Film Review: The Little Things (dir by John Lee Hancock)


Rami Malek and Jared Leto In The Little Things

Since it’s due to leave HBOMax at the end of the day and since HBOMax isn’t exactly cheap, I decided that I should go ahead and watch The Little Things, the serial killer thriller that has been getting some unexpected Oscar buzz due to the performance of Jared Leto.

Taking place in the 90s, The Little Things follows two cops as they investigate a series of murders.  Deacon (Denzel Washington) is the former hotshot homicide detective who, back in the day, allowed his obsession with an unsolved murder to destroy his life. He lost not only his wife but also nearly his life.  Now, he’s a small town deputy who is still haunted by the cases that he didn’t solve.  Jim (Rami Malek) is the detective who has picked up where Deacon left off.  Deacon is haunted and unable to move on.  Jim is young and cocky and obviously doomed to repeat all of Deacon’s mistakes.  At first, Jim doesn’t want to work with Deacon and Deacon seems to be a little bit skeptical of Jim’s abilities.  Eventually, though, they bond over their mutual righteousness.  Jim is the type of who reminds the crime scene technicians that they’re working for the victim.  Deacon is the type who muses about whether or not God has abandoned humanity.  On the one hand, we should be thankful that they’re good at their job.  On the other hand, you wouldn’t necessarily want to invite either of them to a party.

Deacon and Jim’s investigation leads them to a suspect named Sparma (Jared Leto) and you know that he’s a bad dude as soon as you learn that his name is “Sparma.”  It sounds like too much of a mix of sperm and pharma for this guy to be anything other than dangerous.  Sparma is an appliance repairman with unwashed hair, a permanent smirk on his face, and a disconcerting history of confessing to crimes that he didn’t actually commit.  Jim and Deacon both think that Sparma is guilty but can they prove it?  How far will they go to take a possible killer off the streets?

Jared Leto is certainly creepy as Sparma.  In fact, I think you could probably argue that he’s a little bit too obviously creepy and unhinged in the role. Most real life serial killers — especially the ones who manage to kill for years without being detected — are able to blend in with society. Consider the cases of killers like Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer who avoided capture for nearly three decades, or Dennis Rader, the infamous BTK killer.  While it’s true that everyone in his hometown apparently thought Rader was a dick even before he was revealed to be a serial killer, he also still managed to hold down a respectable job while raising a family and fooling people into thinking that he was just a normal jerk as opposed to a homicidal one.  That ability to blend in and disguise their true selves is one of the things that makes real-life serial killers so frightening.  Sparma, however, might as well have the words “murderer” tattooed on his forehead.  I can understand why Jared Leto is getting Oscar buzz because it’s a showy role and it allows him to act up a storm.  But it’s still hard not to feel that the film, which tries to introduce the idea that Deacon and Jim’s obsession with this case has led to them developing a tunnel vision that has left them incapable of suspecting anyone other than Sparma, might have been a bit more effective if it had taken a slightly more ambiguous approach to the character.

That said, The Little Things is a well-made movie.  Though it’s bit overlong and occasionally meanders a bit too much for its own good, the film looks great and director John Lee Hancock does a good job of creating an effectively creepy atmosphere, providing the viewer with some wonderfully ominous images as Deacon and Jim search for the truth in the middle of the night.  For instance, the scene where Deacon imagines himself talking to the ghosts of the killer’s victims really shouldn’t work but it does because Washington gives such a committed performance and Hancock, as a director and writer, is smart enough to just let the scene develop naturally.  Even as he ages, Denzel Washington remains a compelling actor and he helps to carry The Little Things over more than few speed bumps on the way to the end credits. At its best, the film works as an examination of obsession and there is a haunting intensity to the film’s final moments that suggests the movie that The Little Things could have been if the film’s pace had been just a little bit tighter.

In the end, The Little Things is uneven but it has enough effective moments to be watchable.

The Films of 2020: Dolittle (dir by Stephen Gaghan)


Dolittle tells the story of Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey, Jr.), the eccentric doctor who can talk to the animals and who hasn’t had much use for humans ever since the tragic death of his wife, Lily (Kasia Smutniak).  Dolittle would be happy to just spend his entire life locked away in his estate, talking to Poly the Parrot (voice of Emma Thompson) and Chee-Chee the Gorilla (voice of Rami Malek) and all of the other animals but Dolitle has to eventually leave his home because otherwise, there wouldn’t be a movie.

When Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) is mysteriously taken ill, only Dolittle can save her.  Dolittle quickly realizes that the Queen has been poisoned and that the only cure for the poison is to be found on a tree that’s located on an island that no one has ever seen before.  Soon, Dolittle and the animals are sailing in search of the island.  Accompanying them is Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett), a sensitive teen who hates to hunt and who hopes to become Dolittle’s apprentice.  Pursuing Dolittle is the evil Dr. Blair Mudfly (Michael Sheen), who went to college with Dolittle and who is in cahoots with the conspirators who are trying to do away with Queen Victoria.

Got all of that?  I hope so because we haven’t even gotten to the dragon with a set of bagpipes crammed up her ass.  Yes, you read that correctly.

Last year, Dolittle was one of the few major studio productions to actually get a wide release before COVID-19 closed down all the theaters.  It was released in January, which is traditionally the time when studios release the films that they hope everyone will have forgotten about by the time April rolls around.  January is traditionally the month when studios release the films that they know aren’t any good.  And, indeed, the reviews of Dolittle were overwhelmingly negative.  Not only did the critics hate Dolittle but audiences were also rather unenthusiastic and the film bombed at the box office.  Indeed, under normal circumstances, the reaction to Dolittle and its subsequent box office failure would be considered one of the year’s biggest disasters.  However, 2020 was a year of disasters.  Compared to everything else that ended up happening over the past 12 months, Dolittle’s lukewarm reception seems almost quaint now.

Earlier today, I finally watched Dolittle on HBOMax.  I was expecting the film to be terrible but it’s actually not quite as bad as I had been led to believe.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  Dolittle has a ton of problems.  The tone is all over the place as the film tries to mix cartoonish humor with thrilling adventure in a style that owes more to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise than it does to Dr. Dolittle.  Despite a few self-consciously manic moments, Robert Downey, Jr. seems remarkably bored in the lead role.  Many of the jokes fall flat and the awkward attempts to shoehorn the usual message of “be true to yourself” into the film just felt awkward.  That said, the CGI animals were cute enough to hold my interest and that’s really the most important thing when it comes to a film like Dolittle.  Cute animals — even computer generated ones — help to make up for a lot of flaws.

Dolittle’s final scene hints at a sequel or even a franchise.  Considering the reaction to the first film, I doubt we’ll get a second.  I do think Dr. Dolittle could make for an enjoyable PIXAR film but it might be time to give the live action adaptations a rest.

Here’s The Trailer For The Little Things!


Here’s the trailer for The Little Things, a serial killer drama that stars three very big actors: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto.  Washington was among the many stars and directors who was not happy about Warner Bros. decision to simultaneously release their films both in theaters and on HBO Max.  He felt that The Little Things was made to viewed on the big screen and not just to be used to promote the latest streaming service.

For whatever it’s worth, I see Washington’s point.  But, that said, it is what it is and The Little Things will be premiering (in both theaters and on HBO Max) on January 29th.  For those keeping track, that means that it will be eligible for the 2020 Oscars, despite having been released in 2021.  Try to make sense of all that if you can.

Here’s the trailer!

James Bond returns in the No Time to Die Trailer


Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond is almost upon us. With True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga taking over the direction this time, No Time to Die brings a mix of new faces and returning favorites. Though not much is truly known of the story, it looks like Bond’s relationship with Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) may be on a rocky road, enough to bring him back into service.

Rami Malek is also on board as the villain, which I’m personally excited for, and Ana de Armas (Knives Out) teams up again with Craig, though we’re not exactly sure who’s side she’s on. Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel) looks to be a new member of the Double O ranking. Coming back are Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, and Naomie Harris.

No Time to Die opens in cinemas in April 2020.  Enjoy!

I Guess This Is Meant To Be A Teaser For James Bond 25


So, believe it or not, we’ve got a teaser for the next James Bond film.

Yes, even though the film itself is still being filmed, we have a teaser.  It’s not much of a teaser, to be honest.  Mostly, it’s a behind-the-scenes sort of thing.  So, if you had any doubt as to whether or not the production team was actually filming in Jamaica, now you know that they are.  Daniel Craig, Jeffrey Wright, Rami Malek, and a few others are briefly glimpsed.

Again, it’s not much of a teaser but I guess it was felt that something had to be done to combat the bad buzz that this film has been dealing with ever since Danny Boyle left the project.  It’s as if this teaser was specifically shot to say, “Yes, this is a real movie and no, Daniel Craig isn’t miserable and pissed off about playing the role again.”

I’ve seen some online speculation that Rami Malek is going to be playing Dr. No.  I sincerely hope not.  There’s no need to remake the old Bond films.  They’re still a lot of fun.  Plus, I still haven’t gotten over how they ruined Blofeld in SPECTRE.

Apparently, this is going to be Craig’s last outing as Bond.  I have no problem with that.  Craig’s a good actor but he’s always been a bit bland in the role.  At heart, Craig’s a character actor (just check out Lucky Logan if you want to see Craig at his best) and Bond needs to played by a star.

Anyway, here’s the teaser:

Here Are Your 2018 Oscar Winners!


Here are the winner of the 91st Academy Awards!

(I went 13 for 24, which is the worst I’ve done in a while. Oh well.  It was a strange year.)

Best Picture — Green Book

Best Director — Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Actor — Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Actress — Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Best Supporting Actress — Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Adapted Screenplay — BlackKklansman

Best Original Screenplay — Green Book

Best Animated Feature Film — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Foreign Language Film — Roma

Best Documentary Feature — Free Solo

Best Documentary (Short Subject) — Period,  End of Sentence.

Best Live Action Short Film — Skin

Best Animated Short Film — Bao

Best Original Score — Black Panther

Best Original Song — “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Best Sound Editing — Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Sound Mixing — Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Production Design — Black Panther

Best Cinematography — Roma

Best Makeup and Hairstyling — Vice

Best Costume Design — Black Panther

Best Editing — Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Visual Effects — First Man

Here Are The 64th Annual Golden Globe Winners!


Here are the winners of the 64th annual Golden Globes!

(Check out the nominees here.  Needless to say, the film winners have all received a huge boost to their Oscar chances.)

Best Actor (TV Series, Musical or Comedy) — Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method

Best Animated Feature Film — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Actor (TV Series, Drama) — Richard Madden, Bodyguard

Best TV Series (Drama) — The Americans

Best Supporting Actor (TV Series or Miniseries) — Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal

Best Actress (Limited Series or Made-For-TV Movie) — Patricia Arquette, Escape from Dannemora

Best Original Motion Picture Score — Justin Hurwitz, First Man

Best Original Song (Motion Picture) — “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Best Supporting Actress (Motion Picture) — Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Actress (Drama Series) — Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

Best Supporting Actor (Motion Pictures) — Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Best Screenplay (Motion Picture) — Peter Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie, and Nick Vallelonga, Green Book

Best Supporting Actress (TV Series or Miniseries) — Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects

Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) — Christian Bale, Vice

Best Foreign Language Film — Roma

Best Actor (Limited Series or Made-for-TV movie) — Darren Criss, American Crime Story

Best Director (Motion Picture) — Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Actress (Comedy Series) — Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Best TV Series (Musical or Comedy) — The Kominsky Method

Best TV Limited Series or Movie — American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

Best Actress (Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical) — Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) — Green Book

Best Actress (Motion Picture Drama) — Glenn Close, The Wife

Best Actor (Motion Picture, Drama) — Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Motion Picture (Drama) — Bohemian Rhapsody

 

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for December


Well, it’s that time of the month!

It’s time for me to post my Oscar predictions.  With precursor season in full swing, the Oscar picture has become a lot clearer.

If you want to see how my thinking has evolved over the year, be sure to check out my predictions of January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November!

Also, keep in mind — these are not necessarily my picks for the best of the year.  I’ll be posting those during the second week of January.  Instead, these predictions are based on the precursor awards and just my own guesses based on the Academy’s past picks.

Best Picture

BlackKklansman

Black Panther

The Favourite

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Roma

A Star is Born

Vice

Best Director

Ryan Coogler for Black Panther

Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite

Adam McKay for Vice

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Vice

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Ethan Hawke in First Reformed

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen in Green Book

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio in Roma

Glenn Close in The Wife

Olivia Colman in The Favourite

Lady Gaga in A Star is Born

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams in Vice

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Thomasin McKenzie in Leave No Trace

Emma Stone in The Favourite

Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

 

Here Are The 2018 Houston Film Critics Society Nominations!


Finally, the only state that matters is starting to make it’s voice heard in this year’s Oscar race!

On Sunday, the Houston Film Critics Society announced their nominations for the best of 2018.  Houston really, really liked both The Favourite and If Beale Street Could Talk.  The winners will be announced on January 3rd.

Here are the nominees!

Best Picture
A Star is Born
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Eighth Grade
If Beale Street Could Talk
The Favourite
First Reformed
Green Book
Hereditary
Roma
Vice

Best Director
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Adam McKay, Vice

Best Actor
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Best Actress
Glenn Close, The Wife
Toni Collette, Hereditary
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Vice
Claire Foy, First Man
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Best Screenplay
Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara, The Favourite
Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Adam McKay, Vice

Best Cinematography
Rachel Morrison, Black Panther
Linus Sandgren, First Man
Robbie Ryan, The Favourite
James Laxton, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Animated Film
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Original Score
Ludwig Göransson, Black Panther
Justin Hurwitz, First Man
Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs
Thom Yorke, Suspiria

Best Original Song
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“Ashes,” Deadpool 2
“Hearts Beat Loud,” Hearts Beat Loud
“Revelation,” Boy Erased
“Shallow,” A Star is Born

Best Foreign Language Film
Burning
Border
Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters

Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo
Minding the Gap
RBG
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Texas Independent Film Award
1985
An American in Texas
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek
Support the Girls
Tejano

Visual Effects
Black Panther
First Man
Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Best Poster
BlacKkKlansman (two)
Mandy
Suspiria (two)

Best Worst Film of the Year
The 15:17 to Paris
The Happytime Murders
Life Itself
Peppermint
Venom

The Phoenix Critics Circles Rises From The Ashes To Announce Their Nominations For The Best of 2018


Earlier today, the Phoenix Critics Circle rose from the ashes of this year and announced their nominations for the best of 2018.  They really liked The Favourite.  They also liked First Reformed and Eighth Grade, both of which could use the help after being snubbed by those SAG bastards yesterday.

BEST PICTURE
The Favourite
First Reformed
Roma
A Star is Born
Vice

BEST COMEDY FILM
Eighth Grade
The Favourite
Game Night
Sorry to Bother You
Vice

BEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM
Annihilation
A Quiet Place
Ready Player One
Sorry to Bother You
Upgrade

BEST HORROR FILM
Halloween
Hereditary
Mandy
Quiet Place
Suspiria (oh, fuck you, Phoenix)

BEST ANIMATED FILM
The Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Miral
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Burning
Cold War
Dogman
Roma
Shoplifters

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Free Solo
Minding the Gap
RBG
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

BEST MOVIE BASED ON A COMIC BOOK OR GRAPHIC NOVEL
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
Deadpool 2
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

BEST ACTRESS
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Toni Collette, Hereditary
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Richard E Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Michael B Jordan, Black Panther
Sam Rockwell, Vice

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, Vice
Claire Foy, First Man
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay, Vice
Paul Schrader, First Reformed

BEST SCREENPLAY
Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara, The Favourite
Spike Lee, David Robinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott, BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay, Vice
Paul Schrader, First Reformed

BEST SCORE
Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs
Ludwig Goransson, Black Panther
Justin Hurwitz, First Man
Thom Yorke, Suspiria