By Bob Grimm
on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 10:00 AM
Rolf Lassgard is astonishingly good in this sweet and funny film about an old man giving up on life shortly before he gets some reasons to recharge his battery.
Ove (Lassgard) lives in a community where he acts as the enforcer of the rules, and he takes it seriously (Don’t you dare throw a cigarette butt on the ground when he is in eyeshot). Having lost his wife Sonja (Ida Engvoll), who we see in flashbacks, Ove has developed a cantankerous reputation that has most seeing him as an old coot.
A new couple moves in next door, a cat takes residence in his house, and the couple’s children become his friends, thus delaying his attempts to take his own life.
Director and screenwriter Hannes Holm does a great job letting us know, little by little through the flashbacks, the events that have led to Ove being the man he is. By the time the flashbacks have played out, it’s hard to blame Ove for being a little grumpy.
Lassgard is thoroughly enjoyable in the movie, managing to make the character somebody likeable, even when he’s screwing up.
Even though the movie takes place in one little community and basically focuses on the life of one man, it has an epic feel to it. Holm has made a special movie with this one.
By Bob Grimm
on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 10:00 AM
Horror fans know director Ti West for his cult classic horror film House of the Devil, and the horror films V/H/S, The Innkeepers and The Sacrament. His latest, starring Ethan Hawke and John Travolta, is a major departure from his usual projects, a capable, full-on homage to Sergio Leone westerns.
Hawke plays Paul, a drifter who finds himself in a frontier ghost town with a few remaining inhabitants. He and his dog immediately get into some trouble with Gilly (James Ransome), the son of the town marshal (Travolta).
Bad things transpire (this is sort of John Wick set in the old wild west), and Paul sets out for revenge. The resultant gunfights are nicely staged, accentuated by good work from Hawke, Travolta and Ransome.
While Hawke is always reliable these days, Travolta’s film career has been on a bit of downslide (one of a few his career has endured). His performance here as a semi-crooked lawman with a small streak of decency is actually funny at times, and consists of his best work in a film in over five years (It must be noted that he was also quite good as Robert Shapiro in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story).
The film’s biggest surprise would be Taissa Farmiga, providing solid comic relief as a fast talking hotel operator. West does admirable work on the western playground.
The movie doesn’t feel all that original or groundbreaking, but it does look good, has some solid acting, mixing in some nice dark humor for an overall good time.
By Bob Grimm
on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 11:15 AM
Despite good performances from a cast that includes Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux and Allison Janney, director Tate Taylor’s The Girl on the Train winds up being a little too ridiculous for a movie that wishes to be taken seriously.
Blunt spends much of the movie blotto drunk as Rachel Watson, a slurring alcoholic who aimlessly rides a train to New York City every day, spying on the people living in her former house, as well as the neighbors.
Rachel is divorced from Tom (Theroux), who seemingly couldn’t take Rachel’s drinking and their inability to have a child. Tom is remarried to Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), they have a child, and they would really like Rachel to stay away. Tom and Nancy’s nanny, Megan (Haley Bennett), lives nearby with her husband, (Luke Evans). Rachel spies on them in their most intimate moments as she races by on the train, envying what she sees as the perfect young romance.
Then, Nancy sees Megan with another man—setting off an odd, drunken tailspin that results in her getting involved in the drama when Megan goes missing.
So, for starters, I’m just not down with this premise. A deliriously drunk woman is able to decipher the goings-on inside homes as she races by in a train. Yes, sometimes the train slows down, and she does know the inhabitants somewhat, but this is a highly unlikely plot gimmick that’s stretched out to unrealistic proportions. Then she gets involved with the missing woman’s husband, and eventually finds herself a target in the investigation.
By Bob Grimm
on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Director Christopher Guest, who hasn’t made a movie in nearly a decade, returns with what is easily his worst.
His usual acting corps (minus Eugene Levy) takes a crack at the world of mascots, and I can’t think of a dumber subject for a comedy. Much of the movie is performers in full mascot suits in a competition doing routines that have nothing to them and eat up the running time. There’s a laugh every now and then, but mostly groans, and the subject matter just doesn’t call for a full movie.
Parker Posey has the film’s biggest laugh after eating bad sushi, and it’s not a very big laugh, so that’s not saying much. In what amounts to a truly desperate move, Guest cameos as his Waiting for Guffman character, Corky. His presence in that persona simply reminds us that this once funny guy is now straining for laughs, Mel Brooks style. His improvisatory style has worked before on better subjects (community theater, pet shows, folk music), but this one certainly suggests that he has run out of ideas. In many ways, it actually rips off Best In Show, his pet competition movie.
Mascots is just a less funny version of that movie with people dressed as pets rather than having real animals running around. This is a tremendous waste of everybody’s time, and needs to be removed from Netflix to make room for more shitty Adam Sandler movies.
By Bob Grimm
on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 9:00 AM
I think my shockingly lustrous eyelashes got singed watching Deepwater Horizon, director Peter Berg’s harrowing account of the worst oil rig disaster in American history. That’s because Berg’s film drops the viewer into a situation where fire and explosions are so realistic, you can feel the heat and disorientation of the 2010 disaster, which claimed the lives of 11 men and led to an oil spill eclipsing all other oil spills.
Mark Wahlberg is first-rate as Mike Williams, a man who was actually on the rig at the time of the disaster. Kurt Russell equals his power as Jimmy Harrell, who questions the integrity of the rig, and then proceeds to have the worst shower in cinema history since Janet Leigh had a showdown with Anthony Perkins.
Berg puts his film together in a way where the mere sight of mud oozing from a pipe is terrifying. When the stages of the disaster go into high gear, it’s as scary as any horror film to hit screens this year.
There’s a true sense of isolation and disorientation when the action goes full throttle. Props to the editor for creating a sensation of being utterly lost in the mayhem that escalates until the final two survivors jump many stories to the ocean below.
By Bob Grimm
on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 10:00 AM
This totally bonkers film plays out like David Lynch meets John Waters.
Grouchy old man Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels, who once played a security guard on Diff’rent Strokes) and his weird son (Sky Elobar) conduct disco tours in which they lie to tourists about where the Bee Gees wrote their music.
In the evenings, the grouchy old man just might be the Greasy Strangler, a man who is basically what his title implies: a dude covered in grease (in part due to the greasy food he eats) who strangles people.
Things become complicated when Big Ronnie takes a liking to his son’s girlfriend, resulting in a lot of full frontal nudity from all cast participants.
First time director Jim Hosking traffics in a sort of absurdist humor that won’t be appreciated by all, but for those who like their movies weird, he’s serving up a smorgasbord with this one. It’s also really gross, with lots of grease, farts, and eyeball consumption. If you are a fan of such cult films as The Dark Backward, you will eat this up. If you don’t like your comedies weird and gross, stay far, far away.
By Bob Grimm
on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 10:21 AM
Director Nate Parker’s biographical film about Nat Turner plays out like the scariest of horror shows, and it very well should.
The film scarily portrays Turner’s slave rebellion in the south, one that resulted in many African Americans being slaughtered in retaliation. It’s bloody, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s the two-by-four to the face type of film the subject warrants.
Parker plays Turner, a slave raised as a preacher and exploited for money by his plantation owner (Armie Hammer in a most scary performance), and his performance is a powerful one. As for his directing, he portrays white plantation and slave owners and preachers as hissing, hateful, almost cartoonish demons, and I say amen to that.
Some of the history might not be 100 percent accurate, but the portrayal of the hatred and disgusting state of affairs that led to Turner’s uprising is vivid and on target. Jackie Earle Haley, a.k.a. Kelly Leak of The Bad News Bears, successfully portrays one of the most repugnant, irredeemable characters ever put to screen.
Stylistically, the film gets a little strange in a few moments, but the end results and impressions are long lasting, very meaningful ones.