Category Archives: Great Trash

Midnight Special – Director, Jeff Nichols

I went to see this film largely on the recommendation of Eli Glasner who gave it a rare 5-star rating. While I sometimes agree with Glasner this rating is a mistake. The movie is good and entertaining but not great and not 5 stars. I have always been of the opinion that movies are for entertainment primarily and occasionally they move above that but lists of the greatest films ever made tend to suggest an appeal to some universal principles of greatness that simply do not exist. So all that said Midnight Special is a sci-fi movie that may well fit into a class with some of the more loved films in the genre like Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Ex Machina or Blade Runner. The story is about a boy who appears to have special powers over which he does not have complete control. Everyone wants him from the NSA to the FBI to a crazy religious cult but none of them fully understand him. He is kidnapped from the religious cult and taken away by his father and mother who are chased down by the Feds but not before they are able to deliver their son to his ultimate destiny. The film is never entirely clear about how anyone knows about him, how he could possibly be the progeny of the two mortals or what really is going on. There are too many hiccups like this to make the film worth the 5-star rating in my opinion but I agree that it is a great ride with great acting and its not so bad that we are left with a few questions. Thanks Eli for making me go see this one and I will give it a 4-star rating so we are mostly in agreement.

Hail, Caesar – Director, The Coen Brothers

I liked this movie although I will admit it is not the best Coen brother film ever. It is much quieter and more subtle than I had anticipated. Reviews are mostly very positive and congratulate the Coen’s on a tribute and laugh at 1950’s Hollywood but the negative ones are very negative. I think it might be useful to see the film in conjunction with Trumbo and with Women He’s Undressed which also look at the same period. Hail, Caesar does not miss the communist element in Hollywood but does make light of it. The attack on the left wing elements of the creative people in Hollywood of the time was devastating and not funny but I am not sure the Coen’s deserve the antagonism they get for having fun with the whole thing. Certainly it is a comic take but it is so clearly comic and so tongue in cheek that I really enjoyed it notwithstanding the real story. There are some really great scenes mocking the mega dance scenes, the heroic over the top epics, and the mega stars who led the Hollywood of the time. There a number of great cameos and some wonderfully comic scenes but for the most part it is done without going over the top. I enjoyed it but as I note there are much better Coen Bros. films. Their best films are really great so their lesser efforts clearly disappointed some critics but to be fair, not being as great as their best is still pretty darn good.

Deadpool – Director, Tim Miller

Deadpool was not on my list of films to see until I heard Eli Glasner’s review. It started with him suggesting that the scene he showed during his review was the only one that the CBC’s rules would allow. The film has an R rating for a reason. It is very very funny, violent, full of foul language, nudity and very adult themes. I think that pretty much covers it. We are of course dealing with a Marvel product and it is well done, well written, and not too heavy on the special effects although they do play an important role so those of you who like them will not be disappointed. Oh yeah. It’s a love story too.

I really liked this movie despite making the mistake of attending on opening day. The theatre (and I went to the 2D, non-AVX etc version) was packed. There were people munching on everything you can imagine over and above popcorn, there were Susie seat kickers, Teddy texters, loudmouths talking through the whole film etc etc. It was totally annoying. So wait a week then go. This is a story about a super hero with a foul mouth, a low moral threshold and a red suit. The need for the latter becomes clear early in the film. Assuming you can tolerate violence as a comic element you will really enjoy your just under 2 hours of entertainment. Go for it.

Jurassic World – Director, Colin Trevorrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had to watch this movie even though it is total attempt to make some money on the original. Still its really well done and the dinosaurs are really great. I especially like the battle at the end with the T-Rex. I really liked the original Jurassic Park which was something special. I remember going with my kids and their friends when they were quite young. The movie was so engaging that one of the kids remarked at the end wondering how they managed to control the velociraptors during the filming of the movie. Then realized what he had said. It just showed how completing engaging the film was. This time around it was sort of like the Star Wars reboot. Once you saw the original the sequel is always a bit disappointing but this should not put you off renting this one and enjoying a couple of hours of roaring and chomping. Very entertaining so it ranks as really good trash. Go for it if you like dinos.

The Martian – Director, Ridley Scott

This is one of the first Oscar nominated films I have seen so far this winter. Telling the tale of an astronaut isolated on Mars with only his wits to help him survive, it is thrilling, funny, uplifting and Matt Damon is excellent, carrying the film very much on his isolated shoulders.  With 3 of its 6 Oscar  nominations for sound and production design and visual effects it is also great to watch.  The science is mostly pretty good according the geeks who have seen it. Sure there are lots of misses and miscalculations to those who choose to pick at it but all forgivable in my opinion for an excellent cinematic ride.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – Director, Guy Ritchie

 

 

Hmmm one of my favourite 60’s TV series and one of my favourite directors, what could go wrong? Well nothing much really except that this movie was not quite the quality I had hoped for. I guess I was hoping for a new Bond franchise and it just didn’t happen. This is not to say it is a bad movie by any means. The cast is great especially Armie Hammer as Ilya Kuryakin, and Hugh Grant as Waverly. Henry Cavill is good as Napoleon Solo but then I was never impressed with Robert Vaughan in the role and I think it’s the role’s fault more than the actor’s. Anyway everyone always like David McCallum the best, Right? Reviewers were all over the map on this one and I have to admit those who dumped on it had a point. Ritchie fails to recreate the atmosphere of the original TV series but lets face its been 50 years since McCallum and Vaughn created the roles, that audience is aging fast, and the Cold War is old news at least the one from the 60’s. The series needed a reboot to make it interesting to contemporary audiences but I fear that although it was fun to watch, it just didn’t quite cut it. The ending clearly sets up the possibility of a sequel with the two stars and hopefully Ritchie behind the camera but with the lack of critical success it will, I fear, not make it to a second romp in the Cold War. Still its fun and worth your time.

Mad Max: Fury Road – Director, George Miller


This reboot of the Mad Max franchise is a visual extravaganza with wonderful performances from Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. While I enjoyed it very much and clearly so did the Academy of Motion Picture Arts, I am like many who saw the new Star Wars movie. Yes its great but…. The original was much more mind blowing if you were lucky enough to be around and see it for the first time in 1977. The original Mad Max with a very young Mel Gibson came out in 1979 and was a great sci-fi post-apocalyptic vision with a pretty low budget. It rocketed Gibson to international fame and its sequel Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) was a brilliant follow up. There is no question that this latest take directed by the same director but 35 years later is very good and very special but it’s a sequel and a reboot and it just didn’t grab me the way the original did. So that’s the perspective of a 66 year old movie reviewer. It is interesting that a movie like Mad Max can have a much greater impact when it is first released in the context of movies of the time then it can to younger fans who see it 10 or 20 years later in a world already influenced by those films. It is less of a thrill and less of a novelty and clearly no longer ground breaking since it already did that previously. I will riff on this a bit more in my review of the new Star Wars movie. But for all my reaction from the perspective of an old movie fan don’t get me wrong, this a really fun movie and a great ride just not the same one I was on in 1979.

What We Do in the Shadows – Directors, Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the movie poster suggests, this film is hilarious. It is a very low budget New Zealand mockumentary about a group of four vampires living in modern day Wellington New Zealand. The vampires vary in age from just under 200 years old to over 8000 years old. It chronicles the day to day… make that night to night travails and problems of being undead in contemporary Wellington. From arguments over who will do the dishes, making sure the drapes are drawn at dawn and waking up Peter the 8000-year-old guy who lives in the basement we follow them on various adventures around town. These include befriending a human who they decide not to kill themselves but who is ultimately turned into a werewolf and a new take on racism as the vampires realize that werewolves do not pee on everything and are actually fairly civilized at least when the moon is not full. I highly recommend this for a relaxing evening when you really can’t take anything very seriously and want to just relax in great satire.

It should be noted that director Taika Waititi is working on the new Thor picture due to be released in November 2017. A big reward for a talented young director who stumbled with Green Lantern in 2011 but I suspect will do much better with Thor.

The Hateful Eight – Director, Quentin Tarantino

If you like Tarantino, you will like this movie and if you don’t you won’t. Personally I am a big fan and loved this movie. Set in a single room for most of the 187 minutes it all hangs on the acting and that is top notch. Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell as the leads are very good but the best performance is turned in by the only major female character played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. The supporting cast are also all wonderful with great performances in particular from Tim Roth and Bruce Dern. The claustrophobic setting lends great tension to a movie that sparkles all the way through. I am tempted to look at my watch in any movies that extend past 90 minutes but not this time. One is never sure about the agenda of each character or who is going to die in some over the top violent manner until the final twist ending(s) and the script and timing keep you on the edge of you seat throughout. Great stuff delivered with skill and humour from Tarantino who continues to improve with each outing.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Director, J. J. Abrams

Okay this movie is likely to make more money than any movie in history and has had great reviews ranking in the 90’s on Rotten Tomatoes and generally could not miss as a hit. It is not 1977 however, and this is not Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope which set the stage for all the special effects blockbusters to follow. Those of us who were stunned and thrilled by the first movie will be a tad disappointed in this one but that is not to say it is not great fun. There is much to like and lots of nostalgia to enjoy. There is a real challenge with rebooting a franchise like this. Abrams did an awesome job with Star Trek but this was by far a bigger challenge. He has to deal with the old characters and old story, introduce the new cast and set the stage for the next 2 movies in the trilogy. That is a lot to do in one movie but I believe they were successful. I enjoyed every moment of it.

There a few plot issues like how the new lead star managed to learn how to do Jedi mind tricks all on her own and it worked and that is not the only one. Time to suspend disbelief dear readers and just relax. After the movie when my guests were discussing this scene in particular our youngest guest (9 y.o.) noted that “The Force is strong in this one”. Nuff said. Enjoy.