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

 

Thursday
Apr202017

Saban's Power Rangers- Review

 

“Saban’s Power Rangers” (2017)

Directed by Dean Israelite

Starring  Dacre Montgomery,  Naomi Scott,  RJ Cyler

Running Time 124 Minutes, Rated PG-13

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Two sides of a coin.  I was just lamenting about the other film opening this week how “Life” is too much a carbon copy of “Alien”, but the very next film I saw, “Saban’s Power Rangers” is no more than a “Breakfast Club” but with kids who get superpowers, and I loved it.  Feels weird to type, but I really did love this Power Rangers movie.  I’m not even the target audience although I noticed some who were in the theater, and they were enjoying it even more.  Maybe not as ‘camp’ as its Saturday morning predecessors, but it’s just the right amount of corny because the casting of the kids is so good.  I almost cried during the yellow ranger’s monologue.  That shouldn’t happen.

 

I’m not gonna go much into the plot.  Five kids get powers, Might Morphin Power Ranger powers, but it takes time to learn how to use them because they have to learn how to both get to know each other and especially themselves.  Told you it was corny, but it’s also fun, as a film about being able to be special should be.  The writing is both touching and has some good one-liners.  The lead, Dacre Montgomery who was made in the Zac Efron cloning tank is spunky as the Emilio Estevez type from “Breakfast Club”, and I think it’s actually really cool that they gave the Blue Ranger Billy (RJ Cyler) aspergers. I think the fact that it was handled very well without being shoved down our throat as a PSA is pretty uplifting.  Throw in Bryan Cranston and a very hammy Elizabeth Banks, and baby you got yourself a good movie stew.

This is one of those films I’ll eventually take my kids to rolling my eyes but come out gushing over it more then them.  

1 Corinthians 1:10

 

Thursday
Apr202017

Life- Review

 

“Life” (2017)

Directed by Daniel Espinosa

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds

Running Time 104 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Things don’t tend to work out the way we’d like them to in life.  Not in actual life (my jump shot), and unfortunately not in Daniel Espinosa’s Alien-lite sci-fi R rated thriller “Life”.  I could see how, on paper, there was enough for committed interest from such a talented cast as big A-listers Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and eventual household name Rebecca Ferguson, who won moviegoers over with bad A turn in the last Mission Impossible film.  It’s set up as a fast paced monster B movie with the budget of an A, but after a good start, the weight of the material simply fizzles out interest beyond repair.  

 

A small soil sampling has been recovered by six astronauts on an international space station.  Inside that sample is the first proof of alien life; a sporulating cell structure, later named Calvin by a grade school back on Earth, what is unique about Calvin is the fact that each cell has brain, muscle, and sensory organs all in one. Small and adorable at first, eventually Calvin gets bigger and breaks free from it’s curious human captors, and the body horror begins as “Life” becomes a chess game of squid-like Mars alien and the Earthling spacemen at hand.  The semantics are posed but not really delved into that Calvin is not a monster but simply doing what all creation does: fight for survival.  It just so happens the crew is the only organic matter around.

The aforementioned Calvin breakout scene is a good one, but, unwisely, the best Espinosa has to offer, mixing sci-fi horror with some well paced tension.  The rest of this film is a less than thrilling move of those chess pieces.  There’s some benefit in watching the chess pieces, but I don’t know too much about those pieces and ultimately I saw where those pieces were going to be six moves ahead; even as clever as the player moving the chess pieces around thought they might be.  

 

Deuteronomy 6:24

 

Monday
Mar272017

Beauty and the Beast- review

 

“Beauty and the Beast” (2017)

Directed by Bill Condon

Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans

Running Time 129 Minutes, Rated PG

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

A tale as old as time proves to be a tale worth retelling.

