Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Director: Marielle Heller

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells

Screenplay: Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty

106 mins. Rated R for language including some sexual references, and brief drug use.

 

Ben Falcone, the husband of Melissa McCarthy (The Heat, Life of the Party), does not direct great films with his wife. His efforts have included Tammy and The Boss. That being said, he’s responsible for getting McCarthy locked for the film we are talking about today. For that, I’ll let him take a win.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the true story of Lee Israel (McCarthy), a one-time writer who has fallen on hard times. She can’t afford to pay rent, she can’t afford to pay her cat’s medical bills, she can barely afford to drink, but when Lee strikes up a friendship with Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant, Gosford Park, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) and turns to embellishing literary letters, things start improving for Lee. Soon, though, she finds her lies building up as she gets closer and closer to being caught.

Director Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) seems to excel with character as she pulls such an interesting friendship out of Lee and Jack, aided of course by two career-best performances from McCarthy and Grant. Seriously, as great as the set design, pacing, and writing are, none of it matches the level of acting displayed by these two actors.

I really enjoyed how swiftly the film moves. I didn’t feel for a second like looking at my phone. I just sat along for the ride and enjoyed it as it went. Part of that goes to the tight edit of the finished film, and part of it goes to the great writing from Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty.

I think where Heller’s direction and the screenplay come together is their portrayal of Israel. She is not seen as a deviant or a criminal. She is seen as a human being struggling to keep up with a world seemingly hell-bent on keeping her down. She is struggling in a way I can connect with and empathize with. It’s a tricky task but one that Heller and McCarthy knock out of the park.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an incredible character study that connected me to people I understand and want to succeed, even when they commit crimes and perform shady acts to get there. The film is tied to two central characters and their friendship, and it’s there where it flourishes.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

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Director: Paul Feig

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Cecily Strong, Andy Garcia, Charles Dance, Michael K. Williams, Matt Walsh, Chris Hemsworth

Screenplay: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig

116 mins. Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor.

 

Yes, it’s that Ghostbusters film review.

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Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy, TV’s Gilmore Girls, The Boss) and Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig, The Martian, How to Train Your Dragon 2) were once partners, true believers, and friends, but that was a long time ago. The two have grown apart due to Erin’s attempts at unbelieving in the paranormal that brought the two together in the first place, but a rogue copy of the paranormal research book that Abby and Erin wrote years earlier surfaces and causes them to reunite alongside Abby’s new colleague Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon, TV’s Saturday Night Live, Finding Dory) and…uh, the one who drives the car, Patty (Leslie Jones, Trainwreck, Top Five). Together, the Ghostbusters must use their tools and expertise to stop a maniac trying to create an otherworldly invasion.

After watching the “Most Disliked” Trailer Ever on Youtube (yeah, it holds that distinction) and seeing one of the worst marketing campaigns in film history, I was extremely nervous. After all, I’ve been a fan of this franchise since I’ve known fear (that Vigo the Carpathian painting still unnerves me) and I’ve been frustratingly watching as hopes of a third film slowly dwindled into nothingness all because of Bill Murray. Yeah, I put all the blame on him. So, I was very judgmental of this reboot from the very beginning. I paid no attention to the gender-swapping in the movie because it didn’t really bother me. I just didn’t really care. What I did care about was a fun and frightful adventure that stayed true to the original but forged its own path.

For the most part, I actually really enjoyed Ghostbusters: Answer the Call. There were so many great elements and the fact that it wasn’t a straight remake really won me over. The Paul Feig (Spy, The Heat) comedy  was really funny and even though it missed the frights, it didn’t completely take me out of the experience.

There was a glaring issue that, for some, might not be a big deal. For me, it really was. This glaring issue was the decision to ignore the previous two installments. Instead of a brave decision, it felt like a slap in the face, especially with so many of the original performers returning for stupid cameos. Not a single cameo in this film made me happy except for the return of Ernie Hudson. Why Feig and fellow screenwriter Katie Dippold didn’t make this a passing of the torch I’ll never know. All it would have taken was one scene of Dan Aykroyd handing the equipment over to his neice or something. It wouldn’t even have had to been a good passing of the torch to be better than the complete retconning of the franchise. A true miss that is really the one major problem I had in an otherwise mostly enjoyable film experience.

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Perhaps one day we will get the extended cut we deserve with the original 4-hour cut that Paul Feig originally ended up with. For now, we will have to settle with a pretty fun film that pays homage and walks its own path. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the laugh-out-loud work from Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Star Trek) as Kevin the receptionist. Now, I don’t know if we are getting Ghostbusters: Answer the Call 2 down the road (the box office numbers aren’t exactly screaming for it) but I can only hope to see more adventures from this crew.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

So have you seen Ghostbusters: Answer the Call yet? What did you think? And what is your preferred horror/comedy of choice? Let me know!

 

 

For my review of Paul Feig’s The Heat, click here.

New Ghostbusters Trailer Isn’t Sure What It Is!

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Hey everyone,

So the first official trailer for the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot landed, and it’s pretty disappointing.

The trailer starts out very promising, reminding us that 30 years ago, this franchise began. There is a beautiful hint of the original film’s theme. Then, it goes on to show that this film is likely to be a note-for-note less interesting retread of the original film. SO help me if they do damage to Zuul or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man!

Seriously, they director Paul Feig (The Heat) didn’t see a problem making all these characters sound the exact same and even shoehorning the black character as the one who drives them all around.

Then, there’s the issue of the CGI. I don’t mind a CGI-fest if it suits the film. So far, I’m not convinced that this iteration will embrace the horror elements that made the first two films so popular.

But the most irksome part of this trailer…I’m not sure if this film knows how to market itself at all. Is this a sequel or a remake? The beginning says one thing; the ending another. I would prefer a reboot that continues the story. It makes the film feel less lazy, and you have the ability to include cameos and hints without forcing the new story on anyone.

The new Ghostbusters doesn’t have a lot to promise if the trailer is any indication. I’m sorry to say it. In fact, it hurts to say it. I’ve been saying for years that this franchise could have a lot of steam to it, and now I’m not so sure.

So what do you think? Have you seen the Ghostbusters trailer and what did you think? Which 1980s franchise would you like to see rebooted for the new generation? Check out the trailer below, and let me know!

Ghostbusters stars Kristen Wiig and Chris Hemsworth and slimes onto screens July 15th.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[#2016oscardeathrace] The Hateful Eight (2015)

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Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern

Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino

167 mins. Rated R for bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Jason Leigh) [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Cinematography [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score [Pending]

 

What happens when eight morally ambiguous humans find themselves snowed in for the weekend? You get The Hateful Eight, the newest film from writer/director Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained). We are first introduced to Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Chi-Raq), a famed bounty hunter known for his past transgressions in the civil war. He is out amongst the snow when he is met by John Ruth (Kurt Russell, The Thing, Bone Tomahawk), a fellow bounty hunter known as “The Hangman” who is delivering the notorious Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Machinist, Anomalisa) to the proper authorities in Red Rock. Along the way, the three come across the new sheriff of Red Rock, or so he says, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins, TV’s The Shield, American Ultra), and the group make their way toward Red Rock before being stranded at Minnie’s Haberdashery in the blizzard. Now, John Ruth is under the impression that one amongst the group snowed in is out to free Daisy and kill anyone in her way in this thrilling whodunit.

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There’s no way to get this film confused with the work of any other filmmaker. This is pure-laced Tarantino from its deepest core. There are all the stylings of this one-of-a-kind director like the gripping dialogue, the extreme violence and Samuel L. Jackson, who eats up the screen. He is matched in prowess with Kurt Russell, who proves to be perfectly matched for our director in style and wit. Jennifer Jason Leigh also steals her scenes as the morbidly chilling Daisy, but to be fair, everyone is playing their A-game here, from regular performers Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Selma) and Michael Madsen (Kill Bill vol. 1, Hell Ride) to Demian Bichir (TV’s The Bridge, The Heat) as the hilarious Bob and the Bruce Dern (Nebraska, Twixt) as the racist General Sandy Smithers.

Then there’s the cinematography, expertly handled by DP Robert Richardson. The film, if you hadn’t heard, was shot using an Ultra Panavision 70 and projected in a 70mm cut, which is absolutely excellent. The frames are stark and beautiful and rich and actually help to drive the story even if a large amount of it takes place in a single shack. If you didn’t get the chance to see it in 70mm, let me assure you that both cuts of the film are terrific, so don’t feel too bad.

I also fell in love with Ennio Morricone’s original score, the first original score from the famed composer in decades. He is almost ensured to win the Oscar for it.

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The Hateful Eight could have been shorter, but I really loved the feel and grandeur of such a simple and intense whodunit like this. After two viewings, the film has continued to grow on me, and while it isn’t top-tier Tarantino, it certainly is still one of the best films of 2015.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, and Quentin Tarantino’s Sin City, click here.

June 2015 Preview

 

Alright, welcome to June 2015, everyone! I hope you enjoyed May, I certainly did. Let’s not waste any time here. Just keep in mind that these Previews are based on my highly intelligent abilities as a predictor of films. Our tastes may differ slightly, but I’m really open to helping you find the best films to see this month, so let’s jump in…

 

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Entourage

Entourage picks up where the eighth season of the hit HBO series left off, following Vincent Chase and his friends, E, Drama, and Turtle, as they continue to take Hollywood by storm. This was a series for a select group of people and those people will enjoy the film. If you haven’t seen Entourage, it isn’t the type of series to alienate viewers, so you may still enjoy yourself, but if you hated the television series, I don’t expect this film to sway you.

 

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Insidious: Chapter 3

Insidious is a franchise very close to me. I happen to find both films to be very enjoyable. The first one had me on the edge of my seat, and the second served to peel back layers of the various entities that exist in the mystical plane called The Further. I hope they find a way to utilize the prequel format to deliver something interesting, but this film is somewhat up in the air.

 

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Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy is based on the true account of Brian Wilson, played in the film by Paul Dano and John Cusack, after his time with the Beach Boys, as Wilson attempts to record Pet Sounds, the “greatest album” of all time. It also chronicles the older Brian Wilson as he loses his grip on reality due to a strange relationship with therapist Dr. Eugene Landy, played by Paul Giamatti. Love & Mercy seems like a solid win, I like the work from both Cusack and Dano, and I think this is a story that hasn’t been tapped. I’m solidly curious about the property.

 

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Spy

I feel pretty good about Spy, but not originally. While I liked director Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids, I felt that The Heat was generally disappointing. Really quite disappointing. Not nearly as bad as Tammy, but Melissa McCarthy is reaching the end of her talent. Spy has the distinction of having a perfectly cast group of supporting actors like Jason Statham and Jude Law. I think the elements of a proper spy film satire are in place here, so I’m leaning in the right direction.

 

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Jurassic World

So here it is, after years of development and several incarnations of a story shuffling around, we arrive at Jurassic World, the fourth film in the Jurassic Park series. This is another example of “up-in-the-air” film, I’m not entirely convinced yet. It seems to have all the right pieces in place, but time has been against it. 22 years after the original film’s events, a new park has opened, but in order to increase attendance, the owners have been experimenting with genetic testing on the dinosaurs.

 

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Inside Out

Inside Out is the newest Pixar film that takes place within the mind of a child named Riley. It tells the story of Riley’s emotions, specifically Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Not a ton is known outside of this, but it’s Pixar, so it will make a lot of money. I like the idea of Pixar reaching for an area they haven’t gone, but it sounds an awful lot like the same plot as Toy Story, just saying.

 

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Ted 2

I think it is terrific that Ted 2 isn’t Ted. I mean, it has Ted in it. It contains a lot of the same jokes I am sure, but Ted 2 at least has a different plot. Look back at Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and The Hangover Part II. Same freaking movie but less great. Ted 2 has a chance here. After Ted marries Tami-Lynn, he wants to have a child, but he needs to prove to the courts that he is human. Some solid potential here, even if I will miss Mila Kunis, but it is nice to have performers like Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman gracing this comedy sequel.

 

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Max

Max isn’t Mad Max. Max is a dog. A military dog traumatized by the loss of its handler. I’m not even sure how a movie like this could happen. Seriously. Just don’t.

 

 

Alright, that’s June 2015 for you. See you in July!

 

Best Bets: Entourage, Love & Mercy, Spy, Inside Out, Ted 2

On the Bubble: Insidious: Chapter 3, Jurassic World

Likely Misses: Max

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

[Happy 20th Birthday!] While You Were Sleeping (1995)

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Director: Jon Turtletaub

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher, Peter Boyle, Glynis Johns, Jack Warden

Screenplay: Daniel G. Sullivan, Fredric LeBow

103 mins. Rated PG for some language.

 

Well, While You Were Sleeping is 20 years old. Has it aged? Yeah, kind of.

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Lucy (Sandra Bullock, Gravity, The Heat) is a ticket collector who is in love with a man she’s never met. His name is Peter (Peter Gallagher, TV’s Covert Affairs, American Beauty), and that’s about all she knows. When Peter falls onto the train tracks and goes comatose, Lucy accidentally gets into a situation where Peter’s entire family thinks she is his fiancé. As Lucy’s story gets deeper and deeper, she gets closer and closer to Peter’s brother Jack (Bill Pullman, Independence Day, The Equalizer), but how will she right the ship?

Jon Turtletaub (National Treasure, Last Vegas) has directed some diverse films. While You Were Sleeping is pretty odd itself. The film was rewritten from a time when Lucy was a man in love with a woman who goes comatose. How sexist is it when a man can’t do it but a woman can? Good question, but I digress.

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Sandra Bullock does fine work as female Lucy here, and it aided by a quirky cast of family members like Peter Boyle (TV’s Everybody Loves Raymond, Taxi Driver) and Jack Warden (12 Angry Men, All the President’s Men) who help to keep the film lighthearted so you don’t realize that Lucy is a glorified stalker. The movie is cutesy enough and actually kind of works even if you do take time to think about it. It mostly comes undone by the end, but for a while, I think While You Were Sleeping is a film that could be enjoyed by both sexes on movie night.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Oscar Madness] Gravity (2013)

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Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

Screenplay: Alfonso Cuaron, Jonas Cuaron

91 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Achievement in Cinematography
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Achievement in Directing
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Achievement in Film Editing
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Achievement in Visual Effects
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Sandra Bullock)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Production Design

 

Gravity’s trailer won me over because it did something that too many trailers to wrong. It teased plot, but didn’t give it all away. There has been a recent trend in trailers which have been very good at not spoilering the whole freaking movie. Frozen and Monster University have actually been like short films teasing the tone of the movie while not ruining the experience, while Star Wars-Episode VII: The Force Awakens gives us just moments to titillate us, and it worked. Gravity’s trailer just touches on the first ten minutes. That’s it. A tease.

Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock, The Proposal, The Heat) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney, Ocean’s Eleven, The Monuments Men) are astronauts on a mission to fix and update some parts on the Hubble Telescope. While on a spacewalk, their shuttle is hit by debris from a chain reaction satellite explosion, causing them to be stranded out in space. Now, they must find a way to get back to Earth with no shuttle in the new film from Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).

GRAVITY

I may not like Sandra Bullock, but this is easily her best performance in years. She just knocks in out of the park.

George Clooney provides some terrific work in a supporting role as Matt. He has the confidence of a man on his last mission.

Cuaron had to develop new filmmaking techniques to handle the cinematography of weightless space and increase the capabilities of an all-CGI film. It took at least four years to get there, but it was worth it, and we all knew it was taking those technical awards at the Oscars. Here’s a tip: if your film has to invent new processes and equipment, you will win Oscars. It just happens.

The film is edited to together to keep movie and it features some really long sequences to keep the audience involved in the movie. It certainly works, because it literally left me shaking. I wish I could’ve paused it so I could leave for a few minutes to calm back down.

Innovative lighting techniques also create an involved experience.

The sound, or lack thereof, and the minimal use of music really assist in making the film real, and few space films utilize the silence of space so well.

Awesome CG! Just sayin’!

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Gravity is everything I wanted it to be. This uplifting space adventure kept me on the edge of my seat that I was fearful I would fall out of it. If this film doesn’t leave you breathless, you don’t have lungs.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

The Heat (2013)

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Director: Paul Feig

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demian Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, Michael McDonald, Tom Wilson, Bill Burr.

Screenplay: Katie Dippold

117 mins. Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude content, and some violence.

Director Paul Feig is returning to his foul-mouth female formula with The Heat, a comedy of the buddy-cop variety. I’m actually astonished we don’t see more films with chicks in the leading roles. Sandra Bullock (Gravity) is Sarah Ashburn, an FBI Special Agent out on the case to impress her boss, played by Demian Bichir (Che, Machete Kills), by taking down a mobster. The real heat of the film, I suspect, comes from the relationship between Ashburn and her partner on the case Boston Detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy, Identity Thief, TV’s Mike & Molly).

Bullock portrays Ashburn with a sense of hubris in her abilities, but I wasn’t convinced that she was the FBI Agent we were to believe she was. The true star of this film is McCarthy, who is absolutely perfect in role, jarringly comedic and sweet when she needs to be, which isn’t often. Plus, how often do you get to see an actress chuck a watermelon at a guy to take him down? Bullock comes into her performance as the film grinds down, but McCarthy has enough chops at this point to keep you entertained.

As far as the supporting cast is concerned, I felt very unimpressed with the amount of talent being wasted. Bichir does fine with this little screen time, and Dan Bakkedahl is essentially one-note though he excels with his line delivery. Then, you have Marlon Wayans, Jane Curtin, Michael Rapaport, Michael McDonald, and Bill Burr, some truly funny people getting little or no chance to shine throughout the entirety of the film.

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The film is edited nicely, however, and there is definite respect given to the cop stories of the 70s and the 80s. I can see the love for character like Starsky and Hutch or Lethal Weapon‘s Riggs and Murtaugh here.There are virtually no issues to be had with the writing or cinematopgraphy.

This film is McCarthy’s. She owns it and she knows she does. The rest of the cast can only hope to spend as much screen time with her as possible. Feig does a nice job of holding it all together, and there isn’t much I would take out, apart from a scene involving a choking victim, you’ll know why when you see it.

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After finishing the film (and still being unable to get Tony Hale’s great cameo out of my head), I have to say that it The Heat sizzles on some levels and fizzles on others. McCarthy’s star is shining brighter now than even this time last year, but I would still be interested in seeing this duo take on another bad guy.

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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