REVIEW: “THE LAST DUEL” (2021) 20th Century/Disney Films

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The film that finally reunites Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as writers the first time since Good Will Hunting, and just as in Good Will Hunting they also share the screen acting wise, but with Damon picking up the more prominent of roles, though Affleck having a stand-out as well. This medieval times storytelling in “THE LAST DUEL” is done on a grand scale by none other than the grand scale director himself, Ridley Scott.

The film is told in three chapters each from the point of view of one of the three protagonists, the two duelists – Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), and the third by Marguerite (Jodie Comer), of why in this duel is taking place in 13th century aristocratic France. It is supposedly for truth and honour, yet this can not only be confusing at times, but when you have people telling the same incident from three people’s different point of views…. it can start to get tedious, and it does with a runtime of two hours and 32 minutes.

The action is here is brutal, the hardcore Medieval type brutal and though it is filmed well, you have to have a taste for these types of films and they are just not truly in my wheelhouse, yet Gladiator holds a place in my heart that will never be taken away. The story itself leans on Marguerite’s accusation against Jacques of rape. It is met with anger and hostility from both Jean, their friends, and pretty much the rest of France, as rape is not considered a crime against a woman, but a property matter. These kinds of things, while I know existed, just irk me in subject matter. Yet I guess my true excruciating anger came from the rape scene which is is played not once, but twice. As an audience of both male and female, it left a lot of mixed feelings amongst both as it’s incredibly hard to watch. My question would honestly be did Ridley Scott need to amplify the excruciating horror of the act by showing it to us twice? Would it have made a difference to the outcome had we not seen it so graphically performed in front of us on both accounts. I think not. Oddly you also realize what the outcome of the duel will most likely be during these points.

The set decoration, costuming and all seem quite fit for the time and not being an expert in French history of the 1300’s, I will say I was never entirely sure what accent Damon and the cast were employing with their characters as none were French, but it never distracted from the characters either. Comer was probably the best as I can’t imagine the subject matter at hand was an easy one for any actress to deal with. The highlight for me though was Affleck’s somewhat comedic portrayl of d’Alençon as it borders at times on camp, but seems as like it was likely intentional and oh so much fun. It lightened up the hardness of this film to at give it some ‘bon viveur’ as the French would say.

All in all, this film will be a sheer delight for those loving Medieval dramas and Ridley Scott fans. I’m somewhere in the middle of understanding it, being confused by it, angered by it. All in all a fine movie with fine writing, acting and cinematography. It is just not something special and we have seen it all be done better before. There is sort of gravitas missing along the lines and all in all, just did not sit right with me completely.

Grade: C

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Rosa Parra @RosasReviews who invited me along as her guest

“THE LAST DUEL” – is playing in theaters now

REVIEW: “THE ACCOUNTANT” (2016) Warner Bros.

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Having not seen a film in over a month and a half or written a review for that matter, I was truly not knowing what to expect walking into the “THE ACCOUNTANT”. What I walked out with is still to be decided.

What I did like is how far ‘out of the box’ this film is. I mean it’s leaps and bounds out of the norm of any film I’ve seen yet this year, and as we all know, 2016 has not been a good year by any means for film.
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In this paint by numbers, crazy potboiler of a film, you’ve got Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff, who seems to be just another small-town number-cruncher, doing taxes for local farmers out of a non-descript strip-mall office called ZZZ Acounting. Reality is a much different place in this one though as Wolff is actually the man whom drug kingpins and the worst of the worst in the world turn to when they find a discrepancies in their books.

Wolff’s dealings with such men of notorious nature, captures the attention of Treasury director Raymond King (J.K. Simmons), who in turn blackmails his underling-with-a-past, Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) into tracking Wolff down. In an attempt to stay out of trouble, Wolff takes a seemingly innocent little gig trying to find a financial leak in the books of Lamar Black (John Lithgow) who runs a state of the art robotics firm, only to attract the attention of hired killer Braxton (Jon Bernthal). Add in the films truly only awkward ‘friendship’ with whistleblower Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), whom he unseemly decides he needs to protect and a mystery phone-voiced woman who changes Wolff’s identities on the drop of a dime – and yes, each identity does have a meaning behind them to be revealed.
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To try to explain this whole plot and all it’s flashbacks, would not only suck the fun out of your viewing, but would be almost impossible since so much is going on. Yes, there is loads of violence, most of it you didn’t see coming, along with a plot twist most don’t see coming. To sum it up clearly, there are no ‘brilliant’ performances, but all of them make do and seem to be having a good time doing so. The whole thing shouldn’t add up, but yet somehow it does and while not a ‘great’ movie by any means, it is entertaining as end all.

Grade: B-
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Media Review Screening: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Nationwide Release: Friday, October 14, 2016

REVIEW: “SUICIDE SQUAD” (2016) Warner Bros.

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Writer/Director David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad” starts off strong. With a booming, kick-ass soundtrack taking us through the introductions of characters and giving us a bit of the backstory on each so we know at least who they are. Unless you’re a major DC Comics fan, you probably don’t recognize every single character of the Squad. The new action movie teams up a bunch of bad guys as a last resort to take down an even more evil force. For those of us that don’t read the comic books, I found this not only helpful, but gave us some fun sides of the characters to boot.
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We’ve got Deadshot (Will Smith) the assassin who never misses, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) the aslyum doctor who fell in love with her patient who then gave her shock treatment to make her crazy, Boomerang (Jai Courtney) the Aussie who’s boomerangs are like drones and really doesn’t give a rats ass about anyone but himself, Diablo (Jay Hernandez) in essence a firestarter, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is self-explanatory and lives in the underground sewers, Slipnot (Adam Beach) an escape artist of the highest caliber and whilst not really a ‘Squad’ member, we have Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Archaeologist/Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) and of course our Joker (Jared Leto). You’ve also got the ‘soldier’ side to it all with Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), Lt. GQ Edwards (Scott Eastwood) and our head honcho who proposes and is responsible for putting the ‘Squad’ together, Amanda Walker (Viola Davis). And yes, along with our bit part from The Batman himself, Ben Affleck, we understand why they are, who they are and where they are.
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Sadly, no one here can save the convuluted mess of a storyline and bad dialague. The characters are so off-balance and poorly acted, most especially I’m looking at you Will Smith & Cara Delevingne. Robbie’s character would have fit much better in a re-make of the 1970’s classic The Warriors (one of my fav. movies btw) and she probably could have made something with it. Here she limps along trying to be funny but falls completely flat. Only the Joker and Boomerang really pull out the stops and make it work for their characters and you know it’s really bad when even Viola Davis strains to pull off her dialogue as even somewhat believable.
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The first 1/3 of this film is definitely worth the watch. Anything after that I can’t guarantee, except of course the ending because it leads us into Suicide Squad Part Deux. I would try to describe the plot, but don’t want to give away how just plain ridiculous it is and really, everyone should just see and judge for themselves anyways as it’s all just CGI.

And just in case you’re really itching to get out of the theatre, you only have to wait until the first set of basic credits is done to get your ending Bat-fix in..not the whole long credit roll. Somewhere in this series is a good movie, so stay, and let’s just hope Part Deux has more to it than this one did.

Grade: C-
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Media Review Screening: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Nationwide Release: Friday, August 5, 2016

REVIEW ~ “GONE GIRL” (2014) 20th Century Fox

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Now that pretty much everyone and their mother has done a review of this movie..I present you with mine!! hahahaha  As it’s been a week since I’ve seen it..Yes, I procrastinated big time on this review..oopsie!! So..here we goooooooo.. If you like a mix of the darkest of dark comedies, mixed with suspense and a good thrill..this is the movie for you.  To start with, even as an avid reader, I didn’t read the book specifically because I wanted to see the movie and not be critical of it or know what was going to happen.  I’m glad I didn’t as it keeps the many surprises of plot twists that even though it’s not super hard to figure them out, I was glad to see it all unravel on the big screen.  The toughest part of a review of this movie is not revealing everything in a review..AKA SPOILERS.. and as I never do, and this is a film you especially want to just ‘experience’ all the twists and turns yourself..trust me. gone girl 1

On the day of his 5th wedding anniversary, “Nick Dunne” (Ben Affleck) day goes from starting off bad..to worse day ever!  After spending some time gossiping with his sister “Margo” (Carrie Coon) over his troubled marriage at the ‘The Bar” that they own together, Nick returns home to discover what looks to be the scene of a crime. His wife “Amy Dunne” (Rosamund Pike) seems to be missing. Assigned to the case is “Detective Rhonda Boney” (Kim Dickens) and “Officer Jim Gilpin” (Patrick Fugit) whom suspect foul play, and almost immediately, the local community and the nation somewhat, goes on a search for Amy in part no thanks to the media firestorm that erupts as a result provides the movie’s most pointed satired character by far.. “Ellen Abbott” (Missi Pyle) who plays a news pundit whose look and manner is an unmistakable, spot-on takedown of a certain television personality that I’m sure you will not only figure out, but have a good laugh at.

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Nick tells us one side of their marriage—a troubled one, yes, but one that has its reasons for being in that state. Amy’s parents “Rand & Marybeth Elliot”(David Clennon/Lisa Banes) are the authors of a series of children’s books aka the reason their daughter’s disappearance become national news, which are snidely based on what their expectations were for Amy while she was growing up which she didn’t always succeed at.  In her diary, which cleverly is a big focal point of this movie so pay attention to it, Amy agrees with a lot of Nick says, but she also hints at a darker side to Nick that he doesn’t show.  gone girl 3

That’s the gist of the plot, and again, I don’t want to spoil any of it for anyone as there’s so much more that gradually unravels here.  Fincher has a good style and I always seem to like his films, as they have a good edge and pace to them which makes them pretty enjoyable to watch. Affleck for me is fits perfectly in this role with his boyish charm on full throttle, Rosamund Pike, who I must admit is not always my fav, in movies..but here she is superb & chilling in providing layer after layer to be stripped away until only the unexpected, terrifying truth remains. But my favourite acting here comes from Kim Dickens as the detective with a somewhat comical, sarcastic tone to everything she does. Yes, Neil Patrick Harris is here too as “Desi Collings” but his character is just to weak for me and yes, so is Tyler Perry, playing against his usual Madea type, as the lawyer “Tanner Bolt” and people seem to think this is such a breakout drama performance for him..uhhh NO..remember “Alex Cross” yeah, he’s not all that here either, sorry. This film is a mesmerizing a two hour rollercoaster ride…is it an award winning movie, for me no..but damn it’s entertaining and definitely worth the bang for the buck you will be paying for it.  Go..enjoy..and be entertained! GONE GIRL 4

And  at the end..make sure you always remember the big question as I think we can always ask..”What have we done to each other”

Grade: B-  (above average – MUST see)

(see grading scale)

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