Bad Boys For Life (2020)

As Disney soaks up just about every viable property and franchise in Hollywood, studios have sought out some of the more vacant properties, and here comes the long dormant “Bad Boys” series. With the nineties as popular as ever, “Bad Boys For Life” is a great property to revive. The new sequel acts as a soft reboot that could potentially help it live past Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and in to the “Fast and the Furious” long road. “Bad Boys For Life” is a shockingly good restart for a new series, and I like how the producers take the titular heroes and allow them to grow in a world that’s becoming harder to keep up with.

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VHYES (2020)

It’s hard to imagine a more bizarre experimental movie I’ve come across in years. Jack Henry Robbins’ film “VHYes” at its best is a funny, smart, experiment with nostalgia, while at its worst, it feels like a weak pilot for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim expanded in to a near feature length movie. Some might appreciate the jarring changes in tone and bite size comedy that is peppered throughout “VHYes” and while I thought it left much to be desired, it also had a lot going for it, with some fascinating commentary about nostalgia and memories. It really wants to be “Amazon Women on the Moon,” at the end of the day, but it ends as a mildly fascinating meshing of genres, and comedic bits.

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1917 (2019)

Gimmick films are a pain in the ass, because the gimmickry that frames the production ultimately suffocates their effectiveness. Think of Robert Montgomery’s “The Lady in the Lake” with klutzy use of the camera as the narrator’s POV, the Ray Milland thriller “The Thief” that struggled without spoken dialogue or Lars von Trier’s “Dogville” and “Manderley” with their irritating bare-bones black-box theater settings – the respective gimmicks brought more damage than enhancement to these works.
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Yesterday (2019) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

Director Danny Boyle and writer Richard Curtis have a fascinating premise for “Yesterday,” and when all is said and done, after two hours, they—have a fascinating premise. They don’t actually do much with it, in all honesty. They take what could have been a unique and bizarre tale about an iconic band completely inexplicably being erased from all of culture around the world and turn it in to a conventional tale of rags to riches. I mean the script does nothing with the idea of the Beatles not existing. What would happen to all the singers, performers, bands, and artists they inspired? Would they cease to exist as a whole? “Yesterday” barely scratches the surface at two hours.

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001): Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray]

The thing about cinema is that it’s an often very literal art form that takes what is often very metaphorical or performance art about stage productions and has a hard time supplanting it for the audience. For “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” it’s a very good cult rock film that often feels like it has to be seen on stage in order to soak in the true experience. I’m not trying to take away what a cult classic John Cameron Mitchell’s musical drama is, but I couldn’t quite help but feel that “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” could have been much more appreciated as a live show.

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Rocketman (2019)

Another year, another mediocre big budget biopic, filled with Oscar aspirations, about a musical genius. I’m a huge fan of Elton John, and have been for years, but he deserves so much more than what is mainly just a serviceable musical drama about his life. While it gets credit for consciously dodging biopic tropes (and seems to also be a retort to “Bohemian Rhapsody” which openly shied away from Freddie Mercury’s sexuality), “Rocketman” only inspired me to re-visit his classic music.

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The Reliant (2019)

“The Reliant” is that movie you watch when you thought that 1984’s “Red Dawn” wasn’t jingoistic enough and well–just didn’t preach enough about the love for guns and God, dagnabit. What we get is post-apocalyptic clap trap where a group of wholesome, blonde, upper class, white kids and their guns survive an economic collapse as they are relentlessly hunted by evil, gun toting atheists. “The Reliant” is based on a book that is perfect fodder for Kevin Sorbo and his increasing library of movies that preach about Christianity, and the danger of not being Christian.

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Cats (2019)

Twenty five years too late, “Cats” is that kind of Broadway hit that may have worked wonders on the stage but fails spectacularly when it’s given a very literal adaptation on screen (e.g. “Jersey Boys”). I say that as someone that’s never liked “Cats” or really ever seen the big deal behind it. I barely stayed awake during a production airing on PBS back in the mid-nineties, and I only fondly remember it thanks to a classic TV ad that played around the clock in the eighties and nineties. “Cats” has always been that production I hope studios would stop trying to put on to the big screen.

And sadly, here we are. Oh the horror.

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