Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sorry to Bother You

***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 (or other commenters), 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! With a title that is an apology for inconveniencing people, I would imagine this film is about my own social anxieties.



Sorry to Bother You – 5 out of 5

From the moment I heard Boots Riley talk about Sorry to Bother You, I really wanted to see it.  The trailers I saw didn’t really do the best job at selling what a work of satire this feature was but hearing him talk about it sure sold me.  Since I am wealth-lacking, I waited till I could get this cheaply for the home market and, I gotta say, this movie is truly one-of-a-kind and a whole lot of amazing!

Tessa Thompson sure has an incredible ability to attach her amazing talents
to amazing products.

Down on his luck and living in his Uncle’s garage, Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield) takes a job as a telemarketer for a company called RegalView.  Initially he struggles but after an older coworker offers some advice he starts to makes some serious progress when he starts making phone calls with his “white voice” (done by David Cross).  As some of his coworkers start to protest in an attempt to form a union, Cash sets his sights on being promoted and becoming a Power Caller.  This drives a wedge between Cash and his friends and his artist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) but also brings him a lot of success.  This also results in the CEO of WorryFree (Armie Hammer) becoming interested in working with Cash but, aside from WorryFree being an already terrible company that basically makes slaves out of its labor force, Cash learns a dark and horrifying secret that the CEO has up his sleeve.

Hammer really nailed the sleazy CEO.
See what I did there?  Nailed?
I'm sorry.


Live your life with the confidence of a person who
answers the phone while having sex.
Boots Riley really made something memorable and truly creative with Sorry to Bother You.  The film is one long satire of capitalism and class and how it impacts race.  The visuals and scenes are heightened to make a reality that feels aloof but never feels too far away from the ground.  For example, to illustrate Cash’s journey through cold calling, we see his desk figuratively fall through the floor of his office building and enter the homes of the people he talks to.  From a visual standpoint it is very funny but also amazingly creative.  This balance makes the satirical edge sharp but never dull so a casual viewer can’t understand it—like how an article from The Onion can end up looking too much like a real article and just so happens to be affirming reader bias and we end up with those people who think it is real news.  Essentially, Riley constructed a film that is highly entertaining and amusing but also visually stunning and incredibly thought-provoking.

Atlanta, Get Out, and now this?  I can't wait to see what other epic pieces
of work Stanfield attaches himself to.

The performances and the cast is absolutely top notch in this film.  Stanfield carries the movie amazingly and it was easy to invest in his character because he found that balance of being a guy trying to better himself but also getting caught up in the madness of our broken capitalistic society.  The supporting players like Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews and David Cross and Patton Oswalt being the “white voices” really helped bring this unique world from Riley to life and they were all just very addicting to watch.  Finally, Armie Hammer as the CEO of WorryFree had the perfect level of smug that befits a CEO with too much money and too many dark plans for the future.

Wait, is Cassius about to join the Corporate Avengers?

Terry Crews, the man we all should strive to be like.
Sorry to Bother You is a wicked piece of witty satire that has an engaging story filled with biting commentary, a terrific cast and some fantastic music (most of it Boots Riley's own).  The film is somehow able to find a unique balance where it can analyze and critic so many aspects of our society but never deliver this critique in a way that feels like it is being smug about it.  Furthermore, it delivers this message in a goofball way that never feels too silly or like it is not taking itself seriously enough.  It’s a very fine balance and one that Riley found and rode perfectly.  Sorry to Bother You is one of those movies that, after I watched it, I truly hoped it would be something that can move hearts, change minds and better the world.  Will it?  Only time will tell.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Uncle Drew

***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 (or other commenters), 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! Who would have thought a terrible soda would birth a fun film?



Uncle Drew – 4 out of 5

I don’t watch a lot of television when it is originally broadcast so I don’t see many commercials.  Due to this, I was unaware that the character of Uncle Drew originally came from a marketing campaign from Pepsi Max.  I saw the trailer in the theater and thought the film looked funny but I never knew that this character already existed in the world.  I will admit that it is kinda strange watching a feature length comedy that was spawned from a commercial but they tried to make a TV show based on Geico’s cavemen ads so, realistically, how bad can Uncle Drew be?  Amusingly, enough, that caveman show starred a gentleman in this feature.  Honestly, it wasn’t bad at all and was a pretty fun trip!

GOALLLLLLLLL!!!!

Dax (Lil Rel Howery) is a huge fan of basketball that once dreamed of making it big on the court but now works at Foot Locker during the day and coaches a perspective team in his free time.  He and his girlfriend Jess (Tiffany Haddish) hope to use his star player Casper Jones (Aaron Gordon) to win the Rucker Classic; however, when his old rival Mookie (Nick Kroll) steals Jones away from him, Dax’s dreams are shattered and Jess kicks him out.  Lost, Dax gets some advice from his barber Angelo (J.B. Smoove), and tells him about the great Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving); a basketball legend who mysteriously disappeared when he was supposed to take part in the Rucker Classic.  Fate intervenes and he sees the older man schooling young players on the court and decides to take a chance.  Uncle Drew agrees to be a part of his team and play in the tournament but only if he can bring his old crew; Preacher (Chris Webber), Lights (Reggie Miller), Boots (Nate Robinson) and Big Fella (Shaquille O’Neal), with him.  Reluctantly, Dax agrees but past grudges, Preacher's angry wife (Lisa Leslie), and the natural process of aging might stop them from winning the game.

Since Uncle Drew, a character from a commercial, worked out so well in this movie,
can we get a film about Terry Tate Office Linebacker?

I say this every time I watch a sports-related feature and that is I don’t know anything about sports.  Even with this mentality, I still found the trailer to be amusing and wanted to see the film.  Uncle Drew doesn’t present a movie about basketball but rather a story of humor and heart that just so happens to contain basketball.  The film explores all the tropes of sports features like overcoming adversity, determination, disciple and more but with a more comedic leaning.  Yes, the story plays out how you expect it but the film never comes off like a cheese and crackers underdog story and that’s what made this film so fun to watch.  It strikes that balance of being funny and fun to watch but without feeling like it is crossing the line into being overtly inspirational.

Well, this definitely would make church much more interesting.

That facial hair actually works very well for Shaq.
He looks pretty badass.
The cast is fantastic and the feature does a tremendous job of mixing real-life basketball stars and comedians.  What’s the most impressive is how the sports stars perform.  Sometimes when a cast contains individuals who aren’t actors by trade the results can be a mixed bag.  However, in Uncle Drew, the sports stars (who, admittedly, all have plenty of acting credits on their IMDb pages) are all doing a tremendous job of not only showcasing their talents on the court during gameplay moments but showing they knew how to hit the right moments—whether it be for the comedic times or more down-to-earth dramatic scenes.  Finally, Lil Rel Howery does a tremendous job of leading the charge in this movie.  Being the lead and, essentially, the comedy’s straight man, Howery is the perfect guiding force to watch the story unfold and his chemistry with the entire cast is terrific.  I especially enjoyed his back and forth with Nick Kroll.

Sometimes Kroll can be hard to watch when he's all the way turned up but,
when properly dosed, the man is really funny.

The only drawback I found for the film is the makeup sometimes looked strange to me.  For the most part, the makeup effects that turned the young cast members into older individuals looked great.  However, there were times during close-up shots and certain lighting that the makeup looked very obvious.  These moments were usually early in the movie and once I accepted the film’s reality, I never once paid attention to the makeup again and was fully onboard with what I was seeing.

I'm just gonna go ahead and say it, Lil Rel Howery is a treasure.
The man is hysterical.

Uncle Drew has the usual tropes of the sports film genre and presents them with humor and lots of fun.  The cast is fantastic and the movie has some great music to keep it lively and moving.  Since this film was born out of a soda campaign, I had a lingering doubt in the back of my head that this film would be hollow and pointless but the end product was incredibly entertaining.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Crazy Rich Asians

***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 (or other commenters), 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 pretty much always feel poor but this movie really made me feel poor.



Crazy Rich Asians – 4 out of 5

I’m not really into romantic comedies.  Sure, there are a few outliers here and there but, for the most part, it is not a genre that I gravitate to—I’m a little cynical when it comes to the sweeter emotions like wuv.  However, I’m kinda into the whole “representation matters” in the world and in the realm of entertainment so when a movie that stars entirely Chinese-American actors and is a story (even a romantic comedy story) told from a non-white cis gender male perspective, I take notice.  Add in the fact that Crazy Rich Asians has been receiving high praise from audiences and critics and that only adds to my interest.  Well, I checked it out and really enjoyed it…although it really made me feel my poverty…and loneliness.  I’m not crying! 

There's a whole sequence that centers on food.  I wasn't hungry when I started
watching...


Nick Young (Henry Golding) comes from a family of wealth and while living in New York he falls in love with an economics professor named Rachel Chu (Constance Wu).  When Nick’s best friend Colin (Chris Pang) announces he is getting married, Nick takes Rachel to Singapore for the wedding and to meet his family, specifically his mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh).  Rachel, not being a product of means, worries that Nick’s family will disapprove of her.  Her fears are proven right when Eleanor decides that Rachel isn’t worthy of her son.

Everyone who has been in a relationship where you were not liked by your
significant other's parents knows that smile and what it means.

I got very excited when I saw Awkwafina in this.
She's effing hysterical!
Crazy Rich Asians lives up to the hype.  The film has a tremendous cast and the performers made it very easy to get emotionally invested in them.  The story is a lot of fun and hits all the right beats and notes to make the humor funny and the drama engaging.  Visually the film is gorgeous and, finally, the movie is legitimately hysterical.  Sometimes Romcoms miss the “com” mark for me and I find the humor to be more eye-rolling than hilarious but this one didn’t have that problem.  I found the film to be very funny.  However, that’s not hard when you have Ronny Chieng from The Daily Show, Ken Jeong and Awkwafina in it.

Silicon Valley's Jimmy O. Yang brings both comedy and nipples to this one.

"Hi, I'm the stupidly attractive male lead.  I'm here
to make Rev. Ron feel incredibly ugly for the entire
length of the film."
On the negative side of the film, it has been criticized for the route it took with its casting—and no, I’m not saying that there were some neckbearded white dudes in the comment section talking about how this movie is an example of political correctness run amok or that white individuals should have played Chinese characters.  In America, the film has been praised because we rarely see films that are not entirely dominated by Caucasian actors but around the world it was criticized for biracial aspect of much of its cast.  Being a white man, I really don’t feel I have anything to add to this discussion beyond that I found it refreshing that I didn’t have to endure another Romcom that focused on a mid-30s blonde white girl settling down and having montages of trying on outfits to pop music with her friends.  My only drawback I found is that the story sometimes hits the Romcom tropes too hard and it gives the narrative a generic feel; however, this is only something that happens occasionally and never got too distracting.

Take one guess who Rachel is giving the death stare to...
That's right, the lead singer of Smash Mouth.  I'm not entirely sure why
he was in the film.

Crazy Rich Asians has some generic and predictable moments that are incredibly common in the genre of Romcoms.  You pretty much know exactly where it is going and where it is going to end but that doesn’t harm it all in the long run.  The characters are fun, the cast is terrific, the visuals and locations are extravagant and it was easy to invest in and find the drama moving and the humor hilarious.

Friday, February 1, 2019

A Ghost Story

***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 (or other commenters), 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! This movie really missed having the flashlight under the face thing. How you tell a ghost story without that?!?



A Ghost Story – 4 out of 5

I remember seeing the trailer for A Ghost Story when I went to see The Big Sick in the theater.  The concept of a ghost being the whole bed sheet costume idea intrigued me.  I put it on my Watch List but never made it a priority.  After the allegations of star Casey Afflecks’ sexual assault came to light, there was no hope of this movie being a priority but I didn’t write off seeing it entirely because I was still interested in seeing the product.  A friend of mine really enjoys the film and had been bugging me to check it out for months so I finally caved in and checked it out.  It was odd because I really enjoyed the film but also felt like the film was annoyingly pretentious.

Hey!  Kesha is in this movie!


A musician (Casey Affleck) and his wife (Rooney Mara) are living a quiet life in a simple home in Dallas, Texas.  The wife hopes to move but the husband wishes to stay.  After he is killed in a car accident one day, he finds himself as a ghost (in a sheet, no less) who forgoes crossing over and decides to return home.  There he is forced to witness his wife grieve, try to move on (which upsets him greatly) and eventual move out.  Before she leaves, she hides a note in the wall that the ghost is desperate to retrieve but can’t.  Time passes and the ghost finds himself trapped and unable to move on…and then things get really weird for him.

Well, the ghost is Casey Affleck so he probably wasn't going to be allowed
in there to begin with.

My experience with A Ghost Story is an interesting one because there are times where I found the film striking and brilliant with its display of emotion but then would have these extreme negative reactions where I found the film to be extremely pretentious and full of itself.  As you can see from my score, these pretentious moments didn’t kill my enjoyment because overall I found the film to be pretty amazing (had Casey Affleck not been covered in a sheet most of the time that might have changed things).

It's easy to pretend he's not even in the film when he's covered up.

The double-edged sword to A Ghost Story stems greatly from its use of moments with no dialogue and only music or natural sound.  When this formula is used effectively, sequences can be exceptionally emotional as it illustrates loss, heartbreak, anguish and isolation.  Sometimes, however, this formula is used and it feels like director David Lowery is trying to pull a fast one and look artistic but is doing the bare minimum of creativity.  I felt this when I had to watch a nearly 5 minute sequence of Rooney Mara’s character eating an entire pie after Casey Affleck’s character died.  While this sequence, in theory, illustrates a woman trying to find solace in something simple and almost mechanical—who hasn’t eaten their feelings?  I know I do a lot—but as the time grew and passed this moment stopped feeling like an exploration of the human condition and just felt like a lazy way to say, “Look, I made art” and then acted smugly about it.  It’s the type of moment that the annoying film nerds who use their taste in films as a personification of status would say is “brilliant” just so they look smart.  This is compounded by the fact that, realistically, A Ghost Story could have existed solely as a short where these humanistic moments are compressed.  Essentially, the pretentiousness vibe I got from these moments extends from the fact that these scenes ultimately felt like they existed for no other reason than to pad out the film and extend the running length.

Somewhere, there is a movie snob who is overthinking this scene and thinking
they "get it."

This sounds like a very harsh criticism and one that could potentially kill all entertainment value for the film but it truly didn’t.  The reality is A Ghost Story comes off as a pretentious film only at times and the times are few and far between.  From a majority standpoint, the featgure is very well made.  It does so much with telling so little and it creates an atmosphere of heavy emotions that have the capability to haunt the viewer long after the credits end.  Even from a storytelling and presentation perspective, the movie showcases the potential silent torment a loved one could experience in an afterlife in a new direction.  The idea of presenting the ghost in the costume sheet fashion seems silly on paper but was actually a very imposing visual that amazingly never felt or looked out of place among everything else thanks to the perspective of the feature.

"What cha thinking about?"
"I dunno.  Ghost stuff."

A Ghost Story is a unique take on the examination of loss and how the lives we live can haunt us…or cause us to haunt.  There’s a very striking simplicity to its presentation as the film is light on dialogue and character interaction but still heavy on the drama and emotion.  The performances are almost negligible because the content and impact is nearly entirely derived from the music and visuals but that isn’t to say the acting is bad.  The movie does have a habit up getting up its own ass and feeling very self-important but it still is a very tantalizing film that explores some very grounded themes and ideas.