REVIEW: “SUBURBICON” (2017) Paramount Pictures

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Oh Georgie and Matty – what have you done here!!! I mean I’m all for unique and different when it comes to filmmaking, but when a ‘unique’ film does absolutely nothing to intrigue its audience, aside from being somewhat tonal with a consistent setting, then it’s not really all that impressive in the end. With “SUBURBICON”, George Clooney’s latest attempt at direction, seems to leave a lot to be desired with trying to be a little too confident in itself when it came to presenting a powerful story. As is, I still don’t really know if this was supposed to be a story of racial history, a murder mystery, or somewhere in there was supposed to be a dark comedy. I found myself completely lost at times, when I don’t think we the audience, were supposed to be.

The quick run through as best I could understand it is 1950’s/60’s suburbia (you can catch that in the courtesy of the name) the first African-American family, The Mayers (Leith M Burke, Karimah Westbrook & Tony Espinosa) move in the all-white suburban town of “Suburbicon’. Then the neighbors from the back The Gardner’s, (Matt Damon, Julianne Moore & Noah Jupe) are tested when a group of men invade his home, killing his wife and leaving only his son and sister-in-law alive (also Julianne Moore). Falling for his wife’s sister and becoming a complete psychotic and uncontrollable man, this film quickly spirals out of control into a farce of random occurrences. Throughout the first act of this film, it seems like it’s going to be a satire that won’t hold anything back in terms of wackiness, but that’s very quickly thrown out the window, compensating with many subplots of murder and conspiracy. I found myself taken out of the film when the tone would shift this often, making for a very off-putting viewing experience.

Throughout the majority of this film, you’re asked to accept the horrible things that the main characters are doing, or just connect with Gardner’s young boy on an emotional level, but he’s not quite present enough in my opinion. Not until the third act do you really find yourself caring about some of the characters, which truly at that point, didn’t matter any more. This movie tries far too hard to be clever, funny, and surprising – so hard in fact that it just comes off as forced more often than not. You will find yourself along for a ride of random events and you won’t really know who to root for, let alone what or why it’s even happening or what the correlation is. Honestly there is zero correlation between the African-American family moving in and Matt Damon’s wife getting murdered. In fact, as you watch the movie you will notice that the African-American family actually plays no significant part in the actual plot of the movie as far as you can understand that plot to be. It is as if they are just there for filler and to maybe politicize the movie in some way – I’m truly not sure as it makes no sense. What is the driving point of the ‘dark comedy/murder mystery’ aspect and taking the viewer to watching how horrible this family is being treated. It wasn’t funny then and it’s not funny now – that this still happens. But that’s a whole different movie so again, why is it even here?

I may seem to be ripping this film apart for being uneven, but for all its flaws, there are actually one or two somewhat fun sequences involving an appearance by Claims Insurance Investigator Bud Cooper (Oscar Isaac). There is a lengthy scene when secrets are revealed and characters begin to evolve and Isaac elevated every moment of this portion of the film, but it almost is like they are grasping at straws by this point. You haven’t laughed yet, so it’s hard to really rustle one up by then. Up until that point, there really weren’t any characters to grasp onto, but the environment around them, along with the sets and the score, always helped to make the film feel more authentic than what its screenplay was presenting. This may sound confusing, but that’s due to the fact that this is a very confusing watch, and I’m thinking many will agree with me on that account.

From being written by Joel and Ethan Coen, to being directed by George Clooney, ‘Suburbicon’ just feels like a huge missed opportunity, due to the talent involved. Matt Damon and Julianne Moore both don’t deliver on performances here and feel about as average as you can get.

Overall, ‘Suburbicon’ is a film that will probably leave your mind as quickly as it came as it’s just a very forgettable film.

Grade: D
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: October 24, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
“SUBURBICON” will be released in theaters on Friday, October 27, 2017

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REVIEW: “HAIL, CAESAR!” (2016) – Universal Pictures

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Hail-Caesar
All Hail Caesar!!!
This Coen Brothers satire of old school Hollywood is a perfectly done mix of what our imagination might conjure up of what the Aqua-musicals or dance sequence films from the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’ could be if they were done today.
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The film centers around physical production/studio head Eddie Mannix, played by Josh Brolin. Mannix is a fixer at the fictitious Capital Pictures in the 1950’s. This involves him dealing with numerous egos, including their box-office superstar Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) and Aqua~movie starlet, DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johannson). Not long after the film begins, Whitlock is kidnapped and Mannix begins his quest to get him back with some surprising help along the way from young western actor, Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich).  
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With a top notch billed cast, you do tend to notice that some of the names receiving top billing, are only in it for short pieces of time or literally there for only a ‘blink-and you missed it’ moment – as such is the case with Jonah Hill’s character Joseph Silverman. Besides that odd glitching, all the supporting cast as a whole are just plain good and you don’t get a bad performance from anyone as even the normally so wooden Scarlett Johannson plays her small part well and unannoying.   Aside from the names mentioned, you’ll also see Ralph Fiennes being spot on as director Laurence Laurentz, Tilda Swinton doing hysterical double time as bickering twin gossip columnist sisters, Thora & Thessaly Thacker. Channing Tatum for whom I must say,  I love where he is taking his career with roles like this, truly dazzles with his singing and dancing number that is so beautifully done it makes you not only yearn for those times of past, but want them back if he keeps doing this.
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Brolin is fantastic in the lead role and turns what could be a very unlikable character into a very endearing and sympathetic one. The real find among the cast is Ehrenreich. The character of Hobie Doyle is simple enough but Ehrenreich manages to turn him into one of the more amusing and interesting characters you’ll find in this film.
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All in all I truly enjoyed the film as a whole and I’m guessing all Coen Bros. fans will thoroughly enjoy it.  However as a second note, my guest didn’t like it as much and he made a good point.  That he didn’t ‘get’ all the innuendos of some of it and said the general public as a whole might not either as it might have that ‘going over their heads’ problem.
For me, I highly recommend this Golden-Age romp through the glory days of Hollywood..
Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies
Review Screening: Tuesday, February 2, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures 
Nationwide release: Friday, February 5, 2016

“GRAVITY”

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Saw ‘Gravity’ tonight – and an fyi Los Angelenos..Regal Cinemas has $7 Tuesdays..all day/night any showing, 3D-IMAX whatever..no extra charge..it’s downtown at LA LIVE which is unbearably quiet when nothing at Staples or Nokia..but anyways..yeah it was probably 1 of the 1st movies I would say ‘worth it in 3D’ as it was well done and the photography was amazing.. I think I am missing the hype of what a GREAT movie it is though..I mean I thought it was good.. but not great by any means.. to be truthful, there was a moment I almost nodded off. Sandy was fun in it, but this is not an award winning performance like ‘The Blind Side’ was..and although George Clooney’s character threw me off and to be honest, kinda creeped me out. Would I recommend it. eeehhh that’s a tough call but yes, I guess I could say I would though not as highly as some do.

Grade: C+ #peggyatthemovies