On The Basis Of Girl Power

On the Basis of Sex Poster

 

Historical documentaries always fall victim to the dramatization treatment of the cinema world.  As such, we end up eating them up, except for the purists, as we become enthralled in the spark’s notes version of the historical legacy these people left.  So, in the age and time of politics, let’s pick a supreme court justice as the next one and see what stories are told. Robbie K back on review duty as he checks out:

 

 

Film: On The Basis Of Sex (2018)

 

Director:

Mimi Leder

Writer:

Daniel Stiepleman

Stars:

Felicity JonesArmie HammerJustin Theroux

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • Use of most characters
  • Makeup and Costumes
  • Good Writing
  • Jargon translated
  • Message towards key demographic

 

Summary:  You can certainly get this from the trailers, but the hallmark of these movies is often the acting, and this film is no exception. Felicity Jones talents continue to soar in her bravado, mannerisms, and wonderful delivery of a lawyer fighting for what’s right.  Hammer as well finds his stride as the supporting character working to help Ruth’s goals.  The rest of the crew have wonderful acting ability, and most of the characters are well integrated into the tale to really bring the most out of the case that would change so much.  And in regards to looks, the makeup and costume department gets special props as they bring the times of the past into history and capture the looks of that era.

Yet while the look is there, does this film have the feel?  For the most part, yes it does.  On the Basis of Sex has good writing behind it, as a grand display of passionate speeches, impressive vocabulary filled monologues, and fiery, passion filled scenes unfold. It’s smart, witty, and quite fitting of the prowess of the woman and probably something the older audience will enjoy.  Not familiar with the law and all the technical terms that come with it?  No problem!  This film has got the spark’s notes version of relevant information there to keep you integrated into the case and not get too lost in all the convoluted terminology. In addition, the film makes use of the speeches to really try to inspire and fire up the young women watching.  It held the heart and soul of the movie and I think was the central aspect of the film.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Pace
  • Not utilizing other characters
  • A little convoluted
  • The Opening’s necessity

 

Summary:  With these types of films, the key is to work hard to make it entertaining and yet truthful.  On the Basis of Sex’s pace was not for me, becoming a little tedious at times as it hobbled along to get to the big case at hand.  This uneven pace brought rough patches that had me fighting sleep, that took away the momentum of the movie.  What helped amplify this component was the convoluted moments where the law jargon took over the movie magic.  While Basis of Sex has interpreted much of the heavy technical terms there may be some very detailed moments that can bring a fog to your brain and potentially tire you out.  Fantastic attention to details, but not the most engaging at times.

In addition, the other thing that also didn’t woo me was some of the characters they didn’t put as much focus on.  Kathy Bates, the legend herself, has little appearance in the movie despite being a selling point for the trailer.  The rivals led by Sam Watterson  were semi-used, but only in the latter half instead of throughout the movie.  The result is taking away some of the heat and suspense I think they wanted to go for. As for the opening moments of the movie, well they are okay.  Yes, they do justice in setting the stage and introducing all the pieces to the puzzle. However, these rather important moments feel a little fast forwarded to me, rushed over and almost feeling unnecessary as much of the focus is on the big case instead of her entire life as the trailers portrayed.  Thus, I think the direction was not all there in terms of how they wanted to bring her entire life into focus.

 

 

The VERDICT:

On the Basis of Sex accomplishes the goal of appealing to its key demographic, showing off the amazing talents of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and waving the girl power flag high.  It’s acting and character to use are fantastic for the most part, with makeup and writing to really bring out the full prowess of the scene.  However, the movie still needs some balance in terms of using all characters, trying to tone down the legal jargon, and figuring out what they wanted to highlight.  As picky as this sounds, the movie was good and has artistic nature to it, but it didn’t quite deliver the ultimate performance they were going for.  Worth a trip to theater? Not so much, but still worth checking out when it comes to home viewing.

