Hustling Up A Dynamic Of Dance Of Superficial Entertainment and Deep Messages

Hustlers Poster

            They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and in today’s master of advertising the movies are certainly one of those very moments you don’t want to judge.  Many films hold great surprises to those going in with open minds, but yours truly went in not expecting much from tonight’s movie.  Based on true events, tonight’s film is all about how appearances can be deceiving and lead to very bad consequences despite the pretty package it’s wrapped up in. Yes, in all the splendor of the human body, we look at Hustlers tonight in hopes of getting a drama that is a little more sustenance and less show off of the naked form.  Robbie K back with another review this time on:

 

Film: Hustlers (2019)

 

Director:

Lorene Scafaria

Writers:

Jessica Pressler (magazine article), Lorene Scafaria (screenplay)

Stars:

Constance WuJennifer LopezJulia Stiles

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Decent Pace
  • Good Dance Numbers
  • Funny
  • Decent good Morals/Story
  • Liked the Medium Told
  • Fashion
  • Acting
  • J-Lo

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Story A Bit Over The Place
  • The Bloated Excess of Drug and Con Scenes
  • Secondary Cast A Little Too Secondary
  • Some Lazy Writing Moments
  • Last Part Of The Ending Was Rushed
  • Glorification of Other Morals

 

SUMMARY:

Believe it or not, Hustlers turned out to have more surprises packed in than I had anticipated and it starts with the pace.  For a nearly  two-hour film, most of the film moves at a quick enough speed to not be too bland, though it does have its moments.  Yet much of the “boring” parts are going to be offset by the flashy spectacles that modern audiences love and it starts with dance numbers that are, let’s face it hot and sexually charged.  Hustlers is all about the art of deception and using the gorgeous figures to accomplish it in various sequences of touching, dancing, and some other stuff. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you’re in luck, because the writers have jammed in plenty of other fun things to help get the pizazz on.  Comedy wise, it’s got decent laughs, throwing in well-time jabs, some smack talk, and girl gossip that though dramatic and ridiculous, somehow seems relatable to most.  Fashion lovers are going to be amazed by the costumes chosen, a wardrobe that emphasizes the rich lifestyle and again showing off that form.  Superficial stuff aside, there are some layers to this movie to start expanding past the eye candy and into something with a little more depth.  Despite the overall premise of the movie, Destiny’s tale with Ramona dives into well-developed subplots that are all about the character development.  The main tale is loaded with dramatic moments, but Ramona’s heart of gold and desire to accomplish her goals is an adamant yet dark story that contradicts the morally obligated responsibility that is Destiny’s tale.  Mostly linear, Hustlers presentation is balanced between past and present, told over a semi-formal interview that tries to help set up for surprise and further emotional charge.  It works in terms of originality, and my friend and I appreciated the use of this perspective to try emphasizing the effects each part of the story had on our characters.

How is this accomplished though is also due to the acting, with all the strippers and cons in the group acting well, all their unique personalities coming off in heavily designed in the writing and persona.  Wu runs ahead of the rest and expands the character to broader levels that portray a human facing the dark skeletons in the closet, countering some of the sinful acts this movie throws. As my fellow reviewers have said though… Jennifer Lopez steals the show and finally breaks out of the generic roles she has mastered.  Ramona shows the complexity and spectrum that a character needs, with again well-developed layers that allow people to determine whether or not you like the character.  A hero to some, a villain to others, J-Lo accomplishes bringing this complexed role to life and anchoring all the chaos together. 

 

  Still the story ironically suffers for me in terms of the superficial components that others enjoy more.  For one thing, the tale is predictable with much of the foreshadowing and trailers usurping the “surprises” they wanted to stuff into the film. Second, the story, while good at times, is a bit all over the place, struggling to pick the tale it wants to tale in favor of all the components brought in.  Perhaps symbolic, perhaps a representation of life, but I would have liked less jumping around and instead focus on utilizing the present to tell the past.  Maybe this would have been achieved with fewer moments of lust and stripping, as the excessive look at the exotic dances and glimpses at their lifestyles bloated the run time to the two hours.  Perhaps leaving these advanced looks to the director’s cut would have been a better use of time and reduced the run time to less than two hours (it wasn’t that necessary to be this long).  In addition, some of the other characters were a little too dropped into the background for me, primarily Cardi B’s character and Kiki Palmer’s who I would have thought would be a little more involved.  The secondary characters do fill their parts, but not quite the family aspect I was expecting from the trailers. Outside of excessive cursing at times, the last part that seemed odd and forced was the ending where the climax comes and goes rapidly, and the finale is sort of crammed into the final minutes.  Emotional and fulfilling at times, random story elements primarily with the other members of the crew are sort of wedged in, trying to be complete, but a little sloppy for me.  Julia Stiles character in particular feels oddly wrapped up, while Lopez and Wu’s characters feel sort of semi-incomplete, minus the dance finish at the end.  Finally, for those with a different mindset, you may not like the glorification of the negative characteristics that this movie thrives in.  Those who don’t like drugs, effective kidnapping, fraud, and some truly deep manipulation are not going to enjoy the package the better morals are wrapped in.  So watch yourself before coming in.

 

            The VERDICT:

            Truth be told, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie.  Hustlers manages to con you with the trailers and open you to a whole new world of adventure.   It’s going to speak to the intended audience members, and is a charged tale that holds a lot of heart primarily about the lives beneath the shiny surface of stripping. Hustlers manages to balance fun with deep stories and add that punch that people want in a story.  It’s primarily accomplished by the acting with Constance Wu who takes leading role, but Jennifer Lopez is the real shining star whose complexity and broad emotional spectrum tie the group together.  As the morals start pour out of the shiny fashionable package, the movie achieves the desired girl power and family aspect you might want to see. Yet, the film loses the balance for me in the obsession of glorifying the superficial things instead of the heart of god components below.  Extending the run time to nearly 2 hours, the extra stuff the added details of the movie sort of diluted the story aspect, and took away from the secondary characters that high profile actors were portraying.  Throw in a rushed ending and sort of sporadic storytelling and the movie loses a little of the glitter.  However, if you stick with it and enjoy both aspects shoved in (entertainment and lessons) and can get over the focus of the darker components they emphasize, you should really enjoy this movie. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

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Cooking Up Character Centric Stories and Good Acting

The Kitchen Poster

 

Crime tales are ones the American public drinks up, with the promise of a dark tale with tons of drama to drink up.  Yet, not every tale has the makings of a legendary film like the Godfather, trying too hard or going too political that it becomes a giant statement that is not entertaining to many.  So today’s movie had me concerned that a political thriller was on our way and potentially a slow-moving film like Widows before it.  Can an all-star cast and the mistakes from the last attempt be learned, or are we going to be stuck with a carbon copy cinematic mess? Robbie is back to give you another review and this time on:

 

Movie: The Kitchen (2019)

 

Director:

Andrea Berloff

Writers:

Ollie Masters (comic book series), Ming Doyle (comic book series)  |

Stars:

Melissa McCarthyTiffany HaddishElisabeth Moss

 

 

LIKES:

Setting

Story telling Component

The Drama and Twists

Acting

The Sound Track

 

DISLIKES:

Predictable

A Little Boring

Longer Than It should have been

Political overshadowing

The Non-Centered Antagonist

 

SUMMARY:

For a movie set in a specific time and place, The Kitchen accomplishes the task of stepping back into the past. Costumes, editing of footage, and props once more teleports us to the America of the past and brings you into the harsh streets of the Kitchen and it’s denizens.  While the setting helps add a story telling element, the reality is the Kitchen has a decent story component to it.  Like the Godfather, but not as monumental, The Kitchen is a story of family, power, and threats as the various pieces move about in the fight for territory and respect.  A character centric story, the movie focuses much on the three primary characters, each going through their own struggles as they try to push their own agendas into the mix. It’s those dramatic, character developing arcs that seem to criss cross quite nicely, leading to subplots that actually do well to connect into the grander story line, and brings a few twists to the mix to jazz up the linear plot and help give that dynamic of the mafia family.  It works well, and the acting in particular manages to bring the characters to full life, each bringing a unique style to the character that helps add the personality a film like this needs.  McCarthy was my favorite, but Haddish was amazing, casting her sass in a new light that was less funny and more threatening.  Without these ladies bringing their A game the movie may have suffered a lot more. Of note, the sound track was probably my favorite thing, classic 60s-70s songs coming in hard to give the emotional flare and toe tapping mixes that I love to see in a film, after all who does not like a good Fleetwood Mac song?

 

Yet, the movie still suffers a bit from some other components that did not quite entertain me.  First off, the movie suffers from linearity and predictable components.  From the moment the tides change you can see the ending coming a mile way, the Shakespearian plot elements beginning to fall into place.  As such, waiting for the ending was a little boring, stuck in the artistic and political components that it was a little slow and drawn out for me. It felt much longer than the actual run time and I did not quite get into the film as much as I wanted too. Perhaps a few shoot outs, a job gone wrong, or even some sort of defense to get the plot moving.  Instead, the political moments of the tale comes breaking right in to take center stage.  The Kitchen is not the most preach from soap box delivery I have seen, but the focus on the various battle of sexes and girl power motif could have been curbed a little more to not deviate from the story components I enjoyed. In addition, the movie suffers from the non-centered antagonist, choosing to go more towards a symbolic route, that possessed various characters that were more of a throw away than meaningful inclusion.  Had there been a bad guy to ultimately focus on, we might have had an easier time keeping things moving.

 

Overall, the Kitchen is a good portrayal of being able to dive back into history and uncovering stories that are believable, dramatic, and the crime family aspect we love.  The three leading ladies are truly the stars that made it special with me alongside character centric stories that will appeal to those who like books or character focused shows.  Yet, the movie is still not quite the spectacle I was hoping for, getting caught in the symbology and politics that lead to rush plot elements and lacking suspense.  Thus, this film holds favor at watching at home or out with a girls night group rather than on the big screen. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Stuber or Stupor

Stuber Poster

 

You know how there are all those stories about Uber rides gone wrong and being entertained. Well, as I’ve said in plenty of times before, Hollywood will look to all paths to find a script to put on the big screen. Tonight, my friends and I checked out the newest comedy that is all about an Uber ride gone wrong, between an unlikely pair of comedians.  Looking like a major comedy fest, the goal as always is for a review to help you determine if it’s worth a trip to local theater to see. Robbie K back in the theater trenches to give you the 411 on the latest movie.  Let’s get going!

 

Movie: Stuber

Director:

Michael Dowse

Writer:

Tripper Clancy

Stars:

Dave BautistaKumail NanjianiMira Sorvino

 

 

LIKES:

  • Pacing
  • Fun Morals Baked In
  • Funny At many Parts
  • The slapstick At times
  • Actors

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Dead Story Points
  • The Rushed Components
  • Shaky Camera work at times
  • The Predictability
  • Some Comedy Being Overdone
  • The Trailers Ruining Much Of the Movie

 

Summary

 

The truth about Stuber is that it is a simplistic comedy that the trailers have sold well. A fast pace helps keeps the laughs in as the “story” begins to work its way toward the final destination.  There are components they are trying to balance into the laughs, and the morals placed in for character development are nice to see to help expand the character.  Yet, the golden aspect of this film is of course the comedy to which many will most likely enjoy in some form or manner.  Stuber is one of those movies that throws as many jokes at you as possible and hope that at least one or two of them sticks.  The slapstick in particular has some great punch to it, primarily because of the commentary and sound effects that accompany it.  So simplistic and yet so funny, Stuber makes it’s mark due to the two comedians that drive the movie to the final destination. Bautista’s yelling and direct line delivery are much like Drax without the Marvel banter and drawn out jokes that accompany the clumsiness they bestowed his character.  Kumail Najiani on the other hand is all about dry sarcasm and delivery of the lines to capitalize on the comedic timing and adding that spice to the words.  The chemistry between the two is great, though I hope it’s not abused, and it will be a selling point for many.

 

Yet the movie is much like my fellow critics said in that there are some dropped plot elements.  For those that don’t care about anything but a good laugh, this section will turn you off, but for those for looking at movies as a whole read it on. Although a good attempt, the story has a lot of dead points that barely roll over the finish line to really give the movie sustenance.  A fantastic pace for comedy, the movie’s short run time and fast movements are not good for developing the other parts of the movie, which is a shame given the potential they were building.  Amidst the action scenes and lots of slapstick, a shaky camera awaits to try to bring you in the moment, but only serves to make dizzying sequences that are not too fun to see.  In addition the story is super predictable, with lots of foreshadowing in the jokes and simple conversations early on in the movie.  The balance in comedy is definitely skewed from one side or the other going too far down one angle, and quickly tipping the other way to not funny enough. Stuber suffers from constantly teetering from one point to the other and never learning that too much of something is not often a good thing.  Why was this the case?  Truth be told, it’s because the trailers have revealed many of the scenes that fill the movie, with a good chunk of the funny parts already been beat into your eyes and memory from the countless trailers and commercials.  If you have been fortunate enough to avoid these showings you’ll be okay, but otherwise, stick to the mantra of there are some parts that are still waiting to be found.

 

The VERDICT:

            Stuber is fun, stuber is simple, and stuber is entertaining to those who want nothing more but to laugh.  The acting combo of Bautista and Najiani are golden, filled to the brim with sarcasm and blunt delivery that should be entertaining. Filled to the brim with jokes, the movie’s main limitation is the difficulty with balance, struggling to fit things into the comedy in such a short time span.  Still, plenty of comedic gold awaits those looking for the simplistic adventure of slapstick and not caring about the movie/story overall. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Action/Crime: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Who Has The Humorous, Action Wise, Edge, But Has Unbalanced Writing And Crudeness? SHAFT

Shaft Poster

 

Television shows hold a history for many, teaching life lessons and telling stories that would stick with the public for ever.  Sometimes catchy theme songs are the main things that stay behind, but for others, legendary episodes remain in the minds. So with the drought of originality still plaguing Hollywood, the goal is to bring some of these television shows to the silver screen venue to try to make them fresh again.  Robbie K is back to look at the latest movie in hopes of helping guide your movie pleasures.  Let’s get started as we look at:

 

Movie: Shaft (2019)

Director:

Tim Story

Writers:

Kenya BarrisAlex Barnow  | 1 more credit »

Stars:

Samuel L. JacksonJessie T. UsherRichard Roundtree

 

 

LIKES:

Acting

Action

Nostalgia

Mystery

Humor

 

DISLIKES:

Lack of Suspense

Aggressive Sexual Humor

Lazy Writing At Times

Weak Character Development

The Grandpa Inclusion

 

SUMMARY:

 

Shaft’s character is legendary and requires a key actor to bring it to life.  Samuel L Jackson is the guy to do it, bringing his hard edge and direct, forceful acting to really bring the cop with no fear to life.  He balances so much into the role, like seeing Nick Fury in a rated R role, that is certainly entertaining to watch.  Jessie T. Usher as the new generation of Shaft helps sort of balance the aggressiveness of Jackson, acting as a grounding force to tie all the group together.  He’s charming, funny, but then evolves a bit into something more that works well in the atmosphere of the movie.  As for Roundtree, his reprisal is a nice throwback, but it has been tweaked to have a bit of modern aggressive edge on it as well to remain in the new rules of the movie.  The rest of the cast play their parts well, but not integrated enough too much to take time at this time.  Instead let’s jump into the action, the modern day has choreography and technology capable of making those epic shoot outs a little more exciting.  Shaft achieves this fairly well, sometimes using it for humor and other times having that flair that the show made famous.  If you’ve read through all this review so far, you can see that nostalgia seems to be a key factor to enjoying this film, to which I was able to find a few references to the series, with other audience members finding even more.  That component will be a key entertainment value to many and a selling point for the movie.  Now in regards to the other two components, they have to do with the story and atmosphere of the movie.  Shaft’s main story component is about the mystery of the case at hand and how it will connect our characters together.  Shaft’s multilayered mystery feels like a blend of the loose cannon cop’s greatest adventure all connected to one, you’ll find yourself trying to sort out the threads of scandal seeing the true source that connects them all. During the course there is some attempts at developing the characters, but those moments are reserved for the comedy aspect.  The laughs of this movie are brought by the edgy delivery of Jackson’s lines, the continued adulteration of JJ’s life, and the fiery passion of a mother trying to handle the stress of life.  It’s very well integrated through the movie and is utilized decently to actually progress things rather than a simple laugh.  It felt natural and true to the character, which I find important.

Yet the movie’s pluses may have led to some of my dislikes as well, primarily in the part of being too aggressive.  Shaft and company are not shy to using aggressive styles of humor and while it works at times to perfect levels, there are times where it gets too much for this reviewer.  Various descriptions of sex and genitalia only goes so far for me, and the rather boorish description of various genitalia is a little more offensive than fun at times. In addition, my description of lazy writing is at full front here, with Shaft getting too dependent on the use of these expletives to remain entertaining for me.  Working on the character development could have taken point instead, working harder to start expanding on back stories, histories, feelings and other qualities to help connect these characters.  It start happening at some points of the movie, but more potential existed in those characters than what we got, again lost to comedy and modern time violence. As for the grandfather inclusion, I’ll acknowledge the inclusion of the original for sake of honoring the man who brought the series, but I wanted more.  Given the showcase in the trailers, I had expected a little more inclusion, and while the ending brought the excitement I was looking for, the original Shaft probably could have had a little more inclusion overall.

 

The truth is Shaft is going to be geared towards those seeking to go back in time and relive the criminal hunting cop’s adventures.  A modern edge certainly helps make it relevant in the 21stcentury, adding new style, comedy, and mystery to raise the stakes and try to entertain, while securing fine acting in its cast of characters.  Yet, the movie suffers from imbalance, more so in terms of aggressive humor and lackadaisical writing where cursing and sex phrases are the key.  I’m not saying that ruins the movie, I was just looking for more of a balance for what I got.  Nevertheless, the movie has enough fine points to warrant a trip to the movie, though only at about a 50% as much can be enjoyed from home.  Nevertheless, here are my scores:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Prepare For More All-Out Action Packed War

 

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum Poster

 

Savior, Stoner, Super assassin, these words are just some of the descriptions that come to mind for the star of our next film review.  Years ago, a little puppy unleashed the torrent of the Baba Yaga’s rage as millions of extras were taken out by coordinated destruction in some of the most adrenaline pumping films this decade. John Wick has become a cult phenomenon that has gotten guys like me revved up in all the high-octane fun that comes with the dark action flick.  A third installment has appeared this weekend, with our “hero” now being on the run from the very organization he has served for so long. Will the third installment be able to expand upon the universe, or is it just too much?  Robbie K here with another review on:

 

Movie: John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019)

 


Director:

Chad Stahelski

Writers:

Derek Kolstad (screenplay by), Shay Hatten (screenplay by)

Stars:

Keanu ReevesHalle BerryIan McShane

 

LIKES:

 

Comedy

Dogs

Use of Second Characters

Expanding The Story

Fast Pace

Action Sequences/Choreography

 

DISLIKES:

Excessive Violence

Some Underwhelming Story arcs

The Excessive Destruction

Unrealistic moments taken too far at times

The Ending

 

Similar Movies:

John Wick 1 and 2

Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2

Ninja Assassin

 

SUMMARY:

 

When it comes to John Wick you know what you are getting into and in terms of likes the movie just continues to expand upon the legacy of the Baba Yaga! The comedy is dark, much like the tone of the movie, managing to merge a variety of writing styles into the mix to somehow offset the edge this film has.  Even in the dogs there is comedy to a darker sense, but this brings up that the movie actually utilizes its character very well in this chapter.  Halle Berry, McShane, even the Concierge (Lance Reddick) are utilized well in this tale, with adequate screen time and action sequences that are all relevant. The results is an expansion of the story, utilizing the background information, these relationships, and some new characters to evolve the tale even more.  As such, it gives some slight relevance to the violence at hand. Yet, the biggest components to this film are the pace and the action sequences.  John Wick’s choreographed chaos only continues to expand, pushing past the gun play that was semi okay in chapter 2, and opens up some new styles to get your fists (and bloodlust) pumping. From nearly start to finish, there is not much down time from the carnage and if that’s a movie you want… you’ve got it.

Yet, the movie’s glorification of violence sometimes gets to levels that aren’t necessary outside of appeasing that gore craving some might have.  The excessive displays of death are a part of it, but this tactic is not my cup of tea without really needing it for story.  In addition, though there has been expansion of the tale, there were some leads laid out that didn’t quite add to anything other than what the ending sets up. It’s lackluster story telling that merely seems to extend the shelf life of this revenge tale as it sets up its players for the next acts.  Well either that or to provide more moments of destruction which again become a little too much at times.  Often use as a running joke, John Wick 3 sometimes goes to extensive rounds just to have our guys go through some form of breakable glass.  It’s mostly fine, but there are several extensive sequences of just unnecessary destruction to get a laugh and extend the unrealistic moments even further.  In regards, to the unrealistic moments, I understand how much fantasy there is in this series, but there are even limits in the universe that don’t seem to be followed consistently. Wick’s stamina and ability to bounce back from serious injuries is already incredible, but there are times where again the excessive punishment is unbelievable and the rules are redrawn for either a running joke or a god complex.

Let’s face it, John Wick 3 is all about continuing the trend of violence, action, and the dark edge that we have loved in the first two installments.  New fans and old fans should dive right into the adrenaline rush, happy with the guns and hand to hand combat sequences that inhabit this movie.  It’s true, it’s over the top and full of ridiculous moments that have made this series famous, but in this installment, they are going a little too far to push the envelope in regards to stunts, stamina, and death count.  While most won’t be affected, and perhaps love this component, the continued pushing of the edge is also starting to lose the balance that this once had, beginning to get to the levels that the Fast and Furious series are starting to take.  Still, I really enjoyed this film, the action it brought, and all the cinema worthy stunts and special effects make it worthy of a theater visit.

 

Overall my scores are:

 

Action/Crime Thriller: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

A Royale Mystery/Thriller With Big Characters

Bad Times at the El Royale Poster

 

Dark movies offer the potential for a fantastic story, filled with twists, turns, and elements that you didn’t see coming.  My second review of the week is one such movie, with a trailer that teases one into taking a dive down another distorted rabbit hole to find a land of wonder and shock that will have you talking for days. With a cavalcade of stars and the hints of secrets, this drama looks to be the next big discussion to come.  Does it deliver?  Hi, Robbie K here with another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Bad Times At The El Royale (2018)

 

Director:

Drew Goddard

Writer:

Drew Goddard

Stars:

Jeff BridgesCynthia ErivoDakota Johnson

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Central Pillar on this one, Bad Times At The El Royale relies heavily on the cast to bring the characters to life. Diving into the gritty roles is tough, but they nail their execution of complicate characters with plenty to hide.  Their chemistry is solid, their conveying of emotions on point, and in regards to becoming one with the characters, I think they succeeded in this endeavor.  One will find their involvement in these characters super.

 

The Details:  A movie that is character centric like this one requires a lot of detail to get you invested in their lives.  Mission Accomplished, because the El Royale is super focused on the background information and doing its best to describe the situations leading up to their pilgrimage to the infamous hotel.  You want those dram infused plots and over the top issues, look no further my friends, because it has it all densely packed into bite sized pieces to easily digest.

 

The Tension:  Not suspenseful, but somehow still tense, El Royale is like those exciting moments in a soap opera where a lot of things happen in a short amount of time.  As a result, the tension gradually increases until the final act where it finally snaps and things really start to amp up, a great use of this technique, which when combined with the next like helps keep you into the film.

 

The Mystery:  The trailers promised dirty, little secrets and that mystery of what is hiding in the closets of everyone also keeps you into the film.  Each person has that slight little layer and it is the act of piecing this together that adds a little fun to this rather dense film.

 

The Twists/Turns:  An even more impressive move, making some movies to really surprise me.  While I didn’t necessarily jump, this movie came close to startling me a few times with the twists that it decided to take.  In addition to adding a little spice to the movie, these twists helped push the story to new dynamics, further strengthening the character dynamics and keeping you on your toes.  So get ready for a little bit of gasping at the decisions they make.

 

The Music:  Yeah, I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack and El Royale’s juke box and guests contain some fun lyrics that represent the times and mood. Funk, Jazz, Soul, and a little Rock and Roll are there to tease your ears with a delightful melody that is cleverly infused into the mix.  Not the high point I know, but what a great soundtrack nonetheless.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Imbalance of Characters: It’s seven detailed characters and you want them all on screen.  El Royale has done this quite well with most, but there are at least two of the cast that were rather lackluster in their full involvement compared to others.  The director and story team seemed to have one group to base most of the story around, and while interesting, was a little disappointing to not get more into the characters than what we got. I guess that’s where book formulations come in huh?

 

The Underwhelming Secret: While the individual secrets are engaging and interesting, the big secret of the hotel wasn’t quite as impressive. Perhaps it is the presentation, or maybe it is just how it gets semi lost in the characters themselves, but the big secret is only marginal in terms of surprise.  I think a little more scene development or at least get some dialogue that stands out a little more in this already heavy dialogue movie.

 

More Suspense than Tension: Again, the tension was welcomed, but a little substitution of suspense to speed up the pace would have been my preference. A little more chasing and close calls in the pursuit of truth could have added some of the spice I think the movie needed to bring the full, mind blowing revelations to life.

 

The Pace:  By far the movie’s big limitation for me is the length meeting the pace.  You have to be ready to invest in characters, and almost like reading a book, be ready to focus more on the details and theatrics instead of the special effects and action that Hollywood loves.  While I appreciate this, the movie dragged a little too much for me and sometimes got too in depth to keep me awake.  In addition, there are times it crawled for me and the ending of shoving in those last bits of detail wasn’t the best the ordering for me to be super impressed. As such, I would have liked to have more excitement or thirty minutes cut from the overall time to find that happy medium.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The secret to this movie is, that the El Royale has a fantastic set of players to move around it’s weird, classic halls.  With a character centric plot filled with tension, mystery and twists, the El Royale is a very close book in movie form I’ve seen. Yet, for those looking for a little more excitement and pizazz this movie is going to be tough to watch late at night because it slow and missing a little bit of flare I think it needed. So if you can handle 2.5 hours of heavy dialogue and drama, you’ve got the movie of the weekend for you, but if you need a little more Hollywood magic… you need to sit this one out. 

 

 

My scores are:

 

Mystery/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

Does This White Boy Have The Moves?

White Boy Rick Poster

            Biographies seem to be popular this year, focusing on a number of people and their “contributions” to society.  Today’s biography is more about the horrors of a system than a contribution, but these moments are certainly entertaining.  Hi, Robbie K here with another look at the world of movies and what lies in store for the price of a ticket.  Let’s get started, as I review:

 

Movie: White Boy Rick (2018)

 

Director:

Yann Demange

Writers:

Andy WeissLogan Miller

Stars:

Matthew McConaugheyRichie MerrittBel Powley

 

 

LIKES:

Good Acting:  Richie Meritt and McConaughey are the central pillars of the movie, holding much of the plot on their shoulders and doing a wonderful job bringing their characters to life.  Meritt in particular has to cover a very complex character, borderline between punk kid and individual of poor circumstances.  He finds that balance very well, makes for an engaging character and really gives you the full experience of the nightmare that Rick went through.  As for McConaughey, he is still the sleazy role, but it’s curbed this time for a respectable character you want to follow.  Their chemistry impeccable and the heart of the movie as they integrate with their well casted supporting crew.

 

The Setting:  It is not as far back as Unbroken, but we get dropped right into a reconstructed 80’s hood, where the danger, drugs, and depression lie in wait like a hungry pack of wolves.  All the costumes, cars, and buildings were retrofitted to have the look and it works quite well to get you into the setting. 

 

The Drama/Portrayal: White Boy Rick has a lot of details about the young man’s life, and you’ll get to see much of it in this installment. Drama lovers are sure to become entangled in all the messes of Rick’s life, with those liking the Law And Order scenarios enjoying this one the most.  This film will give you a lot of the 411 on rick’s life and bring about all the emotions that come with it.

 

The Music: Surprisingly, the film had a fantastic soundtrack to report on, a mixture of funk, hip-hop, and a little soul to mirror the themes of the movie. It’s upbeat and has toe tapping beats to keep you going, and actually brings a little edge to the scenes themselves. Bravo to the casting director for their selection because it really worked.

 

The Pace:  While slow at times, the movie does a nice job moving through the various years of Rick’s journey to get you to the end game.  It is a longer movie, but for the most part it doesn’t feel that slow, or rough to get through all the nuts and bolts of this adventure.  Drama lovers of course will not find any of this remotely boring, but if you are not that type and along for the ride, you should find much of this movie entertaining.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Stereotypical Design: White Boy Rick’s title brings with it a wave of stereotypical portrayals in just about every character in the film.   Whether it be the impoverished, the wannabe gangsters, or the gangsters themselves, the movie really hammers the portrayals to such extremes that it gets a bit cheesy. Perhaps this is how the real-life characters were, but if not, the magnification of these personality quirks got annoying for me at times.  Even Rick himself crossed that line sometimes, so brace yourselves.

 

The Lazy Dialogue: Sometimes quite poetic, White Boy Rick’s dialogue is mostly focused on being either really complacent (full of really dumb pronunciations or Rick being an idiot to be funny), or really lazy (F bomb laden rants).  For such a deep story, I had hoped for a little more movie magic to buffer out the scratchy, lackluster lines they came up with.  McConaughey managed to have some beautifully scripted pieces to work with, and the secondary characters got their fair share of poetry in, but for the most part it was a little too stuffed with normalcy/realism to be impressive for me. 

 

More use Of The Secondary Characters:  Rick knew a lot of people, and his family seemed to be a gigantic rock to which he based his decisions on.  While the movie captured the key details, I felt they didn’t quite utilize or introduce the characters that well for me.  Names were dropped at random, their inclusion was sporadic and I felt many of them had more of a role to play than what was presented.  Many of these kingpins and servants could have been epic antagonists to spice up the story, but again my lack of research and not being with Rick means I don’t know who these guys really were.

 

Disjointed Story: While the movie has covered a lot of Rick’s life story components, the presentation I believe was off for me here too.  Each of the issues Rick faced felt compartmentalized, individuals segments that were prematurely closed and then randomly open at intervals that were inconsistent. Yes, you still get the effects presented with the story, but so many pieces without a strong, underlying foundation, led to a weaker representation of what could have been an epic drama.  Overall it’s not horrible, but it could have been so much better.

 

 

The Verdict:

 

            White Boy Rick is one of those movies that has its fair share of drama to exploit and dive into.  A fantastic setting with great central acting will be the keystones to bring these events to life and pull those liking drug/crime story lovers into the mix.  The problem is, the movie sort of lost itself in the presentation, not giving clear focus on Rick’s character or stories that he had to share and instead giving you snippets into his life.  With how much was going on, there could have been a gold mine of a story instead of just some nuggets they portrayed.  Still, it gets props for completing the information, and perhaps a director’s cut could improve upon it in the future.  As such, this History meets Lifetime Movie presentation can be held until it comes to Redbox, and would highly encourage you to take that route. 

 

My scores are:

 

Crime/Drama: 6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5