Friday, May 31, 2019

Quote of the week

Movie Review: “Welcome to Marwen”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13
Running time: 1 hour and 56 minutes

Based on a true story, “Welcome to Marwen” is about Mark Hogancamp, also known as Cap’n Hogie, (Steve Carrell) who was assaulted by several Natzis for being different and wearing women’s shoes.

The movie opens in the sky above Belgium during World War II, where we meet Cap’n Hogie as his plane is about to crash. The plane goes down and his shoes are burned up. As Cap’n Hogie is walking along, he finds a suitcase that is filled with women’s clothing and a pair of high heels. He puts them on. As he’s walking through the grass, he comes upon a group of Nazis who push him to the ground and assault him. It is later revealed that this scene is being acted out by Mark Hogancamp; who uses his action figures who inhabit his town of Marwen, as a therapeutic outlet to deal with his assault.

Every action figure he has represents a person in his life (the woman at the hobby shop, his physical therapist who helped him learn to walk again, etc.). Mark suffers from anxiety, is really hurting and is abusing his medicine. Mark is contacted by his lawyer who heavily encourages him to attend the trial of his attackers and testify against them. Mark does not want to go, he’s too anxious. He meets Nicol (Leslie Mann), who moves in across the street. Nicol befriends Mark right away. When Nicol asks Mark about his past, he explains to her about the attack and that he lost most of his memories as a result of it.

A short time later, Mark’s lawyer tries to convince him to come to the trial and testify. He agrees to do so, but with the help of his friend Roberta (Merritt Wever), who works at the hobby shop. He has a panic attack during the sentencing, and it looks like he might not be able to go through with it. He needs the help of his friends, e.g. his action figures, which he never goes anywhere without.
Will Mark be able to face his attackers and testify in court?

To be honest, this movie was good, but not as good as I wanted it to be. Steve Carrell is a phenomenal actor and plays the part of this suffering man well. The movie drags in spots and I found other parts confusing. The end left me with several questions. It has a nice message about acceptance and it being okay to be different. This was a good story about a guy who went through a lot and found a way to cope. Although this wasn’t the best movie, it also wasn’t the worst. It’s probably worth the Redbox rental.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Movie Review: “John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum”

By Emily Maier

Rated: R
Run time: 130 mins

When the world’s top assassin breaks the rules of the criminal underworld, the leaders known as the High Table put a bounty on his head for $14 million. As a result, John Wick is now being hunted by every assassin that crosses his path – and in this movie, assassins are just around every corner.

“John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum” is the third installment of the John Wick franchise, starring Keanu Reeves as the titular assassin. The movie follows the fallout of John’s decision to murder a member of the High Table within the walls of the Continental Hotel – a place where “business” is not allowed to be conducted. The deadly gunman is once again forced to cut through a field of innumerable enemies if he ever wants to return to his peaceful life of retirement.

To anyone that likes action flicks, I really can’t recommend this movie enough– and the series in general. “John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum” is stylish and fun, without succumbing to tropes typically found in the action genre. John might be feared for his invincibility, but he still gets injured throughout the film, so each fight actually has consequences. Characters frequently run out of bullets and are forced to get creative when using the things around them as weapons. For example, a few interesting “weapons” John utilizes are a library book, a belt, and horses. What’s more, I’m always amazed by the clever worldbuilding in each “John Wick” film. The criminal underworld is intricate and full of lore, and each sequel makes sure to give the audience just enough details to keep them wondering.

Whether returning characters or new additions, the cast of “John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum” is as colorful as ever. A few familiar faces include hotel manager Winston (played by Ian McShane), concierge Charon (played by Lance Reddick), and the Bowery King (played by Laurence Fishburne). New characters include Halle Berry as a German-Shepherd-wielding assassin named Sofia, Asia Kate as a representative of the High Table known as The Adjudicator, and Mark Dacascos as a hitman sent to kill John Wick.

Though “John Wick” excels in many ways, the astounding fight choreography has always been what makes the series stand out in a sea of other action films. Each fight scene has the fluidity and grace of a dance, which is emphasized with the presence of ballet throughout this third installment. The action is also very easy to follow because the movie uses long shots instead of the choppy editing found in most action flicks. Skilled choreographers, actors, and cameramen combine to make scene after scene wonderful to watch. The movie’s trademark neon aesthetic only adds to the stunning visuals.

Each movie in the trilogy is rated R for violent content, but I found “Parabellum” to be the bloodiest installment yet. However, the gore in no way takes away from the levity of the movie, as this third sequel may also be the funniest. The comedic timing had my entire theater in stitches more than once.
I’ve been a fan of the series since the first movie came out in 2014, so it’s great to see the movies are still going strong five years later. Though most franchises tend to outlive their expiration dates, leaving audiences with contrived, purposeless plots, “John Wick” has never felt tired or worn out. Much like the protagonist, “John Wick” only seems to be getting better with age. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Quote of the week

Movie Review: “Long Shot”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Running time: 125 minutes

Is the unlikely necessarily impossible? That is the underlying question in “Long Shot”, where two individuals with very different lifestyles fall for each other. The movie centers around journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) and Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). The two meet unexpectedly and it takes off from there.

The movie opens with Flarsky about to be inducted as the newest member of a white supremacist’s group. As initiation begins to progress a little quicker than Flarsky expected, it is discovered he is a journalist. He jumps out the window, falling several stories onto a car and then runs off.

Then we meet the Secretary of State, Charlotte Field, sitting with current United States President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk) who confides in her he will not be seeking reelection. Charlotte says it would mean a lot if President Chambers would endorse her; he agrees. Field expresses an interest in running in 2020 to her team, but the only thing that seems to matter to the people they polled are not Field’s policies, but how she looks doing her job.

Back at Fred’s office, his boss tells him the company has just been bought by a giant media conglomerate and things are going to change. Fred is so disgusted he quits right there on the spot. Fred goes over to his friend Lance’s (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) office and Lance takes Fred to a party that night. Charlotte happens to be at the same party.

Fred is nervous when he first sees Charlotte because she used to babysit him, and he used to have a crush on her. She remembers him and although Fred makes a big scene at the party, Charlotte asks if he would like to work for her, punching up her speeches. He agrees to do so.

Charlotte has embarked on a ‘save the planet’ initiative and will be travelling around the world to try to get countries to join the initiative. One of the first speeches Fred helps her write goes very well and she is impressed. As they spend more time together, Fred and Charlotte get to know each other more and eventually start to fall for one another.

Amidst things going well, President Chambers tells Charlotte she needs to ditch her environmental agenda if she wants his endorsement. Understandably, Charlotte isn’t happy and tells Fred "I don’t want to do this job anymore."

Meanwhile, Charlotte’s assistant, Maggie (June Diane Raphael), tells her that remaining involved with Fred will hurt her campaign. President Chambers and a big media conglomerate then blackmail Charlotte, threatening to expose footage taken from Fred’s webcam.

What will happen to Fred and Charlotte? What will Charlotte decide about her campaign?

Rogen and Theron have real on-screen chemistry. This motley pairing is a recipe for a good comedy. This movie is funny, with a great soundtrack and is, at times, heartwarming. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to any fan of Rogen, Theron or anyone just looking for a funny movie.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Quote of the week

Netflix’s ‘The Highwaymen’

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: NR
Runtime: 132 minutes

The year is 1934. Bonnie and Clyde are infamous and beloved by many in the country for their rebellion against the government and the banks. They are not loved by law enforcement who are seriously trying to catch and stop these unruly criminals before they cause more bloodshed.

Netflix’s ‘The Highwaymen’ tells the story of the most famous Texas Ranger, Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) and his partner, Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson) as they come out of retirement to catch these dangerous lovers.

The movie opens at Eastham Prison Farm in Texas where we see several prisoners working in the fields. At another location, a car pulls up and a woman with a tommy gun gets out and stands waiting. Back at the prison farm, a prisoner pulls a gun on a guard and shoots him. Gunshots are heard in the distance, the woman with the tommy gun is firing rapidly. Prisoners scatter everywhere. Several prisoners make it to the location where the woman, later learned to be Bonnie Parker, is waiting and a few prisoners jump in her car as it speeds away.

The governor, Ma Ferguson (Katy Bates) is questioned by the media regarding the prison break. She vows to capture the Barrows Gang, along with Clyde Barrows and Bonnie Parker. The warden, Lee Simmons (John Carroll Lynch) recommends Frank Hamer (Costner) be put on the case. Simmons visits Hamer, who is unofficially retired, and asks for his help; Hamer agrees.

Gault (Harrelson) is unemployed and living on his daughter’s couch. When he gets wind of Hamer’s mission, he confronts him and asks to join; Hamer begrudgingly agrees. Although there is a lot of action and shootouts in this movie, there is a bit of humor, too. Hamer and Gault chase a boy who could lead to Bonnie and Clyde. When they fail to catch him, Hamer says, “I thought you had my back, I could have died!” Gault replies, “If he’d run one more block, we’d both be dead.”

Intermittently, you see Bonnie and Clyde travelling around, causing destruction.

Hamer and Gault get a tip at a gas station that Bonnie and Clyde came through there recently, driving a blue sedan with black tires. The Texas Rangers catch a glimpse of Bonnie and Clyde in the next town, when their car is swarmed by adoring fans. Hamer and Gault manage to follow Bonnie and Clyde and tail them out into the desert where, after a hot pursuit, the dangerous duo escape.

Frustrated, Gault wonders if maybe he and Hamer don’t have it in them anymore to catch the crime couple. Do they? Spoiler alert: The answer is in the tagline.

Although the story of Bonnie and Clyde is very well known, it was interesting to see it from the point of view of these crotchety Texas Rangers, who Costner and Harrelson portrayed very well. The two make a good team. ‘The Highwaymen’ has plenty of action, some comedy and is a little bloody in parts. While the film is over two hours long, it kept me interested. Although you probably know the ending, ‘The Highwaymen’ is worth the time.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Quote of the week

Movie Review: “Avengers: Endgame”

By Daniel Kilgallon

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 181 mins

I have been able to witness some monumental movie releases in my lifetime, but “Avengers: Endgame” is an event that simply steamrolls the rest. This film did something which has never been achieved before in concluding a shared universe of 22 major motion pictures, now called “The Infinity Saga,” which began with 2008’s “Iron Man”. Needless to say, “Endgame” holds a tremendous amount of cultural weight as legions of fans have quite literally and figuratively invested in these characters over the course of the last 11 years.

Financially, the movie surpassed all expectations, earning an astounding $1.2 billion in its’ opening weekend at the global box office. This shatters a record of $640.5 million previously held by its’ 2018 predecessor, “Avengers: Infinity War” (BoxOfficeMojo). While this is an impressive accomplishment, I am happy to say that I was equally stunned by the unpredictable story at the heart of this film.

Following the downfall of the universe caused by Thanos (Josh Brolin) at the end of “Infinity War”, the remaining Avengers must figure out a way to reverse his catastrophic actions in “Endgame”. 

Keeping in mind that some people may have missed the opportunity to experience the movie on opening weekend due to sold out theaters, I have decided to provide no further plot details here; watch out for a spoiler review in the near future!

From the opening frames, “Endgame” did an outstanding job of creating a feeling of absolute hopelessness again and again throughout the lengthy run time. By bringing the beloved heroes to new lows in this grim manner, the climatic actions of the story were made that much more powerful as various plots reached long awaited conclusions. Somehow, the abundance of character building was just as riveting as the fight scenes here and there were several truly heartbreaking moments in the film.

“Endgame” is even more dramatic than its’ predecessor, but every bit of character building made the last act of the movie that much more rewarding. To no surprise, directors Anthony and Joe Russo delivered a grand finale battle sequence which redefined just how epic a film can be. “Endgame” did justice to our favorite heroes while providing plenty of visually stunning superhero smackdowns - we just can’t seem get enough of them. From my interpretation this movie’s greatest accomplishment is maintaining a constant sense of urgency while delivering a groundbreaking epic that is full of surprises; “Endgame” is a must see.