Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Review

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Directed & Written by Martin McDonagh

Starring: Frances McDormand, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Sam Rockwell, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Željko Ivanek, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving, Clarke Peters

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a mother who, when the police in her town fail to find a suspect in her daughter’s murder, rents three billboards to call public attention to the unsolved crime, polarizing the community.

My Opinion:

I watched this the other day as part of a “double feature” with Coco (which I reviewed HERE). I love Pixar and was expecting to like Coco far more but I preferred Three Billboards. It’s a great film! I don’t know why but maybe it’s because my expectations were low whereas they were very high for Coco.

It’s that time of year in the UK when we get the “Oscar-worthy” stuff like this. Because what better way to make the shittiest month of the year even MORE depressing than by releasing all the dark & dreary Oscar dramas?! Manchester By The Sea? Hell yeah! Just what I want to watch in f*^king January! But I kind of loved Three Billboards. It’s another “Oscar drama” but it’s so well-written and wonderfully acted and the dark humor throughout it really made it a much more rewarding watch (for me, at least) than the usual heavy Oscar dramas. Okay, I know the Oscar nominations aren’t out yet but this will most likely be one of them and, at the moment, I can say I’d be happy to see it win. We’ll see what it’s up against – most of the films still aren’t out here yet.

Where do I begin? With the acting? I loved everyone in this. I’m a bit weird in that I don’t care too much about the acting in a film, as long as it isn’t terrible and as long as it’s not someone I can’t stand the sight of (like Gwyneth Paltrow or something). But, man – everyone did a brilliant job in this. Our main three, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson & Sam Rockwell, were insanely good. Like, I want to hug them and thank them for being in this movie. Seriously. And I hate a lot of actors! When did Woody Harrelson get so great??? I loved him in Edge Of Seventeen as well. He’s going to end up a favorite actor of mine at this rate. I wouldn’t have expected that ten years ago. Everyone else as well, though, even down to the small parts – all were great. Perfect casting. I’d love to see the acting win plenty of Oscars for this film.

I’m not sure why my expectations were so low for this film. I really enjoyed Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges. I also thought Seven Psychopaths, though flawed, was pretty good overall. Three Billboards is now easily my favorite (yes, even over In Bruges). And no Colin Farrell in this! Yay! I’d recommend this to anyone who was a fan of McDonagh’s previous two films as it has the same sort of style. However, this is much darker material (a teenage girl is murdered) and the emotions feel more genuine than in his previous films. The movie gets the right balance between drama & humor and it wasn’t a “heavy” watch in the way I was expecting. I’m actually not a fan of things like Fargo (I never finished it) and preferred the way that these characters felt more real to me. I suppose it’s a combination of the acting and the writing, which has come together perfectly in Three Billboards whereas McDonagh’s other two films didn’t work quite as well overall. I’m now really looking forward to seeing more of his films in the future. And as he likes to re-use actors, I hope he sticks with McDormand, Harrelson & Rockwell.

My Rating: 8/10

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Ghostbusters (2016) & Poltergeist (2015) Reviews

I guess it’s about time I do two pointless reviews of two pointless remakes (well, I suppose Ghostbusters is a reboot). Here we go! Get ready for some bitching…

Ghostbusters (2016)

Directed by Paul Feig

Based on Ghostbusters by Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Charles Dance, Michael K. Williams, Chris Hemsworth

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

My Opinion:

To be fair, this isn’t the worst movie ever. I’m a bit of a snob about remakes & reboots & all that, though, so I’m normally a total bitch about them. Especially when they f*^k with my favorites from the Seventies & Eighties!! And the 1984 Ghostbusters is a classic. However, it’s one of those I’d always seen as a classic in my mind but hadn’t actually rewatched it in years. Until a couple of weeks ago. Um… Will I get in trouble for saying it hasn’t aged well? More than anything, I was surprised at how much I disliked Bill Murray’s “sexist in that 1980’s sort of way that we all just accepted as the norm back then” character and the way he hogged so much screen time. But I do like Murray. I’m also not exactly going to complain about some outdated values in the original as I’d be a total hypocrite since my favorite thing about the reboot was Chris Hemsworth being funny & hot. But mostly hot.

Ghostbusters 2016 was okay. I don’t remember a lot of it now as I find most comedy movies to be throwaway, forgettable entertainment. I’m not saying I don’t like comedy films – I just like a very small number of them as I’ve found so few of them to actually be funny (especially nowadays). But comedy is probably the most divisive genre, followed very closely by horror, so you’re never going to please everyone with a movie like this.

Was this movie so hated because it rebooted a beloved classic or because it starred women? It’s a combination of both. I get really angry myself anytime they try to remake/reboot one of my favorites but I also can’t imagine there having been quite as much uproar if this reboot had starred whatever male comedians happen to be big at the moment. Yes, I’m totally out of touch & can’t even name any… Also, don’t forget that things like Saturday Night Live & a lot of other US TV shows that these comedians often come from aren’t shown outside of America. British hubby often has to remind me of this, even though I’ve now not seen SNL in 15 years, so you have to realize that things like the original Ghostbusters were probably viewed differently outside the US where these actors weren’t already loved. Or hated – It can also work in a movie’s favor to have no prior knowledge of an actor’s work. I don’t know what my point is here?! I think it may be that, in this case, it worked slightly in my favor to not know much about these stars’ TV careers.

I’ve of course seen a few Melissa McCarthy & Kristen Wiig films and I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either of them. Wiig is a bit “meh” for me while I hated McCarthy at first but she’s kind of grown on me thanks to times when she’s been a little less “outrageous”. Okay okay – and thanks to her lip sync battle on Jimmy Fallon where she did Colors Of The Wind. My kid is obsessed with that – I’ve probably seen that YouTube video 20 times. That was funny. She may be growing on me but I still won’t be watching shit like Spy, etc. Wiig & McCarthy were both perfectly fine in this film, probably since they were more subdued. I know almost nothing about Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones and I found them fairly funny as well. Especially McKinnon, who I have seen in some SNL clips online. We do at least get to see some YouTube clips! Oh, and I love McCarthy as Sean Spicer.

Okay, I’m bored with this review. I didn’t hate this movie but it’s not “good” and is still just another completely pointless reboot. I think I’m just annoyed with society in general these days. I love Twitter but some days I go on there and think “What the FUCK is wrong with people?!?!?!” and wish we could go back to a time when we weren’t exposed to so much disgusting hatred on a daily basis. I mean, we knew lots of people were assholes in the Eighties but they didn’t provide us daily written proof. My point is this: this movie is a bit sucky & pointless but the anger was over the top. My further point is this: Bridesmaids has a 6.8 IMDb rating & The Hangover has a 7.8. I don’t like either movie as that sort of silly, gross-out comedy isn’t my type of thing. However, they’re both good examples of that specific genre and are very similar. So why is one a whole point higher than the other?! Hmm. I wonder. Especially as, if I had to say which is the better written film of the two and if I was forced to admit which one made me laugh a tiny bit, Bridesmaids wins hands down in both cases. So… Huh? Therefore, I’m giving Ghostbusters a point more than it deserves because 1) I think it’s been rated slightly too low overall because it starred women so, fuck it, I’ll up it a bit and 2) Chris Hemsworth in glasses is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.

My Rating: 6/10

**Also, I freaking loved Freaks And Geeks so guess I can’t hate Paul Feig too much…..

Poltergeist (2015)

Directed by Gil Kenan

Based on Poltergeist by Tobe Hooper & Steven Spielberg

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, Jane Adams

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their youngest daughter after the apparitions take her captive.

My Opinion:

These were meant to be two quickie reviews but then I rambled on about Ghostbusters for ages so I’ll keep this quick: Poltergeist (2015) just plain sucks. No, it probably doesn’t help that I love the original Poltergeist (more than the original Ghostbusters) but, holy shit – let’s just take an absolute horror classic and water it down and make it boring as shit and just plain suck the fucking soul out of it!

This movie adds absolutely nothing new to the original. It’s just another standard, run-of-the-mill, predictable & forgettable PG-13 horror. And with a fucking weird final scene that I think is meant to be funny but feels totally tacked on & out of place. Just…. No. NO. Just stop. Just stop, Hollywood. Come up with some original fucking ideas. AND ALL OF US! STOP! We need to stop encouraging this shit. They keep making this shit because it makes money. We’re to blame! Oh, that’s right – Society sucks now. Fuck it! We deserve nothing better than Poltergeist (2015). Hell, it’s better than we deserve. We deserve to be forced to watch Battlefield Earth with our eyes propped open Clockwork-Orange-style until the day we all finally destroy each other.

My Rating: 4/10

**I’ve never actually seen Battlefield Earth. Also, if you want to see a great Sam Rockwell in something good, watch The Way Way Back. NOT THAT ANY OF US DESERVE IT!

My Top Ten Sam Rockwell Movies

Happy Birthday to Sam Rockwell, who turns 47 today!

I know there are quite a few Sam Rockwell fans but I never really paid much attention to him until The Way Way Back. I thought he was fantastic in that movie & his character is probably one of my very favorites of the last few years. He’s made some odd choices when it comes to some of his movie roles and I’ll admit now that I only really like the top four on this list. Now that Sam Rockwell has finally grown on me, I should re-watch some of his older films (like Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, which I know I liked at the time but sure as shit can’t remember now). It feels like he still needs that one perfect movie & role to finally get him the recognition I think he probably deserves by now.

But he’s really screwed me over this year for Luke’s Fantasy Acting League over at Oracle Of Film as he had several movies listed as 2015 on IMDB that never got full releases! What gives, Sam Rockwell?! You’ve lost me loads of points! 😉

Here are My Top Ten Sam Rockwell Movies counting down to the four I actually really like as he’s had some dodgy films that have squeaked into this list to make it to ten (FYI – I always rank these lists according to how much I like the movie, not the actor’s individual role):

10. Charlie’s Angels

9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

8. Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind

7. Choke

6. Matchstick Men

5. Galaxy Quest

4. Seven Psychopaths

3. Moon

2. The Green Mile

1. The Way Way Back

FYI – these are the only two other Sam Rockwell movies that I’ve seen & they really could be interchangeable with 9th & 10th place:

– Iron Man 2
– The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Seven Psychopaths (2012) Review

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Directed & Written by Martin McDonagh

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Željko Ivanek

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu.

My Opinion:

I’d been meaning to watch this movie for a while as I really liked Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges. Unfortunately, I ended up being a little disappointed as Seven Psychopaths is definitely not as good as In Bruges. There are several fantastic moments, though, and some great performances from the impressive cast. In fact, I’d say there are a few moments of pure brilliance & I’ll be sure to discuss the movie’s positives as well as the negatives. But, overall, I thought the main plot was a bit of a mess and far too convoluted.

In this movie, Colin Farrell’s character is a writer working on a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths. He hasn’t gotten very far with the script (I think he’d only managed to think up one out of the seven psychopaths if I remember correctly) so his friend (a dognapper played by Sam Rockwell) tries to help him out with the other six. Meanwhile, Rockwell (who kidnaps dogs for “boss” Christopher Walken) has managed to anger a real-life psychopath (Woody Harrelson) after kidnapping his beloved dog.

What’s unfortunate is that this overall dognapping story is the main part of the plot yet it’s the weakest thing about the movie. The main story is messy & feels too forced. Okay – part of this may somewhat be down to my dislike of Woody Harrelson. Aside from his “dumb guy” character in Cheers, I’ve never liked him in anything else. He just seemed very weak next to the likes of Walken and even Rockwell (who was fantastic in this). Colin Farrell was just his usual Colin Farrell self (I’m not a big fan of his either but he’s fine in this although his role could have been played by anyone).

The interesting thing about this movie, which I didn’t know beforehand, is that there are several other stories that get told throughout the film as ideas for further psychopathic characters are discussed. We witness these stories (such as the one with Tom Waits in the above photo) and, DAMN, these stories are good! I’d watch full movies of a few of these stories as they’re all far more interesting than the overall plot involving the dognapping & Woody Harrelson’s character. It reminded me a lot of Grindhouse & how the fake trailers looked so good that they ended up making movies of some of them (I didn’t watch Machete so I don’t know if that was any good but I really enjoyed Hobo With A Shotgun).


As well as these “stories within a story”, which I liked a hell of a lot, I really loved Christopher Walken & Sam Rockwell. I like Christopher Walken but he can be a little strange sometimes. I complained about him “phoning it in” in my review of Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. He plays the same sort of character far too often but, although he’s playing that sort of character once again here, he gives such a perfect performance. His final scene is especially awesome as were the scenes with his character’s wife (played by a woman named Linda Bright Clay, who appears to have been in very little else. Why?! She’s fantastic in this! Another one of this movie’s highlights). Walken’s & Clay’s characters were both fantastic, as was their story. Well done to McDonagh on writing their parts. 

Sam Rockwell was possibly the main highlight for me, though. At least, as far as the acting was concerned – my favorite thing was definitely the “stories within a story”. I have a post about Rockwell scheduled for tomorrow & I say the same thing that I’ll say now: I don’t think he’s really lucked out quite yet in getting that one “perfect role”. When he does, I think he’ll finally get the attention he deserves. This is definitely a defining role for him, however, and probably my second favorite performance of his. I’m starting to kind of finally see the reason he seems to have some pretty loyal fans. If you’re a fan of his but haven’t seen this movie for some reason, I highly recommend that you check it out. 

Summary:

Seven Psychopaths is an odd one. It’s so good at times and just plain confusing at other times. I’m afraid that it tries a little too hard to be cool. I think it wants to be like something made by Tarantino but, although the clever dialogue is there and there are some very rich characters, the story is even more convoluted than that in Pulp Fiction. I’m struggling with rating this one as I think it deserves a higher score than I’ll probably give it but I can’t ignore the fact that the main plot really didn’t hold my interest at all. But I’m in no way trying to talk people out of watching this one as I think parts of it are brilliant and the writing is far better than we get from most movies. I’d actually recommend this one as I think a lot of people reading this would like this movie quite a lot. If you like In Bruges or Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead or anything from Tarantino, you’ll definitely like this one as well. I guess I’d rather have a few moments of brilliance than a movie that’s mediocre the whole way through.

My Rating: 7/10

The Green Mile (1999) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Zoe is loving this IMDB project – she’s already reviewed The Departed (which you can read HERE) and she’s planning on doing more! (And may have done another one already…) 😉 Thanks so much for the reviews, Zoe!

Now let’s see what she has to say about The Green Mile, IMDB rank 65 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 HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Here’s another entry for Table 9 Mutant’s IMDB Top 250 challenge. I have been having so much fun with this, revisiting some movies, checking them all for her, some of them I have been meaning to look into again for so long, and now I finally have the driving factor. This is a movie that I hold most dear, who lived up to every inch of the book, proving that you can, in fact, adapt a book successfully if you just know what you are doing.

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“On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That it was my job?”
– Paul Edgecomb

The Green Mile is an absolutely stunning tale of the supernatural, faith, the strange things, horror, hope, miracles and all sorts of things. Naturally, when it begins, you don’t really know what is coming. I mean Stephen King is renowned for horrors, but what some people forget is that he is an exceptionally talented author who has more skills than just to terrify the pants off of you. From his strange mind he brought us an account, one that makes you smile, one that makes you sad, one that evokes anger and pity all at once. John Coffey is portrayed by Michael Clarke Duncan (R.I.P.), and I think he was superbly cast to play the giant that was accused of the disgusting slayings of two young girls. He is a monster of a man, not the most intelligent person in the world, but shy, wholesome and well-mannered, very incongruent to the hulking monstrosity his physical exterior represents.

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“People hurt the ones they love. That’s how it is all around the world.” – John Coffey

Coffey’s character can only grow on you, and if it does not, then there is something fundamentally flawed in you. He was pure innocence in a world of cruelty, anger and hatred, and even though he was wronged, he did not take it out on anyone once. I loved the relationship he developed with the guards Paul Edgecombe (Tom Hanks), Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper) and Harry Terwilliger (James DeMunn). It was great to see how they interacted with this man on death row. Then there was Tom Hanks, again pulling together a great drama role right here as Paul, the man who had to get to the bottom of whatever was going on, who was drawn in and fascinated by Coffey, a peaceful and pure human being. Naturally not everyone was going to be so nice, and Dough Hutchison did a fine job as Percy Wetmore… in other words, I really did just want to climb over somewhere and kill him. He was inhumane, he was cruel and he deserved so much more than a big, fat slap. He was revolting and evil to the core, and was intent on throwing his weight around and bullying everyone no end. People like that sicken me, and he was incredibly convincing, always selfish, putting himself ahead and being resentful at every available opportunity.

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“Try it! You’ll be on the bread lines before the week is out!” – Percy Whetmore

Sam Rockwell was simply brilliant as “Wild Bill” Wharton, and impressed me with his portrayal of the malicious and wicked man. He was undeniably cracked and never once let you forget about it. He was the very embodiment of what I expected from King’s character. I also enjoyed David Morse, whom I find to be an underappreciated actor. He lent dignity and morals to Brutus and gave him real flesh and character. The movie’s pacing was gradual though never boring, but you must not expect something gushing action in every scene, never relenting or letting you breathe. This is a film designed to make you chew over it, think about it and make decisions based on that.

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“All I wanted me was a little cornbread, motherfuckers! All I wanted me was a little cornbread!” – William “Wild Bill” Wharton

I enjoyed how the film was set in the thirties, and the appearance of the prison, the uniforms, the way of life… things was done so much differently. Coffey’s gift being discovered was a thing of beauty. Paul had been suffering for a while with a severe bladder infection, and in a moment of fear and pain, Coffey had healed him, fixed the problems. Such is the nature that shows that Coffey is special, that he is amazing and that he should not be where he is, though he is there now and will have to make the best of it. The guards all become rather protective of Coffey and develop a respect and friendship with him, though not everything is destined to go that way. Paul’s relentless need to get to the bottom of what really happened is touching, and it shows you how one person can change your perception in life as well as how you go about it.

I honestly believe The Green Mile is a classic, and most definitely something that everyone should see at least once in their lives. Frank Darabont again gave another striking vision of a King novel, something I am starting to feel only he fully grasps.

I just can’t see God putting a gift like that in the hands of a man who would kill a child. – Paul Edgecomb

The Way Way Back (2013) Review

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The Way Way Back (2013)

Directed by Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

Starring:
Steve Carell
Toni Collette
Allison Janney
AnnaSophia Robb
Sam Rockwell
Maya Rudolph
Rob Corddry
Amanda Peet
Liam James

Running time: 103 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) goes on summer vacation to his mom Pam’s (Toni Collette) new boyfriend Trent’s (Steve Carell) beach house in Cape Cod. Duncan looks set to have a dreadful vacation as Trent treats him horribly but things start looking up when he meets pretty neighbor Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb) and local water park employee Owen (Sam Rockwell).

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My Opinion:

You know how some indie movies (Is this indie? Maybe not. The lines are so blurred these days) are annoyingly pretentious and no fun to watch? Well, even though it looked like it had the potential to be, The Way Way Back luckily isn’t one of those. It was great fun and is definitely close to the top of my list of 2013 movies I’ve seen.

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The Way Way Back reminded me a bit of Adventureland (Wait! Don’t run away if you hated that one!). I enjoyed that film despite not being a fan of any of the stars as I loved the setting of a theme park in the 1980s. I think most people hate at least one star in Adventureland, which hurt the movie. The Way Way Back doesn’t have that problem (for me) and is a better film with a much better script.

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It was originally going to be set in the 80s as well but, due to not having the budget, they had to set it in the present. But the film still has a great 1980’s feel to it, which is a big plus to me as I love that cheesy decade. They even left in things like Duncan singing REO Speedwagon (Can you get more “80’s cheese” than that?! Maybe with some Journey…) and Owen quoting Bonnie Tyler & using Pac-Man to explain his whole philosophy on life. Oh I loved all that! And I loved the water park setting as there were a lot of these in my neck of the woods and I miss those lovely, sunny 80’s summers (especially the sunny part now that I live in England!).

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Yes, it’s a “coming of age” story but I love a good coming of age story when done well. Liam James is great as Duncan, a very likeable shy and awkward boy who is almost non-existent to his father and his new wife while his mother’s new boyfriend constantly belittles him and bosses him around. Now, Steve Carell isn’t for everyone (me included) but he’s truly excellent in this role, which is FAR different from his comedic roles. He’s a total prick to Duncan and you’ll seriously want to punch him in the face, especially during the “three” talk. But his character doesn’t go overboard – he feels very much like a real person as, unfortunately, there are many people just like him. And Toni Collette is very good as Duncan’s mom, who is just trying to keep things together after her divorce and doesn’t like seeing Duncan so unhappy.

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But! Things aren’t all sad & depressing in the film. Duncan finds a girl’s bike in the garage one day and cycles to a water park called Water Wizz where he befriends Sam Rockwell’s Owen, who offers Duncan a job at the park. The water park scenes are by far the highlight of the film. Owen is an easygoing, laidback (probably too laidback) guy who, predictably but hilariously, helps turn Duncan’s life around and makes him finally feel like he belongs somewhere. I’ve never been quite sure how I feel about Sam Rockwell but I LOVED him in this. He’s hilarious but also so sweet as the seemingly bad role model for Duncan who in reality turns out to be the most positive male influence in Duncan’s life.

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There are other good characters in the film, such as Maya Rudolph as the Water Wizz employee always trying to get Owen to behave more responsibly, AnnaSophia Robb’s Susanna as the cute girl-next-door who befriends Duncan, and Allison Janney as Susanna’s irresponsible mother (Typical annoying, mouthy, and nosy neighbor but she’s SO damn funny in this!). However, the best thing about the movie is definitely the friendship between Duncan & Owen.

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Summary:

The Way Way Back is a great coming of age film that gets just the right balance between comedy and drama without being overly sentimental. The characters feel real as do their relationships. I really can’t think of one negative thing to say about The Way Way Back – it’s a thoroughly enjoyable film and one of my favorites of the year.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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