Thursday, April 16, 2015

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The title really needs to be longer.



Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – 3 out of 5


As a child, I never read the 1972 children’s book this film is based on but since I’m no stranger to having crummy days, I can kind of relate to what is happening to Alexander. I think we all can. Heck, I would love to meet the person who never has bad days of any kind and immediately put all my money, effort and time into trying to give them the worst day ever—because I’m clearly a petty, petty man. Or, instead, I could just let that person watch the film and understand what it is like to have things not go your way.

Could be worse...you could find a bear stuck in your hair.  That'd be awful.



Relax kid.  You're just in high school.  Unless you never
move out of your hometown, you'll soon realize that
high school sucked.
Alexander (Ed "I have the last name of a Viking" Oxenbould) is about to have a really bad day. In theory, his day should be good because he’s having a birthday party but, when he wakes up, he slips on a skateboard, spills some milk, finds gum in his hair and discovers that the most popular kid in his grade is throwing a sick party that will over shadow his and cause nobody to attend and celebrate the anniversary of his birth. Meanwhile, his family seems to be on the verge of having a great day. His father Ben (Steve Carell) has a job interview at a video game designing company, his mother Kelly (Jennifer Garner) is climbing the company ladder at her job, his brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) is dating the most popular girl in school and is going to go to prom with her AND get his driver’s license, his sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) is the lead in the school play and his baby brother Trevor (Elise and Zoey Vargas) is a baby…and that’s about it for Baby Trevor—but that’s still good. 

The baby is already trying to figure out where he went wrong with his life.


Irritated over the hand fate has dealt him, Alexander makes a birthday wish and asks that his family understands what it is like to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Then, on the day everything was set to go his family’s way, his wish comes true…

You could have wished for a million more wishes, you fool!

Alexander looks like he just saw a dead body.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, overall, is a mildly entertaining movie that isn’t the most memorable but it’s not completely terrible. The biggest selling point and the highlight of the film for me is Steve Carell. Carell is naturally charismatic and extremely funny and charming. He rarely disappoints me when it comes to anything he does and he proves to be the most amusing part of the film. The strongest points of the film (and the funniest) usually came from him and he helped keep the movie flowing. The rest of the cast are not terrible and they are all doing their jobs very well. No one is really distracting and, in fact, Oxenbould is fairly decent in the lead but the film still isn’t a very memorable affair and is a "safe bet" family film that is good enough for a momentary distraction but not something that will make it into the usual rotation of films that you watch on a regular basis. 

Your husband is Batman...you get to tell people that.

"It's right behind me isn't it."
While the story is solid (even though it is pretty generic and a bit like Liar Liar) the biggest problem that held the film back was the really bad comedy. The jokes are terribly predictable and usually just stem from awkward slapstick and sometimes followed by a bad one-liner. For example, there is a scene where Alexander’s brother knocks over a trophy case and, after causing a huge disastrous mess, a teacher comes out and calls him "Wreck-It Ralph." It’s a bad joke that little ones might find funny but it really does set the bar for what you would expect in the film. However, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I was looking for excellently crafted and ridiculously witty humor. Characters breaking stuff and getting messy is what I predicted the film would be and it delivered that. It’s just that, personally, I found most of it amusing on a level where I will acknowledge its amusing-ness but not actually laugh. This is a little strange to me, though, because Steve Carell is a master at making bad situations hilarious (remember how hysterically uncomfortable he made situations in The Office?) but, in this one, he just sort of made them slightly chuckle-worthy. Then again, he can’t be expected to do the same thing he did in The Office in a kid’s film.

No mortal being can be as adorable and likable as Steve Carell.
He has to be a part of a mass hallucination we are all experiencing.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day isn’t terrible or horrible or no good or very bad. It’s watchable and has its moments and the cast is entertaining. Overall, however, the film just didn’t have enough of those fun and heartwarming moments to make the film really stand out. It’s balanced enough with its humor and story that parents won’t feel like they are going insane and being talked down to if they join the kids watching it but, in the end, it just lacks the magic and defining moments to make the film something that you won’t forget the minute the credits hit.