Disney’s 1991 “Beauty and the Beast”, which became the first full-length animated film to be nominated for Best Picture (and with only five film nominees I might add) is an indelible 5 Star film masterpiece - that few will argue.  A live action remake with today’s CGI wizardry seems like a no-brainer, but the question is could Disney actually pull it off again?  Bill Condon’s 2017 version is not in the same ballpark, but to my surprise it is a total winner.  At first I was worried that my early enjoyment of the film in progress was based solely off the nostalgia fumes of the original, but I succumbed to this version on its own merits.  From Bill Condon’s smooth yet excitingly fun direction, to the wonderful Alan Menken not only attending to the score by returning with the film’s beloved classic songs, but also adding some well done additions, to an all star cast up for the challenge, and most importantly delivering a love story that succeeds most of all.  

 

The story of a handsome self centered Prince cursed to be gnarly beast (both played by Dan Stevens) and stay a beast forever unless he finds true love before the last petal of a magical rose falls when he wrongs the wrong sorcerer (is there ever a right sorcerer)  The Beast is only left with his servants who were turned into household objects, including a candelabra (Ewan McGregor wonderfully returning to a film musical, Emma Thompson as a teapot, Ian McKellen as a grumpy clock, and others you will remember as well.  The true love you ask is Belle, enchantingly played by Emma Watson, a girl in a small French village who is considered a little off because she can read AND think for herself. She is someone the town’s ladyman Gaston (fantastically played over the top by Luke Evans) finds a challenge worth conquering for his bride.  Gaston is followed around everywhere by LeFou, who, worth noting, is Disney’s first gay character played by Josh Gad hilariously for the LGBTQ audience and every other audience existing.  

I teared up several times, (you’re the Beast if you don’t well up when Chip the teacup almost perishes!!!), but the best part of the film is the slowly played out true love that Watson and Stevens so tenderly achieve.  Beast and Belle are worth watching waltz all over again.

Romans 12:16

 

Monday
Mar272017

Kong: Skull Island- review

 

“Kong: Skull Island” (2017)

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson

Running Time 118 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

A failed Vietnam War allegory as the latest version of the giant ape, “Kong: Skull Island”, painfully beats its chest trying to be an Apocalypse Now monster movie mash up to no avail.  Kong Screenwriter Max Borenstein, who also wrote the last Godzilla, is too focused on spearheading the two’s impending monsterverse to concentrate on the human element as the films leads are basically bystanders while the impressive CGI components do battle.  

As the Vietnam War is about to conclude, one more mission is sent to a career soldier played by Samuel L. Jackson and his outfit. They are accompanied by scientists including John Goodman, an expert mercenary tracker played by Tom Hiddleston, and an ‘anti-war’ photographer played by Brie Larson.  Goodman’s character says monsters do exist, and in no small size he is correct as they depart to an uncharted island where all Kong breaks loose.

 

The special effects are the fun of the movie, and Kong shines but I liked the giant creepy crawlers in Peter Jackson’s version better.  Borenstein tries to have too many characters, and neither him nor director Jordan Vogt-Roberts can make any of them compelling.  Hiddleston and Larson have so little do as the leads, especially Hiddleston’s sensitive tough guy really adds nothing story wise.  Jackson’s character is way too close to Colonel Kurtz as the film dimly points at what the “real price of war” is, and “who the real enemy is” and the soundtrack is as cliche spot on as Vietnam films go.  John C. Reilly pops up and gives the film life but is delegated to a unintentionally laughable credits sequence.  

“Kong: Skull Island” slips on a giant banana peel this time around.

