Thursday Movie Picks: Politics

The world is on fire and today Wanderer is having us find political films. It's fitting The Report comes out tomorrow, a political film I've been looking forward to seeing. But my theater isn't getting it so until I get to feast my eyes on more Adam Driver, here are a few other films I enjoy.

1) Milk

This was one of my favorites movies of that year. Despite not really caring for Sean Penn, he was excellent as Harvey Milk and the supporting cast was fantastic.

2) All The President's Men

You all know how much I love journalism movies and this one about the Watergate scandal is still one of my favorite films I've seen on my Blind Spot journey.

3) Recount

With Jay Roach's Bombshell out soon, maybe more people will go back and find this TV movie he did about the 2000 presidential election. I really enjoyed it. It got a lot of Emmy and Globe love, but I still feel like it doesn't get talked about that much. Denis Leary and Laura Dern were the standouts for me. 

Review: The King

Hail King Henry

When his father and brother die, the reluctant Hal (Timothee Chalamet) finds himself crowned the King of England and his pacifist ways tested. 

I had no idea this movie was even in the works until about a month ago. I liked the trailer, I thought Timothee's English accent sounded good and Joel Edgerton is always a pleasant surprise, but what really sold me was hearing about Robert Pattinson's bat shit crazy performance as a French prince. 

And ridiculous it is, so much so that Pattinson feels out of place. Like everyone else is taking this film seriously except him. But it works in its own strange way. It's levity for the heavy burden we watch Hal carry. 

Speaking of Hal, Timothee Chalamet is outstanding here. It's a shame the film isn't better. It feels like a mature progression to his career. He starts out without many cares and then when the crown is thrust upon them he adapts the best way he can. 

The King is about as basic as they come. We've seen this several times before but what sets it apart is Chalamet's performance. It's worth seeing if you're a fan of him.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "I am I. Who are you?" - Falstaff (Joel Edgerton)

Review: Jojo Rabbit

Run, little rabbit.

Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is a 10 year old fanatic joining a Hitler Youth camp in Germany. He tries to be devout, but he's awkward and scared. He also sees Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) as an imaginary friend. His world views are challenged when he finds out his mother, (Scarlett Johnasson) is hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin Mackenzie) in their home.

This has been one of my most anticipated films of the year. I love Taika Waititi, everything he does is so much fun but making a satire about Nazis was a risky move. Thankfully, it paid off as this is easily one of the best films I've seen all year. 

Roman Griffin Davis is an extraordinary young actor. Jojo is such a vulnerable character and even though he's spouting off some terrible nonsense, you realize he's a product of his environment. His mother tries to change that, and I loved their scenes together. They were so warm and sweet and of course being a mother to a son myself made me even more sappy about it. 

The comedy was wonderful, this film keeps you laughing then absolutely punches you in the gut. Then after you've sat with the harsh reality for a bit, it gives you a few more chuckles and ends on a lovely note. It also has probably one of the best uses of a PG-13 "fuck" ever in film.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote: "I need a cuddle." - Yorki (Archie Yates)

Review: Motherless Brooklyn

He'd do it for me.

Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) is a private eye whose mentor, Frank (Bruce Willis) is gunned down before his eyes while working a case. He attempts to solve Frank's murder and seeks out the woman Frank was following, Laura. (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) He doesn't have all the pieces, but he does have a brilliant mind...that occasionally causes outbursts as he suffers from Tourette's Syndrome.

I save that for last because Norton mostly uses Tourette's as comedy relief aside from a very sweet scene in a night club (with the lovely Michael Kenneth Williams on the trumpet) and a few interrogations.Perhaps the book this film is based on plays it differently.

I'm finding myself at a bit of a crossroads with this movie too. (and like The Lighthouse, Willem DaFoe makes an appearance here too) I left it thinking I probably would've enjoyed the book more as I love mysteries. One of the reasons is because you can sit with a few chapters before starting the next. With this film and its 2 1/2 hour run time, it throws so much information at you that I found myself getting confused at times. When the film started to drag, I started to over think what I had just saw. Then the pay off doesn't feel very satisfactory for all the hoops we just watched Lionel jump through. 

But the story IS interesting. I just wish they had trimmed it up a bit. I felt like too many things went nowhere. The actors did a good job. I'm always here for Gugu who was the standout. Norton carries the film well and he's a fine director. There's some truly beautiful shots here. 

