Saturday, November 4, 2017

But I Digress... Cobra Kai Do or Die

By Cat

Gallery 1988 Series The Subtle Art of Pop Culture Eric Tan print (Sold out)
I think it’s been pretty obvious that I’m an absolute sucker for 80’s nostalgia. It makes my inner kid squee – and often that translates to chuckles from my friends and family when I actually do so aloud. They expect such from me, anyway… but I digress.

I recently stumbled on a bit of Hollywood buzz that earned an excited bounce in my chair and a few exclamations. The Karate Kid (1984) franchise is getting another sequel installment.

Normally, this might have me groaning and rolling my eyes, but this was different. I’ve watched all of the various incarnations in the series – from the original trilogy to the gender-bent new generation attempt, and the full-on reboot of several years ago. They started losing me after the second movie in the trilogy, really. The series peaked for me there – and then there was that soundtrack that I still love.

Before I bury the lead here, I’m happy to explain that this new series is returning to the OG roots of the story and shining a light on the primary adversaries from the original 1984 movie – Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence pick up the story 30 years after the infamous tournament.
"Like everyone who grew up in the 1980s, the three of us are enormous fans of The Karate Kid. Cobra Kai will be a true continuation of the original films – packed with comedy, heart, and thrilling fight scenes. We can’t wait to reignite the LaRusso-Lawrence rivalry, and we’re thankful to our partners at YouTube Red, Sony Pictures Television, and Overbrook for their shared enthusiasm in making our dream project a reality." - Sony Pictures Press Release - Heald, Hurwitz, and Schlossberg
The series is currently in production in Atlanta, GA and will be released for streaming on the YouTube Red subscription service sometime in 2018. YouTube has planned a 10 episode run of 30-minute episodes. That’s a decent run if you consider Stranger Things (2016-) episodes number less than that per season (albeit an hour long each).

What I’ve gleaned from the various articles that have popped up between the August 2017 Sony Pictures announcement and now is that the plot will be a little bit ‘where are they now’ looking at the lives of Johnny and Daniel – and, of course, Ralph Macchio (Ugly Betty, Hitchcock, The Deuce) and William Zabka (Back to School, Hot Tub Time Machine, How I Met Your Mother) are reprising their iconic roles. The duo have apparently remained friends over the years since they took part in the pop culture staple as crane-kicker and leg-sweeper respectively; and they seem to have become spearheads of this project. Both are working as co-executive producers in addition to starring in the series.

JoBlo doesn’t seem to be a very big fan of 80’s Nostalgia, which seems to be solidifying itself as a bonafide genre of its own; yet they posted a very informative article with some inside scoop as to some of the plot content of the new series. It’s possible that it might be a bit of a mild spoiler, so if you don’t want to leave everything to surprise you at series release, you can check that article out here.

Getty Images
This new show is a little bittersweet for me. I am decidedly going to miss Mr. Miyagi, played by Oscar winner Pat Morita (Mulan, Baywatch, Act Your Age). Sadly, he passed in 2005. I do appreciate the fact that his character will be honored in the new story and central to part of Daniel’s story as he is trying to balance his life without his mentor in it. This is something that resonates with me significantly. As I get older and important mentors from my youth (mostly teachers and friends’ parents) have passed on, it can be a difficult thing to process – in direct proportion to how significant a role the person played in your life.

Of course that plays right into one of the primary goals of YouTube when they snagged the series – they’re looking to expand their demographic to an older audience. Current YouTube watchers tend to be in the younger age-brackets. I know my daughter is all about her YouTubers. She watches YouTube on her Kindle more than she actually reads books on the thing. I watch decidedly less, generally, unless I’m poring through trailers or the occasional music video. It can be quite the rabbit hole to dive.

I thought it was interesting that the new series was named after the dojo at the center of all the conflict in the original movie, but YouTube’s Global Head of Originals, Susanne Daniels, explained the concept behind that.
"If The Karate Kid was Daniel’s story, Cobra Kai is equal parts Daniel and Johnny’s story. Also because this is a series and not a movie, we really wanted to reimagine how the story was told. Changing the name made sense as part of that." - Susanne Daniels via Hollywood Reporter
I can’t wait to see how they infuse the past with the present, how many thematic elements carry over or differ from the originals, and how well the comedy plays in to the story. I’m thinking that we might just do a Karate Kid marathon right before this series is released. This is definitely a reason to pick up the YouTube Red subscription – if only for a little while.

