Review: “Mudbound” (2017) NetFlix

Standard

Dee Rees upcoming release ‘“MUDBOUND”, which has come with much film festival acclaim behind it – came off as a cliched and deathly slow-paced film about racism in post-WWII Mississippi. And while I’m not going to say it doesn’t make some great hard-to-watch storyline points, it also misses a lot.

We’re on a mud-drenched farm, owned by Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) a racist and small-minded man and wife Laura (Carey Mulligan), whose marriage was basically an arrangement as she was unmarried in her 20’s, which in this time & place, was almost as unforgiveable as being African-American. They come to live there with their two daughters, and his cruelly racist but caricatured ‘Pappy’ (Jonathan Banks), while the youngest brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), is off fighting in Germany. Also living on the farm are the black tenant farmers, The Jacksons, the father Hap (Rob Morgan), wife Florence (Mary J. Blige), along with their children, whom also have a son off fighting in the war, Ronsel (Jason Mitchell). And from what we gather, Ronsel is experiencing far more freedom than he ever found in the USA, which I kinda have to call horsepucky on as truth & history be told, they really didn’t.

The plot of the story, such as it is, sees Jamie and Ronsel return from WWII to completely different receptions from the town and begin to form a friendship through their shared trauma. Clearly nothing good is going to come of this due in a huge part to this being 1945 and in the backwoods of ALL backwoods in Mississippi, which is run entirely by the KKK and in due course we get a searingly violent scene set to a beautiful gospel hymn. In fact, it seems to kinda be an unintentional irony of this film that all the really truly horrifically crappy stuff happens either in church or when set to a hymn. There are some moments of absolute terrifying horror that I am sure really did happen to many who defied the KKK ruling back in those times. These parts of the story are the ones that break you and actually make this film come out of it’s slow draw into actual story-telling drama. I think the ending is meant to be uplifting, nonetheless, but I found it all rather patronising and fantastic – made to be as if Germany post-war was an utopia of racial harmony when nothing could be further from the truth.

Overall, this is a long drawn-out film, whose paper-thin characters can’t stand up to the weight of history thrust upon them. The stand-outs of those characters though are Hedland & Mitchell, both of whom make this film a better by their performances. Mulligan’s character comes off as superficial, annoyingly whimpering at times, but does redeem herself by showing her character to actually have a heart. I was completely looking forward to Mary J. Blige’s performance, but as such, found it to be glaringly at odds with the time frame of the picture as she wears a pair of designer sunglasses throughout most the film. Probably one of the best parts of the film is the cinematography by Rachel Morrison, as it’s crisp, gritty and very believable. Mostly though, the film comes off as an unvarnished understanding of the unglamorous, subservient pragmatism needed to survive as a black man in ’40s Mississippi, but it just isn’t very compelling or convincing as such.

Grade: C+
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening – Thursday, October 8, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Emmanuel Bates Communications & NetFlix
“MUDBOUND” will be out in selected theaters and available on NetFlix starting Friday, November 17, 2017

Advertisements

REVIEW: “EVEREST” (2015) Universal Pictures

Standard

everest
CourageFearPainStrength – all the words used in the trailer to describe this film based on a true story. Though after watching this movie I can’t help but think they might have skipped a word – Insanity – because truly one must have a bit of this to even attempt to climb this mountain. To know going in that there is a 60/40 percent chance you might not come down..would and does deter most.

In ‘Everest’ we get brought back to 1996 when the big mountain had been actually been conquered enough times that it was no longer the specter it once had been. That didn’t stop people from wanting to climb it, instead it ended up turning it into a business. Leader of the trend is the New Zealand business team “Adventure Consultants” with partners Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) & Helen Wilton (Emily Watson). The teams that head to the summit are a mix of seasoned pros and moneyed amateurs, forking over fortunes to earn both killer views they get momentarily and probably most importantly thing of course, the bragging rights. On one team you have the clients – ‘average’ guy, mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), the big Texan, Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) and the one small Asian woman, a 47 yr old climber of 6 of the tallest peaks in the world, Yasuko Namba (Naoki Mori) along with guides Hall, Andy “Harold” Harris (Martin Henderson) & Michael Groom (Thomas M. Wright) – on the other team “Mountain Madness” you have the college frat guy guide Scott Fisher (Jake Gyllenhaal) & Anatoli Boukreev (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) who refuses to use oxygen even though they will be at a level noted by Hall as ‘Humans aren’t meant to function at the cruising altitude of a 747’
everest 2
Having reached the summit and literally touched the peak — their moment of triumph – though problematic as issues with roping and lateness of the afternoon make the timetable of descent turn into a dire situation. A storm sweeps in before certain climbers have turned back. What follows is a brutal waiting game. Among those stranded in the inhospitable climate is Hansen, Harris & Hall – who finds himself curled up in a nook, patiently, almost inhumanly biding his time as numerous attempts to save him come and pass him by due to more storms.
everest 3
Having years ago read Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air” I hadn’t realized this was going to be that story told so vividly so I recommend you go in with little knowledge of the body count as Everest plays a bit in the vein of Apollo 13, as you know the story history wise – but in this one there’s only a slim chance the ones in trouble will make it.

The film truly focuses on the brutality of this type of climbing and what we now know was the beginnings of what the business end of this all is. All these climbs-for-hire have literally created a trash bin of Everest as what goes up, doesn’t always come down. And of course the body count of those left up on the mountain has also increased exponentially since this first tragic event. And let’s not ever forget all the sherpas with whom without them, most of these climbs could never be done.
everest 1
So what’s good about this movie? The 3-D is very good. Throughout most of the film you can’t discern between what is the real on-location shots and what is sound-staged. Brolin & Clarke really have the lead acting roles here and both do well. Sam Worthington also comes on well more towards the end as Guy Cotter. Overall it will prove to be a rough watch with it’s ending for some, but it’s a good film nonetheless.

Grade: C+
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, September 18, 2015

+++REVIEW ~ “DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES+++

Standard

darn_of_the_planet_of_the_apes-intl_posterIf I’ve learned anything by watching movies, it’s to never have huge expectations for anything, especially Blockbuster season.  While I did like this movie, for the first 15 minutes, I almost felt as though I could be watching a foreign film as it was all subtitles for the language the apes speak…and it was kinda fun.

I’m sure most already know the basic overview of the movie.  It picks up where the last one left off.  Most of the human population has now died off from the man-made ‘Simian Flu’ and the world has moved on to being occupied by a large ape population. Or so we think. This is where the movie got a bit cliched for me.  The apes have the first 15-20 min. of the movie all to themselves as we see how they live now, in the forest they escaped to previously, with “Caesar” (Andy Serkis) being their leader. A conversation ensues between some of the apes about how they haven’t seen human’s in 10 years or so. Lo and behold within SECONDS of that conversation..who shows up???  a human!!! “Carver” (Kirk Acevedo) then does what..oh yeah..he shoots an ape. And so it goes..the beginning of plot where we all know what is going to happen as “Malcolm” (Jason Clarke), “Ellie”(Keri Russell), “Alexander”(Kodi Smit-McPhee) and “Koba” (Toby Kebbell -whom I loved as an actor since RocknRolla but sadly he’s all covered up as an ape) all show up along with Caesar, to stop any violence from further happening.  See the humans are there to try and get the dam that is located in the apes forest, working so they can have power. They strike a deal and just like as with so many deals that have been struck over time, it doesn’t pan out the way it’s supposed to. Surprise! Surprise!

Dawn-of-the-Planet-of-the-Apes-Koba-character-poster

Just as Apes and Humans are not supposed to get along here, there are some ‘human-friendly’ apes and some ‘ape-friendly’ humans, who are both there to ensure that the day will be saved. There is not supposed to be any ‘ape on ape’ violence either. But Koba, an ape who was horribly mis-treated in labs by humans, absolutely hates humans and will do anything to make the other apes believe this. And sadly he does.  But we have “Dreyfus”(Gary Oldman), who is the human version of Koba and believes all apes are trying to kill us.  And the plot goes exactly as you think it will. A wrongly started War ensues when the apes get ahold of guns, but the truth has to come out and does.  There are no surprises in this plot.  One little part I found really funny, the apes are running in the now-defunct old BART system and comes up to some turnstiles, while they are apes and can leap-frog over them etc..one ape actually goes thru the turnstile like a human. I found that incredibly funny! Probably just me! ha!

dawn of the ppl apes

To wrap it up.. the movie is visually quite stunning, when they go to close-ups of the apes, there is no question in your mind that they are real. This is not the Roddy McDowell costume of the 70’s, though I did love those.  🙂  The story-line also gives off a few big, true-to-heart messages. The major one being, there is both good and bad in everything and pretty much every species, and no matter what, you give a species that can operate machinery a gun, and they will use it not only against you, but most likely against their own also.  In case anyone hasn’t figured it out, we are a destructive species.

Grade: C+

#peggyatthemovies

GRADING SCALE: A = OSCARWORTHY; B = ABOVE AVERAGE~MUST SEE; C= AVERAGE~SHOULD SEE; D = DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY; F = YEAH..NO DON’T SEE THE MOVIE.. ( + OR – ) GIVES IT A BIT UP OR DOWN