Friday, November 8, 2019

Inside Man: Most Wanted (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Inside Man: Most Wanted (2019)
Genre: Action
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Universal 1440 Entertainment, Netflix
Director: M.J. Bassett
Writer: Brian Brightly
Actors: Aml Ameen, Rhea Seehorn, Roxanne McKee, Urs Rechn, Akshay Kumar, Tanya van Graan, Andre Jacobs, Sven Ruygrok, Brandon Auret, Bjorn Steinbach, Adrian Collins, Aubrey Shelton, Kevin Otto, Jessica Sutton, Deon Lotz, Greg Kriek, Peter Butler

Blurb from IMDb: An NYPD hostage negotiator teams up with a federal agent to rescue dozens of tourists held hostage during a 10-hour siege at the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’ll start off by saying that Inside Man: Most Wanted is a sequel to Inside Man (2006) and I have never seen the original. That said, I do feel like I was better off not having seen the first one.

I found myself engulfed. I enjoyed wondering what was going on and just generally getting interested in the characters. I believe that would have been different if I’d seen the original first.

On its own, this movie was decent. I could appreciate Aml Ameen’s (Sense8, Parallel, Yardie) charisma and Rhea Seehorn’s (Veep, I Hate Kids, Better Call Saul) intensity meshed with the desperation of Roxanne McKee’s (Strike Back, Dominion, The Legend of Hercules) character. Had the memory of the first one been a factor, I do not believe it would have lived up to something featuring Denzel Washington (The Book of Eli, Unstoppable, The Equalizer) and the insane cast he was teamed up with – especially since that one was directed by Spike Lee (Chi-Raq, She’s Gotta Have It, Pass Over). As much as I enjoyed Most Wanted, I think seeing it first was the way to go.

What I do find is that it makes me want to go back and watch the original.

I enjoyed Inside Man: Most Wanted, I’d even watch it again or recommend it.

Cat’s Point of View:
I do enjoy a good heist movie. I am also pretty sure that I have seen the original Inside Man (2006) before. I didn’t do any pre-watch research, however, and hadn’t realized this was a sequel rather than a reboot or a coincidentally similar name.

My problem is that I didn’t really remember much of the 2006 film – which is surprising, given the cast and production team. I’ll chalk it up to over a decade of time passed and the sieve that is occasionally my memory. It is, unfortunately a downside of watching so many movies over the years. Some are going to fall to the proverbial cutting room floor of the mind’s eye, even if they might have been good. I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

That being said, it explained a good deal of my feeling of deja vu with some of this movie’s story elements. Thankfully, this wasn’t something I even came close to counting against the film. Generally, heist movies all follow a similar recipe. It’s the ingredients and variations on the preparation that make all the difference to distinguish them apart, after all. This one does reference information that helps the audience along with that, through details tying this film to the previous one.

Needless to say, I had a light-bulb moment when I did a little post-watch digging.

With that in mind, I actually have to give this one a few extra kudos because an audience member that has never seen the 2006 movie would not be lost or lacking important information.

Even with my sense of familiarity, this movie played out an intricate dance that kept me guessing.
I’d have to say that my favorite character was the charming detective Remy Darbonne, played by Aml Ameen (Lee Daniels' The Butler, Lila & Eve, Parallel). The character’s wit and charm flowed so smoothly… even if I did have to giggle a little at some of his dialogue.

Inside Man: Most Wanted is decidedly worth the watch - though, my recommendation is not to do so while fatigued or you might miss something. (I admit I had to watch twice due to fatigue-induced narcolepsy.) I think those that have seen the 2006 movie and those who have not would both enjoy this next installment of the tale. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.5/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5

P.S. There’s a short scene after the first part of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Laundromat (2019)

Movie Name/Year: The Laundromat (2019)
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Anonymous Content, Grey Matter Productions, Netflix, Topic Studios, TriPictures
Director: Steven Soderbergh       
Writer: Jake Bernstein, Scott Z. Burns
Actors: Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Meryl Streep, James Cromwell, Jeff Michalski, Jane Morris, Robert Patrick, Chris McLaughlin, Jay Paulson, Melissa Rauch, Juliet Donenfeld, Brock Brenner, Larry Clarke, David Schwimmer, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, Daniyar, Alexander Stasko, Cristela Alonzo, Myron Parker Wright, Miriam A. Hyman, Veronica Osorio, Brenda Zamora, Zandy Hartig, Jessica Allain, Nonso Anozie, Miracle Washington, Larry Wilmore, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Matthias Schoenaerts, Rosalind Chao, Ming Lo

Blurb from IMDb: In this The Big Short (2015)-esque dramedy based on the Mossack Fonseca scandal, a cast of characters investigate an insurance fraud, chasing leads to a pair of a flamboyant Panama City law partners exploiting the world's financial system.

