Friday
Aug252017

Detroit- review

 

“Detroit” (2017)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Starring John Boyega,  Anthony Mackie,  Algee Smith

Running Time 143 Minutes, Rated R

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

In 1967 the racial unrest bubbled over in the Detroit Riots that took 43 lives.  As I write this with Charlottesville white supremacist/Nazi rally taking the life of one counter protester just days previous I am reminded of how far we’ve come and how far we’ve got to go.  “Detroit” is directed with Kathryn Bigelow’s usual masculine touch showcasing the gut wrenching riots that was so bad that is was considered a war zone where the POTUS called in the National Guard.  If you don’t hate minorities this film will anger you as intended, it certainly did for this reviewer as I watched despicable acts perpetrated because of the white man’s fear of the unknown and loosening of the grip of having it better than the black man.  Bigelow captures this well focusing the middle portion of the film on the Algiers Hotel atrocities.  At times it hurts to watch but it’s important to view as a record of sins and a mirror to the same sins perpetrated today.

 

I was moved by the social crimes at hand but the film misses greatness by not connecting to it characters as personally as other films as such have.  The film’s lead is Algee Smith who plays Larry, a young crooner with a motown group about to bust out.  A combination of Marc Boals less than focused script and Smith’s performance left this viewer less than immersed.  Much like “Dunkirk”, I respect the viewing and craftsmanship of “Detroit” but I wouldn’t put either in great film territory.  Still, worth a view though.

John 13:34

 

Friday
Aug252017

Atomic Blonde- review

 

“Atomic Blonde” (2017)

Directed by David Leitch

Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman

Running Time 115 Minutes, Rated R.

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

The Berlin Wall has come down, and the Cold War is on its way out, that is if a microfilm with secret spy secrets that could keep the war going for another 40 years doesn’t get into the wrong hands.  Tasked with not letting that happen is bad ass spy Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), aka Atomic Blonde.  

 

That’s the boiled down plot of “Atomic Blonde” from the co director of the joygasm action flick that is “John Wick”, unfortunately this way too convoluted and overly complicated spy story could have used some serious boiling down.  Very little payoff and way too much chatter gets in the way of Charlize Theron kicking some serious butt in some seriously good choreographed action set pieces.  Ultimately, I was a bit bored and that’s because the makers that be took the story a bit too seriously.  More of Theron kicking butt and bedding any gender without discretion would have made “Atomic Blonde” the pulpy popcorn flick it could have been.  

Sigh.  

Leviticus 13:36

 

Wednesday
Aug232017

Dunkirk- review

 

“Dunkirk” (2017)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy

Running Time 106 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

No caped crusader, no black hole space travel, no sci-fi dream spy work; nope this century’s most successful director takes on the true story war epic.  More precisely, the evacuation of 400,000 British and French soldiers surrounded by the Nazi army in the city of Dunkirk, France during WW2.  Nolan being Nolan, he tells the event with three separate timelines that mix and intercede with each other. The stories, focusing on the heroics and not so much, are told via the land, air, and sea.

 

“Dunkirk” is a good film, not a great film with Nolan having achieved higher marks in at least five other films for my taste.  The jumbled timelines, while creative, did throw me off at times.  I was so busy trying to figure out where we were in the events that it took away from me being as invested as I could.  On the other hand the visuals are extravagant.  Shot on IMAX, seeing this in the theater is the way to go.  Among many fantastic visuals accompanied by Hans Zimmer’s top notch score, the aerial shots were so vivid I could smell the salt water.  I’m glad I saw Dunkirk, it really is worth a watch, but a little too much British stiff upper lip shown by Nolan makes this not essential viewing.

Daniel 3:17-18

 

Tuesday
Aug222017

War for the Planet of the Apes- review

 

“War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017)

Directed by  Matt Reeves

Starring Andy Serkis,  Woody Harrelson

Running Time 140 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

I was moved by “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, and I was equally moved by “The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, and everyone and their monkey brother was moved by Matt Reeves finale “War for the Planet of the Apes”, but not me.  I wanted to love it, and I had the tears ready to fall but no dice.  Why?

 

The culmination of the DNA altered ape Caesar played by the motion caption treasure that is Andy Serkis trying to bring freedom to his fellow primates goes through all the beats of a great war but they never felt like more than well plotted beats to me.  Trying to combine the horrors or war of “Apocalypse Now” with a Colonel Kurtz-esq character played by an always clean shaven Woody Harrelson with the at times jovial prisoner camp teamwork of “The Great Escape”, this final Apes movie left me all things, kind of bored.

I’ll tell you what isn’t boring, this series special effects.  I don’t say this lightly but this to me is the best use of special effects ever used in film.  The damn dirty talking apes shown on screen are more real than any Madea film.  What’s done in these films is top of the bar and has no rival.  Unfortunately, the effects were but the icing to a very bland cake.

