FlixChatter Review: Knives Out (2019)

With a provocative title like Knives Out, the film had better be a sharp murder mystery. Fortunately, writer/director Rian Johnson and his stellar ensemble cast delivered! The film embraces the tropes of the whodunnit genre – the wealthy dysfunctional family, the historic mansion, and an eccentric detective investigating the case… but it cleverly turned it on its head. It’s not as eerie, chilling or overly dark, in fact, Johnson kept the mood rather light and even seemingly frivolous. But don’t let that fool you, it’s suspenseful when it needs to be and oh, it’s just so delightfully entertaining!

The film starts out with the death of the family patriarch, crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), following his own birthday celebration. Soon the family gathers to mourn him, while in reality all they care about is how big of the inheritance they’d get. Given the suspicious nature of Harlan’s death, the detectives promptly arrive to question the members, including the debonair detective Benoit Blanc, whose involvement in the case is a mystery in itself.

Daniel Craig seems to have a blast playing Detective Blanc, with a rather quirky Southern Accent. The accent perhaps intentional to contrast him from the WASP-y, Massachusetts-bred Harlan  family, much like Agatha Christie’s Poirot’s mustache sets her protagonist apart from the people he’s investigating. Craig definitely stands out even amongst this stellar cast, but the real star of the film is Ana de Armas who plays Marta Cabrera, Harlan’s loyal nurse who can’t lie without vomiting. That bit lends to some hilarious scenes in the film. This is only the second time I saw her since Blade Runner 2049, but she’s proven herself a versatile actress. Here she looks plain as can be, dressed in the dowdiest clothes, but portrays a seemingly-helpless-but-smarter-than-you-think character so well that you’re never quite know just who she really is.

I won’t go into more plot details, as this is the kind of film that’s best to go into it blindly. Any fan of murder mystery would get a kick out Johnson’s clever plot that keeps you guessing. Every single member of the family could have been the culprit, and that’s what made this kind of movies fun. I kept thinking things would go one way and it went another direction, keeping things suspenseful yet light and mirthful. Most of the action takes place inside or around the mansion, but there’s enough going for it to keep you engaged. It goes to show that a good script the best special effect of all, no amount of special effect or stunning visuals can make up for a good story.

I also love the fact that the writer/director makes good use of his eclectic ensemble cast, even Plummer in the flashback scenes. Each actor have their moment to shine, though of course some are memorable than others. Chris Evans clearly relish on playing a spoiled brat, practically the black sheep of the family… quite a departure from his goody-two-shoes Captain America role. The cozy-but-oh-so-sexy aesthetic no doubt spikes up sales of Fisherman sweaters everywhere.  I always adore the chameleonic Toni Collette and she’s fun to watch as a lifestyle guru, perhaps channeling Gwyneth Paltrow a bit with her Goop empire. It’s also amusing to see Jamie Lee Curtis and Don Johnson as a couple. I think Jamie Lee should get more leading roles even now in her 60s, this sassy woman’s still got it!

Rian Johnson got so much flak for The Last Jedi which I actually enjoyed. I’m glad he’s back directing an original story as he’s clearly a gifted storyteller. In addition to the shrewd plot, he manages to inject a not-so-subtle jab about today’s political climate in regards to immigrants. I think the Best Original Screenplay Oscar nod is well-deserved, oh and the cast should’ve been nominated for Best Ensemble at SAG Awards too! The last shot of the film is absolutely brilliant… the expressions of the cast and an ingenious use of a particular prop is one of the best cinematic final scenes ever. I can’t help but smile every time I think about it!

I’m glad I was able to catch it before it left local cineplex as I missed the press screening back in November. Apparently a sequel is in the works for this, centered on Benoit Blanc with Craig reprising his role (so Craig is trading James Bond for Blanc, Benoit Blanc. Ha!) Normally I’d roll my eyes whenever sequels are announced, but I’m open to this idea, let’s hope the follow-up sequel’s script is as clever as this one.


Have you seen KNIVES OUT? Well, what did you think?

Trailers Spotlight: ‘Knives Out’ and HULU’s ‘Four Weddings & A Funeral’ miniseries

Film/Show trailers come out every day, but only a few are worth posting about. Well, yesterday TWO trailers came out that caught my eye. Yes they couldn’t be more different from each other in terms of plot, tone and setting, but I’m excited for both! So let’s start with the Rian Johnson‘s star-studded whodunnit thriller…

A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.

