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Recent Movie Reviews#9123
Horror tension, mystery tension and racial tension blend together into a gripping and formidable nail-biter in "Get Out," the astonishing directorial debut of Jordan Peele. The former half of the comedy duo "Key & Peele" has found a way to both honor and subvert the thriller and horror genres in a way that's unmistakably modern.
In the tradition of "The Stepford Wives" with the twist of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?," the story follows a young black man named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) who goes to meet his girlfriend, Rose's (Allison Williams) parents at their fancy estate where things go from slightly uncomfortable in terms of Chris being black to deeply messed up in one slow but inevitable fell swoop.
With a creepy opening scene showing a different black man getting abducted in a peaceful-seeming suburb, the tone is set immediately that there's cause for concern. Luckily for Chris, Rose is really sensitive to issues of race and prejudice, and even when her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) or brother (Caleb Landry Jones) seem to make Chris' blackness into a thing, the two handle it as best as any interracial couple could. The warning signs come in the form of the Armitage family's black help, maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson), whose behavior is anything but normal.
Peele sets a tone of creepiness largely with the help of composer Michael Abels, also making his feature film debut. The unpredictable nature of Georgina and Walter as characters, the ever-increasing suspicion of all the white characters and the way Peele keeps you nervous about who or what is just outside the frame fuel the fear and paranoia as well as if not better than any horror movie featuring more overtly malevolent forces does.
Kaluuya, in a role that will deservedly put him on the map, gives a performance that will connect with viewers who identify with Chris as a man trying to feel comfortable while out of his element experiencing strange things, and those who truly understand Chris' experience as a man of color undergoing the very same events. It would be fascinating to know the different ways a black viewer would experience the film compared to a white one, but the most important thing is that everyone will identify with and feel for Chris.
When a little horror film debut like this one gets talents such as Whitford, Keener and Williams, you know the script is good. Peele keeps up the air of mystery a long time even without packing in very many unexpected twists. The awareness of something being wrong but not quite understanding what it going on or why despite getting new information is a real strength of Peele's writing. Then of course there's the brilliant ways that race and the black experience make it into the film. If that weren't enough, Chris' best friend (LilRel Howry) provides comic relief in a way that's stereotypical, yet Peele uses him in unexpected ways. So we get to benefit from Peele's nose for comedy as well.
Not everything adds up by the end of "Get Out," but the film plays out in extremely satisfying fashion. Fans of horror and fans of thrillers who don't mind horror when it's done well should both enjoy the technique and experience. It provides thrills of the pulse-pounding, thrill-seeking and thought-provoking variety and few genre films can say the same.
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I am a huge fan of Key and Peele. Their show was my whole existence and I still go around doing the "I said biiiitch" skit everywhere I go. So with this, I was expecting a good bit of laughs to come of 'Keanu' but I was left a little disappointed. 'Keanu' was not a total fail, it had its moments, in my opinion, but to me it felt like an overly drawn out K&P skit on their show. Mostly a third season skit at that. Key and Peele themselves were naturally hilarious as usual. Their deliverance is perfect it was just the material was beaten to death to me. Overall, not terrible but not great. Just an average comedy from excellent comedians.... The cat was cute though.#8660
In its introductory scenes The Equalizer is not a bad movie. However, once the plot gets underway it becomes one. Here is yet another movie about a one-man arsenal hell-bent on mopping the floor with grimy hoodlums who are turning the world into a cesspool of inhuman cruelty while wallowing in blood and gore. You've seen this movie before – an ordinary guy walks into a room full of gun-toting thugs and, in 40 seconds of jump cuts, dispatches everybody in the room and then struts out the door accompanied by a rock soundtrack.
Clichés like this can be avoided. I was impressed last week by the skill with which Scott Frank rethought the elements of this genre in A Walk Among the Tombstones, so it stands to reason that I had hope that Antoine Fuqua could have that kind of restraint with this movie. After all, this is his re-teaming with Denzel Washington after directing him to a Best Actor Oscar twelve years ago in Training Day. He can't. This is a routine bloodbath that steals elements from Taxi Driver, Walking Tall, Taken, Dirty Harry, and every other man-against-the-machine movie of the last 40 years.
The Equalizer is based very loosely on a CBS television series starring the late Edward Woodward that ran from 1985 to 1989. It was a good show, featuring the adventures of a retired intelligence agent-turned-private eye named Robert McCall who specialized in helping out the little guy. The movie has a little of that, it has Denzel Washington as a guy who lives a fastidious lifestyle, barren of all clutter, who spends his days and nights in a course of routine. He works in a home supply store by day and spends his evenings at his regular table at the corner coffee shop reading Hemingway.
We don't know much about him but his obsessive compulsive nature fascinates us – he notices things. He's interested in those around him. At work, he takes pity on a co-worker named Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) who is trying to lose weight to become a security guard. At the restaurant, he has friendly conversations with a young girl named Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) whose choice of outfits leave no mystery about what she does for a living.
One night Teri is picked up by her pimp and later ends up in the ICU. McCall follows up on her and finds out that the pimp is working for the Russian mob. What follows is the kind of movie that Charles Bronson use to make in his later years when he was just repeating the formula of Death Wish. McCall single-handedly sparks a one-man war against the Russian Mafia, not satisfied to take out the guy who roughed up Teri, he has to rub out the entire foundation of the city's criminal elite. Over and over he walks into a room and wipes out every guy in the room with whatever happens to be available at the moment, mainly power tools. No points for guessing that his job at the home supply store will come back in the film's action climax.
The movie is one long bore. It starts off with some interest before it gets tedious, then it gets frustrating, then it gets boring, then it gets repetitive, then it becomes a parody of itself. The villains all look the same. The story repeats the same stuff over and over. And Denzel's character is such a good fighter that there is no dramatic tension in the fight scenes. By the time we see Denzel walking in slow-mo toward the camera while the building behind him blows up real good, you get the feeling that the writer and the director just didn't care.
I wasn't going to leave a review of this waste of time, money and fake blood because all of the other 33 reviews gave it one star as well, so, hang on a moment, how come it has a rating of 5.0?! Something fishy is hanging in the air here. This film is a complete and utter barrel of bollox from start to finish. It's preposterous in every way shape and form, most importantly because the script is clearly written by a seven year old who has no idea what a story is, much less motivation of characters. It's insulting, superficial, mindless twaddle, and I agree with other reviewers, Mr Pacino clearly did this for the money. He's considered to be a great actor (though not in my opinion) and he should know what a good script looks like before he accepts a role, so, obviously he just took this on to pay into his pension fund. What happened to the integrity of film-making? So called 'producers' with lots of money to invest to try to make a profit and get a credit on imdb probably.#8449
Hollywood California, 11.30pm and the Bay household or should we say mansion is quiet and ready for bed. Michael removes his gold slippers, finishes his cigar and nestles into his Transformers silk bed sheets and closes his eyes ready for sleep. As he drifts into a deep rest visions of explosions, young models in short skirts, explosions, a really big explosion, short skirts, explosions, loud noises, a slow motion explosion and robot dangly bits fill his mind. As he awakes in the morning light with the rays of Beverly Hills he forgets what dreams filled his night yet is inspired with a jolt of creativity to go and blow things up – all in the name of art and entertainment oh and he needs a nubile young model to sign on for her "acting" skills.
Oh Michael Bay we could make fun of you all day and all night long, you're the butt of many critics joke and an easy target at that yet one thing that cannot be denied is your track record with your films making in excess of 4 billion dollars at the global box office therefore giving you a license to pretty much blow up whatever you see fit and really the world is all the better for it.
It may come as a surprise but Pain and Gain is explosion free for a whole 52 minutes! That's right Bay does not blow up a single creation either small or large until almost an hour into his bizarre, frantic and seriously entertaining take on a unbelievably true story set in the sun drenched city of Miami. Bay's tale is perhaps his wildest yet and features acting turns by it's 3 leads that rank as some of the most committed of the year.
The trio of Wahlberg, Johnson and Mackie committee not only physically to this tale but mentally, portraying versions of men so hell bent on the American dream they will turn to kidnapping and murder to get it. This outrageous tale is a fascinating allergy on the American dream with voice over monologues from the characters letting us know just how brazenly dumb these men are whether it be thinking Scarface is real or wanting to be a Doer and not a Don't-er. It's a crazy tale directed with a Red Bull infused energy by Bay that one suspects will be a cult classic in years to come due to its subject and portrayals.
Make no doubts about it there is a lot wrong with Pain and Gain but it's also one of the best filmed and interestingly acted movies from last year and at no stage is it in any way boring. Bay is a man easy to hate on but for a director who makes unashamedly entertaining films he is a genius and on the strength of this effort shows us to be a daring filmmaker whether you want to admit it or not. Bring on the next Transformers I say, now back to sleep I have explosions to dream of.
3 pumps out of 5
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