Matthew 10:34

 

Tuesday
Aug222017

Spiderman: Homecoming- review

 

“Spiderman: Homecoming” (2017)

Directed by Jon Watts

Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya

Running Time 133 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Was not a fan of the last installment of Spidey.  Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone had chemistry, but Marc Webb had no control over those two films, they were a mess where it felt like as much as possible was flung on the web to see what stuck and the answer was not much.  Spiderman is back, and this time Sony gave control to Marvel who have a habit that they don’t; getting these kinds of pictures right and “Spiderman: Homecoming” is done right.

Young Brit Tom Holland got the new Spidey gig by showing off his parkour and dance skills, that and he can act. Holland is fantastic as the new Peter Parker, showcasing the energy you once had at 16 years old, he just so happens to have the most awesome of powers, and it’s a blast to watch him at it.  How’d he get those powers you didn’t ask; and neither does this film thank the Lord Almighty! Correctly assuming that everyone in the world knows his origin story, they spend all but two lines of dialogue getting us up to date.   

 

Peter has these powers, and after briefly getting to use them to his perceived potential with Team Tony Stark in “Captain America: Civil War” he was left on the sidelines getting nothing more than misdemeanor duty in Queens, NY (another miracle that it doesn’t have to take place in Manhattan).  Peter sees his opportunity to shine when he comes across a high end and high teched thief who goes by the name Vulture Man, played by the amazing Michael Keaton who wonderfully represents the working class’ struggle.  16 year olds do what 16 year olds do and screw up, and they either learn from the lesson or they don’t.  Peter is a smart kid.

Praise be for the eclectic cast that shows all the usual melanomas that Queens has to offer.  I walked out thinking there wasn’t as much grandeur as needed, but then I realized that’s what gets his predecessor in trouble, having 13 villains and 16 subplots going.  The CGI still felt a bit cartoony for me, and a very small part played by Donald Glover whom I enjoy came off very much like “I’m Acting!” which is the second time I’ve seen him do that (“The Martian”), but by the end of it I was happy to see that my neighborhood hero has returned.   

Job 8:14

 

Tuesday
Aug222017

The Big Sick- review

 

“The Big Sick” (2017)

Directed by Michael Showalter

Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter

Running Time 120 Minutes, Rated R.

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

It’s of this reviewer’s opinion that horror and romantic comedies are the hardest film genres to deliver a quality product.  They have the lowest success rate, and so when one does hit and hit well we really should appreciate such triumphs.  Appreciate the triumph that is ‘The Big Sick”.

Kumail Nanjiani wrote the film with his wife Emily V. Gordon, and they wrote what they know.  “The Big Sick” is based off their courtship where Kumail, who plays a version of himself who hasn’t broken out yet and is still hitting the local stand-up comedy circuit in Chicago who meets Emily Gardner, a grad student with a psychology degree at one of his shows and they hook up that night.  She tries to make a dash for it that night by calling an Uber, Kumail’s phone lights up, and he informs her that her ride will be ready as soon as the driver puts on his pants.  They both agree to not see each other again, and they keep agreeing on that every time they see each other the next time.    

 

While getting laughs from the parents trying to set up their children with a life mate is a tried and true romantic comedy shtick, what “The Big Sick” does that I’ve never seen before is get across to the viewer how important and necessary it can be culturally.  Kumail’s parents were brought together via arranged marriage, and for them it’s not only part of their religion but has also served them very well.  Kumail’s older brother is also married by arrangement, but Kumail just can’t get his mind wrapped around it and wants the opportunity to fall in love before marriage.  

Fearful of losing his family Kumail loses Emily but soon after their breakup she ends up in the hospital with a mysterious ailment that puts her in a medically induced coma.  When Emily’s parents, played by the always good Holly Hunter and the surprisingly good Ray Romano, show up to the hospital for her, they are met with Kumail’s presence. Even though they say he can go now, he stays and realizes that he really is in love with Emily.

This film is funny in a upbeat way, that director and personal comedy icon to me Michael Showalter (“This is Doris”) does with an easy going touch.  There are three great scenes with a one on one with Kumail and Hunter, a one on one with Kumail and Romano, and one with the three of them at one of his stand up gigs that is insightful, infuriating, adorable, and hilarious.  

“The Big Sick” feels effortless and so easy going to get it’s big laughs and big emotions.  Let’s hear it for the romantic comedy of 2017.

1 Corinthians 9:20

 

Thursday
Jul272017

The House- review

 

“The House” (2017)

Directed by Andrew Jay Cohen

Starring Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas

Running Time 88 Minutes, Rated R.

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


It’s kind of startling when you see a film this inept, this bland, this thin.  Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler lose big time by trusting that first time director Andrew Jay Cohen could make “The House” a winning bet.  Ferrell, Poehler, and a lot of their funny buddies are in this film, people that I enjoy a lot, but even though they didn’t get credit for writing it, it sure feels like their improv unsuccessfully did.  That’s what happens when your director/writer can’t flesh out a paper bag.

 

Scott (Ferrell) and Kate (Poehler) Johansen live in upper middle class suburbia and are proud to get their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) accepted to Bucknell University, but when the town, led by a shady city councilmen played by Nick Kroll (who has way more authority than a councilmen really has), takes away her full ride scholarship, the Johansen’s are forced to run an underground casino in their depressed and recently divorced good friend Frank’s (Best part of the film Jason Mantzoukas) house.  

Sure, why not, we need an excuse for such a wacky vehicle. Although, it’s kind of bizarre who unfunny this film is.  This is part because the characters didn’t have to work too hard to create such an illegal setting and, therefore, the stakes are low.  Also, this film lives in crazyville, where anything goes from one moment to the next to keep the barebones plot together.  Lastly, “The House” is not funny because the jokes are not funny.  A running gag of Poehler’s Kate being addicted to marijuana is terribly lame.  

In fact, “The House” really isn’t a film per say but a terribly lame 88 minute running gag.  

 

Thursday
Jul272017

War Machine- review

 

“War Machine” (2017)

Directed by David Michôd

Starring Brad Pitt,  Anthony Hayes,  John Magaro

Running Time 122 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

“War Machine” is based off of the book “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Story Inside of America’s War in Afghanistan” about Gen. Stanley McChrystal who lost his assignment as the top U.S. commander in the Afghanistan war after author Michael Hastings’s expose in a Rolling Stone article.  Here, Gen McChrystal becomes the fictionalized Gen.Glen McMahon played with a Kubiak gusto from Brad Pitt.  We see Gen. McMahon newly appointed and ready to go and kick some ass with his American boot and his posse of subordinates who praise the ground he walks on.  All of the best and worst of American tributes are on parade as he tries to win an unconventional war unconventionally but is slowly being taken down like his predecessors before him by a pride that ‘his’ ‘can-do’ attitude is the only thing missing from winning this war.  

 

There is definitely a sloppiness to director David Michôd‘s directing as the tone is very loose so you think the satirical targets would be miss-fired, but for me, it hit all the more.  Michôd gets across a chuckle from something very sad.  Watching the powers above us make the same power driven mistakes over and over and catching a glimpse of how the rest of the world can adore the U.S. for it’s ideologies but also hate us for the same reasons.  There are some tragic scenes; such as Gen. McMahon spending his 30th wedding anniversary with his wife as she calculates that they have spent an average of 30 days together per year for the last 10 years, and where McMahon’s troops/pawns are actually out on the field and the cluster f’ of war bombards us.

“War Machine” snuck up on me making for an oddly enjoyable film.

Ecclesiastes 3:8

 

Thursday
Jul272017

It Comes at Night- review

 

“It Comes at Night” (2017)

Directed by Trey Edward Shults

Starring Joel Edgerton,  Christopher Abbott,  Carmen Ejogo

Running time 91 Minutes, Rated R

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

If minimalistically bleak is considered a film genre or at least a sub genre, then add Trey Edward Shults “It Comes at Night” to that list.

It appears to be the very beginning of the apocalypse, but we’re not given much deets.  A deadly disease that kills within 48 hours has broken out in major cities, and we’re only seeing the perspective of a family of three that was able to make it out and is literally walled up in their remote woodland house.  There were four, but the opening scene shows grandpa infected and therefore his daughter Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), her patriarch husband Paul (Joel Edgerton), and their 17 year old son Travis (David Harrison Jr.) provide a mercy kill by putting him in a wheelbarrow, shooting him in the head, and kerosene torching him in a 6 foot ditch so as not to spread the disease.  

 

We see through the perspectives of Paul, the rigid rule setter trying to keep his family safe above all else and the emotional core from Travis whose nights are haunted by horror induced visuals.  One night an intruder comes along, which Paul intercedes and leaves bound to a tree for a few days.  The intruder, Will (Christopher Abbott), says he was just looking for supplies to take care of his own family.  Eventually Will brings his wife and their toddler son back to their house, and they share commune; under Paul’s strict rules of course.  Some of the best tension in the film comes from Shults’ making it so there is always just a sliver, and I mean sliver, of doubt about Will and what his intentions are.  We really know just as much as Paul, Sarah, and Travis do, and that’s where the film’s real horror comes from.  

By being so minimalistic, we eventually catch on that Travis’ vivid nightmares aren’t presented as such and are really nothing more; as a result I was never really scared from such scenes.  The cinematography really pops in this film, the red door at the end of the hallway isn’t just red, it’s dangerously red.  A fine job of casting as well, especially with the coo of landing Joel Edgerton.  Once again he showcases a strong brutality but one out of necessity and care.  Edgerton has the ability to really show you the stakes of the film and what’s up to gain and even more what there is to lose.

“It Comes at Night” is soul crushingly bleak.  Check it out if that’s your sort of thing.  

Luke 21:36

 

Saturday
Jun172017

Baby Driver- review

 

“Baby Driver” (2017)

Directed by Edgar Wright

Starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm

Running Time 113 Minutes, Rated R.

4.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

I’m listening to the soundtrack to this film, in particular the film’s opening song “Bellbottoms” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion which is perfectly infused into the super badass high octane opening scene of “Baby Driver”, and all I can say is that I want to watch this film again, right now, right flippin now!, but I can’t cause I saw an early screening of the film so it’s not accessible until June 27th, and now I’m a little sad.  But I keep listening to the soundtrack, and I’m happy again.  Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” is an absolute smash of a good time, and if you want to be happy for 113 minutes straight then this is a MUST SEE!

Edgar Wright gets it, he knows better than us, he knows what we want even when we don’t, and I feel safe in his arms.  “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (super underrated), and “The World’s End”; he hasn’t swung and missed yet, and “Baby Driver” might be his best at bat yet.  “Baby Driver” is cool; so cool that we wouldn't have hung out in high school, so cool that if you wanted your drink on the rocks then you’d just cut up this film into little pieces, so cool that this film gives the sun brain freeze.  Oooh and that opening sequence, is seriously one of the better opening scenes I’ve seen. 

Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a getaway driver to rule all getaway drivers who is working off a debt from crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey).  Baby suffers from a real bad case of tinnitus, and therefore always has an Ipod going with headphones blaring to drown out the humming.  Baby meets a fellow dreamer in a waitress named Deborah (Lily James) and they fall for each other fast, but being Doc’s good luck charm in heists it won’t be easy to get out of that world.  

It took all but 10 seconds for me to fall in love with Elgort here as Baby.  It’s a tricky performance since his character is light on dialogue, but he makes up for it in spades with a charm that raises every other of the fantastic performances that spoil this film.  Elgort and James are so easy to root for, and Wright makes their romance angle just as exciting as the top notch getaway scenes.  Everyone else kills it; Spacey almost sings his dialogue he’s so good, Jon Bernthal pops up shortly but memorably, Jon Hamm finds the film role he’s been looking for post “Mad Men” actually showing me can play scary, but it was Jamie Foxx as the film’s loose cannon that was really scary and if it were up to me I would be so bold as to give him a Supporting Nod.

But maybe the best performance is the music.  Wright interweaves the music so well in every scene with an eclectic selection that hits every genre and hits it perfectly.  You thought “Tequila” by The Champs would always be remembered for “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”, well not so fast champ cause “Baby Driver” has something to say about that now.   

“Baby Driver” has the chance to be Wright’s first big box office hit and if you’re willing to spend your money on a great film, it will be.

Exodus 14:14

 

Saturday
Jun172017

Wonder Woman- review

 

“Wonder Woman” (2017)

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Running Time 141 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

What a wonderful surprise “Wonder Woman” turned out to be.  No, not because it was female driven, that doesn’t surprise me at all, what surprised me is that the new DC Universe finally made a good film.  I feel like I can finally move forward with the series without dread of having to force myself through another “Batman V. Superman” or “Suicide Squad”.  

While I wasn’t surprised a female driven superhero film could work, I am thankful that it did.  Good on “Monster” director Patty Jenkins and lead actress Gal Gadot for delivering a very fun, well acted, action romp that isn’t without it’s flaws, but, nevertheless, is a legitimate success, which is an important step that should give opportunities to countless more female directors and action leads.  

 

During WW2 an American Intelligence Agent named Steve Trevor, played by the charming and funny Chris Pine crash lands on Paradise Island, an island hidden from the rest of mankind and occupied only by female warriors.  One of these warriors is Diana aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), daughter to Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), who wants nothing more than to prove that love conquers all.  What better opportunity than to help defeat the Nazi’s and rescue those afflicted by them.  After a battle with some Nazi’s, which was pretty cool to watch a whole bunch of female warriors take on, Diana joins Trevor, and they head back to England to help save the world.  

Gadot is great as Wonder Woman, uplifting and strong minded, she also shares an excellent chemistry with Pine who both handle some spunky banter very well together.  The movie succeeds by being a feminist film but not cramming it down our throats.  Women are empowered by this film, but it’s egalitarian to the sexes, not a battle of them.  Storywise, there are some pretty big consequences that tie the story together, and the third act showdown with the CG villain is clunky to say the least; however, that can’t take away from how good of a time “Wonder Woman” is.  

Truly wonderful.  

Psalm 46:5

 

Saturday
Jun172017

Alien: Covenant- review

 

“Alien: Covenant” (2017)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Michael Fassbender,  Katherine Waterston,  Billy Crudup

Running Time 122 Minutes, Rated R.

1 Mitch out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Poor Michael Fassbender.  This what Ewan McGregor must have felt like when he was doing the Star Wars prequels.  

Being the main actor in a beloved film series that’s brought back by the director who started it all, has to be pretty exciting- and then your hard and good work end up in films that suck so, so, so much.  Infuriatingly dumb, “Alien: Covenant” is the Phantom Menace of Xenomorph movies.

I was pretty forgiving to 2012’s “Prometheus”, in which Ridley Scott returned to the “Alien” franchise that got started all the way back in 1979.  I gave it 3.5 stars out of 5 even though it had some definite flaws that were irking.  Scott returns for the second prequel to “Alien” with “Alien: Covenant”, and just backhand slaps me right in the face by doubling down on what was wrong with “Prometheus” and making it so I could only focus on the wrongs.  

The year 2104, a colonization ship named Covenant is in the middle of it’s long journey to start up life on a planet named Origae-6 when most of the the 2,000 colonists and 2,000 embryos are lost as a solar flare hits. The captain (a famous cameo) is lost, and Oram (Billy Crudup), a rare man of faith, is promoted.  Much to the resistance of the captain’s now widow, Daniels (Katherine Waterston), Oram decides to forego the 7 years it would take to get to Origae-6  when the ship picks up on a transmission sent from a planet they were unaware of that is much closer and much more compatible to human life and head there.  You’ll never guess what is on that planet.

 

All is fine enough, especially with the bright spot of being able to bathe the eyes on Dariusz Wolski‘s hauntingly gorgeous cinematography.  But then our remaining crew, which are supposed to the brightest of the bright charged with repopulating the human race, make the mistakes of the Prometheus but turned up to 11.  My stomach was twisting in horror, not that at which Scott was trying to deliver, but rather the horror of his inept characters and the choices they make when they land on an uncharted planet.  It was seriously like watching a ‘Laurel and Hardy’ sketch as our ‘crew’ slash ‘knuckleheads’ made decisions that almost guaranteed their demise. This sequence gave me a real seething anger, a blunder so large and just plain dumb that I knew the film could not come back from it.

With very little character development, actors such as Demián Bichir and Danny McBride are wasted.  They were no more useful than teens who had just had sex in a Friday the 13th film, cast as meat for the monster. The film’s real monster; a returning Michael Fassbender pulling double duty as the first android David from Prometheus and an upgraded version for the Covenant ship named Walter.  A Cain and Abel approach questioning your creator played only so deep this time around with Fassbender’s strong acting making it watchable.  

“Alien: Covenant” sludges along not knowing what to do with its Xenomorphs, and rather has to poorly focus on the evil of David. Watch out for a third act ‘twist’ that you’d have to be as dumb as the Covenant crew not to see coming.  

I haven’t been this mad at a film in quite some time.

 

Saturday
Jun172017

Win it all- review

 

“Win it All” (2017)

Directed by Joe Swanberg

Starring Jake Johnson,  Rony Shemon,  Morgan Ng

Running Time 88 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/moviewithmitch.com

 

I’m a Jake Johnson fan.  He has that charming jerk thing with just a touch of being an idiot going for him big time.  Johnson and Zooey Deschanel successfully pulled off the rare ‘Ross and Rachel’ thing in the wonderfully silly sitcom “The New Girl” and I know I’m in the minority on this one, but the flop “Let’s Be Cops” tickled me pink, in great parts to him.  Johnson has a good indie director/writer cohort in Joe Swanberg, who have collaborated on “Digging for Fire” and the very excellent “Drinking Buddies”.  Swanberg and Johnson are back at in Netflix’s ongoing world takeover in the winning dramedy “Win it All”.

 

A film that’s hip without being hipster, “Win it All” uses a plethora of improv actors who can actually play the scene real, moving the story forward and not just looking for a joke.  Johnson plays Eddie, a Chicagonite addicted to gambling who knows he’s addicted that is unless he’s playing, which he then “knows” he’s gonna win.  Eddie has gone broke for the umteempth time, his gambling anonymous sponsor played by Keegan-Michael Key tells him that he’s addicted to losing, and Eddie wants to be cured.  But rock bottom is on the way when one of his seedy acquaintances shows up in his apartment unannounced and promises that while “he’s away” if he can store his duffle bag for six months that he’ll receive $10,000.  

“What’s in the duffle bag”, asks Eddie, to which seedy acquaintance replies “don’t worry about it”.  Well, Eddie gives it a few days, and when he finds out what’s inside, rock bottom is at the end of an underground poker bender.  The film then centers on Eddie trying claw his way back out while understanding where his pattern of life decisions have gotten him.  Joe Lo Truglio as his good sibling and Aislinn Derbez as the girl that’s too good for him but is interested anyways do well filling up the lean 88 minutes of screen time.  

“Win it All” is a film that pays off and if I were you, I would bet on Jake Johnson in the future.

1 Corinthians 10:13

 

Friday
Jun022017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword- review

 

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” (2017)

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Starring Charlie Hunnam,  Astrid Bergès-Frisbey,  Jude Law

Running Time 126 Minutes, PG-13

2.5 Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Listen, Guy Ritchie had me for a second, he did, but then it was right lifted away for this bloke.  

I’m not gonna lie, I got caught up in the made for dudes cockney crime caper aesthetics that “Snatch” director Guy Ritchie provides.  There’s Arthur, played by the physically fit and charming Charlie Hunnam, recounting a story along with his other street lads (that eventually become the Knights of the Round Table) trying to evade the higher ups and delivering information in that sleek Guy Ritchie style.  But alas, Guy Ritchie is often more style than substance, and in his latest, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” he confuses substance with running time, and we’re left with mostly only style.

 

The King Arthur tale is thrown at us with some of the bits you remember but also with the CGI additions of giant elephants and snake sorceresses.  We’ve got a quick cut coming of age as Arthur, unbeknownst to his royal blood, was separated from his king father played by Eric Bana, when his brother Vortigern played by Jude Law betrays him for the throne.  Arthur, raised in the brothels and schooled by Chinese George (I’m not being racist, that’s his IMDB name) in martial arts, is a leader whether he knows it or not.  So when Vortigern, who is not the people’s choice and can be vanquished when the Sword of the Stone shows itself and whomever pulls it from the stone will be named King, it’s Arthurs for the taking.   For a very long time, we see Arthur go through the struggles of taking that throne, and the proceedings are bloated to say the least.

My favorite scene is is a very well paced escape scene when Arthur and his rag tag group of rebels try to escape the clutches of Vortigern’s grasp as Ritchie moves his camera over the rooftops through the ins and outs of the kingdom in a fast paced tense getaway.  That level of fun is never close to matched, but for a brief moment Mr. Ritchie got it right even though this film is eventually in the wrong.

 

Friday
Jun022017

Snatched- review

 

“Snatched” (2017)

Directed by Jonathan Levine

Starring Amy Schumer,  Goldie Hawn

Running Time 90 Minutes, Rated R.

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Amy Schumer is atrocious in this film.  Classic case example, but a ‘not decent human being’ movie character that everyone loves is Phil Connors in “Groundhog Day” played by the one and only Bill Murray.  Murray has the ability to play Phil as a narcissistic jerk who eventually learns from his personality weaknesses but even when he is in early jerk mode he is both funny and interesting to watch.  Amy Schumer does not have that ability.  At least not here in her latest foul-mouthed comedy film, “Snatched”, unlike her last go around in the impressive “Trainwreck”.  Among many problems this film has, one of the biggest is Schumer’s wildly unsympathetic and annoying performance.  Performance is a strong word, let's go with generic caricature.  

Which is a shame because Goldie Hawn absolutely kills it in her first film appearance since 2002’s “The Banger Sisters”.  Hawn has to use maximum restraint with Schumer trying go for big yuck-yucks non-stop, and it’s so much funnier.  This is one of those pretty bad films that happens to have a pretty great performance. Performance is a weak word, let’s go with achievement.  

 

Hawn and Schumer play the mother and daughter combo of Linda and Emily Middleton.  Emily has no direction in life, just got fired from her latest retail job, dumped from her burgeoning rock star boyfriend (the oft-funny Randall Park), and did I mention is annoying AF (am I using that right?).  Linda has been divorced forever, bordering on crazy cat lazy, and still lets her son Jeffrey played by Ike Barinholtz live with her due to his severe agoraphobia and mamma’s boy-itis.  Due to her dumping and purchase of a non-refundable plane ticket, Emily begs Linda to go with her to Ecuador for fun, sun, and as little laughs as possible- sorry that last one was for the audience.  Due to Emily’s idiocy and selfishness, the two get kidnapped for ransom and have to make their way back with wacky raunchy rated R. hijinks.   

Besides a comedy film that’s light on laughs being a problem there is very off sense of tone.  This is definitely a step backwards for on again off again director Jonathan Levine (“50/50”, “The Night Before”).  Weird characters enter the film that play out like alternative sketch ideas mushed into mother/daughter rekindling.  The sketches aren’t actually that bad, but that’s because of the support and not Schumer.  Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack play fellow travelers who are eager to help when the Middleton girls get napped.  Cusack is hilarious and never says a word, I miss her.  

Goldie Hawn is the one that is really missed.  She is a high class treat thrown to the dogs.  “Snatched” should be put down.

Proverbs 23:22

 

Wednesday
May312017

Gaurdians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- review

 

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Directed by James Gunn

Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper

Running Time 136 Minutes, Rated PG-13

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Remember the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” and how out of left field it was, how it just knocked us on our butts but in a good way?  One of Marvel’s better films for sure, we were treated to an action space rock opera (70’s and 80’s music utilized to perfection) that made Chris Pratt an A-list mega star and showcased Vin Diesel’s greatest acting performance to date.  Sequels to megahits are a tricky thing no doubt.  You have to repeat some of the tricks that got you there in the first place while evolving the characters journey and not just giving us a rinse and repeat cycle cash grab.  Director James Gunn (“Slither”) who helmed the first one doesn’t totally knock us on our butts again for Vol. 2, but my dairyaire eventually made it to a seated floor position by the credits and it’s 4 end credit sequences!

There’s meandering in the middle, and the pace slows down to a space snail’s pace but all you have to do is interject Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and all is forgiven.  Groot, the muscle bound tree sorta humanoid, who sacrificed his life at the end of the first film, but survived as a seedling is now in what could be called his terrible two’s, and it’s the most adorable thing this side of any galaxy.  We’re treated to some Baby Groot dancing as “Mr. Blue Sky” by Elo plays as the rest of the Guardians: Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Pratt), bad-a assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and Rocket the Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) but don’t call him a raccoon, do contract work battling with a giant squid.  

 

Those tricks earlier mentioned; killer soundtrack, cuter than hell Groot, and wicked insults from Rocket are entertaining, but the film becomes good with the dysfunctional group trying to be a family along with Peter running away from his mother’s death of cancer when he was just a small boy.  In Vol. 2 Peter’s dad, who he’s never met, shows up and just so happens to be a god, in the form of Kurt Russell (noice!) named Ego, who happens to be a living planet.  The question is posed whether Peter will leave his fighting-space makeshift family for Ego, but that storyline never really is believable and Gunn does have a way of laying it on pretty thick at times.  

But sometimes the thicker, the better.  After said meandering, the third act kicks backs into gear action wise and family drama wise, highlighted by Michael Rooker who steals the whole friggen movie (Baby Groot included) as a blue-skinned gnarly toothed space pirate with a  killer whistle that basically raised Peter.  

This time around was definitely less fresh to eyes as the first time around, but that’s bound to happen.  Vol. 2 still wailed, but I would be concerned about the diminishing returns for the inevitable Vol. 3.  

Proverbs 22:6

 

Wednesday
May312017

Free Fire- Review

 

“Free Fire” (2017)

Directed by Ben Wheatley

Starring Sharlto Copley,  Brie Larson,  Armie Hammer

Running Time 90 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

British filmmaker Ben Wheatley (“Kill List”, “A Field in England”) releases his latest, “Free Fire” with the cleverness of a film student working on a genre specific homework assignment with gusto, unfortunately this exercise should have stayed in the classroom and not the theaters.

 

It’s Boston, it’s the late 70’s, and it’s a film with one locale and one night to say what it has to say. There are two gangs in an abandoned warehouse trying to pull down a weapons deal.  Looking to buy are some Irish gangsters led by Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley) trying to bring back some arsenal for the motherland.  The sellers are a group of South Africans led by Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and some U.S. associate, whilst the broker of the deal (and the only one who has seen some real action pulling a trigger) is the mercenary Ord (Armie Hammer).  Just so happens that the deal goes south when one from Chris’ side was less than Christian to a loved one from the South African side the night before.  A briefcase of money, a buttload of guns, and even more testosterone are a’blazing, even from the only lady between the two gangs played by Brie Larson.  

 

The set up is fun, and Wheatley gets to the point.  But then that point becomes tedious and repeated to an unpleasant outcome.  They casted well; Copley is one my favorite character actors working today being slimy-funny like nobody else, Murphy is just as quiet and weirdly charming as ever, Larson can play soft and tough all at the same time, but it’s Armie Hammer who grew a giant baby bird hiding beard who delivers some of the funniest lines with his cocky tough guy routine.  Unfortunately, the talented cast can’t mask a weak script that doesn’t peel behind the surface for any of it’s characters.

Not a huge misfire, but here’s a film that should be free to you if you’re gonna see it (see what I did there).

 

 

Wednesday
May312017

Colossal- review

 

“Colossal” (2017)

Directed by Nacho Vigalondo

Starring Anne Hathaway,  Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens

Running Time 109 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

If you’ve seen one ‘girl trying to overcome her personal demons of alcoholism and bad relationships with men that actually manifests into giant Kaiju monsters literally rampaging half way across the globe in Seoul’ movie, well, then you’ve seen them all.  

Said no one ever.

 

I know Anne Hathaway’s has gotten the scorn of many movie goers, but the kid can act and it’s nice to see those talents put to the test.  That they are in Nacho Vigalondo’s (“Timecrimes”) latest, “Colossal”.  Hathaway plays Gloria, a party girl who as the film opens is broken up with and kicked out of her boyfriend’s (played by the everywhere Dan Stevens) swanky NYC apartment and is forced to move back to parents empty house back in the burbs that is conveniently unoccupied.  Soon Gloria runs into old classmate Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who has taken over his father's local bar.  Maybe not the best place for someone trying to detox, Gloria who is out of work and gets a job bartending at Oscar’s bar. When the shifts end, she, Oscar, and couple bar regulars (Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell) drink until the sun comes up.

At the same time, in Seoul, Korea a giant skyscraper sized Godzilla-type monster appears every morning around 8:05 am eastern standard time and begins to cause destruction on epic levels, appropriately becoming the phenomenon the world is glued to watching.  Weirdly enough, these two storylines are connected. You can gather from the trailers how, but I’ll let you unravel that while watching for yourself.  The beautiful thing Vigalondo and his actors create, especially Hathaway who is funny, broken, and empathetic all at once are the ways these storylines do merge and obvious but still poignant metaphors aren’t trampled on but delivered with in simpatico.  

Toxic relationships that keep you from evolving from your patterned transgressions are a strong message here, but I also read into the way it can seem impossible to back away from a strongly abusive relationship and the buildings that crumble when you don’t.  Not to mention just trying not to trip over yourself which does enough damage.  This is all shown with strength from Vigalondo.  I will say that while some may say the ending is powerful, and they get their comeuppance, I found one flaw in the way the monster portion of the movie was solved and how that was supposed to fix Gloria’s real problems as well.  In the real world that’s not the way to go, and if you do there will be consequences.  Well, enough sage jibber jabber from me, go see “Colossal”.


1 Corinthians 15:33 

Thursday
Apr202017

The Fate of the Furious- Review

 

“The Fate of the Furious” (2017)

Directed by F. Gary Gray

Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez

Running Time 136 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


Like the rest of the masses I pledged my allegiance to the Fast and Furious saga with the fifth installment.  In “Fast Five” the powers that be decided that Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and crew weren’t just illegal street racers slash carjackers with hearts of gold on the run from the law, nay they had become basically superheroes. Their crew became recruited and entangled in taking down terrorism threats that ultimately protected the U.S. of A.  Somehow that move worked, and worked in a major way.  The Furious movies are a global phenomenon billion dollar business more furious than ever, but unfortunately the 8th entry stalls out for way too long to be measured up to the delights that are entries 5 thru 7.  

“The Fate of Furious” opens spectacularly with a drag race in Cuba that literally goes up in flames and shows us repeatedly what the ‘Cuban Way’ is, or so we’re told a half dozen of times.  The film ends on a very high note with Jason Statham stealing the show with the best airplane fight sequence gun battle while holding a baby throughout that I’ve seen in quite some time.  It’s everything in the middle that really drags and feels very un-Furious like.  At times I was actually bored, which is something I haven’t felt with this series in awhile; prime example is the film’s big midway action set piece of every car going zombie getting hacked in NYC that just didn’t have the exuberant visual flare I’ve come accustomed to.

 

This time around, Dom goes to the dark side having to split from his Furious familia when an uber hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron) has something on her phone that even he can’t overcome.  I so wanted the blackmailing video to be of Dom drinking a Budweiser instead of his usual Corona, unfortunately this is not what the video is but nonconsequential spoiler alert: it turns out they do drink Budweisers at the end of the movie.  Betrayal.  

The film takes a dark turn, and for me that’s a risky move that is valiant but doesn’t pay off.  The fun that this series churns out so easily is dimmed this time around.  Don’t go to a Furious movie looking for Aaron Sorkin writing, but even for this series the dialogue is quite painful at times.  Charlize Theron feels neutered, stuck to a hacker’s keyboard trading wild kingdom metaphors with Diesel that prove my previous point.  

I will say that the Furious team is literally up against someone this time around that is out for world domination, and I salute that.  I keep waiting for the Furious crew to end up in a Marvel movie, I wouldn’t blink an eye.  Here’s hoping #9 gets back on track.

Isaiah 27:4

 

Thursday
Apr202017

T2 Trainspotting- Review

 

“T2 Trainspotting” (2017)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Starring Ewan McGregor,  Ewen Bremner,  Jonny Lee Miller

Running Time 117 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

This is a highly rewarding experience for those who are familiar with and those who fancy the original Trainspotting.  20 years after Danny Boyle’s groundbreaking original the gang is back together, and it is such sweet sorrow.  

Boyle, whose unique electric perspective is on fire here in this sequel, dazzling this viewer and quenching my thirst for one of my very most transformative films as a burgeoning cinephile.  Peppered in are cues from the original that will make you smile.  Ewan McGregor as the ever charming Scottish ex-heroin addict gives us an update on his famous “Choose Life” monologue that had me thinking mid scene of how great it would be to platonically grow old with the actor, and then I realized I have.

“Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares.  Choose looking up old flames, wishing you’d done it all differently.  And choose watching history repeat itself.”  McGregor absolutely nails this showcasing how father time is still undefeated, and if we live long enough, then we will eventually be awakened to that fact.  

 

We last left the Trainspotting crew 20 years ago with Renton betraying his friends by skipping Edinburgh with everyone’s robbed share of 16,000 pounds of drug money only leaving Spud (Ewen Bremner) with his share. Now after all these years Renton, who has changed his addiction to running, comes back home with a hope to right his sins.  Nowadays, the caption necessary Spud is still on the dark needle and is found by Renton with an unpleasant plastic bag around his head.  Renton’s former bestie Simon (Johnny Miller), aka Sick Boy, has moved on to cocaine with hopes of starting a classy brothel with his very young but very bright ‘girlfriend’ Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova).  As for Begbie (Robert Carlyle), he’s still a hurricane of destruction wherever he goes whose psychopathic tendencies won’t let prison get in the way of getting revenge on Renton.

There are winks to original; a bathroom toilet or Renton’s get away antics that will hit that warm nostalgia center of your soul as well as new shenanigans to delight in such as Renton and Simon’s impromptu musical stylings that cater to the dislike of Catholics all to prosper in some clever credit card fraud.

The end feels a little too focused on Begbie’s revenge, but throughout screenwriter John Hodge gets that history does have a way of repeating itself, and while we are in love with these lovable losers at the end of the day they are still losers.  But that’s what makes this film and the one before it a winner.

Ephesians 5:16