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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Trying To Overcome With Creativity, Yet Falling Into Stereotypical Indecisiveness

Overcomer Poster

            Religious movies are difficult for me to review. Why?  Because as a reviewer putting myself in the shoes of the audience/intentions of the director, understanding what these movies are intending to do is my job.  Yet, looking at the presentation and not stepping on toes is also a challenge.  Despite the challenge though, I’m up for trying to do my best to give you the opinions on yet another film to hit the theater. So Robbie K bringing you another review on:

 

Movie: Overcomer (2019)

 

Director:

Alex Kendrick

Writers:

Alex KendrickStephen Kendrick

Stars:

Alex KendrickShari RigbyPriscilla C. Shirer

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Message
  • Acting
  • The Powerful Scenes
  • Great Use Of Emotion
  • The Creative Flair
  • The Finale
  • The Music

 

DISLIKES:

  • Pace
  • Predictable
  • Goes Out Of Its Way To Be Preachy
  • Not So Much A Running Movie
  • The Staged Characters
  • The Overall Presentation/Indecisiveness

 

SUMMARY:

Let’s get it out of the way, if you are not of the faith or religious the message is most likely going to be lost on you, but for this reviewer the message of Christianity is always nice to get a refresh course in. Helping to bring it alive is decent acting from some of the cast including the director/writer/lead Alex Kendrick, the lovely wife Shari Rigby, and for me Cameron Arnettas the motivational speaker. All the leads create quite a believable family, one that is entertaining, funny, and comes of natural in (most) of their deliveries of a family facing tough times that somehow makes it relevant in ways.  The powerful scenes when they come do their job, managing to penetrate the neutral shell I bring to most movies and pull some heart and spirt strings.  This is accomplished by great use of emotional supporting movie magic, especially the piano work that has diversity to capture the moment.  The cinematography accomplishes capturing the right light and angle to help as well, giving an underappreciated edge to help again sell the transformation as the word is shared. As the movie progresses, that creative flair in not only the camera work, but also some story components gets a nod to me for parts of this movie help break away from the traditional presentation that these movies thrive on (note I said some) that really came together as the movie closed into the final moments.  Speaking of which the finale really brings all these elements together, and like out of a Disney sports movie from the 90s you get all those feel good effects rushing together to punch you right in the emotional center of your body.  Finally, the music in this film, not the orchestral work from earlier, actually was awesome for me, showing that praise music is not just limited to the traditional hymns and songs that get overplayed in these films.  My favorite would be the Overcomer, but I think there are enough genres and variety to please most ears.

 

Yet, the movie still has some shortcomings from me in terms of a movie, remember the message is strong for me, but I am looking at the big picture here in terms of a movie. First of all the pace at the beginning is slow and a little bloated, due to some tangents taken long before the first run with Hannah.   You can definitely tell expect the predictability of the film, all the tell-tale signs and set ups feeling much like the books to which this film used as its foundation.  This is not so much a major issue for me, except for how much of the predictability is used to go out of its way to preach the message.  Almost like intermittent messages from church, Overcomer tends to take out the parts the trailer sold (seeing the tale of a runner improving on skill and relationships) for a lot of awkwardly time moments of preaching the Bible, one moment being a character interrupting a drama midterm to announce the faith they had found.  Powerful? Yes!  Well designed for the movie?  Kind of.  Perhaps it also would not have come off quite as cheesy or forced had some of the characters to been so staged.  Overcomer uses a lot of extras and secondary characters to act as bait for the church like moments and had they had a little more engagement in the tale other than simply delivering church lessons it would have flowed better.   As you hopefully have deduced, the main thing I didn’t enjoy about this movie was how it could not quite determine what approach it wanted to take.  Overcomer is almost part sports inspirational film, part Drama, and part big budge church production.  Instead of having a nice medium of using the cross country to pin its hopes on, the movie sort got lost in trying the balance all three parts and accomplish the goal of preaching.  Had they sort of ironed it out and minimized the Bible Verse interruptions, this could have been a different case, which took away from the movie quality for this reviewer.