Here's some of the production details we currently know about the new series: 

Matt Peppler Illustration and Graphic Design
Official Synopsis: Thirty years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, a down-and-out Johnny Lawrence (Zabka) seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo, reigniting his rivalry with a now successful Daniel LaRusso (Macchio), who has been struggling to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi. The show is about two men addressing past demons and present frustrations the only way they know how: through karate.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Family
Production Companies: Hurwitz & Schlossberg Productions, Overbrook Entertainment, Sony Pictures Television
Producers: William Zabka, Ralph Macchio, Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, James Lassiter, Caleeb Pinkett, Hayden Schlossberg    
Directors: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Writers: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Actors: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Ed Asner, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Xolo Maridueña, Jacob Bertrand, Jonathan Mercedes, Kwajalyn Brown, Vanessa Rubio, Gianni Decenzo, Kylie Delre, Bo Mitchell, Ashton Leigh, Euseph Messiah, Terayle Hill, Luke Donaldson, Onye Eme-Akwari
Stunts: Jennifer Badger, Ken Barefield, Nick DeKay, Juliene Joyner, Jonathan Mercedes, Dawson Towery, Jwaundace Candece, Lance Herota, Hiro Koda 

P.S. As a little something extra, you can watch a free behind-the-scenes 'rehearsal movie' from the original Karate Kid, released shortly after the original director's passing. I wasn't able to embed it into the article for some reason, but it's available on this article from TheHollywoodNews.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's our celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Guelcom (2011) - Foreign Film Friday

Number Rolled: 21
Movie Name/Year: Guelcom (2011)
Tagline: None
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Length: 107 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Habitacion 1520 Producciones, Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (INCAA)
Producer: Maximiliano Dubois
Director: Yago Blanco
Writer: Yago Blanco, Diego Nunez
Actors: Mariano Martinez, Eugenia Tobal, Peto Menahem, Maju Lozano, Eugenia Guerty, Ana Yovino, Gonzalo Suarez, Chema Tena, Gustavo Garzon, Agustina Cordova, Nicolas Condito, Paula Morales
Stunt Doubles: None

Blurb from Netflix: When his ex-girlfriend who left the country returns to Argentina for a wedding, a young psychologist tries to cope with his feelings and win her back.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was not overly fond of the structure of this film.

I can handle fourth wall breaks. In the right moments, done the right way, they can absolutely make a film. I did not, however, enjoy the way they made those breaks in this film.

That wasn’t my only issue with Guelcom either. I had a huge issue with the captions.

Now, not all methods of watching Netflix do captions the same way. Your captions on the computer may be different than the captions you see through a gaming system. I watch Netflix on an Apple TV. I’m not sure who’s responsible for the captions I saw, but they were bad.

The captions moved so quickly I had trouble keeping up at times. Not all the words were translated correctly and, near the hour mark, not all the lines were captioned in general. I missed roughly five or six lines of dialogue because there were no captions to go along with them. I can only imagine what was happening according to what the visuals on screen were.

There were also story breaks that didn’t make sense. The story paused while the narrator talked about something that was only barely relevant to anything happening.

Quite frankly, the experience of this film was so ruined for me, that I don’t actually even care if it was good or not. From what I could see, it was probably a decent film that was destroyed by bad post-production. Maybe even some bad directing.

If you are fluent in Spanish, this may be a good film for you. If you aren’t… skip it.

Cat’s Point of View:
I will admit that I dragged my heels a little in watching this movie today. I wasn’t so sure that I was in the mood for a rom-com; and especially one in another language.

This was one of those cases that the film pleasantly surprised me. I actually enjoyed it for the most part. I did, however, feel that the pacing was a bit drawn out. There were points I had to check the progress bar; yet there were spans of time where I didn’t think about it at all as I sank into the story.

The actress that played Julieta seriously reminds me of someone and that was a bit distracting for me as I tried to puzzle it out. I still can’t remember her doppelganger’s name or the movie I last saw her in; but that only illustrates the fact that while fairly enjoyable, this movie couldn’t manage to keep my attention entirely. That’s rough when subtitles are involved.

The humor was subtler and a little more on the cerebral side than your average comedy. It was clever and witty, and I liked that it wasn’t quite as in-your-face as most films these days. The cultural differences highlighted between Argentina and Spain were also interesting.

All told, I didn’t mind this movie, but I wouldn’t choose it to watch again.

Speech Available: Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.7/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In November (2017)

According to: Selina

20 – Intent to Destroy (11/10)

Tag Line: Death, denial, and depiction
Production Company: Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Babieka Films, Ego Film Arts, Gigantic Studios, Outpost Digital, Serendipity Point Films
Director: Joe Berlinger
Writer: Joe Berlinger, Cy Christiansen
Actors: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Taner Akcam, Hagop Asadourian, Peter Balakian, Christian Bale, Ian Bedford, Michael Bobelian, Paul Boghossian, Eric Bogosian
Genre: Documentary
Rated: NR
Length: 115 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Filmmaker Joe Berlinger meets with historians and scholars to discuss the Armenian Genocide and the continuing denial by the Turkish government of it ever happening.

