Review: Free Fire

Shoot outs for all.

It's 1978 and two Irish men, Frank (Michael Smiley) and Chris (Cillian Murphy) meet up with their contact Justine (Brie Larson) to buy some guns. They bring along Bernie (Enzo Clienti) and Steveo (Sam Riley) to help load up the goods. They meet the arms dealers, Ord, (Armie Hammer) Vernon, (Shartlo Copley) Martin, (Babou Ceesay) Gordon (Noah Taylor) and Harry. (Jack Reynor) What should be an easy exchange goes wrong in just about every way possible.

I estimate that about 75 of this 90 minute movie take place in an active shoot out. No one gets to stand upright for more than 2 seconds after that. These characters all manage to get shot in some part of their bodies so the spend the rest of the film crawling, hiding, and you guessed it, shooting. It's a hard narrative to keep interesting but the cast are so charismatic that they make it work. Mostly.

Larson, Murphy, Ceesay, and Reynor were my favorites. Armie Hammer was the one that surprised me the most. This role really suit him well. But I need to take a second to complain about billing. And yes, I realize I'm being the pettiest person who ever pettied right now, but I have no idea why Hammer and Copley are billed above Murphy and Larson. I mean, technically I know why, contracts and what not but it makes no sense. Hammer and Copley are arguably slightly lower on the popularity scale than Larson (an Oscar winner) and Murphy. (A Golden Globe nominee) Screen time wise, I think Larson and Murphy slightly edge the other two out as well. But isn't the point of winning and being nominated for awards to kind of bump you up on the billing list? I hope Larson made as much as these other dudes. She deserves it. 

Rant aside, like I said. This movie is mainly a shoot out, there's not a whole lot to elaborate on without getting spoilery. It's a far from perfect film but made for an enjoyable watch.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "You take what you want, girl." - Chris (Cillian Murphy)

Indie Gems: Ceremony

Maybe it's meant to be?

Sam (Michael Angarano) and Marshall (Reece Thompson) are going on a weekend getaway. Marshall thinks its to re-establish their friendship after he's been holed up in his apartment suffering from depression for a year. Sam has other plans. These plans include crashing a party at a beach house to stop his lover, Zoe (Uma Thurman) from getting married to Whit. (Lee Pace)

This isn't the typical love triangle. Zoe isn't marring an asshole. In fact, Whit seems pretty decent, and they look like a good pair. Sam just can't accept being - as Marshall puts it - "a mistress." 

Angarano gives a very energetic performance. He and Thompson have great chemistry and their back and forth banter was great. They would get close to talking about their feelings, then get side tracked with something else. It felt very realistic. Thurman, Pace, and Jake Johnson give good performances in their supporting roles, but it's Angarano and Thompsons' show.

For lack of a better word, the film is a bit spazzy but that made me enjoy it even more.

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "If you would've told me the truth I would've listened to you." - Marshall (Reece Thompson)

Thursday Movie Picks: A Disappearance

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is about disappearances. I could probably do a theme within a theme using Julianne Moore movies alone, but I'll try to avoid that.

1) Brick

Brendon attempts to uncovering the story behind the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend in this high school noir. This is one of the few movies that is so amazing that I can excuse the fact that most of these actors don't look like teenagers. 

2) Changeling 

I loved this movie. Angelina Jolie may be kind of ridiculous in real life but I thought she was great here. The only low point was Jeffrey Donovan and his ever changing accent. 

3) Oldboy

Dae-Su disappears for 15 years and he's understandably pretty pissed about it. This movie is exactly as good as everyone says it is. 

2017 Blind Spot Series: In The Bedroom

What I knew going in: I had seen bits and pieces of this movie before, just never in the right order.

Matt and Ruth Fowler (Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek) are not thrilled that their college age son, Frank (Nick Stahl) is dating an older woman, Natalie with kids. (Marisa Tomei) Although their relationship is a happy one, Frank is showing signs of wanting to skip out on college, and Natalie has an abusive ex-husband, Richard (William Mapother) who is proving to be a problem. 

In The Bedroom is a good film that could've been great. I feel a bit strange saying this, because I think Wilkinson and Spacek are very talented actors, they're just not very exciting ones. After Stahl and Tomei stop appearing on screen consistently, the film ends up dragging a bit. It's not that the story isn't there, because this is a very interesting character study on Matt and Ruth's marriage and lives after tragedy strikes them. But it just felt like it was missing something after starting off so well.

The acting is very good all around, Tomei being my favorite. Wilkinson gets the most to do and carries the film well. The editing was very choppy. I think they were trying to avoid being grittier than they could've been, but the result is that this film that was released in 2001 feels like it could've came from the early 90's. It just needed a bit more polishing to match how strong the story itself is.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "If he's like this now we're gonna be in trouble." - Frank (Nick Stahl)

Indie Gems: Paterson


Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. Yes, he's aware of the irony. He leads a quite life that is so routine he literally wakes up at the same time every day without an alarm clock. He loves to write poetry, but he doesn't share it. His wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) is his biggest supporter, but also his polar opposite. She's spontaneous and ever changing. She encourages him to step out of his box.

I love Adam Driver. I love that he's getting so much attention lately as he's a very fine actor and he gives a wonderful, understated performance here. This type of film needs an interesting actor like him. I'm not trying to insult the film itself when I say that nothing happens. This is just a day in the life type film. We see Paterson writing, listening to the other people on the bus talk. (Bonus, the two teenagers talking about anarchy are the leads from Moonrise Kingdom and it's so perfect)

Films like this are tricky because you need the sense that the lead character is going to change, and we get that with Paterson. His future could be bright if he wanted it to be. He would start something grand. 

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "If it's for you, it's a love poem." - Paterson (Adam Driver)

Thursday Movie Picks: Rivalries

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is Rivalries. There's plenty to chose from this week, so allow me to get to it so I can post quicker than my rivals...or something.

1) Bring It On

You don't get much better than a rivalry between the Toros and the Clovers. I lived for this movie as a teen, and I still think it's good fun now. 

2) Talladega Nights

Ricky Bobby and Jean Girard's Nascar rival made for a hilarious film. I loved the fake commercials they did at the end of the credits too. "If you don't like Big Red then fuck you!"

3)  Black Swan

Nina may think Lily is her biggest rival, but in all actuality, her rival is with herself. 

Review: T2 Trainspotting

"That high cunty voice."

Renton (Ewan McGregor) is a mostly changed man. He's a far cry from the heroin addict we saw take off with a bunch of cash in 1996's original. (Side note, I can't believe that movie is 20 years old) He comes back to Edinburgh intending to pay off his debts to Spub (Ewen Bremner) and Simon. (Johnny Lee Miller) Only Simone isn't ready to let bygones be bygones. He plans on hurting Renton again. Then there's Begbie (Robert Carlyle) freshly escaped from prison and even less happy to hear about Renton than Simon. 

Director Danny Boyle makes it easy on you if you don't re-watch the original right before seeing this. He stitches in scenes from the first one as a reminder to what these lads went to, and I found that welcomed. I'm not sure, even after watching this if Trainspotting actually needed a sequel. Nothing profound happens, but it's nice to see everyone back together again.

The fact paced dialogue, the great performances, the stylish shots, those stay the same. T2 relies on nostalgia and occasionally takes a bit too long to get to the point. It's fairly predictable on top of that, but the laughs I got from it were worth it. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "She's too young for you." - Diane (Kelly Macdonald)