Suburbia in the 1950’s isn’t the perfect place it’s made out to be. I’m giving Suburbicon a C.
Suburbicon is advertised as the perfect place for families. Well-kept lawns, beautiful homes and friendly neighbors but it hides a dark side. When an African American family moves in, the horrible underbelly of the town begins to unravel. Gardner Lodge (played by Matt Damon) has what appears to be a perfect family, but he’s hiding secrets which end in bloodshed and death.
Based on an early script by the Coen Brothers, George Clooney and Grant Heslov rewrote the story moving it from a more humorous story to a dark commentary on life in suburban America. Additionally, directed by Clooney, Suburbicon tells two stories simultaneously of the first African American family in an all-white neighborhood and the racial hatred which occurs, alongside the breakdown of a typical suburban family who is more demented than they first appear.
The two stories don’t really blend. While the African American family faces some very realistic hatred and racial bigotry, it’s the “normal” family who is the main focus. It’s this heavy handedness about the message of the “con” of Suburbia and what is hidden behind the perfect lawns and homes, which is pummeled over the viewer’s head.
Additionally, the story is dark and deeply disturbing. The poor child of Gardner faces many horrors which leave you feeling icky as you exit the movie. Not only that, but the movie leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Plot points are brought up and never explored. It left me wondering about my own perception and what Mr. Clooney wanted the characters to show. In fact, the ending feels very awkward, moving back to a “normal” place after all the horrors, but we don’t know what will happen next.
Certainly not a movie for a family fun night, and not one for a date. If you are a fan of Damon’s acting or the Coen brothers, this might interest you, but wait and see it at home where you can take a shower to clean the filth off afterward.
With the recent crazy weather events, Geostorm is a timely movie with danger and thrills. I’m giving it an A-.
In 2019, a catastrophic weather event set in motion the creation of a system of satellites to control and prevent major weather events from happening. The Dutch Boy program was Jake Lawson’s (played by Gerard Butler) baby, but when he doesn’t play nice with the politicians, he’s pulled by his own brother, Max, (played by Jim Sturgess) from the project. Just as the United States is about to turn over the control to an international governing body, malfunctions occur causing horrible weather events to happen. Now it’s up to Jake and Max to figure out who is behind the sabotage and fix it before the whole world’s weather explodes.
Geostorm is more than an apocalyptic tale, it’s about family. The dynamics between Jake and Max, as well as Jake and his daughter are touching and are realistic. Families fight and disagree, families don’t always see eye to eye, yet families are forever. Then there’s the idea of the Dutch Boy being Jake’s baby as well. He can’t let it fail nor be used as a weapon.
Another amazing dynamic is the character of Sarah Wilson played by Abbie Cornish. She’s a female secret service agent on the detail to protect the president, but she’s breaking the rules by dating Max who is a member of the government. Sassy and professional, she’s a strong woman in a role we don’t’ often see females in. She’s conflicted but ultimately does what she needs to do, even it costs her.
The twists and turns keep you guessing as to who is the person or people behind the sabotage. I liked the interplay between Butler’s character and everyone else. I could be blindfolded and just listen to him talk all the time. His character in Geostorm was reminiscent of his character from Olympus has Fallen, but with a less guns and more outer space.
Reminiscent of San Andreas and Independence Day, Geostorm features stunning visual effects and wonderful characters. It’s slow to start off but the pace picks up as it heads to a stunning conclusion. Some may say that the ending is too wrapped up for their taste, but it does give us a launching point for a sequel… or at least a dialogue about playing God.
With the stunning visuals, this is a great movie to see on the big screen, but even if you don’t catch it there, it’s a fun afternoon movie.
You can only push a good man so far- I’m giving The Foreigner an A-.
Quan (played by Jackie Chan) longs to see his last remaining daughter wearing the dress of her dreams at her school dance but when a younger IRA group bombs the nearby bank, his daughter, along with a dozen other innocents are killed. Quan has lost all his family. His wife in childbirth. His two other daughters to Thai pirates. He has nothing remaining but his vengeance.
Liam Hennessey (played by Pierce Brosnan) has been on the honest edge of his dealings with the IRA for many years, serving as a British official although he’s not as clean as he seems. Family means something to both men and they will fight for their beliefs. But when Liam won’t give Quan the names for his vengeance, Quan will stop at nothing, even bombing Liam’s own home to get what he wants.
Two stories intertwine in the movie. Liam’s story and Quan’s. Each is compelling and not without passion and determination. It’s the complexity of these two families against an act of terrorism and politics which tell the whole story. I enjoyed that it was a twist with the IRA and not ISIS as the bad guys in this movie, however, I felt the ending left it too open. I wanted Liam to be a stronger man.
Chan has aged. It shows in the extra lines along his face but not in his moves. He retains the moves and easily takes out men half his age, even going against more than one at a time. But it’s his expressive face which tells the heartbreak of losing a child, the frustration of not getting the vengeance you seek and the pain of age and wounds on the body and soul.
Jackie Chan also produced this movie which is based on a book, The Chinaman by Stephen Leather, “one of the UK’s most successful thriller writers”. The supporting cast fills out the movie storyline but Pierce and Jackie carry the story on their shoulders. Certainly one to see whether at the movies or on DVD.
Sequels are always a challenge but more so with a beloved movie. I’m giving Blade Runner 2049 a B.
Working for the LAPD, K (played by Ryan Gosling) is a Blade Runner, a replicant whose job it is to find and eliminate the replicants who have gone rogue including former models who set out to take on the people who made them. During the recovery/disposal of an older version, K finds a secret which could change the world…and now must set out to not only discover if the secret is real, but to eliminate it. To do so, he seeks out former Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) and faces his own mortality in the bargain.
Set thirty years in the future, the Blade Runner sequel is a long movie, almost three hours. The time is filled with vivid images of a dark, gray world filled with metal buildings, snow and rain. Japanese language and video images dance through the landscape (reminding me of Ghost in the Shield). Sunshine, plants and animals are missing and clearly leave a void. Niander Wallace (played by Jared Leto) has taken over Tyrell’s creations, them quicker allowing for him to take over more and more of the outer planets.
But K is more human than others thought as he lives this secret life with a video droid/companion who knows his deep dark secrets. It is her who he loves and poses a question about ‘what is alive?’ Their relationship is much like a marriage with silly banter, inane discussion about their days and sexual longing. Speaking of sex, Blade Runner has a lot of nudity. While I felt it was gratuitous, it does appeal to the male audience.
Sequels are naturally difficult. More so when they are a popular one. Blade Runner 2049 has enough nostalgia to connect to the original while deepening the storyline, sending it into a new direction. With Harrison Ford, Edward James Olmos and Sean Young, the sequel brings the characters back as if we just left them for a bit. However, the slow pace during K’s search feels as if it drags on. The last half hour of the movie is the finest as we finally get to see the truth cross K’s face. Certainly whether you are a fan or not of the original, this Blade Runner sequel will have you talking after the movie is over about it.
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