800 Posts! Thank you!

Hey everyone,

for those of you that have been readers for awhile, you’ll know I like to celebrate the little moments, and I had one a few days ago when I published my review for Hobbs & Shaw. That review ended up being the 800th post for this site! It’s rather fitting because many of the Fast & Furious reviews I have written have been among the most popular reviews on the site!

I cannot thank you faithful and maybe first-time readers for tuning in, reading and contributing to the discussion. This has morphed from a hobby to a passion to a daily requirement for sanity, and it’s because of the kind words of so many of you that have helped with that.

All that being said, I’m going to leave a list of the most popular reviews and posts on the site since it started. Feel free to peruse and gander at your choosing.

 

  1. Turbo Charged Prelude (2003)
  2. Poltergeist (1982)
  3. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
  4. Frankenstein (1994)
  5. Leprechaun (1993)
  6. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  7. The Thing (1982)
  8. Zootopia (2016)
  9. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  10. The Fly (1986)

Here’s hoping Hobbs & Shaw ends up on this this. Three of the Fast & Furious films have ended up on the most-read list, including a short film prequel to the second film. It always strikes me at how many people have looked at the Leprechaun posts I have done. It seems year-round that that post gets views and I don’t understand it, to be perfectly honest.

So there you have it. Thanks again for reading, even if only once. I truly appreciate all of you readers and I only ask that you help like, comment, subscribe and share to keep independent content creators like myself going. All film is truly subjective, so if you’ve never interacted on the site, I urge you to do so. If you loved a movie I hated, let me know your opinion, and if you hated something I really love, I want to know why. That’s part of what makes this part of movie fandom so special. Thanks again!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

The Farewell (2019)

Director: Lulu Wang

Cast: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Zhao Shuzhen, Lu Hong, Jiang Yongbo

Screenplay: Lulu Wang

100 mins. Rated PG for thematic material, brief language and some smoking.

 

I’ve been looking forward to The Farewell for half a year, ever since hearing about it from someone who saw it at Sundance. I’m so happy to have been able to seek it out finally, and you need to do the same.

When Billi (Awkwafina, Crazy Rich Asians, Ocean’s Eight) discovers that her grandmother Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen) has terminal lung cancer, she immediately wants to fly back to China to be with her, but her father Haiyan (Tzi Ma, Arrival, Skyscraper) and mother Jian (Diana Lin, Australia Day, TV’s The Family Law) advise her not to. They tell Billi that Nai Nai does not know she is sick and the family does not plan on telling her. Instead, everyone is flying to China for a family wedding, which has been set up as a cover for everyone to get their goodbyes in, but Billi’s parents think she is too emotional and she will not be able to keep up the lie. Billi decides to fly to China anyway in an effort to spend some time with Nai Nai before she passes, but she struggles to come to terms with the lie and the way her family goes about keeping the secret.

The Farewell moves along a little loosely in order to focus on moments of the days leading up to the wedding rather than big plot points. It’s a deeply moving character piece from writer/director Lulu Wang (Posthumous, Touch), and it is indeed based on an actual lie from Wang’s experiences. It’s an incredibly interesting look at culture and familial bonds across generations and traditions. I found it to be a very melancholic and comedic look at these bonds, never sinking into depression but also not forcing comedy. The funny moments in the story come from the interesting multi-dimensional characters and their strained relationships.

Awkwafina gives a career-best performance as Billi. The way she juggles sadness and joy while dealing with her own internal struggle is so powerful. Her chemistry with Nai Nai is so beautifully created through Wang’s writing and executed by the actresses quite well.

I adore Tzi Ma, and he really shines here. I really enjoyed his connection to daughter Billi in that he knows the importance of this lie but also involuntarily struggles with keeping the façade of joy that the wedding should invite. He is amazing in the film and I hope he can get some awards recognition this year.

The rest of the supporting cast is exemplary here, especially Zhao Shuzhen and Jiang Yongbo (Nie Rongzhen, Caught in the Web). Everyone is so well-cast in the film and each of them gets their moment to shine in the movie.

The Farewell is definitely in my Top 10 of the year so far. I cannot wait to see it again and to show it to as many people as I can. This examination of family and culture is so beautifully constructed and so watchable. The movie just cruises by and brought me tears and laughter at several points, sometimes even at the same time. This is a huge recommendation.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019)

Director: Simon Curtis

Cast: Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Baker, Martin Donovan, Gary Cole, Kevin Costner

Screenplay: Mark Bomback

109 mins. Rated PG for thematic material.

 

I’m not really sure who came up with the dog-narrates-the-movie subgenre of film, but it’s a little weird, right?

The Art of Racing in the Rain, from director Simon Curtis (Goodbye Christopher Robin, Woman in Gold) is the story of a dog named Enzo (Kevin Costner, The Postman, The Highwaymen) and his owner Denny (Milo Ventimiglia, Creed II, TV’s Heroes). Denny is a GT race driver, but when he isn’t racing, he’s hanging out with Enzo, a racer at heart who loves him unconditionally. Enzo recounts his life, and all the ups and downs of his and Denny’s journey together.

I went into this one with pretty low expectations. This subgenre just doesn’t really do it for me, and I find that most of these films have the same general story outline. I was pleasantly surprised, though, with The Art of Racing in the Rain. It’s very imperfect, but I found that I was so invested in Denny’s story that the Enzo narration and inclusion really only helped it along that path, and I was enthralled to see where it would end up.

It’s also the type of movie that I needed to see when I went to it. I hadn’t planned for Denny’s story to inspire me in the way it did. It’s not a fun movie at all. In fact, Denny’s story is full of tough moments, and it is in that way that the relationship between human and pet is really well-examined. I felt included, too, as a pet owner, even though my pet of choice is a cat. Unlike many of these films, where the dog is seen as heroic and there’s always an angry antagonistic cat, I felt like The Art of Racing in the Rain is about the bond between humans and animals and not so specific a pet as just saying it’s about dogs. It’s a movie about bonds.

The screenplay, by Mark Bomback (Total Recall, War for the Planet of the Apes) is nicely put together, with a few small problems littered throughout it. There’s some dialogue in the film from narrator Enzo that comes off as strange and unusual without much elaboration. Being someone who has not read the source material, I’m sure it was explained and made more sense in the book, but in the film it just didn’t translate all that well. There’s also this inclusion of the zebra scenes, which I found didn’t translate well either. I know, that already sounds silly, but let me explain. There are several scenes in the finished film that center around Enzo’s fear of a stuffed zebra toy at the house. He goes so far as to call it a demon, and I think that it kind of works with one exception, a dream sequence in which the zebra toy comes to life, something that looks absolutely silly in a section of the movie that it supposed to be very silly.

I’ve been a fan of Milo Ventimiglia’s since Heroes and I really liked him in the film, and I think the chemistry between his character and Eve (Amanda Seyfried, Les Misérables, Gringo) was particularly strong. In fact, the principle cast of the film does some admirable work even throughout some of the more melodramatic story beats, and overall, I don’t think any of them failed to convey the story.

Although, I will say the best performance in the film comes from Kevin Costner narrating Enzo’s story. This should have been something that I kept thinking about in my head. “Kevin Costner is voicing a dog…Kevin Costner is voicing a dog.” I was never once taken out of the film due to that, and I think it’s a tougher sell than anything else in this film, especially when comparing the way Enzo sees Denny as a father figure and yet Kevin Costner is much older than Milo Ventimiglia. It all worked for me quite well.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is imperfect, but even throughout all that, it’s probably the best film is this trend of dog-narration movies. I liked all the actors and voice work and the script accomplishes a lot of things that I didn’t expect to work. There’s some bumps along the way but overall this was a more impressive film than I expected. Now, I don’t think everyone will share in my thoughts about the film. It just happened to be the perfect film for what I needed on the day I saw it. The theater staff should be handing out free Kleenex for this one.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Early Review] Good Boys (2019)

Director: Gene Stupnitsky

Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Lil Rey Howery, Will Forte, Midori Francis

Screenplay: Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky

89 mins. Rated R for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout – all involving tweens.

 

Can we just congratulate Good Boys for being the first film to receive an R rating with the phrase “all involving tweens.” What a time to be alive.

Good Boys is the story of three tween friends: Max (Jacob Tremblay, Room, The Predator), Lucas (Keith L. Williams, Sadie, TV’s The Last Man on Earth), and Thor (Brady Noon, TV’s Boardwalk Empire). When Max is invited to a kissing party at a popular kid’s home, he needs to learn how to properly kiss. With the help of Lucas and Thor, Max sets off on a wild adventure that involves a hostage drone, a potential drug run, and a lot of profanity as the group discover that adolescence is a lot tougher than they expected.

You could call Good Boys a gimmick movie. In a lot of ways, that’s exactly how it’s being marketed, and it isn’t an incorrect assumption. The entire move hinges its comedy on the idea that three kids are getting involved in a lot of adult situations and swearing a lot. That’s the movie, but for what it is, it works rather well. I found a lot of comedy in the things that they don’t understand about adults than by the things they do. It’s a hard-R comedy that never really gets mean-spirited but knows what it is trying to accomplish, and it’s probably the most I’ve laughed at a movie in a long time.

Jacob Tremblay shines in just about everything he’s in. He’s even solid when the movie isn’t, but thankfully, Good Boys and the screenplay from Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg give him a lot to work with. I’ve not seem much from Williams or Noon, but they each stand on their own in the film fine enough. What’s great about the writing and performances is how I could genuinely believe that these three kids are friends and yet each of them is their own person with drastically different views on their growing-up. It’s the believability of their acting combined with the basic human fact that I was just as foul-mouthed as a kid that bridges that realness to how a lot of kids actually are. It feels like Stand by Me, It, and Dreamcatcher (all from Stephen King) viewpoints of youth.

Good Boys is very funny, and it’s only real flaw comes when the narrative hits a brick wall about 2/3 of the way through. It recovers quite nicely but there is a noticeable wearing on the shtick as the film gets closer to the end. There’s no chance this thing is winning awards but it knows what it’s trying to be and is quite successful in that endeavor. It’s problem with pacing near the end isn’t a major one and the comedy laced throughout works so well that it didn’t ruin the experience for me. This is, without doubt, the funniest movie of the year so far.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Fast & Furious presents Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Director: David Leitch

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren

Screenplay: Chris Morgan, Drew Pearce

137 mins. Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence, suggestive material and some strong language.

 

Hobbs & Shaw is a really dumb movie. It’s very fun, but wow, it’s a dumb movie. What did you expect?

It’s been two years since The Fate of the Furious, and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, San Andreas) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham, Crank, Spy) have both been relatively busy kicking ass in the name of justice…more or less. Meanwhile, a group of MI6 agents are attacked while trying to retrieve a virus called Snowflake. Only one of them, Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, TV’s The Crown) escapes after injecting herself with the virus. Now framed as a fugitive, Hattie is on the run from Brixton Lore (Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation, TV’s Luther), and she winds up getting help from Hobbs & Shaw. Now, if only they can stop arguing long enough to save Hattie from Brixton and the terrorists he works for.

I cannot stress enough how stupid some parts of this movie get, but at the same time, I come to the Fast & Furious films to see insane action set-pieces and thrilling fight scenes. This whole franchise has branded itself as a B-Movie franchise with an A-Movie budget, and the same holds up in this spin-off. The tone feels slightly different from the other films in this universe, which I think is a smart move to set it aside while also not betraying the character arcs from previous films. You don’t have to have seen any of the previous films to get this one.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham have great chemistry together, even if the movie overdoes their banter several times over. There’s still a sense of family to this installment, and both characters get some more background with it, though the family stuff in this installment never feels dramatic like it does in the other franchise. It’s especially nice to see Shaw’s background delved further into, and I think it’s silly that people are calling out the age-issue with him and Vanessa Kirby, as in the film they are about two years apart but the performers are closer to two decades apart. Really? That’s what your problem is with believability? For me, I was hoping to get some more info on his relationship with brother Owen, who feels very absent from this film after his appearances in the franchise, so not seeing Luke Evans was kind of a bummer for me.

My biggest problem apart from the bloated run time is the villain Brixton. I love Idris Elba and I think he gave his all in the film, but I don’t think the character of Brixton is interesting at all, and I didn’t see any solid character development to him. He’s kind of just a villain because he’s a villain. I would love to have seen more of his arc. I also didn’t like the cybernetic implants angle. I just think it pushes the insanity envelope further than I would have liked. I know, I know, but while the silliness has been in this franchise for some time, I feel like Brixton and his cybernetic implants veers the franchise into supernatural territory more than I would like.

Hobbs & Shaw is a pretty solid ninth entry in this franchise, though for me it’s not as strong as the last four films in the series. I enjoyed myself, but there is some sputtering in the setup to this spinoff series. I liked the main characters chemistry and the action is really solid, but there are problems with the pacing and the villain. It’s fun to see some really interesting small roles/cameos that I didn’t expect in the film, and I’m looking forward to how they are utilized in a future installment. Overall, Hobbs & Shaw is mindless stupidity and that’s what I was hoping for. This is popcorn action at its most ludicrous.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Rob Cohen’s The Fast and the Furious, click here.

For my review of Philip G. Atwell’s Turbo Charged Prelude, click here.

For my review of John Singleton’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, click here.

For my review of Vin Diesel’s Los Bandoleros, click here.

For my review of Justin Lin’s Fast & Furious, click here.

For my review of James Wan’s Furious 7, click here.

For my review of F. Gary Gray’s The Fate of the Furious, click here.

For my review of David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde, click here.

For my review of David Leitch’s Deadpool 2, click here.

Universal Cancels The Hunt

So this news has been pretty predominant in the filmscape over the last couple of days, so I thought we would discuss it here today. Universal Pictures cancelled the marketing strategy for their new Blumhouse film The Hunt in light of the mass shootings which have taken place in the US over the past week. Then, they announced that they were cancelling their release for the film. A spokesperson for Universal stated that “now is not the right time to release this film.”

Some have seen this film as being targeted by President Trump in the past few days when he stated that movies were “very dangerous for our country.” He didn’t elaborate on which films in particular, so some can assume that he was speaking about The Hunt. Personally, I don’t think he pays any real attention to the current release slate, but this was seen as maybe an inciting incident into the cancellation.

So here’s the thing. I don’t want to get overly political on this site. I have my thoughts that plenty can read on my twitter feed and I don’t want to alienate any of my readers and their viewpoints, but I will say this: Trump should worry more about what comes out of his own mouth than what movies come out of Hollywood.

I respect the difficult choice placed on Universal and Blumhouse in cancelling the release, but I think a smarter announcement would be to shift the release date for the film instead of outright cancellation. Now, it is fair to say that there’s no specific reason to believe that we will never see this movie, but I think that by not giving a new release date shows that this was a snap decision that carries poor connotations for the studio. Making a snap decision is a bad idea because it shows no artistic integrity by the studio. There’s been a lot of discussion about the cause of gun violence, with the White House blaming movies and video games for it instead of poor gun laws (and I’m not talking about taking your guns away). By cancelling this film’s release without announcing a new date, it makes it look like Universal agrees with the notion that films cause violence. Now, I don’t think that’s true, but it comes down to how it looks, and it doesn’t look good for the studio.

 

So what do you think? Should The Hunt have been cancelled the way it was? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

PS. Don’t forget to be respectful when discussing these kinds of things. Remember that only a Sith deals in absolutes and it is important to have thoughtful discussions in our society instead of name-calling and rudeness. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

[Box Office Report] Hobbs & Shaw Kick Everyone’s Asses Again, Because They’re Hobbs & Shaw

Okay, so the weekend wasn’t all Hobbs & Shaw, but I’m surprised at the staying power of that film.

For the domestic box office, the Fast & Furious spinoff led the pack with $25.4 million, offering close to a 50% dropoff, which will continue to serve it well. Worldwide, the film has taken in a total of $332 million in its two weekends of release, with several markets still yet to open.

There were quite a few new releases this past weekend, with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark coming in second at the domestic box office with $20.8 million, coming in above projects even while scoring a C Cinemascore. I think this was a film where the marketing didn’t do a great enough job to accurately sell the film, and it’s a tough sell in general as it doesn’t really have a specific audience. It’s pretty dark for a kids scary movie but it doesn’t really aim for adults either, but scary movies, especially leading into September and October, are always winners.

The Lion King is holding on strong in third place with $20 million. I knew this was would have some staying power and audiences are enjoying it even with its mixed critical reception. The Disney remake is now the second-highest grossing film of the year at the worldwide box office, coming in behind the behemoth Avengers: Endgame.

In fourth place is Dora and the Lost City of Gold, another new release, with $17 million. I was mixed on the film but overall felt like it would do pretty well, and it landed an A Cinemascore, so audiences are definitely taking to it. I’m expecting this was to drop off quicker than expected, though.

Fifth place belongs to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with $11.6 million. The film has garnered positive reviews and lots of Oscar buzz, but I wish it were performing better. It’s just a film that isn’t really for everybody but I was hoping the film would explode more than it has. It’s doing alright at the box office, but I know the cost was somewhere around $90 million and it currently has collectively hit around $100 million so I would expect the film to end up losing some money for the studio.

The other new releases at the box office this weekend included The Art of Racing in the Rain ($8.1 million), The Kitchen ($5.5 million), Bring the Soul: The Movie ($2.29 million), and Brian Banks ($2.1 million).

What did you see this weekend? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Coming 2 America Adds John Amos

John Amos is now Coming 2 America again! The actor is returning to the role of Cleo McDowell in the upcoming Eddie Murphy/Arsenio Hall sequel directed by Craig Brewer.

The original film saw Murphy’s Prince Akeem go to Queens in order to find a suitable wife for him to bring home to Zamunda to rule at his side. Amos played the father of Akeem’s love interested in the film. The sequel will see Akeem return to America when he discovers a son he never knew about.

I can only hope that this news means we will see McDowell’s again, the fictional McDonald’s wannabe headed up by Amos’s Cleo McDowell. I’ve spoken of my love for the original Coming to America and it does indeed make me nervous to see this follow-up, especially with Murphy’s many recent flops. I just want this one to be really good. Is that so wrong? I find the original film to be Eddie Murphy’s best film in his career. News of John Amos returning is always a welcome sight, though.

It also doesn’t mean that the sequel will be great. Amos has been seen TV’s The Ranch and Bad Asses 3: Bad Asses on the Bayou, so I will say that he isn’t particularly picky on the screenplay or film projects he attaches to.

Coming 2 America hits theaters December 18, 2020.

So what do you think? Is this a good sign for the upcoming sequel? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Schitt’s Creek Star Cast in Horror Film Home

Schitt’s Creek is wrapping up soon, and one of the stars of the comedy series, Emily Hampshire, will be heading Home. Variety is reporting that Hampshire signed on for the lead role in the psychological horror film which is set to begin production this week.

The film is being directed by Adam O’Brien from a script by Philip Kalin-Hajdu. The story concerns a recently separated woman who is suffering from grief after the death of her newborn but comes to believe that the child is still alive.

The story here could be something rather interesting if done right. It’s a tough tightrope to walk with a film that hits so many personal tragedies, but having seen some of Schitt’s Creek, I was impressed with the layered performance of Emily Hampshire as Stevie, the motel clerk and owner. I think she has the capabilities to really turn this role into something special.

Emily Hampshire’s recently appeared in Mother! and TV’s 12 Monkeys. As of now, Home does not have a release date.

So what do you think? Is Emily Hampshire right at home in Home? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

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