Another week, another bundle of cinematic joy to gush about! :-DALICE (2022) marks not only an assured first-time directorial/screenwriting debut for Krystin Ver Linden and a great vehicle for the talents of Keke Palmer ("Hustlers") and Common (who also co-produced the movie and helped score it), but a welcomed return to the most rarified of cinematic species: the GOOD Tarantino-inspired clone. I knew ZERO about "Alice" when I saw it a couple of hours ago, and my mind was blown no less than three times. One moment it's "12 Year A Slave" with Jonny Lee Miller playing a John Hawkes-ish sadistic slave owner. Then it becomes "Hot Tub Time Machine," but realistic and serious while stylishly paying homage to 70's blaxploitation cinema. Any movie in which Pam Motherfucking Grier's "Coffy" inspires the hero to take action is aces in my book, but there's so much more to "Alice" than its ripe-for-ridicule premise or magical bean. Can't say anything more without major spoilers, so make sure to see this ASAP with as few details as possible so you can relive that lovely feeling at the end of "Inglorious Bastards" or most of "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood." Highly recommended, especially for Alicia Witt's tiny role that almost steals the whole movie.UMMA (2022, theater), another work by a first-time female writer/director (Iris K. Shim), doesn't fly as high as "Alice" but marks an interesting collaboration between producer Sam Raimi and North Korean filmmakers. Sandra Oh plays a bee keeper with a teenage daughter (Fivel Stewart, TV's "Atypical") whose Americanized and isolated lifestyle falls apart when the remains of her dead mother are brought over from North Korea by a pissed-off uncle (Tom Yi). A never-ending parade of 'PG-13' jump scares follow, so many and in such a repetitive pattern you can feel the jump scares off-camera standing in line while texting, smoking and waiting for their turn. :-P While actual terror is in short supply, the themes of motherly obsession and guilt passed from one generation to the next are treated seriously in-between the genre tropes. Dermot Mulroney and Odeya Rush ("Lady Bird") feel like cannon fodder in the waiting, but end up (like "Umma's" ending) making the most of very deliberate choices. Worth a rental, but this isn't the second coming of "The Unholy" I was secretly hoping for. :-(Speaking of (a) Asian motherly monsters terrorizing their Westernized teenage daughters and (b) Sandra Oh crushing it, TURNING RED (2022, theater) feels like a cross between "Shrek" and a junior version of "The Incredible Hulk" set in early aught's Toronto. The way Disney treated the movie (dumping it to Disney+ streaming at the last minute rather than risk it not making as much money in theaters opposite "The Batman" as the Pixar brand should) overshadows that it's one hell of an entertaining family picture (pitch-perfect comedic timing throughout) that wrings a ton of pathos from its relatable generational, mother-daughter and cultural conflicts. A couple of times the tension feels artificial and manipulative (Meilin attacking Tyler at the latter's birthday bash), but the "Hulk"-like predicament of the protagonist and her relationship with a gang of besties milk the female hero's journey tropes for every ounce of emotion Pixar's a master at manipulating for cinematic gold. Entertaining as hell and highly recommended, especially if you can manage to see "Turning Red" in a theater like you're supposed to. :'(
To be pedantic, Umma isn't Shim's first movie, but her first feature. Her documentary THE HOUSE OF SHU is very worth your time.
[CONTINUED FROM ABOVE]Robert Zemeckis' ROMANCING THE STONE (1984, HBO Max) has no business working as well as it should, especially with a dated-as-fuck 80's score from Alan Silvestri that kills all the tension from its handful of decent-but-it's-not-"Raiders of the Lost Ark" action scenes. What the script lacks (though every few pages there are gems of clever dialogue to look forward to) the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner (with Danny DeVito as biting-his-tongue comic relief) carry the weight of the film, an inspired-by-"Raiders" romantic adventure that's as lightweight as the female characters' hairdos are feathered. Worth seeing on HBO Max for yet another stellar 4K transfer that makes an old flick look new again. :-DJoe Wright's CYRANO (2022, theater) did a magnificent job disguising the fact it's a musical (and an inspired-by-Baz Luhrmann-but-dialed-down hip musical at that). Unfortunately once my paying butt was in the theater seat the singing/dancing began, and its mostly forgettable. Edmond Rostand's theatrical play has proven to be endlessly re-adaptable into different genres/stories for decades, but going musical sinks "Cyrano" because its eventual high dramatic points are undermined by underwhelming musical interludes. Haley Bennett is a decent Roxanne, but Keira Knightly (Joe Wright's muse in his previous, better period pieces) she's not. Ben Mendelsohn is a fun, mustache-twirling De Guiche and Kelvin Harrison Jr.'s a passable Christian. Despite being too old for the role and half of the nepotism power couple at the center of "Cyrano" due to being married to screenwriter Erica Schmidt (Wright and Bennett being