Triple Frontier, Review By Case Wright


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The heist movie or treasure hunt movie is always the same and always pretty fun.  It’s not supposed to be Shakespeare; it’s supposed to pull you in and be a thrill ride.  This iteration is all about the down and out Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who decide to seek their fortune the old fashioned way: ripping off a drug kingpin!  In true heist genre fashion, everything works out great!

The characters came across as real Veterans to me.  After some research, the writer- Mark Boal was embedded with a platoon in Iraq and he also wrote The Hurt Locker.  The characters in Triple Frontier were like the men I knew: strong, divorced, and liked to joke.  Ben Affleck’s character Tom struck me as especially realistic.  He loved his daughter, but there was a distance because he was just not suited for civilian life.  She wanted him home, but he always wanted to be away.  You could see on her face that she knew the moment his buddies came calling that he was already gone.

Oscar Isaac plays Pope who has a gig doing private security/law enforcement in South America.  He is in pursuit of Lorea, a drug boss, who is causing all kinds of problems. Yada Yada Yada.  Pope finds the location of Lorea’s hideout which has hundreds of millions of dollars stashed inside, but he needs a team to kill Lorea, Lorea’s men, get the cash, and get out of the country.  He turns to his former squad to pull off the heist.  They need a little cajoling, but they come around. There isn’t a lot of dialogue after they agree to the heist, which makes sense.  They committed and now transitioned to soldier-mode.  The heist starts off with success in sight, but it’s not long before everything goes wrong and they are in a fight for their lives.

The film is shot really beautifully and has some high-priced songs for a Netflix program. Everything seemed very real.  Even the way the characters carried themselves and flowed through Lorea’s hideout was seamless.   They moved the way we are trained to move through rooms.  I am always looking for that in action films.  Are they not having muzzle-awareness (pointing there weapon accidentally at a friendly)?  Are they holding the rifle close to their face? Are they aiming right?  The answers to those questions were yes.   J.C. Chandor should be really proud of himself for the realism.

What kept pulling me into the story wasn’t the action (which was excellent BTW); it was that these men were like the ones I knew.  The team itself was representative of who does our killing for us: salt of the earth…men.   I like seeing women in action films and I am already excited about Black Widow, but the infantry in real life is male.  They are regular guys who are asked to do terrible terrible things.  When those terrible things are done, we cast the men aside.  The story concludes a lot like the war itself did with a lot of loss and not a lot to show for it.  This film has a political statement between the explosions and it’s worth listening to it. 

* I included Mary Pop Poppins by the True Loves in my review.  The song embodies the heist genre like no other.  Also, they are Seattleites!!!!

Here’s The Trailer For Papillon!


Here’s the trailer for the upcoming film, Papillon!  As the trailer itself states, this is based on the amazing true story of Henri Charrière and his escape from the Devil’s Island penal colony.

Of course, this isn’t the first film to be made about Charrière, his escape, and his friendship with Louis Dega.  1973’s Papillon starred Steve McQueen as Charrière and Dustin Hoffman as Dega.  I haven’t seen this particular film but many consider it to be a classic.

In this remake, Charrière is played by Charlie Hunnam while Rami Malek takes over the role of Dega.  Will it be good or will it be forgettable?  The trailer, to be honest, is a bit generic.  We’ll find out for sure when the film is released on August 24th!

 

Here’s The Trailer For The Lost City of Z!


I’ve been so busy from the holidays that I forgot to share the trailer for next year’s The Lost City of Z.  Based on a historical novel, The Lost City of Z features Charlies Hunman as explorer Percy Fawcett and follows him as he and his son (Tom Holland) and an assistant (Robert Pattinson) obsessively search for a missing civilization.

The Lost City of Z was directed by James Gray, who is one of those directors who has always been more popular with critics than audiences.  It seems like every year we’re told that Gray’s latest film will be an Oscar contender.  Remember The Immigrant?  How about We Own The Night?   Both of these films were promoted as being surefire Oscar contenders, both of them flopped at the box office, and both of them are now kind of forgotten.  Will that happen with The Lost City of Z?

Well, The Lost City of Z is one of those things that sounds like it should be a surefire Oscar contender (and it got very positive reviews when it premiered at the New York Film Festival) but it’s being released in April.  Traditionally, it’s thought that films released that early in the year will be forgotten by Oscar time.  However, both The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mad Max: Fury Road were released early in the year and both managed to do quite well when the Oscar nominations were announced.

So, we’ll see what happens!

Check out the trailer below!

Horror Film Review: Crimson Peak (dir by Guillermo Del Toro)


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The fact that Crimson Peak, Guillermo Del Toro’s wonderful new film, is only getting mixed or grudgingly positive reviews tells you everything that you need to know about the sorry state of modern film criticism.

Taking place at the turn of the 19th Century, Crimson Peak tells the story of Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska).  The daughter of industrialist Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver), Edith is haunted by a childhood memory, in which her mother’s ghost appeared to her and told her to never go to Crimson Peak.  Edith grows up to be an aspiring writer.  She writes stories about ghosts, though she is always quick to point out that the ghosts are just meant to be a “metaphor for the past.”  Her publishers tell her that no one wants to read a ghost story written by a woman and they recommend that she concentrate on writing a nice romance.

Following the violent death of her father, Edith marries the charming inventor Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and moves to his family home in England.  Still in shock over the death of her father, Edith struggles to make things work in England.  Tom is nearly penniless and seems to be more interested in his inventions than with her.  (Not only did they not consummate the marriage during the honeymoon but Tom sleeps in a separate bedroom.)  Meanwhile, Tom’s older sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), does little to hide the disdain that she feels towards her new sister-in-law.

As for the house itself, it is on the verge of collapsing.  At one point, Tom mentions that, because of the red clay that sits underneath the mansion, their new home is sometimes called Crimson Peak.  If that wasn’t enough to panic Edith, she keeps seeing mysterious figures wandering through the halls.  Edith swears that she is seeing ghosts and that they are trying to tell her something.  Tom and Lucille tells her that she’s imagining things and continue to insist that she drink a special tea.  Could that tea be the reason why Edith finds herself coughing up blood?

(Actually, there’s a lot of blood spilled over the course of Crimson Peak.  It’s not just the clay that makes the ground red.  If Edith Wharton had written a horror movie, the end result would probably be a lot like Crimson Peak.)

And let’s just get this out of the way right now — Crimson Peak is an absolutely brilliant movie.  Those critics who have complained that Crimson Peak doesn’t have any of the expected “shock” scares are totally missing the point.  Crimson Peak is not about cheap scares.  Del Toro is not looking to make you jump by having a cat jump out of a closet.  Instead, Crimson Peak is all about atmosphere.  Del Toro maintains an atmosphere of consistent unease throughout the entire film.  The scares come less from what is shown and more from what is implied.  In that way, Crimson Peak pays homage to the great gothic horror films of the past.

And remember when I complained about how terrible Jessica Chastain was in The Martian?  Well, she absolutely brilliant in Crimson Peak.  The role of Lucille is not one that demands a lot of subtlety and Chastain appears to be having a great time getting to play such a menacing character.  If anything, this is one of Chastain’s best performances.  (One need only consider how overly mannered Meryl Streep would have been in the role to realize just how great an actress Jessica Chastain truly is.)  Mia Wasikowska is the epitome of fragile loveliness as Edith and Tom Hiddleston is perfectly cast as a handsome, slightly decadent aristocrat with a secret.  In fact, all three of them are perfectly cast.  Taking their roles too seriously would have been a mistake but so would have not taking the movie seriously enough.  The entire cast strikes a perfect balance, embracing the melodrama without going too far over the top.

So, why are so many film critics having such a hard time embracing Crimson Peak?  It’s pretty much for the same reason that a lot of them had a hard time with Pacific Rim.  Guillermo Del Toro’s films are masterpieces of the pulp imagination.  As such, he exposes the condescending attitude that most contemporary critics take towards “genre” films.  When mainstream critics dismiss Crimson Peak as just being “a horror film that isn’t scary enough,” all they’re really doing is revealing how ignorant they are of the horror genre.

So, in other words, don’t listen to those mainstream critics.  They are not worth your trouble.  Crimson Peak is a wonderfully acted and visually gorgeous gothic romance and it needs to be seen on the big screen.

Reportedly, Crimson Peak struggled at the box office this weekend.

Well, you know what?

If you haven’t seen Crimson Peak, you need to go out and see it this week.  It’s a great film and what good are we if we let the great ones go unseen?

Crimson Peak’s Visually Stunning Gothic Horror


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Guillermo Del Toro has become the one filmmaker who seems to excite both the elitist cinephiles and the geek community whenever he comes out with a new film. He’s done both pop-friendly extravaganzas (Pacific Rim, Hellboy) to critically-acllaimed arthouse fares (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone). His name has been attached to so many projects of all stripe that one wonders if he ever gets time to rest.

Most of these projects never get past the concept stage, but when one does and he goes all out in directing such projects we get something that excites the fanbase like his upcoming gothic horror film Crimson Peak. It looks to be Del Toro’s love letter to gothic horror of the past with his own visual flair for the morbid and the beautiful in one package.

The film stars a who’s who of powerful performers from Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston to Mia Wasikowska and Charlie Hunnam.

Crimson Peak is set to haunt the public this coming October 16, 2015

Trailer: Crimson Peak


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When will studios finally smarten up and realize that Guillermo Del Toro is one of the preeminent fantasists of our time. Just give him the money and talent to finally make his dream project for the bigscreen: At the Mountains of Madness.

Until that happens we shall have to wait with anticipation for every new project he does see through to completion. This time around he leaves the world of Jaegers and Kaiju and takes us into the world of gothic horror with his upcoming film Crimson Peak.

The most talented cast he has work with to date, Crimson Peak is Del Toro’s take on the classic gothic ghost story but with more than just a tad and smidgen of his own narrative and visual style when it comes to horror. It stars Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam and Jim Beaver.

Crimson Peak is set for an October 16, 2015 release date. Just in time for Halloween.

Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters : “Pacific Rim”


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Let’s start with a life lesson here that’s completely contradictory right on its face and therefore of absolutely no value whatsoever — sometimes the simplest ideas are great, and sometimes they’re really, really dumb.It all depends on the inherent intelligence level of the person who has them.

First case in point : a retrograde, racist, trigger-happy, self-appointed “neighborhood watch captain” decides it would be a good idea to follow around a kid in his gated suburban subdivision who’s minding his own business and eating Skittles. The cops tell him to back the fuck off and stay in his car, but our low-grade Charles Bronson-wannabe thinks he knows better : he pursues the young man on foot, removes his gun from its holster, loads  some rounds in the chamber, unlatches the safety, and proceeds to generally and obviously tail him for three or four blocks. When the target of his harassment finally decides enough is enough and jumps him, a fight ensues. We’ll never definitely know who threw the first punch, but when “Mr. Tough Guy” was on the ground getting his nose bloodied by the kid’s fist, he decided he’d had enough and shot his “assailant” in the heart.

Dumb idea. I don’t care if a jury gave him a free pass for murdering the victim of his stalking or not, it’s still just not smart. Bargain-basement Bronson was reckless with his firearm, needlessly killed a kid who was, let’s face it, provoked into a confrontation, and now he has this bright, promising youngster’s blood on his conscience (assuming he has one, which is debatable) and has to sleep with one eye open for the rest of his life. Clearly, nothing good came from this guy’s very simple, and very stupid, idea.

Case in point number two : Wouldn’t it be seriously fucking cool if the Transformers fought Godzilla?

The answer to this question is as resounding as it is obvious : hell yes (as long as Michael Bay doesn’t direct it)! Thankfully, Guillermo del Toro is the guy who had this idea, and the result is Pacific Rim, easily the funnest thing to hit the silver screen this summer (even if I did just say the same thing about The Lone Ranger — this tops it, and by a wide margin).

Now, you can take exception to my admittedly over-simplified root description of this film all you want — hey, man, this is about a lot more than that : it’s about giant mentally-linked-to-human-host robots called Jaegers who battle inter-dimensional monsters from beneath the ocean floor known as Kaiju, there’s a nice little low-key love story that develops between out hero, Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) and his co-pilot, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), it’s got Idris Elba as a stoic-but-compassionate military commander, and hey, Ron Perlman’s on board playing a mad scientist/black marketeer with the kind of relish that only he can bring to a role.

All these things are true, of course, but at the end of the day this is still a 12-year-old sci-fi geek’s wet dream realized on an enormous Hollywood budget. And that’s the best thing about it (besides maybe the awesome post-credits dedication to Ray Harryahusen and Ishiro Honda). This is del Toro letting loose his inner child for all of us to see, and that’s a pretty insipiring thing indeed, my friends.

Are there plot holes aplenty here? Sure, bigger than the monsters themselves (most notable among them being that if they know one of these nuclear Jaegers can seal up the dimenstional breach for good by blowing it to kingdom come, why did’t they try it years ago?), but never you mind that. Just sit back and allow yourself to be as thoroughly and completely wowed as is humanly possible by a movie. And when you feel a smile forming at the corners of your lips as the week goes on, don’t fight it — you really did have that much fun at the movies. It’s totally okay to feel like a giddy little kid again for awhile.