From a Critic’s Notebook: Underwater

K-Stew and Vincent Cassel go Underwater.

Take a peek inside the mind of our film critic, as he watches a film in real time. 

  • This is an expensive movie to open in January.
  • Exposition dump via newspaper clippings. Not the most elegant approach.
  • Love when a movie starts mid-action. The whole underwater structure is collapsing around Kristen Stewart.
  • There’s something very watchable about K-Stew. She’s at her best when you can see her face (looking at you, JT LeRoy. Bad, bad movie.)
  • K-Stew is Norah, a mechanical engineer. I’m sure that will come handy later in the movie…
  • Norah leaves characters behind to save herself and a colleague. I recognize this hero’s journey. I hope I’m wrong.
  • These are not characters, these are types.
  • J.T. Miller… Why isn’t he in movies anymore?
  • Oh, right. Yeah, he’s not coming back.
  • The setting is an oil drilling operation at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The water looks viscous, polluted. Good job, production design department.
  • Vincent Cassel as the captain. Always a smart move to surround yourself with competent actors. Cassel has never been bad.
  • I feel guilty every time I laugh at a J.T. Miller joke.
  • Surprisingly, Cassel is not the villain. There may not be any villains, actually.
  • I spoke too soon.
  • The creatures are humanoid-looking but are not affected by the pressure. Is this feasible? [SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF: ON]
  • The survivors need to go from point A to point B to point C. It’s like 1917 made by Roger Corman.
  • These deaths by water pressure are disturbing.
  • [JUMPS] [SCREAMS] You got lucky, movie.
  • I suspect T.J. Miller ad-libbed all his dialogue and made it better.
  • Cloverfield.
  • Can’t believe I’m having fun.
  • Engineer powers, activate!
  • The cinematography of Underwater is quite solid. Despite the shaky camera, I always know where the characters are.
  • The trailers made this movie no favors.
  • John Gallagher Jr. is the equivalent of the damsel in distress from years ago (a couple). He is like a budget Ben Affleck.
  • Has anybody else noted all monsters are starting to look like [REDACTED]. H.P. [REDACTED] must be smiling from below.
  • This is a little too Sigourney Weaver at the end of Alien. Not the action, the getup.
  • Underwater is a very feminist film. Like, actually feminist.

3/5 planets. Underwater opens Friday, January 10th, everywhere.

From a Critic’s Notebook: Spies in Disguise

Will Smith as a pigeon and Tom Holland as a science geek in Spies in Disguise.

Take a peek inside the mind of our film critic, as he watches a film in real time. 

  • A Blue Sky production. Surprised they’re sticking around and sharing the same playground as Pixar and Disney Animation.
  • I miss Scrat. As for the rest of Ice Age, I hope they went extinct…
  • Will Smith is Lance, a lone wolf/super spy taking on an army of henchmen. So, a standard Will Smith movie.
  • STOP THE PRESSES!!! Ben Mendelsohn is the bad guy.
  • Mendelsohn is such a compelling presence. It’s unfortunate he’s the pigeonholed (see what I did there) as a villain. Totally writing that.
  • The short this movie is based on, Pigeon: Impossible, is a hoot. So far, the feature version is very standard.
  • In this world, everybody wears skinny jeans…
  • Tom Holland is Walter, the would-be sidekick Lance doesn’t want. Good to know he has a future as a voice actor (he’s also the lead in Pixar’s Onward).
  • Is… this… movie… anti-gun? Bold choice!
  • The Red States won’t like that…
  • I could watch a whole movie about Will Smith freaking out over becoming a pigeon (“I can SEE MY BUTT!!!”)
  • I get it: Mom died in the line of duty, Walter wants to protect everyone with silly inventions. There’s an acronym for that.
  • What is DJ Khaled famous for?
  • The movie reminds us for the twentieth time Lance is not a team player. Street pigeons be like…
  • Animated Venice looks nice. No floods. Oh, wait…
  • Spies in Disguise has a deconstructive vibe: Violence begets more violence. I dig…
  • Writers, you’re killing me, you have a chance to humanize poor Ben Mendelsohn and you pass?!
  • I’ll take Spies in Disguise over any glorification of firearms, especially in movies for children.

Spies in Disguise opens Christmas Day, everywhere.

REVIEW: Why Jojo Rabbit Matters

Coming out of a screening of Jojo Rabbit last week (my second), I asked my wife her thoughts on the film. She said she liked it, but didn’t think the message was all that ground-breaking. Fair enough, the notion of “hate” as learned behavior children acquire early on and has long-lasting effects has been dealt with on screen before.

Then I saw a clip on Facebook.

In this video essay, a very angry girl in her early teens argues against the separation of church and state. She believes that if Christianity is kept out of school and government, so it should “liberal ideas” like abortion or transgender rights. Her argument holds no water, but that’s not the point. The rigidness of her reasoning reveals she has never been exposed to a different set of beliefs. The teen is so convinced, she is happy to put it on tape for the world to see. Forever and ever.

Enter Jojo Rabbit. Continue reading “REVIEW: Why Jojo Rabbit Matters”

31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: Psycho

Marion Crane (Vivian Leigh) is in love with Sam Loomis (John Gavin) but Sam won’t marry Marion because of his debts. Marion works in Phoenix Arizona for a real estate company. Just before the weekend a client puts a $40,000 deposit on a property. Marion is tasked with depositing the money at the bank. She decides to steal the money.

Marion leaves town and starts to drive to Fairvale, California where Sam lives. Along the way she arouses the suspicion of a police officer who catches her sleeping in her car. She trades her car in for another and continues on her journey. It’s dark and rainy and she decides to stop at the Bates Motel.
Continue reading “31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: Psycho”

31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: The Shining

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) accepts a job to be caretaker at the Overlook Hotel which is isolated in the mountains and cut off on the main roads for the winter months. Jack is recovering alcoholic and struggling writer. He hopes the peace and quiet will help him write. The previous caretaker snapped and murdered his family. The hotel management assume it was from the isolation.

Jack brings his family along to stay at the hotel. Jack’s wife Wendy (Shelly Duvall) and their young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) are happy to come along although Danny has a psychic power/imaginary friend that he calls Tony who warns him that bad things are going to happen.
Continue reading “31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: The Shining”

31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: The Autopsy Of Jane Doe

Police find a bizarre crime scene with several people dead and the body of an unknown woman at the scene. One of the cops thinks that the victims were trying to get out of the house.

Tommy and Austin Tilden (Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch) are father and son morticians. The two work out of the old family house. Austin has a date with his girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond). The sheriff brings in the body of the woman and asks that they try and identify cause of death before the morning. Austin postpones his date to help his dad.
Continue reading “31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: The Autopsy Of Jane Doe”

31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: The Babadook

If it’s in a word. Or it’s in a look. You can’t get rid of … The Babadook

Amelia Vanek (Essie Davis) has been raising her son Sam (Noah Wiseman) by herself after her husband was killed in a car accident before their son was born. Sam has been acting out lately and he has been making weapons to fight a monster.

Sam takes one of his weapons to school and Amelia is called in. The teachers believe that Sam has serious mental problems. Later Sam gets Amelia to read him a bedtime popup book called Mr. Babadook. The book is terrifying and Amelia wonders where Sam got it. Sam tells her on the bookshelf.
Continue reading “31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: The Babadook”

31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: Us

While on vacation in 1986 in Santa Cruz, young Adelaide Thomas wanders away from her father and into a funhouse. Inside the funhouse is a hall of mirrors where Adelaide is attacked by her doppelganger. When her family finds her Adelaide is unable to speak.

Present day Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) is now happily married to Gabe Wilson (Winston Duke) and they have two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). The family has decided to have a vacation in Santa Cruz in the old family homestead. Adelaide is anxious about going back.
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31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), her paraplegic brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) and their friends, Jerry (Allen Danziger), Kirk (William Vail) and Pam (Teri McMinn) are out traveling across Texas when they decide to visit the old family homestead. They pass by a cemetery where it has been discovered that several graves have been desecrated.

They pick up a hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) who creeps them out and cuts Franklin before running off. They stop at a gas station but the owner (Jim Siedow) informs them that he’s out of gas. They head to the homestead hoping to get gasoline on the way back. Once they reach the homestead they look around. Kirk and Pam find a neighouring house and decide to see if anyone is home and willing to sell them gas.
Continue reading “31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”

31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: Poltergeist

One of the great things about buying a brand new house rather than an older home is that there is less chance for ghosts to be in your home. Nobody has had a chance to die or be murdered and haunt the place.

Steven and Diane Freeling (Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams) live in lovely new neighbourhood in Orange County, California with their children Dana, Robbie, and Carol Anne (Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins and Heather O’Rourke).

Steven is a real estate agent who works for the company that has built the homes in this community. Everything is fine. One night during a storm something seems to have come through the static on the TV. Then strange things begin to happen.
Continue reading “31 Days Of Family Horror Fun: Poltergeist”