the other half), Peter Dinklage towers over everyone and everything else in the flick. The pained look in Dinklage's face as he deceives Roxanne (matched only by his fake bravado as he builds Christian into the man of Roxanne's dreams) is reason enough to rent/watch "Cyrano," even if Peter also can't sing a tune that's worth a damn. Great looking film, lousy musical execution.Last and surprisingly least, Kim Ki-young's THE HOUSEMAID (1960, TCM) came with the baggage of supposedly being a classic of North Korean cinema. I was expecting supernatural thrills, but instead got psychological horror about a married man's indiscretion (Jin Kyu Kim) with a young housemaid (Eun-shim Lee) threatening his marriage to an unsuspecting wife (Jeung-nyeo Ju). It clearly served as inspiration for other films (most notably Adrian Lyne's "Fatal Attraction") and dealt with adult themes surprisingly mature for '60, but overall "The Housemaid" was too slow, stilted and boring for me. Shame, but not all classic foreign movies stand the test of time. :-(
Ah, you make ALICE sound like it has to be on my list. Which, you know, I take a long time getting to, but eventually I do. I heard TURNING RED was a metaphor for menstruation. I just thought that was funny. Also, awesome. But I have no idea if it's true and know nothing about the film except for what you wrote. I dislike Romancing The Stone. My dad always plays it. And I just don't get it...like at all. I even rewatched it just to try to see what other people were talking about, and usually I generally like (not love, but can appreciate) those super-action romcoms. I'm missing something! I remain very curious about Cyrano.
Also, I didn't realize Cyrano was Joe Wright, who did Anna Karenina (2012). That movie was so unusual. It was like a different kind of musical, that I'd never seen before. It felt so creative. Maybe that's the vibe Cyrano is giving me in the trailer that I can't forget. But Keira Knightly - ack! I feel like she ruins all the period pieces she is in. YET, I'm clearly in a small boat on that one.
Pixar has earned the right to swing for the fences and strike out, and those misses could still make for interesting movies. "Turning Red" isn't a stinker, but I could see why it'd make some female viewers uncomfortable with the emotions it brings up that wouldn't be there if the main protagonist wasn't a female pre-teen. Bottom line: it's streaming on Disney+ now, see it ASAP and talk about it HERE! :-DPeter Dinklage is the reason "Cyrano" was made and why the dramatic parts in it resonate so strongly. The man's an acting beast incapable of NOT being interesting, but he alone cannot make you NOT listen to the music/songs all around him that make this film a disappointment, IMHO. YMMV, which is why you should see it and make up your own mind about it. :-)
You got it. To my sister- no more lame brain sound of music on repeat this week, we're watching Turning Red!
LOL, don't disparage "lame brain sound of music" so strongly. It plays an important role in "Turning Red's" plot... as in major! :-P
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Woot! im with you Meredith!! No Way Home was one of my fav movie experiences last year. I was fortunate enough to catch it before knowing about alot of the bonus "cameos" and ate it up with a spoon..so much fun and so much reverence for each iteration of spidey. As for your Teacher movie question...its surprisingly tough! tons of great stuff about important teachers but usually focused on one teacher. will keep thinking about it. there was a flick in the 80s called, ironically enough, Teachers with Nick Nolte..i havent seen it since then so i dont know if it checks all the boxes..but maybe thats a candidate.
Ahh, I had to delete my comment bc I realized there were spoilers! Ack. Terrible. That movie is so good with no spoilers!Mashke, Yea, had a similar experience. Went in knowing almost nothing about it (and hadn't seen the previous Spider-Man movies since Raimi) and it pretty much blew my mind. Very fun. Nick Nolte!? No way! I think I like him? Anyway, he's crazy and he always has beefs with people, right? I am def going to check out this movie. Haha. Thank you!
Awww..didnt mean for you to delete your comment...plus with Spidey recently rleased on streaming they've actually implemented the other Spideys into marketing now so i think its all good! (the photo of the 3 of them in classic meme pose is priceless).YO F THIS GANG! If any of you knows of ANY movies that involve teachers working together...not just a single exceptional teacher...but a group of them helping out as a team...shout em out! Gauntlet Thrown!
TEACHERS (1984) looks so good - like spot on. Nick Nolte, Ralph Macchio, Laura Dern, Crispin Glover, Judd Hirsch, Morgan Freeman... gonna find out how to watch this tonight. What a find. Thanks, Mashke!
Lean On Me (1989) kind of fits that. It's more about the principle (Morgan Freeman), but all the teaching staff and students kind of join to work together in the end. I haven't seen it since the early 90's, but watching it a ton back them. I think our neighours only 3 VHS's and one of them was Lean On Me, so it got heavy rotation! (No cable where we lived either).
Thanks, Paul. Sounds like a comfort movie. I love those.
