Movie Review: Green Room

I need this poster in my life

Green Room is the punk rock thriller we needed and deserved.

The first time I watched Green Room, it couldn’t have been a more appropriate time. It was around earlier this year and I had recently developed an almost a mad infatuation with punk music. I’m not quite sure what triggered it, but all i know is that for months I was devouring all the info I could find about classic bands like: The Clash, FEAR, Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys.

So when I finally decided to watch the film (after having it in my watch-list for an embarrassing amount of time) it was out of desire to just ingest anything hardcore punk related. I wasn’t expecting the movie to completely blow me away, but as soon the credits hit the screen, I knew this was banger.

Green Room is a tense, claustrophobic, darkly humorous, thriller about Punks vs Neo-Nazis. It has no right being as good as it is.

The unfortunate heroes of our story are Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner). Four members of a struggling punk band called the Ain’t Rights, who get by playing in embarrassingly small venues and siphoning gas when they’re desperate. Contrary to how I just described them, the film does an excellent job of making these characters very likeable. They’re crass yet laid back attitude,clear passion and friendship immediately charms you and succeeds in making later events feel more even harrowing.

Down on their luck after a cancelled show, they begrudgingly accept a gig at a Skinhead bar in the backwoods of Portland. After a particularly hostile set, where they play a cover of the Dead Kennedys song “Nazi punks F**ck Off”, they begin packing up, leading Sam to forget her phone in the green room, only to discover a grisly murder scene. From this point on they become trapped in the green room and the skinhead leader Darcy (played chillingly by Sir Patrick Stewart) comes in to “handle the situation”. From there the film becomes a visceral cramped nightmare.

What was so refreshing about the films premise is the strength of all the characters clashing personalities, and the complexities of the Neo-Nazi groups hierarchy, coupled with a extremely tense build to the gory chaos. The disaster the bands been thrown into feels frighteningly realistic, especially because of the growing real world anxiety of the violent alt-right. I definitely would fear running into a skinhead in the wrong part of town, let alone an entire sect.

The skinheads in the are not portrayed as mustache twirling goons or as mindless killers. This aint that type of movie.

Rather, they’re shown as cold and calculated foot soldiers, who would do anything for “the cause”. This includes faking a stabbing between two willing members to throw off the police and using rabid dogs to hunt our poor musicians. This is in contrast to the band pretty much making most of their decisions pretty much on the fly. Its a war between two ideologies: Living in the moment vs unwavering military-like discipline.

Patrick Stewart is chilling as the Neo Nazi Ring Leader

While the whole cast is great in their own right, the two brightest stars are the late Anton Yelchin as the band leader Pat, and Patrick Stewart as Darcy. These two completely throw themselves into their roles and elevate the movie to classic status. Pats transformation from naive band leader to frenzied survivor is great to watch, and a certain brutal scene involving a door, and some sharp knives will have you cringing. The wit and vulnerability he brings to his character is something you don’t see a lot in horror movies, and its a tragedy that an talent like Yelchin passed so young.

Last but certainly not least we have Darcy, the skinhead leader. As soon as Patrick Stewart casually dropped the n-word, I knew I was in for a treat. Whats terrifying about Darcy is how calm and methodical he is while coordinating atrocities. He speaks calmly and intelligently. Even when talking to the band through the Green Room door, he speaks in warm tones, barely ever raising his voice. This is man who values loyalty, discipline, and most importantly, control. He orders around his men and orchestrates plans with almost navy seal like precision, its like the darkest timeline version of Jean luc Picard. My only gripe is that this is the only character I truly wished we got some background on, to see just how this man fell so far into the Neo-Nazi underworld.

Its pretty safe to say that I love Green Room and Director Jeremy Saulnier is slowing becoming one of my favorite new directors. He is master of playing with audience expectations and is always looking for a way to subvert expectations. If you want a great thriller that doesn’t waste your time, Green Room is where its at.

9 out of 10

Green Room was written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier

Rated R

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Streaming On: Netflix

Godzilla: King Of Monsters was ROYALLY disappointing

The most run-of-mill blockbuster Ive seen in a longtime

I’m gonna be honest and state that my expectations for this movie weren’t high. I wasn’t expecting a beautifully choreographed action movie, and I wasn’t expecting thought provoking drama. I just wanted a fun, and maybe a bit goofy monster movie. And Full disclosure I came into viewing of this…product….slightly tipsy. Everything was set up for this to be a fun night.

Fun was nowhere to be found.

Image result for i expected nothing and was still disappointed
mood for this movie

I have never seen a movie that was this bloated and yet so shallow in a long time. The movie hits you over the head with so much exposition and world building, all for it to not amount to ANYTHING. By the time the actual monsters do show up, I couldn’t care less about what was going on. Unfocused is the best way to describe it.

Lets get what little good there was out of the way first.

  1. The movie itself looks good. Godzilla and other the titans that appear in the movie have weight to them and the scenes where they each make first appearance are handled well enough. The best looking being Mothra, who in my opinon, the movie should have focused on. Mothra arguably has the most breathtaking scenes in the movie.
  2. Ken Watanabe, who plays Dr. IshirĊ Serizawa, gives the best performance in the entire movie. His character is an earnest scientist who just wants the titans are misunderstood creatures, that could benefit mankind, instead of destroying it. Its clear that Watanabe put the most effort into his role, because everyone else looks like their just going through the motions. Why he wasn’t the main character in boggles the mind.

Now to talk about everything else that was awful. The plot, and characters.

The plot is convoluted for absolutely no reason. It has so many characters and plot devices stuffed into it, none of which you actually care about. It wants you care about the main character saving his idiot wife and daughter. It wants you like all of these quirky scientists and soldiers, who all feel they were ripped from a cheesy blockbuster from the 90s. The movie focused on the human element so much, and dumped exposition to such a gross degree, that it drained all the excitement from my body. When the fighting between the monsters actually started I couldn’t care less. THE MAIN THING I WAS THERE TO SEE WAS ROBBED FROM ME.

The main human villain in the film is as generic as they come. So much, that the movie actually forget about him by the time climax arrives! Its honestly hilarious. Theres a little twist near the middle of movie, revealing that a main character was helping the bad guys all along. But its so poorly though out, that it boggles the mind as to why it was even filmed in the first place.

One excuse Ive heard for this movie was “oh its supposed to be all about the action and spectacle, who cares that the plot is bad?”. First of all, the actual battles themselves are OK at best, its nothing we haven’t seen before in similar movies like Pacific Rim or Transformers; just CGI models fighting each other. The awe of CGI action is wearing off, and this movie has only accelerated that for me. Second of all, and I cant stress this enough: Good writing and Good characters give purpose to the action. If the writing doesn’t hold, and the action is just so-so, what exactly is supposed to keep you invested? Thats just asking for me to fall asleep in the theater.

At the end of the day, Godzilla King of Monsters wasn’t the worst Ive ever seen. But it is definitely up there with one of the most baffling and most cliche. Everything about it makes me believe it was cynically written a board room, only trying to satisfy the widest possible audience. And when you to try please everybody, you end up pleasing no one.

RocketMan is the perfect movie to celebrate Pride Month

I left my viewing of “Rocketman” smiling ear to ear.

For the last few months Ive been watching many amazing movies; old and new. But I had come realize over the last few weeks, that a great number of them were either incredibly DARK or ended on slightly nihilistic note. Theres nothing at all wrong with a film that deals with morally bankrupt charterers, in fact some of my favorite films include : Reservoir Dogs, American Beauty, The Master, etc.

But to be blunt. Some of the best films Ive ever seen, are kinda downers.

Rocketman changes that tune ( pun intended), by being great biopic that, while not shying away from the darkest parts of Sir Elton Johns early life ( sex,drugs and Rock n Roll), it doesn’t wallow in darkness or cynicism. Instead it chooses to focus on a story of perseverance, neglectful childhoods , and most importantly, finding self-worth in a truly toxic environment.

The film opens with Elton John (played by Taron Egort) dressed in a bright orange devil suit storming down a corridor. As the song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” plays, we come to find out that Elton is not rushing to perform to adoring fans, but instead has come to rehab center to seek help and explain the events of his life that have led to this very moment. As Elton tells his story, he also physically relives it, with the musical number “The Bitch is Back” taking him back to his childhood.

From there we experience the fantasy-like odyssey that is Elton’s life. Beginning with him discovering his close-to-genius talent with the piano, while dealing with his callous and unloving parents, who seem to see him as an annoyance. Then we go onto his start into pop stardom; meeting his longtime collaborator and friend Bernie Taupin, being discovered by a label and impressing American audiences with his voice and showmanship. Things seem to be going well for Elton.

However with all this success is going on, we truly see and feel how lonely Elton is through all of this. Struggling with sexual identity, afraid to open himself to anyone except his friend Bernie, who is immeadiatly accepting of his friends struggles. Coupled with the baggage of having horrible parents and only feeling genuine from a very small group of people, the film portrays Elton John as figure constantly seeking approval and love, while also becoming more and more flamboyant with his costumes. As his success increases, so does his insecurity and reliance on drugs and alcohol. This is all further stressed by the arrival of John Reid, who becomes Elton’s manager and lover. On the service John is suave and intelligent, but as time goes on we see how truly manipulative and emotionally damaging he really is.

Remember when I said this movie wasn’t depressing?

However through all these trials and traumatic emotional episodes, Rocketman tells a story of redemption and self-care. The classic theme that “all that glitters is not gold”, is used exceptionally well here and that before seeking love and approval from other people, one must first love themselves. All of this beautifully told through great musical numbers, my favorites being “Honkey Cat” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road“. All of actors seem to be loving their roles and play their parts with humor and emotional weight.

The film isn’t perfect though. Some of the writing is VERY corny ,a little too on the nose , and it doesn’t help the story starts to drag near the end. Also, while the movie doesn’t shy away from the problematic parts of Elton Johns personality, It still felt like some punches were pulled in reference to Elton infamous anger issues and temper tantrums. If the film was any more hokey, it might feel like a vanity project.

But what truly makes Rocketman special is its never-say-die attitude and optimism, combined with breathtaking cinematography and documentary-level eye for detail; with all of Elton’s famous stage costumes and mannerisms captured on screen.

I had a blast watching Rocketman. This biopic is a hyperactive musical that’s brimming with life and tongue-in-cheek creativity, that also doesn’t try to look away from or censor some of the darker and explicit aspects of the aging Pop-stars life.

7.5 out of 10

Movie Review: The Clovehitch Killer

The Clovehitch killer is a deceptive, small scale, small town thriller.

At some point or another, we’ve all probably wondered what dark secrets our parents kept from us. A curiosity, an intrusive thought that you probably push out of your mind just as soon at it appears.

No child wants to think the worst of their parents. That something evil or twisted could be lurking beneath their loving smile. And most of us go our whole lives without even considering it.

But what if you had reason to? What if certain circumstances almost pushed you to find out what exactly is going on behind the scenes of your so called “perfect family”. What if everything you thought you knew, got flipped on its head?

The Clovehitch Killer, directed by Duncan Skiles, swan dives into those troubling questions. Shot with such care and patience, its probably one of the best thrillers of 2018. Definitely one of the best serial killer movies in a long while.

The film follows 16 year old Tyler Burnside (played by Charlie Plummer), a kindhearted, yet naive teenager who lives with his devout christian family in the town of Clarksville, Kentucky. The town is haunted by the legacy of The Clovehitch Killer, a serial killer who brutally strangled 10 female victims, before suddenly disappearing 10 years ago. Tyler participates in a boy scout troop, led by his father, Don Burnside (played by Dylan Mcdermott). Don seems like your typical christian small town dad. Friendly to fault, loving towards his wife and 2 children, working a blue collar job to bring home the bacon, stressing “honesty” and “family time”. The Burnside clan: Tyler, his father, his mother Cindy (played by Samantha Mathis), and his little sister look like a perfectly normal family.

But things start to take a turn, when on one night, Tyler sneaks out to meet his crush Amy. Before they start to do exactly what horny teenagers do, they find graphic bondage porn in his dads truck. This obliviously disgusts Amy, and immediately freaks out Tyler. Was this what his father was into? What else was his father hiding? This incident is the spark that ignites Tyler to find out what else his father was keeping from him.

The Clovehitch Killer is not just another run of mill thriller. Its a carefully filmed, slow-burn mystery. Its shot very minimalist and tight, with scenes lingering and allowing suspense to build. Never needing cheap jump scares or pointless action to keep watching. Just using great storytelling and bone-chilling imagery.

Charlie Plummer gives a very convincing performance as Tyler, The viewer is given an amazing sense of just how isolated and conflicted Tyler feels in this situation, never over-acting or just looking like some wooden lanky doll. He truly understands the character he’s playing and the situation hes in.

But the true star of this movie is Dylan Mcdermott, who pretty much blows everyone else out of water in comparison, giving a haunting performance. He somehow comes across as sincere and warm, while also coming across as skin-crawlingly deceptive. A man who could either be simply mis-understood, or genuinely sick in the head.

I love thrillers like this. Ones that actually try to grasp true human terror and tragedy. It dissects the veneer of small town life, and how you never truly know anyone, including those closest to you. What exactly do you do when a loved may have committed violent atrocities, and even more frightening to think about, how do you stop them?

I give The Clovehitch Killer an 9/10

*The movie is available on Hulu

Rated R

Quickie Review: THE RAID 2

I get it. I know you wanna get back to watching The Office for the 34th time, or go back to playing Fortnite with the squad, or go watch whatever trash is on Amazon. I know. Your schedule is clearly hectic. So I’m gonna make this quick.

The Raid 2 is the one of the best action movies of the past decade. I know, you probably have your own favorite action movie, near and dear to your heart that YOU believe is king of the hill.

Yeah, The Raid 2 is probably better than whatever’s in your head.

With a thumping, almost primal soundtrack, The Raid 2 is a bloody battle royale of yakuza, dirty cops, and assassins, with Rama, an undercover cop in the middle, played by Iko Uwais. Rama is an undercover agent simply trying to protect his family and get revenge for his murdered brother, who helped him survive in the first film.

From the start, with a shockingly grisly death scene, which happens in the literal first minute, the movie is pretty much telling you to strap in. From then on we go down a twisted rabbit hole to the Asian criminal underworld, where a gang war is almost ready to erupt, and Rama will be the one to put it to an crimson red end. Without getting into spoilers, thats pretty much all you need to know.


To pick just one scene from the movie to highlight would be a disservice. The movie is like a twisted manga with just how much intensity and emotion is dripping from each epic fight scene. Its probably the closest were going to get a movie adaption of the game Sleeping Dogs. Whose main character was also an undercover cop within the criminal underworld.

The Viseral Climax Of The Film is a Gruesome Joy

Listen. just go watch it. you shouldn’t even be still reading this. If you consider yourself an action fan. You owe it to yourself to check this out.

10/10

The Raid 2 was written and directed by Garth Evans

Cinematography by Matt Flanery

RATED R

Slacker Reviews: KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004)

Kung Fu Hustle, is one of those movies that reminds me that you can basically make any type of movie you want, as long as you have these things:

  1. Clever and Careful editing
  2. Actors and a Crew that actually give a CARE
  3. A solid script
  4. (Last but not least) A truly Inventive Mindset

Written, Starring and Directed by Stephen Chow , Kung Fu Hustle is an martial arts action comedy that works on Cartoon logic, complete with zany sound effects right out of a Looney Tunes short. Characters get stabbed, punched, bitten by snakes, stabbed again, YEETED (that means thrown for you older folk) into buildings and billboards and of course shot with all manner of guns. The film is actually quite violent when you stop and look at it, buts its handled with such skill, charm, and insanity that the violence never truly becomes gruesome or hard to look at.

The plot basically is: In 1940s China, street gangs have been running amok and rule the town surrounding towns with an iron fist. The most infamous being the Axe Gang. Sing (played by Stephen Chow) and his fat sidekick Bone are scammers that desperately want to join the Axe Gang, to raise themselves from rags to riches. The two goons visit Pig Sty Alley, a poor housing community owned by the hilariously dysfunctional married couple, simply known as the Landlord and the Landlady. A few lies and misunderstandings after another, lead to the REAL Axe Gang coming in and attempting to shakedown the tenants. To the shock of the gangsters, some of the people living within Pig Sty turn out to be powerful martial artists who proceed to fight back the Axe Gang into a retreating. This chain of events sparks mini-war between the residents of Pig Sty and the embarrassed Axe Gang who vow bloody revenge, with Sing who see this as his chance to finally achieve his destiny.

kung fu hustle formative influences GIF

This is not just some wacky, ultra-violent, movie that only works when your STONED with your buddies (although that’s not such a bad idea). The film is elevated by its beautiful choreography and deadpan comedic writing , featuring several prolific Hong Kong action cinema actors from the 1970s. The show stealers being the landlord and Landlady, played hilariously by Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu. Yuen Wah, before playing this role, starred in dozens of martial arts movies and was even Bruce Lee’s Stunt double at one point.

If I had any problem with the movie, it would be that some of special effects didn’t really age well. While the movie was probably mind-blowing back in 2004, some of the CGI would be considered laughable to today’s standards. And yet, this almost adds to the whole vibe of the movie being a slapstick cartoon. One scene in particular involves The Landlady chasing Sing while they both run like its a Road Runner Cartoon. It looks so unrealistic but always manages to put a smile on my face.

Kung Fu Hustle* is the perfect “we cant decide on a movie to watch” movie. Its funny, violent but somehow light-hearted, shot well and best of all: SHORT. The movie does all needs to in about 98 minutes. Any longer and the movie would probably end up feeling like a joke doesn’t know where to end. And if there’s one thing I like, its a movie that doesn’t waste a second of your time.

I give Kung Fu Hustle a solid 8.5 out 10

*Its on Netflix BTW, just in case you were wondering

Tyler the creator- “IGOR” Album Review

IGOR Pink Album Cover
Lets get right to the point, IGOR is a great album that portrays heartache, growth, anger and love.

But most importantly, it just shows just how much effort and passion Tyler has put into evolving as an musical artist, producer and writer.

Basically: ITS A BANGER!!!!!

The album starts with the track “IGOR’S THEME”, which F@#KING SETS THE TONE OF ALBUM PERFECTLY. I could honestly imagine this song playing in the background of a future Jordan Peele movie. Its very eerie yet funky, with foreboding lyrics, letting you know:

IGOR AINT MESSING AROUND WIT YA

Right after that track, were brought into possibly the most hyped song of the album: “EARFQUAKE”
A surprisingly earnest yet sharply produced song about what else: Heart Ache

On first listen, I didn’t think much of it. Yet since the album dropped, I’ve found my Black Ass humming “YoU my make Earfquake!!” to myself almost everyday. You know the song is fire when you cant even control yourself from singing it. A surprisingly good appearance by PLAYBOI CARTI of all people elevates the track as well.

From that track on the album tells a story of what I would call a strong yet toxic relationship.
A relationship that almost sounds doomed to fail, yet it doesn’t make it any less sad or heartfelt.I would hesitate to call this even call this a rap album, even though Tyler does spit a few HOT lyrics on some the tracks. But Tyler’s singing and Synth-funk beats are the star of the show. My absolute favorite track being “New Magic Wand”.

YO. SON. I. LOVE. THIS. SONG! Some fire emojis would be very appropriate here.
A track that has a grimy yet slick beat with some cold blooded lyrics. Seriously if you were only to listen to one track from this project. “New magic Wand” is hands down the one to check out.

Its hard to believe that just a decade ago, Tyler The Creator released his debut Album BASTARD.
A moody, conceptual, BORDERLINE horrorcore rap album that was both brilliant and slightly disturbing. If you were to listen to BASTARD first and then listen to IGOR, you would see just how MUCH Tyler has grown and matured.

I give this album a “fire emoji” out of 10

-James

FAVORITE TRACKS:
NEW MAGIC WAND
A BOY IS GUN
EARDQUAKE
WHATS GOOD
PUPPET