Skyscraper

Okay, okay. I like Dwayne “Can You Smell What ‘The Rock’ Is Cooking” Johnson as much as the next person. He’s obviously very talented and passionate, and great in Ballers. But this film was so lackluster, so unambitious, so bland, and so rudely unincorporated his many talents. I didn’t get to see that eye-brow-raising Dwayne “Can You Smell What ‘The Rock’ Is Cooking” Johnson we have grown to know and love.

The bar was set low early on. Dwayne “Can You Smell What ‘The Rock’ Is Cooking” Johnson played Will Sawyer who was ex-military and lost his leg in battle. He was hired by his also ex-military friend, and they had some rough history together, so a trust level was expected. Surprise, the friend betrayed him! Surprise, the friend died! The subplot of Will being the security adviser for the building in question was quickly glossed over and the larger plot of Will saving his family was largely in the spotlight.

This film had some real balance issues. With dialogue, action, lighting, and audience expectations. I mean, even the promo photo is unbalanced because that shot happened at night. Like, in the dark. That example might be too literal.

You know what wasn’t unbalanced? Dwayne “Can You Smell What ‘The Rock’ Is Cooking” Johnson. Let’s get him in some roles that don’t include a focus on his physique. Let’s see him in a drama.

2/5 – for Will’s wife being a badass combat surgeon. Well-written female character, thanks. And for some cool stunts, also thanks.

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Get Out

In honor of the Us premiere this weekend, I watched Get Out for the fourth time. This review will be outside of my typical, and if you haven’t watched Get Out, I don’t recommend you read this.

Every single shot, every single word, every single interaction is deliberate. Jordan Peele is meticulous.

The first three runs of this, I didn’t quite understand the symbolism of the deer in the accident and the mounted deer head. I was too blinded by the commodification of Black bodies to really care, I guess. But I finally see it as Chris’ consciousness and individual purity.

When Chris and Rose are driving and they hit the deer, a few things happen. Rose is afraid, genuinely afraid, and we don’t see any other real emotion from her. Everything else she conveys to both the audience and to Chris is feigned. This is important to understanding how the deer symbolizes Chris’ autonomous authority as the literal deer that hit her car threatened her safety. So does Chris.

Also in this scene, Chris is curious for the well-being of the deer, and steps into the woods, as we get a close-up shot of his boots hitting the grass. In that shot we see Rose back by the car, she isn’t at all invested in the general well-being of the animal, but is still physically present. This is representative of her relationship with Chris. She is physically present but outside of reach.

When Chris steps into the woods, his concern stems from his lack of ability to help his mother when she was involved in a hit and run accident that led to her death. We get a duality that is not explained until later, but important to note your next watch. The connection between his mothers’ death and his autonomy has so many layers, man.

When Rose explains that they hit a deer, Dean goes off on a tangent, and it’s a little on the nose, but appropriate considering the context: “You know what I say? I say one down, a couple hundred thousand to go. I don’t mean to get on my high horse, but I’m telling you I do not like the fucking deer, I’m sick of it, they’re taking over, they’re like rats, they’re destroying the ecosystem. I see a dead deer on the side of the road and I think to myself ‘That’s a fucking start.'”

He’s talking about Black people who have autonomy and do not back down from their oppressors. He’s giving Chris a slice of his next steps, and he’s ensuring that his words are not minced: You are a pest.

And finally we get to the mounted deer. The deer that had a life outside of that basement, but is now a permanent fixture. It’s the center of the frame at least twice, and our attention is drawn to something so innocent being used for decorative purposes. The fact that Chris murks his white oppressor with his symbolic autonomy is *chefs kiss* poetic.

Jordan Peele is a genius. His layering begs to be followed and watched over and over again. 5/5.

The Prodigy

This has several tried and true horror tropes and scenery – the evil kid, the spooky basement, a mother’s love, an agonizing obsession (the hands), a kettle whistling, and a dog alerting of impending doom. However, it doesn’t feel like horror until the third act. Until then, we just get glimpses of what the film could be, and it could have been stellar based on the brand new, to me, idea of reincarnation as a subject.

