‘All I See Is You’ is one of the worst movies of 2017

You’ll never get these minutes back

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What if you had the chance to restore something in that life that had been unfairly taken away at a young age?

Marc Forster’s latest film, All I See Is You, explores these questions with meandering and rather unpleasing results. Imagine an empty bottle floating down a lake endlessly, and that’s this movie.

All I saw here was absolute incoherent shit.

Gina (Blake Lively) is a gorgeous and young blind woman who is suddenly granted sight in her right eye by her doctor (Danny Huston) due to a cutting edge procedure. Her husband, James (Jason Clarke), is initially supportive of her new ability and life, but becomes skeptical when Gina’s behavior begins to change, and her freedom blooms.

As her sight gives way to certain paranoia and trepidation in their home in Bangkok, Thailand, Gina and Clarke are stricken with the idea of change and control. What if the person closest to you only preferred you a certain way? James’ problem with Gina runs deeper than pure sight, as Forster’s movie messes up a bed that is made up of jealousy and betrayal.

The problem is you don’t care much about Gina or James, so their future prospects become more dim as Forster’s two hour film climbs towards its climax and resolution. Clarke and Lively don’t build an ounce of chemistry, so the audience is grasping at straws in the end.

At first, you will sympathize with Lively’s Gina, who is encountering a brand new world full of color and opportunity. Then, you’ll wonder about James’ position for a scene or two. The two try to put suture after suture on their union, but it doesn’t work.

All I Can See Is You can’t decide what it wants to be, melodramatic obsessive drama or slow moving thriller, and that lack of focus cripples your investment in the characters. The trailer and plot description make it out to be some mad moving thriller, but it’s painfully slow. It’s half drama with a squeeze of thrills that all fall flat to the screenplay’s (written by Forster and Sean Conway) lack of direction and identity.

Forster could have turned James into something sinister or presented something fresh, but instead he just made an unlikable guy more invisible. A major plot twist is seen from a mile away 45 minutes before the rest of the film catches up, and the end of the film just stops abruptly without resolution.

The acting isn’t bad, but doesn’t contain much flavor to elevate the material. Lively is gorgeous and willing to dig in, but she’s working on hollowed ground here-and she doesn’t have the chops to hold this film up. Clarke is very talented, but he’s stuck playing a well-known stereotype that moviegoers will frown at. The supporting cast contains a bunch of stray faces that seem recognizable from more interesting movies.

The pacing resembles a snail sprinting, which only pushes the viewer further away, while the imagery and cinematography belongs in a traveler’s guide. The music is hopeful, but doesn’t push the story much.

When I left this film, I told the Allied rep waiting for feedback, “what was that?!”

If I were you, I’d skip All I See Is You altogether, because all I saw was nothing.

‘Suburbicon’ review: An absolute waste of time

George Clooney’s latest misses the mark

George Clooney, I’ve had better.

One would think that when an Oscar nominated director gets together with Oscar nominated writers along with Oscar nominated actors, the result would be a touchdown. Instead, Suburbicon is like the Beatles getting back together and playing a few songs from The Wiggles catalog.

The movie star’s latest directorial effort outfitted its cinematic engine with a script from the Coen Brothers and Matt Damon as the star-and the result is an absolute turd of a film. Think about a movie that is empty inside and offers you nothing, and this movie sits on that part of the movie map.

Suburbicon is about a peaceful small town in the 1960’s where everything is perfect and neighbors are like family, but something simply isn’t right. Damon’s Gardner is a businessman living with his wife and sister in law (both played by Julianne Moore) whose home gets invaded by burglars one night, and together with the arrival of an African American family, flips the peaceful town on its head.

Betrayal, deceit, and sudden violence follow. That’s it. This movie has nothing to say, because it wastes time on the wrong story. If Clooney had focused on the race war that overwhelmed so many cities back then, this movie could have been a timely bolt of energy. Instead, it’s another odd and erratic, and incomplete, mess from the Coen Brothers factory.

I hated this movie with a passion. When I left the theater, I felt like I was betrayed by good filmmakers with honest intentions. With a lineup this strong, wasting it on insurance fraud and poisoned milk feels like a bad audible.

To be honest, I’ve never loved Clooney in the director’s chair. While Good Night, and Good Luck was a triumph, The Ides of March and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind came off as disappointments. Suburbicon is just bad.

