Trailer: Captain Marvel


Captain Marvel

Tonight we finally get to see the official trailer for Marvel Studio’s upcoming entry to their ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just like Marvel Universe-616 which was born at the Big Bang and continues to expand ever outward there doesn’t seem to be any sign of the MCU suddenly collapsing under the weight of fan expectations and the imagination of the writers and filmmakers who have been tapped by Kevin Feige and group to usher in the Golden Age of Comic Book films.

This past summer, fans of the MCU were treated to the spectacle (and surprisingly emotional) that was Avengers: Infinity War. Those who stayed for the final stinger at the end of the credits of that film were treated to a clue as to who may just save the MCU from Thanos’ snap.

Captain Marvel will be Marvel Studio’s first female-led entry to the series. Some have been in the camp that Marvel took too long to do such a project while a small, albeit very vocal group think Marvel have been bit by the SJW bug.

For the most part the majority of fans are just excited to see the adventures of one Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel finally up on the big screen. We shall see this March 8 whether Captain Marvel lives up to the hype and excitement that has been building since the end of Avengers: Infinity War.

Trailer: Captain Marvel


Captain Marvel

It’s still 6 months away, but with nearly everyone (puts on the hyperbole cap) in the known universe having been left in a state of disbelief with this past summer’s Avengers: Infinity War, the latest entry in the on-going Marvel Cinematic Universe just released it’s first trailer.

Captain Marvel, the MCU’s female-led entry and it’s Superman, finally gets to show some of it’s wares. Set, in the 1990’s with Blockbuster Video still king, Captain Marvel will tell the story of Air Force pilot Carol Danvers who also happens to be the hero known as Captain Marvel.

We’re not sure if the film will be an origin story or not, but from what was shown in the trailer, there’s a chance whatever original story we get it’ll be done through flashbacks. This is a Captain Marvel who is already is control of her abilities.

Captain Marvel set to soar this March 2019.

Music Video of the Day: She Said by Brie Larson (2005, dir by Chris Applebaum)


With this being Oscar Sunday, it’s good to be reminded that everyone had to start somewhere!  Brie Larson rightly won an Oscar for Room but, before that movie, she was just another singer pretending to be a waitress and singing songs of empowerment.

Need proof?

Watch today’s music video of the day and…

ENJOY!

Playing Catch Up With The Films of 2017: The Glass Castle (dir by Destin Daniel Cretton)


The Glass Castle, which some people expected to be an Oscar contender until they actually sat through the damn thing, is a film that nearly inspired me to throw a shoe at my television.

Seriously, I was curled up on the couch and watching the movie on TV.  On the screen, Woody Harrelson was playing an obnoxious, selfish alcoholic who resented both his daughter’s success and her boyfriend.  According to the alcoholic who was living in a trash-strewn hovel with his wife, success meant selling out and money was the root of all evil and blah blah blah.  Anyway, the drunk ended up punching his son-in-law.  The very next scene featured the son-in-law whining about getting punched and that’s when I realized that the film somehow expected us to be on the side of the drunken asshole.

I reached down and picked a shoe up from the floor.  I was just about to throw it at the television when my sister Erin reached out from behind me and grabbed my hand.

“Lisa Marie,” she said, “you are not throwing your shoe at the TV.”

“But Errrrrrrrin,” I whined, “this movie really sucks!”

“Well, then write a review about how much it sucks.  But you’re not going to throw another shoe at the TV.”

Reluctantly, I dropped the shoe.  Though I may have been annoyed at the time, I see Erin’s point.  The Glass Castle is not worth losing a shoe over.

The Glass Castle is based on a powerful memoir by Jeannette Wells.  It tells the story of how she and her siblings were raised by an alcoholic father and an artist mother.  It’s a story that’s full of adventure and pathos and everything else that you could hope for from a family memoir.  It’s also a memoir that works because Walls refuses to idealize her life.  Though she writes about how her childhood seemed like a grand adventure when she was actually living it, she’s also very honest about the fact that it really wasn’t.  Though her love for her family comes through on every page, she never shies away from the darker aspects of growing up as American vagabonds.

The film largely takes the opposite approach to the material.  As played by Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts, Walls’s parents are portrayed as being somewhat lovable eccentrics.  Early on, when her mother’s carelessness leads to young Jeannette being burned and permanently scarred in a fire, there’s a scene where Harrelson compares it to the fire that burns inside of the entire family.  When I realized that we were supposed to be moved by this asinine comparison, I ended up rolling my eyes so hard that the world literally looked like it was upside down for five minutes.  “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?” I yelled at the movie.

This was followed by another scene where, at a public pool, Harrelson attempts to teach Jeanette to swim by repeatedly tossing her into the deep end and nearly drowning her.  And while the film acknowledged that this wasn’t exactly the best parenting technique, it was hard not to feel that we were supposed to think that Harrelson had a point when he said that he was preparing Jeannette to be a strong and independent person who would be able to survive being plunged into the deep end of existence.  “NO!”  I shouted at the TV, “YOU JUST NEARLY DROWNED YOUR DAUGHTER, YOU PRICK!”

(Full disclosure: My Dad once tried the same thing with me.  Fortunately, he only nearly drowned me once — as opposed to Jeannette’s father who just keeps dunking her in the deep end.  Still, it was frightening enough to not only leave me with with an obsessive fear of drowning but it also kept me from ever really learning how to swim.)

When Jeannette grows up, she’s played by Brie Larson, who does a passable Virginia accent and gives about as good a performance as anyone could, considering the script and the direction.  Her husband, David, is played by Max Greenfield.  David is a good, responsible person who doesn’t drink much and who makes a lot of money.  Jeannette’s father looks down on him for those two reasons and the film seems to expect us to do so as well.  But why?  David hasn’t done anything wrong.  He’s certainly not the one who tried to drown his own daughter or who came up with some bullshit explanation about why it was a good thing that she was allowed to burst into flame.  But, if we accept that David’s not a bad guy then we also have to accept that Jeannette’s father is being an asshole.  The film’s not sure how to handle that so instead, we’re just supposed to laugh at David because he gets the worst lines in the script.

It’s a very dishonest film.  Unlike the memoir on which it’s based, it has no interest in honestly examining what it’s like to grow up with an alcoholic.  Instead, it’s too busy giving us Woody Harrelson playing yet another redneck with a drinking problem.  Harrelson does a good enough job but fuck it.  If I want to spend time watching a drunk Woody Harrelson, I’ve got The Hunger Games on Blu-ray.

The Glass Castle ends with footage and pictures of Jeannette’s actual family and, as I watched them, it occurred to me that I would happily watch a documentary about the Walls family.  That would presumably have the honesty that is so lacking in The Glass Castle.

A Halloween Film Review: Kong: Skull Island (dir by Jordan Vogt-Roberts)


You may have noticed that, in the title of this post, I specifically referred to Kong: Skull Island as being a Halloween film but not a horror film.

That was very much intentional on my part.  Kong: Skull Island is really not a horror film.  (I think you could argue that the only King Kong film that can legitimately be considered a horror film would be Peter Jackson’s version and that’s just because he tossed in a few scenes that were obviously inspired by the old Italian cannibal films.)  I watched Kong: Skull Island a few months ago and I really can’t say that there was ever a moment where I was scared or even uneasy.  It’s just not that type of film.

At the same time, it is a fantastically fun and entertaining monster movie, one that has a good sense of humor about its own absurdity.  Halloween is not just a time to get scared.  It’s also a time to have fun and, for that reason, Kong: Skull Island is a perfect movie for October.  In fact, I think that it was actually a mistake for Warner Bros. to release the film in March.  They should have released it during the first weekend of October.  It could have provided a counterbalance to all of the depressing films that have been released this month,

Kong: Skull Island is a throwback to the gleefully absurd monster movies of the past.  Just so we don’t miss that point, the film starts with a 1944 prologue before then jumping forward to 1973.  (Significantly, not a single scene takes place in the 21st Century.)  Samuel L. Jackson plays Lt. Col. Preston Packard, the tough, no-nonsense commander of the Sky Devils helicopter squadron.  The Sky Devils are finally on the verge of leaving Vietnam but they’ve been asked to carry out on more mission.  They’ve been asked to fly an expedition over a newly discovered island.  The official story is that they’re going to be mapping the island but everyone knows better than to trust the government.

Kong: Skull Island is very well-cast, which is a good thing because the majority of the characters are thinly written.  Among the civilians in the helicopters: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and John Goodman.  Of course, they’re all playing characters but, for the most part, you’ll spend the entire movie thinking of them as being Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and John Goodman.  For that matter, you never think of Samuel L. Jackson as being Preston Packard.  He simply is Samuel L. Jackson.  When they eventually discover a castaway living on the island, it doesn’t matter that the man’s “name” is supposedly Hank Marlow.  He’s played by john C. Reilly and that’s who you’ll always think of him as being.   They’re all charismatic actors so you certainly don’t mind watching them but, at the same time, the film understands that the main reason we’re all here is to see the giant gorilla.

To the film’s credit, it doesn’t take long for King Kong to show up.  This is not one of those films where things are dragged out in an unnecessary attempt to create suspense.  (After all, the audience already knows that King Kong’s on the island.)  Almost as soon as the helicopters breach the airspace over Skull Island, Kong shows up and starts knocking them out of the sky.  The survivors end up stranded on different parts of the island.

Of course, it’s not just Kong that they have to worry about.  In fact, from the start, the audience is smart enough to know that Kong is actually one of the good monsters.  However, Skull Island is also inhabited by bad monsters, like these giant reptiles that Kong keeps having to fight.

Early on, there’s a scene in America where, in regards to the Watergate scandal, John Goodman says that Washington, D.C. is never going to be more screwed up than it is at that moment.  That line pretty much epitomizes Kong: Skull Island.  It’s a lark with a knowing sense of humor and it is not meant to be taken at all seriously.  At it’s best, Kong: Skull Island satirizes some of the most pompous monster movies of the past.  Whenever someone says something portentous, you can be sure that the film will quickly find a way to puncture the somber mood.

And it’s all terrifically entertaining.  Watch, enjoy, and don’t worry too much about whether or not any of it makes sense.  A trip to Skull Island is a trip worth taking.

Lisa’s Too Early Oscar Predictions for May


Be sure to check out my predictions for April, March, February, and January!

Best Picture

Battles of the Sexes

Blade Runner 2049

Call Me By Your Name

Darkest Hour

The Disaster Artist

Downsizing

Dunkirk

The Glass Castle

Mudbound

Wonderstruck

 

Best Director

Luca Guadagnino for Call Me By Your Name

Alexander Payne for Downsizing

Dee Rees for Mudbound

Denis Villeneuve for Blade Runner 2049

Joe Wright for Darkest Hour

 

Best Actor

Chadwick Boseman in Marshall

Tom Cruise in American Made

Matt Damon in Downsizing

Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour

Miles Teller in Thank You For Your Service

 

Best Actress

Judi Dench in Victoria and Abdul

Kirsten Dunst in Woodshock

Brie Larson in The Glass Castle

Carey Mulligan in Mudbound

Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes

 

Best Supporting Actor

Steve Carell in Battle of the Sexes

James Franco in The Disaster Artist

Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name

Woody Harrelson in The Glass Castle

Jason Mitchell in Mudbound

 

Best Supporting Actress

Holly Hunter in The Big Sick

Melissa Leo in Novitiate

Julianne Moore in Wonderstruck

Kristin Scott Thomas in Darkest Hour

Naomi Watts in The Glass Castle

Film Review: Free Fire (dir by Ben Wheatley)


Last night, I saw Free Fire, the latest film from the visionary British directing-and-screenwriting team of Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump.

Free Fire takes place in Boston in the 1970s.  We know it’s the 70s because of all the wide lapels, the flared jeans, and the impressive facial hair.  In short, everyone looks like an extra from Thank God, It’s Friday.  Note that I said Thank God, It’s Friday and not Saturday Night Fever.  None of the characters in Free Fire could pull off John Travolta’s white suit.  As much as they try to pretend otherwise, everyone in this film is low rent.  No one is as clever or street smart as they believe themselves to be.  Even more importantly, no one is as good a shot as they think.

The film takes place in a decrepit warehouse, the type of place that is strewn with rats and hypodermic needles.  Chris (Cillian Murphy), Frank (Michael Smiley), Steve-O (Sam Riley), and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) are members of the Irish Republican Army and they’ve come to the U.S. to purchases weapons.  Chris and Frank are no-nonsense professionals.  Bernie is a well-meaning moron.  Steve-O is a drug addict who, the previous night, got beaten up after he smashed a bottle across the face of a 17 year-old girl.

Working as intermediaries are Justine (Brie Larson) and Ord (Armie Hammer).  Justine specializes in keeping jumpy people calm.  She and Chris flirt as they wait for the guns to arrive.  As for Ord — well, let’s just say that Ord was my favorite character in the film.  He’s always calm.  He looks really good in a suit.  And, whenever things get intense, he’s always quick to light up a joint and make a sarcastic comment.  This is probably the best performance of Armie Hammer’s career so far.  (Or, at the very least, it’s the best performance of his that I’ve seen.  I hear that he gives an excellent performance in the upcoming Call Me By Your Name.)  Certainly, this is the first film that I’ve seen, since The Social Network, in which Hammer seemed to be truly worthy of the hype that has surrounded his career.

Finally, there’s the gun dealers themselves.  There’s Martin (Babou Ceesay), who seems to be fairly low-key professional.  There’s Gordon (Noah Taylor), who is a henchman who looks disconcertingly similar to Chris.  And then there’s Vernon, who is from South Africa and who is constantly talking and smiling.  Not surprisingly, Vernon is played by Sharlto Copley.  Finally, Harry (Jack Reynor) is a driver who desperately wants to impress Ord.  Harry loves John Denver and he also loves his cousin.  In fact, he loves his cousin so much that, when he recognizes Steve-O as the junkie who smashed a bottle across her face, Harry pulls a gun and starts firing.

The rest of the film deals with the resulting gun fight, which is complicated with two mysterious snipers (Patrick Bergin and Mark Monero) suddenly open fire on both of the groups.  Who hired them and why?  That’s a mystery that could be solved if everyone stops shooting and yelling at each other.  Of course, that’s not going to happen because 1) no one is a good enough shot to actually get the upper hand and 2) almost everyone in the warehouse is an idiot.

At it’s best, Free Fire mercilessly parodies the excessive violence of modern crime cinema.  When it comes to crime films, most people just remember the shoot outs so Free Fire takes things to their logical extreme by just being a 90-minute gun fight.  At its weakest, Free Fire occasionally becomes exactly what it’s parodying.  The film’s structure — one night in one location — proves to be limiting.  At times, you find yourself really wishing for a flashback or at least a little exposition to explain who everyone is outside of that warehouse.  The cast is full of good actors and they all give good performances but the characters are, at best, thinly drawn.  At times, it was difficult to keep track who was who.  I especially found myself mixing up Michel Smiley and Sharlto Copely.  It was all the facial hair.

About 30 minutes into Free Fire, I was already composing a bad review in my head but, by the final shot (and yes, the double meaning is totally intentional), Free Fire had won me over.  It’s an experiment that doesn’t really work but it’s so relentless and dedicated to seeing its story to its conclusion that I couldn’t help but appreciate the film’s efforts.  When the guns finally did stop firing and the end credits started, I was shocked to discover that, without even realizing it, I actually had gotten just a little caught up in the film’s story.

Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump previously gave us one of the most memorable films of the decade (so far), A Field in England.  Free Fire might not quite work but I’ll always make the time to see the latest from Wheatley and Jump.