Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Director: David Yates

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Jude Law, Johnny Depp

Screenplay: J.K. Rowling

134 mins. Rated PG-13 for some sequences of fantasy action.

 

Let’s talk everyone’s favorite Wizarding World Film, The Crimes of Grindelwald…wait, people don’t like this one? Well, we’re still going to talk about it.

It’s 1927, and the evil and radical wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sherlock Gnomes) has escaped custody while being transferred to Europe to be tried for his many villainous crimes. Some time after, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, Les Miserables, The Aeronauts), unable to get past his international travel ban, is tasked by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Sherlock Gnomes: A Game of Shadows) to find Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Justice League), who is shockingly still alive, and save him from the grips of Grindelwald. Lots of other stuff happens too.

This movie’s biggest problem is that is has no real discernible plot by the end of it. Yes, it all comes down to the search for Credence, but there’s too much other stuff happening in this film to keep focus on the main plot. It just gets lost in all that. I’ve seen the film several times and even I have trouble relaying the plot to people who ask about it. There are all these elements in the film that seemingly have no impact on the central plot…yet. Granted, this is a film that may be a lot better when seen in context of the entire series once it’s finished, but it shouldn’t have to be. Each of the Harry Potter films and even the first Fantastic Beasts have been able to stand on their own in some capacity, so even though a lot of individual elements of the movie work, it doesn’t fit together all that well.

The Crimes of Grindelwald has some truly great elements, though. For example, the returning cast is incredible. I love Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, and he’s great here. I wish we had more time with the main four together again because Katherine Waterston is great here, as is both Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol as Jacob and Queenie.

I also was so surprised by Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. I was initially hesitant to see Depp enter the Wizarding World, but I think what we get from him as a villain here is interesting and exciting, but again, I just wanted more. His interactions with his followers and enemies, and specifically in the films finale, are so powerful.

There are some cool creature designs and magical elements to the film, but as with everything else in this movie, there just aren’t enough of these elements in a bloated film. Too much stuff jammed into not enough movie.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a mess of a movie, but there are still things I really liked in the movie. The ideas are there, but J.K. Rowling was not capably able to make a film that works on its own as well as part of a larger story. So many pieces of this movie could have worked in a stronger shell of a film. The extended cut fixes some of the problems, but not enough to completely save the movie. They need to fix the franchise with a simpler follow-up with the next film, and they need to focus on the few things that worked here.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of David Yates’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, click here.

For my review of Chris Columbus’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, click here.

For my review of Chris Columbus’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, click here.

 

[#2020oscardeathrace] In the Absence (2018)

Director: Seung-jun Yi

28 mins. Not Rated.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Documentary Short Subject [PENDING]

 

In the Absence is a short film chronicling the disaster of the South Korean ferry, Sewol, which, in 2014, sank nearby Jeju Island. Presented through real footage, texts from passengers aboard, real phone calls and phone call transcripts, and interviews with people involved, In the Absence is a haunting look at this true disaster and loss of life that very easily could have been lessened.

This is a haunting short film, and I struggled to get through it without chucking something at my television screen. Seeing the disaster play out across the initial days and following months while government officials continually made poor choices that worsened the situation is absolutely sickening. This is a hard-hitting piece of documentary film-making that says so much in such a small run-time.

In the Absence is a truly effective little short that hit me very hard. I learned a lot about a situation I knew very little about, and the time I spent was frustratingly powerful. I cannot recommend this one enough. Seek it out and be changed.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 18 – The Perfection (2018)

Director: Richard Shepard

Cast: Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber, Alaina Huffman

Screenplay: Eric C. Charmelo, Richard Shepard, Nicole Snyder

90 mins. Rated TV-MA.

 

I had virtually no knowledge of the plot of The Perfection before viewing it. It was a benefit, so I’m going to be very surface-level in my description.

The Perfection revolves around famed cellist Charlotte (Allison Williams, Get Out, TV’s Girls), who has taken some time away from her talent to care for her dying mother, as she goes to Shanghai to see the charismatic and gifted music teacher Anton (Steven Weber, The Shining, TV’s 13 Reasons Why). There, she meets Lizzie (Logan Browning, Bratz, TV’s Dear White People) and the two end up having sex in Lizzie’s hotel room. The next day, Charlotte joins Lizzie on a vacation through China but as they begin their journey, it seems that things are not as they appear, and Charlotte and Lizzie find everything they know falling off the rails in a series of escalating horrors. I’ll leave it at that.

