Monday, February 5, 2018

The Zero Theorem

Starring: Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, & David Thewlis
Director: Terry Gilliam - Rating: R - Score: 0 Stars

When you watch a Terry Gilliam film, you should expect for there to be a fair amount of weirdness. When you add Science Fiction to the mix, there is the possibility that anything can happen. With this in mind, I was really excited to see The Zero Theorem, and what I got was simply one of the worst films I have ever seen! Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) is a computer genius, who has been assigned by Management to discover the meaning of life. He does this alone in an old abandoned church. This movie made absolutely no sense to the point where I don't even know how the hell to describe it in any way that would do it justice. Waltz is running around like a madman the entire time, talking so fast, with that accent, that he's impossible to understand. He meets Tilda Swinton at some type of party, and she keeps showing up for some unknown reason, personally I just think it's because she's weird and she likes being in weird movies. Waltz has all these odd computer programs, strange characters he interacts with and talks non-sense with, all in a film that moves faster than his internet connection. I really just didn't understand a thing that was going on and watching it a number of times or doing any amount of any drug in the world wouldn't change that. How is a solitary man playing strange computer games supposed to discover the meaning of life? Who are all these people who keep showing up? What in the hell are they talking about, and what does anything have to do with anything? I'm not entirely sure that another person on this planet besides Terry Gilliam understands what was going on in this film. All I know is that no one should have ever been exposed to whatever this nightmare was intended to be.

Take Me To The River (2015)

Starring: Logan Miller, Robin Weigert, & Ursula Parker
Director: Matt Sobel - Rating: NR - Score: 1 1/2 Stars

The more things change, the more things stay the same. That is supposed to be the message of this unique Sundance Film Festival winner, however any message the film intended to share was lost by it's sheer disturbing nature. Ryder (Logan Miller) is a Gay California teenager who is going with his parents to a family reunion in Kansas. Knowing that her rural family will never understand, Ryder's mother has kept that little detail from the rest of the family, much to Ryder's chagrin. Ryder rebels in his own way by wearing an outrageous outfit and keeping to himself at the family outing, only spending time with his young cousin, Molly (Ursula Parker) who wants to play in the barn. When Molly comes running back from the barn with an unusual bloodstain, Ryder earns the ire of the rest of his family and wants to tell them he's gay, but apparently being thought of as something else is even better than that. If this film displays one thing, it's that homophobia is alive and well, and that should have been more the focus of this film. While I think everyone pretty much suspected Ryder was gay, the whole situation with Molly made them think he was something else too and the focus was on that. The families reaction to it was what was even more disturbing as it ranged from what you'd expect to sheer ridiculousness. I honestly can't believe some of the things that happened in this film, as they were both disturbing and seemingly without much of a purpose. Logan Miller stars and now that I've seen him in a few other things, I can honestly say that he's the kind of actor who has to fit the role. He has this kind of whiny, emo boy personality that just doesn't fit with everything. In a film like this, if anything I'd expect him to be more outraged, emotional to the point of being over the top but he really wasn't, it was as if he didn't grasp what he was being accused of. Take Me To The River focused on a single event and just didn't let go, everything else became irrelevant. The film was disturbing, the acting was sub-par, and a lot of what happened just didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

Mr. 3000

Starring: Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett, & Michael Rispoli
Director: Charles Stone III - Rating: PG-13 - Score: 3 1/2 Stars

Bernie Mac was one of my favorite comedians, but I have to admit that I wasn't expecting much out of this film. Mac played Stan Ross, one of the best baseball players to ever step foot on the field in Milwaukee. He retired right after he got his 3000th hit, something that is very difficult to do in the Majors. After his career, Mr. 3000 became his personal moniker, as he launched a number of businesses under the Mr. 3000 name. Ross is even being considered for the Hall of Fame, when a review of his statistics finds an error. As it turns out, three of his hits had been counted twice, and now to maintain his Mr. 3000 persona, Ross must return to the game, at age 47, to try and get three more hits. While this was supposed to be a comedy, the part I really enjoyed was seeing how this superstar, who had everything handed to him, his whole life, struggled to do the simplest of things. The other players hazed him, the younger players resented him, and he had to somehow rectify this with his massive ego. As for Mac, he was outstanding! The man was truly unique and I feel as though he never got the chance to reach his real potential. Films like Mr. 3000 were fun and definitely enjoyable for the audience, but they weren't the kind of award winning, career defining roles that he was really capable of. This film is full of laughs and the sports action wasn't bad either, to say the least, I was fairly impressed and I think you will be too.

The 5th Wave

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, & Ron Livingston
Director: J Blakeson - Rating: PG-13 - Score: 3 Stars

The 5th Wave is a rare of example of a film I enjoyed despite hating the novel it was based on. The book was extremely slow, as it was narrated by the lonely girl the film is focused on. She re-lived her experiences in flashbacks in the book, while the movie is more straightforward, therefore eliminating some of the monotony. Still the film isn't without it's flaws, as it is based on an idea that has been done to death. Aliens have invaded the Earth once again and this time they have done it in four crushing waves. Most of the planet is in ruins, millions are dead, and the few that are left have banded together to try and form some sort of resistance. A 5th wave is coming and the military has surmised that children will be the least affected by it, and have begun rounding them up and training them as soldiers. Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretz) is one of these children, who is devastated to be separated from her family, but at the same time happy to be fighting along side her life long crush Ben Parish (Nick Robinson). For me, this film was less about the story and more about it's stars. As I said I didn't really care for the story, it's been done, and the whole Hunger Games love angel just seemed to be a lazy rip off. What I did enjoy was seeing two of Hollywood's biggest young stars together in the same film, Chloe Grace Moretz and Nick Robinson. Both of them have been getting bigger and better roles and to finally see them together in a major blockbuster film was a treat. Moretz's character was just another Katniss Everdeen/Tris clone, but she played in well. The true star of the film, was Nick Robinson, the popular kid in High School who transforms into Zombie, the fearless leader of the youthful army. Films like Kings of Summer and Being Charlie saw Robinson take the reigns and make those films his own, and in a way he did the very same thing here. He may not have been THE star, but he certainly was the one to watch, as he was involved in every great scene this movie had to offer. The 5th Wave is a mix of elements and characters simply stolen from other similar stories. The special effects were terrific, the young cast was out of this world, but as a whole, this film wasn't anything special.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Glades

Starring: Matt Passmore, Kiele Sanchez, Carlos Gomez, Jordan Wall, Michelle Hurd, & Uriah Shelton
Seasons: 4 (2010-2013) - Network: A&E - Score: 3 1/2 Stars

The story of The Glades is one of consistency, as the show was consistent to a fault. From the series premiere to it's finale, across four seasons, nothing ever changed. When the show went into re-runs, the only way you knew what season you were watching, was by seeing how big Uriah Shelton was, it had become that ridiculous. What could they have done with an episonic police drama that hadn't been done before, not much, but something would have better than nothing, as like most, near the end, I just completely lost interest.

Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore) is a homicide detective from Chicago, who doesn't like to play by the rules. He has his own way of doing things and it earned him a ticket out of town. He relocated to the Florida Everglades, expecting quiet days at work and weekends of golf in the sun, but murder happens everywhere. Each week Longworth finds unique homicides and ends up doing battle with everyone from deranged soccer moms to international drug smugglers, as he tries to keep the people of Florida safe.

One of the main focuses of the show is Jim's feelings for a nurse/medical student Callie (Kiele Sanchez), who often gets involved in his cases. Jim has become a mentor to her young son, Jeff (Uriah Shelton) and would love to be with Callie, but she can never seem to finalize her divorce or balance her life. It is a recurring theme throughout the series that never seems to get resolved and becomes unbelievably frustrating after 50 episodes of the same thing.

The show always starts with a crime, Jim investigates, jokes with the medical examiner and geeky forensic guy, and then works the case at the same time doing his back and fourth with Callie and Jeff, and that's it! There were never any recurring storylines, never any changes, nothing to keep people interested from season to season! How about a cliffhanger or a ballbuster of a new boss? Maybe someone should have gotten shot and their future left up in the air? Ever heard of a serial killer? There was never anything but the current case. The comedy was always there and at first the back and fourth with Jim and Callie was great, but when you're doing the same thing four years later, who cares already?

The bottom line, this was a show that had potential, I liked the characters, the setting was fairly unique, and there were a couple of really talented new faces associated with this show. However, The Glades was happy with the status quo and didn't take any risks of any kind. It quickly grew stale, the ratings dropped, and now it's just another failed forgotten cop show streaming on Netflix.

The Phenom

Starring: Johnny Simmons, Paul Giamatti, & Ethan Hawke
Director: Noah Buschel - Rating: NR - Score: 1 1/2 Stars

Hopper Gibson (Johnny Simmons) is in a position that every little boy dreams about. He is a star rookie pitcher in Major League Baseball. His numbers and talent are off the chart, when all of a sudden, he can't find the strike zone. There is nothing wrong with him physically, so the team sends him down to the minors and puts him to work with the top sports psychologist in the country. I really don't understand professional critics and what they look for when they rate a film. Take The Phenom for example, this film has got to be the slowest and most boring sports film I've ever seen, yet it has an 80 on Rotten Tomatoes. There was very little sports action in this film and the fast majority of it consisted of this guy sitting in a room talking to a shrink! Yes, the shrink was played by Paul Giamatti, who is an unbelievably talented actor, but why the hell would anyone want to watch some dudes therapy session? When he wasn't in therapy, he should be on the field, but no, he's dealing with his over barring father, who is fresh out of prison. Who plays this bad ass, bullying his pro-athlete son, who is in peak physical condition? A very old looking, very tattooed, Ethan Hawke and I really wasn't buying that for a second. There were some talented actors in this film, no doubt, but The Phenom was 88 minutes of talking and nothing more, what in the hell is so great about that? This film was as boring as movies get, so unless you're a die hard Paul Giamatti fan, I would absolutely let this one pass you by.

Adventures In Babysitting (1987)

Starring: Elizabeth Shue, Maria Brewton, Keith Coogan, & Anthony Rapp
Director: Christopher Columbus - Rating: PG-13 - Score: 4 Stars

Is it just me or were comedies funnier in the 80s? Adventures In Babysitting was by no means raunchy, it doesn't even compare to the films of today in that respect, but in someways there just seem to be a lot more laughs in these classic 80s comedies. For those who don't know the story, Chris (Elizabeth Shue) passes up a night with her boyfriend to babysit for two kids. It was the right choice, but when her best friend is left stranded and in trouble, Chris is forced to take the kids into Chicago to go and rescue her. What awaits her there is an adventure she never saw coming, with everything from gangsters to car trouble and perhaps even a new romantic interest? This film was supposed to be the one that made Karate Kid alum, Elizabeth Shue, a big star, but despite the films success and eventual cult status, it never happened. It's hard to understand why that is. I think it has a lot to do with her virtually disappearing for three years after this film, only to re-appear for a bit part in Back To The Future. Had she ridden the wave of success from this performance, she would have been one of the late 80s biggest names. Shue was fantastic, tough when she needed to be, caring when she wanted to be, and of course she always had the right line on the tip of her tongue. Add to the mix two obnoxious young teens and a tough as nails young tomboy and you have a mixture for success. Lest we forget this was a Christopher Columbus film, so we also have all those oddballs and crazy dumb criminals we know and love thrown in there too. Adventures In Babysitting was almost like a trial run for Home Alone, three years later. While the film certainly had it's share of flaws, and would not be rated PG-13 by today's standards, it was a largely enjoyable family film and in many ways a distant cousin to Home Alone. I loved this film when I was a kid and I appreciate it even more now, Adventures In Babysitting is highly recommended fun for the whole family!