Howdy F This Crew! Hope each and every one of you caught a leprechaun this week! They're magically delicious!Copshop (2021 Redbox purchase)LOVED it. Im a pretty big fan of Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo in movies so having them faceoff is a great setup. Im not going to reveal too much as this flick does a wonderful job of revealing motivations slowly. I will say this...tonally its a movie in two parts..the first half is slow-ish and almost setup like a stage play set in a prison cell...then the 2nd half goes full batsh@t action with strong shades of Assault on Precinct 13. Both halves work wonderfully together. Movie highpoint is performance by Alexis Louder as a police officer trying to figure things out and stay alive. Action fans..dont sleep on this one..its a blast! (literally).
Aside from some ropey CG involving a car on fire, "Copshop" is a ton of fun. Butler and Grillo's verbal face-off across locked cells is the highlight, even if the whole thing feels like a throwback to the "Pulp Fiction"-inspired clones that flooded the market in the late 90's. Thumbs up, soldier Mashke! :-D
haahahaha thanks Captain JM!! totally agree with you about the Pulp clone era vibe. Funny you mention it as ive been meaning to go back and revisit flicks from that period (stuff like Seven Psychopaths..Shoot Em Up...Smokin Aces..etc). I really liked the tonal shift in this movie and the non stop craziness of the final act.
Anyone see "X" yet?? I havent had a chance but the buzz (chainsaw buzz? ha!) is strong and i cant wait. If you have, let me know your spoiler free thoughts!!!
Patrick tweeted about "X" recently. 🙂
I saw it Thursday. It's good! Strangely enough it's both a horror movie that never scared me and a black comedy that never made me laugh, but I'm still recommending it. West leans in hard to the inherent absurdity of his own premise, but also gives us kind of a heartbreaking look into the sadness and bitterness that comes with aging. I'll be interested to see it again when it comes out on disc, West does some really interesting things with his transitions and I want to know if they're meaningful or not lol.
fuking love your review Brian...thanks!!!
Watched "X" and Ambulance.Did Ti West watch The Visit and think this needs more sex & killings with a 70s grindhouse look? "X" was a pretty good slasher and a perfect movie to watch on Slashers! Day during Junesploitation. Lots of cool shots!Next up, Michael Bay's Ambulance. I got to see an early screening of this masterpiece for free. So, I shouldn't complain but it's like a Michael Bay parody movie....terrible dialogue, dumb as rocks plot, out of place unfunny jokes and poorly edited action scenes. 4 out of 10.
you had me at "screening of this masterpiece for free". LOL!
After loving Fail Safe (1964), I decided to watch another Sidney Lumet movie, and rented The Hill (1965) starring Sean Connery and others I'm less familiar with. It's a military prison drama, when an overzealous officer kills one of the immates, leaving the other prisoners and officers/jailers dealing with the aftermath. It was based on a play, and certains feels like it (there's no score), with most of the movie taking place in a handful of rooms, or in the "courtyard" of the prison. I really loved the camera work here. It feels like Lumet isn't ever going for an easy shot, and the camera wonkiness builds up as the tension in the prison rises. Sean Connery also puts on a fantastic performance as well as the doctor and head prison warden.
Hi gang! What up?So a year and a half ago a low-budget American movie was filming in Tampere, my home town. It was a bit of a news story here, since it's not every day that people like Karen Gillan and Aaron Paul visits our tiny country. Apparently Finland offered a safe environment for filming during the pandemic. Anyway, that made the movie in question mildly intriguing to me, but it took me a year and a half to put together that that movie was Dual, Riley Stearns' new movie! I loved both Faults and The Art of Self-Defense, so I was totally in, plus it was released here in Finland this week, a month ahead of its American release.So I just got home from seeing Dual, and I loved it. It's definitely a Riley Stearns movie, there's that same dark humor and low-key absurdity as his other movies, this time tinged with a dash of sci-fi. If you liked The Art of Self-Defense, I can't imagine you not liking this one.Plus it was fun recognizing some of the locations. One short scene was shot literally across the street from me at the doorstep of my local library. And most of the smaller roles are played by Finnish actors, which you can definitely tell by their accents. I guess most of the side characters clearly not being native English-speakers just adds to the weirdness of the world the movie's set in. Or it's also possible that I was just hyper-sensitive about it.
woot! great review Mikko. im a big fan of Karen G so ill definitely check it out and enjoy some of your surroundings. take care friend!
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON (2021). Gave this one another try. I love sword-swingin' fantasy adventure stuff, but something about this movie just isn't clicking with me. Is more plot-heavy than character-focused? I can't put my finger on it. It certainly looks great, though. ROMANCING THE STONE (1984). "Just look at those snappers!" NAKED LUNCH (1991). I don't know. Basically a love story between a man and his magical talking typewriter. It's a drugs/sci-fi combo with all the creatures and stuff, but also a little bit film noir with all the dingy hotel rooms and sense of paranoia. What can I say? It's Cronenberg.