Viewing entries tagged
Entertainment

Ocean's 8 Drowns in its Boring Nonchalance (REVIEW)

Comment

Ocean's 8 Drowns in its Boring Nonchalance (REVIEW)

61230_CCW_Website_April_images_Events_part2_4.jpg

If empowerment was the goal,

it severely missed the mark.

In the age of female empowerment, Ocean's 8 could have led the charge for a new era of smart, resourceful, and capable thieves for a new generation of moviegoers. They could have showed us that adversity is only an opportunity to break through the barriers that stand in our way. Or, more specifically, the women of Ocean's 8 could have exhibited their resilience, strength, and wit as they devised ways to outdo the challenges of the heist, but also the ones unfortunately inherent to them as women in our culture. Instead, the conflict free triumph of this female band of thieves rings less of girl power, and more of the musclebound-macho-movie-tropes that originally alienated our female protagonists.

Simply put, nothing is earned in this film, everything just feels given, too easy, and unmemorable. Our cobbled together group of grifters face little to no opposition in the pursuit of their shimmering goal. And, in a glorious exhibition of Hollywood blasé, we’re essentially given the non-violent equivalent of an 80’s Action Star never running out of bullets in their gun to defeat their enemies. All without even so much as a scratch to show for it. This is the unfortunate case of Ocean's 8. Everything is so one-sided and stacked in our heroes' favor, that in the end, we're left to genuinely ask "who cares?", which ultimately does more harm than good for our culture and for women in the film industry. 

Instead of propelling this to the forefront of the new post #METOO and #TimesUp era of entertainment, this female led foray into the Ocean's world simply falls flat.

If empowerment was the goal, then they severely missed the mark. And, if entertainment was also on the list, that too left a lot to be desired. 

oceans_8_2018.jpg

I really wanted this to work.

I really wanted to love this movie.

If this sounds harsh, its because I really wanted this to work. I really wanted to love this movie. 

If you guys have listened to any of our episodes and/or you’ve read my last blog, you know that the Ocean's movies are like our zeitgeist. These films are like the underlying basis for our vernacular and how we communicate with one another on and off the show. So, to watch this movie lack all of the things that made those movies great without offering anything new or improving on the old...”it just, hurts."

Perhaps, they didn't want to rely too much, or at all--as is apparent in this film--to the things that made the other films great. Perhaps, they wished to pave their own way into our hearts in the same way that Danny, Rusty and Linus did before them. Unfortunately, the lack of a villain, conflict—or any opposition for that matter— and the shortage of smart, organic, and entertaining dialogue, allowed this film to drown in an ocean of boredom and indifferent nonchalance.

Of all the criminal activity at work, the most offensive is how poor this movie is written. We all know that good storytelling requires some type of conflict. In Clooney's Ocean’s movies, there was never a moment where things seemed easy. There was always some sort of threat looming. Whether that was from the film’s villains, that is, Tony Benedict, Toulour, and Willy Bank played by Andy Garcia, Vincent Cassel, and Al Pacino respectively. Or, from the team themselves. There was always room for error, whether from one certain individual or even as a group. There was never any certainty that any part of the heist would go as planned. The crux of the action came from our heroes battling back when their backs were against the wall. That’s what made these films entertaining; the fact that our heroes could lose.

The film itself, through its dialogue and playful banter between its characters made this point for us, because: "you lose focus in this game for one second, and someone gets hurt." But, in no point in Ocean's 8 did this statement seem true. At no point in this movie did these women appear hyper focused on their task nor did the possibility of someone getting hurt--whether physically, mentally or emotionally--ever become present. They all are just way too calm, collected and anticlimactically unfazed with the gravity of their heist. 

We also never get the same magic and charm that made every bit of dialogue quotable in Ocean's 11, 12 and 13. It also never plays to their character's eccentricities and quirks. They terribly misuse the amazing cast assembled and do nothing to build their characters into more than their specific area of expertise i.e. Rihanna's Nine Ball is just the urban computer wiz, Mindy Kaling is (inexcusably) just the unmarried diamond cutter, and Sarah Paulson's Tammy is the stay at home mom with a compulsion to horde stolen goods only to sell them for herself. The story never builds on the foundations that these talented women lay, and in return all we get are placeholder characters who are way too good at what they do.

As expected, Sandra Bullock's Debbie Ocean and Cate Blanchett's Lou fare a little better, as they get the most camera time. However, they're both primed and left idle and never truly tap into the playful interconnectedness that Clooney and Pitt displayed as Danny and Rusty, hinting at a similar deep history between the two, but never quite reaching the heights of their male counterparts. Leaving much to be desired from two amazing talents. As one critic put it, "Ocean's 8 [is]...simply not up to the talents of its cast."

They also completely ignored the cryptic nuances of the "in the know" criminal lexicon and code words explored in the other films. That was one of the things I loved about the previous Ocean's movies. It was like taking a peek into this criminal underworld that we knew nothing about. But, the intrigue and mystery behind every con, possible hustle and scam helped to keep us engaged and wanting more. 

james-corden-american-adventure-cover-image-rolling-stone-07e17be9-54b9-474a-a8e1-a8de397cd82a.jpg

James Corden

is no Terry Benedict!

James Corden is the villain in this film. Let that sit there for a second...

Yeah, I don’t think I need to go any further on that. James Corden is no Terry Benedict.

This alone should keep you away from this movie.

In the end, the power of its stars far overshadows the movie’s script and we’re left with a disappointing maiden voyage into the female Ocean’s universe. 

Comment

Sundance Film Festival 2018

Comment

Sundance Film Festival 2018

I love doing these Sundance Film Festival previews because it’s kind of like looking into a crystal ball and anticipating what we’ll be talking about on the show later in the year. The festival usually showcases a wide variety of films that often end up sweeping the general public off their feet as coverage of these relatively unknown gems finally breakthrough into the public eye. Again, like I mentioned in my initial Sundance preview blog back in 2016, this is a festival I one day hope to attend in person and bring you all firsthand reviews of the films on display. But, for now, I’ll just continue to give you guys my three most anticipated films from Sundance that I can’t wait to see in theaters this year.

 [CLICK PICTURE TO READ MORE]

Comment

REVIEW: The Vault (2017)

Comment

REVIEW: The Vault (2017)

We all had that one place either in our house or in our neighborhood that we all knew was haunted. Living in California my whole life, I never experienced the horror of a haunted basement or the demon possessed furnace like in Home Alone. But, we did have an old shed that was attached to our neighbor's garage and our laundry room that we all knew was the doorway to hell, or the home of some flesh eating monster that was just waiting for one of us to walk in and say its name: El Chamuco, La Chankla, La Llorona!

 [CLICK PICTURE TO READ MORE]

 

Comment

       January Movie Magic     Top 3 Movie Picks For This Month   As the mountains of tamales, turkey, ham, or whatever else you guys have for Christmas and New Years begin to dwindle down to valleys of already ruined resolutions and regret. And, the post-apocalyptic world of wrapping paper, glass bottles, and the instantly forgotten gifts strewn across what was formerly known as your house is becoming too overwhelming and you just need to escape...Never fear, January 2018 seems to have some great films to help you abandon the rebuilding efforts for just a few hours, or at least until the toasters, blenders, and all other household items you’re planning to return to Target become sentient and take over the world. But, never mind all that, let’s take a look at some of the movies coming to a theater near you in January:        Insidious: The Last Key     January 5, 2017        </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"         As you guys might already know, I am a covert horror fan. I love horror movies, but those around me don’t really enjoy them as much as I do. So, I keep quiet, hide my little secret and sneak away in the misty shadows of my living room couch and indulge my blood curdling, cringe worthy, machete slashing pleasures on TV as my loved ones fall asleep. And with horror movies now having quite the resurgence with films such as IT, The Conjuring Franchise, Get Out, Paranormal Activity Franchise and of course, the Insidious franchise, it’s a great time to be a horror movie fan. So, for our first choice of movies to watch in January, I’ve chosen Insidious: The Last Key.  The Last Key is the fourth film in the Insidious movie franchise. These films follow the paranormal adventures of Elise Rainier as she continues to investigate the supernatural disturbances plaguing this world. In this film, she helps a family in the city of Five Keys, New Mexico. The film is directed by Adam Robitel (The Taking of Deborah Logan and co-writer of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension) and produced by Jason Blum (of Blumhouse Productions: Get Out, Paranormal Activity Franchise, Split, The Purge Franchise, The Visit, Hush, etc…) and James Wan (previous director of the Insidious films).  One of the things I love most about horror films is the mythology behind them, and all of the Insidious films have done a great job of establishing layered and wholly terrifying worlds that feel lived in and real. One other thing I love is their creative use of the particular rules of their universe/environment. In this case, The Further, is a middle ground or a type of limbo or purgatory where many evil spirits have remained looking for an opportunity to come back to the living world by possessing a living host. But, one of the truly interesting things about this place is its use of time. Because the rules of time don’t apply as they do for us in the real world, they have managed to weave an intricate narrative web between the four films that answer questions and pay dividends in previous or later movies. Making one film just as important as the other and truly forming an enthralling movie watching experience. Aside from all that, the movie itself just looks bone-chillingly creepy and simply terrifying.  Now, if you haven’t seen the previous three films, I’ve added this video below that summarizes the basic gist of the previous films and also explains how they all connect.  Again, Insidious: The Last Key is in theaters today.           </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"               Den of Thieves     January 19, 2017        </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"         Everyone is trying to create the next Heat, the Michael Mann classic that thrust the Los Angeles crime thriller to prominence. While most films may fall short of that comparison or may shy away from admitting Heat’s influence on their own, Director Christian Gudegast embraces the challenge of creating the next great bank robbery classic in his upcoming L.A. crime saga, Den of Thieves. And, based on the trailer itself, it appears he might have touched on something similar to Mann’s masterpiece.  The film stars Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, 50 Cent, O’Shea Jackson, and others. This is the film’s synopsis: “Den of Thieves follows the intersecting and often personally connected lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff's Dept. and the state's most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank of downtown Los Angeles.” Tagged as: “Thieves without fear. Cops without limits.” this pulse-pounding L.A. thriller may seem, on its face, as a run of the mill forgettable bank heist movie, and though it might be, I am intrigued by its seemingly transparent approach of the law enforcement unit as being even more ruthless and vicious than our supposed villains. The title, Den of Thieves, is then an obvious allusion to the blurred lines between our hypothetical heroes and villains. The now ambiguous title makes you ask who in fact this title is alluding to. And, given the present social climate present in 2018, this issue of optics and the dichotomy between our preconceived notions of good and bad, hero and villain, thieves and cops and the reality as exists today, might be as poignant a message to make as ever.  Another thing to watch is the chemistry between our leading men. It’s interesting to see both of these characters cast in the roles they’re in as both seem to be able to straddle the line between “good” and “evil”. Both seem capable of revving up their intensity to make difficult and perhaps irredeemable choices at a moment’s notice while at the same time oozing with charm and charisma, making them hard to hate. Though Gerard Butler and Pablo Schreiber may not have the same intense chemistry that Pacino and De Niro had in Heat, I like both of these actors, and I am sure they will turn in something great and memorable.  Den of Thieves is in theaters on January 19, 2017.        Maze Runner: The Death Cure     January 26, 2017           </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"         Better than a lot of its teen-action-heart-throb-drama-book-movie-adaption counterparts, Maze Runner has actually been, great! It’s been a solid action/adventure romp that merits your hard earned money at the theater. And, much like another successful film in the teen action genre, the Hunger Games, its strength truly lies on its lead characters and the bevy of amazing supporting actors that truly makes this stand apart from the rest…Yes, I’m looking at you Divergent and Twilight. In this case, Dylan O’Brien as Thomas and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt are legitimate stars. O’Brien, who recently starred in American Assassin with Michael Keaton, is believable as the archetypical action hero. Then Sangster, who is particularly good as the gun-slinging baby faced sheriff in Godless on Netflix, with his quippy yet courageous persona is the perfect Steve McQueen-esque foil to O’Brien’s Yule Brenner lite de facto leader role. Sprinkle in the always great Aiden Gillen, Patricia Clarkson, and Giancarlo Esposito and the results exceed all expectations.  Here is the film’s synopsis: “In the epic finale to the Maze Runner saga, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final and most dangerous mission yet. To save their friends, they must break into the legendary Last City, a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all. Anyone who makes it out alive will get answers to the questions the Gladers have been asking since they first arrived in the maze.”  If you guys haven’t seen the last two, I would honestly recommend that you give them a chance. They’re more than serviceable and are actually great action films worthy of their franchise and worth your time.  HONORABLE MENTIONS  If none of the ones above seem to tickle your fancy, January has a lot of other great offerings too. Check out the list of honorable mentions below. There's a great mix of drama, action, and something for the kids as well.   Molly's Game (1/5/18)  The Post (1/12/18)  Proud Mary (1/12/18)  Paddington 2 (1/12/18)  12 Strong (1/19/18)   Of those above, I think The Post has my money. Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk, with Steven Spielberg directing seems like a sure fire Oscar hit. If you guys have any other suggestions that you'd like to make, please feel free to comment below and we'll make sure and mention them in our next episode.   Well, thanks for reading the first (of many I hope) blogs of 2018. I will be doing my best to bring you one (or more) a week. So, stay tuned.   J.

Comment

As the mountains of tamales, turkey, ham, or whatever else you guys have for Christmas and New Years begin to dwindle down to valleys of already ruined resolutions and regret. And, the post-apocalyptic world of wrapping paper, glass bottles, and the instantly forgotten gifts strewn across what was formerly known as your house is becoming too overwhelming and you just need to escape...Never fear, January 2018 seems to have some great films to help you abandon the rebuilding efforts for just a few hours, or at least until the toasters, blenders, and all other household items you’re planning to return to Target become sentient and take over the world. But, never mind all that, let’s take a look at some of the movies coming to a theater near you in January:

 [CLICK PICTURE TO READ MORE]

Comment

The Un-Beta Opinion: KONG-SKULL ISLAND

4 Comments

The Un-Beta Opinion: KONG-SKULL ISLAND

Okay, I know disclaimers are almost never needed but I will give one anyway. DISCLAIMER: This is my first blog EVER. Now that that is out of the way I would like to start out by saying I really have no beef with remakes. I actually have enjoyed watching a bunch of remakes and sequels in the theaters. Now for the most part these movies wouldn’t be made unless they were guaranteed to make boat loads of money. Usually by giving us the same movie over and over again. Sounds like a no brainer on the business side of things and that is why we are seeing a surplus of remakes, sequels and all the above.

4 Comments