Brigsby Bear

Brigsby Bear is a geek film and watches that way and it won’t appeal to everyone, not by a long shot. Still, for the brave watchers with open minds and a nerdy sense of humor, this will work. I should know, it worked for me.

I like weird films, especially when they use their oddness to send a message outside of mainstream convention or conscience. It’s weird and has potential messages to subgroups across all demographics.

Brigsby Bear (2017)
PG-13 | 1h 37min | Comedy, Drama | 21 September 2017 (Australia)

Brigsby Bear Adventures is a children’s TV show produced for an audience of one: James. When the show abruptly ends, James’s life changes forever, and he sets out to finish the story … See full summary »
Director: Dave McCary
Writers: Kevin Costello, Kyle Mooney
Stars: Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill, Jane Adams

There is some mystery to the story I don’t want to wreck for you. Then again, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, with some caveats. Picture Room meets Star Trek documentary. The director has some different things on his resume. I’m most impressed with SNL writing. He appears the geek, which makes sense. This may be his life’s ambition, time will tell. This one may have been better if it wasn’t quite so geeky, not sure though. Spoilers ahead.

My favorite scene is when Andy Samberg in the mental hospital offers his handmade role playing weapons.

What I got from this film is that when you get lost in art it’s hard to stay resentful and bitter. We could all use an obsession like Brigsby Bear to make it through all our fucked up pain and hurt.

9/10

Thor: Ragnarok

Men and women have mixed things to offer a film of course. When men have exhausted their ego and character, it’s refreshing to have females to keep ones interest and vice versa I think. Thor: Ragnarok is too long and the ladies below are the highlights of the film.
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PG-13 | 2h 10min | Action, Adventure, Comedy | 3 November 2017 (USA)

Imprisoned, the almighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.
Director: Taika Waititi
Writers: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle | 4 more credits »
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett

I’m 48 and I know I’ll be dead in a few years. Still, I can pay for a ticket and therefore I think my opinion still matters. This comic book investment of Hollywood must stop. None of it is original and they keep blowing millions on uninteresting unentertaining films.

This is a hodgepodge that never goes anywhere and never finds any sense of completion. A few jokes are funny but nothing to justify its high scores on Rotten Tomatoes, and even among my own Twitter tweeps. What is up guys and gals? Wait to watch this on on video. It’s a million dollar snorefest. Having said that these women are beautiful. They kept me awake for the blistering 2:20 runtime. Besides them though, it’s literally nothing new. I’ll refer you to the summary above since I wish to expend no more writing calories on this.

5/10

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Mostly I was struck by the deadpan comedy of this show. Watching Rachel Bloom play this goofy, cute character with such total investment is a laugh a minute. Before too long, I could see it was a periodic musical. I usually don’t like those unless they have amazing tunes. The tunes here are good but the humor is what holds it all together and makes it a behemoth.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Cast

Rachel Bloom, Vincent Rodriguez III, Santino Fontana

Directed by

Steven K. Tsuchida, Alex Hardcastle, Joanna Kerns (multiple more directors)

Created by

Rachel Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna

Other Info

Comedy, Musical
31 episodes ( As of time of writing this) – 41 min

I always run to my blog when I find a great new show to binge watch. Today it’s Crazy Ex Girlfriend streaming on Netflix. This is not a spoilers review but rather a preview. Rachel Bloom is tons of fun to watch for both myself and my wife so I know she’ll appeal to may viewers. Her self-deprecating humor makes the show entertaining but the music and sketch sets make it a wondrous journey to and from the insanity of love.

In the series, Rebecca Bunch leaves her posh, successful law practice to follow a high school crush (Josh played by Vincent Rodriguez III) to West Covina California where she takes a lesser paying job. She is okay with his because her over-reaching goal is to win the heart of Josh! Meanwhile, she develops a platonic relationship with Josh’s best friend Greg, played by Santino Fontana.

I am sure as the episodes play out we will see a love triangle between Greg, Josh, and Rebecca. She’ll be back and forth a hundred times between the two. This is predictable but always fun when there’s good solid comedy and music in the mix! And not just music, but self-effacing music the lead girls sings and dances to. It’s a riot, Rachel Bloom is a delight and highly entertaining. At time of writing this, the first season is streaming on Netflix. My wife and I are looking forward to binge watching the rest of the first season and then checking out the show as new episodes unfold.

The Purge (2013)

With 2 sequels to its name, The Purge has proven it’s a movie people want to go and see. The question is: what is it about this film that keeps viewers coming through the turnstiles? Let’s see.

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The Purge
Cast

Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder

Directed by

James DeMonaco

Written by

James DeMonaco

Other Info

Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated R
1h 25min
Riley’s Rating:

There is something profound about ourselves in this film but it’s more recalcitrant horror with no message about mankind. I imagine one still. Because the movie stops at horror, I can only take away stars that make it less effective horror. If it were a rational drama, for example I’d rate it much lower. Still, the metaphors hang in my consciousness.

I’m writing this review more than 3 years after the original film came out. I must admit I had not seen it until this week. This seems amazing because it is a household name in horror and sci-fi in recent years, and I have been busy at work seeing horror movies. The director James DeMonaco is known for the Purge franchise as well as The Negotiator.

It appears scary when the cover contains a masked villain and it certainly is. The part I saw in this film that not everyone may see is the fact that the villain is really you and me, our inner killer.

Watching CNN or any news channel will show you that people are barking vehemently about the economy and most assuredly welfare. To hear some wealthy folks talk, it would seem they want the poor people killed or “purged” as it were. This would, in theory, lower the unemployment rate and clean up the streets. On the other hand, you have self-proclaimed champions of the poor, like Al Sharpton for example, coming to the defense of welfare recipients. He would likely blame the ghettos and shacks where the undesirable poor live on the rich. They don’t pay their fair share. If you’re within a generation of me (born 1969) you are likely to have heard these arguments.

This film poses an idea that we as people are bloodthirsty. In the Purge, for one night a year, the people are allowed to kill the poor. That’s the crux of the plot in this film. People love the movie. I am interested in what that says about us inside. I see the movie as a metaphor. When we practice hate, we purge (kill). I’d argue further that the poor are just as guilty of this. Some people try to appear diffident but hate is all around in this film. In the same breath, neither side is represented accurately of course, I might add. Still, there is something to this class hate that rings true in our world today.

Unfortunately, this horror movie doesn’t stretch out enough as sci fi and more tenderly examine the disparate classes. That’s where The Purge loses a couple stars with me because it could have. According to the director, we’re all pigs.

Horror has less rules to follow than drama, sci fi, and even suspense but there are some rules it must follow to make it scary.

The killers in the Purge are bigger than life and they don’t seem like normal citizens. This is where the masks come in handy. They add to the scares and give the people a “John Doe” look and demeanor. Perhaps that helps my reading of the film.

Ethan Hawke plays James Sandin, a 30 something alarm and security systems area manager. The neighborhood seems to love him due to the fact that he is keeping the rich shored up with his protective wares. We find out later how some of them really feel. There is so much resentment in this film you could cut it like a knife. The most astounding thing to me is the rapid process that causes normal citizens to kill. He has a high school aged daughter (Adelaide Kane) who is in the house with her boyfriend. They have sex (in keeping with the horror tradition). He has a young son (Max Burkholder) who has health issues and a wife (Lena Headey) who is very strong and definitely a foundation for the family success. I couldn’t help but think he wouldn’t be one of the rich with a slaes job. Still, it’s relatively believable.

I see The Purge as a highly violent Twilight Zone where a commentary on human nature is being displayed. I find this exciting. If only I could believe that movie goers at large saw this message. This is a good horror film that engaged me but that I am surprised was made into 2 other sequels. I am not sure I’ll be quick to see #3, though I will see it for sure. I have watched #2 already. If you go purely for horror you will enjoy it. If you want the Purge to show you a message about democracy and humanity, you’ll need to wait for a better made sci fi film. I recommend it to you as a well-made horror film and poorly crafted sci fi with potential.

Hush

Hush was made for under $75,000 usd but leaves us with the Hush product which is as scary as any high budget horror film. It’s a “thinking person’s scary” which some may prefer to the pure slice and dice variety, though there is certainly some of that here.
hush-poster-6472260This film was directed by Mike Flannigan (Oculus). He co-write the film with Kate Siegel (plays the main character Maddie) who in real life shares a house with Flannigan. In fact, several sources indicate they wrote the screenplay with their home layout as a blueprint. She starred in Oculus.

