The Hunt (2020) Review

The Hunt (2020)

Directed by Craig Zobel

Produced by Jason Blum & Damon Lindelof

Written by Nick Cuse & Damon Lindelof

Starring: Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Amy Madigan, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Hilary Swank

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen – for a very specific purpose – The Hunt.

My Opinion:

I can’t believe I thoroughly enjoyed two Blumhouse Production films in a row! I reviewed The Invisible Man last week & explained how their films have been very hit or miss for me but I liked The Invisible Man a lot. Well, I liked this one a lot too. I think I actually liked this even more than that one, although I’d say the The Invisible Man is the better “film”.

Now I have to attempt to explain why I liked this but, to be honest, I don’t exactly know why. I’ll see if I can figure it out while I type my random thoughts! But it’s far more violent than I tend to go for (I’m a wuss). It’s very political (I hate politics). There’s loads of gun violence (I hate guns). Most of the characters are hateful except for the main woman (I hate hateful people). Umm. Yeah… What DID I like?!?

I think what I liked, and I may be completely wrong about this, but I felt like the movie didn’t really take sides (well, a little). It’s clearly about how, in America, there’s this huge divide between the left & the right and everyone is so extremely one-sided. There’s no common sense or middle ground. And it’s well-known that Hollywood tends to be quite far left so I was expecting the movie to be very pro-left but it seemed to show both sides as bad. At first I couldn’t figure out who the hunters were & who was being hunted (it was the opposite of what I expected). The movie actually shows the left more as the “bad guys” (but, more specifically, the liberal elite – so they’re having a good dig at most of rich Hollywood). Which is funny as the movie was super controversial & almost wasn’t released & the right misinterpreted it as an anti-right film before even seeing it. Which perfectly proves the film’s point of jumping to conclusions when you just assume someone’s political stance without attempting to find out any actual facts.

Enough about politics. Yuck. Basically, both sides suck. Everyone in this movie sucks. Only one person doesn’t suck, and that’s Betty Gilpin’s badass main character. She’s great in this & I loved her character. And what are HER character’s politics? That’s the best part: We don’t know! Because it doesn’t matter. She’s a mystery. All we know is that she’s being hunted and no one should be hunted like that. She kicks ass and she might have some dodgy past for her to be so capable of fighting back but, in the grand scheme of things, she’s less evil than everyone else. And I feel that’s all we have left in politics these days: doing our best to choose the lesser of two evils.

I think this movie had a great idea to try to be a smart satire on American politics but felt it didn’t quite manage to get its point across. I wish the script was a bit better as I do like this film’s idea & what I think they were trying to achieve. Are they trying to let the left & the right know that they both suck and are both flawed? Not sure. I don’t know exactly what the movie is trying to say but I give it credit for having the balls to try to say something during such unstable times.

Although it may not quite achieve being some super smart satire, it makes up for it by being a very entertaining horror thriller/horror comedy. As mentioned, Betty Gilpin is awesome as the main “hero” of those being hunted. There’s not much character development for anyone but this is a time I’ll let that slide as one point of this movie is to not make assumptions about people & we really know nothing about anyone in this. Doesn’t matter! They still don’t deserve to be murdered. I also thought Hilary Swank was fantastic as the big “baddie”. Swank is an odd one: two-time Oscar winner who seemed to then get ignored by Hollywood & ended up being in some really dodgy and straight-to-Netflix films. But I loved Million Dollar Baby and I liked seeing her in a very different role here & obviously having a lot of fun as an evil bitch. She was cool. Two cool, badass women who get a kick ass showdown. I enjoyed that a lot. Oh! And I also really liked the bits with Amy Madigan & whoever the actor dude was who ran the small gas station (think it was a gas station?). They were fun characters. Oh! And it was weird seeing Ethan Suplee as I’m watching so much My Name Is Earl lately and Randy is my favorite character (but he couldn’t be less like Randy here). So I guess there are quite a few specific things I really enjoyed about this movie even though I always feel uncomfortable “enjoying” a violent film. It helps that it’s satire and some of the violence is done in a comedic way (I think they should have upped the “horror comedy” to make that more obvious).

As I said, the film is still a bit too violent for me and I’d hesitate to recommend it to some who may find it upsetting. It will be uncomfortable for some people as I know the actual delay in releasing this was due to mass shootings that had just occurred in America, making them push the release date back since the film is about people being hunted & killed mostly by guns. How on Earth did it ever get released, then, since mass shootings are a daily occurrence there? Once again typical that a movie is more likely to get banned than the things that actually kill people but, whatever, we won’t go there! And again we also come to the argument of “is violence in film okay if the point of the movie is anti-violence?” Although in this case, I wouldn’t say that’s exactly the message of the film (it’s more of a “FFS, America – try to get along!” message). I thought about the ultra-violent “anti-violence” thing in some films a lot after finally watching and liking Natural Born Killers way more than I was expecting I would. I don’t know the answer. But I prefer violence in movies where there’s a message and it’s a shame that, with movies such as this and Natural Born Killers, some people seem to completely miss the point when it comes to satirical films. Don’t kill people, okay? This movie isn’t telling you to kill people with an opposing political opinion. It’s, like, telling you to NOT do that. Yeah? Okay. Don’t do that.

You know what? This is one of those times where I’ve talked myself into liking a movie even more after writing & thinking about it. I think there’s actually a pretty good film buried in here somewhere. It has a great idea. It just doesn’t do the satire thing as well as it wanted to and I wish it had as I love what (I think?!) its message is and Betty Gilpin is cool as shit and Hilary Swank is a fun ice cold bitch. And it’s also made me think about this movie quite a lot since seeing it and trying to decide what its main message is and that’s more than I can say for the majority of films these days.

My Rating: 7.5/10

American History X (1998) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. She’s also reviewed Kill Bill: Vol 1& Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. Thanks for the reviews, Abbi! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about American History X, IMDB rank 34 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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In probably his most celebrated role, Edward Norton plays Derek Vinyard, one of the leaders of a local White Supremacist group who is jailed after brutally murdering two African-American gang members attempting to steal his truck.

On the day of Derek’s release from prison, his younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong) is called to the principal’s (Avery Brooks) office after writing an essay on Mein Kampfand its influence on the civil rights movement. Principal Sweeny then sets Danny the task of writing a new essay explaining the events that led to his brother’s arrest and conviction.

As Danny simultaneously attempts to unpick his brother’s past and deal with the fact that Derek has come back changed, both Derek’s former associates and enemies close in with devastating consequences.

As much as American History X may outwardly seem like a study on racism, more than anything it is an exploration of feelings of powerlessness and how they lead to anger and ultimately hatred and destruction. Derek’s prejudice against anyone who isn’t a white protestant has little to do with the actual target of his hatred but rather a desire to belong to a movement where he feels empowered. The irony of Derek’s belief that people of other races and religions are inferior to him is that those he hates are driven by exactly the same feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness that he is and act out with similar impulses… and it’s all a distraction from the way corporate America oppresses its poor.

There isn’t anything particularly unique about this story of a confused young man learning the error of his ways and not wanting his brother to follow in his footsteps but there are a number of elements that elevate American History X above other similar films.

First is the non-linear story-telling. Director, Tony Kaye, slowly reveals what is not only behind Derek’s change of heart but also his original prejudices concurrent with his current post-release experiences with the past shown in black and white. It keeps the audience hooked in until the end wanting to understand who Derek really is. It also adds a level of drama and grittiness to Derek’s past, demonstrating how he sees the world in completely black and white terms. In the present day his experiences are in full colour, showing how his perception has changed. It’s a simple but effective device.

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Second is the powerful performances. Edward Norton manages to capture Derek’s power, charisma and confidence but as he enters the prison system and his vision of the world starts to unravel his mask begins to slip and he moves from being a character it is easy to revile to a nuanced sympathetic one. Furlong also gives what is probably the only decent performance of his career as a boy at a crossroads with the potential to build himself and new future that doesn’t include repeating his brother’s mistakes. They are ably supported bythe two men who have the most influence over Derek’s life. Stacy Keach as Cameron Alexander, the fascist leader who lets Derek do his dirty work while he keeps his own hands clean and Avery Brooks as the educator who ultimately believes that Derek is capable of more than his past actions. Guy Torry is also engaging, playing Lamont, a fellow convict who ultimately breaks Derek’s prejudices through friendship.

Thirdly, Derek is never portrayed as stupid. Although his beliefs are abhorrent and there is no way to justify them, it is easy to see how his arguments convince the disempowered around him as well as how he has convinced himself. And the fact that the gangs he directs the majority of his rage at are hardly innocents adds to the believability.

Finally the film does not shy away from showing brutality of its characters, refusing to shy away from who they really are, with one particularly horrific scene proving to be the one thing that everyone remembers turning away from. And this is equally matched by some of Derek’s experiences in prison.

While there is no question that American History X is a powerful, hard-hitting film with a strong and valuable message on occasion it’s a little over dramatic and at times it strays towards predictability. It’s definitely a worthy entry to the IMDB top 250 though and one I would highly recommend. 4/5

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The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013) Review

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The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

Starring:
Leonardo DiCaprio
Jonah Hill
Margot Robbie
Matthew McConaughey
Kyle Chandler
Rob Reiner
Jon Bernthal
Jon Favreau
Jean Dujardin
Joanna Lumley
Cristin Milioti
Christine Ebersole
Shea Whigham
Katarina Čas
P. J. Byrne
Kenneth Choi
Brian Sacca
Henry Zebrowski
Ethan Suplee
Barry Rothbart
Jake Hoffman
Spike Jonze

Running time: 179 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 American black comedy film directed by Martin Scorsese, based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort, a New York stockbroker who runs a firm that engages in securities fraud and corruption on Wall Street in the 1990s.

(But DiCaprio’s character is a lot more fun to watch than Gordon Gekko and the acting is A BIT better than Daryl Hannah’s…)

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My Opinion:

I know I just did a list of my top ten Martin Scorsese films HERE but, the truth is, I’m not a huge fan. Is The Wolf Of Wall Street REALLY better than things like Goodfellas & Taxi Driver? Okay – probably not. But I can honestly say that I enjoyed this film the most out of all the Scorsese films I’ve seen & it’s my own personal favorite of his. Scorsese & DiCaprio make a great team and this three hour film felt about ten minutes long when compared to The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (I thought that damn thing would never end!).

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I’m not sure where to start. I’m really not sure what to say about this at all. I’m not even completely sure why I enjoyed it so much! It’s raunchy as hell. It’s all “fuck” this and “fucking motherfucker cocksucker” that and HOOKERS DRUGS HOOKERS DRUGS! It’s full of a bunch of disgusting, unlikeable, rich douchebags. What a bunch of horrible pricks. But, goddamn, this was funny as hell and just plain fun to watch! I’m still chuckling over Leo & Jonah Hill on quaaludes & fighting over the telephone.

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DiCaprio & even Hill (who I never liked before this movie) are absolutely incredible. LOVED them. Everyone in this was excellent – not one person seemed wrong for their part. I also especially loved Rob Reiner as DiCaprio’s dad (freaking HILARIOUS) and Matthew McConaughey in a small role played to absolute perfection. Brilliant. Every single person in this. And I’ve decided I have a thing for Jean Dujardin now (I’m growing up & liking the older, classy men now. Yum).

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Screw it. You know what? I really don’t know what else to say. My reviews are always too long anyway. This was out ages ago in America, right? Everyone has reviewed this by now & discussed it to death. I liked it. No… I loved it. I loved a Scorsese film where I didn’t have to worry about someone’s head being stuck in a vice (I’ve avoided Casino for years because of that). I’m not sure if there’s some kind of message to this film other than “rich people are assholes”. Who cares? It managed to keep my interest for THREE HOURS and made me laugh and made me happy, dammit. It’s full of some of the best acting I’ve seen in a long time. Great soundtrack, too! I really hope it wins some Oscars over the inferior American Hustle.

My Rating: 9/10

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