American Fiction from Warner Brothers

American Fiction

American Fiction is about a writer who decides to change his style of writing when his latest title fails to find a home with a publisher in this film from Warner Brothers.

The folks at Warner Brothers were kind enough to send us a copy of American Fiction, a tale about a writer named Monk. Monk is a published author and professor at a university in Los Angeles. After seeing the success of another writer for pandering to the market by changing the language of her book to make it more “real”, he decides to do the same in an attempt at showing the industry how idiotic they can be. His agent even argues against submitting the book only to be shocked at how quickly it has sold.

The film was written and directed by Cord Jefferson, who was one of the writers on The Good Place. Had I known about this connection I might have expected a very different film. After watching some of the trailers I had believed this film to be a comedy of sorts and on IMDB is listed as one as well. There are some minor comedic moments but I don’t feel like this was a comedy in the slightest even when it’s being a little silly. That being said, calling it a drama doesn’t feel right either.

As someone that has written and published a book, dealing with the market and trying to build my own success, I felt like this film was written for people like me in mind. It reminds us that as a writer, the market can chase things that make absolutely no sense. I was glued to the film every step of the way. This film was spellbinding and wasn’t just good, it was utterly fucking brilliant. I sincerely hope we see more films from Jefferson.

The First Omen by 20th Century Studios

The First Omen

The First Omen is the latest installment in the Omen franchise from 20th Century Studios and takes a stap at the origins of the tale.

The First Omen is a prequel to the Omen franchise from 20th Century Studios focusing on a branch of the church completing unspeakable acts to maintain control. The story centers on Margaret, a young woman with a history of hallucinations, on her path to taking her vows and assisting with work at an orphanage. There she meets a young girl named Carlita who seems to be troubled. Noticing similarities in their experiences she feels a bond with her and works to guide her to help her work through her troubles in a more productive way. Soon after a man by the name of Father Brennan approaches her to voice concerns about who Carlita really is and sets her on a path where she begins to question everything.

Having never seen The Omen or it’s many spinoffs I was still away of the general concept, the church raising the Antichrist and the evil surrounding him. Going into the film mostly blind I was unaware of the intentions the church may or may not have had and as it is explained in the first few minutes it became apparent that we were in for one hell of a ride. More often than not when a prequel is made of a horror film from the 70s or 80s it comes out a bit on the cheesy side and that’s exactly what I was expecting. I was quite impressed with the quality of the acting and more importantly the storytelling. It was surprisingly good and makes me curious to see the other films in the series.

Late Night With the Devil from IFC

Late Night With the Devil 

Late Night With the Devil is a found footage horror film from the team at IFC.

Sometimes there is a film that the trailers just resonate with you and make you really want to see it. In these instances you can’t help but have high expectations despite knowing nothing about the team behind it. Late Night With the Devil was one of those films for me. The film starts with some of the history of the late show that is the backdrop for nearly the entire story. It’s a difficult road when you want to beat the masters at their own game and that was exactly what Jack Delroy aims to do with his show with Johnny Carson as the standard to beat.

Playing the ratings game he fights for his place on the televisions of viewers every night. Due to personal tragedy he sees some spikes, presumably due to sympathy but it’s not enough. David Dastmalchian plays Jack Delroy and his performance is downright brilliant. I’ve seen many of his roles and he’s usually great but this performance is in a league of it’s own. Written and Directed by Colin and Cameron Cairnes, this film is downright fantastic. Not just as a horror film but a film in general. I was glued to the screen from start to finish, drawn in instantly and even though I expected the twists when they came it did not detract from the experience in any way. As I mentioned, my expectations were high for this film and for lack of a better phrase, this film is simply fan-fucking-tastic and not only worth the watch but worth a second and third just to look for the hidden clues throughout the production. I wanted to thank the folks at IFC for sharing this film with us and look forward to seeing what else this team comes up with.

American Sniper in 4k

American Sniper

Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle, the most lethal snipe in American history in American Sniper from Warner Brothers.

Directed by Clint Eastwood and produced by Warner Brothers, American Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle. Chris is a member of the Navy Seals where he earned himself the nickname, “Legend” with over 150 confirmed kills. Originally released in 2014, the film is finally being released in 4k. The film follows him through one of his four tours in Iraq and the time following with his family leading until his death in 2013.

Typically war films, especially modern ones, typically don’t hold much interest for me but Eastwood’s style of storytelling keeps you glued to the screen. What he does really well is breathing life into his characters that normally would be more bland for the screen. This is done so subtly that you find yourself connecting with characters you normally wouldn’t.

