Tag Archives: Movie Review

Ben’s Column: The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) Movie Review

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Premise: A young man searches for home in the changing city that seems to have left him behind.

A young black girl stares up at a man in a hazmat suit while a street preacher rants and raves about the contaminated water poisoning the residents. This is the introduction we get to Jimmie (Jimmie Fails) and Monty’s (Jonathan Majors) version of San Francisco in “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”; far from the trolleys, five-star restaurants and tech headquarters of the city. The Golden Gate Bridge is off in the distance, but it’s far enough away that you may forget that it exists. Reality is certainly heightened here, but not so much to seem unbelievable. The film is loosely based on the true-life story of Jimmie Fails, who shares a story credit with first-time director and his childhood friend, Joe Talbot. Jimmie and Monty- both young, under-employed black men with dreams of bigger and better things- share a crowded bedroom in Monty’s blind grandfather’s house on the outskirts of the city. At night, when Jimmie isn’t working at a nursing home, the three watch old movies as Monty lovingly describes the action. On occasion, the two skate into the city to look after and fix up an old Victorian home in the Mission district that’s currently owned by an elderly white couple. Why is Jimmie so immersed in the upkeep of the home? He explains early on (to a Segway tour full of white people, of course) that the house was designed and built by his grandfather with his own two hands after World War II. Soon, the couple moves out and the home is abandoned, so Jimmie and Monty take over and renovate as they believe it should be, preserving as many details as Jimmie’s grandfather intended.

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Ben’s Column: Jawline (2019) Movie Review

Jawline (2019)

Premise: The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.

What is the American dream, if not to get rich and famous? In 2019, the quickest and easiest way to get rich and famous is to make it big on social media. Such is the subject of Liza Mandelup’s newest documentary, “Jawline”. The film splits its time focusing on two groups of influencers at various stages of success. First there’s Austyn Tester, a 16-year old high school dropout from rural Tennessee who wants to use his good looks, sunny disposition, and rabid online fan-base to “get famous, so then I can change the world.” The second half goes to a group of interchangeable teen boys (we’re never given their ages, but at best, they’re fresh out of high school) living together in an LA home under the iron fist of their manager Michael Weist. Theirs is a tightly regulated lifestyle where any time not spent posting, tweeting, live-streaming, etc. any branded content is met with Michael’s scorn. At one point, an argument ensues about whether or not to open a video with “hey guys”, lest they alienate their non-female fans. Even though it’s not as well done as the Tennessee portions, the LA half of the film mostly serves as a distant warning to Austyn: this is the fate that awaits the rich and famous in 2019. Thankfully, the amount of time spent between the two is more heavily weighted to Austyn and his struggles.

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Ben’s Column: Her Smell (2019) Movie Review

Her Smell (2019)

Premise: A self-destructive punk rocker struggles with sobriety while trying to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success.

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Movie Review: The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (2019)

3 stars

Premise: A legendary American war veteran is recruited to hunt a mythical creature.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. I haven’t seen the trailer but the title, premise, and poster all feel like the movie is supposed to be a cheesy, ultra-violent genre movie. What the movie actually is is far from that. Instead, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is a melancholic study of a man who has closed himself off from the world as he deals with what he did in the war. Continue reading

Movie Review: Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989)

Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989)

Premise: Harry Crumb is a bumbling and inept private investigator who is hired to solve the kidnapping of a young heiress which he’s not expected to solve because his employer is the mastermind behind the kidnapping.

Letterboxd Challenge: 30 From 30 – 1989 Movies Watchlist – 1/30

I grew up watching and enjoying a lot of John Candy’s work. Uncle Buck, Brewster’s Millions, The Great Outdoors, and Cool Runnings were all on heavy rotation in my house growing up. Who’s Harry Crumb?, however, is a movie I never saw. Now that I’ve seen it, (and although I didn’t necessarily “hate” it) I would have been okay having never seen it. Continue reading

Movie Review: The Great Dictator (1940)

The Great Dictator (1940)

Premise: Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel’s regime.

Immediately after The Great Dictator ended, I rewound the movie and rewatched the five minute speech at the end again. Now, while sitting in the afterglow of my first viewing of the film, I am really hard-pressed to think of any movie moments that are as emotionally affecting, timeless in their relevance, and as intensely powerful as that speech was. I am not being the least bit hyperbolic when I say that with one viewing, I’m confident in saying The Great Dictator is a true masterpiece.

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Movie Review: Stan & Ollie (2018)

Premise: Laurel and Hardy, the world’s most famous comedy duo, attempt to reignite their film careers as they embark on what becomes their swan song – a grueling theatre tour of post-war Britain.

Stan & Ollie dramatizes the waning days of Laurel & Hardy’s professional relationship with a quiet, almost sedated dignity. Embarking on a lengthy theatre tour in Britain, the aging comedy legends work to reclaim their comedic spotlight and secure funding for a Robin Hood film. This comes at the expense of their physical and mental health while also forcing them to come to terms with their celebrity status. Continue reading

Movie Review: Escape Room (2019)

Escape Room (2019)

Premise: Six strangers find themselves in circumstances beyond their control, and must use their wits to survive.

Escape Room was a fairly decent thriller for about 2/3s of its runtime. For the other 3rd, it was pretty rote with underdeveloped characters, derivative set pieces, and an ending that felt like a first draft fever dream.

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Movie Review: Glass (2019)

Glass (2019)

Premise: Security guard David Dunn uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities.

I can’t remember the last time I was so invested in 2/3s of a movie only to find myself struggling so hard to hold my interest in its final act. But such is the life of the audience member of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. As harsh as it may sound, there’s no denying that Shyamalan is one divisive and mercurial filmmaker. The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs were all fantastic films in my opinion, and The Village was solid. But we had to suffer through the likes of The Lady in the Water, The Happening, and The Visit before he turned things around with Split in 2017.

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Movie Review: Split (2017)

Premise: Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.
When I sat down to rewatch Split, the thing I was most curious about was if the surprise ending was what made the movie great in my mind or if it would stand on its own without that shock factor inflating a subpar or mediocre opinion.

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Movie Review: Unbreakable (2000)

Unbreakable (2000)

Premise: An ordinary man makes an extraordinary discovery when a train accident leaves his fellow passengers dead—and him unscathed. The answer to this mystery could lie with the mysterious Elijah Price, a man who suffers from a disease that renders his bones as fragile as glass.

It may be easy to forget that M. Night Shyamalan’s follow up to his breakout hit The Sixth Sense came at a time when the vast majority of comic book movies were poorly made garbage to sell merchandise. But before Christopher Nolan really changed the game with The Dark Knight Trilogy, Shyamalan made a grounded comic book movie that was, at its heart, a love letter to comic books themselves and the storytelling within that medium. Underappreciated in its own time, Unbreakable went onto attain cult status and still holds up to repeat viewings to this day.

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Movie Review: Free Solo (2018)

Free Solo (2018)

Premise: Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history.

I went into Free Solo wondering what could possibly possess a person to climb anything without ropes or harnesses. It is a lifestyle that I am so far away from, I simply can’t fathom it. And right off the bat, the documentary addresses this question in the form of an interview that Free Solo‘s subject, Alex Honnold, was in on television. His rationale is that anyone can die at any time, what difference does it make if you’re thousands of feet in the air with only a fingernail’s worth of space keeping you from plummeting?

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Movie Review: The Upside (2017)

The Upside (2017)

Premise: A comedic look at the relationship between a wealthy man with quadriplegia and an unemployed man with a criminal record who’s hired to help him.

The Upside is a pretty middle of the road comedy that’s fairly inoffensive, if unimaginative in its execution. It’s a remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables. It premiered at TIFF in 2017 and finally got a wide theatrical release now in 2019.

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The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 221 – It (2017) Movie Review with Patreon Subscriber Guests Tony Troxell and Matt Andreko

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OV221 – It (2017) Movie Review with Patreon Subscriber Guests Tony Troxell and Matt Andreko

In this special episode (recorded live outside a bookstore), Tiny and I review IT with two of our Patreon subscribers Tony Troxell (Indiana Geeking) and Matt Andreko immediately after seeing the movie in the theater as part of our Obsessive Viewer Facebook Group Screening Event!
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The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 220 – Logan Lucky – Annabelle Creation, Atypical, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Terry O’Quinn Joins Castle Rock, and Black Mirror Teaser

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OV220 – Logan Lucky – Annabelle Creation, Atypical, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Terry O’Quinn Joins Castle Rock, and Black Mirror Teaser

This week Tiny and I review the new Steven Soderbergh redneck heist movie Logan Lucky. We also discuss the latest Castle Rock casting news, Black Mirror’s teaser trailer, the Netflix show Atypical, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Mike also calls in with his mini-review of Annabelle Creation!
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