 

My scores are:

Biography/Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

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Off the Chaney? Vice Review

Vice Poster

 

The world today is a politically charged place and with it comes a war of opinions, views, and media mayhem that many thrive on. So of course we have Hollywood raring to go, bringing a production of its own to toss into the game and hopefully wow.  So Robbie K is here to give his opinions on that movie as he reviews the latest film:

 

Movie: Vice (2018)

 

Director:

Adam McKay

Writer:

Adam McKay

Stars:

Christian BaleAmy AdamsSteve Carell

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • The Makeup
  • The Editing
  • The Presentation, somewhat
  • The Pace
  • The Acting
  • The Explanations

 

Summary:  Hands down my appreciation of this movie starts in the art of making the characters come to life in their looks.  Hollywood’s resources of time traveling makeup artists continue to be abundant as Vice brings their talents to new levels.  Creating Chaney in all his ages alongside his family is spectacularly done, transforming Bale and his colleagues into the various political players of the game.  It’s sleek, it’s beautiful and worthy of an Oscar award in my opinion.

Past that though, the rest of the movie is very well presented at parts to grant you a political biography that is certainly comedic at times.  The editing work of integrating their characters into real life footage is certainly impressive, keeping you immersed into the film without losing too much screen time for the actors.  Speaking of which, the acting is super well done, with Bale obviously getting top billing for how well he matched Chaney’s mannerisms and presentation quite well from the footage I’ve seen.  The rest of the cast supports them well in this semi-political farce working to bring the turmoil of the political warfare into the screen.

  Yet the thing this reviewer appreciates in regards to the presentation, outside of the impressive recreation of events and use of footage, is the sort of semi-narrative taking place to explain what is going on. The history of acts, scandals, and who was involved in what escapes me since leaving high school, but this movie is there to fill in the gaps.  As the narrator takes you through the times in a semi-quick pace, one begins to learn the various acts and ratifications Chaney went through in his supposed goals and plans. As such, one should have a small compass to guide them through all the red tape and get to the end, even if you are not up to date on the latest history of our politicians.  Thus, it’s not too hard or boring to follow.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • The Presentation At Times
  • Episodic At Times
  • More Integration Of Other Characters
  • The Jaded Energy

 

Summary:  When it comes to artistic style, you give them points for originality and creativity, but that indirect manner sometimes was a little convoluted.  The back and forth between time periods, the representation of Chaney fishing, and the nonlinear presentation muddied up the water for an already heavy story.  In addition, all of Chaney’s historical “triumphs” felt very chopped up, the episodic principles sort of thrown up in the air and landing in bite sized pieces that had just enough sustenance to whet your appetite, but not provide the most power it had for the drama component that I think the trailers painted.

Instead the film focused more on the comedy aspects, sort of looking to point out Chaney’s involvement in politics from a certain point of view. For one thing, the characters were very extreme, grandiose displays of political characters that while impressively acted, was a little lacking in terms of the characters the trailer painted. The comical approach is certainly unique, but I guess I was expecting a little more of the biography component than the farce they chose to approach.  Certainly, the biggest limitation for audience members might be the jaded energy this movie has to offer.  Like the new stations of cable television, this film presented Chaney’s reign from a certain angle, some of which is based on truth and some of which could be Hollywood magic. If you are a particular side of the political spectrum, you might just find yourself angry with the movie, rather than entertained or engaged by the political venue displayed.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Critics certainly have got the right idea about praising Vice as the work of art in terms of editing, acting, and make up get mad praise for the investment made in these areas.  Yet in terms of the story and drama the trailers painted for me, the film doesn’t quite agree with the atmosphere in the trailer for me.  If you agree with the views of this team, the film will be right up your alley, but depending on your political alignment and your views on Chaney, the jaded presentation may not be the style you want.  So is this movie worth the trip to the theater.  The answer is kind of, but only if you are ready for a dryer comedy version of the Fox or CNN News presentation.  Otherwise, wait for this one to come to home viewing. 

 

My Scores are:

 

Biography/Comedy/Drama: 6.0-6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

Will This Be your Favourite?