I mean, just LOOK. AT. THIS. CAST.

It’s gotta be quite a feat just scheduling THIS kind of ensemble to be in the same room, dayum! Looking at some of the character names on IMDb, sounds like Captain America and General Zod are related? With the Scream Queen herself Jamie Lee Curtis, James Bond’s got his work cut out for him to solve this case, ha!

And here’s the trailer…

After directing Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017, writer/director Rian Johnson is now channeling Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie in his family murder mystery with an amazing cast! Right off the bat it reminds me of the excellent miniseries Ordeal by Innocence on Amazon Prime starring Bill Nighy as the patriarch of a wealthy family. This one seems far more comedic, at least from the way the trailer is cut. Interesting to see Christopher Plummer co-starring with Daniel Craig in similar roles as in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which I saw not too long ago. Apparently Craig’s character Benoit Blanc is described as an American Poirot, but what is that accent??! In any case, the scene stealer in this trailer is definitely Chris Evans, shedding his Cap’s goody-two-shoes image with his devil-may-care attitude and a potty mouth. I’m SO down for this suspenseful-but-mirthful wild ride this promises to be. I quite enjoyed Looper, though I should check out Brick one of these days.

KNIVES OUT is released on 27 November, perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday where family gatherings can be murder 😉


Maya, the young communications director for a New York senatorial campaign, receives a wedding invitation from her college schoolmate now living in London. She leaves her professional and personal life behind, in favor of traveling to England and reconnecting with old friends and ends up in the midst of their personal crises. Relationships are forged and broken, political scandals exposed, London social life lampooned, love affairs ignited and doused, and of course there are four weddings… and a funeral.

Now, normally I’m not into remakes of a classic, especially when it’s one of my all time favorites. But when I heard that Mindy Kaling is writing this miniseries AND I saw the cast includes the lovely Nathalie Emmanuel and my current crush Nikesh Patel, I’m SO down for this! Plus the original exec producer/writer Richard Curtis (who also wrote my fave rom-coms Notting Hill, Love Actually, About Time, etc.) himself is involved in this project.

I LOVE that they’re still setting this in London with a diverse cast. Ok my only gripe is the ‘Ryan Gosling dipped in caramel’ comment. Puh-leeze! The Goz wishes he’s got cut-glass cheekbones and voice like Mr. Patel! Glad Nikesh gets to use his own British accent this time, while Nathalie is playing American – not sure why, but I wonder if she’s related to Andie MacDowell’s character Carrie from the original movie who’s also part of this cast.

In any case, I’ve been enjoying the British Indian actor since my bestie Vony tipped me to watch Indian Summer (it’s on Amazon Prime, highly recommended!!). It’s like Downton Abbey but with more POC cast + more intrigue and higher stakes.  It’s time for him to shine as a romantic leading man and based on this trailer, methinks he’ll steal plenty of hearts!

Now, I suppose they could make an entirely new series that’s inspired by the 1994 classic, but considering how tough it is to launch any new tv show, sometimes leveraging something that’s beloved in people’s mind might get more attention. I don’t know what the real reason is, but in the case of this particular series, I’m willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt. A fresh new spin on a classic isn’t automatically bad, so yeah, I look forward to July 31 for the premiere!


Thoughts on these trailers, folks?

FlixChatter Review – AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019)

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call the release of AVENGERS: ENDGAME as an event, at least to fans of the MCU. If you don’t know what that acronym stands for, but yet you’re curious enough to finally check out just what the fuss is about, I suggest watching a few Marvel movies first in order to fully appreciate what’s going on in this movie. There are 21 MCU movies up until this point, broken down in three phases. ENDGAME, as the title suggest, is the cumulation of the most of the heroes’ journey.

As I was watching the movie, I thought about how much I have come to care about these characters and what they have gone through. Since the release of Iron Man 11 years ago in 2008, there have been multiple new characters being introduced, but in the end, the film pretty much focused on the original six Avengers who survived Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War. Now, I know there have been calls NOT to spoil the major plot points, though it should go without saying for every movie. FlixChatter readers know I’m very careful about spoilers. That said, it’d be tough to review this film without potentially revealing some key things, so if you prefer to go into the film completely blind, you should stop reading this now [consider yourself warned].

The movie clocks in at 3 hours 1 minute. It’s perhaps the longest superhero movie ever, but there’s just SO much to cover. It actually goes by relatively fast, but that’s not to say there aren’t any slow moments. If the Marvel Cinematic Universe is organized in phases, this movie is comprised of three specific ‘chapters’ if you will. The surviving superheroes (and a powerful new ally) only have one thing in their mind, that is to go after Thanos. It’s quite amusing to see the supreme villain is actually living a rather domesticated life, seemingly not losing much sleep after wiping out half of all living creatures. I’m not going to say how that ‘avenging’ business goes, but the movie then jumps ahead five years.

The second act is perhaps the slowest part of the movie, but I feel like the quieter moments are necessary. Naturally those who survived the snap are in mourning, some have lost more than others… some lost absolutely everything they hold dear. It’s not something people can just move onward and upward, not even those as mighty as the Avengers. As Steve Rogers said in the trailer, ‘Some people move on, but not us.’ Some are dealing with this new ‘post-Thanos snap’ era better than others. One could say they’re all dealing with an intense case of PTSD. Rogers is shown in a therapy session, while Hawkeye and Thor are dealing with this trauma in very different ways. I actually love how this movie is playing with our expectations of certain characters. Let’s just say, some of their um, evolution, for a lack of a better word, is truly amusing and not at all what I expected.

Themes of loss, anguish, regret, vengefulness, sacrifice are all we expect in a film that promises to be ‘the end of the line.’ Those themes are explored well here by writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, brought to life brilliantly by Joe & Anthony Russo. By this time, most of the actors have convincingly embodied their characters. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner who made up the original six are particularly strong here, with Josh Brolin’s Thanos as the perfect villain. This movie has plenty of genuine emotional moments without being too heavy handed. It’s dark at times without being too brooding or overly gloomy. In fact, there are plenty of funny, witty scenes that provide the perfect levity to balance out the heartbreaking moments.

I’m glad my bladder held out well despite the three-hour running time, so I didn’t miss anything. I have to say though, the level of satisfaction this movie is would depend on how much you care about the characters that have been carefully crafted in the past decade. By the same token, if you’re not familiar with the previous movies, especially the previous Avengers movie, you’d find this movie utterly discombobulating. Even I find the plot rather convoluted and some things don’t make any sense. But most movies involving SPOILER ALERT (highlight if you want to read) time travel, especially involving quantum physics, is bound to be a head-scratcher. Yet that plot device also allows for backstory for certain characters, a walk down memory lane for others and perhaps even a farewell of sort given that the ‘end is near.’ If I were to nitpick however, I find the action spectacle in its finale to be too bombastic for me. It’s a problem for most superhero movies that even the best ones can’t seem to overcome. Fortunately, the Russos remain focused on the characters and what they have lost/stand to lose, which keeps the story grounded despite some overblown action sequences.

We all have our favorite character(s), and mine happens to be the first Avenger. My heart constantly went pitter-patter wondering what’s to become of Captain America. I have avoided reading all the incessant fan theories, and I’m glad I did. Part of the journey is the end. This movie delivers on that premise and it completes many of the characters’ arc in such an emotional way. It also lives up to the ‘whatever it takes’ premise as the Avengers face one impossible odds after another. Thor’s line ‘because that’s what heroes do’ was delivered facetiously in Thor Ragnarok, but here it holds a whole new meaning.

What made the MCU franchise so successful and gratifying to fans is that there’s a unifying thread throughout the movies. Yes, there are parts that have continuity problems–I mean what happened to Wanda aka Scarlet Witch’s Russian accent after Avengers: Age of Ultron?? But in the grand scheme of things, the storylines are so tightly-interwoven that by the time they all assembled in Endgame, we know just how high the stakes are for these characters. It also helps that earth mightiest heroes have a worthy adversary to fight against, which in and of itself is quite a feat. For a movie with such a compelling premise and a humongous build-up, it would be a shame if the payoff is weak. Thankfully that’s not the case here and for that I’m grateful. I’m also glad I packed tissues as it’s an emotional roller coaster of the best kind. Endgame made me laugh out loud one moment, then bawl my eyes out the next.

The film is an artistic and technical marvel. The set pieces are great, which is to be expected for a film of this scale. Alan Silvestri, the original composer of The Avengers, delivers rousing music with his iconic score, but it also sounds perfectly melancholy when it needs to be. What a bittersweet and worthy send-off for a bunch of beloved characters. I don’t even mind watching it again before its theatrical run is over, it’s THAT good.

Bravo to the Russos once again for completing a satisfying finale to such a behemoth franchise. There must have been an enormous pressure on them to deliver and I think, all things considered, they did an astounding job.


What do you think of AVENGERS: ENDGAME? Let’s hear it!

Guest Review: GIFTED (2017)

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Directed By: Marc Webb
Written By: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan
Runtime: 1 hr 41 minutes

I walked out of Gifted loudly bemoaning Chris Evans’ lack of acting skills when I heard a man behind me say something even more controversial: that Gifted suffers from a “simple plot”.

No, sweet idiot, it did not have a simple plot.

I mean, if you fell asleep for part of the movie, you could be forgiven for thinking such a thing. But if you were paying even a moderate amount of attention, you should know better. Superficially, Gifted is about a young man who is the sole custodian of his sister’s daughter until it becomes apparent that the little girl might be a genius and his mother sues for custody. That’s just the logline, though. The meat of the story is in the grandmother’s zeal for her daughter’s success and then her granddaughter’s promise. The story is partly a painful parable about living vicariously through one’s children and partly a nod to the long-lived, ever-changing battle women have fought for their place in STEM fields.

That said, I might be giving Tom Flynn too much credit. He makes a few stereotypically male slip ups in his storytelling: calling a strong female character “bossy”, making off-color comments about mistresses, and taking a mildly unsavory stance on consent. He also does everything that he can to make a story that is very obviously about two women and a girl instead about the one man they all share.
Of course, that one male character is a doozy. Frank Adler, played oh so stoically by Chris Evans, is hard-working, funny, intelligent, empathetic, and possesses an enviable moral compass. His character should have been left there, as the perfect single-father, but it is Chris Evans, so he’s also suave, gorgeous, and handily achieves a Love Interest. This was presumably to give the movie its PG-13 rating, which is one of the largest mistake that the movie makes.

I know it’s cute when kids swear and I get that Hollywood thinks that attractive people making out will always make them more money, but the consequential PG-13 rating was a poor trade off. Parents who probably would have otherwise brought their children to see the movie, which is an inspirational story featuring Mary Adler (Mckenna Grace) a relatable little girl who is the full package: she’s a genius, a hero, and obsessed with her cat. Why the studios didn’t fight for a PG rating is completely beyond me. Kids would love her.

Chris Evans was really the only weak member of the cast: he is a beautiful human, but he struggles to emote, and a lot of his dialogue felt wooden and unnatural. Luckily, he is always acting opposite incredibly gifted performers. Mckenna Grace can cry like nobody’s business, Jenny Slate (you might recognize her as “Mona Lisa” from Parks and Rec) is surprisingly good as the first grade teacher all of us wanted, Octavia Spencer is unsurprisingly flawless, and Lindsay Duncan wrangles a supporting role so handily that she makes the entire movie about her. In a good way.

There are some weird racial undertones throughout the film. The Adler’s neighbor Roberta Taylor (Octavia Spencer) is yet another iteration of the mammy trope, which needs to be retired. Taylor criticizes Adler for hiring a black lawyer, a comment that is jarring, super racist, and was a very successful laugh line in the theater where I saw the film. Out of any other character’s mouth it would have been unacceptable, but because no one had to think about how white the screenwriter was when Spencer spoke, the joke worked. I’m disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that the line made it past a first draft. Ditto to people laughing at it.

Despite having many flaws, I still think that Gifted is worth seeing. The cinematography is beautiful, if sometimes a little self-indulgent. One scene, in which Mary climbs her uncle’s body and peppers him with questions about God, is told completely in silhouette, set against an orange sunset. It’s a beautiful film, with a magnificent cast, and a mostly empowering storyline.

And it’s not simple if you’re paying attention.


hollyHolly P. is a twenty-something millennial who enjoys shouting at people on the internet, riding her bicycle, and overbooking her schedule. She prefers storytelling that has a point and comedy that isn’t mean. Her favorite movies are Aladdin, the Watchmen (even though the book was way better), and Hot Fuzz.  She’s seen every Lord of the Rings movie at least a dozen times.  You can follow her @tertiaryhep on twitter or @hollyhollyoxenfreee on Instagram. She’s also on Tinder, but if you find her there she’ll probably ghost on you because wtf is dating in the 21st century.


