New Valerian Trailer Showcases Mind-Blowing Spectacle

Well, lots of amazing trailer this week. This morning, I caught a new look at the upcoming Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the newest from Luc Besson.

This trailer gave us a bit of scope in terms of who Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are and what drives them in the film. We also get a ton of epic sweeping footage and some interesting space creatures along the way.

What I really liked about the trailer was, for me, a return to what made Luc Besson an incredible visual filmmaker with work like The Fifth Element. I want to return to a film like that, a crazy spectacle action extravaganza, and I think that’s what we’re going to get here.

Faults? Yeah, it felt like the CG wasn’t all entirely finished yet, which may still be fixed, but I’m not sure given that all of Besson’s films are made for lower budgets. I also wasn’t big on Lucy, and there was a slight vibe of that in the trailer.

All in all, I enjoyed the trailer and it did make me more excited to see the film, which opens July 21st.

So what did you think? What’s your favorite Luc Besson film? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Second Trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming is Delightfully Fresh

Hey there folks,

So here we are. A new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer. And this one is a whopper. I was very happy to see where this new iteration of the character would be going, and while I’m still not big on the title, I was pleasantly entertained by the new trailer, which showcases Peter Parker’s relationship with Tony Stark and gives a bit more of a look at the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton.

My one concern, and I’m hearing this a lot around the community, is that we may have seen too much, so if you are already excited to see Spider-Man: Homecoming, I would maybe avoid the newest trailer because, while it is amazing, it does give a lot of plot details, but I’ve learned in the past that isn’t always true. Everything in this trailer may happen within the first half-hour.

But seriously, people, I am very excited about Spider-Man: Homecoming. It may be the most interesting and unique look at the friendly neighborhood superhero we’ve gotten since the original Sam Raimi film, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

Did you see the trailer? What did you think? Are you excited for Spider-Man: Homecoming? What’s your favorite villain from Spider-Man’s Rogues Gallery? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Pear Cider and Cigarettes (2016)

Director: Robert Valley

Screenplay: Robert Valley

35 mins. Not Rated.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Animated Short Film

 

I was incredibly proud of the five nominees for this year’s Best Animated Short Film at the Oscars. All five films were so good that I had trouble picking a favorite.

In Pear Cider and Cigarettes, writer/director Robert Valley tells a stylized and truth-based tale of his childhood friend Techno Stypes. Techno was always seen as a self-saboteur, and when Robert discovers his friend is in a Chinese hospital in need of a new liver, Robert attempts to get his ailing friend back to his home in Vancouver.

Pear Cider and Cigarettes is incredibly visual in every moment of the stylistic and crazy tale. Through the stunning animation and gripping frames, it’s a lush and gorgeous film. That isn’t its flaw.

The short’s biggest problem is its story. For me, I never found myself all that interested in Techno’s story. I understand he is based on a real person, so I mean no disrespect to Valley, but the decision to utilize the noir-ish narration over dialogue pulled me out of the film. I lost engagement rather quickly and it was difficult to get back in, so I enjoyed the short from a purely visual sense. Now, I’m not even sure of how Valley could’ve used dialogue instead of the narration, but I know it took me out.

Pear Cider and Cigarettes belongs in the discussion for great shorts, but as to actually being the best, I’m sorry, but it wasn’t. If you want to see the best animation of last year, though, it’s tough to find something better. Worth checking out.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Early Review] Life (2017)

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya

Screenplay: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

103 mins. Rated R for language throughout, some sci-fi violence and horror.

 

Yeah, I’ve seen Life. I saw it last night, and I really want to talk about it, but don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it, and count yourself lucky for that.

Life has a similar premise to many before it. A group of astronauts aboard the International Space Station come across irrefutable proof of existence beyond Earth when they discover a microscopic being on a Mars probe. The crew mistakes the lifeform of being friendly when they soon discover it will do anything to survive and grow.

Let’s talk about all the good in this movie because the good outweighs the bad. First of all, hats off to the marketing department for not ruining all the exciting twists and turns of the film in the marketing and trailers. I still saw some of it coming a mile away, but it helped to not have it flat-out ruined for me.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Nocturnal Animals) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Criminal) absolutely steal the show in this ensemble piece but all the performances are above par here. I particularly found myself intrigued by Ariyon Bakare (TV’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Hugh, a paraplegic charged with studying the lifeform, coyly nicknamed Calvin.

Props to director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Child 44) for the pacing and getting as much as possible from the premise and the set. He allows the confined set to breathe and flourish. There’s some gorgeous camerawork similar to 2013’s Gravity, but it is impressive nonetheless.

And I would be disappointed in myself for not recognizing the excellent score from Jon Ekstrand. His music jumps between grandiose space epic and claustrophobic horror film, and it works really well.

Okay, so let’s talk negatives, because there are two. The biggest, and most disappointing, is the screenplay. I can’t even believe I’m saying this, because I love the writing of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland, G.I. Joe: Retaliation), but the screenplay hopped between exciting and completely stupid. There are things that characters, and we’re talking NASA-trained astronauts, do in this film that are so shockingly stupid that it’s hard to ignore. Then, there are moments that are meant to come across as genuine and heartfelt that would be difficult for anyone to glean. For example, Gyllenhaal’s David Jordan reads from Goodnight Moon, and it doesn’t work at all. I can’t blame for Gyllenhaal for trying, because the scene just doesn’t work. And the ending. The ending is just plain wrong. A big copout poorly written that comes off as expected and uninteresting.

The other issue with the film is the release date. This film is coming out too close to Alien: Covenant in a world where we’ve already seen Prometheus and Gravity, and Life comes off as a carbon copy because of it. Simple mistakes like the way the title is displayed hearken back to Alien, and it makes Life look bad by comparison. It’s just bad timing.

Life has more wins than losses, but it just doesn’t excel where better films have. Still, 2017 hasn’t had the best start, so it’s one of the better films I’ve seen this year. This movie is worth checking out in theaters, preferably as soon as possible to avoid spoilers for the most shocking moments.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

Have you seen Life? What did you think? And what’s your favorite first contact moment from film? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

First Trailer for Captain Underpants Reveals This Movie is Actually Happening

I read Captain Underpants as a kid. To be honest, I couldn’t remember what the first book was about, but I do recall the second book, where the villain Professor Poopypants unveiled some terrible plot to do something with monster toilets. Okay, to be fair, the whole chronology is a little blurry up top.

Shockingly enough, though, with the release of the first trailer for Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, I have to say they hit the tone pretty well. I’m still not entirely sure why there is a film adaptation dropping this late. I guess, I can’t even recall seeing new books in this series any time recently. Perhaps there are, but it just doesn’t seem popular for this time period. All the same, I enjoyed the books growing up and I’m moderately interested after seeing the first trailer.

So what did you think? Have you read any of the Captain Underpants series? Are you excited for the film? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Extraterrestrial Abductions Day] Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Francois Truffaut

Screenplay: Steven Spielberg

137 mins. Rated PG.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Cinematography
  • Academy Award Winner: Special Achievement Award for Best Sound Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actress in a Supporting Role [Melinda Dillon]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Director
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Art Direction – Set Decoration
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Film Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Effects, Visual Effects
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Score

 

With today being Extraterrestrial Abductions Day, I wanted to look back at a Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, The BFG) film that I didn’t have much exposure to: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I didn’t see the film until after college, and I didn’t recall liking it very much. So, today, I thought, let’s give it another try.

Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws, Madoff), an electrical lineman in Indiana, is forever changed after he experiences a close encounter with an unidentified flying object while investigating an outage. He develops a thirst to discover exactly what he witnessed that consumes him entirely, causing rifts in his marriage to wife Ronnie (Teri Garr, Tootsie, Aloha, Scooby Doo!) and his children. Roy’s search for answers takes him across the country where he meets Lacombe (Francois Truffaut, The 400 Blows, The Green Room), a French scientist also enamored with the possible discovery of alien life.

My frustrations with Close Encounters of the Third Kind do not lie on the technical side of things. I happen to find the visuals and sound design to be superb, some of the best put to film (coincidentally, the film was released the same as the original Star Wars, which nabbed a number of technical awards at the Oscars). I enjoyed the performances from Dreyfuss and Melinda Dillon (A Christmas Story, Reign Over Me) as Jillian, a single mother who shares in Roy’s journey for answers.

My issues, though, come from Spielberg’s screenplay and how he chose to direct it. Roy does some pretty shitty things in the film, he isn’t a character I like or feel for, and yet Spielberg chooses to give the film such a light-hearted tone. It’s as if to say to his audience, “Look at this funny guy pushing his family away! My, isn’t he strange?” It just didn’t work for me. I want to feel for him and what this journey is doing to him, but I don’t.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a beautiful film, one that furthers the abilities of the artist with its progressive sound design and visual effects, but I just didn’t like the emotional arcs of the characters. An impressive technical marvel to this writer, but one without true substance.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, click here.

For my review of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, click here.

[Short Film Sunday] The White Helmets (2016)

Director: Orlando von Einsiedel

Cast: Khalid Farah, Mohammed Farah, Abu Omar

41 mins. Not Rated.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Documentary Short Subject

 

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you hadn’t heard of The White Helmets before. Maybe you had. For me, I’ve always felt like my knowledge of what’s going on in the world is rather limited. It wasn’t until I watched this documentary short, winner at this year’s Academy Awards, that I had my eyes open to the bravery of this group.

The White Helmets tells the story of the first responders to the airstrike victims in Syria. This group, called the Syrian Civil Defense, do not get paid but rather volunteer, risking their lives to save countless others.

This documentary short is not an easy one to watch, but director Orlando von Einsiedel doesn’t hold back when confronting the dangers that these volunteers have to face every single day in the line of duty. The most important aspect presented comes in the form of statistics that The White Helmets ends with. After seeing what they go through to save lives, the impact of the film is all the more hard-hitting.

The White Helmets is an impressive look at a part of the world that needs more spotlight. Through the lens, the director and his team present a painful yet hopeful look at humanity in the form of the Syrian Civil Defense. This is important film-making.

 

The White Helmets is available on Netflix.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Moonlight (2016)

Director: Barry Jenkins

Cast: Mahershala Ali, Duan Sanderson, Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris

Screenplay: Barry Jenkins

111 mins. Rated R for sexuality, drug use, brief violence, and language throughout.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mahershala Ali)
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Naomie Harris)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Directing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Cinematography
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Acheivement in Film Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievment in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

 

Don’t get upset. Moonlight won Best Picture and La La Land did not. Don’t be angry. I foresaw the win (but not the controversy) but needed to see the film before making my own judgment call. I needed to see for myself what the hubbub was all about. I’ve now seen Moonlight several times, and it’s one of the best and most important films you will ever see.

Moonlight’s storytelling technique is a little complex, so I’ll explain. Moonlight is in three pieces, each showcasing a different period in the life of Chiron. In each of the three key pieces, Chiron is played by a different actor of course. There is Little (Alex Hibbert), Chiron (Ashton Sanders, Straight Outta Compton, The Retrieval) and Black (Trevante Rhodes, The Night is Young, Open Windows). The narrative explores Chiron’s upbringing, his relationship with drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali, TV’s House of Cards, Free State of Jones) and his mother Paula (Naomie Harris, Skyfall, Collateral Beauty), and the themes of sexuality and identity that run through Chiron’s blood. It is an elegant and powerful tale.

The strength of Moonlight comes from the incredible ensemble both in front and behind the camera. The performances from Ali and Harris first spring to mind, but all three actors playing Chiron are just incredible.

Director Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy) put together a great team from a technical standpoint, bathing each stage of Chiron’s life in a different color tone. The film is gorgeously shot and expertly edited into a tight runtime that leaves little out of place. In fact, each piece of the story has its own musical cues and moments to play with. It almost feels like you could watch any one part of the story as a short film and be quite satisfied, but in the grander scheme, Chiron’s life comes into full view.

Moonlight is damn impressive, and very deserving of the Best Picture Oscar it took back from La La Land. I love both films, but I think Moonlight is exactly what it sets out to be and narrowly edges out La La Land. This is impressive filmmaking at its core, and I highly recommend you see it immediately.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[St. Patrick’s Day] In Bruges (2008)

Director: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ciaran Hinds, Clemence Poesy, Jeremie Renier

Screenplay: Martin McDonagh

107 mins. Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language and some drug use.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Writing, Original Screenplay

 

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to take a look back at a favorite film of mine from an excellent Irish writer/director, Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths). The film is In Bruges.

Ray (Colin Farrell, Phone Booth, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and his partner Ken (Brendan Gleeson, Edge of Tomorrow, Assassin’s Creed) are two hitmen hiding out in the small town of Bruges in Belgium after Ray accidentally shot and killed a child on the job. What’s wrong with Bruges? Seemingly nothing, but, as Ray points out, it’s fucking Bruges. The small peaceful town has a strange way about it, and Ray soon discovers that there is a larger reason they’ve been sent to Bruges by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The LEGO Batman Movie) in this charming bloodbath.

In Bruges is, simply put, spectacular. From the performances of its main cast (in particular, Colin Farrell puts out the best work of his career) to the man behind the camera, everything is spot on. Farrell and Gleeson share some truly wonderful dialogue-driven scenes and when Fiennes shows up, the film only gets better and better.

McDonagh has an eye for dialogue and a visual sense of beauty in darkness, and he shows it here in his first feature (I also recommend checking out the shit-crazy Seven Psychopaths from the director if you get a chance). His focus on characters and real comedy derived from interesting experiences and moments make the film a completely unique thrill-ride.

In Bruges is just damn incredible. My love for it extends back to a screenwriting study I did on the film some years back, and I find that I continue to admire its pitch-perfect writing and tone upon each viewing. The film’s one problem, if there has to be one, is that it slogs a tiny bit in the second act, but trust me when I say that it doesn’t really hurt the film at all. I highly recommend watching In Bruges today or, hell, any day.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

*** Just a side note, In Bruges registers 1.18 “fucks” per minutes. SO yeah, the film is rated R for language.

Star Trek: Discovery Ready to Take Off With Captain Jason Isaacs!

After on-again, off-again news from the production of Star Trek: Discovery, the newest development is an intriguing one. Jason Isaacs, known to many fans as Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter franchise, is set to join the cast as Captain Lorca. Isaacs will join Sonequa Martin-Green in a starring role on the show which will debut later this year.

This is exciting news for me, as I’ve been  closely watching this strange and interesting incarnation of the popular franchise for some time. Isaacs is talent, and talent is a great thing. This show seems like its finally coming together.

Another interesting detail that I wasn’t aware of until I read it in Deadline is the decision to air the series on Netflix. I was under the impression that the show’s home would be CBS All Access. I’ll look into it further, but for now, even more good news.

So what do you think? Are you excited for Star Trek: Discovery? Is Jason Isaacs the right Captain for the job? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe