Monday, March 13, 2017

F This Movie! 377 - Kong: Skull Island

People say Patrick and JB monkey around.



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Also discussed this episode: Logan (2017), The Founder (2016), Dracula (1958), Swing Time (1936), The Obsessed One (1974), Ruckus (1980)

58 comments:

  1. Sorry but seeing John C Reilly go home was absolutely the best capper to an ultimately fun, satisfying movie. The theater I was in ate up every line he delivered, and most people seem to agree the film doesn't quite find it's feet until he's introduced. Who else do we care about at the end of the two hours, aside from Kong? To me Brie Larson and Loki could have been cut out of the film entirely and it wouldn't lose a thing.

    I so much more enjoyed Kong than the feature-length escort mission that was the Godzilla reboot.

    But the screenplay was definitely the weakest part of the film. I'll tell you what, that whole Dear Billy nonsense fell flatter than a groundhog whizzing on a downed power line. How on Earth did that make it through post?

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    1. Why aren't his wife and son watching the game with him? He's been gone for 28 f-ing years. Did the novelty just wear off? Is he like Snoop Dogg in Baby Boy when he comes back from prison and his old lady wants nothing to do with him?

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    2. Haha I wondered the same exact thing. You can't introduce the trope that John C Reilly just wants to "spend one more day with my son" and then not follow through in a father-son Cubs game viewing! That is just melodramatic blue balls!

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    3. well, maybe she was making diner and the kid was mowing the lawn, giving him a break and enjoy his normal life for once.

      while the scene is cute and touching and all that jazz, it's unnecessary. and the mood is completely destroyed by the end credit scene (which i hope they'd stop doing now).

      still had fun, despite the bland characters. john c reily aside, anybody could've played anybody in this.

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  2. Hmmm...was the film "Tom" from 1973? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0130488/

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    1. Holy fuck, this looks incredible!! I knew you wouldn't take that challenge lying down, Chay! Starring Greydon Clark?!? How does this shit just sneak by me?? And, to bring everything full circle, imdb Connections says "Referenced in: Herschell Gordon Lewis-The Godfather of Gore". !!

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    2. Hopefully this is the one JB was referring to!

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    3. Apparently it's also known as The Bad Bunch. Here's a trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEwNyv8A5JQ

      I knew I could count on you, Chaybee!

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    4. We have a winner! Now I can sleep at night. It's available on Amazon Prime. Check out that title song, which I haven't been able to get out of my head for over thirty years...

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    5. Well, it's easy when you've seen every movie;)

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  3. I gotta say, whether it's a good movie or not, it's got one of the best posters I've seen in years.

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  4. Let this episode forever be known as the episode JB gives us Fast Food reviews.

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    1. I had the Grande Mac in my car once so I call shenanigans respectfully.

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  5. Kong: Skull Island is the perfect movie to watch when you're drunk. You know, like when your brain isn't working at full capacity and you don't care about story and characterization and you just want to see some cool stuff before you pass out. It's perfect for that. I'm definitely keeping a copy of the blu-ray in my liquor cabinet.

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  6. I did not like the movie for many of the same reasons, but I also was treated to the worst theater experience of my life. Enjoy.

    So my showing is Saturday at 2:15pm, and I arrive around 2 and the screening is still fairly empty. There are people peppered around so I go to my usual spot in the middle of the third-to-last row. There's someone on the aisle and a couple pretty far down so I sit in the middle of the row.

    Now the time is 2:15 and it's getting pretty full. The trailers are playing, and I'm a little zoned out because I've seen them 100 times already. I'm looking at the entrance and a slightly larger group of people come in. They begin to climb the stairs and bypass a few rows where they could have squeezed in or asked a few people to move down and make space. Now they're pretty close, but there's a large chunk of open chairs two row in front of me so I'm not worried. Suddenly, one of the younger kids breaks free and runs to the first open chair in my row, which is three seats to the right of me. The family averts their gaze from the free row and begins to enter my row.

    Now I can see that it's a couple with four kids, but the kids are approximately 10, 8, 6, and 4 in age. They have a jubo popcorn and are all speaking spanish to each other loudly. Without saying a word to me they plop two kids down to my right and proceed to also sit on my left. My social anxiety alarm goes off and I begin to looks for an escape. Behind them a group of young adults and a handful of others have entered at once and are taking the perfectly free row in front of me. The theater is almost full, and were on one of the last trailers, so my fate is starting to sink in. So now there are the two older children (8 & 10 at most) to my right, and the rest of the family all to my left.

    I'm trying to watch the opening scene, but mom has gotten out those plastic popcorn trays and is passing them right over me to the other kids. Now the kids have their popcorn and mom immediately whips out her phone on full brightness. She's sitting directly to my left and has blinded me temporarily. I'm in peak anti-conflict mode at this point, but I turn and ask "could you please turn that off?" She stops rapidly scrolling through Facebook, looks at me, and rattles something off in spanish. She still hasn't turned it off so I ask one more time whilst trying to mime a person turning off a phone. She says something else and finally turns her phone off as John Goodman appears.

    I manage to get over the adrenaline rush of confronting a stranger in a movie theater, and watch 30 minutes of the movie interruption free. The kids to my right finish their popcorn and put their trays on the floor so there is no more passing over me.

    Four times during the rest of the movie a very simple, but annoying procedure took place. The very young daughter would get scared, tell dad, shuffle past with dad, get to the exit of the theater, turn around, and come back. At this point I'm even more furious at these parents for bringing a maybe 4 year old girl to this hard pg-13 movie that she is obviously not ready for.

    Besides that, the rest of the movie goes as smoothly as the awkward situation will allow. I've only thought about leaving twice, but the thought of paying to see it again, and having to watch the first half again keep me from leaving.

    Finally, the big final action scene ends, and the wrap-up begins. The two kids to my right immediately stand up and talk loudly (probably something to the effect of "it's done right?"). The parents ignore them and the kids continue standing, sit for a few minutes at a time, and stand at the stairs. After 5 minutes they settle back down again, but the second the movie ends the entire family rushes to the exit. I furiously waited for the end credits scene and then went home to take a nap, knowing that no theater experience would be that bad for a while. Hopefully this experience is at least an enjoyable story to some.

    fin.

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    1. dude, iwould've run out of the theatre the second i saw that family sit next to me and ask for a refund or a ticket for another showing

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    2. I appreciated your grasp on the biology of panic and anxiety.

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    3. I'm always more comfortable when obnoxious families speak English in the movie theatre, too.

      Sorry to get my SJW on, Patrick, but really, the language these people were conversing in shouldn't be germane to your account of a bad movie-watching experience. Unless... there's something else you're trying to say.

      Would your viewing of Kong: Skull Island have been any more bearable if you understood Spanish or these people were being jerks using the English tongue?

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  7. I saw the exact same movie you guys did and I saw most of the same problems. But I like this movie, John. Is it flawed? God, yes. Do I care? Hell no! I think the giant monsters fighting (and perhaps more pertinently, dispatching humans) outweighs the rest of the monkey business.

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  8. How come nobody is mentioning the shout out to Cannibal Holocaust? I thought that was a pretty cool reference.

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    1. Michael GiammarinoMarch 13, 2017 at 5:42 PM

      You beat me to it! Bloody-Disgusting posted an article earlier confirming the Cannibal Holocaust reference (via an interview between Mark Kermode and Vogt-Roberts). It further confirms a theory I have that this is a Macaroni Combat movie that just happens to be set on Skull Island. It would explain mostly everything: The setting, the time period, the limited characterization, the 8mm at the end, the comment JB and Patrick made that it seems more like a Vietnam movie about Vietnam movies. Now I want to see it again to test my theory out, preferably in IMAX 3D.

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    2. Pretty sold theory there. I just inferred that it is an homage to 70's movies in general, but I can definitely see the Macaroni Combat angle...

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    3. Michael GiammarinoMarch 13, 2017 at 5:55 PM

      I think I remember Patrick saying something during the podcast that the film seemed like the kind of Vietnam movie they would've made in the 80s. And I think Macaroni Combat movies started dealing with Vietnam in the 80s, with The Last Hunter.

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    4. I totally agree. I've talked about the exploitation feel of it with a couple of people, and thus I was actually surprised (to some extent) to hear Patrick wasn't a fan.

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    5. I'll say something that's probably unpopular and will rub some people the wrong way, which is really not my intention: I don't think it's possible to make a $200M exploitation movie. I think that's something we tell ourselves sometimes to rationalize something that might be bad (subjectively speaking, of course). Exploitation is defined by its limitations; when you've got a $180M budget and another $130M in marketing, you have no real limitations but your own imagination and talent.

      Again, not taking away from anyone's enjoyment of the movie. I wanted to like it! But Deodato references in this context don't do much for me because I don't feel like they belong in a Kong movie. That's just me, I know.

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    6. I could not have said it any better.

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    7. I haven't seen the film but I did read the article regarding the reference which led me to look into the Director. He's 29 years old. My guess is the reference is indicative of a younger generation who are discovering genre films for the first time due to the undeniable accessibility via streaming, blu-ray, etc... Again, this is my opinion, but I believe the studio hires these young directors to be able to have total control over a huge project. He probably wanted to throw in the reference and they either didn't know or they threw him that one bone. I agree however even not have seen the film, a Cannibal Holocaust reference in a blockbuster King Kong film seems really out of place. Now, would I say the same though if say Adam Green directed it? I dunno.

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    8. Michael GiammarinoMarch 13, 2017 at 8:31 PM

      It's a fair assessment, Patrick, what you're saying about exploitation cinema, although I don't entirely agree. Yes, exploitation films, for the most part, is defined by its limitations. But I'd argue that exploitation cinema, concurrent with B pictures in the 70s and 80s, were co-opted into the studio system. We saw that with slasher films, generally, in the 80s, and other exploitative subgenres followed suit slowly but surely, to the point where we are now, where exploitation films are being made for low AND big budgets, across the spectrum. I'd go so far to say that some filmmakers that love exploitation cinema and are inspired by it, like Quentin, helped inspire other filmmakers to make exploitation movies within the studio system. The Fast & the Furious are just really expensive Carsploitation films, and they inspired more Carsploitation films to be made. What is Michael Bay if not one of the most notorious and most successful big budget exploitation director that Hollywood has ever seen? It's also my impression that some studios today appear like the exploitation studios of old by the decisions they seem to make, particularly Fox and WB. Fox's Deadpool marketing is some of the best exploitation marketing I've ever seen. The extravagant lengths genre movie marketing has gone to are just a different form of exploitation marketing, but there's no doubt in my mind that the studios and marketing departments have been inspired by that marketing model of yesteryear.

      As far as your reaction to the movie, don't worry about it. It's all subjective, man. There's no right or wrong in liking or disliking a movie.

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    9. Correction: my info was outdated, the director is 32

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    10. Michael GiammarinoMarch 13, 2017 at 8:42 PM

      Chaybee, the only difference here to this new studio model of plucking indie directors out of the indie world to make these big franchise pictures is that Legendary actually asked Vogt-Roberts what he would do, after he turned down their suggestion to just do another slavish retelling of the original King Kong. He told them his Apocalypse Kong take and they said, "Okay, fine, let's do that."

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    11. I agree that this was absolutely a movie in the exploitation vein of the 70s and 80s. It's the spirit and vision of the director that is paramount rather than how much money may be at hand, and the direct homages to the genre sprinkled throughout the film are hard to deny. That said, sometimes I feel when listening to the podcast that the guys have a tendency to shape their opinions of a movie around whomever they are speaking with on the show, especially with certain pairings of podcasters. I'm not saying that's what happened here with Patrick and JB, just that it is something that may be at play when similar things are being said between the guys that end up being outside of the consensus view on the board itself.

      Ah well, subjectivity and all that. We've all been in situations seeing a movie where a million different outside factors can be at play that can affect one's enjoyment of that movie.

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    12. Michael GiammarinoMarch 15, 2017 at 1:50 AM

      I don't think calling a big budget movie an exploitation film rationalizes something that might be bad. An exploitation film is an exploitation film. There are signifiers to recognizing an exploitation film, and it has nothing to do with whether the movie is bad or not. If that were the case, all the movies we watch during Junesploitation are bad, and we all know that's not true. That would again suggest that the long-standing opinion were true that the ‘B’ in B movie meant it was a bad movie, and that's not true at all. If filmmakers can make ‘B’ pictures with ‘A’ budgets, it's fully reasonable that exploitation films can be made on ‘A’ budgets as well. Because what is an exploitation film but a B picture containing exploitable elements? A low budget exploitation film has certain signifiers, and a big budget exploitation film has certain signifiers. Low budget exploitation films are/were subject to their limitations. Those productions don't have the biggest stars at their disposal, so they have to rely on exploitable elements. Big budget exploitation movies don't have those restrictions. Not only can they afford bigger stars, those stars are part of the package. The exploitable elements in the bigger budgeted films aren't due to limitations, but aesthetic and genre; the director's vision. With a big budget, a director can make an exploitation film because they want to, not because they need to.

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    13. Michael GiammarinoMarch 15, 2017 at 1:52 AM

      In his book Nightmare USA, Stephen Thrower drops a quote from Hershel Gordon Lewis, where he calls Jurassic Park an exploitation film. Yes, Jurassic Park! Here's the quote: “An exploitation film is a motion picture in which the elements of plot and acting become subordinate to elements that can be promoted. In that respect, I would regard Jurassic Park as the ultimate exploitation film. If you look at Jurassic Park with a cold-blooded eye, the acting level is junior high school. People read their lines as though they're seeing them on a Teleprompter for the first time.” Now, if you ask me, it's a rather oversimplified definition of what makes an exploitation film. I wouldn't even go so far as to call Jurassic Park an exploitation film. I don't think Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, or Richard Attenborough are bottom basement actors by any stretch of the imagination, so to me all Lewis's quote proves is judging performance is just as subjective as judging anything else. I doubt they cost a lot to get, but that's not due to a lack of talent, but because they weren't big box office draws, and the bulk of the film's cost had to go to create the dinosaurs. I recognize its B movie roots, but an exploitation film? No way! But you know one thing that never prevented Lewis from calling Jurassic Park an exploitation film? The budget. Jurassic Park cost $63 million to produce. If exploitation films are based solely on their limitations, no one would know better than Hershel Gordon Lewis. If he didn't like Jurassic Park, that's fine, but if exploitation films were still determined by their limited on-hand finances, then the last thing Lewis would have called Jurassic Park is an exploitation film, no matter how much he disliked it.

      On the same page as Lewis's quote are three posters; the posters for Jaws, Carrie, and War of the Worlds. Here’s what the captions under the posters say:
      “Jaws: If a poster nailed all that was exploitable about a movie's premise, this is it. Jaws, possibly the most iconic piece of mass-marketed ballyhoo ever designed.
      Carrie: Brian De Palma’s stylish and compelling Carrie followed Polanski’s Rosemary's Baby and Friedkin’s The Exorcist into the ranks of classic Hollywood movies derived from modern horror fiction, and in the blood-drenched Carrie White gave the mainstream its first goretastic poster-girl.
      War of the Worlds: A war indeed. The thrilling and massively expensive War of the Worlds sees Steven Spielberg's insatiable lust for exploitation glory continue…”

      So, why is Steven Spielberg getting so much attention in a book about Exploitation? If you'll indulge me one final time, I'll tell you, in two sentences:

      “The relationship between the majors and the (Exploitation) Independents changed forever with the advent of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and George Lucas's Star Wars. Grisly shocks and fairground thrills were no longer the sole province of the Exploitation Independents.”

      So, after all that, is Kong: Skull Island a big budget exploitation film? Well, with its Vietnam allegory, habitual extreme close ups to eyes, and allusions to Italian violence, I might certainly call it a pastiche of the Macaroni Combat genre. The cast is chock full of actors who have starred in Marvel Studios films, what one might call big budget B movies, and the script might be thin on character, contain dialogue that simply exists to get those thin caricatures from Point A to Point B, if for no other reason but to move the plot so we can give the main attention to the giant monkey and lurid creatures, so it might meet other people's criteria of what makes an exploitation film. But is it an exploitation film? Maybe that determination is really just as subjective as whether the movie is good or bad.

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  9. These are my favourite podcast - usually when JB and Patrick are trying to figure out an odd movie, even if it is a movie I enjoyed more than they did. I agree about the multiple coloured pages and different movies. I did prefer the Samuel L. Jackson movie because it reminded me of Moby Dick (sorry if this is completely obvious to everyone else) and that is where the Vietnam allegory kinda fitted in with a crazy Ahab character even if it didn't gel with the rest of the movie. But then Kong used a propeller as a knuckle duster and I was happy again. Obviously I am easy to please.

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  10. I kind of loved this movie. There are definitely some script problems; it is a little odd how quickly everyone got over what John Goodman did, but nothing that hampered my enjoyment or knocked the near permanent grin from my face. I loved that it wasn't afraid to be silly. Sometimes in a gruesome way, like the spider, but mostly just in a fun way. Like with everything John C Reilly did. Also, the look of the movie, both in the design and how it was shot.

    They did a great job of differentiating this version of Kong from Peter Jackson's. He is essentially a giant bigfoot instead of a giant gorilla. And he fights like a wrestler, which is a lot of fun to watch.

    I would argue the no memorable lines, but I can't quite remember the exact wording of one that immediately springs to mind. It was Whigham's character just after the first encounter with Kong, when's hes being completely nonchalant while everyone else freaks out. "That was an unusual (unorthodox? unexpected? un-something) encounter." I can't get it quite right, but that is more about my memory than the lines. Of course, the larger point about the terrible dialogue is inarguable. About half lines are not things a person would say. Honestly, though, it only added to my enjoyment.

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  11. I haven't listened to the podcast yet, and I'm pretty sure I don't need to to know how Patrick and JB felt about it. I was pretty disappointed - I saw it in IMAX 3D so I was impressed with the spectacle of it, but by turning Kong into a God, albeit a semi-benevolent one, they took away that relatable aspect Kong has always had. I can't feel sympathy based on smelliness and hairiness alone! Kong is less of a CHARACTER in this iteration than ever. Sad!

    A couple snarky musings:

    1. So many shots of Larsleston just looking pretty - yawn!

    2. I wish this was as good of a movie as it was an advertisement for the soundtrack of the movie. Or as it was titled in an earlier release: "All the Most Overused On-the-Nose Soundtrack Songs of the 70s"

    I'd like to use this comment to address Hollywood - I know you're reading - STOP handing over 100s of millions of dollars to indie directors if you're going to panic and meddle and fuck everything up. Godzilla, Jurassic World and the horrendously unpunctuated Kong Skull Island reek of fear. I find the odd, unsure mixture of tones in both JW and KSI particularly similar - there is no singular vision here. Go all in on these guys or hire the sure things that will let you sleep at night while they make the movie.

    Looking forward to the podcast - not looking forward to inevitably buying my ticket to King Kong v Godzilla: Dawn of Monster Justice when I know I'm punching myself in the dick.

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    1. Prepare to have a lot of your feelings legitimized.

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    2. Thanks John but you should have prepared me for "Blood on Your Thigh"! Dying here.

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    3. I dare say that the trend of Indi director given big budget is because they are easier to be told what to do/be pushed around by the studio execs.

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    4. Michael GiammarinoMarch 16, 2017 at 9:51 PM

      It probably also helps that the studio doesn't have to pay a hotshot indie director the same kind of money they'd pay an A-list director. I can't speak for how the studio treated Vogt-Roberts during the production, but I do know the concept for the film was his and the studio went along with it. The studio initially wanted the film to be another redux of the classic Kong story. Except, of course, for the end.

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    5. Confused how someone could possibly be bored of shots of Brie Larson lookong pretty....

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    6. Brad - I dare say you might be onto something! (Good to see you - hope fatherhood is treating you well!)

      Michael - I believe that the concept was his and I believe it could have been a good one. I would also have to guess that at some point the studio chickened out and started meddling. I hope so for Vogt-Roberts' sake, otherwise I'd have to say he's a bit of a hack. There was a lot of playing it safe. I am grateful that it isn't strictly a King Kong redux - we certainly didn't need another one of those - but I still don't think it strayed far enough away from the formula to justify its existence. Other than setting up the franchise, of course. And look, like JB and Patrick were worried about, I do feel like a bit of an asshole shitting on this movie that a lot of people seem to like a lot - I don't want to rain on any parades. But I'm also not willing to compromise my personal expectations because I have seen a lot of really good big budget spectacle movies that work on all of the levels that matter to me.

      Daniel - I see your point but if I wanted to look at photographs of Brie Larson I would look at the creepy scrapbook I keep hidden in the crawlspace.

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    7. Hey buddy, its going really well thanks. Having my first time away from her at the moment (her and her mum are visiting family), so ill see how i go after a couple days. If Weekend Open thread has a heartfelt entry from me about Jersey Girl, then you'll know things aren't going well.

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    8. Haha - right on man. And hey, I'm at the stage where a few days at home without the wife and kid would be kinda awesome (for starters he's really quite pushy about not wanting me to play guitar, so I've got some catching up to do there) so try to enjoy it for me, huh?

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  13. Can you at least refer to this shared cinematic universe by its actual name? It's called the MonsterVerse. That is a real thing. (Softly weeps)

    Loved the podcast! I actually liked the movie but I think it's only because I really like seeing giant ape monsters. #ImPartOfTheProblem

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  14. I had a good enough time with the movie, so I'll call it a good movie. Although, I saw it four days ago and have forgotten large chunks of it (listening to the podcast, several times I went "Oh right, that happened"), so I guess forgettable is the right word.

    Am I the only one who was bothered that the ending was shot like a home movie, but couldn't be a home movie inside the movie? There were shots from inside the house while Reilly still stood on the doorstep, and it was too well cut together.

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    1. YES that drove me insane. Why shoot it like a Super 8 home movie when it so clearly isn't (and doesn't even try to be, except in the very first shot of the sequence)? This doesn't make any goddamn sense.

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  15. Patrick, I had the exact same reaction regarding the racial "issues". I'm putting it in quotes because I'm note positive there actually are issues, but I sure wondered if the sequence or even the whole Jackson plot would have been acceptable, would the character have been a white dude. I think that had to be a question at some point, and it would have caused way too much controversy (even with the best of intentions), and they couldn't possibly afford that risk.

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    1. For what it's worth, IMDb says Jackson's role was originally going to be played by J.K. Simmons, but he had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts.

      Of course the role may have changed significantly since then.

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  16. Well done JB, you did it again?

    "Would it be less or more racist if the guy was white?"

    My head has been all day thinking about this scene and what it means?

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    1. Michael GiammarinoMarch 15, 2017 at 7:14 PM

      Dennis, I was giving yours and JB’s point some thought and here's what I've came up with:

      Kong ‘33 dealt with the whole beauty and the beast angle, so it's easy to see racial subtext there.

      Kong ‘76 was even more blunt with the racial subtext.

      Not as blunt as ‘76, I can still see there being racist subtext in Kong ‘05, though unintentional, due to the subject matter and adhering so closely to the ‘33 film.

      But I don't think Kong: Skull Island applies. Here's why:

      It's not a beauty and the beast story. There's no way I can see someone arguing racial subtext to the film, since there is no sacrifice, and no connection between a female character and Kong. Yes, Kong rescues Brie in one sequence, but it doesn't lead to anything that can be read into subtextually.
      Sam Jackson's character has it in for Kong, and there is subtext to be gleaned from it, but I would argue it isn't racial. For Jackson, Kong represents Vietnam and the Viet Cong. Or Viet Kong, if you will. (That the natives are Asian back this up.) Kong is the war that must be won, and Sam and Sam’s company are damn well going to win this time.
      Even if J.K. Simmons had been cast instead of Sam, I don't think a white vs black message could be read, because Kong would still represent Vietnam and the Viet Cong.

      If someone wanted to find a racial message in the film, based on what has come before in the franchise, I think it would be unavoidable, but that being said, I still think it'd be a reach. There's always people who read into films and read messages in the text that was not the intention of the filmmakers. I'll admit, I've been known to read into things way too deeply myself. That, or I've at least been accused of it.

      Of course, I could be totally wrong, but as of now, that's what I'm taking away from the film.

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    2. This movie is nothing if not all text.

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  17. I wont argue with you guys, because I know this isnt a "great film". But I went in with low expectations, and this turned out to be my second favorite movie of the year so far (behind Get Out). It was the best popcorn fun entertainment I've had in a theater in a long time!

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