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Butch and Fabienne make spoons

Although Pulp Fiction is my favourite movie of all time, this is my least favourite scene. I feel this derails the movies momentum, I could’ve bought into the couples romance even still. I trust that Quentin felt that this scene was necessary and it establishes both the characters’ affinity for one another on a deeper level, but I don’t think it adds all the much in the end.

The Founder Review

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One way or another McDonalds has been a part of your life whether or not you’ve even eaten at one. I’m not particularly fond of it myself but I was intrigued by how it got started to become the phenomenon it is today.

Keaton has been on a roll as of late, from being in 2 back to back Best Picture winners (Birdman and Spotlight) to becoming a villain within the Marvel cinematic universe, he’s quite sought after now and I’m now intrigued by what project he’s involved with next. His role as business tycoon Ray Croc is quite complex; he’s brash, inspired, crooked, opportunistic and somewhat greedy. But as Michael Douglas said in 1987’s ‘Wall Street’, ‘Greed is good’. He’s driven; half of it for selfish reasons mind as prior to building this dynasty for himself, he was down on his luck selling milkshake machines to clients who weren’t really that interested.

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That is until Nick Offerman’s Dick Mcdonald is on the phone with him as Dick and his brother Mac (John Carroll Lynch) ordered a rather large number of milkshake makers. Before Ray even makes his way over to their establishment you can hear through the phone just how hectic it is there. When Ray gets there he is in awe of the satisfaction on the customers’ faces. The people back in 1954 were awful friendly, when Ray is enjoying his McDonald’s meal a woman with her children asks in the most pleasant fashion she can sit next to him on a bench he’s sat on. For a burger, fries and a shake by the way was only 35 cense back then, pretty dirt cheap. I was as amazed as what Ray was.

People back then said ‘What the heck’ or ‘beeswax’, you believe these are things the people of that time would actually say and that’s down to how the cast fits into the era that’s being depicted very suitably. The mannerisms of American society back then mirrors to an extent the overall tone of the movie, its delightful and warm. The music is the biggest giveaway where that’s concerned and the colour scheme is of a variety of soft colours like brown, bright yellow, beige and soft orange. It’s almost always sunny in the movie too, being in an environment  like that ought to make anyone want to strive for greatness.

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The brothers are proud enough to showcase the system they’ve implemented in the kitchen which is described by Dick as “a symphony of efficiency”, it’s really quite amazing. The story of how the brothers themselves started this establishment is a fascinating one in and of itself. They’re both played wonderfully by Lynch and Offerman, who by the way is near unrecognisable without his moustache. I really bought them as brothers. You get the sense that they’re very supportive of one another, and it shows in their values for what they want their restaurant to represent, Family. They’re somewhat inseparable too, every time a phone call takes place between Croc and Dick, Mac is right there. They’re neighbourly, humble but also traditionalists, they prefer to play things safe. Ray raises the prospect of taking their establishment even further by franchising it but the brothers are concerned about the integrity of their restaurant as they’re made a previous attempt and it didn’t go down so well. Dick figures they’d much better control if they just have the one stand but Ray argues that he’ll do the leg work and expand their brand on the condition that any and all changes goes through the brothers’ seal of approval. From then on in, Ray searches far and wide for investors to see the potential of this future, game-changing enterprise.

Laura Dern’s Ethel Croc (Ray’s wife) is rendered housebound and for a veteran such as Dern, that could be considered unfair in terms of what she has to work with for her character. Actually that brings to mind the idea that her character is treated somewhat insignificant. She’s trapped; useless to Ray and slowly but surely their marriage is anything but fruitful. Ray isn’t the waiting kind, his persistence is exemplified by the excitement he channels to the two brothers as he describes McDonalds as the ‘new American church’. He says to a customer while enticing him with a milkshake maker “Are you familiar with the story of the chicken and the egg?”, he’s the kind to put all his eggs in one basket and just run with it. He’s outward, doesn’t keep things to himself. He looks forward, never backwards which it isn’t that surprising to learn that he comes off as somewhat cold in the end to his partners.

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Robert Siegels script is quite snappy which goes hand in hand with Robert Frazen’s sharp editing. You never feel the weight of the film’s running time. It also mirrors the energy of Ray, he wants to be ahead of everyone else. His Ethel says to him “When’s enough gonna be enough for you?” to which he replies “Why should I settle when other men won’t?”. Keaton says in an interview that we’re a fast moving society, Ray’s ‘professional leech’ of a prospector is somewhat lost on director John Lee Hancock who helmed The Blindside and Saving Mr Banks. He approached this project ambivalently on the depiction of Ray Croc, He was fond of using Keaton’s magnetism to explore the quiet and dark corners of Ray’s mind. There’s a scene towards the end that is illusioned to look like Ray’s breaking the 4th wall when he’s in fact talking to himself. It’s that self gratification that Ray embodies someone who shifty as he maybe, he’s always inspired.

The movie also touches on McDonald’s legacy by just simply looking at the name, it’s inviting and genuine. Ray understood the appeal of the name better than the brother’s did, now I admire it all the better. The Founder is a fascinating tale held together by a wickedly entertaining turn by Michael Keaton that highlights the rise of one of America’s most successful industries that’s affected our lives one way or another.

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The Lego Batman Movie Review

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I enjoyed this more than Suicide Squad and Batman Vs Superman combined. A minute into it I was laughing, by the end my face hurt from the length of time I was smiling at this fantastic entry in the Lego franchise.

Will Arnett’s uber macho caped crusader really enjoys his own company, for a while at least. He’s hard on crime but easy on the eye. He’s adamant that he works best solo, he cares about his legacy, he’s very much stuck in his ways. The movie makes batman face the ultimate question, ‘what happens when there’s no more crime?’, it’s the kind of question fan’s of the DC legend would talk amongst themselves in the ‘what if?’ conversation. Batman is forced to look at his own relevance to his troubled city of Gotham,  as much as he’s beloved as both Bruce Wayne and as the dark knight, he’s made surprisingly complex here. There’s an arc of him I didn’t expect which made it all the more refreshing towards the end. He also likes Jerry Maguire…..yeah that’s right, Batman likes romantic movies, not quite the way you’d expect however.

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The animation is consistently superb with such a wild, fast paced energy that you’re bound to miss the many references and jokes which in turn could add to it’s replay quality.

The voice cast is pretty stacked, Michael Cera’s Dick Grayson or Robin has the kind of excitement and enthusiasm that can barely be contained, he may just split in two of his own glee and affinity for Batman. Ralph Fiennes’ Alfred is the companion as we’ve always known him to be but done with such dry humour. Barbara Gordon is pretty much what Rosario Dawson does with many of her characters; strong willed, bad ass and the voice of reason. We also get Mariah Carey, Conan O’Brien, Zoe Kravitz, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and plenty others.

The relationship between Batman and The Joker (voiced with menacing delight by Zach Galifianakis) is lampooned in a way that’s so melodramatic that veers dangerously close to homoeroticism, something in which I’m hoping people don’t pick up on too much. For a while I was rooting for The Joker as he was made to be tenderised and underestimated more often than not. Batman makes him less significant at the fact that it’s inevitable that his plans will be foiled no matter what, even if he always gets away.

lego-batman-movie-image-2The movie has no shortage of references of the Batman universe, spoofing that of the 1966 version with Adam West, The Tim Burton flicks and The Dark Knight trilogy. Comic book aficionados can appreciate this as well as the whole family, even with the rude humour and very mild bad language afoot. It’s not confined to comic book culture either, we get those from Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and even King Kong. By the way, whoever voiced Bane in this movie, great job!

The movie is quite cute too, even when there’s guns or lasers being fired they all make ‘pew, pew’ sounds. It’s also heartfelt that unexpectedly almost brought me to tears, tears I somehow fought off. Even the horn in Batman’s batmobile is the theme tune, you know that na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na song. The closing song called ‘Friends are Family’ that has a very ‘Everything is awesome’ vibe going on that’s in it’s own right quite infectious.

After seeing this I’m officially a fan of Phil Lord and Chris Miller who directed 2014’s The Lego Movie (Chris Mckay was the animation co-director on The Lego Movie directs this feature) Even though they serve as executive producers this time round, their irresistible, light-hearted charm is certainly felt.

John Wick 2 Review

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I’m just gonna come right out and say it, John Wick 2 and it’s predecessor are two of the most accomplished and game changing action flicks of the last decade.

While the story isn’t as emotionally investing as the original, John Wick’s latest foray is a total blast. The screening I went too was pretty packed, quite few of the people there were couples as I saw it on valentines day as a preview screening. They enjoyed it as much as I did I’m sure, proven by it’s box office numbers which currently sits at over 91 million worldwide against a 40 million production budget, outdoing it’s predecessor which was at over 80 million.   

The action outdoes its predecessor by being both inventive and somehow funny, despite the grimness of the violence as John dispatches his enemies with malicious efficiency. What’s to be praised however is that director Chad Stalhelski (who was not only one of the directors of the first film, but also a stuntman on The Matrix) doesn’t cheat the audience through frantic editing in the fight scenes.

He refers to the current landscape in action filmmaking by saying that he noticed that the “editing and camerawork was more about hiding things than showing things”. It’s a response to fan’s who embraced the first film that they wanted even better action.  Stahelski recognises the demand for better action these days as he said in an interview that he wanted to make the character of John Wick better by making Reeves better, by making his training even more intense and sophisticated than before by taking him as far as he can go. 

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Reeves is pretty dedicated to his involvement in the choreography, much of it if not all of it is him and you totally buy that he can do this stuff in real life in fact. Wick’s engagement with his enemies is almost an artform, to a degree of it being almost an honor to be killed by him. 

What I really dug as well was that the goons John faces off aren’t inept, they give him a run for his money and they don’t go down easy. The time span is pretty short, no more than 2 days I’d say. There’s consistency throughout the film the damage he’s inflicted, his bruises and cuts after a while start to look like his tattoos. Speaking of the violence, you also get a real sense pain, some of it is cringe inducing actually and not done in an unnecessary manner where it doesn’t seem to fit the world that’s been depicted. 

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From the opening sequence we get the sense that there’s a one ups manship (pretty sure that word doesn’t exist) in the stuntwork as for a brief moment there’s a homage to Buster Keaton who is recognized as cinema’s greatest stuntsman. Not just Keaton, there’s a sequence in the climax that nods to Bruce Lee’s iconic ‘Enter The Dragon’. The set pieces are a mix between dark and hellish to bright and glitzy. There’s one battle in the middle that’s amongst the best I’ve seen so far this decade, it’s glorious. Our troubled hitman has risen to a mythic level, we see him at first only in silhouettes, shadows or in blurred vision. Peter Stormare’s Abram Tasarov explains the mythos and endurance of John and you see plainly the fright on his face, he’s the boogeyman after all.

John isn’t a bad guy as such, he’s just a good guy who’s done a lot of bad things. He just wants to be left alone, there’s a parallel of sorts to Michael Corleone’s “They pull me back in” scene from The Godfather III. A man of his reputation can’t possibly live a normal life when he’s lived through many extraordinary circumstances. He’s a man of a few words; he’s secluded, mysterious and somewhat warm too. He has a passive aggressive nature that makes him somewhat endearing. Can’t feel too sorry for him however, the mayhem and destruction he lays waste to his opposition is pretty brutal. The goons drop almost as quick as the bullets do. 

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Laurence Fishburne is a hoot as The Bowery King, an underground crime lord who admires John but there is certainly tension afoot between the two. I’d very much like to see Fishburne as a villain sometime soon, and if he has been in the past, it can’t of been that memorable. Not surprisingly there are references to The Matrix, done in a way thankfully that doesn’t feel forced, it’s more coincidental than anything.

Not to be overlooked is Dan Laustsen’s cinematography, it’s visually sleek with much of it’s colours being purple and black to really give an underworld kind of vibe. It shouldn’t be long till this franchise spawns a video game, especially instances of John’s cover system and proficiency with pretty much any weapon he can get his hands on.

Something my good buddy Rick mentioned was the repetitive nature of the combat. It can be exhaustive after a while seeing John subdue his enemies by flipping them over him multiple times. Still for the most part it’s enthralling to watch and it’s pretty grounded in reality even if the nature is over the top. By the end, John makes a decision that is to the point of no return and can only mean even bigger stakes for his third outing, one in which I’m pretty excited for. You ought to be to, whether you’re an action movie junkie or a dog lover, see it in a theatre near you.

 

 

You’re tearing me apart Lisa

Described by Richard Roeper from the Chicag0 Sun-Times as ‘The Citizen Kane of Bad Movies’, The Room for me is a different kind of masterpiece. the filmmaking is insanely incompetent to a degree that makes it somewhat fascinating. I initially wanted nothing to do with this abomination, after seeing this 3 times already it’s utterly screwball and disarmingly charming in it’s unintentional humour that makes it the pinnacle of s0-bad-it’s-good movies. Immortalized by this now iconic scene which in turn is inspired by another iconic scene from 1956’s Rebel without a cause. It’s just one of those moments that’s worth imitating and relaying to your friends, surely a scene to sell to people to why they should watch The Room.