The Favourite Poster

 

Robbie K with another quick review as he hits the more artistic nature of the film this holiday season.  With a wonderful reception at the various film festivals, this movie held high hopes for being a winning masterpiece for the late year.  With a promising cast, good direction, and a unique twist to normal films, I went in eagerly to see what awaited.  What was the verdict?  Robbie’s reviews here to share his opinions as he reviews:

 

Movie:  The Favourite (2018)

 

Director:

Yorgos Lanthimos

Writers:

Deborah DavisTony McNamara

Stars:

Olivia ColmanEmma StoneRachel Weisz

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • The Acting
  • The Setting
  • The Costumes/Makeup
  • The Character Development
  • The Strategy
  • The Presentation, mostly

 

Summary:  Film festival features are seldom squandered out of acting, and the Favourite is no exception.  Rachel Weisz succeeds in her abilities as the lady of the manor, with poise, regality, and a cunning nature fitting of the character designed.  Stone’s transition throughout the movie is admirable, starting on end of the personality spectrum, yet showing the evolving psyche of the players of late century politics.  Colman as well is an integral piece, ushering in the role and acting as the key pillar for this mad state of affairs.

But acting aside, The Favourite stands out for it’s beautiful setting, with the location team and set crew working hand and hand to fashion a fitting battlefield for our femme fatales of the silver screen.  The manor and all its hallowed halls and manicured lawns will take you on that international trip to historical England, immersing you into the themes at hand.  As such, the characters themselves are quite dashing in their costumes, every politician, maid, and governmental officiant a welcoming tribute to the paintings of old.  The leading women in particular have ravishing costumes and makeup, helping to unleash the full effect of the movie.

Yet it is the character centric story that really takes all the aforementioned strengths and pulls them together.  The Favourite’s focus on developing all the characters, including a few secondary characters that at first seem mere parlor tricks. As the film progresses, the strategy at hand also starts to evolve in a Game Of Thrones like technique without so much blood and murder, as inner wants and jealousy lead to some rather interesting choices. And all of this is presented beautifully in the film work’s techniques.  Odd angles and dark hallways mirror the tone of the movie, as a haunting soundtrack of European orchestra plays in the back adding more to the emotions of the characters. Presenting all of this as if it were a Shakespearean play only adds to the ambience of the movie, and helps this film stand out a little more in terms of artistic wonder.  Yes, it certainly feels like a Thespian tragedy at hand and a nod to this approach and helping it shine in victory.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • The Pace at times
  • The Animal Cruelty
  • The Inclusion Of Seedier Culture
  • The Ending’s Finesse

 

Summary:  While artistic and brilliantly presented, the movie for me ran a little slow at times.  The opening of the film did its introduction well, with the first couple of acts taking time to introduce the world in appropriate detail.  Eventually as the rivalry develops. Things really start to take off, only to slightly take a rather large detour that offset the pace disrupting the very thing I fell in love with on the movie, with the end probably being where the steam was fully lost.  Certainly some of the loss of detail comes in with the focus of documenting every move in this game of human chess, which I didn’t mind.

Instead, the  real loss of pace came from some of the extra details added for more of a cultural reflection of the times (details Shakespeare loved).  While some of the animal cruelty showed the off the past times of the British high life, I did not need to see the repeated defeat of the small creatures, while other times were just unnecessary quirks that seemed forced and rushed in at the end.  In addition some of the seedier shots such as rape, self-pleasure, and other acts of hazing didn’t quite add anything to the story or feel of the movie, when my main goal was to see the power play between the two champion actresses.  Sadly, this semi-focus on the animalistic side of the characters sort of deterred from the plot for me and added unnecessary length to the movie.

And like my fellow reviewers, I do agree that the film’s ending did not quite suit me given all the build-up.  It ends rather vaguely, and although it mirrors the Greek Tragedy’s delivery, it did not quite have the same satisfaction that those ancient playwrights had.  Instead, it seemed that the Favourite had a rather rushed, messy finish that gives you all the pieces you need to draw up your own conclusions of what occurred.  Outside of throwing off the pace in the final two acts, the ending just didn’t deliver that last punch I had wanted, or at least in the manner I wanted.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall the Favourite is worthy of much of the praise it received from the festivals.  The presentation is beautiful on many levels as it deters from the usual linear fashion, and it seems to really pay tribute to the tragedies that this tale is based on.  In addition the story really speaks out to the culture and darker parts of history that sometimes don’t get told in the text books. Yet, it’s ironically that very presentation that took some of the flair away from the movie, as getting lost in the grimier aspects of human nature threw off the pace of the film and left the ending a semi-complete telling that could have used twenty minutes more to flesh out the final number with that woman’s scorn I think we wanted. Overall, the movie gets points for its presentation style, but it may not quite have all the categories needed to warrant a trip to the movies in my opinion.  Still, give this one a try at home if you are looking for something.

 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Comedy/Drama: 7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  7.5

Welcome To Another Review: Welcome To Marwen

Welcome to Marwen Poster

 

Hello all, Robbie K is back with another movie review, and this time with one that looks a little unorthodox.  Amidst the superhero films, CGI spectaculars, and new comedies that are trying to make their mark, a few movies are up for bringing some more unique experience to the film and trying to teach some lessons.  My first review comes in the form of a PTSD trauma film, trying to inject entertainment with a serious lesson.  Just in time for the holidays, here comes Robbie’s movie reviews on:

 

Film: Welcome to Marwen (2018)

Director:

Robert Zemeckis

Writers:

Robert Zemeckis (screenplay by), Caroline Thompson (screenplay by)

Stars:

Steve CarellFalk HentschelMatt O’Leary

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting: Carell and his female entourage do their jobs justice.  Carell’s portrayal of a PTSD suffering victim is spot on for someone with severe traumatic disorder.  The terror, the paralyzing fear, and even the nightmares are beautifully crafted to show the suffering some have and the interpretations from their mind’s eye.  When the girls don their action figure forms, the attitude and spunk come out in full force, and craft cool characters that are a combination of symbology and entertainment.  It may not be the most developed characters, but they do very well with the task at hand.  As for the real life counterparts, it’s really Leslie Mannand Merritt Weverwho get the thumbs up from me as they hit their parts well, and help advance the story outside the fictitious town, which means different approaches outside the action/soldier role.

 

Story:  The story is certainly a dramatized biography, hitting the highlights of a fascinating story, and casting it over with that Hollywood magic.  While not the most put together, the film gets props for portraying the journey of Hoagie’s recovery from the introduction of the terror to the various impasses he faces in his mission to find himself.  Along the way, one will get to gradually uncover the backstory, while helping progress his recovery. This balance gives you a lot of focus on Carell’s inner struggles and his external life at the same time.  As such, you’ll find a lot to grasp onto in this drama filled tale.

 

Pace:  While many biographies can sometimes drag, this movie does a good job keeping most of the drama at an entertaining dynamic.  This is mostly in thanks to the action scenes that decorate the screen, gun play between dolls and action figures that mirrors the war within Hoagie’s mind. By placing these components into the film, the movie kept its entertainment value while helping speed things up to the next act. Thus, don’t expect too many dry/slow parts in this film.

 

The Art Style:  Let’s face it, perhaps the biggest like of this is the art direction they chose.  Marwen’s victory is utilizing the presentation to represent the struggles of the mind of a PTSD patient and the war that lies within them to succeed. The dolls that act as his recovery are sculpted beautifully, and the blend of makeup with CGI is a style I quite appreciate as it’s something unique.  As the symbology continues to progress through the plot though, the artistic style continue to be more impressive as the styles continue to evolve to encompass the ever-changing mind of Carell.  I totally enjoyed the integration of the doll world with the real world, and think this is the true shining moment of the film.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Character Development: Hoagie may be the star and therefore get the character development, but the females that were so integrated into his life, probably needed some more work as well.  A couple of them got inklings of background information dropped into the mix, expanding upon their characters and maybe bringing them back into the story. Sure it might not be the most accurate portrayal, but for the cast included in this film, I figured maybe you would get the bang for your buck.  This is especially true for two of the characters whose doll forms were gorgeous, but inclusion was rather lackluster outside of the look of the dolls.

 

The Bad Guy Inclusion: You would think that the antagonists would have a little more inclusion of the bad guys outside of generic Nazi figurines.  The trailers really highlighted these gentleman as the main source of Hoagie’s dismay, yet they were surprisingly one dimensional in this film.  Perhaps more artistic rivalry, perhaps a little more background story for them as well, to actually warrant the repetitiveness that plagues this film.

 

The Jokes: In an age of politically correct fervor, Marwen surprisingly crosses the line with soe of its terminology.  The focus of Hoagie’s interests is going to be a little hard for some to enjoy, and for me it didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the movie given how much fly by they did on this interest and that was just not fitting into the film for me.

 

Dropped plot points: Marwen suffers from too many plot points jammed into a 2-hour run time for me.  There were so many aspects they tried to cover with Hoagie’s life and while I think they brushed on many things well, there were some under focused plot points that did not work for me.  I don’t want to go into further details, but Marwen needed to pick and choose some more points or perhaps bring back the extra moments in a director’s cut.

 

The Repetitiveness:  My biggest limitation with Marwen is the repetitive sequences and scenes that plague the movie.  Many of the action scenes blend together, a very concise gun fight that has the feel of the movie, but starts to blend together by the third bout of bullets.  In addition, seeing the extravagant terror laughs of the Nazi doll over and over again just gets old after a while when there is little development in the fight. Again, the style works for me, but perhaps a little more dynamic aspect to the action could have helped get past the monotonous tone set in the movie.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            I don’t think Marwen had quite the impact the movie promised, but it doesn’t make it a bad movie either.  Carell’s acting is certainly the strong point alongside the art that helps make this mental health problem come to life in new ways.  It’s true, not all the elements came together in terms of character inclusion, the plot points, or maybe the action scenes, but I think it does it’s role fine in terms of a biography.  Probably not the movie meant for the theater so much, but certainly worth taking a look at in the near future. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Comedy/Drama: 7.0-7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Running to See This Film? Check This Review Out First

The Front Runner Poster

 

The world of politics was once a thing with gusto, a means to which to represent the people and bring change that benefitted the many.  Now it seems that the arena of governmental officials has become a new level of entertainment, especially given the portrayal of the players in a number of media designs.  Tonight though, the film I review is focusing on this playing field, portraying that fine line between media circus and political justice.  Robbie K here with another review, this time taking a look at the latest biography/drama called;

 

Movie: The Front Runner (2018)

 

Director:

Jason Reitman

Writers:

Matt BaiJay Carson

Stars:

Hugh JackmanVera FarmigaJ.K. Simmons

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  The movie doesn’t have many special effects to battle for your attention.  Instead it relies heavily on the actors to bring their talents to full speed in hopes of bringing the tale to life.  Jackman leads the way with his portrayal of a council man, dropping his Australian accent for American drawl filled speeches.  A balance of many emotions, he claims a victory in the polls of talent from this reviewer.  Simmons as well reprises his Whiplash majestic talents to bring a counter balance to Jackman’s antics.  In addition Farmiga brings her talents to the screen with piano playing, voices of reason, and a nice break from the political game.

 

The Use Of All Characters: This film may be about Jackman’s character Gary Hart, but it dives into much deeper facets of the political running for president.  In doing so, all parties have a decent amount of screen time and involvement in the film, helping to add their approaches, morals, and thoughts to the collective pot of political prowess.  Seeing these angles adds more dynamic nature to the film, helping to piece together the entire story at hand.  And having all these characters throughout the story, should give you someone to tune your attention, should senator Hart not be the one you wish to focus on.

 

The Multiple Angles:  Hitting each of the perspectives of this movie brings with it a more engaging film.  Hart’s journey for presidency is certainly very deep, and the fact it happened over three weeks, is a bit mind blowing given how much things cascaded out of control. Still, in this day and age of political fire, the supposed act may turn you off to the main storyline.  So it is nice to have so many parties included in this film, each one’s philosophy made apparent to show the heated war that occurs between the media and the political group.  It was nice to see this approach, seeing as most political dramas get a little too embossed in the main character’s agony and mistakes.

The Topics Of Discussion: This movie is one designed to stimulate discussion among the group.  Did the media have the right to take the stance they did?  Was his actions enough to cause such an uproar?  What about the individual reporters recruited in this chase? These are just some of the questions to run through the film as the events transpire.  As such, the Front Runner will certainly be a valuable tool for an ethics class/lesson, helping future generations weigh the decisions in their quest for the truth.  Perhaps this is the ideal place to display this piece of work.