When Damon and Moore’s characters get into trouble in this movie, you don’t care what happens to them, because the story spent zero time building them up as legit dual-sided characters. You simply don’t care. Oscar Isaacs plays an insurance agent with about three scenes in the film and I cared more about his doomed character. I wanted to know more about every character in the film except the two leads. Isn’t that a bad thing?

I took my dad to see this film, and we’ve watched a lot of good movies together. Before we left, a preview of the film flashed a review that read, “perfectly twisted.” I wonder if that critic and I saw the same film, because Suburbicon was anything but perfect.

If the intentions were to make a dark thriller with some comedy, this missed the mark.

If there was a dialogue about trouble in the 50’s and 60’s and racial tension, this missed the mark, because not enough time was dedicated to it.

If the idea was create a film about how human beings can be monsters, go watch Mother! or Detroit instead.

Suburbicon says very little, doesn’t entertain, and is a waste of time. Skip it all together. Go to the park, watch paint dry, or play checkers all by yourself in a quiet room.

The dream team got together for a movie and in the end, the end result was a wreck.

‘Thank You for Your Service’: A powerful character study on war

For the first time in cinema, Jason Hall has provided a glimpse into that process.

The general perception is that when soldiers come home from Iraq, their problems instantly vanish-but that’s simply not the case. The enemy may no longer be planting IEDs for them to drive over or firing bullets at their heads, but the memories of war never truly leave the psyche.

Jason Hall’s directorial debut, Thank You for Your Service, is a powerful character study on the long-term effects of war on a human mind. This is the first honest portrayal of a soldier’s life at home after the war. With only two scenes taking place in Iraq, Hall’s film centers on the return to civilian life, and the result is an experience that should help real life veterans. Continue reading “‘Thank You for Your Service’: A powerful character study on war”

‘Blade Runner 2049’: An art house film masquerading as a blockbuster

Fuck the box office, this is a masterpiece!

Fuck you, box office numbers!

When Blade Runner 2049 ended and the credits rolled, I was ready to watch it again. I didn’t want to leave the brilliantly crafted world of visionary director Denis Villenueve.

That’s how good this movie is. A sequel made for a reason and executed in a way that makes you want to watch the 1982 original with a fresh palette and wonder about the years in between and how they connect to to this new adventure, but also creating an entirely new and highly invigorating world to dive into.

The story picks up in California in 2049, with a younger blade runner named K (Ryan Gosling) tying up old loose ends for a new boss, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright, appearing in everything these days). Times have changed since Rick Deckard vanished 35 years ago. After the blackout wiped everyone out, a new manufacturer named Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) is bio-engineering new replicants-and doing so with more sinister plans, causing K and Joshi to work in between the lines of good and bad intentions.

When a dark secret is brought to light by K that could change the game, he enlists the help of Deckard to bring down the bad guys. What follows is a good old fashioned adventure-and one with a huge functioning brain. Continue reading “‘Blade Runner 2049’: An art house film masquerading as a blockbuster”

Mother! is a cinematic mindfuck of the highest order

A WTF cinema blend!

I can’t get Mother! out of my head.

A full 12 hours after leaving the theater and the imagery of Darren Aronofsky’s over the top yet boldly provocative new film is seared into my cerebellum, like a strange visitor that won’t get out of my house.

Strange visitors, odd husbands, and bizarre activity flood the plot of this original yet maddening movie. The audience meets our unnamed heroine (Jennifer Lawrence) in a large and mostly empty home in the middle of nowhere, a tranquil existence set up with her husband (Javier Bardem), who happens to be a famous poet. With her husband experiencing writer’s block and her mind busy decorating their new home, a series of strange events befalls the couple, starting with the arrival of unannounced guests in a man (Ed Harris) and woman (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Right off the jump, Mother! establishes an eerily proposition with the audience which is quite blunt: follow me down the rabbit hole as far as you can. The director layers the suspense and shock throughout the two hour running time wisely, slowly turning up the crazy one twist at a time. Continue reading “Mother! is a cinematic mindfuck of the highest order”

‘Wheelman’ trailer: The love child of John Frankenheimer’s car chases and Michael Mann’s action sequences

Jeremy Rush and Frank Grillo aim for something different.

Jeremy Rush’s Netflix original film, Wheelman, features a very angry Frank Grillo-and for good reason. Grillo’s expert driver is pulled away from a job right before he is betrayed and whisked around town by a mysterious voice on a cell phone. He is shoot at repeatedly while getting his daughter out of harms way and trying to figure out who kicked him down the rabbit hole of “holy fuck” bad nights.

Rush isn’t here to make a standard action film that gives you temporary arousal; Wheelman aims to be something else. In the 100 second trailer that dropped Monday, he dials up the tension by introducing old fashioned yet potent SOUNDS into the viewer’s eardrum. The burnt rubber of a tire on wet pavement. The sudden shocking sounds of broken glass from gunshots raining down on Grillo’s Porsche.

It’s like John Frankenheimer’s car chase scenes had sex with Michael Mann’s action bravado, and Wheelman is the fucking baby.

Excuse me, but I like angry Grillo. Frankly, I like all types of Grillo, but this is my favorite blend. The authentic man of action is at his best when he plays anti-heroes with nothing to lose and plenty of reason to be pissed off. When we first meet his driver with no name, Shea Whigham’s criminal is getting into the car and treating the car like a Starbucks, becoming all chatty with the man behind the wheel. Grillo wants none of that bullshit. He’s a professional and his world runs on time.  Continue reading “‘Wheelman’ trailer: The love child of John Frankenheimer’s car chases and Michael Mann’s action sequences”

Forget ‘La La Land’, ‘Battle of the Sexes’ is Emma Stone’s best work

There’s a moment near the end of Battle of the Sexes where Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) turns towards a reporter and corrects a statement. “I never said women were better than men; I just think we deserve more. Is that too much to ask?” King goes on to ask the male reporter if he would have a problem with his wife, sister, or mother being better than him at something, and he says no. Game, set, match!

That is the overall tone of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ new film, which chronicles the legendary match between King and Bobby Riggs in 1973. Two players on opposite sides of the career mountain-one coming into her own with the other barely grasping notoriety-Riggs and King needed each other more than they knew at the time.

What makes Battle of the Sexes a quality film is that it knows where the important part of the story lies-and it’s not on a tennis court. Sure, the tennis scenes, especially the final match between the two players, are well-staged and filmed, but it’s the moments between the games and after the big matches that carry the resounding impact in this movie.

As she was becoming a star, King was battling personal issues and carrying the boulder of women’s rights on her shoulders. She was married to Larry King (Austin Stowell), but she was falling in love with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), a hair dresser she meets in California while on tour. She was playing the best tennis of her career while broadcasters and retired male players (Bill Pullman’s Jack Kramer among them) said women didn’t deserve to be on the same platform as men in the sport.

Enter Riggs. A 55 year old former star of the game who had a laundry list of problems, gambling at the top of the list, but mostly putting himself over everyone else in his life, including his wife (Elizabeth Shue) and kids. What he saw in a potential match with first Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) and King was a chance to not shoot down the idea of women in tennis, but keep his name above water.

What followed was the most popular sporting event to ever broadcast on live television, but also one of the most important battles for women’s rights on and off the court.

Stone is phenomenal in this movie, fully investing herself in the physical appearance and ability of King, as well as her emotions and struggles. This is a complete performance that easily tromps her Oscar winning work in La La Land. Playing every shade of King wasn’t an easy task, but the facial resemblance gets your attention right away, before the emotional recognition comes in later. She finds a way to be magnificent in a tough role without makeup or grandstanding.

Carell is an underrated actor who can blend comedy and drama better than most in Hollywood, and he beautifully portrays Riggs as a man of instant charm but everlasting sorrow. There’s a burning need to be relevant in Bobby Riggs, and Carell finds his way to that decrepit location with a blend of charisma and depth. While he was fighting to keep his own name above water, Riggs was unknowingly helping King cement her own.

Without Stone and Carell’s work, this is a TV movie on ESPN. They make it great and worth the price of admission.

The rest of the cast is fine if not memorable, with Sarah Silverman’s promoter landing some very funny lines throughout the film and Alan Cumming bringing his joyful talents to the fashion designer of the women’s circuit.

Should the film be showered with Oscars? No. Is Battle of the Sexes an important film with great lead performances? Yes.

The secret power of this film is telling a wonderful story at a time where women’s rights were still climbing a mountain and daring to be championed. These days, this tale still carries a lot of weight. Without being overly showy, the film is easy to watch, enjoy, and appreciate.

While not a film that screams awards, Battle of the Sexes is a relevant cinematic treat.