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.

beautiful day

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.

Film reviews: Rambo Last Blood and the Joker

Hey you silly smelly sailors.  It’s been awhile since a film review and since I saw the Joker last week and one of the few who saw Rambo, let’s talk movies.

rambo

Rambo took a beating by the critics and at the box office.  Who fucking cares?  You want someone old as Bernie Sanders blowing up shit for 90 minutes.  And that’s exactly what you get.  Rambo, his niece, and her aunt live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, Arizona.  Which is somewhere the Bang Bros should a new location to film, what a challenge to find someone walking down the road that’s not an escaped convict.  Rambo’s niece gets word that her estranged dad lives in Mexico and she heads down; despite Rambo’s pleas not to go as the dad was an awful person.  She gets kidnapped by a sex trafficking gang.  Rambo catches word and decides to write poetry to give his angst an outlet.  Just kidding, he hates poetry and general sentence formation.

He heads on down, bent on revenge and uh oh, gets outnumbered and beat up.  BTW, there are people complaining that this film makes Mexican people look bad.  Oh, I guess the SJW forgot about the cartels when they decided to find something to get fake offended on a Tuesday at 11am.  Rambo gets back to America to heal up then back down to Mexico to cast a new version of Menudo.  Just kidding, we already have a new version of Menudo.  He goes back down to start a tickle fight (bloody carnage) and let them know he’s still around.  Well this of course doesn’t strike the Mexican gang’s fancy so they head up to Rambo’s house and that’s when this becomes Home Alone on steroids.  He preps his house and tunnels with weapons, traps and bombs; like he’s going to receive a visit from his in-laws.  The last 15-20 minutes make this film completely worthwhile and at a brisk 90 minutes, it’s a enjoyable watch.  Yes, you’re going to have a few “eye roll moments” but c’mon, we’ve enjoyed those since Rambo 2.  As most of my Italian friends say, it is what it is.  You get what you expect; a lesson or 2 sprinkled in with weak dialogue and action.  And make no mistake about it, this is the last Rambo.  Is it the best sign off for Rambo, John J?  No but you’ll find enough to enjoy of this Viking funeral.

Last Blood 6/10

 
Last time we saw Batman, he was played by Ben Affleck on the tail end of one hell of a alcoholic bender.  And the last time we saw the Joker; he was a tatted up gangster with zero charisma that people rightfully rank him as the worst Joker of all time.  Even worse than Beto O’Rourke.  I mean, who’s taking that guy and his extremely punchable face seriously?  So when DC said, “let’s wash suicide squad out of everyone’s mouth,” we all said sure.  And when River Phoenix’s brother was announced the Joker, it was met with cautious optimism.  Because if a guy that played a gay cowboy can KILL the role of the Joker, we can give anybody a chance.  Anyone except the guy who played the Sherminator in American Pie.

We learn about Arthur Fleck and his tough life: mentally unstable, living with his delusional mother while he tries to make a life out of being a clown for hire as well as standup comedian.  Fleck isn’t respected by anyone; he gets beaten up by kids and manipulated at work.  You truly feel bad for him.  Fleck eventually goes all Bernie Goetz and shoots a few Wall St guys who mess with him on the subway.  Add him bombing on stage at Dangerfield’s (this is the last time you’ll see that place full in awhile) sends him right down the toilet.  And in a counterclockwise motion if you live south of the equator.  He loves watching Murray Franklin (Robert DeNiro) every night and manages to catch Murray’s eye as he plays a tape of Arthur bombing on a comedy show.

I kid you not, I tried to see if I can start getting money in on Phoenix to win as best actor.  He’s nothing short of brilliant and every bit as good as Ledger was in Dark Knight.  He digs in DEEP to this role; I loved the uncontrollable laugh he has and claims it’s because of a neurological disorder.  So many great choices pay off in this film, especially by Phoenix.  He doesn’t try to be Heath’s Joker but it’s just as creepy and boy, is the third act an absolute ball of fire.  His full transformation as the Joker cashes in every set up that director Todd Phillips puts out there.

Obviously, we don’t have any Batman but we do get a couple of Bruce Wayne scenes.  And an Alfred sighting too!  But my biggest (not really that big, nitpicking here) is that they make Thomas Wayne look like an a-hole.  Every story and film has him as a charitable doctor who tirelessly gives to Gotham.  He’s running for mayor here and quite unlikeable so that inconsistency didn’t sit as well with me on that.  It definitely warrants the R rating with some of the violent acts and good for Phillips he didn’t water this down.  And yes, there’s a nod to DK in this film, it’s a can’t miss camera shot in the end of the film.  This film definitely winks to Falling Down, Taxi Driver, and King of Comedy to name a few.  The mental health tone is so loud that Helen Keller’s ghost could hear this.  And being in standup comedy, I see this behavior all the time in the trenches.  Thankfully, some of these frustrated comics didn’t go into a theater and do their 5 minutes.  And then shoot up the place.

Todd Phillips made Road Trip and the Hangover films.  How he made a pivot to such an unknown territory of the greatest villain of all time in comic book history and made it dark with perfectly placed dabs of humor also should put firmly put him as a solid contender for best director.

Love this film and anyone who says otherwise needs a flower squirting acid in their face.

The Joker is a 9.5 out of 10.

Films that need to be removed from AFI’s top film list and films that should be added.

So here are the films I think that should be removed on the AFI top 100. I’ve seen 54/100. Either they’re not good or don’t hold up. The link to the list I’m referring to is in the comments.

Keep in mind that some of these films may be very good, just not amazing in my eyes. Some just don’t hold the test of time. And just because some of them have social issues doesn’t mean they’re great. Also, you may have enjoyed some as a child/teenager and it doesn’t mean you still have to hold it in high regard now. Lastly, I’ll define something as great if you have seen the film at LEAST 3 times and/or own it.

Here are the ones that should be removed:
1. Casablanca-solid but doesn’t hold up.
3. Citizen Kane- see above.
8. Schindler’s List- It’s very good but c’mon, you’re not re-watching this film. 
15. 2001-Hated it. Never saw this on drugs and if you need to be high to see this, it’s not good.
17. The Graduate-Good but again, do any of you own it or have seen this multiple times?
31. Maltese Falcon-solid but does it hold up? No.
34. Snow White-definitely doesn’t hold up. Not in my Disney top 20 and this has nothing to do with the animation.
35. Annie Hall-I know I’m in the minority but I hate this film. Just not funny whatsoever.
36. Bridge over the River Kwai- Good but not top 100
39. Dr Strangelove-Ambien, Aziz Ansari, or this. You decide.
42. Bonnie and Clyde-Mediocre at best.
50. Lord of the Rings-enjoyed it but definitely not top 100.
51. West Side Story-nope, nope, and nope.
53. Deer Hunter-it’s fine and I think the Russian roulette scene is what put this film on the list. Otherwise, it’s nothing remarkable.
62. American Grafitti- absolutely boring, couldn’t finish this film. Put Diner in this same category except I finished Diner…begrudgingly.
64. Network-fine but not top 100. Social issue film
68. Unforgiven-very good but not top 100.
70. A Clockwork Orange-Just because it was off the wall for the time doesn’t mean it should remain on the list. It’s fine but not list worthy.
76. Forrest Gump-I’m just bitter that this film beat Shawshank and Pulp Fiction in 94. But this film is also fine, not list worthy.
81. Spartacus-Definitely doesn’t hold up, couldn’t finish during a recent rewatch.
83. Titanic-Get the fuck out of here.
84. Easy Rider-Insanely boring. Great soundtrack but a big collection of nothing. Social issue film.
89. 6th Sense-Please. I called this ending out in the theater when I saw it. You’re not rewatching this except one time after you want to see how he never directly talks to Willis. Overrated.
92. Goodfellas-Just kidding, this film is flawless.
96. Do the Right Thing-Very good but not top 100. Definitely a social issue film.
97. Blade Runner-The Emperor’s New Clothes, I just don’t see it.
100. Ben Hur-Also doesn’t hold up.

 

And now, films I believe should be on the AFI top 100. If you disagree with a selection, don’t be a queef and just say the pick sucks. Offer another film instead of the one.

1. Aladdin-Next to the Pixar films (toy story 1 is currently on the AFI list), this is the best Disney film, ever.
2. Alien/Aliens-I prefer Aliens but fully acknowledge the first was groundbreaking.
3. Back to the Future-Go ahead, find me ONE person that hates this film. Good luck.


4. Good Will Hunting-Won multiple awards and hits a ton of emotional points throughout the film.


5. Heat-First film with DeNiro and Pacino doing scenes together and it doesn’t disappoint. One of the best gun battle scenes in film history.


6. JFK-Plenty of awards and noms. And it also made America restart their curiosity of the JFK conspiracy.


7. LA Confidential-One of the best crime dramas and also scooped up a bunch of awards, including Basinger and screenplay.


8. Naked Gun/Airplane-I prefer Naked Gun ever so slightly and there needs to be comedies on this list. Those films have non stop LOL moments and these films are daily quoted.


9. Terminator 2-one of the few times the sequels is better than the first. Groundbreaking technology at the time and this story is fantastic. Again, find someone who hates this film. And if you don’t get a little teary eyed when he lowers himself into the molten steel, you’re not alive.


10. Usual Suspects-See LA Confidential and one of the best endings I’ve ever seen. Spacey and best screenplay winners


11. Untouchables-Connery wins best supporting in the tale of Al Capone. DeNiro as Capone, brilliant.


12. Bronx Tale-And for those of you that want social issues in films, here you go.


13. The Dark Knight-This film is an 7 by itself, Ledger makes it a 10. Even the biggest anti-superhero people admit this is the one which is the exception.


14. The Matrix-More revolutionary technology and what an insanely original story. This one sure makes you think..


15. Halloween-Best horror film ever that isn’t shock-centric and what a score. I daresay this is better than the Exorcist.


16. Whiplash-I think this the BEST film in the last 10 years. JK Simmons destroys as an asshole jazz teacher and he won for doing so. This script is magnificent and EASILY should’ve beaten Birdman.

Honorable mentions that I could make an argument for but I’m sure would get shot down:

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade- my favorite of the trio. And Raiders is on the AFI list so this isn’t a stretch.
2. Glengarry Glen Ross- If you like acting tour de forces, this film is for you. Take the names out of this film and you have a decent script. But Pacino, Lemmon, and obviously Baldwin chew up the scenery and make this fantastic.
3. Commando-Just kidding but goddamn, I love this film and have a huge soft spot for 80s/90s action films with a hint of cheesiness.
4. Die Hard- Find me someone who hates this film. Best Xmas film of all time!

5. Caddyshack- My favorite film and it is one of the most quoted films of all time.  Still holds up and is fucking hilarious.

 

Favorite sports films, let’s hear ’em!

Football – Any Given Sunday. Fuck you, this film is solid.
Basketball – Teen Wolf. I know everyone is supposed to put Hoosiers but I didn’t like it. Hell, I could even put in Space Jam here.
Baseball -Major League or Field of Dreams. Flip a coin
Hockey – Miracle. 2nd place: Goon. Slap Shot is overrated.
Boxing – Rocky 1-3. Cinderella Man is HORRIBLY underrated.
Gaming – Tron Legacy
Racing – Rush. Forgot about this one, good call JA and NC.
Martial Arts – Bloodsport. Any other answer is wrong.
Golf – Caddyshack!!!! Tin Cup is boring, don’t even think about it.
Murderball – Murderball
Professional Wrestling – The Wrestler
Horse Racing – Seabiscuit
Documentaries-King of Kong
Poker-Rounders
Pool-The Hustler and Poolhall Junkies