 

The Speeches:  Say what you want about the movie, but it gets points for the adapted script and dialogue that brings with it.  The Front Runner is all about inspiring a lot of ideas and that comes through the motivational force of the writing.  What is the real words and what was the magic, but the Front Runner has those moments that give you goosebumps.  The turn of phrase and emotional impact of those moments will hopefully drive the point to you like it did to me.  Very nice writing guys.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow Pace:  Don’t be expecting a fast-paced movie here my friends. Gary Hart’s journey is very meticulous in detail, and though they skip days at a time, they do everything they can to cram the nearly 2 hour run time with all the details.  If you love the drama of a modern ABC show, you’ll be fine in this film, but for others like me needing a little more tension, well this won’t be the film for you. Speaking of which…

 

No tension:  Political dramas are supposed to have looming threats, with close calls and a ravenous hunger for the truth to be revealed, or at least some looming mystery.  Sadly, the movie leaves these out, going for more realism and moral discussion than entertaining bouts of political angst.  This is fine, except that is takes away from the theater visiting quality in this reviewer’s eyes. So don’t anticipate the House Of Cards spin my friends, they didn’t go this route.

 

Some Stories Not Full Circle:  A lot of plot points means a lot of threads to tie up, and this movie did a decent job of accomplishing this goal.  But not all stories got the nice finish I think they deserved, primarily involving the woman he held interest in and the campaign manager.  With such strong characters and the information starting to be gathered, why would they not finish in the strong manner the main tale ended?  Not entirely sure myself, but given this isn’t a mini-series on television, well it’s no surprise.

 

What Is The Truth?: These movies are always generating the question of how much is truth and how much is the movie magic.  Front Runner seems to be on the realistic side, but how much was left out or blurred is something to always question in these films. Depending on your political alignments, your morals on the topics of political hot topics, and other things at hand. Ergo, the movie is still up in the air of the extent of what happened.  Guess we have the internet to find out.

 

The Verdict:

 

The Front Runner may not be the political drama of the year, but it certainly brings a lot of unique perspectives on the outcomes.  I myself certainly enjoyed the multiple outlooks on the event, and the topics it spurred, while of course relishing the acting and dialogue written.  Yet, a little more movie magic in terms of suspense alongside some clarification of stories could have gone far for me. Nevertheless, this would have been best left to the history channel or mini-series, leaving this reserved for classroom discussions or at least in your home apartment.

 

My scores are:

 

Biography Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Queen Will, Queen Will, ROCK YOU! Bohemian Rhapsody Review

Bohemian Rhapsody Poster

 

The musical legend that took the world by storm.  A man’s whose voice is immortal and rings through the halls, rooms, and cars of today.  The legendary band of Europe with music for the people has been waiting for a movie to represent their majesty, and everything they brought to the world. Tonight, after months of advertising and media promotion, the wait is over and the movie is upon us.  With it, yours truly is back to give a later review, in hopes of helping bring justice and some help in determining your movie viewing pleasure.  So get your concert boots on, your voices warmed up, and your hearts open for Robbie K’s review on:

 

Movie: Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

 

Director:

Bryan Singer

Writers:

Anthony McCarten (story by), Peter Morgan (story by)

Stars:

Rami MalekLucy BoyntonGwilym Lee

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting: You’ve got a legendary character, you need to be ready to step up to the plate, and the casting call nailed the pick with Rami Malek.  The Mr. Robot star continues to shine in his acting, apparently doing his homework to resurrect the legend for the modern age.  Watching clips in preparation for the interview, Singer’s direction with Malek’s skills are incredible to watch.  His mannerisms, his flair, his passion, and his approach match the various resources I picked up, and is the strong, central pillar to lift this movie to new heights.  Malek’s portrayal brings so many emotions to the screen to get you embedded into the movie and the actor’s lifeIn addition, the rest of the cast is amazing, each contributing member of Mercury’s life given incredible screen time and involvement to craft the family that got him through so much. The incredible involvement of everyone in this production really crafted the perfect cast to bring you into the full experience at hand.

 

The Direction: Musical biographies are always a challenge for me to review, because I go for the concert experience and a little for the life.  Sadly, the balance often shifts in the second half to the life, leading to usually a slower, depressing story.  Bohemian Rhapsody though, manages to break this mold and keep the energy of the movie going from start to finish.  Singer managed to find the perfect entanglement of personal story, band drama, creative process, and concert experience, leading to an energetic, cinematic experience that make syou feel like part of a VH-1 behind the scenes experience.  It crafts something for everyone and should be entertaining from start to finish for whatever type of story you want in this genre.

 

The Costumes/Setting/Craft:  You’ve got the director and the acting, but now you need the look and this is where Rhapsody’s crew excels at once more.  While not the most complex makeup at times, this film’s has managed to take us back in time to the 70s and 80s in setting, fashion, and look of the actors.  My friends and I agreed that they brought the band back in exact replica detail, from the hairstyles, to the looks that evolved over time in aging and appearance.  Transformation of the setting and decades keeps you immersed into the character’s evolution and further invest your interest to the story and movie at hand.  Of course Mercury’s recreation gets the top honors over all, but nevertheless, it’s a sensational piece of makeup, costumes, and detail worthy of an award or five.

 

The Concert Experience/Art/Music:  The biggest delight of this movie, outside of the balance of story to music, is the music itself. Bohemian Rhapsody highlights the music creating process, showing the struggles and inspiration of their work as they crafted what they considered the perfect tracks.  As the music comes to completion, the film jumps right into the performance, bringing the legendary vocals and music back to full, theater stomping delight, and unleashing it to the brim.  Rhapsody hits almost all of the classic songs without overplaying the work, and making sure to give you the concert experience you’ve been dreaming of.  This is especially true with the final scene, where the legendary 20-minute performance is recreated, almost every detail painstakingly recreated to pay honor to the legend. I hope many appreciate the hard work in this movie and more importantly the epic fire of Queen’s music.

 

The Class: When it comes to Queen’s and the band’s interesting history, one should expect a lot of topics and scenes that can make on uncomfortable.  A nod to the direction again, because in this film all these very sensitive topics are portrayed in a very dignified manner.  Rather than sexually aggressive, dirty, gritty portrayals and over the top dialogue, Bohemian Rhapsody manages to portray the darker moments in a dignified light to explain the history without detracting from the experience at hand. Even the comedy is magically crafted into the scene, not forcing itself upon the audience for a laugh, but instead flowing naturally with the personality of Queen and the scenes at hand.  It’s movies like these that make this reviewer smile wide and realize that Hollywood has not been completely lost yet.

 

DISLIKES:

The length: Hard to find fault in this movie, but I can say that the movie was a little long at point, a few scenes that could have probably been left out to minimize the run time to just about 2 hours.  A small dislike indeed, but I’m grasping at straws here.

 

A Little Less Of The Dark/Slower Moments:  The scenes to be removed would have been some involving Paul, who’s manipulation of the system crafted a good antagonist, but sometimes was a little long winded.  If I could have substituted these scenes with more of Mary and his family components I would have, because it may have shed a little more light on that aspect and kept in the positive energy of the movie.  I don’t want the darker moments erased completely, after all they made the band shine at times, but still a little less loss of momentum was my preference.

 

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Surprised that I don’t have more dislikes?  Well utilize that to note how much I loved this movie and how well put together it was. Queen’s epic legacy is captured beautifully in this movie, though how much is dramatized and real is something I don’t know.  Note however, that this is the musical biography that currently holds the throne in this reviewer’s eyes.  A balance of story and drama with music is the key, with direction to keep the momentum of the film going and the energy alive.  Fantastic acting and costumes further the experience, bringing you into the throngs of Queen’s struggles and drama, while paying homage to the craftmanship of their work.  Bohemian Rhapsody is the concert movie I’ve always wanted and with it, yours truly hopes to see it win big in the awards to come, not only for the movie itself, but for the legacy of Queen.  I strongly encourage everyone to see it in theaters, this weekend if possible, to get the most out of your experience with this film.  So please check it out asap. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama/Music:  9.5-10

 

Movie Overall:  8.5-9.0

Attempting To Send Us To The Moon. A Review Of First Man

First Man Poster

 

Reaching to the stars, traveling through the final frontier, and making contact with the unknown is what the science fiction authors are all about.  To think that the dream was realized years ago is a feat many still to this day question. Tonight, my review is about the adventure to the stars and the men who led the way.  Wrapping up my revies this week, tonight yours truly analyzes the largely advertised, potentially award winning, biography about Neal Armstrong entitled:

 

Movie:  First Man (2018)

 

Director:

Damien Chazelle

Writers:

Josh Singer (screenplay by), James R. Hansen (based on the book by)

Stars:

Ryan GoslingClaire FoyJason Clarke

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  A big role like this requires big talent and Gosling has stepped up to the new psychologically heavy, portrayal of the man who journeyed to the stars.  His depth portrayal of the role is top notch, a balance of a dramatized role that feels realistic and very reflective of the psyche of space travel.  Claire Foy on the other hand drops into a very regal and strong role, expressing the other side of the coin as the wife of an astronaut. Their chemistry works together, and the focus on each one leads to amazing performances that makes for endearing characters.

 

The Immersive Experience: You want to feel like you are blasting off into space?  You’ve got it!  You want to feel like you are being strained by an overwhelming array of G Force?  You’ve got it.  You want? Okay I think you get it.  First Man’s team did their best to get you strapped into the space exploration experience and did a fine job in my opinion.  One will feel like they are experiencing this first hand, with a screen that rattles, sound effects that dropped you into the heart of the mission, and a number of technical terms to further enroll you in the experience.

 

The Setting:  I’m a sucker for movies successfully taking you back in time. First Man takes us back into the time period of the 60s, bringing the cars, looks, houses, and hairstyles to really bring you into the decade of exploration.  First Man keeps all the themes rolling and adds that extra bit of magic by introducing a gritty filter to help you achieve the effects of watching the events through the new reels of yore.  This may not seem super cool or necessary, but that extra nostalgia helps pull the experience to new heights so nice work there.

 

Unique Approach: First Man decides to go a little more abstract in its presentation than the normal historical documentary.  A realistic portrayal with minimal magic, First Man is always about taking an event and then having you reflect on it.  The result is a psychological trial of experiencing the stress of this field of research, that helps with experiencing the historical prowess of this space travel.  While this approach will not be for everyone, it gets points for making an effort to be unique and artistic while also to the point.

 

The Portrayal of Struggle: I agree with my fellow audience members that First Man did a fantastic job expressing the difficulties of getting this mission off the ground.  From the failures of the testing modules, the setbacks of equipment burning out, and to the very stresses of the rocket itself, all of it is nicely detailed in this movie.  You’ll not be subjected to montages or magical findings, but instead get the bare facts to provide the full on knowledge of the issues this program faced.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Other characters:  It’s not that the other characters are bad, it’s the fact that they aren’t utilized as well as I wanted.  Much of Armstrong’s group, with the exception of the wife, are only fragments of the story overall.  I wanted to see more interactions with them, get their input and contributions to the story, instead of the dram filled moping they chose to focus on.  Why they did this I don’t know, but I believe the abstract approach has much to do with this.

 

The Heavy Jargon:  I mentioned earlier how the movie immerses you and sadly it does this a little too well.  The special effects drown out a lot of meaningful conversation in this movie, reducing the lines to mumbling, incoherent rants that aren’t easy to follow. Even for what you can hear, the movie relies very heavily on jargon and technical lingo, which if you don’t subscribe to physics or rocket science may not be the most interesting thing to listen to.

 

Mindset vs Program: The abstract direction taken in this movie works for getting into the head of the characters, and you’ll get plenty of shots of Gosling trapped in his mind, moping in a teary-eyed mess as he relives his experiences.  It’s beautiful artistically, but it’s not the most entertaining as I came to see more of the design to get to the moon.  Like Hidden Figures I wanted character development and integration than psychological reflection that a book is better at hitting. Regardless, this approach didn’t quite work in terms of my expectations or entertainment value

 

Dragging Pace:  The biggest thing for me… is this movie is slow at times.  It has to do with how long it takes for us to get into the meat of the program, only to be then be dogged down by more personal life components than the exciting tests you want to see.  As such, this constant up and down presentation that didn’t quite work for me and had me fighting sleep at times.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            First Man is different from what I expected.  It’s unique presentation is going to be the make or break for modern audiences and whether or not they will enjoy this movie. Those looking for a realistic, well-acted, artistic, immersive approach will enjoy the historical representation of this movie.  However, if you wanted that Hollywood magic, entertainment, and more like a story presentation, than this film is not going to be your cup of tea.  First Man is certainly a piece of work, but it all depends on the type of experience you want.  Worth a trip to the theater?  I think so for the effects and the food for thought, but otherwise hold out until next week when blockbusters return. k

 

My Scores: 

Biography/Drama/History:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0