Numbers 13:33

 

Monday
Mar272017

Before I Fall- review

 

“Before I Fall” (2017)

Directed by Ry Russo-Young

Starring Zoey Deutch,  Halston Sage,  Cynthy Wu

Running Time 98 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Do you love “Groundhog’s Day”?  Of course you do silly, you’ve got melanin don’t you (sorry albinos).  What if we took that beloved and fun ‘live the same day over and over again’ premise but substituted it with bratty and full of themselves popular high school girls?  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  Of course that doesn’t, you’ve got melanin don’t you (sorry albinos).  This sort of premise is meant to teach our stubborn lead a lesson, no matter how long it takes, but oooh wee it’s tough watching when you switch the means of entertainment from the GOAT Bill Murray comedy to YA petty drama.  “Before I Fall” fails to earn that genre trade off from “Groundhog Day”, and even if director Ry Russo-Young could relive 1,000 days in the editing room she still wouldn’t have gotten it right.

 

While Zoey Deutch ain’t no Bill Murray, I’m not gonna blame her for this film not working.  The spunky young actress had a very nice breakout role in Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some” that I particularly enjoyed, and here she proves the spotlight of such a demanding role.  Deutch plays Samantha, who worked her way up into the popular girl clique and has the cutest boyfriend, if not played and written a little generic douchey, who she is planning on letting deflower her later that evening at a big party.  Besides Samantha, the nails on a chalkboard quartet of ladies includes Ally the needy one (Cynthia Wu), Elody the lush one (Medalion Rahimi), and Lindsay (Halston Sage)  the bitchy ringleader are.  At said party the four rip into social outcast Juliet (Elena Kampouris) including everyone pouring their drinks on her.  But come uppance is a bitch as on their drive home they get into a pretty nasty car crash, and Samantha wakes up the next morning but it’s still Febuary 12th the previous morning. Rinse and repeat.

Director Russo-Young spends too much time in the film’s beginning showing just how nasty and annoying these girls are, and while Deutch can grab our empathy, the other girls, especially actress Halston Sage cannot; that becomes quickly grating.  Also this film suffers from what seems to be editor’s disease.  Scenes come out of nowhere that seem like there was a bigger storyline shot at some point, but the director was pressured to do more cutting than wanted.  A scene where Samantha gives her slightly older teacher the ‘sexy what for’ comes out of nowhere, and whatever issue those two characters had was never brought up again.  There is a second girl who comes under the wrath of the cool girls because of sexual orientation.. I think… that dichotomy seems wildly uneven as well.  

From V.O. Samantha seems to get her plot pretty quickly, and the lesson should be pretty obvious but her character isn’t written smart enough and even when it is tackled it’s done in a pretty lackadaisical and ineffective way.  

I learned my lesson my right away from “Before I Fall”, I will not watch it again.  

Romans 7:15

 

Monday
Mar272017

I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore- review

 

“I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore” (2017)

Directed by Macon Blair

Starring Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood

Running Time 93 Minutes, Rated R.

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Actor Macon Blair, best known for the well done tense indie “Blue Ruin” takes the directing reigns for the first time in a stand against the slights of humanity tale not briefly titled “I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore”.  Blair aptly takes cue from “Blue Ruin” and paints a misanthrope named Ruth played by the offcentered but warmly effective Melanie Lynskey who just wants but an explanation and maybe even an apology from countless ‘jerkiness’ she endlessly undergoes.  From getting stuck in line behind the chick who has 50 items in a 10 items or less lane, to cleaning not her dog’s feces off her lawn daily, to sucking the black exhaust of a non EPA friendly pickup truck, Ruth is drifting through days and losing sight of what compassion looks like in others.  

 

The straw breaks Ruth’s back when her place is broken into and her laptop and her beloved departed grandmother’s silverware are stolen.  When the police have better things to do, Ruth turns vigilante and picks up her boy wonder in the form of Elijah Wood, sporting a rat tail and nunchucks as the wonderfully weird but big hearted Tony.  Ruth’s anger and determination sends her down a path that Blair never lets become predictable.  This film drops steam midway, but Blair who has a very nice knack for setting up elaborate violence doesn’t disappoint with the third act.

Looking forward to what’s next for Blair, Lynskey, and Wood.

Romans 12:2

 

Monday
Mar272017

On the Rocks- review

 

“On the Rocks” (2017)

Directed by Ariel Gardner,  Alex Kavutskiy

Starring  Chase Fein,  Nichole Bagby,  Kate Freund

Running Time 90 Minutes, Rated R.

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


A comedy of misery shouldn’t make the viewer miserable, but this one did.  To quote the great Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

The writer/director team of Ariel Gardner and Alex Kavutskiy seem to be so focused on making their characters as annoying as possible that I wonder if they ever stopped to think about how annoying “On the Rocks” is to watch.  The acting, for the most part, is pretty decent, and I’m sure both Gardner and Kavutskiy knew it as well and ran with it as much as they could. This strength, however, ultimately fails the viewing experience since this is a character piece, and we are relentlessly exhausted with grating banter and nauseating human interactions.

I don’t use the word ‘literal’ lightly.  “On the Rocks” gave me a literal headache watching it.  It’s not easy to produce an actual physical reaction in me watching films, but congrats cause I immediately swallowed 1000 mg of Ibuprofen once the credits rolled.

Dallas (Chase Fein) is a nice enough guy who lets everyone in his life run over him and run over him they do. From his bipolar demanding wife Karen (Nichole Bagby), her bossy older sister Krystal (Kate Freund) and provocative younger sister Kaitlynn (Audrey Whitby), to his scamming boss, and just about everyone else our lead crosses paths with. Dallas is mentally pulverized by the people in his life, and that eventually takes a toll on him physically.

 

I got to give it up to actor Chase Fein as the sad sack Dallas.  Fein really does have the gift to pull the viewer in and be invested enough to want this guy to get the hell out of Dodge from these crazies.  Fein doesn’t play Dallas as the perfect guy either, his flaws are there, but the actor makes him easy to root for.

To reiterate, this is an endlessly annoying affair.  I kept thinking, what is the filmmakers objective here? Because laughter couldn’t have been one of them.

It’s almost a tie between who is more annoying; Bagby’s bonkers wife Karen or Freund’s worst person on earth older sister Krystal.  And again, I’m looking more at fault to the director than to Bagby.  Seriously, Bagby’s character screams 75% of her lines (aforementioned headache), and I’m betting she was coerced into that.  

You know I said it was mostly the director's fault and that the acting was pretty decent, well not so much with Freund’s performance.  While the tone is always hectic and heightened, there is smidge of sense of reality throughout but not with Freund’s choices.  Didn’t believe in her character for a second.  

You put all of this crap together with longhand scenes that scream I have a problem with my stream of consciousness.  I’m sure it was a choice to have no filter and craziness keep going and going, but I think it was a poor choice.  I was worn out 15 minutes into the film.  “On the Rocks” sure felt a lot longer than it’s 90 minutes running time.  

After viewing “On the Rocks” I washed those Ibuprofen down with a stiff drink.

 

Sunday
Mar262017

Logan- review

 

“Logan” (2017)

Directed by James Mangold

Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

Running Time 135 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

The heart of Wolverine has finally made it onscreen.  

It only took Jackman’s 9th time portraying the character to really feel it.  This is no fault to Hugh Jackman, who got the career changing role after Dougray Scott had to drop out for Mission Impossible 2 reshoots (ouch), and has killed it ever since.  It’s just tough to truly capture a 200 year old plus dude who has knives for hands and uncontrollable berserker rage because all he loves eventually dies because of his name.  

“Logan” director James Mangold nearly got it right with the character’s last solo outing in “The Wolverine”, but a wrong third act where the studio took over and Mangold’s very nice character piece up to that point was pushed to the side.  That was a still a decent picture overall, but now with Jackman declaring that this would be his last Wolverine/Logan outing he had the chip stack to bluff the studio out of a PG-13 superhero blueprint, Mangold was given the canvas with an “R” rating and not shackled with having ‘fate of the world’ stakes, but instead this beloved actor played with his beloved character and Logan’s ‘soul at stake’.   

Thy soul has been redeemed with “Logan”.

 

Somewhere and sometime after “X-Men: Days of Future Past” we find a weary Logan who has lost everyone he’s ever cared for besides a senile Charles Xavier (Sir. Patrick “Friggen” Stewart) whose mind is the first to be classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the U.S. government.  If it wasn’t for Xavier, Logan just might use the one adamantium bullet he hast left on himself; the only thing that he knows for sure that would end his seemingly immortal existence.  That is until someone else comes along for Logan to protect.  An 11 year old girl named Laura (an impressive debut from Dafne Keen) who has the same ‘gifts’ that Logan has with just as much anger to boot.  With much convincing from Xavier, the three head out on a road trip to North Dakota where a young mutant ‘eden’ is said to be had.

“Logan” is a sloppy film at times.  You can feel the different drafts and how different story aspects were meshed together.  There are plot holes as well.  Like giving an arbitrary finish line in the film of getting to a border and all danger for our mutant outlaws will cease.  Regardless of that and the feeling that one very important scene midway was too underplayed so that a similar scene towards the end could be played bigger, “Logan” is a winner.  Intimate, touching, tremendous violence that actually resonates to the viewer instead of just bouncing off our bloody immune eyes, this is a film that goes smaller but hits harder than any X-Men previously ever could.  We have been blessed to see Jackman play so many chapters of this character, and play them with such force that he has changed the landscape of cinema.  

Bravo.   

Proverbs 25:28

 

Monday
Feb272017

Get Out- review

 

“Get Out” (2017)

Directed by Jordan Peele

Starring Daniel Kaluuya,  Allison Williams,  Bradley Whitford

Running Time 103 Minutes, Rated R.

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

There is nothing like a very good horror film to tap into the focused mistreatment of a wronged group or a social dynamic that has been broken in some way.  Whether it be man's controlling of women in “Stepford Wives” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, or South Korea’s passivity to the U.S.A’s bullying in “The Host”, or the rampant Reagan era consumerism in Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”, these films were spot on with a minority’s view toward their abuse and were damn good scary thrillers on their own.  You can now add Jordan Peele (yes, Peele from the spot on sketch comedy “Key & Peele”) to the list with his racially charged horror/comedy masterstroke “Get Out”.

There's outright hatred racism where a person is attacked only for the color of their skin and that’s how “Get Out” begins as a young black man is snatched up by a masked man who pulls up in a blinding white corvette. Then there’s the ‘thinly veiled’ racism that confuses that when we elected President Obama racism was cured in America.  Ala passive aggressive racism that I saw the other day where at my job a fellow employee who swears not to have anything against black people couldn’t understand why so many blacks were nominated for Oscars this year.  Like this only happened to make up for last years political protests instead of there just being plenty of great contributions from black people in the industry.  It’s that kind of racism that is hiding around every corner for a black person that must make America feel like a real horror film, and that’s where this film truly scares the ‘same colored shit as everyone else on this planet’ out of me. 

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is a black photographer who is doing so well with his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) that it’s time to meet her parents.  With growing trepidation he asks her if her parents know that he’s black.  She laughs off the question saying her father will tell him that he would have voted for President Obama a third term if possible..and he does.  They drive off to her parents house in a tucked away very white suburbia off the lake and even though little insensitivities come along in meeting Rose’s parents (played excellently by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) his reserved demeanor shrugs them off.  

While Rose’s father explains away why they have a black maid and a black gardener, Chris can’t help but notice how odd their demeanor comes off.  More and more Chris shrugs off the signs until the warnings become unshruggable and the horror takes hold.  Peele will have the morally afflicted angered in this film but he will also have the horror fan freaked out.  His tonal shifts are perfect, his editing is so acute, and his actors are so finely tuned that “Get Out” fires on all cylinders.  Don’t want to give anymore away than that but please, ‘get in’ line for this film.      

1 John 2:9