not necessarily earned but audience pleasing third act twist.

But that’s kind of all of Dunkirk, a masterfully made war film, that feels somehow like the absolute culmination of Nolan’s career so far as a filmmaker, and yet like a complete departure from anything he’s done before. The genre trappings he’s been able to hide behind before are stripped away for one thing, but it’s still somehow about the way communities and individuals intersect and the ability of the human mind and spirit to transcend unthinkable circumstances (both big favorite themes of his.) It’s a movie that is both epic in scale and claustrophobic-ally small at the same time.

A game ensemble of British character actors take us through the day of evacuation, special stand outs however, go to Mark Rylance as “Patriotic And Determined Civilian With A Boat” and Kenneth Branagh as “Officer On A Pier Looking Concerned.” (I don’t remember any characters’ names, but that’s more because I don’t know that anyone is given names.) I was less impressed by Cillian Murphy as “Shell Shocked Soldier Who Whines The Whole Time.”

Overall, I think Dunkirk is really special, and if it had been released in November, would be a shoe in for awards conversation. Even with it’s mid summer blockbuster slot, I think it’s got good chances.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Dunkirk
  4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  5. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  6. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  7. Cars 3
  8. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers:

I did the 70MM so there were few trailers (it was cool to watch a movie on film again though, I haven’t done that in quite a while)

Justice League: It looks…fine? My lack of enthusiasm in either direction about this movie worries me. I do like the cover of “Come Together” used at the end though. Definitely a cool choice, And hey, it’s more Wonder Woman…so that’s good? Right?