Wednesday
Dec132017

Creep 2- review

 

“Creep 2” (2017)

Directed by Patrick Brice

Starring Mark Duplass,  Desiree Akhavan

Running Time 80 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


2014’s experimental indie “Creep” was one of my SXSW highlights.  A very talented filmmaker/actor in Mark Duplass gave horror a go and did it alongside the film’s co-star and director Patrick Brice in a way that specialized in uncomfortableness rather than jump scares.  Unsettling is a word that describes the found footage film well as it got you to laugh but in the way that startes with a giggle but finishes with a marker of trepidation, and that’s a compliment.

 

Duplass is back as the egotistical and pathological liar slash serial killer Aaron who this time around has lost his love for the game.  When he enlists Sara (“Girls” Desiree Akhavan) who is an aspiring internet documentarian that specializes in trying to find out what makes lonely men tick, Aaron feels like there might be a little left in the tank yet.  Duplass has a blast with this character, and you can feel the script giving into Duplass’ improv which is very strong for the most part.  Creepy moments thrive here because Duplass and Brice let them marinate and Akhavan more than holds her own.  I will say that the original brought more ‘scares’ for me, and this time around the ending felt very rushed as the film is a very quick 80 minutes in total, but this sequel is able to use what worked the first time around and expand in different in directions as well.

Proverbs 16:5

Wednesday
Dec132017

It (2017)- review

 

“It” (2017)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Starring Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard

Running Time 135 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

In Stephen King’s “It” Derry, Maine has more missing persons, especially missing children, than any other city in America.  Set in the 1980’s, a group of kids known as the “Loser’s Club” dig deeper into the mystery only to unravel that “It” is a malevolent killer clown known as Pennywise (a deliciously off his rockers evil Bill Skarsgard) who feeds off fear.  People look back at the old 1990 NBC miniseries with joy but besides Tim Curry stepping up to the plate, it’s pretty tame and a bit silly for rewatchability sake.  

Cut to Andy Muschietti’s (“Mama”) version which goes hard R and earns some pretty big scares.  What sets this film apart is the brilliant casting with Skarsgard already mentioned, but it’s the youthful actors who really take this film to a higher level.  The mixed tone of comedy, which is really funny at times, with the horror aspect works most of the time.  I will say the film got less scary for me as it went along, but the characters never got less dull.  

It is totally worth watching “It” (I worked a lot harder on that pun than I should have).

Romans 8:18

Wednesday
Dec132017

Annabelle: Creation- Review

 

“Annabelle: Creation” (2017)

Directed by David F. Sandberg

Starring Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman

Running Time 109 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

The Jason Blum horror Blumiverse continues without a bang in “Annabelle: Creation”.  2014’s “Annabelle” was a box office smash and a surprise to me in effectiveness.  “Annabelle: Creation” gives us a prequel and lets us in how that creepy looking porcelain doll earned its creepiness.  When the Mullins, played weirdly lacklusterly by the usually solid Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto, are struck by tragedy losing their daughter to a car accident, they look to the dark side to bring her back not realizing that making a deal with the devil doesn’t usually work out.  Twelve years later the Mullins open their big country house to the failing Saint Eustace Home for Girls, and then all Annabelle breaks out.  

 

A few good jump scares here and there, and don’t underestimate the power in the simplicity of having a still camera on a darkly lit doll sitting in a rocking chair, but ultimately I was bored.  There are heavy handed character beats with the older girls in the orphanage being snotty that are supposed to make it easier to have them as kill fodder, but they are just weak. Also, the setting up of devices in the house like a dumb waiter and a scarecrow by the shed are underwhelming time bombs, and when they do go off, they don’t pack much of a punch.  

For me it’s time to put this doll to rest.

Luke 22:31

 

Friday
Nov032017

Little Evil- review

 

“Little Evil” (2017)

Directed by Eli Craig

Starring Evangeline Lilly,  Adam Scott,  Kyle Bornheimer

Running Time 95 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

There’s this trend of opening the film with a scene much later on in the film and then working it’s way back to it, I am not a fan.  It’s doesn’t do much except for tell the viewer where we’re gonna end up, so much so that I’m trying to figure out when that scene will come up.  “Little Evil” does that and by doing so starts the film off with a sour taste.  I love the premise; Gary, played very well by straight man extraordinaire Adam Scott marries the love of his life (a pleasant Evangeline Lilly), and becomes the stepfather to her young boy.  It just so happens that the little boy is the antichrist.  Every person who has taken parenthood over a child who they didn’t create must feel like at times they are the spawn of evil so you’d think there’d be so much comedy to mine.  Turns out not so much.

 

Eli Craig can’t replicate the duality of scares and laughs that he achieved in “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” with many scenes falling flat on their face.  “Little Evil” has its moments, but it’s too little too late.  

John 8:44

 

Friday
Nov032017

Goon: Last of the Enforcers- review

 

“Goon: Last of the Enforcers" (2017)

Directed by Jay Baruchel

Starring Seann William Scott,  Alison Pill,  Marc-André Grondin

Running Time 101 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Movie sports classics are hard to come by but are the adrenaline pumping gift that keeps giving.  2011’s out of nowhere raunchy and bloody hockey opus “Goon” is one of those classics, and I will pull your jersey over your head and punch you in the face if you disagree.  The watchability factor on that film is extremely high, I since caught the film more than a few times and the film’s bare knuckle blood gets only sweeter with time.  Co-screenwriter Jay Baruchel agrees with me and saw fit to co-write and sole direct a Goon sequel; “Goon: Last of the Enforcers”.  This film is about as original as a hockey player missing teeth, but regardless it still has same awesome ‘feel’ as the original and that alone makes it worth a recommendation.

  

Seann William Scott is back as minor league hockey player Doug Glatt, who can still beat the snot out of just about anyone while still being as sweet as can be about it.  Honestly, Scott doesn’t get enough credit for this role, every time I see the original it makes me sad he doesn’t work more.  Doug gets the respect of his team and becomes their captain, but this is short lived as he finally gets the snot kicked out of him to the point where he’s forced into retirement.  This comes at the hands Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), the son of Doug’s team owner.  From there, cue the unoriginality, a whole “Rocky 2” plot plays out with Doug trying to train himself back up but doing it away from his pregnant wife again by Allison Pill.  

What really helps this film get the ‘feel’ from the first one is having all the players from the first one.  The inappropriateness flows like wine, and that made me drunk enough to enjoy the Goon sequel.   

John 15:13

 

Friday
Nov032017

What Happened to Monday- review

 

What Happened to Monday (2017)

Directed by Tommy Wirkola

Starring Noomi Rapace,  Glenn Close,  Willem Dafoe

Running Time 123 Minutes, Rated R.

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

It’s 2073 and overpopulation is muy mal, like asses to elbows mal.  The solution is the Child Allocation Act, a law that makes it so that every family is only allowed but one child, and if another spermy gets by and you have another then that kiddo is nabbed by the Child Allocation Bureau led by a “really going for it” Glenn Close and they put your kid away in a hibernation chamber until things are little less crowded.  Our story involves a group of adult septuplets all played, entertainingly I might add, by “The Girl and the Dragon Tattoo” actress Noomi Rapace who all take on the identity of one person named Karen Setten mentored by their grandfather played by a “not really going for it” Willem Dafoe.  On a rotation, each Settman sister gets the day of the week they were named after which Rapace plays with a delightful “Orphan Black” treatment, until one day one of the sisters, Monday, considered to be the most responsible goes missing and all heck breaks loose.

 

Decent idea, decent cast, but very bland execution.  You wouldn’t think that coming from the director of “Dead Snow”, but along with a former best blacklist script that feels really muddled, “What Happened to Monday” becomes instantly forgettable.  This is one of those films where you can tell they only had 1-2 days to shoot with either/both Dafoe and Close only having but few select scenes each in not than many different locations. “What Happened to Monday” eventually gets interesting..eventually..but boy it sure does take a while, and too much bland silliness has passed over my retinas to really be able to jump back in and care enough.  What I like attempted here but ultimately doesn’t work is that there are a lot of choices that go against conventional story structure later on in the movie.  I can’t pinpoint why some of those bold choices don’t pay off except for to say that they come off a little too jarring; for example I’m pretty sure that this movie thinks that the Glenn Close’s puppeteer politician villain is actually the film’s hero and that the seven sisters Settman are really the dumb American making choices with their heart not their mind.

Doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, this film isn’t worth the watch.

Romans 12:4-6

 

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.