 

VERDICT:

            The truth is that Overcomer is a very good religious movie that will speak to the hearts of many followers and get many crying with those well put together moments.  It’s a great message put in a new form and thanks to the help of creative outlook, cinema flair, and music it’s truly an inspirational piece of work.  Yet, in looking at the movie past the message, the inability to decide what path to take and going out of its way a lot to make preachy scenes took away from the movie quality itself.  Diluting the quality to a Hallmark like production where staged characters and awkward scenes stood out from the heart of the tale that lied in.  Again, the message is powerful, but for a presentation standpoint Kendrick’s approach needed a little tweaking to fully stand out as one of the greats.  Still, this is a must for most church goers and drama lovers, looking for that next wave of inspiration using the latest hi tech sound.  My scores are:

 

Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Blinded By Balanced Stories, Inspirational Moments, And A Killer SoundTrack

 

Blinded by the Light Poster

Music icons are those that seem timeless, maybe not in the way of new hits, but in the impact they leave behind.  Musical works speak to us on so many levels, potentially why we are able to play them as often as we do without getting sick of the tracks.  Yet, do we really understand how music impacts people?  Do we think about how music can motivate, inspire, and even more so revolutionize the changes that they incite on many people?  That is the theme of the final movie I review this week, a film that is all about the impact that movies have and what they can motivate to do.  So let us take a look as I dive into:

 

Movie: Blinded By The Light (2019)

 

Director:

Gurinder Chadha

Writers:

Paul Mayeda BergesGurinder Chadha  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Viveik KalraKulvinder GhirMeera Ganatra

 

LIKES:

 

Good Pace

Delightfully Funny

Nice Look At Culture and Music

Great Use of Music

Emotionally Deep

Decent Balance Of Most Stories

Relevant

 

DISLIKES

 

A Bit Preachy

Perhaps A Little More Investment In Two Other Stories

Hollywood vs. Reality

Cliched stands out

 

SUMMARY:

 

With movies like this that go to make a statement you sometimes wonder if the movie will move or potentially fall to the pace of being artistic.  In this case, the Boss’ journey movie seems to movie at a good enough pace to remain entertaining but yet still accomplish the statements it wants to make.  It’s charm comes in the form of the heartwarming tale, that manages to be funny without even trying and yet deliver the messages of inspiration and art that it wants to do.  The movie is a nice look at how music influences the world around us and can inspire those brave few who can be fueled to use their gifts for the greater good.  In addition, the cultural lifestyle is certainly a major part of this film’s energy, somehow managing to capture some components of a culture or two and yet paint in a way that is super relevant to many.  The tale of the main character holds a lot of heart behind it and seeing that journey unfold feels like a realistic heroes journey that many dream to accomplish.  But defying a culture is not the only tale, for Blinded By The Light manages to accurately represent the facets of life from the concept of love and friendship, to the aspiration of trying to live your dreams.  It’s emotionally deep and will speak to many members as the relevant tales begin to come to life and perhaps allow you to sort of walk alongside the characters as they face the fears.  Yet, my favorite aspect is the nice integration of the Boss’ music into the film, for like a musical the legendary tunes are solidly integrated into the sequences to deliver the emotional kick of the scene or perhaps just make a fun little cover in a bold attempt to please a character.

 

Despite all the fun I had in this movie though there are of course areas that acted as a somewhat limitation to the film.  Motivational as this movie is, it can come off a bit preachy at times too, a little too forced in the inspirational tale and focus and perhaps steering away from the balance I was enjoying.  In addition, the movie sometimes gets a little more reality vs Hollywood for me at the inconsistencies that real life deals vs. the magic of things working out in the Hollywood atmosphere.  Not the biggest dislikes mind you, but something that does not quite fit in the same light as some of the other parts of the movie.  I guess my biggest limitations come in the form of some of the story imbalances and cliché moments that start to take precedent the farther the movie goes in.  In regards to the stories, there are a few plots that I’ll admit could have taken a little more focus to help bring all aspects to full circle.  One has to do with the love story and integration, yes a surprise given my previous reviews, and the other with the racial tension that was in this movie.  I understand it’s not the main focus, but it might have allowed for other Springsteen songs to get integrated in about these issues and maybe add a little more suspension and challenge to the movie.  That’s the other component that would have been nice to see is breaking up the cliché moments and adding a little more challenge to the mix.  Blinded by the Light is a little too easily pushed through, and perhaps in adding the obstacles and suspense, the full emotional passion could have burst out in full strength and break up the predictability/monotony of it.

 

The VERDICT:

 

As you can see, the movie has more likes than dislikes for me, with many of the limitations pickiness to help give that movie the final push.  Blinded by the Light turned out to be better than I anticipated, with a nice steady pace filled with a plethora of components that includes well aligned story arcs, emotionally deep lessons, inspirational sequences, and of course the timeless music of Bruce Springsteen.  Yes, it’s preachy and cliché and some stories could have been tuned up and given greater preference to really maximize everything.  However, I applaud the balance and entertainment of this film and state that though it lacks the usual mechanisms for the theater (special effects, a big adventure, or a concert experience, I still suggest a trip to the theater for this one.  If you can’t get in to hear the Boss through the big speakers, then definitely set your sights on this one for a home viewing.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Drama/Music: 9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

Book To Movie: Where Did The Rest Of The Cast And Story Go?

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Poster

 

Another day, another time to review movies and weeks two of the 5 movie reviews a week continues.  Hi Robbie K here, and today we will be looking at yet another book turned movie, as pop culture icons and interesting concepts are interpreted for the silver screen.  Now you know the usual sayings, movie versions are often not as good as the literature counterparts, but that does not mean it’s not worth a chance to see the visual interpretation unfold.  Well, once again yours truly is back in the artificially lit trenches to determine if this is a movie worth your time.  Let’s get started:

 

Movie: Where’d you Go Bernadette (2019)

 

Director:

Richard Linklater

Writers:

Richard Linklater (screenplay by), Holly Gent (screenplay by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Cate BlanchettJudy GreerKristen Wiig

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • Nice Portrayal Of Mental Illness
  • Cute
  • Good Morals
  • Fairly Good Pace
  • Cyndi Lauper Tribute

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • A Little Melodramatic
  • Dryer Comedy
  • Some rather useless characters/Plots
  • A Little More Connecting
  • No Mystery Whatsoever
  • The Abrupt End

 

Summary:

 

The movie in a way feels much like a book performance or big budget play.  Blanchett in particular does a lot of heavy lifting with the grandiose character of Bernadette and is truly the person to captivate you in this story.  Sure the other supporting actors hit their marks, the confused husband of Billy Crudup, the controlling neighbor played by Kristen Wiignot too much from the Bridesmaid character, and wise friendship of Laurence Fishburneare all good, with really the daughter Becky being the next outstanding performance of the bunch (Troian Bellisario) who is integrated into the films.  Yet, it’s really the focus on Cate managing to portray that storm that is mental illness that impressed this writer, not only in physical mannerisms, but even the pressured speech, the inconsistency, and more so the denial of handling the problems that gave me respect for the role.  Past the pillar of performances, the movie is a cute film that captures the spirit of the book (or what I have read of it) taking good morals about creativity, finding one self, love, and understanding and managing to smoosh it together into a rather audience friendly form that groups can enjoy.  It’s pace is okay, I think perfect for the key audience members, to really get the snapshots of Bernadette’s journey without being dragged into the detailed pits of despair that sometimes are seen in these profile movies.  Yet it is missing something that some book movies achieve so well.  And of course, who would not like to see some fun tributes and use of icon legend Cyndi Lauper come into play that’s a hoot right?

 

While the portrayals and the performances are nice though there is something about this movie that is a little too bookish for me. I love reading, but books give you that ability to spread the journey across time while movies are not quite that luxury and this movie emphasizes the point for me.  The melodramatic components of this film make for a great performance, but overshadow a lot of other features of this film, almost taking the Lifetime approach without the pregnancy, murder, or adultery.  For a comedy, the movie did not quite have the balance of laughs I know Cate can pull off, relying a little too much on the dryer sarcasm than anything else, which I think only hits a finite audience.  Yet the things about this book that get me are more so the inclusion of the other characters.  For a movie about essentially about reconnecting, to the world, the inclusion of the cast is not as good as I expected.  Despite decent performances, characters are limited to small bouts of banter with the main character, or merely just making appearances in shots in a hasty attempt to concise the healing process.  Other plot points including rivalries, cleaning up her mistakes, and even a particular gossip rival are swept to the sidelines to keep the focus on the journey to beautiful shots galore of the Antarctic peninsula. As such, I would have liked better connections than what I got.  However, for a title and trailer that suggest mystery, this tale has practically no mystery whatsoever.  In an attempt to either parody or touch Gone Girl, Bernadette’s journey offers no real challenge to the audience or the characters about where the titular character has gone.  You know every step of the journey and thus that aspect is essentially lost to the attempts to do the character connection mentioned earlier.  Finally, the ending, when all is said and done, and the “mystery” is concluding, the film sort of truncates the potential for an emotionally powerful finish and leaves you with a montage that while interesting is not the ending I had expected.  If this is how the book does, I might have taken another 15 minutes of creative liberty to give a fitting end, but hey that’s just me.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Truth be told, this movie is a stunning example of how performances can sometimes do a lot of heavy lifting and while not my favorite role, Cate really leads the charge in this near one woman show.  The movie again feels like a book, managing to keep a finger on the pulse of reality/book, and fill it with the cute, heartwarming, moral-filled lessons we love.  Yet, the flair for the dramatic components, alongside a disjointed attempt at deep character connections/development just did not have that story push I love.  Too much happening in too short of a time and a mystery that was ironically missing, the visual tribute to Bernadette’s story is not one of the best adaptations for most audiences looking for this type of movie.  As such, I think this movie is reserved to theater visits for a small few, and would have been better on the Lifetime channel, or OWN as a made for TV movie.  My scores for this film are:

 

Comedy/Drama/Mystery: 6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

The Cage Is Lowered And The Sharks Are Out To Play

47 Meters Down: Uncaged Poster

            Shark movies!  What were once the pinnacle of horror movies and science fiction story telling that left impacts and a sense of fear of going into the water.  Like many things though, the demand for a new shark movie often leads to carbon copy projections that are all about cheese and little to please. Shark movies have now become more of the cheap knock offs that still remain cult classics and amass a ton of fans to watch them repetitively and spur more.  Tonight, an unexpected sequel to one of these is my first review, hoping to bring the same suspense and thrills that the first one did.  Can these sharks come back with the same bite, or are we seeing messy CGI disasters that SyFy channel has made famous?  Robbie K reviewing:

 

Movie:  47 Meters Down Uncaged

 

Director:

Johannes Roberts

Writers:

Ernest RieraJohannes Roberts

Stars:

Sistine Rose StalloneNia LongCorinne Foxx

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute Cast

Decent Pace

Much More Shark Involvement

Scary Setting

Much More Suspense Than Expecting

 

DISLIKES

Story Based On stupidity

Predictable

Shaky Camera Work

Very Quick Wraps Ups

Suspension of Disbelief Must Be Curbed

 

 

Summary:

 

I can’t deny that these movies know how to recruit good looking people to play their puppets of shark massacre and this movie continues that trend.  Our bathing suit clad beauties are gorgeous to the eyes of those that like those forms and will be a major part of the first third of the movie.  Superficial components aside, the movie itself succeeds in keeping up a decent pace, managing to craft some suspenseful movie magic that thriller seekers are searching for.  This pace keeps things moving, holding little down time between shark strikes and navigating the maze-like caverns of the ruined city and therefore making time pass in the blink of an eye.  How is this accomplished?  Well it comes down to two things.  First is the setting.  47 meters regime manages to really use the setting as a canvas of terror, painting your worst nightmares of the dark to new levels.  Where the first one made the idea of being stranded on the ocean floor terrifying, this one pulls you into the confines of a cave, whose cramped corridors and dark rooms may deter you from ever going spelunking.  The second factor is integrating the sharks much more into this film.  Yes, in the first one they were there, but they were more of a setting feature that seemed to be looming rather than really tearing things up like Jaw and Deep Blue Sea.  In this case, the sharks are certainly the terrifying behemoths you search for in the films, with a new design to go with their traditional voracious appetite. These creatures are more than willing to get their toothy maws into new scenes and really add to the terror at hand.

 

Yet with all the improvements in suspense and the terror painted by the CGI squad in terms of shadow crafting and claustrophobia there were some things that still did not deliver the full bite.  The story for one thing swam backwards towards a weaker pace, built not on an accident, but on stupidity of teenagers doing things they weren’t supposed to and trying to correct it.  It does certainly pick up in the caves, but one thing is for certain that you can figure out who is most likely not going to make it and just what is going to be around the bend… mostly.  Certainly, the scares are much closer in this installment, but sadly its lost to the shaky camera work that inadvertently censored a number of the shark on human action. Does it capture the frenzy of the moment?  Absolutely. Does it add to the terror and give you that sense of being this close to the maw?  Again yes, but in doing so it robs you of the clear-cut picture that the first one did better.  What the first also did better was the close calls vs. the hasty kills as I like to describe.  In the first one, several close misses kept you guessing as to when someone would be shark bait, but in this there comes a point where the near misses are practically eliminated and the punishments are dealt rather quickly.  In addition, searching for a way out seems to drag a little at first, but again things seem to progress rapidly to the point of chuckling at the coincidence.  This brings me to probably the worst thing for me on this movie, the suspense of disbelief.  47 meters continues to toy with the idea of everlasting air, swimming faster than the aquatic beasts and how many times someone can withstand contact with the monsters of the deep.  It’s the magic of movies and storytelling of course, but especially at the end the already ridiculous concept takes further dives into the deeper realm of nonrealistic stuff and eye rolling moments.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Okay, it’s a shark movie and it accomplishes the task of sharks meeting humans.  The sequel manages to achieve the goal of scarier areas that allow the sharks to hunt in a new style, bringing about two monsters for our players to dodge.  It’s got a good pace and some suspense to it that should help get the shark week blahs chased away.  Yet, it does not quite have the story telling aspect that the great ones achieve and the predictability/suspense of disbelief are still needing some tweaking to help add the finesse and clean up the movie.  Still, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and give this one a nod in terms of catching it on the tube.  Yet, it’s probably better to see this one at home, for it could be an upscale SyFy movie rather than a big screen blockbuster.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Horror: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

