Penetrating the Interminable Mystery Of ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

2018 has already had a good share of foreign films, when you put Zama and Fantastic Woman (which won Best Foreign Film at the 2018 Oscars) in the mix. It was exciting to see that a French foreign film was coming to theatres as I knew it would have an interesting plot and involve a person named Pierre as all french films inevitably have.

Ismael’s Ghosts ended up becoming very confusing very fast. It was simple, at first, seemingly about a woman named Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her boyfriend of two years, Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), who have to recover from a strange turn of events as Ismael’s presumed dead wife Corletta (Marion Cotillard) shows up at an unexpected time.

The acting was slightly better than mediocre. The actors and actresses were new to me, for the most part. Amalric was previously in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Munich, and Quantum of Solace. Cotillard is a one-time academy award winning actress for La Vie en Rose and also appeared in Inception.

As for the plot, it’s complexity develops into something significantly more mysterious, intense, and confusing. This included a story about Ismael as a director and his movie which ends up being part of the twist at the end. At least, I think it was. It got so complicated at the end that I couldn’t tell if it was a twist or something I was just missing the whole time.

Overall, Ismael’s Ghosts was a fine movie. It was confusing beyond confusing but that was its biggest flaw. Make sure you’re ready, though, because it’s the longest 2 hour and 15 minute film you’ll ever watch. As in, it will feel like you’ve been there for a full year before you leave.

My Rating: 74%

Acting: 3/4

Cinematography: 3.3/4

Story: 2.8/4

Enjoyability: 2.8/4


‘Taco Shop’: Slapstick Comedy Gone Wrong

By Therese Gardner, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Despite the other wonderfully done comedies this year including Blockers and Game Night, the new Taco Shop is not all that it’s intended to be. While it is categorized as a slapstick comedy characteristic of broad humor, this film lacks any presence of it. As someone who loves a good laugh, I enjoy films with no social purpose except to make people laugh and feel good. This is definitely not one of those films. As a whole, this movie lacks any sense of direction and its message is vague.

Taco Shop follows Smokes (Tyler Posey), as he plans to resign from his job at Taco Dollar to open up his own taco shop. His plans get interrupted when he discovers his mother has recently lost her job and is now struggling with debt and the possibility of losing their house. As a result of their current financial situation, Smokes is forced to stay at Taco Dollar. The pressure continues to mount when a taco truck decides to park across the street from Taco Dollar causing a war to ensue, as both wish for success.

Can Smokes cooperate with his coworkers in order to save Taco Dollar? Well, obviously, the answer is yes since it’s a predictable film with no motivating meaning. By the end of the film, Smokes has saved Taco Dollar from being taken over by their competition.

One thing I disliked the most about this film was its cringeworthy nature and poor application of crude, sarcastic humor. This was only one of few projects for Director Joaquin Perea and it was not a memorable one. If you couldn’t already tell, I was not impressed even in the slightest. It wasn’t even stupid funny – just foolish.

I don’t want to be completely harsh, however, there were not many strengths, if any, within this film. Considering it is a remake of Taco Shop (2012), I’m not really sure what Perea intended to achieve. If there is anything to be learned from this film, it’s that not every film should be remade and not every director is capable of writing worthy comedy.

My Rating: 39.4%

Acting: 1.5/4

Cinematography: 2/4

Story: 1.8/4

Enjoyability: 1/4

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

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.

Spy Torture Porn: A ‘Red Sparrow’ Review

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

In a world where Hollywood is already littered with spy movies, ‘Red Sparrow’ gives us a twist on the genre that we definitely did not ask for: A revolting combination of torture, rape, and a storyline that fails to grab an audience’s attention.

It’s important to keep in mind that, throughout this review, I will be basing my thoughts entirely around the movie adaptation of the Red Sparrow book by Jason Matthews rather than the book itself.

Jennifer Lawrence gets the unfortunate opportunity to play Dominika Egorova, a Russian girl who cares more about her mother’s safety than anything else. She is also a ballerina in a highly respectable company, but that is quickly taken away from her after she suffers an injury that destroys her career. That was just one of many plotlines that manages to drift off into oblivion.

She later witnesses something that she shouldn’t have which turns into the first (of many) rape scenes. This is where this movie falls apart in its entirety. In a dragged out amount of dialogue and confusing reasoning, Egorova is forced to enter a government-run Sparrow school where she comes to discover that sometimes pleasuring someone against your will is just a part of the job.

Modern cinema’s messages, folks!

After she leaves this school, you might expect there to be action (considering this is an action movie), but even that aims to disappoint. The most you’ll see in this movie is a few cars screeching, Lawrence being tortured with water, and a prolonged skin grafting scene.

And if you’re not attracted to the lack of action, then you can just pay attention to the destructive story that switches around so much there practically isn’t a story.

‘Red Sparrow’ was the first movie of the 2018 movie season that provided absolutely nothing to the culture of cinema this year (‘Fifty Shades Freed’ and ‘Winchester’, who also provided next to nothing to modern cinema, still added more than this movie did).

I would forgive it’s flaws if the director wasn’t seasoned, but that’s not the case. Francis Lawrence directed the entire ‘Hunger Games’ franchise and the classic ‘I Am Legend’. Maybe he hadn’t read the book, maybe this was just a flop in his bucket. Either way, this was not strong on anyone’s part.

‘Red Sparrow’ had the vague potential to be successful in the spy genre, such as ‘Atomic Blonde’, but lacks substance, an actual story, and focuses more on the erotica and torture aspects. The torture-porn genre might be more suited for this film.

My Rating: 50%

Acting: 3/4

Cinematography: 2.5/4

Story: 1/4

Enjoyability: 1.5/4