Month in Review: May ’19

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit’s that time again! Another month of cinematic magic to look back on, or . . . since it’s early in the year, perhaps lament the lack thereof. From yet more pointless biopics (Tolkien, if you take a look at the numbers, apparently only has $4 million worth of fandom, but that paltry figure surely betrays the popularity of his works and indeed of the man himself, whose fantastical realm created a global fraternity of deeply loyal, line-memorizing fans), to Dennis Quaid looking totally annoying and embarrassingly in need of a paycheck intruding your local cineplexes in this hackneyed home-invasion “thriller”, or even a lack of good animated films (Ugly Dolls — no thanks, no thanks), I’ve felt like Keanu Reeves wandering the arid Sahara in search of answers, or at least decent entertainment this month. (Oh but John Wick 3 delivered. Or, it delivered what we have come to expect from it by now and not a shred of texture beyond that.)

May did hold some intrigue, however, what with the Godzilla sequel (yes, I know you hated the first but I didn’t) and the Elton John biopic (admittedly bordering on gratuitous profiting too) both coming out on the same weekend. There have also been several interesting things popping up on streaming platforms that uh, yeah, I haven’t gotten around to yet — remember when I said I would do a whole month of streaming-based reviews? Thank goodness this is a blog and not an actual job. I’d be fired twice by now for not delivering. Maybe I should fire myself. I suppose it’s not too late to do such a thing (stream an entire month’s worth of movies that is, not fire myself). But I’m not setting any hard deadlines.

Before we dive into it, there’s just one other thing I’d like to mention. Note the new feature on the side, Beer With Me! This is something I’ll be maintaining casually as I stumble upon new beers that I like (and can confidently recommend) and maybe figure out some ways to incorporate my love of IPAs with my love of movies. Like, for example, I might feature a Beer of the Month in these recap posts — something that might actually justify this otherwise middling and superfluous feature I created. Give it a look, feel free to share comments/suggestions about what I should try next in the comments section here or, of course, on any of my posts.

Without any further verbal spewage, here’s what has gone down on the world’s most active movie-related blog in the month of May.


New Posts

Theatrical Releases: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu; John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

Other: The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot (Redbox)

Alternative Content: 30 for 30: Seau


Bite Sized Reviews

High Flying Bird · February 8, 2019 · Directed by Steven Soderbergh · Calling all NBA fans! This is your movie. His second consecutive “portable” production, once again shot entirely on an iPhone, Steven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird tells of the creative maneuvers an ambitious, hard-working talent agent (André Holland) seeks to pull off in a bold attempt to put an end to the 2014 work stoppage that prefaced that season. Melvin Gregg plays Holland’s (fictitious) rookie client, Erick Scott, a gifted player both lusting after the glam and the glory of being a pro baller while being scarily unprepared for the realities of being a professional athlete. Deadpool 2‘s very own Zazie Beetz plays a crucial supporting role in both his personal and professional development. The script by Moonlight scribe and accomplished playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney draws undeniable parallels between old-fashioned slavery and NBA ownership (and if that seems sensationalist, consider the awful spectacle that befell the Los Angeles Clippers — incidentally that very same year, when then-owner Donald Sterling was forced to sell the team after audio recordings of him making some odious remarks about his own players were leaked to the public). Brief interviews with current players (Karl Anthony Towns, Donovan Mitchell and Reggie Jackson) tie seamlessly into the narrative and give perspective on the pressures faced by rookies to perform in the modern game and age of Twitter. So, in case it isn’t obvious, High Flying Bird is a film of specifics — it’s inarguably the Ocean’s 11 director’s most esoteric project yet, with sport and business jargon abounding. High Flying Bird is also a notable step up in terms of picture quality, thanks almost entirely to the gleaming urban setting. Unlike the drab, murky interior shots that dominated (and plagued) his previous effort Unsane, here buckets of sunshine wash over the silver edifice of New York City, adding a sense of style and elegance to a narrative that isn’t afraid of tackling the ugly underbelly of the National Basketball Association. Insightful for fans, likely isolating and boring for everyone else. (4/5)

Venom · October 5, 2018 · Directed by Ruben Fleischer · Oh boy, where do I even start with this. I guess let’s start with I hated it, pretty much beginning to finish. The first standalone, live-action movie focused upon the (only bad) people-eating exploits of the anti-hero Venom, an alien symbiote who inhabits the body of disgraced journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), finding it a match made in alien heaven, is one I only wish I could un-see. The first half of the film obligingly fulfills some human drama quota, trudging through the consequences of Brock’s overreaching during a tense interview with self-anointed global savior Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed, victim #1 of some truly terrible dialogue and bland, wanton villainy), his probing questions over what’s really going on behind the scenes at the mysterious Life Foundation causing his fiancee (Michelle Williams) to lose her job there and thus end their relationship, leaving Brock vulnerable to forcible alien penetration. When his superpowered alter-ego begins taking over in earnest, Venom swings like a bipolar teen from dull and no fun to sensationally goofy and downright dumb, the voice of Venom coming across as a misunderstood rascal rather than an extraterrestrial being of dubious morality. The movie hits a low with Williams shoving her tongue down the throat of said alien, the act managing to be both creepy and an utterly unconvincing change of heart in one fell swoop. Hits a high when the end credits roll. Okay, that’s not entirely fair — Tom Hardy at least deserves a nod for being a good sport, though neither he nor the rest of the talented ensemble (including Jenny “Marcel the Shell” Slate as a scientist with a conscience) are enough to elevate this clunker out of the lower echelons of superhero adaptations. (1.5/5)


What’s been your favorite movie this month?
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13 thoughts on “Month in Review: May ’19

  1. Glad you enjoyed High Flying Bird. Maybe I’ll revisit it someday — I often feel like I get a lot out of Soderbergh’s work, and Ocean’s Twelve is a concrete example that I can hate some of his films only to return to them years later and find a lot to chew over. (Twelve isn’t perfect, but it is interesting, and I think it’s a lot better than Thirteen, which seems to me like a soulless attempt to replicate the first film’s success.)

    I haven’t seen Venom, or Godzilla 2, or John Wick 3, or much else recently, but I really want to get round to all of them… even if some of them are terrible.

    Like

    • I’ll hopefully have a review of Godzilla up sometime this week or early next week. Planning on seeing that tonight. I’m not so sure about Rocketman. The cynic in me sees that as a shameless cash grab but the (granted, modest) Elton John fan in me wants to see how Taron Egerton does. Your review really has me intrigued. I like the idea of it being more of a fantastical interpretation that uses the emotional content of his music to enrich the saga rather than using a Top 10 hits to just get us from point A to B.

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  2. Still haven’t seen Venom, not sure when I’ll actually get to it. John Wick was pretty good though, thoroughly enjoyed that. And I didn’t like the last Godzilla (and I was so amped for it), but I’m interested in checking out the new one when it hits small screen.

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  3. Awwww! I liked Venom, I thought it was funny as hell. The lobster scene in the restaurant was brilliant. It was so over the top but it didn’t take itself seriously. That being said, I doubt I’d re-watch it anytime soon. You’re def right about the villain – not just the script but I thought they were sooo obviously trying to make him like a elon musk type character. I did’t rate it high but I had fun with it. It was nice and silly 😛

    As for High Flying Bird, I’ve had that on my radar, got it on my HDD. Gotta watch it today i reckon, it sounds like it’ll be perfect for my tastes. Nice to hears it looks better, I liked it insane and wasn’t bothered by the visuals, but its good to hear they are better in this one! After this finals game finish I’ll chuck it on. I’ve got Transit, Thunder Road and that now that I wanna watch soon.

    BTW check out Dragged Across Concrete if you haven’t already. its by the guy who did Bone Tomahawk. I loved it, watch out for my review today or tomorrow! =]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah that lobster scene was actually pretty hilarious. And I am glad to see you got along well with a “superhero” movie, I know you’re not big on those. To me, I enjoy a bit of realism in these things (one of the reasons I am a fan of what Marvel is doing — the human drama is what I go for less than the super-flashy heroics and whatnot), and Venom just didn’t seem interested in making the plight of Eddie Brock feel like a human concern. This played out like a trashy B-movie from the 90s, and I guess that was enough for many people seeing how many ended up enjoying it.

      You should definitely check out High Flying Bird. I think you’ll be right at home in that one. It’s not the most scintillating drama ever, but I love the “behind closed doors” vibe you get from it. It’s a cool little thing

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah High Flying Bird is near the top of my watch list at the moment. Just saw that Danish (I think) movie The Guilty, good stuff but unsure on what to write about. Its so minimalist there isn’t really more than a couple of paragraphs to write, but a damned good watch. A lot of great films come from that neck of the woods

        I had to laugh at your first comment re- me and a superhero movie haha! Sadly I loathed Captain Marvel and Endgame – the latter especially seemed like it had veeery lazy writing. I guess it was good nostalgia for long time fans

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Duuuddde I’m going to be heavily relying on your Beer With Me! section. I’m here in OH, and we got a solid beer scene. I’m slowly but surely starting to get into the occasional craft beer so I’ll be looking for some potential new ones to try per your recommendation. Nice idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very cool man, I am looking forward to experimenting with this a little bit. Any beers in particular you favor (IPAs, lagers, porters)?

      I”m more of an IPA guy but I also go for the occasional porter when the mood hits me. Some of the things we have in our store now are just insane!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. John Wick 3 is the best film this month mate, no question. Infact it will likely be one of the Films of the Year, I suspect. I hate to describe the films as a ‘franchise’ but I’m afraid the John Wick series is going that way (the box office success of the third film makes it inevitable, with a fourth already greenlit), I just hope it doesn’t succumb to going all ‘Hollywood.’ The first was deliriously indie/underground and had an edge and I’d hate to see it… you know, the series become undermined by its own success and it go all blockbuster/mainstream? The John Wick films are a healthy alternative to all the superhero nonsense and I’d hate to see it just become another Hollywood box-set.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll disagree with the healthy alternative part. These movies are so fucking violent it’s insane. And quite honestly numbing at a point. John Wick 4 has a mighty hard task ahead of it not treading water (or in this case, copious amounts of blood). I like the John Wick movies but christ almighty are they overrated.

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