Friday, May 29, 2020

Honey Boy (2019)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: Honey Boy (2019)
Genre:  Drama
Length:  94 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Production Co: Automatik, Delirio Films, Stay Gold Features, Amazon Studios, Kindred Spirit, Red Crown Productions, Belladonna Productions, Adler Entertainment, Cine Canibal, GAGA, Sony Pictures Releasing, United International Pictures, Universal Pictures International, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Stage 6 Films
Director: Alma Har'el
Writer: Shia LaBeouf
Actors: Natasha Lyonne, Maika Monroe, Clifton Collins Jr., Noah Jupe, Lucas Hedges, Shia LeBeouf, Laura San Giacomo, FKA Twigs, Byron Bowers

Blurb from IMDb: A young actor's stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health.

Cat’s Point of View:

When Honey Boy was released in November of 2019 it had a lot of stiff box office competition. The movie didn’t even make it to my Top 20, while Selina had the film listed at number 18. Critics adore Honey Boy and it got standing ovations at film festivals – so why did I give it a pass? It’s simple. This is just the sort of heavy drama with emotional baggage that I tend to avoid if given the opportunity.

That being said, I did my best to watch with an open mind and try to put myself in the young main character’s shoes.

Let me tell you, they are shoes that I would have found it very difficult to walk around in.

Shia LaBeouf (Charlie Countryman, Fury, Peanut Butter Falcon) excelled in portraying the character based on his father in this somewhat autobiographical tale. It was really hard to watch in places, and as a parent it just made me wince internally over and over again.

I’m going to be frank in saying I didn’t enjoy this movie. It was a raw and honest revelation about the actor’s life and the path that led to some of his poorer decisions. That’s not to say that the film was bad. It was executed very well. It was powerful. I connected with the characters and hurt for them.

My rating here is on the level of execution of the story and overall movie. While I won’t be watching this one again to spare myself a return to this roller-coaster ride, fans of hard-hitting drama and biopics might find this right up their alley. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 92%
Metascore – 73/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.2/10
IMDB Score – 7.3/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

P.S. There are some photos shown during the credits of LaBeouf and his father. There is also a very small scene during the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Plus One (2019)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Plus One (2019)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Production/Distribution: Red Hour Films, Studio71, Firewatch, The Bindery, Lunacy, Inwood Road Films, Particular Crowd, Shaw Organisation, NOS Audiovisuais, RLJE Films
Director: Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer
Writer: Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer
Actors: Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, Ed Begley Jr., Obada Adnan, Alex Anfanger, Kiersten Armstrong, Jennifer Bartels, Jon Bass, Joe Bays, Emma Bell, Beck Bennett, Scarlett Bermingham, Rachell Carson, Rosalind Chao, Tim Chiou, Felisha Cooper, Brandon Kyle Goodman, Allan Havey, Leah Henoch, Jessy Hodges, Brianne Howey, Max Jenkins

Blurb from IMDb: In order to survive a summer of wedding fever, longtime single friends, Ben and Alice, agree to be each other's plus one at every wedding they've been invited to.

Selina’s Point of View:
I had trouble sitting through this film. There was only one original thing about it, and it wasn’t a good thing.

Chances are, you’ve seen some version of this plot a billion times. Not going to lie, I enjoy some of them. The one thing that is necessary to enjoy a movie like this, the one commonality that I would never recommend altering, is that you must always have at least one main character that people are willing to root for.

The main characters in Plus One were AWFUL. I hated them both and I didn’t want to see either one of them succeed.

I found the rest of the movie was pointless. If you have no interest in following the main characters than there’s really no need to watch the rest of the film. There weren’t even supporting characters that caught my attention.

Flawed characters are important. They’re not real if they are perfect Mary Sue types. That said, it’s very difficult to make a character with only flaws an attractive main. This movie tried, and failed.

It also wasn’t funny. The only times I laughed at all were because something was so cringey that I could feel the embarrassment clawing up my spine like a rodent. That’s not how I prefer my comedy.

If I had to say one good thing, it would be that they didn’t overproduce the sex scene. It seemed pretty natural and true to life

Cat’s Point of View:
I went into watching Plus One unsure that I could give it a fair shake. I just wasn’t in the mood for a rom-com. I did my best to ditch the feeling and just give in to the story. Sure enough, it began to win me over.

I can relate to Jack Quaid’s (Tragedy Girls, Logan Lucky, Smallfoot) character in some ways. My parents split while I was still in elementary school. It was really strange watching them move on individually. While I may have gotten married young, I can’t say that the whole experience didn’t color my perceptions, it’s affected a lot of my life profoundly – not always in the ways you’d expect, either.

The point is, I get that it’s sometimes hard to get out of your own head.

I found myself really enjoying this movie. The emotional moments were both raw and endearing, the awkward moments were appropriately squirmy, and I really had a few good laughs.

After Plus One, I find myself wanting to go look up more of Maya Erskine’s (Betas, 6 Balloons, Wine Country) work. I loved how comfortable her character was in her own skin. Some of the cast were unexpected in the best ways. All told, I couldn’t find any faults.

If I had to pick something to say that even remotely bordered on negative, and that’s fishing, it would be that it wasn’t the most original movie. They followed the recipe and baked a really good cake. It wasn’t remarkable, but it was solid and executed well. I still may not go back for seconds.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 81%
Metascore – 65/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score – 6.6/10
CinemaScore – None

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

Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Monday, May 25, 2020

Blood Quantum (2019)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Blood Quantum (2019)
Genre: Horror
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Prospector Films, Elevation Pictures, Lumix Media, Shudder
Director: Jeff Barnaby
Writer: Jeff Barnaby
Actors: Michael Greyeyes, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Forrest Goodluck, Kiowa Gordon, Olivia Scriven, Stonehorse Lone Goeman, Brandon Oakes, William Belleau, Devery Jacobs, Gary Farmer, Felicia Shulman, Lake Delisle, Trevor Hayes, Marc Assiniwi, Natalie Liconti

Blurb from IMDb: The dead are coming back to life outside the isolated Mi'gMaq reserve of Red Crow, except for its Indigenous inhabitants who are strangely immune to the zombie plague.

Selina’s Point of View:
I love the idea of Blood Quantum. It’s got a typical zombie plot with a bit of a twist that makes it feel fresh. I absolutely believe that there’s more to explore here. In fact, I believe it so much that it’s given me some new ideas for my own work.

When you have an idea like this that’s a little different than what’s out there, close to reinventing the wheel, it’s hard to live up to it. In this case, I feel like the film manages.

The majority of the actors are very strong in their parts. I bought Michael Greyeyes (V-Wars, Home Before Dark, I Know This Much Is True) as the distant father/sheriff who cares about his people. Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (A Red Girl’s Reasoning, Love in Paradise, Bloodland) made an amazing supportive (and worried) mom, while Forrest Goodluck (The Revenant, Indian Horse, The Miseducation of Cameron Post) and Kiowa Gordon (Painted Woman, Calico Skies, Wind Walkers) made convincing brothers that have taken separate paths.

My favorite of them all, however, was Stonehorse Lone Goeman (Shipwrecked: La Belle the Ship That Changed History). As the wise grandfather, he really felt essential to the story. Without him, the entire thing would have felt different – even if the other characters were exactly the same. That’s a difficult thing for an actor to pull off.

There were a few parts in the film that I’m not sure how I feel about. A couple of times, there are comic book-like scene inserted between some of the live-action horror and I’m not sure that was necessary. I’d have rather seen the scene reenacted as live-action to match the rest of the movie. It would have taken a little extra time and work, but I feel like the people involved could have handled it.

There were also a few plot holes that still kind of bother me looking back at it, but it’s nothing that any other film wouldn’t have shrugged off exactly the same way.

In the end, it was a decent movie that I will likely watch again. Be warned, though, it’s more brutal than you might expect. Even for a zombie flick.

Cat’s Point of View:
It was a dark and stormy night. Seriously, the weather decided to give a crazy backdrop for watching Blood Quantum. Considering storms don’t just happen on command, however, the good news is that you don’t need that sort of ambient atmosphere to enjoy this movie.

I have to say, I went into this film expecting something entirely different. That’s not a bad thing, though. I was pleasantly surprised by what this movie turned out to actually be. Of course, for anyone that’s watched the trailer, you’d probably have a decent expectation of the film. I had just gone on blurb and recommendation alone. Flying by the seat of my pants is how I roll.

Blood Quantum is a solid offering to the zombie genre. It follows the general recipe for cannibal corpses, though there are a couple of tweaks to the way things play out that let this movie step out of the normal box.

I really enjoyed that the film focuses on the story from the native American perspective. There aren’t nearly enough productions along those lines in mainstream Hollywood. It was also gritty and yet still laced with touches of humor. The blood and gore factor was at a level that stopped just shy of over-the-top.

The cast did a fantastic job. I connected with the characters within a very short span of time. While some cast members looked vaguely familiar, I really only recognized Michael Greyeyes. I was invested in what was going on to the point that I didn’t spend much time at all trying to figure out where I’d seen the others before. I also really loved the occasional animated transitions. Mind you, these were more like serious anime than what you’d call a ‘cartoon.’

It was a little surreal, though, to be watching a movie about an outbreak during an actual pandemic. That just doesn’t stop feeling weird. Thankfully the whole zombie factor helped keep it from feeling ‘too real’ like other branches of the viral horror sub-genre tend to.

If I had to find something to fault, there were just a few things involving a particular character and their friends that felt a little disjointed. Unfortunately, spoilers prevent me from elaborating further as to why.

All told Blood Quantum is certainly worth the watch, and I’d recommend it in a heartbeat.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 58%
Metascore – 63/100
Metacritic User Score – 3.0/10
IMDB Score – 5.6/10
CinemaScore – None

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

Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: R

Movie Trailer: