Film Forecast Friday: April 6th

By Anthony Peyton and Olivia Norwood

On Friday, April 6th, we have….

  1. A Quiet Place
  2. Chappaquiddick
  3. Blockers
  4. You Were Never Really Here
  5. The Miracle Season
  6. Lean on Pete

Anthony’s Prediction:

First things first, I think ‘The Miracle Season’ is going to crash at the box office. It doesn’t have a huge variety of strong actors and it never seemed to have a very solid story in the first place unless you just so happen to be a high school volleyball player.

‘You Were Never Really Here’ could be a hit or miss, but I’m shooting for more of a miss. Luckily, it has Joaquin Phoenix (‘Her’), so maybe that will balance it’s already-been-done before type of story. ‘Lean on Pete’ honestly seems like it will be a cute movie. Yes, cute. But that’s about as far as I’ll go with that one. I don’t think it’ll be a great movie or a popular one by any means, but it’ll be there for a movie to watch.

On the other hand, ‘Blockers’ and ‘Chappaquiddick’ seem like they are both going to do just as well as each other. Neither are super anticipated, but both seem like they could potentially have their moments (I mean, Blockers has John Cena in it, which is always something to uncomfortably cringe at).

The biggest hit for week one of April will definitely be ‘A Quiet Place’. It’s a horror movie – a strange one at that – and it should be quite the start for incoming 2018 horror movies.

Liv’s Prediction:

First of all, I disagree that ‘The Miracle Season’ will crash at the box office. Coming from the director of  ‘Soul Surfer’, Sean McNamara, I think the film has a clear knowledge of who its audience is and will definitely appeal to the teenage girl crowd.

Although I love Joaquin Phoenix, I don’t see his new thriller ‘You Were Never Really Here’ being a hit at the box office. I do, however, see it being widely respected among film lovers. On the other hand, ‘Lean on Pete’ could do quite well. People love films about horses and this seems to be the one that would even reach an indie audience.

‘Blockers’ will do just fine at the box office. It’s a comedy with the widely loved John Cena. ‘Nuff said. However, the new thriller ‘A Quiet Place’ is going to be a huge hit considering how much coverage it has gotten (Go Marketing!) and that it has Jim from ‘The Office’.


A Must-Not See: ‘Tyler Perry’s Acrimony’

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

In Tyler Perry’s newest film, Taraji P. Henson stars as Melinda Moore-Gayle, a hardworking wife who grows tired of her husband’s unwillingness to work due to his fixation with his rechargeable battery invention that has gone nowhere for the past 18 years.

Shortly after Melinda finally divorces her husband Robert (Lyriq Bent), he sells his battery invention, becomes a multi-millionaire, and finds a new wife (who he previously had cheated on Melinda with when they first started dating). Watching Robert and his new wife live the life Melinda believes she deserves after supporting Robert for all those years causes her to become furious and all hell breaks loose.

For me, this film lacked in pretty much every way. The plot was ridiculous and not at all believable. The whole battery obsession I found odd, and then the fact that it sold and he became a millionaire directly after their divorce was even more ridiculous.

The film skips over 18 years of time at one point and literally nothing has changed which I find very hard to believe. By the end, I just couldn’t believe what I was watching. I kept finding myself thinking, “oh my God how is there more?”

The film was supposed to have a very serious tone, but the story was so absurd that I just couldn’t take any of it seriously. The film also made several lame attempts at comedy that just fell flat and were completely cringeworthy.

The set was so poorly done it was almost comedic. Almost every outdoor scene was done in front of a green screen and it was very easy to tell. At times it felt more like a bad YouTube video than a film in theaters.

One of the biggest downfalls of this film for me was the fact that I found myself not caring about any of the characters. I wasn’t really rooting for any of them. Part of this was due to the fact that the acting was very forced which made it hard to engage with any of the characters. Henson’s acting was the only one that was even somewhat redeemable, while the rest were forcing  emotions.

I started out somewhat sympathetic to Melinda because she is so hardworking, but then she grows into this psychotic, jealous woman who will stop at nothing to get the life she thinks she is entitled to. She goes to completely unnecessary and extreme lengths to try and get her way back into Robert’s life after she divorced him and he gave her a portion of his earnings even though they were already divorced. Robert’s character was just stagnant and I never really knew where he stood or what he wanted. Melinda’s entire family was very hypocritical and didn’t really contribute much to the story.

The general progression of the story was very odd. It was framed with random dictionary entries of words that describe Melinda’s feelings at any given point in the movie. For instance, the movie starts with a dictionary entry for the word acrimony which means bitterness or ill feeling. Everytime one of these came up on the screen it just felt very out of place to me, especially since it takes nearly half the movie for the second one to pop up. I think this could have been an interesting element if it was used more consistently, but it wasn’t.

Overall, Tyler Perry’s Acrimony did one thing right: the title. Because I definitely left with a general bitterness and a strong ill feeling.

My Rating: 20%

Acting: 1.5/4

Cinematography: 1/4

Story: 1.3/4

Enjoyability: 1.5/4

Levels of Paranoia: An ‘Unsane’ Review

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Psychological thrillers are off to a wild start this year with the murderous Thoroughbreds and now moving onto another darkened thriller called Unsane. The difference? This one makes you question whether you are paranoid or just out of your mind.

Paranoia is a feeling that many psychiatrists, counselors, and therapists may mistake for schizophrenia, depression, or even insanity. Those same psychiatrists may use this feeling-portrayed-as-a-disease to recommend an actual psych evaluation. People may think you are insane when you are something much different.

You are Unsane.

Shot entirely using a phone camera, director Steven Soderbergh and writers James Greer and Jonathan Bernstein tell the dark story of a formerly suicidal woman named Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) who is a victim of severe stalking by an ex-boyfriend.

Even after filing restraining order after restraining order, she still continually felt as if she was being watched. Maybe you’ve felt that feeling. The feeling of someone staring at you behind the park bench you took a break on during your morning jog. The feeling that maybe someone is staring through your window from the street outside. Sawyer Valentini felt all of these things.

It goes to show that sometimes paranoia isn’t your brain tricking you into believing a false entity. Paranoia can be your brain warning you of what is actually happening.

That is where the story begins and that is the path it follows. It explodes into a tense reawakening of just how far someone will go to get what they want.

Foy (The Crown, Breathe) delivers as good of a performance as anyone who only has a phone camera to work with, while still successfully making the audience question whether her character is genuinely insane or in her right mind.

She co-stars alongside Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project, If I Stay), who plays the seemingly unstoppable stalker in a performance that successfully portrays the absolute darkness of borderline personality disorder disguised as a man who will do anything for “love”.

There were very few bad acting moments from the cast (which also included Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, and Aimee Mullins). The acting itself helped to make this movie better than many this year by having every single actor stick to their character precisely and accurately to give each one the ability to be despised or adored by the audience.

Set in a mental institution for much of the film, Soderbergh uses rapid twisting camera angles to resemble the mind of a mental institution patient. In regards to Valentini, it makes her constant paranoia seem like she is, in fact, insane.

Even as an audience member, it’s hard not to question Valentini’s obsessive accusations of seeing her stalker everywhere. She thinks she sees him in restaurants, at her job, her house, anywhere that she goes. This is the case with the entire movie.

It provides a very important study of the difference between insanity and simple paranoia, which can also be the difference between being viewed as mentally unstable and just fearful. It shows just how hard it can be to recognize these within people, and the trust and believability used in keeping someone healthy.

Unsane is just dark enough to give us everything we need in a psychological thriller; fear, creativity, commendatory acting, and the ability to screw the minds of every shaking audience member.

My Rating: 85%

Acting: 3.1/4

Cinematography: 3.2/4

Story: 3.9/4

Enjoyability: 3.4/4

‘The Basketball Diaries’: A Change In Coming of Age

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Coming of age has always been a popular genre among film but it tends to always be about the same thing. A light hearted drama about a suburban teen who struggles to find their identity while exploring the many aspects of growing up. Occasionally, you’ll find a darker approach to this subject such as Girl, Interrupted and The Virgin Suicides. But those films were made possible because of the unconventional 1995 film, The Basketball Diaries.

It centers on a young basketball player Jim Carroll (Leonardo DiCaprio) who lives in the rough neighborhoods of New York City with his single mother. After the death of his best friend, Jim soon spirals into the dangerous world of drugs, prostitution, homelessness, and theft.

Jim’s story is one that many would rather not tell when it comes to adolescents. He doesn’t come from a middle-class home and doesn’t have the same opportunities as other kids. He’s poor and comes from a neighborhood that is infested with drugs and crime. Kids, like himself, have dreams and goals but sometimes their environment swallows them whole and they’re pressured into the life that they wanted to escape.

Jim wanted to be a writer and he was obviously gifted, which is evident through the narration of his diary entries. Unfortunately, he gets caught up in the rough scene of New York City and his dreams become non-existent.

But that isn’t all that the film shows. It also gives us a look at the coming of age story for boys, which we don’t often see. Girls and boys have different versions of growing up, that is a known fact.The Rumspringa of a boy’s life is especially unique as it consists of rebellion and proving your manhood through sex and violence. Jim deals with these complexities while also having an addiction that leads him to stealing and selling his body for the money that pays for it.

So, why is this important?

Well, this story changes what being a teenager means. It doesn’t always involve a first car, dating, prom, or graduation. For most teens, it’s darker and more life-altering. They don’t get to grow up like the rest of us. For them, growing up is more like a shortcut to adulthood. Jim Carroll is of the many teens that these things happen to and they don’t just exist in 1995. They exist here and now in 2018.

The Basketball Diaries forced the industry to look at and tell the stories of people who aren’t as privileged and give the Jim Carroll’s of the world a voice. It affected the coming of age films to follow and proved to everyone that they could be just as successful as a John Hughes movie.

‘The Death of Stalin’: Murder and Violence Is Funny

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Russia in the 40’s and 50’s was a place of government corruption and utter tragedy. Most films about this Communist country consist of spies and executions including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Bridge of Spies. But what if satire was added to something that is known to be tragic? That is exactly what Armando Iannucci’s film The Death of Stalin does so perfectly. It paints Russia and it’s most notorious leader as comical without glossing over the historical violence.

Surrounding the death of Joseph Stalin, the disorganized members of the Central Committee fight for the position to replace their beloved leader. Among them are an opposing Nikita Khruschev (Steve Buscemi), a mousy Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), and the barbarous Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale). Once their leader passes, Khruschev strives to prove Beria’s guilt and crimes against humanity while Malenkov remains painfully neutral.

To understand why this film achieves the dark comedy aspect that it does, you have to look at the direction and cinematography that enhances the performances of its incredible actors. The men and women in the film also use an abundant amount of profanity to add more humor because what’s a comedy without “f*ck”.

There are many scenes of quick and dirty murder that flood the story. Police and soldiers shoot innocent people in broad daylight without remorse. But the execution and interrogation scenes makes the audience the most uncomfortable with their own judgement of what’s funny. You can see victims being pushed down stairs and distinctly hear soldiers shooting them all while Beria casually walks and talks through the halls of the secret jail. Its swift and happens without a flinch from its actors but with an uproar of awkward laughter from it’s audience.

Other scenes include the organized chaos that ensues when the Committee members find Stalin nearly dead, on the floor, and covered in his own urine while the clumsy middle aged men struggle to bring the heavy leader to his bed. With all of the doctors in the country either executed or jailed, they manage to pluck the former ones off of the street fearing for the safety of their lives.

Why is all of this funny? I might have an idea. Maybe the casualness of it all makes the chaos and violence seem more normal. We laugh when we see that the characters aren’t phased by the gruesome acts that are happening around them. But, it’s laughter caused by our own confusion of why it is funny.

Explaining why this film is amusing is a huge struggle but that is what comedy does best. It makes people question their own sick sense of humor. The Death of Stalin uses this to make audiences uneasy with their laughter and turn Russia’s history into a satire that puts the ‘dark’ in dark comedy.

My Rating: 87%

Acting: 3/4

Cinematography: 3.5/4

Story: 4/4

Enjoyability: 3.5/4


Must Love ‘Isle of Dogs’

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Since the release of Wes Anderson’s animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox, fans have waited for the day that the King of Indie would release another aesthetically stunning stop-motion flick. Well, that time has finally arrived and soon it will capture the hearts of hipsters and dog lovers alike.

Based in the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki, the 12 year old Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin) makes the brave journey of searching for his dog after all canines are deported to the secluded “Trash Island” due to the threat of dog flu. While on the waste dump, he meets a group of Alpha dogs including the stray, Chief (Bryan Cranston), the lone wolf who bites when shown affection.

Despite being different species, the two characters are very much alike. Both are lost orphans who constantly seek belonging, either in people or pets. Atari found a home in his best friend, Spots (Liev Schreiber), when he lost his own. Chief, coming from nothing, found himself in a strong bond with the pack that provided him with purpose. At first distant, the two bond over their lonesomeness while Chief also overcomes his struggles with receiving kindness.

While Anderson’s style can come off as inauthentic to any type of behavior, it allows the film to eliminate what makes humans and animals different and brings them to the same level. The true message and heart rests in the connection between these two lonely characters when they’re both faced with the threat of losing security and friendship. This could happen between any two humans but Anderson further proves that cinematic stories like these can happen between anyone. It isn’t called “a man’s best friend” for nothing.

Between the splendid animation and witty dialogue, Isle of Dogs shines in its original storytelling while Anderson teaches us an important lesson about compassion and camaraderie: we all have the capacity to give and receive friendship even when we feel the most alone.

My Rating: 87.5%

Animation: 4/4

Cinematography: 3.5/4

Story: 3/4

Enjoyability: 3.5/4

Film Forecast Friday: March 30th

By Olivia Norwood and Anthony Peyton

On Friday, March 30th, we have….

  1. Ready Player One
  2. God’s Not Dead: Light in Darkness
  3. Tyler Perry’s Acrimony
  4. Caught
  5. Fourplay
  6. Gemini

Liv’s Prediction:

Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One will be the biggest film of the weekend, hands down! It’s a big Hollywood movie with special effects like you wouldn’t believe, so it will easily be superior to the rest.

The second biggest film would have to be Tyler Perry’s Acrimony. This is mostly because it’s Tyler Perry and stars Empire’s widely adored Taraji P. Henson. That is a recipe for a box office hit. As for the third installment of God’s Not Dead, I don’t expect much attendance for it. In fact, I think it will crash. It’s not highly anticipated nor does anyone really know about the series itself. Therefore, I don’t see it going anywhere.

As for the indies, only one seems to grasp any type of attention from an average moviegoer. That film is NEON’s Gemini starring the lovely Zoë Kravitz and daring Lola Kirke. The only reason I think that this thriller will do any numbers at the box office is because of the edge factor and that it came from NEON, the production company of Oscar snub I, Tonya. It’s also a story about two beautiful women where one of them could be a murderer. Thoroughbreds, much? I won’t even bother mentioning the other two, Caught and Fourplay, because it has no appeal and no one is anticipating them.

Just know that Ready Player One will dominate at the box office and God’s Not Dead will fall into oblivion like the rest of the films in its series.

Anthony’s Prediction:

Caught has the potential of becoming popular with indie film fans. It has an intriguing story and I am curious on how they’ll go about it. Box office wise… not a hit. This isn’t a major picture that’s going to be rewatched multiple times by the regular moviegoer, but it won’t be awful. As for Gemini, this will also be enjoyed by the indie moviegoer, as many NEON films are. It’ll probably be rated about as well as Caught, if not slightly higher as it has a younger target audience.

Tyler Perry’s Acrimony will be adored by women over the age of 30, as that is its target audience. It won’t fail at the box office but it certainly won’t be the biggest hit, either. However, it does deserve props for filming in a period of eight days. I have confidence that it will be a decent movie if Taraji P. Henson has anything to say about it.

Fourplay and God’s Not Dead: Light in Darkness will be the biggest crashes of the weekend. Fourplay in itself sounds like an already-been-done-before monotone story that won’t be of much interest to the moviegoer who wants to be intrigued by the film they are watching. God’s Not Dead: Light in Darkness has just run its course. This will be its third movie and, given that Christian viewers didn’t even love the first two that much anyway, is on an inevitable path to catastrophe.

The biggest movie of the weekend will be the highly anticipated Ready Player One based on a book of the same title by Ernest Cline. People who have read the book – and those who haven’t – are fascinated by the unique story that this movie is revolving around and, as a result, will be watched by a large audience. This will be the box office’s biggest hit for the weekend of March 30, and that is a fact.