 

The Art Of Depressing People Until They Cry

The Art of Racing in the Rain Poster

 

Books to movies hold the potential to be some of the best films to hit the screen. With stories laid out for the directors, one would think that an adequate investment could bring the words to life.  Yet, as often the case, the movies can only do so much with a budget to get the mindset and perspective the books bring, often not being able to match the magic of the written word.  Still, they are a popular option to the masses and often the focus of my reviews.  So Robbie K back with a 4threview this week on the latest book turned movie as I look into:

 

Movie: Art Of Racing In The Rain (2019)

 

Director:

Simon Curtis

Writers:

Mark Bomback (screenplay by), Garth Stein (novel)

Stars:

Kevin CostnerMilo VentimigliaAmanda Seyfried

 

 

LIKES:

The Cars

The Acting

The Musical Effects

The Dog Himself

 

DISLIKES:

The Pace

The Dragged-Out Components

The Depressing Atmosphere

 

 

SUMMARY:

I can’t comment on the book as much as I have only read half, but the film has not done a half a bad job following the atmosphere and plot line of the book.  So rather than going down how accurate it is, I’m focusing on some other aspects that I liked for the audience.  A movie about racing means you got to have beautiful cars (yes I know this is symbolism), and this film succeeds in bringing powerful vehicles in beautiful designs to the screen in all shapes, colors, and sizes.  Past this superficial component though, the highlights really come in the form of the acting of this dramatic piece.  Milo Ventimiglia takes his Gilmore Girls and This Is Us roots and throws them full force in the smoldering way he does and if you love that then you’ll eat this up.  Seyfried as well does her job well too, though not quite as involved as I would have hoped nor in the same manner I have seen her in the past.  Costner though wins the best role for me as the voice of Enzo and like many great voice actors does a lot with little.  He hits a good dynamic range of emotions and sells the comedic delivery of the lines, matching quite well with the adorable golden retriever that represents his avatar.  Speaking of which, the dogs they get for movies continue to impress me in their training, not only in their ability to do tricks, but more so in how they can personify human emotions.  This dog, or dogs depending on his age, accomplish the goal with good camera work to really sell the emotions of the book and was the character I, not surprisingly, latched onto.  Helping to also bring all the emotional turmoil to perspective is the music editing, the use of orchestral pieces and sound editing to really add the background ambience to layer extra emotion to the mix.  As monologues pour out of Enzo’s thoughts, the musical work compliments this well and may just impress you if you open your ears.

 

Unfortunately, the book’s emotional atmosphere is one of those that may not be the most exciting thing to show in a movie and I believe this made it difficult for me to enjoy in the movie.  We start with the pace of the film, a rather unbalanced component that seemed to have difficulty finding its footing.  One part too fast, the movie seems to skip the early adventures, getting to some heavy stuff within the first hour of showing which did not quite match the pace in the book.  Upon hitting these heavy events, the movie’s pace suddenly shifts back to a lower gear, really maximizing on these moments and dragging out the suffering/drama of these moments.  If this is the kind of drama you want in your movie, then fans will enjoy diving into what feels like hours of somber approaches then you have got it.  Me, I like a little more pep in my dog movies, and this movie failed to give me much of that.  Enzo’s tale contains wisdom, spirituality, and some great outlooks in life, but overall the feel of the movie is depressing which almost seems to maximize the sluggish pace.  Movies like this are beautiful representations on life, but for this reviewer it is difficult to fully enjoy when there is little to break up the drudge that comes with this. 

 

   To quote my friend Austin, the title sort of gives you an idea of what to expect with this film.  It’s a beautiful movie that takes life’s problems and gives us a unique perspective on how to handle it.  With some great dramatic acting, musical overtures to emphasize the emotion, and a wonderful four-legged star to pin your hopes on.  Yet, like modern day ABC dramas, especially This Is Us, the movie is super depressing and left many in my theater with teary eyes and sniffles.  While I’m sure the book holds much of this too, I myself would have rather handled this content in a book, as my biggest issue (outside of the depression I felt) is the pacing having difficulty balancing the hope and sadness.  Still, if you are a fan of dramas like this and want the spiritual, sob fest for a film, then this is the movie for you this weekend.  Balancing all of this, my scores are:

 

Comedy/Drama:  7.0-7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0 – 6.5

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