Also, Burn Gorman is in the film...and that matters to me because I'm a Torchwood fan.

The Voices

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I hear voices...but only when people around me are making them.



The Voices – 5 out of 5


Dark comedies are a hard sell to a lot of people. For some reason, people are not fans of darker humor that often involves death or the things that people say you’re "not suppose to joke about." I’ve never been in that camp. I’ve always been about the dark humor and the stuff that offends (of course, there is a line. Offensive to just be offensive comes off as desperate). When I heard about The Voices, the concept immediately sold me and I was very excited for it to be released on DVD.

The DVD's need to come with a pink jumpsuit.  Just sayin'.



Seriously, I want one of those pink jumpsuits.
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) has a traumatic past but he seems to be getting over that as an adult thanks to a shrink (Jacki Weaver) and a great job at a bathtub factory. He is suppose to be taking medication to control the voices he hears and hallucinations he suffers from but when you can engage in a conversation with your pets the way Jerry does, it makes the idea of meds that take that all away seem like a horrible idea. At his job, a young girl in the office named Fiona (Gemma Arterton) grabs his fancy and he eventually gets to spend some time with her. Unfortunately, that night ends badly and he accidentally kills her. Since Jerry isn’t in the best mental state, he is convinced by his pets, the cat Mr. Whiskers and the dog Bosco, to dismember Fiona’s body and keep her head in the fridge…where he sees her speaking to him. Soon, however, Jerry finds himself at a crossroads where he could start a normal life with another employee who is very attracted to him (Anna Kendrick) or fall further down the hole of insanity and become a serial killer.

Cats already kill for the fuck of it...why not try to convince others to do the same?



I flat out LOVED The Voices! The film was so entertaining and perfectly mixed the humor, the drama and the horror aspects of it. One thing that is incredibly difficult to pull off with dark humor stories is stopping chaotic and jarring shifts in tone. Very often a dark comedy will be darkly hilarious for moments and then suddenly slip into horror zones, supernatural zones, and/or dramatic zones with no real blending. It will suddenly, like a Bruce Lee chop through suckas, fly from one tone to the next. Sometimes it is a single shift from comedy to drama or comedy to horror and, other times, it is a constantly shifting tone and it appears the film has no clue what genre it wants to belong it. The Voices did not have this problem at all thanks to director Marjane Satrapi seamlessly integrating the tones and keeping the story flowing. 

The only thing that bothered me about this film was the fact that no karaoke night
is ever this populated and rarely do people in the bar pay any attention to the singer.

The film ends a lot less funny than when it started (that doesn’t included the awesome and hilarious musical piece during the credits) as the film shifts from a quirky dude who talks to his cat and dog to a guy losing his mind and accidentally falling into a chasm that is forcing him to hurt and kill people. This shift isn’t a bad thing at all because the film flows fluidly and the progression feels natural. The film is hysterical at the beginning and I loved the silliness of it but I also loved the drama and tension the film slowly mixes in. The way these elements came together and the comedy was slowly overpowered by a more serious, and even darker, atmosphere was engaging, interesting and happened at such a gradual and natural pace that it never felt out-of-place or jarring. It felt like a natural evolution and it was glorious.

Well, this seems to be unconventional therapy but okay.

The story, like the tone of the film, is a lot of fun and very entertaining. The concept of a guy who hallucinates (but in a more believable and less cartoonish way) and has discussions with his pets is pretty simple but incredible effective. There have been plenty of movies that center around characters who have very loose grips on reality but his film was able to take that formula and make it dance with hilarious moments, incredible drama, and a horror film type of belonging. The plot, additionally, moves along fluidly and never lets up on any of the intrigue, comedy or drama. It’s telling a complete story that never lets up, drags, or has any sequence that feels superfluous or unneeded. Writer Michael R. Perry wrote a story that is stupidly solid and works amazingly.

Admit it, we all would like our dogs to talk to us.

Finally, the cast is impeccable as all hell in The Voices. Anna Kendrick is her usual adorable sense, Jacki Weaver has some fantastic moments with Reynolds as Jerry’s therapist, and, even though I’m not the biggest fan of Gemma Arterton, I really enjoyed her as Fiona and she made me laugh quite a bit—especially when she is nothing more than a talking decapitated head after Jerry accidentally kills her. As good as these parts were, I felt no part was as amazing as Ryan Reynolds.

Look at that cast!

Reynolds is an incredibly talented actor who has come a long way from his days on Van Wilder. The guy has acting chops that sprout further than just some bad sex comedy jokes and has proven that he can be a comedic force but also an action and a dramatic one as well (and he's only getting better as time goes by). I have to say that his performance in The Voices might be the best thing I’ve ever seen from him so far (Deadpool isn’t out yet, so I won’t count my chickens before they hatch…but there’s a real chance that will be the greatest thing he’ll ever be in!). 
Goddammit, Reynolds!  Stop being so talented!

Reynolds played Jerry (and provided the voices for the animals he spoke with—which is another thing I loved about the film) exceptionally well. Reynolds knew how to hit all the funny parts, he mastered the dramatic scenes and, overall, made the character a broken and sympathetic one. Yes, Jerry’s mind was busted and he was doing terrible things but you knew Jerry wasn’t evil. Jerry’s story is a bittersweet one that involves a man who is a bit adorable and with a whole lot of tragedy mixed in. It would be a hard character to play. How do you make a man filled with delusions that ends up hurting and killing people but, ultimately, wants to just be loved and be happy be a character that you can simultaneous laugh at and feel sorry for—and THEN, feel relief for when he finally finds his happy place and is free from his tortured mind? That’s no easy feat but, dammit, Ryan Reynolds make it look like it was and it was fucking flawless!

That's the same face I'm going to make when I see Deadpool.  I'm very excited for
that one, Reynolds.  I'm not entirely sure why I addressed my excitement specifically
towards you since you'll never read this.

The Voices is just amazing and I absolutely was enthralled with it. Aside from a great story and superior acting from the lead and the entire cast, the film contains gorgeous visuals from director Marjane Satrapi that mingle unbelievably well with the humorous, terrifying and dramatic story. Simply put, I loved every second of The Voices.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Imitation Game

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I don't feel like playing the Imitation Game, can't we play Operation instead?



The Imitation Game – 4 out of 5


To me, the Imitation Game is me telling my friends that I can perfectly impersonate them and then I proceed to just make fart noises with my mouth because I like my friends to have absolutely no trust in me and also see me as a gigantic asshole. In this film with Benedict Cumberbatch, the game is a lot different.

I don't even want to add a caption.  This shot just looks cool.


How good is Charles Dance as an actor?  He made being
shot with a crossbow on the toilet look dignified.
The Imitation Game revolves around the brilliant mathematician Alan Turning (Cumberbatch). In the late 1930s when a little skirmish called World War II was ravaging Great Britain, Turning joins with a cryptography team in an attempt to break the German’s code and their Enigma machine. Everyday is filled with frustrations as time plays against the team and Turning sets his sights on designing a machine that will do the code-breaking for them; a machine he lovingly names Christopher (his past sheds the light on why he picked that name). While this is going on, he deals with the drama of not fitting in with the team but definitely attempting to, fighting so there is a place in the decoding for the brilliant mind of Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) because, back then, men didn’t want to know that women had brains and could think, and working to hide a secret that could get him in quite a bit of trouble with the law (hint: he’s gay and that used to be considered a crime.  Shut up, it's not a spoiler since it was a major part of the story and a part of history). Years later in 1951, Turning would recall all of this and all of his achievements during the war after his home is broken into and a stupidly motivated police detective (Rory Kinnear) does everything he can in order to find some dirt and bring charges on the man.

"And after I get some dirt on Turning, I will finally catch the Beer Baron."

The Imitation Game is pretty damn cool and interesting for several reasons. First off, the story is inspirational, horrifying and extremely dramatic all at the same time. It’s cool that Turning did what was thought to be impossible and break the machine that was coding the messages from Germany and it’s even neater that this was kept a secret for years until it was eventually declassified. However, the crime committed on Turning is horrific to see unfold on the screen because, since it is 2015 and I’m not some close-minded religious Red State occupant who can’t accept that homosexuality is genetic and not a choice to piss off members of the Tea Party and the Westboro Baptist Church, seeing that there was a time when, even after being instrumental in saving untold number of lives during war, a person can be persecuted and criminalized for not loving the opposite sex is a confusing and terrible thing (although, I sadly have extended family matters who probably thinks this makes sense…but they also claim English was declared a national language, that America is a Christian nation, and evolution is a lie created by the devil…so, they might not be the people to turn to for…well…anything).  What I'm saying is that the punishment dealt to Turning for being just who he was born to be and done so after proving to be a hero to his country is something that is appalling and utterly disgusting.

To break up my rant of bigots, here's a photo of Knightley.


Alan Turning’s story is something that had to be told so we learn from our mistakes as a human race and how stupidly ignorant we were. The things Alan did during the war, his relationships as a child, and the injustice done upon him despite being a true and real hero makes for perfect drama and intrigue. Things are only enhanced when you have a man whose acting talent is so amazing that it’s almost supernatural in origin (which might be why he was cast as Doctor Strange…it’ll save on the special effects budget because I’m fairly certain Cumberbatch can probably actually make magic happen). Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t have to prove that he’s talented (because we already know) but the dude seems to take every role that comes his way and makes them addicting and captivating to watch. Turning’s story is already sympathetic (as long as you’re not an intolerant homophobic asshole, I guess) but Cumberbatch’s performance made it even more so. He made the tortured brilliance and hidden secret life of Turning have weight to it and feel authentic.

Sometimes Cumberbatch is too likeable for his own good.  Stop being so
lovable and overwhelmingly enjoyable!


The rest of the cast is also delivering quite well. Keira Knightley is great as Joan Clarke and has some fantastic chemistry with Cumberbatch. The entire team is filmed with actors just laying it down like it’s no thing ("it" which is being laid down is awesome acting, FYI). Finally, there’s some great safe bet actors like Charles Dance and Mark Strong in the ranks who, you know the moment you see them, are going to give a fantastic performance.

Mark Strong's real name is Mark Strong Performance In Everything He Does.
(And yes, that joke is stupid.)


In the end, The Imitation Game is filled with a strong cast and tells a interesting and bitter-sweet story that fills you with pride over the achievements Turning made when cracking the German code and leaves you drained from shame when you see how he was treated for just being who he was. Additionally, the way the story intermingled various points of his life—his time as a child, his time during the war, and his interrogation—melded together perfectly and made a story that flowed exceedingly well. Overall, it’s just a very powerful and emotional film.

Rollerball (1975)

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I will never find roller skates cool.  I know I'm being controversial here but that's just who I am, dammit!



Rollerball (1975) – 3 out of 5


I’m not entirely sure if I’ve actually watched the original Rollerball in its entire entirety. I recall seeing bits and pieces here and there and I won’t rule out that I might have seen it with my Dad years and years and years ago on an old VHS Tape (kids, ask your parents what the hell a VHS is) but I don’t have much memory of it beyond it starring James Caan and roller skates. Recently, I decided to watch it (probably for the first time from beginning to end—like I said, I can’t remember if I’ve done this or not) and take in this cult classic from the 70s.

They have to leave the rink because Couples Skate Rollerball is about to start.


In the near future of 2018 (well, it was a distant future when it came out in 1975…also, we have only 3 short years for this future to come true, so get on it!), the world is controlled entirely by giant global corporations (actually, we might already have this future locked and loaded) and they strive to eliminate all forms of individuality. The masses are entertained by a game called Rollerball (the game is also used to eliminate the need for war). The game is played by two teams on roller skates on a circular track. The object in this brutal game is to score points on their opponents (so, basic sports) but the game can get deadly. One of the most famous stars is Jonathan E. (James Caan). He’s been in the game long enough and played great enough that he is a celebrity and recognized everywhere. This kinda goes against the idea of eliminating individuality so it is decided that Jonathan must retire. The only problem is that he isn’t ready to. So, the corporation will make him retire; either willingly or permanently.

Call it my women's intuition but I think this guy is bad and up to no good.


Rollerball is a cult classic beloved by those who adore the 70s Sci-Fi dystopian futures that were the rage in film. Being that this (probably) was the first time I watched this film from beginning to end, I can’t say that I’m going to join the group that loves this film. Overall, I didn’t think it was horrible but I didn’t think it was great either.

"I've heard rumors of a skate that has all the blades in a row.  That is just silly
nonsense so get that shit out of your heads now!"


Old reviews of this film praise James Caan’s performance as Jonathan E. and, while I think Caan is a tremendous performer, I wasn’t really that blown away with his performance. He doesn’t look like he cares that much about the film and spends most of the time entering scenes awkwardly with an uncomfortable smile. For a majority of the film, he looks like he wants to be anywhere BUT the set and the performance doesn’t hold a candle to what Caan has does in many other films. Too many times in the film, Caan comes off like a man who stumbled into a situation where everyone is speaking a language he doesn’t understand and he just stands there with a weak smile on his face and is occasionally nodding in an attempt to make it appear he has some clue to what is happening around him. Sure, there are times that he isn’t doing this and is giving off a tremendous performance—like his refusal to be pushed out of a game and a scene where he spits words at the corporation-provided concubine—but, for the majority of the time, I saw an actor who looked like he wasn’t comfortable at all and it was slightly amusing but horribly distracting.

I'm fairly curtained Caan wasn't paid for the film and did it as a favor or
possible obligation in a contract he once signed.

Watching Rollerball now, the action scenes during the games come off extremely tame. The action isn’t cleanly crafted with well executed stunts and isn’t filmed in a way that really brings the viewer into the chaos that often. Add in the natural clumsiness that comes with roller skates (it’s hard to look graceful on those things and not look like you are constantly flailing around in an attempt to not fall on your ass) and you have the game sequences come off looking very raw and less polished than what we would get in films in this day and age. I’m not trying to knock these sequences at all because they are the real highlight of the film and are fun to watch but with the limits of camera technology at the time (and the existence of roller skates) they have the habit of very definitively dating the film. However, the stunt men in this film did do a tremendous job of making this sport look hard hitting and insanely difficult (I would be the guy clinging to the wall as my skates constantly try to come out from under me)—in fact, the stunt performers did such a job that this became the first film where stunt persons were credited and have been credited ever since. Prior to Rollerball, the work of these brave men and women who put their bodies on the line in order to get the shot and have dorks like me amuse myself while I eat pizza and cake in the dark on the couch went uncredited.

"Crap, guys!  I split my pants reaching for the ball."


While the story is pretty simple, it’s quite effective with its metaphors of denial of individuality and corporate control over the populace and how they use their influence to craft wars—which are, in the case of this film, done in the form of Rollerball. However, I did find much of its presentation of the future to be a bit laughable. At its core, all dystopian society films and total control utopia stories can be very silly if look into them too deeply but a society that uses a sports game (that I have to remind you is done on roller skates) in order to remind the people of society the, as one corporate executive in the film puts it, "futility of individual effort." In a way, that makes sense because sports are a team effort and, lest we forget, there is, in fact, no "I" in team. However, we all know how obsessed we get with sports in our societies and we all know the level of hero worship that comes with teams and single players. So, in the end, Rollerball’s reality works for the film but I still found a lot of it and its details to be chuckle-inducing.

"Hey, I'll meet you by the giant tea cup building!"


Rollerball is not bad. It’s not the best Sci-Fi film from the 70s I’ve seen and I had a hard time not laughing at a lot of the stuff in the story. However, the game sequences are nice (but I still can’t overlook how silly people look on roller skates) and I kinda get why it’s a cult classic and why people think it’s great. I just don’t agree with them…but that’s okay because I don’t have to and they don’t have to agree with me. Peace on Earth achieved!

Rosewater

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Look behind you!  Ha, I'm kidding.  There's nothing behind you.



Rosewater – 3 out of 5


I’m a big fan of Jon Stewart and will miss him terribly when he leaves The Daily Show. When he left for a brief period to write and direct Rosewater, the adapted story of journalist Maziar Bahari being detained as a potential spy in Iran, I was sold and instantly intrigued due to nothing other than how I highly regard the man. Stewart is known for being an eloquent, intelligent, and, most of all, funny man that slings hysterical barbs at the news media. I harbored no illusions that this comedian would be making a film that was funny but I was pretty interested to see how this new director would bring to light the drama and horrors that Bahari went through.

Pictured:  Rose
Not Pictured:  Water...unless you count the dew droplets.



Elections are not a reason to riot...sports is the only
reason to riot.  Amirit, white people?
I kinda gave the synopsis away in that last paragraph but let me go into a little more detail…Maziar Bahari (Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal—who, you might recall if you’re a fan of my blog, played a character I wanted to see die in such a bad way in Blindness) is a Iranian-Canadian journalist who travels to his home country to cover the 2009 election. However, after he covers the protests that followed the election results and reported it, he is arrested and held in Evin Prison for 118 days. There, he is brutally interrogated by a driven man who is out to prove that Bahari is a spy trying to bring down Iran. All hope seems lost until he learns that the media is on his side and making his case public knowledge…


Normally I would put a joke here but...yeah...it just doesn't feel right at all.


The story of Bahari is a pretty amazing one and it’s pretty fitting that Jon Stewart took the time to write and direct the film adaptation since the show he’s on indirectly caused a lot of Bahari’s problems (Bahari had been on a segment for the show and it was used as evidence during his interrogation to show that he was a spy—satire and humor is not a strong suit there, apparently). However, as interesting as the film is, I didn’t find it as moving as I hoped I would have.


Dammit, Jason Jones, I knew that someday your delightful humor would end
up hurting someone!


For being Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, he did a great job. He helped show that Bahari was just a normal guy who was scared to really get involved with any potential revolutionary actions in Iran (and it was sort of justified) and Stewart has some beautiful camera work that really highlights the horrors Bahari is going through. However, when I look at the film from an overall perspective, there isn’t much that stands out and is instantly attention-grabbing like a lot of other directors. Granted, this was Stewart’s first time directing a film and he has yet to establish a style, so I don’t really see this as a drawback. For what it is, Stewart crafted a great film.


I think the gate symbolizes...well...most likely a gate.


Additionally, Bernal is fantastic as Bahari. He really nailed the loss of hope and the sudden re-discovery of it while he was imprisoned. Bernal was capable of being charming and sympathetic and made for some touching moments.  He even was capable of making some mildly amusing moments when he is messing with his captor, who is played by Kim Bodnia—who, himself, was excellent in the film.


He tortured Bahari by making him watch Paul Blart and its sequel over and over again.


Bahari is actually in the Iranian version of Cash Cab.
I had a hard time really pinpointing what made this film resonate to a lesser extent than I was hoping for but, after some pondering, I realized the music might have been the culprit. While I felt all the appropriate emotions one is suppose to feel watching Bahari’s story, I didn’t feel those emotions swell the way I have in other films and this was mostly due to a soundtrack that wasn’t hitting all the right emotional notes. While the music is never terrible or distracting, it felt like it wasn’t pulling its weight to compliment the imagery on the screen. So, when Bahari is finally set free and is reunited with his family, it’s still an emotional moment that makes you have all the feels (as the kids say) but those feels weren’t cranked up to 11 because the music accompanying it was a little lacking.  Don't get me wrong, the music is very beautiful and I understand it is not meant to be a grandiose score like you would hear in an epic tale.  Bahari's story is a simple tale of the indomitable human spirit and the music is reflecting that to an extent with me but, in reality, the music just wasn't as complimentary as I thought it would have been.


But, dammit, it was still complimentary enough to make me cry!


In the end, that was really my only complaint about Rosewater. The only other issue would be a great lack of replay value. Usually, heavy dramas like this that are based on real-life events don’t rank highly with the "I’m bored, I’ll watch this movie again" category and this is no exception. Occasionally I will find myself watching a film like this again at some point in my life but other than possibly comparing it to the inevitable later works of Stewart, that will no doubt happen, I don’t think I will ever watch this film again anytime soon. However, that being said, the film is tremendously acted, has a great and poignant story, and is a fantastic first outing for Jon Stewart.


It was a little odd that my eyes got dry and watery when the reuniting scene happened, though.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

It Follows

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I once knew a girl who was followed by It...that "it" being herpes.



It Follows – 2 out of 5

I’ve heard nothing but good things about It Follows. Friends told me it was the bomb-digity (some of my friends are time-travelers from the early 90s) and the critics have been going ape-shit for the film. It’s rare that a horror film can illicit such a reaction from people that aren’t horror film nerds and that made me buy into the hype surrounding this film. And since it came out very close to my horror nerd girlfriend’s birthday, it just made sense to go and see it. Sadly, I might have been TOO sold on the hype because I was grossly let down by this film.

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Yeah, I'll probably have to be secured to a chair of some kind if someone
ever wants me to watch this again.


Jay (Maika Monroe) is a non-descript college student with no real defining characteristics who decides to one day give it up (in a sexual way) to her male suitor Hugh (Jake Weary). However, Jay is horrified to learn that Hugh passed something on to her...something terrifying. He doesn’t know what it is but all he knows is that It wants her dead. It, as it is come to be called, will follow her wherever she goes. It never runs but will never cease its walking towards her. If It catches you, It kills you and then resumes its hunt on the previous person who had it. The only way to rid yourself of It is to pass it to another (of course sexually) and now Jay must figure out a way to survive this ordeal. With the help of others; her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), her friend Yara (Olivia Luccardi), a friend that is secretly in love with her named Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and a man from the neighborhood who finds himself tangled up in this mess named Greg (Daniel Zoratto), Jay sets out to try and stop it before It claims her as its next victim.

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She easily looks like she can be the cookie-cutter girl of attraction in any pop
band's music video.  The kind that is probably unaware of how beautiful they are
and the singer is ready for her to experience this knowledge...most likely with his penis.


Like I stated in the opening paragraph, I really think I went into the theater expecting too much from It Follows. I honestly felt it started great and it grabbed my attention but after about twenty minutes or so, the film felt like it was just dragging on and on with no real true direction in sight and I found myself incredibly bored with the whole final product. Make no mistake, there were a lot of elements I enjoyed about the film but I ended up enjoying them only as separate elements and the combination that formed the final product, the It Follows Voltron if you will, wasn’t enough to make me really interested or even invested in the film.

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In fairness, however, old ladies creeping around a college campus in their
sleeping gowns is pretty fucking scary.


One of the things I felt was great was the intense music the film had. Most of the time this soundtrack helped craft tension during sequences that would, normally, be quite tame and carry absolutely no weight. Honestly, how do you make something that is casually walking straight at you terrifying? Sure, occasionally this is done by having It be a creepy old woman or a fully nude person or a semi-nude person pissing themselves but, overall, It isn’t that creepy when it looks like it is casually, but with mild purpose, strolling towards a location. So, the intense music that was incredibly striking but, at the same time, a mild throwback to the old synthesizer scores of classic 70s slasher flicks, helped craft some hair-raising moments—however, this great music comes off as a double-edged sword as the unique music has times where it comes off cartoonish and silly and instantly killed any tension I could have been feeling. I’ll be honest, there were several times in the theater I couldn’t help myself from laughing out loud at the music choices. It felt like the soundtrack gained sentience and was throwing blindly at a dartboard on what type of mood tunes it was going for.

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For example, this scene was accompanied by a clarinet version of Ginuwine's
"Pony."  It was a weird choice.


Additionally, I really liked the concept of it. Granted, the film’s metaphor for being an STD is plain as day and lacks subtlety but the whole idea that sex is evil and will get you killed is a motif that was popular in the horror films from the 70s and 80s when, during the AIDS epidemic and we started to learn that we can just put our genitals on everything all willy nilly and with absolutely no regard for the consequences, this made absolute sense and making sex a frightening thing was so prevalent that it has since become a parody of itself. However, in It Follows, having this consequence for sex and the blatant metaphor for sexually transmitted diseases was a concept that I found interesting and it made the beginning of the film captivating.

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"Do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior Satan?"

Aside from these facts, the rest of the film was a loss for me. The acting isn’t terrible but I saw no one that really wow’ed me or I felt was exceptional. The characters aren’t really developed that much and since I knew only the basic facts of them, I found I had a hard time caring for them and their ordeal—especially Jay, the main character. Of all the characters, she should have been the one I was rooting for the entire time but with the amount of time I had to watch her laying around curled up in a ball (and there’s a lot of that) I found myself just hoping It would catch her so I could leave the theater and go home and put on Game of Thrones or something else that would actual make me feel the fear of losing a character I was invest in.

Ultimately, however, the real killer for this film, for me, was the dragging nature of the story during the final two halves. Some of my friends have argued with me that the film is suppose to be methodical in its pace and that the whole point of it is to be a "slow burn" and I totally get that. I’m all for a slow burn horror film that builds at a steady, albeit slow, pace—as long as it pays off. I found no payoff in It Follows. In fact, I would be hard-pressed to call this a "slow burn." To me, the film was a "slow fizzle." To me, the film was like watching a roaring fire slowly burn to ashes. When it began, the story had me sucked in and I was enthusiastic to see what would happen now that Jay has It and is trying to find out where It came from. However, the film starts to get redundant and I had to endure scene after scene of watching Jay and her friends run from It, wait for It, try and fail to kill It and then repeat it all again but, this time, at a slower pace. Rather than a slow build up to true fear, It Follows felt like it was slowly circling the drain and made me feel an overwhelming amount of sleepiness rather than any sort of creepy feelings.

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One of the hardest things to take seriously in this film was the idea that someone--
ANYONE--would spend even a moment in one of those above-ground pools.


Those were the major complaints I had about the film and the biggest reasons I found I couldn’t enjoy It Follows. There are tons of smaller, nearly nit-picky complaints I had with the movie like I found it amusing that Jay’s friends way too easily support her in her fear of It. Sure, they try to convince her that nothing is there (only those who had It could see It) but, overall, they were all a little too accepting of her horror. While not an entertainment killer, I just found it odd that none of her friends laughed in her face when she tried to explain what was happening or flat out call her insane. I know I would have a hard time believing any of my friends if they claimed they got a haunted STD.

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Yep, I'd make that face (any one of them) right before I start to nervously chuckle if one of my
friends made such a claim.

Additionally, the film tries to be timeless by refusing to create an identifiable era: fashions are a mixed bag of various decades, TVs still have rabbit ears, Yara is using some weird clam-like smartphone, etc. This reminded me of Napoleon Dynamite and how it is impossible to narrow down that movie to a certain decade and it seemed like an interesting choice that makes the film feel timeless but, ultimately, I wondered if it was at all necessary. It didn’t really help the film and, at times, I found it more distracting.

Going into it, I feared that this film might be a bit polarizing and that it is either a "love it or hate it" type of film and it seems my fears came true. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground (even though I was just claiming that there are parts I like). Without a doubt, this is one of those movies that the people who love it, will love it with all there hearts and instantly hate you and call you names (and usually follow it with "well, you just didn’t get it because you’re dumb") when you don’t instantly agree with their opinion of the film and those who hate it will probably give you a big "thank you" for speaking out against it like those who don’t like it are being censored. I know I’ve already been told twice I’m stupid for not loving it…so, feel free to tell me how I "didn’t get it" and I’m a moron because I didn’t think this was the greatest film ever made.

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This is a fair representation of how not enjoying this film will doom me to a life of
commenters following me and telling that "how can anyone take your reviews serious
because you dare not agree with me, the commenter?"


In the end, I feel that It Follows could have made a great short film. Writer/Director David Robert Mitchell made some great music choices, his camera work and scene layouts looked terrific and the overall premise is unique but a familiar horror trope at the same time. However, the dragging nature of the plot, characters that were bland, and way too few scares made this film more forgettable for me than the instant classic people feel it to be.