REVIEW: “WILSON” (2017) Fox Searchlight

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Based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes.Woody Harrelson is Wilson, probably one of the most random and least liked characters I’ve come across so far this year. He starts and goes throughout the film, with a random series of unpleasant tics of being the most annoying person in the world, rather than a convincing human being. This problem extends to the film itself. It thinks it’s intelligent and possibly a comedy as it supposedly gives us earth-shattering insights into the human condition with establishing Wilson’s unreliability at the outset, pitting his self-righteous voiceover narration against the realities of his condescension toward strangers. But the character we end up seeing never really adds up to more than the sum of his vulgar outbursts and flagrant disregard for conventional social graces, schizophrenically flipping from pessimism to arrogance to sentimentality sometimes within the same scene and not done well, with the character coming off as more mentally unbalanced than anything else.

The film’s events are driven by the death of Wilson’s father, which inspires in an increasingly lonely Wilson a desire to reconnect with his ex-wife, Pippi (Laura Dern), and the daughter, Claire (Isabella Amara), he discovers she didn’t terminate the pregnancy as he had assumed, but put the child up for adoption. But his oddly portrayed idea of a conventional nuclear family doesn’t track with his distaste for what he sees as the soul-sucking suburban lifestyle, a contradiction that the filmmakers either don’t recognize or refuse to address for the sake of indulging in easy potshots at suburbia. Such contradictions are simply part and parcel of the film’s confused whole. Throughout its running time, Wilson lurches from melancholy to cartoonish slapstick, to dropping f-bombs for the sheer sake of no reason whatsoever, but to be more annoying and it’s just unable to settle on a consistent tone.

Wilson, Pippi and Claire are surrounded by caricatures oddly done mix of middle-and upper-class insularity. The worst is Polly (Cheryl Hines), Pippi’s sister, who’s so monstrously judgmental of her sister’s lifestyle that she’s willing to lie to Wilson about what Pippi does for a living when he embarks on his quest to reconnect with his ex-wife. Clowes might have intended this graphic novel to be a critique of the kind of out-of-touch smugness Wilson represents, but the film often feels like an symbol of just that toxicity. Add in the factor of bad acting from everyone except for the two-minute scene with Alta played by the always strong Margo Martindale, to the fact that it’s not funny in the slightest should have many skipping this one till they can see it on VOD.

Grade: D
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Media Review Screening: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
Nationwide Release: Friday, March 24, 2017

Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts if you liked this film or not. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

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REVIEW: “TABLE 19” (2017) Fox Searchlight

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Director Jeffrey Blitz and The Duplass Brothers writing team takes the approach with this one that I know many wedding guests would prefer – skip the wedding and head straight to the reception. Another wise move is assembling a very talented ensemble of funny folks. This cast proves they can get a laugh from dialogue and moments that would probably otherwise not elicit much of an audience reaction because frankly, it’s only the fact that they are talented that makes it happen.

The initial set-up drags a bit as we are introduced to the characters that will soon enough populate the dreaded Table 19 at the reception. Tony Revolori is Renzo, the longing for love high schooler who might be a bit too close to his mother (voiced by Margo Martindale). Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson are Bina & Jerry Kepp, a mostly unhappily married couple who own and run a diner together. June Squibb is Jo Flanagan, the bride’s long-forgotten nanny who sees and knows more than most. Stephen Merchant plays the outcast nephew/cousin Walter Thimple, who has been recently released from his prison sentence for white collar crime. Lastly we have Anna Kendrick as Eloise McGarry, the fired maid of honor and former girlfriend of the bride’s brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell), who also happens to be the best man and is now dating the new maid of honor Nikki (Amanda Crew)
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This is the island of misfit wedding guests known as Table 19, and purposefully placed in the back corner as far as possible from the family and the other more ‘favoured’ guests. Of course we know immediately that this Team Reject will unite for some uplifting purpose at some point. Comedic timing in a group setting can often come across on screen as forced, and it’s a kudos to the cast that can bypass that..somewhat. Stephen Merchant is our shining star here on that note with his droll Brit humour.

Make no mistake though, this is Anna Kendrick’s movie. She plays Eloise as we would imagine Anna Kendrick in this real life situation. Sure, a wedding reception is low-hanging fruit for comedy, but it’s the third act where Kendrick comes up with comedy drawn from emotional pain, because we’ve all been there and thankfully can look back and laugh at it. The melo-dramatic moments that creep in are oh-so-predictable, but that doesn’t mean it’s all lost. The scenes with Kendrick and Russell are best at the emotional part, but not enough so that it would really leave you wishing for more. In actuality that’s where this film slips up. I was hoping for more comedy, less emotional drama and while we get about a 2/3 – 1/3 ratio of drama to comedy, I wish it would have gone the direction of more laughs as the emotional front isn’t enough to sustain the film as a whole.
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Don’t worry though, the film features the required wedding cake mishap, a flirtatious hot-Brit wedding crasher named Huck with a secret of his own (Thomas Cocquerel) and a drunken mother of the bride (Becky Ann Baker) singing karaoke to Etta James’ “At Last”. It’s designed to be a crowd-pleaser, and while it doesn’t quite step up enough to really down and out laugh, it does somewhat succeed as rom-com-ish with a blend of silly, cute, and emotional tugs. Just not enough laughs.

Grade: C-
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Media Review Screening: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
Nationwide Release: Friday, March 3, 2017

Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts if you liked this film or not. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

My “Last Call” with the cast of “Justified” ~ Paley Center Event

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Note: Series final for Justified is Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Being this was my #1 in my review of “Top 10 Shows I am watching right now” with Justified being my numero uno to watch, saying goodbye to it and everyone on it was heartbreaking yet so fun..as they say, parting is such sweet sorrow. So to bid it one last adieu tonight as The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills hosted “An Evening with FX channel’s Justified”. Featuring some of it’s top cast members: Timothy Olyphant “Raylan Givens”, Joelle Carter “Ava Crowder”, Erica Tazel “Rachel Brooks”, Jacob Pitts “Tim Gutterson” and the shows creator, Graham Yost who all came to say farewell.

To start off with, with some fun tidbits from the press line interviews:
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Jacob Pitts..When I asked him about Tim and Rachel, you know everyone loves them – what are the chances of a spin-off for The Tim & Rachel show?
His answer being he doesn’t think there is much of a chance..though he would not be opposed to it..but said “that’s a small ship in big seas.”
I made the 2nd question a fun one of “Who is the prankster on the set?” and with no hesitation whatsoever, Tim! He’s gotten the writers a few times with what he thinks should be in a scene..and Jacob helped him on some of those capers (lots of laughter) though “we are grown adults who have a professional job to do and we do it coldly and with precision”.. (more laughter)

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Joelle Carter.. when I asked what’s next for her, she put it out there that she would love to do another character as strong as Ava..while having a few juicy movie roles come her way also. Which is something I think we all would love to see also. As for rolling around in the dirt and getting battle scars from filming, yeah, when it came to the end of the series, she was glad that part of it was done.

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Graham Yost.. As I was going to pitch him the Rachel/Tim spinoff idea as he’s the creator riiigght.. Jacob came running up behind him and wanted to pitch it himself, we had a few good laughs as I called him out on totally trying to poach and pitch my idea..heyyy.. 🙂 it was all in good fun as while Graham likes it too, sadly..it’s not gonna happen.

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Timothy Olyphant.. I asked him what’s next for Timothy Olyphant and as he’s noted on various shows like Ellen & Conan..he’s looking for a job!! And yep..he is. We talked tennis for a moment as I’ve sat by him at Indian Wells for a match watching his good friend Mardy Fish play, and asked if maybe the pro-tennis circuit was on his radar. Fear not all, he’s sticking with acting. And on him being the prankster of the set.. naaahhh..we agreed he’s an angel and they have no idea what they are talking about. ha!
Sadly I didn’t get the chance to interview Erica Tazel as press line was being wrapped up and I had to choose between that or running in and getting a seat at the panel. :/

Moving along to the panel – you can tell how much this cast not only enjoyed working with each other and on this show, but the respect they have for each other, and most definitely Elmore Leonard, who passed away in 2013 during the 4th season of the show, acknowledging how much they missed working with him. There is no doubt the man had a way with words, but this cast delivered those words like no other. He definitely made an impact on all the cast who worked with him and that they wanted to carry on his legacy in the right way was made apparent.

The fantastic guest stars that they had over the years who made fantastic characters, some of the favourites names by the cast: Margo Martindale “Mags Bennett”, Jere Burns “Winn Duffy”, Ron Eldard “Colton Rhodes” and Sam Elliott “Avery Markham” to name a few. They loved all their guest stars and for those of you wondering..while not a villain.. Patton Oswalt aka CONSTABLE BOB LIVES!!

Jacob puts it out there that he would have been fine with Boyd Crowder killing off his character Tim, though hey..he just might as we won’t know until next week!
They all seemed to agree that on favourite scenes, the #1 by far was the animal in the bag with Dickie and Coover. And the shows willingness to always just ‘go for it’ and ‘swing for the fences’ is something Olyphant notes that he just loved.
One of Joelle’s best scenes was of course probably one of ours also, where Ava gets her hair cut in prison. Now little did we know at the time, that was actually her real hair stylist who she kept saying she was sorry she was hurting her but she’d never cut hair with a shiv before!!!

While we got no spoilers for the finale..though trust me, some people tried, but hey, we REALLY don’t want it spoiled do we!! I for one, want to see it unfold as it happens because there are so many ways it can go and I’m excited for it, but we did get a note that the finale will have a lot of flashbacks from the past as Graham Yost appreciates that the fans pay close attention to these facts. Also, we do find out ‘What matters to us’ as Raylan has said to Boyd.

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Now right smack in the middle of all this, Jacob Pitts announces he’s gotta use the restroom and to the ensuing laughter that comes with that announcement, Graham Yost asks to “please leave his mike on for this”. Stellar moment of laughs with this stellar cast.

And yes, they all took some souvenir’s from the set: Graham Yost – a “Welcome to Harlan County” sign which received a big collective “ahhhh” from the audience as I think we ALL want one of those. Erica Tazel – took her nameplate. Joelle Carter – took her parking spot nameplate. Timothy Olyphant – took something he had made during early during the shooting of the show, didn’t name what it was tho..maybe his awesome hat..we don’t know..but he pretty much readily admitted he took stuff all along..ha! Jacob Pitts – I think he said socks.. yep..socks.

Favourite violent scene – hands down the arm-chop and the Winnebago fight won!!

As I’ve noted before in panels like this, some of the best questions and funniest moments are when the audience gets to ask questions as you NEVER know what will happen.
First off Timothy being asked on his being possibly being type cast in Western type series i.e., Deadwood and now Justified, though not exactly a western..kinda the genre is what the point was being made..his response was priceless “you mean being cast as a badass, yeah that would be awful wouldn’t it” in other words, nope not worried.
Then asked about his similarity of looks to Garrett Dillahunt (Ty Walker) not worried at all..he’s a great actor and had a beard after all.

And yes, Walton Goggins teeth are that white in real life!! says Joelle..she’s seen them up close..

The character of Boyd Crowder was actually supposed to die in Season 1 but the chemistry between Raylan & Boyd was undeniable so they decided to keep him around for awhile.. and here we are at the series finale and he’s still standing..as of now.

I think the fact that they noted they were all brought to tears on set at the end of filming says a lot of how much they noted they will all miss working with one another.

And with that we say goodbye to the wonderful cast and creator of Justified. Thank you for an amazing six seasons and for entertaining us so well through it all. To everyone from cast, guest stars, writers, producers and crew, a heartfelt–Thank You!

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And that concludes my fantastic last ‘date’ with the cast of “JUSTIFIED” Hope you all have enjoyed the show as much as I have and be sure to tune in for the series finale, Tuesday, April 14th.

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