3 Film reviews: Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Knives Out, and the Irishman

Oh, hi there you tickle monsters.  It’s been awhile since I had a film to review but let’s be honest, it’s been a collection of student films, garbage passion projects, and blatant cash grabs.  Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I saw 3 films that bear worth reviewing.  But before you read my critiques, why not download our new podcast, “Gutting the Sacred Cow.”  If you love movies and want to see other comedians try and trash well loved or successful films, you’ll love this.  We’re on iTunes, Iheartradio, Google play, Stitcher, Spreaker, and Spotify.

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Bottom line: if you hate Mr. Rogers, you’re a communist that needs to be immediately deported and then set afire in a cage while in transit to Burma.  He TRULY is the closest human to being faultless.  And if that theme music doesn’t bring an immediate tear to your eye, you’re more robotic than the T-1000 from T2 or the guy who played Oz from American Pie.  Tom Hanks, who can honestly do no wrong, plays a fantastic Fred Rogers.  If you don’t know his story, I’m not going over it now.  However, this film doesn’t make Mr. Rogers the focal point of this story.  It’s about the journalist assigned to do a small piece on him, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys).  Lloyd is dealing with his father (Chris Cooper who looks like Sebulba from Star Wars Episode 1.  Don’t believe me, google it) and Mr Rogers somehow gets Lloyd to open up about his tarnished relationship and of course, tries to help him.

If you didn’t see the outstanding documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, you better get off your ass and watch it.  Because you’re not going to get as much insight about Mr. Rogers in this film.  Although, I had a great laugh when Mr Rogers comes over to visit Lloyd’s ailing father and his sister’s new husband blurts out, “Are you a Navy Seal?”  That was one of the urban legends that was going around for years.  There are great Mr. Rogers moments: the opening show segment with Hanks walking in, singing the song, and flipping the shoes.  My eyes watered up and had the nostalgic smile a mile wide on my face.  You also see several show re-enactments with Hanks CGI’ed in that you may remember from the show or have seen in WYBMN.

This film is good but again, I’m not as interested in the journalist’s story as much as I am seeing Tom Hanks chew up scenery and seeing kids with disabilities have breakthroughs.  Who knows if the documentary didn’t alter the script for BDITN as they didn’t want two biographical stories in 2 years.  I wouldn’t have liked BDITN as much if there wasn’t the doc to get into the nitty gritty material.  This film is good, the doc is better.

I give it a 6.5/10

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How many “whodunits” have there been in recent memory?  Memento?  Pretty good.  Clue?  That was such a campy yet fun ride?  Too bad they’re remaking it.  LA Confidential? FANTASTIC.  Murder on the Orient Express (original and reboot SUCKED)?  So I was quite glad to see “Knives Out” invigorate the genre.  Great cast but you know what scared me?  Seeing Rian Johnson wrote and directed this.  Cause last we saw of ol RJ, he went out and gave us a C- Star Wars film in the Last Jedi.  He also did Looper which gives him some credibility back.  Was this worse than dinner theater murder mysteries?  Let’s find out.

Christopher Plummer plays Harlan Thrombey, who looks like he could’ve been one of the brothers from Trading Places.  Don’t worry, he doesn’t uses racial slurs.  Harlan is an uber successful mystery writer who after celebrating his 85th birthday, falls victim to murder.  His children and daughter in law all have had reason to off him as they’ve been cut out of his will.  But his caregiver/nurse, Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), suddenly finds herself as the sole benefactor of the will.  Daniel Craig is the detective hired by an unknown source to find out who did it. Zod from Superman, the mom from 6th sense, Laurie Strode, Captain America, and Sonny Crockett play the kids/in laws who are in question.

Obviously, I’m not getting into details to not spoil it but the cast perfectly hums along.  Daniel Craig was fantastic as the smarmy, know it all (most of the time detective) who really has a ball with this role.  You may figure out who did it (I did) but you’ll NEVER figure out the how or why.  I changed my logic at least 4 times and was still wrong.  And that’s why this film is amazing.  Anytime you get a layered story and can’t figure out AND buy the process/conclusion, it’s a fantastic investment of time.  Run, don’t walk, to see this film.  And then when you get out of the theater, download our latest episode of Gutting the Sacred Cow.

This film is fantastic, 8.5/10

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And now for one of the most anticipated films of 2019.  The last time we saw Scorsese, he got Margot Robbie topless several times in a film.  And we owe him a debt of gratitude for that.  But now he returns to the genre in which he created and inspired tons of knockoffs and a few winners.  The man who gave us Casino, Goodfellas, Mean Streets brings back several of the actors who shot to the stratosphere.  DeNiro, Pacino, AND he got Pesci out of retirement.  Can’t go wrong, right?  Well, let’s see.

First off, prepare yourself.  This is a 3.5 hour film.  But thankfully, you’re watching it at home now so you can pause to pee, get some food, or complain on social media about how long it is.  And for all of those who complain about the length, no one seemed to have a problem with Godfather 2 and that was 4 minutes shorter than this.  This is the story of Frank Sheeran (Robert Deniro, the man who hasn’t turned any film down since 2003), the guy who painted more houses than Dutch Boy.  Ba-dum, ching!  First things first: Scorsese CGIs all of the older actors and it’s sometimes quite amusing.  My FAVORITE part was when a “younger” DeNiro sloowwwwwly beats up a grocery store own.  I mean, it looks like he was in quicksand while giving the guy a beating.  DeNiro finds himself working for Russel Buffalino (Welcome back, Joe Pesci!),

DeNiro earns his stripes doing errands for Buffalino and eventually finds himself working with the Teamsters and Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).  Shoutout to my buddy Jeff Paul who has few scenes with Pacino as a one of his crew.  Hoffa climbs to power while bringing Sheeran along for the ride.  Blah, blah, blah, mob stuff happens.  But without question, my favorite scene is Pesci explaining to DeNiro why Hoffa has to go.  It’s quite reminiscent of the Goodfellas scene is when DeNiro gets the phone call that Tommy is dead.  And there’s nothing he can do about it.

Again, people are shitting on this for the length.  Does this lag at times?  You betcha.  Could they have cut some down?  Without question.  But this is almost a mini series in a film as it tells the entire tale of Sheeran.  This is a great switcharoo of roles; a more mellowed Pesci leads the pack and should be nominated for supporting actor.  I’ll never compare this to Goodfellas because that’s as close to a perfect film as you can get.  Is this better than Casino?  No.  Departed? Not really.  And is this a film you immediately stop changing channels when you see it on?  For me, not yet.  But this is good and if you like seeing a lot of the old gang together again, this is for you.  It’s solid and enjoyable.

I give it a 7/10.

“Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” film review. NO SPOILERS

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I’m a HUGE Quentin Tarantino fan.  He should be on the Mt Rushmore of directors: Spielberg, Nolan, Scorsese, and Tarantino.  Yes, Tarantino gets flack for biting from the spaghetti westerns.  But his films have MUCH better rewatch ability than a bunch of said westerns.  Try watching the well-renowned, “A Fistful of Dollars,” now.  That shit will put you to sleep faster than Philosophy 101 or a new list of approved gender approved pronouns.  Tarantino is one of the 10ish people that automatically gets my $15, he’s earned it through and through.  Pulp Fiction is my 2nd favorite film all time; I saw that 3 times in the theater.  That film defined a generation and was/is nothing short of brilliant. Let’s quickly go through the directorial list for shits and giggles:

Reservoir Dogs-Insanely unique, probably the reason that got me into the independent films.

Pulp Fiction-It’s a fucking CRIME that this lost to OVERRATED Forest Gump.  Shawshank Redemption, I could’ve dealt with but not that University of Alabama dropout who had sex with an AIDS monkey.  Every time this is on, John Travolta needs to send Tarantino a dozen roses and a hooker.  This also brought Samuel L Jackson square into the main event of film lexicon forever and ever.

Jackie Brown-Not a fan.  At all.  And boy, did I try.  Despite SLJ and DeNiro, this just didn’t resonate for me.

Kill Bill 1 and 2- Fun, cheeky, nostalgic, and different.  A believable heroine before Hollywood DEMANDED every female heroine film be insanely revered or you be deemed as a sexist/misogynist.

Death Proof- Enjoyable nod to 70’s cheesy action cinema and brought Kurt Russell back into the foray.  You’ll never hear me complain seeing good ol’ Jack Burton in any film and boy, I enjoy his VO narrations.

Inglorious Basterds- The American coming out party for Kristoph Waltz.  Although I didn’t dig this much as other Tarantino installments; I felt this dragged despite Pitt doing a great job as a Nazi hunter.

Django Unchained- Loved it.  Jamie Foxx was amazing and who didn’t love Waltz returning as a German bounty hunter, hell bent on eradicating southern racist garbage.  And DiCaprio playing a sadistic slave owner, fantastically cast and played.

Hateful Eight- People didn’t dig this but I have no idea why.  More Russell, more SLJ, and another favorite Tarantino vet, Tim Roth.  And it all beautifully comes together.

My ranking:

  1. Pulp Fiction
  2. Reservoir Dogs
  3. Django Unchained
  4. Hateful 8
  5. Kill Bill 1 and 2
  6. Death Proof
  7. Inglorious Basterds
  8. Jackie Brown

And now that leaves us with…

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

First things first.  This is NOT the story of the Manson murders.  If this a spoiler for you, sorry.  But I sure was under that impression and quickly learned that wasn’t the case.  This is a nod to Hollywood in it’s golden age of 1969.  And boy, it’s quite the journey.  Rick Dalton (Leo DiCaprio from Growing Pains) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt, the stoner from True Romance) are buddies.  Rick is an actor about to make the downhill march toward obscurity and Cliff is his stunt double who also chauffeurs Rick around.  Both DiCaprio and Pitt have such a great chemistry together; especially when Booth knows exactly how to get Dalton from carrying right into an alcohol-induced nosedive.  What makes Pitt’s character so satiable is his mysterious background (rumored to have killed his wife and serve in the war).  And when he gets into an on-set tussle with Bruce Lee and calling him, Kato, throughout their argument puts smiles on all audience members.

Margot Robbie (from topless glory in Wolf of Wall Street and man, find me a more attractive woman than her.  Go ahead, I’ll wait) plays Sharon Tate.  We see her and new husband, Roman Polanski (post Rosemary’s Baby, pre anal raping underage girls) live above Rick’s house.  Sharon just goes about her usual routines: Hollywood parties, getting pregnant, even seeing herself on screen by going to a theater.  I daresay that she’s under-utilized as again, the main focus is on DiCaprio and Pitt.  But we do see Manson and his crew on more than one occasion.  In fact, Booth runs into one of his crew several times trying to hitchhike rides throughout LA.  Which eventually leads Pitt to the pit of the Manson’s vipers; including a hell of a scene with Bruce Dern, another Tarantino favorite.  Speaking of the Tarantino favorites, you see all of the usual suspects: Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell.  Unfortunately, no SLJ or Steve Buscemi.  But let’s give credit where credit is due.  Lena Dunham is in this and A) isn’t annoying and more importantly, B) keeps her clothes on.

But I’ll go on a limb and say watching Dalton’s decent into possible Hollywood oblivion or purgatory is where the real joy is.  Wait till you see him break down when he forgets his lines due to getting rip roaring drunk the previous night.  Or when he has a heartfelt moment with his young co-star, Trudi (Julia Butters) where they share stories of the novels they’re currently reading.  There has been a ton of complaints saying that this is a whole lot of nothing regarding the eventual confrontation with the Manson crew and little payoff.  I disagree.  As I said, once you realize about 1/3 or 1/2 of the way through the film that this isn’t a regurgitation of the Manson murders, you’ll appreciate that Tarantino didn’t go down that road.  You can’t believe he’s bluffing by NOT giving the crowd what they want and I truly enjoyed the chance he took.  The ending is certainly unique and enjoyable with a hell of a callback.  Is this your typical, dialogue heavy Tarantino jaunt?  It is not.  Is it your typical Tarantino violent-riddled gorefest?  Not until the end.  Are you going to enjoy this?  I think so and especially if you’re not a Tarantino fan (kill yourself), it may be the film that may hook you back in because of the choices he did and didn’t take.  And I’ll go on a limb and say Pitt gets a nomination for best supporting actor.

The only knock on this film, not enough N words like I’m used to with his films.  I’M JUST KIDDING.  I enjoyed it and give it a 7 out of 10.  Where does it rank in the Tarantino pantheon?  I’m not sure yet; I need to see it again but I know it’s going above Jackie Brown, Death Proof, and Inglorious Basterds for sure.