After reading some pretty terrible reviews of this, I did end up liking it more than I was expecting to, so that was a plus, but it still had plenty of problems.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "You don't know what you're getting into." - Paul (Willem DaFoe)

Indie Gems: Them That Follow

Pray on it

Somewhere secluded in Appalachia, Mara (Alice Englert) is secretly pregnant out of wedlock and cannot tell anyone. Her father, Lemuel (Walton Goggins) is a pastor of their small church, where they hold venomous snakes and speak in tongues. When Sister Hope (Olivia Colman) finds out, she and her lover, Augie (Thomas Mann) are forced to confront their sins and go through a dangerous tradition at their church.

I've been waiting to see this film since it premiered at Sundance earlier this year. It had plenty of positive reviews then promptly dropped off the face of the Earth until now. In a way, I get it. Movies dealing with religion, mainly one that paints it in a very bad light can be fairly niche. But it still disappointed me that this film wasn't talked about more considering the setting alone gives Ozark and Winter's Bone vibes, and those are still fairly popular. 

I'm happy to say it was worth the wait. It's a deliberately paced film that will have you wishing you could reach through your TV and slap several characters at times. The actors are wonderful. Colman couldn't be less glamorous and different from when I saw her last in The Favourite. Goggins is such a reliable actor, especially when he's playing a creep. He's very believable as a religious nut. Mann and Kaitlyn Deaver, who plays Mara's friend Dilly are both welcome additions in their small parts. Englert carries the movie well. I feel like it has been ages since I've seen her last, but I loved how she played Mara. She didn't come off as the typical person questioning her faith. She truly wants to believe, but the way her community does things is backwards and wrong and she doesn't need that to have faith.

Aside from the editing being really choppy, the one thing I wish this film had was a bit more context. It could've used another 15 minutes or so on its run time to flesh out the characters further. I wish we could've seen more of Augie and Mara together. I also wish we learned more about Dilly, who seems to almost be a bit of a pariah in the community. We're told her mother left her there, but she's so easily dismissed by everyone else except Mara that I felt like there had to be more story there.

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "We respect the serpent but do not cower to it." - Lemuel (Walton Goggins)

Thursday Movie Picks: Scientists

This week's theme from Wandering Through Yourselves is about those smart individuals in the world of science. Allow me to SuBvErT yOuR eXpEcTaTiOnS here and bring you terrible movies with bad scientists instead. 

1) Evolution

Unlike the other films on this list, I like this but it's not great. In this film, scientists are tasked with handling alien organisms that are starting to evolve. Hilarity ensues. I saw this in theaters with my dad when it first came out and I really liked it then, but when I watched it again as an adult I was faced with the reality that it wasn't as funny as my 13 year old self remembered. 

2) Alien: Covenant

This group of scientists are not dumb enough to divert from their mission to check out some random planet that appeared out of nowhere, right? Nope. Good thing they got some Michael Fassbender erotica on the way. 

3) Alone in the Dark 

You know Tara Reid is a scientist because she's got glasses on! All smart people have glasses. Unlike all the other Uwe Bowl garbage fires I've watched, this one doesn't even have memorable garbage in it. Unless you count that massive wall of text at the beginning that attempts to explain the film because what follows is a disaster.

Review: The Lighthouse

Are you going mad?

Winslow (Robert Pattinson) takes a job as a lighthouse keeper with veteran Thomas (Willem DaFoe) somewhere off the coast of New England in the 1890's. He eventually begins to question his sanity.

I'm perplexed with this film. On one hand, I'm glad something so very art house is getting a wide(ish) release here in the States, but the other part of me can't say I actually enjoyed watching all of this. 

There is a lot to like about this, don't get me wrong. The way its shot makes it seem like it could've came from the 1930's. I normally dislike black and white in current films but the smaller aspect ratio and the grim tones 100% contribute positively to the narrative. This couldn't be done in color. It would've looked goofy. After all, this is a film that begins with a fart joke of all things. We need that extra bleakness on top of it.

Acting wise, Pattinson and DaFoe are great, they nail all the emotional beats but Pattinson's accent gets away from him. To be fair, I think it's an intentional thing based on his character's back story but he loses it when he's shouting. This is unfortunate because a lot of this film is them shouting monologues at each other. 

This brings me to the story. I don't think there was enough here to fill its nearly 2 hour run time. If you thought director Robert Eggers' previous film, The Witch had a pacing issues, you will likely think one does too. The tone and the hardships this job entails are set almost immediately. We didn't have to dwell on it so much to get the big picture. I suppose that could also be intentional. Perhaps he wanted the audience to go crazy along with Winslow.

By the time you're actually reading this, I'll have edited this review several times. I'm so torn on what to grade it. This is an incredible bit of filmmaking and I admire a lot of what it did. (A+ trolling seagull) but I can't see myself wanting to revisit this.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+. (Aka the exact middle ground of my grading system)

Memorable Quote: "Alright, have it your way. I like your cooking."