Taylor Schilling’s performance is believable, but the story itself does not lend to her abilities as an actor. Overall, this film is bland but it could have been fresh and intensely scary. 3/5, I might watch it again.

 

Velvet Buzzsaw

Sure, this is satire. Sure, it’s about art. But much more than that, it’s about consumption and the meticulousness of the mundane in both interpersonal relationships and consumer relations and when and where the two overlap. It’s the culmination of everything we believe is on the inside of the art world; pretension, overt articulation, and betrayal.

This film, not quite aptly named, brings us Gyllenhaal, Malkovich, and Collette. My Holy Trinity. Although the three are not in a scene together, the remnants of each performance is felt throughout the cuts to the other characters. We are never without the idea of the three and their capabilities and collective clamoring of The Next Big Thing.

Although Gyllenhaal is arguably not the star of the film, his performance stands out a cut above the rest as the only voice of reason in a circle of delusion. He is quick, he is flawed, he is a bisexual dreamboat. His character, Morf, saw an issue with a body of work and how it was presented to the world and the repercussions of breaking with the artists intention, and decided to speak out. And we get the impression that speaking out is much more difficult than not. He is brave, but his bravery reaches a head when he is confronted with his irreconcilable decisions. The character and his complexities lent to Gyllenhaal’s talent.

This is goofy, it’s weird, but it’s beautiful and worth a watch. 5/5, I’ll watch it again.

Premonition

I can see why America’s sweetheart, Sandy B didn’t do another project for 2 years following the 2007 release of this movie. This was a huge mess.

At first, it lends itself to be a dual-timeline feature about what could happen if the premonition that Sandy’s Linda Hansen has come true. But then, wait, what? It turns out to be a single timeline and we quickly cannot trust our narrators’ memory to be true. Then, wait, he does die, actually? And she’s at the scene, and not at home, like we are previously led to believe?

The timeline is not so much confusing, because mid-movie we get it broken down for us by Sandy herself, but it’s actually just incredibly stupid.

The beginning of the film is good, it adds suspense, and we get mystery, and death, and motherhood, and infidelity, and friendship, and mental health awareness. But then, once the audience is let into the want-to-be-formulaic-method here, it’s just a Crashingly terrible catastrophe. And of course, as at the end, we can not draw any further meaning from the face-value of the film because there is no deeper meaning. Literally.

This is a waste of time, do not watch this movie. 0/5.

The Boy Downstairs

When I saw Zosia Mamet, I was half expecting her to reprise her roll as Shoshanna from Girls (can you believe it’s been two years since that wrapped?) given the NYC setting. I was delightfully let down as Diana grew her legs and sprouted into a spry, but often forlorn 20-something that was unlike Shosh. Diana, lovingly referred to as D, is a sweet character that reaches for connection in any way she knows how, and unfortunately is given a series of choices involving her ex-boyfriend, Ben.

I was rooting for Diana and Ben. I liked the way this film is spliced together using flashbacks, but we are never given flashbacks into D’s three-year stint abroad, sans Ben. D’s friends help guild her through this trivial period of unwittingly being neighbors with her ex, and her feelings surrounding the love that they once shared.

Watching this, I couldn’t stop thinking that it may have cost little to nothing to make. But the low-budget didn’t distract from the performances given or the crispness of the production quality on the streets of New York. NYC felt like a character, a warm, old friend that welcomed D back from her excursion and they seemed to pick up where they left off.

5/5, cute movie.

Io

This film disappointed me. It successfully world builds for the majority of the first act, and I’m on-board with the mission Sam is playing out in the beginning. But then her mission gets muddled and the script bites off a bit more than it could chew with the limited dialogue we are provided.

We are expected to make the connection between Helen of Troy to Sam and Earth and Io and Micah and Sam’s random space lover who abandons her mid-movie. The film had a lot of potential, and it was well-conceived but really poorly executed. It was never going to be an award-winner but it might have painted us a beautiful picture of Earth’s end with a little more give to our collective imaginations.

Anthony Mackie is really good. 2/5. I won’t watch this again.