“Hush” is a thriller and horror movie that features a deaf writer at her laptop being broken in on and attacked by a masked man. There are few casualties, few actors, and definitely a few gallons of blood spilled on scene. One original component that builds suspense is that the main character/victim is deaf. This is an ingenious idea as it allows for a few really spine tingling scenes requiring no cgi or music for that matter. The killer’s mask looks different from the standard ones we’ve seen in break-and-enter thrillers, for example presidents and Star Trek masks. In this case, it’s very carefully crafted. In some scenes it appears to be part of the attacker’s own face. This serves for another original, simple, scary element that probably didn’t cost much to create.

Another film that comes to mind that created massive scares on a low budget is Insidious. It’s being proven again and again we don’t need million dollar movies to be scared and thereby entertained. Through a series of slashings and “intruder” scenes, the deaf Maddie learns she doesn’t have to be a victim. She fights back. Everything is filmed in a dark setting outside and inside the house. This accentuates the revenge element that weaves throughout and leads us to an ending that is pleasing horror critics all over the internet.

The film screened at SXSW for a panel of industry “buyers.” It did very well there but somehow ended up on Netflix where I was fortunate enough to see it. Netflix needs more quality horror and suspense films like Hush. Frankly the category is small on the service and appears to be shrinking. I had a lot of fun watching this film and highly recommend it if you can catch it on Netflix or elsewhere. Imagine you have earplugs in and can’t hear a thing and you can’t hear anyone sneaking in the window either. This film makes the most of the simple scares. I think it would be great to see it on the big screen.

Bokeh

A couple in their twenties in a post apocalyptic setting where all the people in their icelandic town have vanished. Just like that they have to adapt.

TV-MA | 1h 32min | Drama, Sci-Fi | 24 March 2017 (USA)
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On a romantic getaway to Iceland, a young American couple wake up one morning to discover every person on earth has disappeared. Their struggle to survive and to reconcile the mysterious … See full summary »
Directors: Geoffrey Orthwein (co-director), Andrew Sullivan (co-director)
Writers: Geoffrey Orthwein (co-writer), Andrew Sullivan (co-writer)
Stars: Maika Monroe, Matt O’Leary, Arnar Jónsson

You have a directing/writing duo at work here. Geoffrey Orthwein and Andrew Sullivan. I like what they’ve done here: created a entertaining fantasy movie. I’m not sure how it did but I really found it entertaining. These days we need more directors who can produce entertaining pieces of art. So many try to preach.

The couple are played by very good actors. Maika Monroe took the world by storm in the horror hit It Follows. Something about those eyes! Her dialog is a little scant I would say. I think most women would be very worried at the end of the world. She remains entranced. Oh well, she looks great doing it. The store scenes are the best. The couple is having fun like grade school kids in a candy store. Of course, all this happens where there are no employees or shoppers.

There is a conflict with these two. I kept wondering if a larger one would come. She gets very concerned when he is playing on a shopping cart and falls severely cutting himself. After scolding him, he promises to not fool around anymore. Maybe it’s the internal conflict in a couple that’s worse than any zombies? Maybe that’s why you don’t have them ever showing up in this movie. Nils does though, an old man. The ending is one to discuss. This is a slow burn, maybe we’re meant to feel that as they do. Maybe it’s saying we need people more than we know.

7/10

My Cousin Rachel

Roger Michell directed this film. You might recall another film he did called Notting Hill with Julia Roberts. That was a work of art in my opinion. Now, let’s talk about My Cousin Rachel.

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Here we have a story about a land baron who dies. His only adopted son believes his relatively new wife Rachel poisoned him but he has a hard time getting anyone to believe it. He spends a lot of time with Rachel and seeks to enact vengeance on her. Instead, her feminine wiles serve to make him fall in love with her. There is a mess in all this some might call it love. The end was a surprise to me but does wrap up the tale nicely.

They don’t give Rachel much to say or do in this film, which is a crying shame. Racel Weisz is a stone fox and a damn good actress. It seemed like she was subdued and below her potential. This story should have work the same way So I Married and Axe Murderer worked, through double ententes and metaphors about death. Unfortunately the director took a far more subtle approach to this tale. If you are a fan of the genre you might like it. I would recommend it as a background movie when you’re working on something else. Still, I can’t wait to see Rachel Weisz in something new!

6/10

My Cousin Rachel (2017)
PG-13 | 1h 46min | Drama, Mystery, Romance | 9 June 2017 (USA)

A young Englishman plots revenge against his late cousin’s mysterious, beautiful wife, believing her responsible for his death. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.
Director: Roger Michell
Writers: Daphne Du Maurier (novel), Roger Michell (adaptation)
Stars: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger