REVIEW: “PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN” (2020) Focus Features

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Emerald Fennell is tackling the “paybacks are a bitch” scenario putting front and center the toxic behaviour we have all experienced at one time or another as women as she turns the tables and changes the game in a whole new way with her directorial debut here in “PROMISING YOUNG WOMEN”. This is also hands down probably 2020’s best film of the year, along with it being the one that you MUST see for yourself and not read the spoilers before seeing it as it was made to be entertaining, but also very BLUNT to get an important message across. ‘Promising Young Woman’ challenges at every turn the idea of what a “good guy” actually is.

Like so many other films have done before it, the movie gives us an incredible new take on the anger I think a lot of women feel, but it also doesn’t completely vilify men as a gender purely because they are men. Fennell’s stellar direction is so meticulous as it zigs exactly when you think it’s going to zag and zags exactly when you think it’s going zig with twists and turns during every jaw-dropping second of it.

Doing my absolute best to give you the outlining of the plot without a massive spoiler the jist is: Carey Mulligan plays Cassandra Thomas, a brilliant former med student who seemingly had a bright future until a disturbing event clearly turned her life upside down. It’s an event so stunning that we the audience don’t know what it is, but it’s affected her life in a grave manner. As we slowly watch and find out those said events unfold, just turned 30 year old Cassie still lives at home with her parents Susan (Jennifer Coolidge) and Stanley (Clancy Brown), works at a coffee shop, and doesn’t date or have any friends. But by night, she sits in a club, face down in a red leatherette booth, seemingly black out drunk. It’s a nightly routine – she goes to a club, acts too drunk to stand, and waits for a “nice” guy to come over and see if she’s okay. Needless to say Cassie leads a very different life as there is definitely something else here at play as she attempts to right a past wrong, very cynically and calculating as she does so. So she is living this secret double life at night…until she isn’t..or is this one of those zig zags mentioned earlier? Again, this is for you to find out and find out you will as every single delicious moment of this thriller come at you over and over again.

Promising Young Woman also give us an impressive supporting cast. From Adam Brody as her first ‘conquest’ Jerry to Bo Burnham as our cutesy-type doctor RyanLaverne Cox as her delicately blunt boss Gail, and Alison Brie who nails her role as former medical school classmate Madison while demonstrating how truly insidious and internalized misogyny can be and how this type of toxic behavior is often normalized in both men and women. Max GreenfieldAlfred Molina, Molly Shannon and Connie Britton all show up for impressive performances and Chris Lowell as Al Monroe is a character no one will be forgetting any time soon. And then there is Carey and Oh Carey! what a performance this is. Her wicked-bad acting powers this film all the way through as she salutes what her character stands for – which is essentially all of us. Never have I seen her take something and truly encompass all that female rage, romance, heartbreak and horror brings us all, in one spectacular performance.

As a warning, the ending is difficult, but at the same time, you can’t see it ending any other way as it’s a cross between triggering, healing and educational all wrapped up and honestly it’s true – revenge has never looked so ‘promising’. Please go see it.

Grade: A+

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Review screening: Courtesy oGinberg/Libby PR

“PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN” IS OUT ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN THEATERS/DRIVE-INS WHERE AVAILABLE AND ON VOD IN JANUARY

REVIEW: “99 HOMES” ~ POST Q & A ~ Michael Shannon

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99 homes
For a movie with the very real backdrop of the US housing market crash, with such believable characters, 99 Homes gives us the story about one man’s struggle with the housing market catastrophe and is the subject of what Ramin Bahrani’s new film is all about. It is at once sad, heart-wrenching and at the same time, somewhat terrifying to watch.

As the movie opens, we see a real estate guy explaining to an Orlando cop how the owner of the house he came to foreclose on, ran inside and shot himself in the head. We then get to know Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), a construction worker who gets laid off and before we know it, his family home gets foreclosed on, and Nash, along with his young son, Connor (Noah Lomax) and mom, Lynn (Laura Dern) end up moving into a motel. Desperate for money, Dennis turns to the real estate guy who foreclosed on him, Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), and actually starts working for him. 99 homes 2
Let me be clear that I am appalled at what happened, that the banks made serious mistakes, and there hasn’t been nearly enough accountability for what caused the second biggest Recession in history. And while this film isn’t fool proof by any means, it does give you the feeling of being at least a somewhat accurate image of how different the concept of “money” is for everyone. Some people are set for life where others are living paycheck to paycheck. This film seems to know and show both sides of that so well.
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99 Homes is a film that’s main topic is eviction and really this should have been dull ride. How this film is able make this topic interesting and thought-provoking is quite impressive. It’s also a complete character study that truly makes you think who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. Michael Shannon’s performance is spellbinding and for me Oscar nomination worthy. Garfield is good, but again, it’s Shannon who really controls the screen when he’s on it he holds you in the palm of his hand for the entire time he is on the screen as he plays the villain well making you give thought if he really is just that or just a product of the environment that was created as he shows you both sides of the coin.
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It is also societal story and commentary, and a story of determination all rolled into one. There are literally are 99 reasons to go see this movie.

Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Monday, October 19, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Deadline Awardsline screening series

POST Q & A with actor Michael Shannon:
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I just adore this man and have for so long now. I call him my go-to guy as I wish he could be in almost every movie. He’s a gem and simply a fantastic actor & I love his touch of sarcasm, witty, ‘no bullshit’ attitude that he even brought to this Q & A. He really went in depth about how he felt his character here was truly a guy you could hate, but yet explained it so well in that he never wanted to take people’s homes as he was a real estate agent and wanted to put people in homes, yet when everything crashed he could either do what he did, or be a victim also. He chose the road he did and Shannon hopes that he was able to give you the portrayal that showed this in his character and he might have actually been relieved at the end. Shannon, through his dry humour & wit, can make you laugh and then next minute be serious. He noted he truly doesn’t like discussing ‘acting’ per se’ and for those of you who loved him in “Boardwalk Empire” he noted while he loved doing it, he would probably never do TV again. My note to all: If you have the chance to see ‘Iceman’ – DO! Shannon’s performance is as good as it gets.

REVIEW ~ “WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL” (2014 – SONY/AFFRIM)

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when the game

There have been a lot of really good sports movies done..especially about our good ol’ American past time, football and it happens to be a sport I do watch on occasion as it can be fun.  Some of those movies have been very memorable like “Brian’s Song” “Remember the Titans” even “Rudy” was a touching tug of the heart one.  This movie is not going to be remembered as one of those.  It’s vapid, religious based storyline is based on the De La Salle High School Spartans football team that had a pretty yes, incredible 151 game winning streak going on from 1992-2004 and then lost it.  Unfortunately, the story of how is bland, formulaic and follows every sports cliche ever done, but without any heart or soul in it whatsoever..which considering the religious aspect of the movie, was really odd.

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The events that define this movie and lead the narrative of it are the murder of their star linebacker “Terrance Kelly aka T.K.” (Stephan James), Head Coach “Bob Ladouceur” (Jim Caviezel) heart attack, and the ultimate loss of this streak but with the always true to form comeback game against the best team in the country, Long Beach Poly.  Now call me cynical, but watching a bunch of kids cry about a loss..even if it’s a big one to them when say a movie like “We Are Marshall” shows the utter loss of almost a WHOLE TEAM was lost in a plane crash makes this feel quite petty indeed.  This movie never showed us about how this streak was even started or anything that lead up to the all the events.. they just sort of happened in whatever chronological order they threw them at us.  Caviezel seems to be walking through this role like a robot, has zero chemistry with his cast, not even his wife, “Bev Ladouceur” (Laura Dern) who just wants him to be a more hands on father, or his son “Danny Ladouceur” (Matthew Daddario) who only wants his dad to be able to coach him during his final senior year because well, he’s never really been at home enough to be a dad…just a coach.

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The supporting cast of football players is simple and the norm for a sports movie.  “Chris Ryan” (Alexander Ludwig) as the best player on the team who is trying to break the long lasting record of touchdown held whose dad is  “Mickey Ryan” (Clancy Brown) one of those horrible ‘sports parents’ who you just want to punch because they are so awful, “Tayshon” (Jessie Usher) as the other superstar of the team, but the bad boy – rulebreaker type, “Beaser” (Joe Massingil) the heavy-set tackle who’s got the hot girlfriend because he’s on the football team tho because of the religious aspect of the movies, they’ve taken a purity vow,  “Arturo” (Matthew Frias) as the smallest kid on the team. 3rd string but plays one play and saves the day..yeah..I know..seen it all before.“Rick” (Richard Kohnke) and lastly the only character that really stood out for me, “Terry Eidson” (Michael Chiklis) as not only did he spark a little tiny bit of humour, but was almost unrecognizable from his various roles and just showed some range with his character in an otherwise dull sports story.

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I’m sure we can all figure out the plot of this movie..they lose..and come back to win again.  My biggest beefs were not only the plodding plot but the product placement was truly ridiculous.  When Caviezel’s character says to his son, “Would like like some of my Muscle Milk shake” with the container right there in full view, or when one of the scouting University’s, Oregon State give one of the players a pair of Nike’s with the phrase..”Here have our newest pair of Nike shoes” and those are just 2 examples.  I realize product placement is part of movies..but the way they handled it in these movies was just plain silly.  Also, I don’t mind religion, I’m definitely a supporter of ‘to each his own’ but when they blatantly show how much prayer they do before the games and how god will make them win and when he doesn’t, well they must pray harder.  That’s just so wrong to me.  And don’t get me wrong, we all see plenty of religious notes from players in sports, it’s a given, i’m not putting it down in the slightest, but in a world where people are getting killed everyday and trust me, not over football, I am truly hoping that whichever god you support, he or she has better things to worry about or do than make sure you win your football game.  Sorry to all those that think otherwise, but that is my sincere thought on the matter. It’s not meant to provoke anyone, just be honest with the situation at hand.

All in all this just isn’t a memorable, inspiring or well done sports movie and that sadly is what will make it completely un-memorable.

Grade: D

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Grading Scale: A = Oscar- worthy;  B = Above average – must see; C = Average – should see; D = Don’t waste your time or money; F – Don’t see.  (+ or – tilts the scale up or down)