Movie Reviews 

Last Flag Flying

by Alan Rapp on December 1, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Last Flag Flying
  • IMDb: link

Last Flag Flying movie reviewLast Flag Flying is a by-the-numbers road trip movie featuring three talented actors (Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne) and an experienced director (Richard Linklater), all of whom have done more memorable work. The film centers around Carell’s character seeking out two Vietnam War buddies when he learns his son’s body is being shipped back from Afghanistan. Having not seen each other in decades, and tied together by an irresponsible act that left another member of their unit dead, the odd couple of Fishburne and Cranston begin the long journey to help their old friend bury his son.

There’s nothing really wrong with the film, other than being Linklater’s least-ambitious project in recent memory. This is the man who spent more than a decade putting Boyhood together and crafted the most accurate version of a Philip K. Dick story we’ve ever seen on film. The solid, if predictable, script offers plenty of moments for each of the three actors to shine. It has its heart in the right place and should play well to both military and civilian families alike, although I didn’t find the film’s emotional moments as affecting as the film’s premise suggests.

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The Square

by Alan Rapp on December 1, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Square
  • IMDb: link

The Square movie reviewI’ll be honest, I don’t know exactly what to make of The Square. It’s hard to create a satire poking fun at pretentiousness when your film is at least as pretentious as as the subject of your mockery. Swedish writer/director Ruben Östlund‘s film certainly provides its share of moments satirizing modern art, middling celebrities, what wealthy donors of the arts really care about, and marketers. However, the film is over-brimming with subplots involving a threatening letter, a mugging, an angry child, a crazy one-night stand (Elisabeth Moss), and a marketing plan so ridiculous it’s impossible to take it seriously.

Claes Bang stars as the curator and public face of a museum in Stockholm about to unveil their newest addition (which gives the film its name). The wistful, if hopelessly naive, piece of art is a square in which the artist believes that whoever enters leaves all negativity behind and will receive whatever help they need from those that pass by. As concepts go it’s no more or less ridiculous than an artist (Terry Notary) jumping around like an ape and nearly sexually-violating a young woman during a dinner for wealthy donors.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

by Alan Rapp on November 22, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • IMDb: link

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri movie reviewI’ve been waiting all year for a front-runner, a film to set the standard to which every movie that follows will have to try to measure up. I don’t have to wait any longer. Writer/director Martin McDonagh takes us to a little-used patch of road in rural Missouri where the sudden use of three derelict billboards begin to raise the eyes of the local community.

After months of seeing no progress in the investigation into her daughter’s (Kathryn Newton) gruesome murder, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) rents out those three unused billboards to send a message to the community in general and the cancer-stricken Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) in particular.

Darkly humorous, yet deadly serious, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an immensely-watchable and thoroughly-enjoyable film. Filled with flawed, angry, sullen, and sad characters, the film offers no easy answers, no heroes or villains (although Sam Rockwell‘s shit-kicker Southern deputy comes damn close), but just people of varying character doing what they believe is right.

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Coco

by Alan Rapp on November 22, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Coco
  • IMDb: link

Coco movie reviewPixar’s nineteenth feature isn’t one of the studio’s best, but it does display plenty of heart. We open to extended narration setting up the life and family of young Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) whose family’s hatred of music makes the first-half of the movie seem like Footloose with dead people. More than anything in the world Miguel wants to be a musician which, through a somewhat convoluted series of events, sends him into the netherworld on Día de Muertos when the spirits can leave the Land of the Dead and visit their living relatives (only if their families have remembered to place their picture in the family ofrenda, or altar).

Once Miguel is loose in the Land of the Dead, with only a single day to find his way back home, the film picks up. After meeting relatives whose blessing he needs to return to the land of the living, but who will provide it only if the boy promises to give up his music, Miguel goes in search of his long lost great-great grandfather who he believes to be one of the greatest musicians of all time (Benjamin Bratt). Relying on the help of a dog and a skeleton named Hector (Gael García Bernal), Miguel begins his quest.

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The Man Who Invented Christmas

by Alan Rapp on November 22, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Man Who Invented Christmas
  • IMDb: link

The Man Who Invented Christmas movie reviewOn television, stage, and in film there have been plenty of adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol over the years (Mickey Mouse and Bill Murray have provided two of my favorites). The latest from director Bharat Nalluri and screenwriter Susan Coyne, based on Les Standiford‘s book, doesn’t add much new to the proceedings, but proves to be an enjoyable holiday romp focused on the turmoil in Dickens’ (Dan Stevens) life and the creation of one of his most famous works. The script follows a familiar path seen before with authors talking directly to their characters and stealing names and lines from real-life to work into their writing. The later reminded me of Shakespeare in Love, which had far more wit than we find here.

The main takeaway of the movie seems to be that Dickens had as much Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) in him as Bob Cratchit, and only by coming to terms with the fact was he able to finish the book that had ties to his own troubled upbringing. Stevens is likable enough in the role, with serviceable support from Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Morfydd Clark, and others while the movie brings Victorian London, and various Dickens’ characters, to life.

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