Selina’s Point of View:
I really wish this was a Friday because I could genuinely use Cat’s input on The Laundromat. Normally, we don’t discuss our reviews before posting them (so that we don’t influence each other’s opinion), but I would have liked to talk this one out.

It was weird. It took a story that another production company would have turned into one of those biography movies that all look the same, and it turned the whole thing into a comedy. The thing is, the story itself was not meant to be a comedy. Still, it kind of worked.

A little.


I have to admit, I’m having trouble deciding.

There was a lot of fourth-wall breaking and active narration-type storytelling. That’s not normally something I go for, but it has worked for me on occasion. My favorite film ever utilizes the same kind of talking-to-the-audience narration. It has to be done right, and The Laundromat does do it very well. There’s a certain chemistry between Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Dark Knight, Darkest Hour) and Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, Black Butterfly, Security) that makes it look like they were just having a ton of fun in their roles. Whenever there’s that kind of chemistry on screen, it’s hard to look way.

The plot is based on real life so I can’t really say much about it. I have some recollection of the news cycle when the Panama Papers came to light, but not enough to really comment on the validity of everything shown in this film.

My opinion went up and down throughout the whole thing. Even the ending: I both loved and hated it. It felt preachy – even a little cheesy, but I also agreed with what it was preaching, so it’s difficult for me to completely hate it. I do feel like they could have removed a bit of it and come out with a much better film.

In the end, despite my confusion, I have to give the creators credit. They took a story that could have been the heart of a lowest-common-denominator Oscar-bait film and made something unendingly unique with it. If I remember anything about The Laundromat, it will be that.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 41%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 45%
Metascore – 57/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.5/10
IMDB Score – 6.3/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, November 4, 2019

After (2019)

Movie Name/Year: After (2019)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: CalMaple, Wattpad, Diamond Film Productions, Voltage Pictures, Offspring Entertainment, Aviron Pictures, 01 Distribution, Belga Films, Big Bang Media, Cinépolis Distribución, Constantin Film, Diamond Films, Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Independent Films, Monolith Films, Pancinema, Reality Entertainment, SND Groupe M6, Shaw Organisation, Spentzos Films, VVS Films, Venus Films, Volga, Cinemundo, Film & TV House, GEM Entertainment, Universal Pictures
Director: Jenny Gage
Writers: Tom Betterton, Tamara Chestna, Jenny Gage, Susan McMartin, Anna Todd
Actors: Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Josephine Langford, Selma Blair, Meadow Williams, Khadijha Red Thunder, Swen Temmel, Samuel Larsen, Inanna Sarkis, Pia Mia, Shane Paul McGhie, Dylan Arnold, Peter Gallagher, Jennifer Beals

Blurb from IMDb: A young woman falls for a guy with a dark secret and the two embark on a rocky relationship. Based on the novel by Anna Todd.

Cat’s Point of View:
I generally get excited when I have an opportunity to review a movie that’s made it onto one of our monthly Top 20 lists. This film was no exception. It landed at #15 of our April 2019 list – under my section.

The trailer had intrigued me, and I was also a bit curious to see how far the talent stretched in the Fiennes family. I can tell you that I wasn’t disappointed in that department – that’s not to say that disappointment wasn’t present.

I’m of two minds with After.

On one hand, it was a solid young adult melodrama with its nearly bipolar roller-coaster of soaring highs and deep valleys of lows. I found the characters interesting, if a bit under-developed in most cases, and the chemistry between the leads was believably palpable. There were several scenes with little dialogue, and yet so much was ‘said’ between the characters through eye contact and body language alone. Get your minds out of the gutter – you know who you are. I’m not talking about the make-out scenes.

I enjoyed the fact that the characters were clearly intelligent and well-read. I enjoyed that the leads were more relatable, rather than falling back to the standard romance tropes of meat-head jocks and vapid sorority girls.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else that stood out as original. I felt like I’d seen most of it before, and there really wasn’t a lot to ‘wow’ me.

The story felt forced in some places, to be honest. I’ve seen some fans of the novels the film was based on have said that there were changes or omissions that threw things out of balance. That’s the risk with an adaptation, though. There are so many reasons that source material doesn’t make it into a screenplay or finds itself on the cutting room floor. I could only speculate – and even then, not very well since I haven’t read the books.

I do find it impressive that the tale originated on a social writing platform called Wattpad. I had never even heard of that app before. It sounds neat in theory. Though, to some One Direction fan-fiction sounds neat, too. I’m not sure I even get how that applies to this film beyond the lead’s accent. (Don’t tell my daughter I am sorely lacking in 1D knowledge.) That’s really how the books started. I’m not kidding. I digress…

I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like the movie – I’m just a bit ‘meh’ overall about it. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 17%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 72%
Metascore – 30%
Metacritic User Score – 5.0/10
IMDB Score – 5.4/10
CinemaScore – B

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5
Movie Trailer: