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: “JASON BOURNE” (2016) Universal Pictures

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Jason Bourne is back and so is Mr. Matt Damon in the title role. This time he’s well aware of who he is and he is determined to expose the government’s secrets, As the intelligence agencies from Interpol to the CIA are in pursuit, Director Greengrass delivers a movie that is both intelligent and intense. Which sadly is what seems to be lacking in recent movies. Adding depth to the story and instead of investing his money on CGI, there are ACTUAL stunt scenes! Can I say, it’s so refreshing to see plain old school action and its pretty damn flawless. In an age where action films rely so heavily on CGI, it is enlightening to see real stunts and real car chases instead of the usual 3D CGI malarkey that we’ve just been saturated with this year so far. As I watched the ‘REAL THING’ actually happen though, I did have a giggle as “wow, this budget must have been pretty damn big” and worth every penny.
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I will not go into details about this year’s film since I don’t want to spoil your fun. But basically the question of this film is from CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) “Why would he come back now?”

“He” is of course Jason Bourne, super spy, and Damon comes back to the franchise for at least the chance to do all one more time, As for Bourne, he’s always catching up with himself, be it his faulty memory or finding his father. Jason Bourne is certainly home to many of the thriller genre’s paradoxes, including illogical good luck in gun fights and car chases and the usual surprises, including a quick reprise of Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), and about characters you thought you knew. jason bourne 3
The final fight between good and evil, while it might be a bit de rigueur, is good. And you know me when it’s a good villain, I tend to half-way be rooting for them..Here it’s Asset because yes, Vincent Cassel plays him so menacingly well. A bit of Alicia Vikander’s character Heather Lee was just too easily sewed up at the beginning of the film for me, but she gravited well into the role and is pivotal to the ending, which I loved. All in all, it’s an entertaining enough film to satisfy the action fan in us all.

Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies

Review Screening: Monday, July 25, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Release Date: Nationwide – Friday, July 29, 2016

7 DAYS OF OSCARS: DAY 6 ~ “BEST ACTOR”

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Yes, the end of my “7 Days of Oscars” is nearing it’s close. For some this might be a hard category. For me, it is the simplest one as I knew from the minute the film was over, who was going to be my pick of the year. And yes, deservedly so.

BEST ACTOR

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Being a fan of Cranston, it’s a notable performance here, but the film went pretty unnoticed by most as it was about the infamous ‘blacklist’ and I think some just thought it had been done before.

Matt Damon, The Martian
This for me, was actually a really good dramady performance by Damon. He was funny, yet serious when he needed to be. But sorry Matt, it’s going to have to be another time. 🙂

Leonardo DiCaprio, The RevenantMY PICK/WINNER
Please pick up your Golden Man.. FINALLY Mr. DiCaprio. 😀

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Good, strong job by one of my favourite actors here. Lot’s of dialogue but just didn’t hit it on the mark for me.

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Last year’s winner and another good performance by Redmayne, but not of the Oscar caliber of last years so no..I don’t think Eddie’s doing a repeat.

And with that we are approaching Day 7 – The Final Day of “7 Days of Oscars” which will be of course, Best Picture. With that being said, I’m going to the Independent Spirit Awards tomorrow, Sat. the 27th, and instead of posting my BP picks, I’m just going to briefly address the Oscar controversy and save my last for the BIG DAY!! Cheers to you all until then..
#Oscars2016 #peggyatthemovies

**Reminder that I’m giving who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick – because yes, they just might not be the same!! 😀

Review: “THE MARTIAN” (2015) 20th Century Fox

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I’ve always had mixed feelings about Director Ridley Scott and his films. Some are fantastic and some..are not. Here he is back once again to exploring a familiar territory – space.

“THE MARTIAN” truly strikes cinematic gold here with what could be looked as a quasi-instruction manual on how to survive surefire death on Mars. Though this adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel (which I haven’t yet read) is the best thing Scott has given us in quite some time, he still goes where others have gone before – only this time, with a perky, life-affirming attitude.

The concept is catchy and simple: While on a mission on Mars, a major storm hits the crew of the Ares III facility causing them to abort and head for their escape rocket. As Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain), cyber-whiz Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), flight surgeon Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan), pilot Rick Martinez (Michael Pena) and chemist Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie) head out into the vicious winds of Mars where botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit by debris and disappears. The others think he’s dead and leave without him. But guess what?! He’s alive! the_martian_2
And in order to survive he must “science the shit” out of the remaining supplies in a lab that was created to last only 31 days. His wit, scientific know-how and vlogs are what sustain him until the people at NASA – including NASA director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), mission director Dr. Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and flight director Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) – can figure out how to save him. Add in the back ground techies Mindy Park (Mackenzie Davis) & Rich Purnell (Donald Glover) who literally come up with the live-saving idea that make it possible to go back and get their man!! All the while they make this trip to Mars almost scenic as you can almost feel the atmosphere while watching.
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There are shifts here between humor, heart and suspense which are all handled quite well. Plus the soundtrack..ohhh the soundtrack… with it’s precise way that it works in the disco from the made-fun-of playlist of Lewis’ – with just a sampling is “Waterloo”
(ABBA) “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (Thelma Houston) and Vicki Sue Robinson’s “Turn The Beat Around” – is not only truly ingenious but yes, fabulous as well. It hits all the notes at just the right moment in Watney’s journey, giving us a look into his in-the-moment feelings in a perfectly stated way.

While this film is almost all Matt Damon, his very adequate supporting cast really gives the film a huge boost..along with the fact that it engages us intellectually, but not over the top as they make it all relatable and with a dose of humour I just loved. So it makes it hard to even list the one small unfortunate thing about THE MARTIAN as it’s good..really good.. it does stop just one step short of being electrifying. And in this case..that’s still not a bad thing.

Grade: B

Screening: Monday, September 21, 2015 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Nationwide Release: Friday, October 2, 2015

Review: “INTERSTELLAR” (2014)

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So had a few extra hours on Thanksgiving and yes, I finally saw “Interstellar” and boy was it LOOOOONNGGG really really long. Which would be fine if the first two hours were something special moving at a pace faster than the tortoise and the hare race. Mind you I pretty much love all of Christopher Nolan’s movies starting with the 1st one I really remember, Memento, which I thought was just so damn brilliant. Love the Batman franchise, loved Inception and actually got it (well okay..kinda got it) 🙂 But this one raises a few questions for me..one of the most notable is why does he like Anne Hathaway aka Anne – don’t forget the ‘E’ aka Anne Hackaway, so much?? She was the worst Cat Woman ever, and does no favours in this movie either..so why? ok..well as I will most likely never have that question truly answered..let’s move on.

At the beginning we meet “Cooper” (Matthew McConaughey) who is a widowed farmer/ex-astronaut, his young daughter “Murph” (Mackenzie Foy) who believes her room is haunted by a ghost who is trying to communicate with her; his father-in-law, with whom they live, “Donald” (John Lithgow) and his son, who is almost as an after thought, “Tom” (Timothee Chalamet). I say afterthought because the story heavily focuses on Cooper’s relationship with his daughter throughout the entire movie as they even label it as a sort of interstellar 1‘father/daughter’ story, and I almost felt bad for the son as he isn’t prominently featured at all. But I guess that’s neither here nor there as we move along through their story where there is a school reprimand involved, which leads into a school suspension whereas Cooper & Murph then have the time to be ‘discovering’ that the ghost is actually sending them coded messages that gives them the coordinates to find which takes them on the journey where they find the secret bunker so-to-speak of NASA. See the world is almost at an end and with crops blights left & right, taking away food this planet will never see again, time is running out to figure what to do next and possibly where to go.

In steps “Professor Brand” (Michael Caine) and his daughter “Amelia Brand” (Anne Hathaway). Prof. Brand explains to them that a wormhole apparently created by alien intelligence, has given what’s left of Earth’s inhabitants hope for survival and that NASA’s old ‘Lazarus’ missions have noted 3 different planets orbiting the Black Hole ‘Gargantua’ that are potentials for human habitation.

To cut a really long story as short as can be done because I will be honest, not only would it take pages to describe the entire film (as some reviews have done..ZZzzzzz), the first two hours of this movie did not wow me in the slightest and somewhat dragged on. As they mount a mission to find which planet is best. The mission named ‘Endurance’, is where Cooper joins Brand’s daughter, biologist Amelia; scientists “Romilly” (David Gyasi) and “Doyle” (Wes Bentley); and robots TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) and CASE (voiced by Josh Stewart). The TARS & CASE robots were pretty much my favourite ‘characters’ of the movie btw.. so to sum it up..they enter the wormhole and head to Miller, but discover the planet is so close to Gargantua that it experiences severe gravitational time dilation: each hour on the surface is seven years on Earth. It’s inhospitable to humans as it is covered by a shallow ocean roiled by enormous tidal waves. As Amelia attempts to recover Miller’s data, a wave hits, killing Doyle and delaying the shuttle’s departure. When Cooper and Amelia return to Endurance, 23 years have passed.interstellar 2

On Earth, the now-adult “Murphy” (Jessica Chastain) now a NASA scientist assisting Brand who, on his deathbed, Brand admits he already solved the problem and determined the project is impossible and he covered up his findings and put his faith in a “Plan B” As Murphy tries to warn her also now adult aged brother Tom, (played by Casey Affleck), and his family that it’s almost at the end of time and they must move on she concludes that Brand’s equation could work with additional data from a black hole’s singularity. (yes I had to look up this last sentence :))
Low on fuel, Endurance can only visit one more planet before returning to Earth. After much argument the team votes for Mann’s planet, but they find it to be icy and inhospitable. “Mann” (Matt Damon) reveals that he knew Plan B was the mission’s goal all along, and faked data about his planet so Endurance would rescue him which of course goes awry, and Damon’s odd character turn here as a villianous bad guy fails and he’s gonzo! interstellar 5

As they are nearly out of fuel, and this is truly where I got the most frightened as there is a moment where you think that Hackaway’s character Amelia, is going to be the last person left to live. Frightening truly frightening thought for most of us, and yes I am being completely facetious here..or am I.. ha! It’s also where the movie FINALLY started to pick up some and get to the brilliant part as they emerge in an extra-dimensional “tesseract”, where time appears in different dimension with portals that show glimpses of Murphy’s childhood bedroom at various times. Cooper then realizes that the wormhole and tesseract were created by a future form of humanity transcending time and space, so he was the one and now again, that did and can communicate with Murphy as the “ghost” and try to save humanity. Using the gravitational waves they discovered early on a watch, Cooper transmits TARS’s data to the adult Murphy through Morse code, allowing her to solve Brand’s equation and evacuate Earth.
Years later, Cooper awakens aboard a NASA space habitat and reunites with the now elderly Murphy (Ellen Burstyn), who has led the exodus and Earth is to be saved. Lastly, Cooper does have to go out on one final mission, to find Amelia who is still out there on Edmunds planet. hmmm.. Do I see a sequel here?!! 😀

There are no stand-out performances here. McConaughey, coming off a fantastic 2013 with crazy good performances isn’t going to get any nominations for this role as it’s rather basic. Thankfully Chastain steps up to the plate to relieve us of the agony that is Anne Hathaway (Hackaway) and as the young Murph’s, Foy also does quite well. Visually, as expected, the film can be quite stunning, but mostly only once they get into space. I appreciated Interstellar’s grand ambition and the fact that Nolan took on astrophysics and a major studio gave him $200 million to do it. If anyone could try to tackle relativity and the space-time continuum in a narrative, it’s Nolan and his intellect as a director. But, alas it proved too much to take on and make sense of, even for him. It’s is however an interesting effort worth seeing just for its concept in general, though some may end up feeling merely puzzled, which, as my friend Leif noted, knowing Nolan’s oeurve is probably the whole point.
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Grade: C+

#peggyatthemovies
(See grading scale)