Have you seen ‘Gifted’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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The buzz over the latest Marvel blockbuster has been through the roof. It’s already made over $200 mil internationally before it even opened here in the US, so no doubt it will wipe out any competition here this weekend.

I have to say that despite my increasing superhero fatigue, I was still looking forward to this one mostly because I love the first two Captain America films, and I have faith in the Russo brothers’ direction. Like Zack Snyder with Batman V Superman, Anthony & Joe Russo had the tricky task of not only continuing the thread of the Avenger story, pulling off a large ensemble cast AND help launch/introduce individual standalone films (Black Panther, Spider-man). Suffice to say the Russos did a much, much better job than Snyder in delivering an entertaining Summer blockbuster that’s actually has depth and thought-provoking ideas. Interesting that The Avengers and Superman share a similar predicament in their effort to safeguard humanity, and how the DC and Marvel tentpole movies are dealing with the issue of accountability.

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The ‘Civil War’ in the title stems from an ideological conflict about what should be done in that issue of accountability and collateral damage, and whether a governing body (in this case the UN) should oversee them. Now, the fact that the perceived common enemy happens to be Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) BFF Bucky a.k.a. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), it’s easy to see which side the Cap is on. The events in The Winter Soldier has undoubtedly made Cap wary of big government and how a centralized power could be manipulative and corrupt. So it makes sense that he won’t be so easily persuaded to sign something like The Sokovia Accords that’d essentially put the Avengers under UN control.

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow: Just because it’s the path of least resistance doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path. Staying together is more important than how we stay together.

Steve Rogers/Captain America: What are we giving up to do it?


Whilst the motive behind Captain firmly believing in self-regulation is more clear cut, I’m not as convinced why Tony Stark would support it with little resistance. A cameo by Alfre Woodard briefly reveals the burden of guilt on Tony’s part as the Stark companies supplies most of the weaponry (including Captain himself who was created in the lab of his dad Howard), but still I’d think he’d be more apprehensive about government interference in the Avengers.

I have to say that the film has a pretty slow start. I understand they’d have to establish the conflict and a reason for all the fighting, but it went on a bit too long for my liking and frankly, it all feels a bit tedious. Thankfully, things do pick up as soon as an incident happens at the UN meeting and before you know it, Captain becomes a hunted man wanted by the government along with Bucky. It’s there that we meet new Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)’s member Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and he certainly looks the part. This is perhaps one of the most diverse cast in a Marvel film aside from the X-Men franchise.

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I think the fact that the same writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, are involved in the Captain America trilogy so far makes the film flow nicely and has a cohesive storyline. They also did a decent job showing the events in previous films to viewers who might not be familiar with the Avengers story, i.e. the battle in the fictional Eastern European country Sokovia in Avenger: Age of Ultron that caused massive collateral damage. Marvel fans would especially enjoy the references and inside jokes, especially during the actual civil war battle involving a dozen MCU superheroes. This is also the first time we see the new Spider-man (Tom Holland) as part of MCU and he’s definitely a highlight. Spidey is supposed to be a wisecrackin’ teenager and Holland’s captured that. All his comments as he’s fighting the other heroes, like referencing Empire Strikes Back and saluting Cap before he fights him, are a hoot.

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Spider-Man (to Bucky): You have a metal arm? That is awesome, dude.

The intro to the appropriately-aged character is full of good humor as he’s fanboying over Iron Man, who somehow still has time to flirt with aunt May (Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr’s co-star in the rom-com Only You) despite a brief 36-hour deadline to arrest Cap. There’s a lot of fanboy-ing going on in this movie that’s so hilarious. My fave part is when Ant-Man (the immensely affable Paul Rudd) meets Cap which got one of the biggest laughs in the theater.

Scott Lang/Ant-Man: Look, man, I know you know a lot of super people so… thinks for thanking of me.

Captain America: Civil War is commendable for having the right balance of story, character, emotion, humor AND high-octane action. The fight scenes are well-choreographed that you can actually see the action despite the sheer number of people fighting. It wasn’t so bombastic that it’s headache-inducing. The story never feels cartoonish even with SO many characters involved and the battles feel sprightly and fun without being frivolous or silly. When one character is injured, we feel the emotion of fellow team members and the sense of solidarity is definitely there. The Captain America trilogy benefits from the strong base of Steve/Bucky relationship established in the first film. I totally believe why Cap would go to such length to protect his best friend and stand by his side regardless of what he’s done, and I think Bucky would’ve done the same if the situation were reversed. I love Evans and Stan even more as they become more at ease in their respective roles, and Anthony Mackie is always so charming and fun as Falcon. I also have to mention how I appreciate Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow more and more, and the fact that she’s undeniably torn between the two sides is a testament to her intriguing character arc.

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The key in making a huge ensemble cast work is they have to have a reason for us to care for the characters. It’s getting immensely tricky here but I think keeping the focus on just a small group helps. The final battle between Cap, Iron Man & Winter Soldier is not only cool to watch but it also carries a certain emotional weight because there’s something personal that affects the three of them. It’s perhaps one of the most compelling dramatic moments from RDJ that I’ve seen in all the Iron Man & Avengers movies so far.

That said, I don’t think this film is perfect and I don’t think it’s the greatest MCU film so far, as many critics have said. I’ve mentioned about the rather sluggish start, but there are also moments that don’t really work. Daniel Brühl is a perfectly capable actor but he barely makes a dent here amongst an ocean of characters, though I think the character’s motive is a pretty decent one. The romance between Cap and Sharon Carter also feels so obligatory and the lack of chemistry between Evans and Emily VanCamp doesn’t help. Oh how I miss Hayley Atwell‘s Agent Carter who’s such a strong female character who doesn’t need any superpowers to make a difference. I also find the music unmemorable as I barely remember any of it, which is odd given I LOVE what Henry Jackman did with The Winter Soldier.

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All in all, it’s a VERY good film that ties all three Captain American movies superbly well and would rank amongst the best film trilogies. After this, I’m even more confident in the Russo brothers’ directing talent and MCU is definitely in capable hands if they continue to make Marvel movies. I love the end credits of the first two Captain America movies and they did an excellent job here as well. In terms of replay-ability value, this one ranks third after The Winter Soldier and The First Avenger, both of which I actually just re-watched last night and I still enjoyed them immensely!

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So have you seen ‘Captain America: Civil War’? Let me know what you think!

Weekend Roundup: Chris Evans’ directorial debut ‘Before We Go’ review

Happy Tuesday, folks. Well, I’m kinda bummed that I couldn’t complete my March blindspot on time. Last night I was planning to watch A Streetcar Named Desire after work but the internet connection just wasn’t working properly that iTunes simply couldn’t load the movie. It stared for like 2 minutes then stalled and stalled that I finally gave up 😦 In fact, I’d have to ask iTunes for a refund as it’s a 24-hour rental and I don’t think I have enough time to see it before it expires. Ah well, at this rate I’m not even sure I could complete even the 10 Blindspot films I’ve committed to watch, we shall see.

As far as weekend viewing, well I saw Batman V Superman on Friday night (my second viewing) and some of you might’ve read my review. So on Saturday we’re looking for something that’s totally different from a superhero movie. I got a screener link for the Chet Baker biopic Born To Be Blue starring Ethan Hawke, but the thing w/ screener links are that it has an unsightly huge watermark right smack dab in the middle of the screen, so my hubby didn’t want to watch it.

Ironically, we ended up settling on something directed by a Marvel superhero 😉 So here’s my review of Chris Evans‘ directorial debut… Before We Go.

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I mentioned about this movie three years ago in this Five for the Fifth post, which sounds kind of like Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy (heh it even has the word ‘before’ in the title!). It also sounds utterly cheesy so when it hits Netflix earlier this month, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see it. But you know what, sometimes our prejudices got the best of us because I ended up liking it.

We first met Chris Evans’ character Nick, playing trumpet at Grand Central Station. It’s past midnight and the station is closing soon. Minutes later he comes across a pretty girl who ends up missing her 1:30 train from New York to Boston. She happens to break her phone as she was running in front of Nick and that’s how their encounter began. Not exactly a ‘meet cute’ and there isn’t an immediate spark between Evans and Alice Eve who plays Brooke. It took me a while to warm up to the movie and a few times I even thought about turning it off and watch something else, but y’know what, I’m glad I stuck it out.

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One thing that initially frustrates me was the fact that there’s such mystery surrounding the reason why Brooke is adamant on rushing to return home to New Haven that very night. But once it’s finally revealed towards the end, I actually appreciate how the story unfolded and that there’s more to the story than meets the eye. The pairing of Evans and Eve was rather unexpected, apparently Evans wanted to hire her because she was British (per IMDb) but she ended up playing Brooke as an American. I like both of their performances as they’re more natural and understated, even when at times the dialog was clunky and the script did resort to schmaltziness.

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Overall I’m quite impressed with Evans’ direction. He’s wise to pick a script that deals with a small number of characters to be more focused, and takes place over the course of a single night. The fact that he’s a first timer means we can’t expect a perfect movie. There are some continuity problems (like a jacket button is closed one second and open the next) and the pacing could’ve been much improved, but in the end it’s a rather sweet and moving little film. It also managed to take me by surprise on a few occasions, and something unexpected is always a good thing in a genre that tends to be predictable.

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Before We Go is an intriguing look at love lost and second chances, told from two very different point of view and circumstances. Nick and Brooke end up learning from each other over the course of the night, and the tentative romance between them feels earnest. The gorgeous Manhattan backdrop certainly adds to charm. This turns out to be the perfect antidote to this weekend’s gigantic blockbuster, as well as an interesting juxtaposition to Evans’ own superhero movie Captain America: Civil War that’ll be out in a month. Well, there’s definitely more to him than just a Marvel superhero, and I hope he continues to explore the indie side of his career.

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So what did you see this weekend? Anything good?

Favorite 2015 Super Bowl Movie Trailers/TV Spots & Commercials

Photo Courtesy of NFL
Photo Courtesy of NFL

Honestly, I don’t really care about the Super Bowl or Football in general, but this year it’s kinda fun seeing the playful rivalry between two Marvel cinematic superheroes. Captain America & Star-Lord, aka Chris Evans & Chris Pratt, championing for New England Patriots and Seattle SeaHawks respectively, have set a bet that whoever loses would show up in their superhero costume at a children hospital of their choice. I thought that’s really awesome and frankly, we movie fans are already winners of this bet 😀 Can’t wait to see pics of Pratt in his Star-Lord uniform at Seattle’s Children Hospital!

Apparently they watched the game together, look at them making goofy faces at the camera. Nice self promotion, Chris Pratt! 😛

 

Even though I didn’t watch the game, I did see some of the trailers played during the game. Here are five of my favorites:

TOMORROWLAND

Brad Bird is back! Him directing this film definitely the main draw for me to see it, and the story sounds intriguing too.

 

JURASSIC WORLD

Basically Chris Pratt doing his best Indiana Jones’ impersonation until he does the real thing. I was skeptical about this project initially, but after the first trailer, I’m sold!

 

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE

I scoffed the first time I saw the trailer for this, but the positive reviews got me excited for this now. I like Matthew Vaughn‘s direction in X-Men: First Class but this one looks more of a gleefully fun spy actioner, though the R-rating means this is NOT for kids. Can’t wait for the press screening next week!

 

MINIONS

What made Despicable Me movies so watchable are those minions, so I’m glad they get their own movie! I can’t get enough of these suspender-wearing tiny yellow creatures!!

 

FURIOUS 7

It’s like those Mission Impossible movies but w/ muscle cars [and well, muscle men too]. I mean, I LMAO-ed all the way through every Fast & Furious trailer, but this TV spot shows the most preposterous scene ever! It’ll be bittersweet seeing Paul Walker here though.

Favorite Commercials

As far as commercials go, there are some good ones. The notable one is the Chevrolet’s ‘What if your TV went out?’ which cleverly played on everyone’s biggest fear that night. Surely some people nearly had a heart attack when the saw it, ahah.

ChevySuperBowlCommercial

But out of those featuring celebrities, I thought these two car-related ones are pretty hilarious.

This bombastic KIA ad with Pierce Brosnan pokes fun of his James Bond role:

 

Thanks to Michael for reminding me about the Clash of Clans commercial, once again poking fun at his own badassery from his ubiquitous TAKEN movies!

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And THIS has got to be the most fun commercial of them all. Nick Offerman rules!!


What’s your favorite Super Bowl trailers and/or commercials?