This film made the list more because of its importance than its entertainment value.

Intent to Destroy is a documentary about the Armenian Genocide. It goes into the way the Turkish government has continued to attempt to deny it. I can understand the frustration behind that subject. The idea of holocaust deniers practically turns my vision red with fury.

I am not sure this film is completely a documentary, even though that’s what IMDb claims. Judging from the trailer and some of the people involved, it’s very possible that there are dramatic reenactments of some of the scenes. I’m not sure how I feel about this subject being delivered in a half documentary, half drama fashion, but I’m curious enough that it made the list.

19 – Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You (11/5)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: OLM-Animation Studio, Oriental Light and Magic (OLM), Pikachu Project, Shogakukan, Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, TV Tokyo
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Writer: Satoshi Tajiri, Shoji Yonemura
Actors: Unsho Ishizuka, Rica Matsumoto, Sarah Natochenny, Megumi Hayashibara, Shin’ichiro Miki, Inuko Inuyama, Ikue Otani
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family
Rated: NR
Length: Unknown

IMDb Blurb: Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town is 10 years old today. This means he is now old enough to become a Pokémon Trainer. Ash dreams big about the adventures he will experience after receiving his first Pokémon from Professor Oak.

So, I’m not 100% sure exactly what this is. It seems like it might be a bit of a remake or a reboot. That’s what I’m thinking it might be, but there are parts of the trailer that indicate that it doesn’t only touch on the true beginning of Ash’s quest to become the greatest Pokemon trainer of all time.

I left this film low on the list simply because of that confusion. I love Pokemon, and I used to watch the series when I was younger without missing an episode. I’ve enjoyed some of the later games, but nothing hits me quite like that first series and film.

If you can watch that first movie and not cry during the final Mewtwo/Pikachu scene… then I don’t think I want to know you.

I’m hoping this is a whole new film designed to help the original fans – like me – get into the later storylines. It may, however, just be a reboot/remake. Either way, I’m looking forward to it.

18 – Roman J. Isreal, Esq. (11/22)

Tag Line: All Rise.
Production Company: Bron Studios, Cross Creek Pictures, Culture China, Escape Artists, Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, LStar Capital, MACRO, Topic Studios
Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Actors: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Shelley Hennig, Nazneen Contractor, Brittany Ishibashi, Pej Vahdat, Tony Plana, Niles Fitch, Kelly Sullivan, James Paxton, Amanda Warren, Joseph David-Jones
Genre: Crime, Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 129 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Denzel Washington stars as Roman Israel, a driven, idealistic defense attorney who, through a tumultuous series of events, finds himself in a crisis that leads to extreme action.

This trailer looked pretty good. Great cast, interesting story, etc. For some reason, it just didn’t speak to me as much as I would expect it to. That’s just a personal thing, though.

Clearly, this is going to be the kind of film that draws people and that ignites emotion. Exactly the kind of thing you want to see.

17 – LBJ (11/3)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: Acacia Filmed Entertainment, Castle Rock Entertainment, Savvy Media Holdings, Star Thrower Entertainment
Director: Rob Reiner
Writer: Joey Hartstone
Actors: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Woody Harrelson, Bill Pullman, C. Thomas Howell, Jeffrey Donovan, Michael Mosley, Michael Stahl-David, Richard Jenkins, Rich Sommer, Travis Wester, Wallace Langham, Judd Lormand, Gary Grubbs, Joe Chrest, Brian Stepanek, Doug McKeon
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 98 minutes

IMDb Blurb: The story of U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson from his young days in West Texas to the White House.

The trailer for this film gave me chills. I think the people chosen to play the various political figures were absolutely perfect. I love Woody Harrelson (The Glass Castle, The Edge of Seventeen, Zombieland), on top of that. I think he’s incredibly talented – whether his roles are comedic or dramatic.

I like the perspective being taken in the trailer, too. Viewing the JFK assassination through the eyes of his vice president.

I’m not saying it’s never been done before, of course, but the way the film is approaching it feels fresh anyway.

16 – Angelica (11/17)

Tag Line: Hell hath no fury like the love of a mother.
Production Company: Pierpoline Films
Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Writer: Mitchell Lichtenstein, Arthur Phillips
Actors: Jenna Malone, Janet McTeer, Ed Stoppard, Tovah Feldshuh, Glynnis O’Connor, Charles Keating, Henry Stram, Daniel Gerroll, James Norton, Stephanie Inorio, Pela Kolodziej, Connor Inorio, Vincent Sanchez, Emma Caraman, Angela Dee
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Rated: NR
Length: 95 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A couple living in Victorian London endure an unusual series of psychological and supernatural happenings following the birth of their child.

At first glance, Angelica looks like a basic possession-based or psychologically twisted film. I’m not sure if that’s what it is, but regardless, it seems to be something that would be incredibly interesting to watch.

Although this film is getting its limited debut on the seventeenth, it’s hit a few festivals already, mostly in 2015. The rating it shows on IMDb is above average. That leads me to believe it’s very likely that there’s some kind of twist that makes Angelica rise about other similar films.

15 – Amanda and Jack Go Glamping (11/10)

Tag Line: Love the one yurt with.
Production Company: Spiral Films
Director: Brandon Dickerson
Writer: Brandon Dickerson
Actors: Amy Acker, Adan Canto, David Arquette, June Squibb, Nicole Elliott, Daniel Ross Owens, Gustavo Gomez, Richard Robichaux, Catherine Grady, Sicily Bellia, Jaytyler Ferretti, Chris Carpenter, Keri Tombazian, Evelyn Hawk
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rated: NR
Length: 94 minutes

IMDb Blurb: With his marriage and career against the ropes, dejected author Jack Spencer travels with his wife, Amanda, to an isolated glamping retreat in search of a spark. When a surprise double booking finds their private retreat anything but private, Jack spins into a comedic exploration of love, lost dreams, small-town-wisdom, and friendship with a miniature donkey to get over himself before he loses all he holds dear.

First thing I feel compelled to say is that I HATE the word ‘glamping.’ Hate it. This is not the first time I’ve heard it, probably won’t be the last… but I wish it would be eradicated from the English language. It’s an awful word.

That said, this movie looks like it could be somewhat hilarious.

I barely recognized David Arquette (Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Once Upon a Time in Venice, Sold)… but I love Amy Acker (The Gifted, Con Man, Much Ado About Nothing) and I’m always up to see what she’s working on. She’s a very underrated actor.

14 – Daddy’s Home 2 (11/10)

Tag Line: More daddies. More problems.
Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Gary Sanchez Productions, Huahua Media
Director: Sean Anders
Writer: Sean Anders, Brian Burns, John Morris
Actors: Linda Cardellini, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, Will Ferrell, John Cena, John Lithgow, Scarlett Estevez, Alessandra Ambrosio, Owen Vaccaro, Lean Procito, Didi Costine, Oscar Wahlberg, Susan Garibotto, Yamilah Saravong
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 98 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Brad and Dusty must deal with their intrusive fathers during the holidays.

I don’t like Will Ferrell (Zoolander 2, The Spoils Before Dying, Get Hard) and I have issues with Mel Gibson (Get the Gringo, Machete Kills, Signs). The idea that this movie made my list actually makes me very angry. The two of those guys are pretty well balanced out, however, by Mark Wahlberg (Deepwater Horizon, The Gambler, Ted) and John Lithgow (The Accountant, Beatriz at Dinner, Trial & Error). Then I add the amusement of John Cena (Sisters, The Wall, Trainwreck)… and I can overlook the actors I’m not fond of.

Against my will, I have to admit the film looks funny. I avoided the first one, though that looked funny too. That means I don’t know how this will be as a ‘series’.

When it comes down to it, the big picture of this film seems to be worth more than its parts.

13 – Last Flag Flying (11/3)

Tag Line: Their last mission wasn’t on the battlefield.
Production Company: Amazon Studios, Big Indie Pictures, Cinetic Media, Detour Filmproduction
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater, Darryl Ponicsan
Actors: Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, Steve Carell, J. Quinton Johnson, Deanna Reed-Foster, Yul Vazquez, Graham Wolfe, Jeff Monahan, Dontez James, Tammy Tsai, Richard Robichaux, Cicely Tyson, Samuel Davis, Ted Watts Jr.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 124 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, a former Navy Corpsman Larry "Doc" Shepherd re-unites with his old buddies, former Marines Sal Nealon and Reverend Richard Mueller, to bury his son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War.

There’s a dark comedy to this film that I have to appreciate. When you mix that with a phenomenal cast that has no weak links and a great director, and there’s no complaints I can possibly have about this movie.

Richard Linklater (Me and Orson Welles, Bad News Bears, Boyhood) is a drama king – and I mean that in the good way. Of course, he could also be one in the bad way, I don’t know him personally… but I digress. If he’s at the head of any drama film, chances are it’s going to be good. Good in a way where you don’t actually need to be a drama fan to appreciate it.

Linklater is working with some incredibly experienced and loved cast members in this movie. I really cannot conceive of a world where this film would fail to meet my standards.

12 – Lady Bird (11/3)

Tag Line: Time to fly.
Production Company: Scott Rudin Productions, Entertainment 360, IAC Films
Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Actors: Saoirse Ronan, Odeya Rush, Kathryn Newton, Timothee Chalamet, Laurie Metcalf, Jake McDorman, Lois Smith, Andy Buckley, Lucas Hedges, Laura Marano, Daniel Zovatto, Jordan Rodrigues, Kristen Cloke, Tracy Letts
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R
Length: 93 minutes

IMDb Blurb: The adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year.

I was hooked on this trailer from the moment the main character jumped out of the car. I had one of those moments of total inappropriate laughter for it. I can’t even explain how many times I’ve been trapped in a car during an argument and thought of doing that exact same thing.

I see a lot of my relationship with my mom in this trailer. That tendency to be yelling at each other one moment and gushing over a pretty dress the next.

So, I guess I relate very heavily to this film – or at least what this film seems to be. It definitely makes me more interested to see it than I otherwise would be.

11 – Blade of the Immortal (aka: Mugen no Junin) (11/3)

Tag Line: To save her life he will take a thousand others.
Production Company: Warner Bros., Oriental Light and Magic (OLM), Recorded Picture Company (RPC), GyaO, Ken-On, Kôdansha, Rakueisha, TV Asahi, Toei Kyoto Studios
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Hiroaki Samura, Tetsuya Oishi
Actors: Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi, Hayato Ichihara, Erika Toda, Kazuki Kitamura, Chiaki Kuriyama, Chiaki Kuriyama, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Ken Kaneko, Yoko Yamamoto, Ebizo Ichiawa, Min Tanaka, Tsutomu Yamazaki
Genre: Action, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 140 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Manji, a highly skilled samurai, becomes cursed with immortality after a legendary battle. Haunted by the brutal murder of his sister, Manji knows that only fighting evil will regain his soul. He promises to help a young girl named Rin avenge her parents, who were killed by a group of master swordsmen led by ruthless warrior Anotsu. The mission will change Manji in ways he could never imagine - the 100th film by master director Takashi Miike.

What really caught my eye the first time I watched this trailer… was the captions.

Clearly, I know the captions likely won’t be like that for the entire film. They’ll probably be more traditional, on the bottom of the screen… but for a trailer – it worked well enough.

We see a lot of immortal warriors in cinema, but I really liked the take Blade of the Immortal took on the subject. There’s a close up of how his arm reconnects after disarticulation… and it was fascinating. A little creepy, but fascinating none-the-less.

This looks like a bloody, gory, battle-choreographed bit of goodness. I’d love to watch it for a Foreign Film Friday. I hope Netflix gets it.

10 – A Bad Moms Christmas (11/1)

Tag Line: Merry is relative.
Production Company: Huayi Brothers Media, STX Entertainment
Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Writer: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Actors: Mila Kunis, Kirsten Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon, Cheryl Hines, Jay Henandez, Justin Hartley, Peter Gallagher, Oona Laurence, Emjay Anthony, Lyle Brocato, Wanda Sykes, Christina Applegate, Cade Mansfield Cooksey, Ariana Greenblatt, Jacks Dean, Madison Muffley, Kenny G, Phil Pierce
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: R
Length: 104 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A Bad Moms Christmas follows our three under-appreciated and over-burdened women as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas.

Now, I haven’t yet seen the original Bad Moms (2016), but I’ve heard great things from friends that have gone to see it. The film has some heavy hitters where actors are concerned, and the sequel seems to up the ante quite a bit.

Not to mention, the trailer alone sends me into giggle-fits at times.

I’m nervous about the possibility of sequelitis, but – with any luck – Jon Lucas (21 & Over, The Hangover, Mixology) and Scott Moore (The Change-Up, Mixology, The Hangover) were able to avoid that by concentrating hard on the funny.

9 – The Man Who Invented Christmas (11/22)

Tag Line: How Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol and created a tradition.
Production Company: Mazur / Kaplan Company, The Mob Film Company, Parallel Films, Rhombus Media
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Writer: Susan Coyne, Les Standiford
Actors: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Simon Callow, Miriam Margolyes, Ian McNeice, Bill Peterson, Cosimo Fusco, Donald Sumpter, Annette Badland, Morfydd Clark, Justin Edwards, Eddie Jackson, Ger Ryan, Valeria Bandino
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Rated: PG
Length: Unknown

IMDb Blurb: The journey that led to Charles Dickens' creation of "A Christmas Carol," a timeless tale that would redefine the holiday.

We’re seeing a lot of these biographical fiction films lately, which means they’re going to start getting very old. As of right now, I’m still interested, but that may be due to the subject matter.

In this case, we were going to get a Christmas Carol (1901) film. We just were. We always do. Every year, without fail. If not a theatrical release, then a TV movie. If not a TV movie, then an episode in a show. It’s tradition. Like department stores putting out ornaments before Halloween is even over. It’s not a tradition we particularly need in our lives, but we suck it up because it’s just going to happen.

At least, this year, we get something a little less on the nose. It’s still basically a Christmas Carol… but it’s got a twist to it that makes the old, constantly retold, story seem a little newer.

I appreciate the fresh take. It was needed.

8 – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (11/10)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: Blueprint Pictures
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Actors: Frances McDormand, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Sam Rockwell, Alejandro Barrios, Jason Redford, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Riya May Atwood, Selah Atwood, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Amanda Warren, Malaya Rivera Drew, Sandy Martin, Peter Dinklage
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 115 minutes

IMDb Blurb: 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.

The name of this film is very misleading. At first glance, I thought it would be some kind of documentary. That’s not what the trailer gave me. At all.

This film just suffers from Bad Title Syndrome. Basically, that’s when the concept, cast, crew, and script are about twelve thousand times better than the title leads you to believe.

In this case, the horrible TV Movie title is forgotten once you start up the trailer and get a hint of the dark comedic drama that’s in store for you. Really, I think this movie could be more popular than a lot of the other films coming out this month – the problem is that the title is so damn forgettable, that I’m not sure people will remember to see the film even after the trailer hooks them.

7 – Wonder (11/17)

Tag Line: You can’t try and blend in, when you were born to stand out.
Production Company: Lionsgate, Mandeville Films, Participant Media, Walden Media
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Writer: Stephen Chbosky, Steve Conrad, Jack Thorne, R.J. Palacio
Actors: Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Mandy Patinkin, Ali Liebert, Crystal Lowe, Daveed Diggs, Izabela Vidovic, Nadji Jeter, Emma Tremblay, Sonia Braga, Steve Bacic, Noah Jupe, Danielle Rose Russell
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG
Length: 113 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.

This looks adorable and inspiring.

A lot of kids experience bullying throughout school. This protagonist, though, has a special case. It will be really easy for kids with visible physical disabilities or deformities to relate to Auggie. I think it’s important to have that kind of film out there.

It’s not just an important film, I think it looks entertaining as well.

There’s enough of a look at Jacob Tremblay’s (Shut In, The Book of Henry, Room) performance in the trailer for me to believe he’s going to be amazing at his role – despite his young age. Child actors are not usually my favorite to watch, but he’s already captivating in a two-minute video. I feel like he’ll be even more-so in a feature-length film.

Fun Fact: Izabela Vidovic (The Fosters, About a Boy, Homefront), an actor in this film, is also one of the actors in the #1 Crowdfunding project for the week of 10/22/2017.

6 – Murder on the Orient Express (11/10)

Tag Line: Everyone is a suspect.
Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox, Genre Films, Kinberg Genre, The Mark Gordon Company, Scott Free Productions, Latina Pictures, The Estate of Agatha Christie
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Michael Green, Agatha Christie
Actors: Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Lucy Boynton, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Miranda Raison, Derek Jacobi, Tom Bateman, Leslie Odom Jr., Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Sergei Polunin
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Rated: PG-13
Length: 114 minutes

IMDb Blurb: A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man's race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) is a classic tale. It was bound to be remade constantly. The fact that they went with a grade A cast and experienced project runners just means that this particular remake will be beyond memorable.

I haven’t seen any of the adaptations, but I did read the Agatha Christie (ABC Murders, Peril at End House, Evil Under the Sun) novel when I was younger.

I’m thinking I’ll look up the original film version before I see this one, but I’m guessing this one is going to hold up more simply due to the techniques in use.

5 – My Friend Dahmer (11/3)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: Ibid Filmworks, Aperture Entertainment, Attic Light Films
Director: Marc Meyers
Writer: Marc Meyers, Derf Backderf
Actors: Anne Heche, Ross Lynch, Vincent Kartheiser, Dallas Roberts, Alex Wolff, Miles Robbins, Cameron McKendry, Harrison Holzer, Dontez James, Tommy Nelson, Katie Stottlemire, Liam Koeth, Nancy Telzerow
Genre: Biography, Drama, Horror
Rated: R
Length: 107 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Before Jeffrey Dahmer became a notorious serial killer, he was a shy, alcoholic teen who never quite fit in. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Derf Backderf, this is the true, haunting story of Jeffrey Dahmer in high school.

This film looks super creepy and cringy.

It’s fascinating, because you can get to see what makes this weird kid into one of the most well-known serial killers of all time. A part of me is afraid to watch it because there’s going to be a sickening amount of animal harm in it and that tends to make me queasy.

Still, this film seems like it will be something to watch with other people. It may be too creepy for solo watching.