This movie is bonkers in all the right ways. My best advice is to not try to pick it apart and guess where it’s going because I don’t think you’ll be able to. It’s best just to take the mental mind fuck and roll with it. Director Richard Shepard (The Matador, Don Hemingway) crafts a tightly-packed and constantly evolving horror/thriller that kept me guessing the whole time. This film, like any good film or onion, has a lot of layers, and peeling them away was a great movie experience.

Allison Williams and Logan Browning are both great in the movie. Williams is more the lead than Browning but each is given plenty of opportunity to shine. Their performances as each layer is peeled away in the narrative was exhilarating to watch, and their chemistry was sizzling. Both actresses are steamy as hell whenever they appear onscreen together, my TV practically fogged up.

Not all the surprises worked as well as I’d have liked, but they were definitely unexpected and made me want to watch the film again, and though it doesn’t have the same level of interest on the second viewing, it’s still a damn fine mystery for the viewers.

The Perfection is an arty horror/thriller with plenty of surprises in store as long as you’re paying close enough attention. I really liked it on first viewing but it isn’t, for me, as strong once you know the whole mystery. Led by two amazing actresses and anchored by another standout supporting role from the criminally underrated Steven Weber, The Perfection is damn fun and damn shocking. Not a perfect film (almost no film is, right), but good enough to warrant your attention.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 16 – The Field Guide to Evil (2018)

Director: Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnierzka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland, Yannis Veslemes

Cast: Birgit Minichmayr, Claude Duhamel, Jilon VanOver, Fatma Mohamed, Niharika Singh

Screenplay: Roberto Bolesto, Elif Domanic, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Peter Strickland, Yannis Veslemes, Silvia Wolkan

117 mins. Rated R for disturbing and violent content, bloody images, sexual material, graphic nudity, and language.

 

I’m seriously not doing this on purpose, but today we’re talking about yet another horror anthology film.

The Field Guide to Evil features eight stories from nine directors from different parts of the world. The Sinful Women of Hollfall is about monsters born of a strong guilt. Haunted by Al Karisi, the Childbirth Djinn tells the story of a demon that steals children and takes on the form of animals and old women. The Kindler and the Virgin is about a man who consumes human hearts to gain knowledge. Beware the Melonheads features violent cannibals reminiscent of The Hills Have Eyes. What Ever Happened to Panagas the Pagan? is a Christmas reversal about a demon taken captive. Palace of Horrors features a story of a man searching for curiosities to serve in a circus. A Nocturnal Breath is another spiritual possession tale. The Cobblers’ Lot is an adaptation of a classic story of two brothers competing for a woman’s love.

So let’s be clear here. These are all quite well made technically. I just didn’t like any of them. There’s not a single one that I think is great or even rewatchable. The best one, to me, is Palace of Horrors because it feels like it is heading somewhere magnificent before heading off the rails. My biggest qualm of each of these stories is relatively the same. Each story seemingly sets itself up well, they all look terrific, and then each one feels like it’s heading somewhere cool, and then they all fail to end on a high note. Each ending sours the entire story.

Unfortunately, The Field Guide to Evil is a complete flop, and I really wanted to love this one. I love the worldwide flavor that an anthology gives, but this one doesn’t do it for me. I really wanted it to be good. I really hoped it would be, but it doesn’t work.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

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 Biggest Little Farm (2018)

Director: John Chester

Cast: John Chester, Molly Chester

Screenplay: John Chester, Mark Monroe

91 mins. Rated PG for mild thematic elements.

 

The Biggest Little Farm is a documentary about John and Molly Chester, husband and wife who, along with their dog Todd, move onto 200 acres with an attempt to create a farm that is completely self-sufficient. The film is a moving tapestry on the collective complexity and balance of the nature all around us as John, Molly, and Todd try to overcome the numerous obstacles surrounding their endeavor.

If you have seen The Biggest Little Farm’s trailer, then you will know what the movie is like. The trailer sells it quite well. The documentary is a tough but informative viewpoint of a very difficult journey. I saw this family come to their breaking points in the search to be self-sufficient. I learned a lot about waste and the farm life and the difficulties of providing for oneself. It’s a powerful look at this lifestyle, seen on the grandest of scales.

It’s also the story of a family and their dog. Todd is integral to the film, and he is the emotional backbone driving the story. The way John and Molly view their pet as a child that they are unwilling to part with (the driving force of starting a farm is their neighbor’s complaints about barking) drives the central narrative forward with heart.

It’s also maybe a little too unremarkable from a filmmaking standpoint. The animation used to string the film together is rather dull, and the plot does get rather monotonous as problems stack up and solutions are troublingly tough to find. I guess that’s the point, but the film does feel about 20 minutes too long by the end of it.

The Biggest Little Farm is not the most impressive documentary ever made from a technical standpoint, but it also doesn’t really need to be as it tackles an important issue and an interesting story. I love when docs can pull me into a world I know nothing about and teach me without making me feel like I’m being taught. This was a sweet story that may be a little too long but is still quite worth it.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Gloria Bell (2018)

Director: Sebastían Lelio

Cast: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera, Caren Pistorius, Brad Garrett, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Rita Wilson, Sean Astin, Holland Taylor, Chris Mulkey

Screenplay: Alice Johnson Boher, Sebastían Lelio

102 mins. Rated R for sexuality, nudity, language and some drug use.

 

Gloria Bell isn’t exactly a movie for me, but I found the trailer quite intriguing. I adore Julianne Moore (The Hours, Bel Canto), but part of me will always assume a movie about aging will be terrible. After all, so many of them are, and it wouldn’t have shocked me if Gloria Bell had taken a similar track. Thank God that didn’t happen.

Gloria Bell (Moore) is an divorcee in LA who spends many a night out at the nightclubs for older ladies and gentlemen, clubs that play songs from a more youthful time in Gloria’s life. Gloria seems very unsure of herself when she meets another divorcee, Arnold (John Turturro, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski), and is quite taken with him. As the two form a budding and affectionate relationship, though, Gloria starts to learn some strange pieces of information about Arnold and she wonders if the two have as close a connection as she is hoping for.

The film is, at its core, an emotionally powerful character piece about a woman searching for love of herself again and love for life. As I watched her in the nightclub scenes early in the film, you can see she is feeling herself in the music but not really letting loose or freeing herself up to it. She knows she loves it, and she loves a great deal of life, but after becoming single again and losing her children to their own respective journeys, Gloria is merely asking an important question: is there a point in starting over now?

This emotionally arresting character arc is made by Julianne Moore’s award-worthy portrayal. For someone like me, who may not truly understand this part of her journey as I haven’t had to experience it, I was taken in by her subtle and nuanced performance. There are layers to the way Gloria uses her line of sight in the film. I kept following Moore’s eyes as she examined the world around her, and I was enthralled by it.

The film, directed by Sebastían Lelio (A Fantastic Woman, Disobedience), remade from an earlier film of his, is a little by-the-numbers, and without a strong central cast, it may not have worked as well, but Lelio is very collaborative with his performers, and that may stand as to why the movie works. He has a vision that is palatable across languages and cultures, and he understands character, and that’s what makes Gloria Bell such an interesting character.

Gloria Bell works because of a director who lets his performers perform and doesn’t offer a ton of flair and a central performance that should not be underestimated. While the story is less memorable that it should be, it’s the journey of its lead that carries the audience, supported by a truly incredible cast that help Moore shine. This is worth checking out if you missed it and need a little self-love.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

ReMastered: Who Shot the Sheriff? (2018)

Director: Kief Davidson

Cast: Bob Marley

57 mins. Not Rated.

 

ReMastered is a monthly music-themed docuseries on Netflix. The first of these documentaries, directed by Kief Davidson (The Ivory Game, Bending the Arc), examines the mysterious shooting of Bob Marley and the possible CIA connection.

For me, Who Shot the Sheriff? doesn’t really scratch the surface of this mystery. They make some interesting claims, but I didn’t feel like they got anywhere deeper than surface-level assumptions based around conspiracy theory without any real discoveries. That’s the real failure of the documentary. I was very interested in the portions of Bob Marley’s life from a purely biographical aspect, but the mystery of the shooting is essentially a non-story based on the doc.

The doc should have focused more on the power of Marley’s music and the effect he had on so many. It spends some time on this portion in the doc but not enough. The power and effect of his music and presence is where the documentary is at its absolute best.

Who Shot the Sheriff? is a so-so documentary. I don’t think the film really knows what it wants to do. It plays itself as a mystery, but it never really delves any deeper into it. This one isn’t worth it for anyone outside of Marley super-fans.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Early Review] Greta (2018)

Director: Neil Jordan

Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Chloe Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea

Screenplay: Ray Wright, Neil Jordan

98 mins. Rated R for some violence and disturbing images.

 

I was told by a pretty reputable colleague who had caught Greta at TIFF last year that I needed to see it when it hit theaters, and earlier this week, I was given that opportunity. I didn’t realize that the film was directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Byzantium) until the credits started to roll, which raised my expectations considerably, but I did not expect the seasoned director to turn in something quite like Greta.

When Frances McCullen (Chloe Grace Moretz, Let Me In, Suspiria) finds a purse left behind on the subway, she makes a point to do the right thing and drop it off with its owner, a woman named Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert, Elle, Eva). Upon meeting the older widow, Frances begins a friendship with her until she discovers that Greta has a number of secrets. She’s a very lonely woman and Frances isn’t able to cut ties with her very easily. As the cat-and-mouse game spirals out of control, Frances finds that Greta isn’t ready to let go.

Let me be clear: Greta is a little cheesy. There are elements of it that fall into cliché. After leaving the film, I began to think more about the nature of the characters and I found a couple of plot holes I couldn’t wrap my head around. But all that didn’t really matter to me. The film sets out to tell a creepy stalker thriller, and it succeeds.

Director Jordan propels himself out of these problems by keeping the runtime as tight as possible. There’s only a moment or two toward the end of the film where the pacing struggles, but there’s no time to think as he rockets the narrative forward.

He’s also placed confidence in his leads. Moretz and Huppert are on fire as they match wits onscreen. Huppert’s Greta turns from a sweet older woman into a mild annoyance before evolving into a menacing terror. Seriously, I had my hands shaking during some of the more intense and tightly plotted scenes. Jordan’s film oozes with tension in large part to Huppert’s performance.

Greta’s filled out nicely with solid performances from Maika Monroe (It Follows, Tau) as Frances’s friend Erica, a woman who is a bit more focused on fun than fear, Colm Feore (Chicago, TV’s The Umbrella Academy) as Frances’s father, who is attempting to rebuild a relationship with his daughter after the loss of his wife, and especially the terrific turn from Stephen Rea (V for Vendetta, Black ’47) as the private investigator who is hired to find out more. It’s amazing how much Rea can do with so little screentime.

Greta is pure cheese at times, but I didn’t mind it because I was so entranced and tense during my experience in the theater. The trailers give away a bit too much but overall, this is a very fun and creepy stalker thriller that kept my nerves tight the entire time. I highly recommend seeing this one in the theater this weekend.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, click here.

[#2019oscardeathrace] Kyle’s Oscar Predictions

Hello everyone and Happy Oscar Day! This one came up quickly but I’m so happy it is here. Today, I thought I would share my Oscar Predictions with you. It’s something I haven’t done in a while but I will try again tonight. Below I will put what I think should win and what I think will win for each award. Feel free to share your thoughts as well in the comments below! Let’s get started…

 

Best Visual Effects

What Should Win: First Man

What Will Win: Avengers: Infinity War

 

Best Film Editing

What Should Win: Vice

What Will Win: Vice

 

Best Costume Design

What Should Win: Black Panther

What Will Win: Black Panther

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

What Should Win: Vice

What Will Win: Vice

 

Best Cinematography

What Should Win: Roma

What Will Win: Roma

 

Best Production Design

What Should Win: First Man

What Will Win: The Favourite

Best Sound Editing

What Should Win: A Quiet Place

What Will Win: A Quiet Place

 

Best Sound Mixing

What Should Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

What Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

 

Best Original Score

What Should Win: If Beale Street Could Talk

What Will Win: If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Original Song

What Should Win: “Shallows” from A Star is Born

What Will Win: “Shallows” from A Star is Born

 

Best Animated Feature Film

What Should Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

What Will Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

Best Foreign Language Film

What Should Win: Cold War

What Will Win: Roma

Best Documentary Feature

What Should Win: Free Solo

What Will Win: Free Solo

 

Best Documentary Short

What Should Win: A Night at the Garden

What Will Win: Black Sheep

 

Best Live Action Short Film

What Should Win: Fauve

What Will Win: Marguerite

Best Animated Short Film

What Should Win: One Small Step

What Will Win: Bao

 

Best Original Screenplay

What Should Win: Vice

What Will Win: The Favourite

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

What Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

What Will Win: BlacKkKlansman

Best Supporting Actress

What Should Win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

What Will Win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

 

Best Supporting Actor

What Should Win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book

What Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book

 

Best Actress

What Should Win: Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

What Will Win: Glenn Close, The Wife

Best Actor

What Should Win: Christian Bale, Vice

What Will Win: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

 

Best Director

What Should Win: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

What Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

 

Best Picture

What Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

What Will Win: Green Book

 

So there you have it. My picks for the Oscars and my predictions for what will take home the statue. This year I find myself in agreement with my predictions more than most years, but I’m curious where your picks end up. What do you think will win tonight and what do you think should win tonight? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

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