Eastwood’s visual storytelling is fantastic and watching this film 10 years after it’s release proves that it holds up just as well. I was halfway through the film before I realized that this wasn’t a new biopic. The acting is believable and the story is incredibly well told.

Dune Part Two review

Dune

The team behind Dune are back with Part Two, completing the adaptation of the first book of the same name by Warner Brothers.

Paul Atreides is back and this time is no longer fighting for his place among the Fremen in Dune Part Two from Warner Brothers. Playing into the hands of his mother and the prophecy she is trying to force into reality, he begins to leads guerrilla style attacks on the Harkonnen forces stationed on the planet. The end goal is to eliminate the threat entirely and retake his place at the head of his Great House and of the planet.

Prior to this version of the story we had multiple attempts at adapting the book, first a movie that included Sting in the cast and a series produced for the Syfy network. Each adaptation more accurate than the last and the two most recent films are not an exception to that. Where these adaptations consistently miss is on the same point, the story is more than just the first book of Frank Herbert’s series. So far only time will tell if the current vision will include the rest of the films but I sincerely hope that they do. Chapterhouse Dune and Heretics of Dune were by far my favorite installments in the main series.

Visually, these two films are an absolute treat, capturing the world of Dune better than any medium outside the books have done. Sufficient time was given to developing the myths within the story that it didn’t rely on the knowledge of the books before watching and the cast did a brilliant job of bringing these characters to life. My only complaint is that the film was made as two films instead of one long epic viewing. I would have gladly sat for the 5-ish hours needed to watch in its entirety as that is the only way this story should be viewed. Would just need an intermission to hit the restroom. Doing this would have allowed the impact of the film to be better felt where coming into the second half of the story means it feels a little disjointed.

The Beekeeper from Warner Brothers

The Beekeeper

Warner Brothers have released their latest action film, The Beekeeper, staring Jason Statham, Jeremy Irons and Josh Hutcherson.

The Beekeeper is the latest action film from Warner Brothers with Jason Statham as the lead and dominating nearly every scene he is in. The film starts with him retired from his years of service and now as a Beekeeper, literally. He helps his neighbor by removing a wasp nest and is more than happy to do so as they are a threat to his hives. Shortly after he leaves, the neighbor receives an alarming message on her computer and is coerced into giving her financial data to a group of scam artists who empty all of her accounts including a charity she works for. Seeing no way to recover the funds she ends her life. Later Adam, Statham’s character, returns with a jar of honey and finds her dead. He starts a one man rampage targeting the group that caused her to end her life, first by burning the building they worked out of to the ground.

The group he worked for was also known as the Beekeepers. Their creation was to protect the society, or hive, as a whole and were given the training to complete their mission how they saw fit. In an actual hive there are designated bees that are known as the Queen Killer with the sole purpose of eliminating a queen that spawned inadequate offspring. That’s basically him. This is important for the story later on.

When I saw trailers for the film I thought it was going to be a mindless action flick without much in the way of story and really was more of a story for the sake of violence. Like most actions films these days. I was not expecting a film of this depth, looking at society as a whole, an officer having to look at their own roles and coming to terms with discovering which is more important- their own desires or their service to the job. Honestly, there are even more layers of depth to the film but I’m not going into all of the aspects. Even when on his rampage, Adam focuses on the people that are really the problem and not those that are having to work for them. Overall I thought the film was fantastic and quite impressed how well they were able to film the violence in a believable way without making it unnecessarily gory. Even when a guy had his fingers sawed off there was virtually no blood. This could be viewed as a detractor from realism but it really aided the story in allowing you to focus more on the story and action than on the blood splatter that tends to draw your attention away. I had an absolute blast watching the film and look forward to seeing what else this team is capable of.

The Departed Steelbook Release

Departed

The Departed is the latest film from Warner Brothers to get a rerelease in 4K HD and this time with an accompanying Steelbook case!

The folks at Warner Brothers have shared another classic film that I’ve been told is a must watch. This time they are doing it in style with a Steelbook case for The Departed. The film follows an Organized Crime boss, Costello, and the two officers tasked with bringing him down. One is a rat and the other is undercover to infiltrate the organization. It becomes a race to uncover who the other is while Costello works to expand his empire.

For anyone that still hasn’t seen the film, NOW is the time to do it. The only thing I knew about the film was the sound track, specifically Shipping Up to Boston from The Dropkick Murphys. The first time I had even heard of this film was while watching the music video from TDM. Watching the film I was surprised how many big names were attached. Seeing that it was done by Martin Scorsese made it make more sense. Start to finish the cast, the acting, the writing, direction, ALL OF IT, was beyond fantastic. No wonder it won FOUR Academy Awards and over a dozen other awards. This film is one of the few instances where the hype truly does not do it justice. Highly recommend watching, I’m already planning my NEXT viewing.

Justice League Crisis of Infinite Earths Part Two

Crisis of Infinite Earths

Warner Brothers have come back with the second volume of their animated event, Justice League Crisis of Infinite Earths.

The previous Crisis film focused most of the story on Barry Allen as the Flash and him assisting in the construction of a series of towers. These towers would protect various Earths from an Anti-matter wave that seemed to be trying to erase the entirety of reality. Part Two of Crisis of Infinite Earths from Warner Brothers is a direct continuation of the story but this time follows Psycho Pirate. Psycho Pirate is tasked with making each hero confident and to minimize the panic on each world. Being the true villain he is, he betrays the trust placed in him and starts working for the Anti-Monitor. The Anti-Monitor promises Pirate that he will essentially be a god in the new reality and he enthusiastically agrees.

Anytime I watch an animate DC film, if it features Batman, I want him to be voiced by the late Kevin Conroy. Obviously, after his passing that will no longer be an option without the help of AI. Let’s not even get into that can of worms. Jensen Ackles taking over the role sounds like a perfect successor. Troy Baker, while good as the Joker, still doesn’t hold a candle to Mark Hamill. Basically if the original Batman The Animated Series is the gold standard in DC voice acting then this film is a strong Silver. Overall the cast did a fantastic job, it’s just hard to beat the best.

Having never read the original comic story, or seen any of the previous tellings of the story, I went in mostly blind. However I did read the novel close to two decades ago. I remember the novel being great and there being an emphasis on the Flash but not much else. I had forgotten almost the entire story by the time I watched both parts One and Two. Both parts of the story have been great. From what I’ve read, there will only be three parts I cannot wait for the finale. I also hope we see more of these classic comic events getting the animated treatment, especially if they follow this level of quality.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Aquaman

Aquaman returns for what appears to be the final move of the current DC Cinematic Universe.

Recently the folks at Warner Brothers sent us a copy of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, featuring Jason Mamoa. Unlike most sequels this film directly follows its predecessor in every way. That means it is a direct continuation of the previous film. The story had ended off with Arthur and Mera in love, Orm imprisoned, Black Manta off somewhere licking his wounds and Arthur remains the ruler of Atlantis.

The film starts with Arthur sharing the joys and frustrations of balancing, life, family, jobs and how much he misses the more simple days where he could simply punch his problems. To make matters worse, his son likes to target his face whenever he changes the diaper. Life does not sound too enjoyable for our hero. Black Manta is using this time to hunt the oceans for any sign of Atlantean technology to repair his broken suit so he can kill Aquaman once and for all.

Visually the film is absolutely stunning. The effect and detail of the underwater cities and creatures alone make the film worth watching. The dialogue can be a bit campy at times but not more so than the original film. The fight scenes were a lot of fun and well choreographed. Overall I had fun watching the film but I only had one main complaint, that Amber Heard wasn’t recast. It makes no sense that she would be allowed to continue in her role after being found as the guilty party but when she accused Depp of the same behavior he was immediately removed. It’s an odd double standard that frankly doesn’t make sese.

Poor Things from Searchlight Pictures

Poor Things

Emma Stone leads in Poor Things from Searchlight Pictures alongside Willem Dafoe in a twisted tale of self discovery and learning.

Poor Things from Searchlight Pictures features Emma Stone and Willem Dafoe, The film begins with Emma Stone jumping from a bridge to kill herself without any explanation. Just as suddenly we see her through a black and white lens and she walks like a toddler, her mind clearly underdeveloped. Again, no explanation, at least not at first. We soon learn that the woman is mostly the same as the one that jumped but that she had died on the operating table and the deceased brain was swapped with that of the brain of the unborn baby she carried. Through the entire film she gradually grows and develops her skills and abilities at a rapid rate. This is similar to an infant growing to adulthood, just in a much more accelerated rate.

Emma’s portrayal of Bella is absolutely brilliant, overshadowing the other cast members who take the spotlight less often. I would be shocked if she isn’t nominated for an Oscar for this role, along with the film itself and the makeup department. I don’t know if the makeup departments get nominated but for Willem’s many scars. The story itself is dark and twisted but done in a way that makes light of the mad science with a focus more on Bella’s personal development and growth. The film as a whole was brilliantly directed, acted and filmed but left me respecting the work and efforts of the whole cast but failed to provide a story I personally enjoyed. The film is now available through digital retailers.