4 – Coco (11/22)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Writer: Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz, Matthew Aldrich, Adrian Molina
Actors: Edward James Olmos, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Gael Garcia Bernal, John Ratzenberger, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Cheech Marin, Gabriel Iglesias, Jaime Camil, Alfonso Arau, Sofia Espinosa, Lombardo Boyar, Anthony Gonzalez, Selene Luna, Renee Victor, Daniella Garcia, Luis Valdez, Blanca Araceli, Carla Medina, Herbert Siguenza, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Denise Blasor, Octavio Solis
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 109 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Aspiring musician Miguel teams up with charming trickster Hector on an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead.

I was so concerned that the only kid’s movie that would make this list was Pokemon. Luckily, that’s not the case. This is a new Disney-Pixar film that looks just as awesome as all their stuff usually does.

As with most of their later films, it touches on family as well as some serious subjects that are difficult to approach with kids. In this case, that subject is death. We’ve all heard someone tell their kid that the old family pet went to live on a farm, or try to explain why they won’t be seeing grandma anymore.

This film seems to give an alternate look at the idea that the dead are still with us as long as we remember them. It’s a nice thought… and makes the entire subject a little easier to swallow. Especially for a young, innocent child.

Aside from that, it just looks really entertaining.

3 – I Love You, Daddy (11/17)

Tag Line: None
Production Company: None Listed
Director: Louis C.K.
Writer: Louis C.K., Vernon Chatman
Actors: Pamela Adlon, George Aloi, Rose Byrne, Louis C.K., Charlie Day, Venida Evans, Edie Falco, Helen Hunt, Suzanne Lenz, John Malkovich, Doris McCarthy, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ebonee Noel, Johnny Otto, Billy K. Peterson, Dan Puck, Souleymane Sy Savane, Saskia Slaaf, Roger Brenner
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 123 minutes

IMDb Blurb: When a successful television writer's daughter becomes the interest of an aging filmmaker with an appalling past, he becomes worried about how to handle the situation.

Whenever I see a trailer like this, I think about the first time I gave a black and white comedy a chance. That comedy was Clerks (1994).

Granted, there aren’t many similarities here… but there is some sexual comedy and this film was written by a hilarious and established comedian.

I wound up loving everything about this trailer. You can tell, since it beat out a Disney-Pixar film in this list. It’s got a fantastic cast and I just have significantly high hopes for the script.

Also, I highly doubt we’ll miss color in this kind of film.

2 – Justice League (11/17)

Tag Line: Unite.
Production Company: DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Lensbern Productions, Warner Bros.
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon, Zack Snyder, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, William Moulton Marston, Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel
Actors: Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Jason Momoa, Connie Nielsen, Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller, Amber Heard, Henry Cavill, Diane Lane, Kiersey Clemons, Billy Crudup, J. K. Simmons, Ciaran Hinds, Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, Daniel Stisen, Ray Fisher, Erin Eliza Blevins, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Samantha Jo, Eleanor Matsuura
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 121 minutes

IMDb Blurb: 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.

After Wonder Woman (2017), I am cautiously optimistic about Justice League.

In general, I love me some super heroes. Where comics are concerned, I enjoy a mix of DC, Marvel, Vertigo, and random indie stuff. TV shows are also a mix of Marvel and DC… but other media methods I’m pickier on. The cinematic universe is definitely won by Marvel. DC has my heart where the animated films are concerned.

This film… is not animated, but it’s DC. And that makes me nervous. Because Martha. I feel like nothing explains my reasoning better than that. Wonder Woman was great… but that doesn’t mean this will be.

I still want to watch it anyway. It helps that Joss Whedon’s (The Cabin in the Woods, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Dollhouse) involved. It really does.

1 – Thor: Ragnarok (11/3)

Tag Line: No hammer. No problem.
Production Company: Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Taika Waititi
Writer: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taika Waititi, Rachel House, Clancy Brown, Tadanabu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Luke Hemsworth, Sam Neill, Charlotte Nicdao, Taylor Hemsworth, Rob Mayes, Matt Damon, Stan Lee,
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 130 minutes

IMDb Blurb: Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

If a DC film is number two, then it’s a safe bet Marvel is my number one.

Thor: Ragnarok looks fucking amazing. That scene with The Hulk and Thor running into each other in the coliseum (in the first trailer) is hilarious. First time I saw that trailer was before another movie (don’t remember which) and I burst out laughing… along with everyone else in the theater.

There’s so much awesome in this one trailer that it’s almost impossible to believe that there could possibly be even more in the actual film.

Movies to Look out For
According to: Cat

The Star .20
Blade of the Immortal .19
Revolt .18
Godzilla: Monster Planet .17
Angelica .16
LBJ .15
Last Flag Flying .14
Mudbound .13
Lady Bird .12
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri .11
A Bad Moms Christmas .10
Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You .9
Roman J. Isreal, Esq. .8
Daddy’s Home 2 .7
Coco .6
The Man Who Invented Christmas .5
Wonder .4
Murder on the Orient Express .3
Justice League .2
Thor: Ragnarok .1

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sky (2015)

Number Rolled: 64
Movie Name/Year: Sky (2015)
Tagline: None
Genre: Drama
Length: 102 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Le Bureau, Pandora Filmproduktion, Vamonos Productions, Orange Cinema Series, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Haut et Court, Alamode Film
Producer: Jean-Christophe Colson, Gabrielle Dumon, Bertrand Faivre, Christoph Friedel, Vincent Gadelle, Diane Kruger, Grégoire Lassalle, Claudia Steffen, Addison Wright
Director: Fabienne Berthaud
Writer: Fabienne Berthaud, Pascal Arnold
Actors: Diane Kruger, Norman Reedus, Gilles Lellouche, Q’orianka Kilcher, Lena Dunham, Laurene Landon, Trevor Peterson, Joshua Jackson, Lou Diamond Philips, Arnita Swanson, John Robinson, Michelle Lombardo, Sasha Perl-Raver, Vanessa Villalovos, Daniel Polo, Andrew Bryniarski, Sal Velez Jr., Raf Mauro, Miles Hayden
Stunts: Webster Whinery

Blurb from Netflix: On vacation in the desert, Romy leaves her abusive husband and winds up in Las Vegas, where she falls for a rugged loner and carves out a new life.

Selina’s Point of View:
For a drama with only the one genre listed, this film didn’t feel like it had only the one genre. There were definite romantic tones and a few moments that I could have sworn I was watching a thriller.

Cat was definitely more into seeing this film than I was. Aside from the awesome cast, I really didn’t have high expectations. It was a drama – after all. A drama that looked like it might have some western flavor to it. I cannot think of two genres I hate more than those.

I think the only western that comes to mind when talking about films I like is Blazing Saddles (1974). Most westerns do not follow those footprints.

All the dramas I tend to like are multi-genre.

This film, however, kind of beat the odds for me. I expected to shrug it off and go back to writing my Top 20 for this month without so much as a second thought, but I wound up really enjoying it.

Sky had some moments that I found unbelievable. The character interactions were a little on the stiff side and I couldn’t see how the story moved from one thing to the next. It just didn’t seem to make sense. However, that was – for the most part – just in the first fifteen minutes.

Once the film got into the heart of the story, I was engulfed.

There was only one cast member I hated – and I always hate her so that offers no surprise. Everyone else was on point and I loved them.

In the end, the good stuff outweighed the bad for this film. I’d watch it again.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve wanted to watch this movie for a while now. I like to follow the work of Norman Reedus (Pandorum, Air, Triple 9). I know it’s totally a fangirl reason to watch a movie, but color me curious about the roles he takes outside of what he’s known the best for – The Walking Dead (2010-) and The Boondock Saints (1999).

Of course, this particular character, Diego, isn’t far flung from his current long-running role. Reedus has the brooding smolder down to an art, really. I wasn’t disappointed with his performance, even if it felt similar to other parts he’s played. It was genuine to the situation his character was in.

The story didn’t exactly go where I thought it would. It also took its almost painfully slow time in getting there. The chuckle I got for the brief appearances of Lou Diamond Phillips (SGU Stargate Universe, The 33, Longmire) and Joshua Jackson's (Shutter, Inescapable, Fringe) characters didn’t offset that, unfortunately.

Even though everything just felt too slow, I still appreciated Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds, The Bridge, The Infiltrator) in the role of Romy. As an aside, I feel I need to give the makeup department some real kudos here. It might seem like such a small thing – but there was a scene where Kruger’s makeup added an almost magical quality to what was going on.

My inner child is now giggling hysterically that I said that, given the scene context, but I digress…

While I might have been dragging my feet in semi-boredom as Romy made her journey through the story, I do have to say that I was hooked into it all the same. I was invested enough that there were even some tears – more than once.

I liked the complications of the characters, and the strength Romy finds in herself to do what she feels she needs to in order to change her life for the better.

All said, this is a drama that runs deep. There’s not much to break from that intensity, either. The movie might not be for someone who avoids the pure drama genre. There really wasn’t enough comedy or even romance to warrant a dual label.

I’m not sure that this film would come to mind if I were asked for random recommendations, but I liked the movie well enough – albeit, a little begrudgingly. I can’t say that I’d watch it again, though. That stems mostly from the desire to remember the movie fondly rather than put myself through the wringer again.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 60%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 50%
Metascore – 55/100
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.9/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R

Movie Trailer: