Monday, October 27, 2014

Wknd Box Office: John Wick, Birdman, Ouija, Dear White People, The Blue Room

Here is an interesting article from reviewing some of the movies that came out over the past weekend. This follows this post about some of the movies from last week and THIS POST about some movies that have been released over the past few years that you might have missed! This all follows this post about guidelines to choosing good movies to watch yourself!

Wknd Box Office: John Wick, Birdman, Ouija, Dear White People, The Blue Room

By Debbie Schlussel
Since I had five movies to review this weekend and a lot of catching up to do after the Jewish holidays, I didn’t finish my reviews in time before the Jewish Sabbath. That said, there’s very little to recommend:



* “John Wick“: This is Keanu Reeves’ latest attempt to get his movie career back on track. Sadly, for him, it fails. At age 50, Reeves looks all of 30. He’s in great shape, looks very good, and makes a terrific action hero. But this action movie, while starting out with intrigue, quickly becomes a silly, stupid mess. It was incredibly violent and bloody for no reason, and it’s hard to root for a former hit man (Reeves).
The story: Reeves is a former hitman for a Russian mob boss. He’s been outta the biz for a while, and his wife just died of a chronic illness. His late wife sent him a cute dog, and he drives a very cool 1969 Mustang Mach 1. The Russian mob boss’ spoiled thug son sees Reeves at a gas station and wants to buy the Mustang, not knowing that Reeves used to work for his father. When Reeves tells him it’s not for sale, the mobster prince and his fellow mobsters break in to Reeves’ house, kill his dog, and steal his car.
And then the movie gets really stupid really fast. Reeves singlehandedly takes on the entire Russian mob and kills them all (all because they killed his dog). But it doesn’t happen fast. In fact, despite so much shooting and so much action, it’s a bore and just totally unbelievable and silly. I like a good action movie, especially one with guns. This ain’t it.
As a Russian speaker, I noticed that not a single person in this movie who is supposed to be Russian has a decent Russian accent or can speak Russian worth a lick. But for most of the idiots who go and enjoy this waste of time, I’m sure they are too ignorant to notice and couldn’t care less if they did.
Keanu Reeves is better than this.

* “Birdman“: I had mixed feelings about this. Overall, I liked the idea of this–an actor known for playing a superhero, now in his older years seeking to make a comeback and be taken seriously. And it’s very weird and different, which I usually enjoy. I liked the ambiguity of the ending, too, something that I also find appealing in movies. And it’s very funny. Plus, all of the acting in this is very good. But it’s very filthy, somewhat unnecessarily so. And I could have done without a good deal of the melodrama (such as the scene in which the actor’s daughter yells at him, saying what a nobody he is and that he doesn’t matter).
Michael Keaton, who once played Batman, is Riggan, an actor who is known for playing a superhero called “Birdman.” Now, though, he’s older and washed up and seeking to make a comeback. He’s invested everything he has left into a play that is about to open on Broadway, betting on this to bring him back to former glory. He wears a hairpiece that only covers the hair on the back and sides of his head. He has an alter ego that constantly talks to him, and the alter ego takes the form of “Birdman,” telling him not to let all the lesser-thans get him down. And he levitates and flies . . . or does he? Amidst all this, he must deal with an egomaniacal younger actor (Edward Norton), a recently rehabbed drug addict daughter (Emma Stone), and other forces that seem to get in the way.
While there are several interesting scenes, to me the best was the dialogue between Riggan and the New York Times theater critic. She tells him the night before his play is to open that she’s already written her review because she hates him and all that he stands for. She hates commercial actors who’ve played superheroes and mass-appeal roles for the idiots of this world, and she will write the worst review ever because she wants him to fail. She tells him, “I will close your play.” And that is the attitude of not just the Times’ theater critic, but pretty much every Times’ writer and “reporter” in real life. And you can say that about most of the mainstream media, including FOX News. They all have an agenda and have decided what they are going to tell you to think before they’ve ever investigated.
The movie also shows the power of social media and features a funny scene in which Keaton gets locked out of the theater in his undies. Don’t wanna tell more or it will give the funniest part of the movie away and steal your laughs.
If you’re not a prude and you like interesting and different movies, this is for you. It’s a somewhat dark movie with dark (and quite dirty) humor. But, despite my reservations, I liked it overall.

* “Ouija“: This movie is aimed primarily at teens and 20-somethings, as evidenced by the few adults in the movie and very few lines they have in it. But, as horror movies go, it was better than many others I’ve seen of late, as it’s quite scary without being graphic and bloody. The best horror movies scare you psychologically rather than graphically. And this movie does start out well. But, in the end, it kind of degrades into the ridiculous and messy. (I also noted that, finally, there is a movie in which a character is named, “Debbie,” something I rarely see anymore as the generation in which new parents got the “Debbie Memo” is long gone.) But, alas, as soon as I cheered for that in my mind, Debbie commits suicide.)
The story: a teen girl (Debbie) is possessed by demons coming from her Ouija board, after she tries to burn it in her home’s fireplace. The girl then commits suicide. Her best friend, Laine, who doesn’t believe Debbie would commit suicide, investigates and finds Debbie’s Ouija board. She believes that Debbie’s death has something to do with the Ouija board and asks all of Debbie’s friends and her boyfriend to take part in using the board to call to Debbie’s spirit. Soon, demons start appearing and some of the friends become possessed and die. And Laine sets out to fix this.
By the way, the message of the movie is not to play with Ouija boards and not to have them in your home, as they open channels that bring evil spirits to possess you. As I noted, it’s very scary in parts, and I’m not easily scared after so many of these. I also noted that as I was watching this, I thought, “Hmmmm . . . all of these teens are White (though there is an ambiguously Hispanic grandmother character). Will minority groups whine like they did about ‘Friends’ and ‘Sex & the City,’ that none of their people got the chance to be possessed and killed by demons?” It’s not so far-fetched.
It’s an okay movie, but just okay, and only for what it is: a horror movie aimed at teens and 20-somethings. For everybody else, there are better choices.

* “Dear White People“: Oy, I so hated this movie. It was sooooo incredibly stupid and boring. So pointless. I know it’s supposed to be militant Blacks teaching us White people about how racist we are, whether or not we try to be “down wit’ da struggle.” But it’s just sooooo bad, it fails to make the point . . . or any point whatsoever. I was definitely “down wit’ da struggle.” I struggled and struggled and struggled to sit through this movie and stay awake. It was just that dumb, plotless, and hard to follow. This is a definite time bandit that stole nearly two hours of my life I’ll never get back, all in the name of its vast idiocy.
The story: various types of Black students are enrolled at some fictional Ivy League university. They are of various types: a biracial Black militant, a gay nerd, a pretentious woman who wants to be cast on a reality show, the Dean’s son who has a White girlfriend who think she’s being liberated by sleeping with him, and so on. These various types of Black students conflict with each other but all come together at the very end of the movie when the evil White students hold a racist “Black party” of sorts, in which Whites dress up as Blacks. I already made this movie sound far more sensical and interesting than it is. The movie mocks Tyler Perry movies, but those are Shakespeare compared to this bleeping waste of time.
It’s no surprise that this crappy “movie” was funded by Kickstarter-style mooching. Every single major Kickstarter feature film I’ve seen is utter garbage. Dear Black People, please make better movies.

* “The Blue Room [La Chambre Bleue]“: I normally like the French crime thrillers and mysteries they show here in the States. But this is an exception. It lacked any suspense, excitement, or mystery. And I found it slow, boring, disjointed, and not tightly written. Plus, there are too many flashbacks and flashes back to the present, making it confusing. Moreover, they never really tell you if any of the people did what they are accused of, and, here, ambiguity is not good for the story.
The story: a small-town married man is cheating on his wife with the wife of the local pharmacy owner. But, then, the man finds himself accused of murder. The movie never makes clear whether or not he did it or if he was framed by his paramour, though it makes implications. Most of the movie consists of the man being interviewed by police detectives and then by some sort of judge in a preliminary hearing. We see flashbacks to what happened. But not much is ever really shown. The movie–even though it is only 76 minutes long–seems to drag on without anything every really happening. We simply aren’t shown much, other than many shots of frontal nudity and sex.
In French with English subtitles.

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