The Girl on the Train - The Birth of a Nation - The Accountant - The Neon Demon - High Rise
Another couple of weeks have passed and a bunch more movies have been watched. I reached out to a special guest writer for this post, who agreed to email me some quick reviews on this week's movies in an effort to appeal to the common forum reader type.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
Long story short: Emily Blunt plays a drunk who fantasizes about a life she used to have that turns into a mystery when she gets involved with the disappearance of a girl who babysits her ex-husband's kid. Huh?
What was good about it? It's entertaining enough. The twists and turns aren't bad, but they also aren't mind-blowing. Emily Blunt does a good job playing an alcoholic. It's definitely watchable in a smutty, airport bookstore kind of way.
What was bad about it? From the first act chapter headers and voice overs, to some not-so-great storytelling choices, this very much felt like a deliberate adaptation of a popular book, gone slightly wrong. I'm pretty sure comparisons to the book that I didn't read are the most interesting conversations you could potentially have about this movie. It probably wishes it did what Gone Girl did with the same suspense book adaptation kinda thing, but unfortunately Tate Taylor (?) is no David Fincher. Also, the ex-husband (Justin Theroux) is too cartoonish. I lost all believability with that dude pretty fast.
Special Guest Review from Donald J. Trump: "A lot of people ask me about this movie. I just met 15 people in Tampa who asked me what I think of this movie. Do you want to hear my thoughts on this movie? I think this movie stinks. Very sad, watching the U.S. train industry go down the toilet like it has. Under the Obama administration [pauses for boos] this country has gone to absolute garbage in terms of trains. This whole murder plot could have been avoided if our country worried less about what the media is saying about me, and more about the state of this country's trains. Maybe? I don't know. Probably. China is destroying us in trains. You won't believe the trains they have over there. Killing us in the trains. Killing us! OK? I don't know. They're definitely killing us. Great mystery plot in this film. And I know mystery. I write the best mysteries. Believe me. But do you want to know what the BIGGEST mystery is? What happened to the 33,000 emails that Crooked Hillary DELETED, that the media never talks about? The whole system is rigged."
THE BIRTH OF A NATION
Long story short: A biopic of slave revolutionary Nat Turner, a preacher who led a "successful" 48 hour attack on a bunch of slave owners.
What was good about it? The third act is pretty good. It's, I guess, an interesting story, even if it's told basically in Cliff's Notes form. A lot of the supporting actors did alright work.
What was bad about it? It has a very biopic feel to it. Especially with the structure. They often went from plot point to plot point without much explanation of the in-between. Most of the actors (especially Armie Hammer) are trying unsuccessfully to talk through some really bad fake teeth. And Nate Parker might just kind of be a bad actor in general. I couldn't tell if this was just a vanity project for him or not? Or I guess because this is his first feature length film, he's probably just not a very good director yet.
Special Guest Review from Donald J. Trump: "Sad. Very sad. Watching these hard working plantation owners have their lives taken by their employees. You know what I mean? You know. I know these things, I'm very good at business. I would never allow such an uprising. Right? That wouldn't fly at my company. Believe me. This is what happens when you allow immigrants into our country, they turn on you. Like Isis. How can we NOT expect all these Muslims that just stroll into our country without ANYONE knowing who they are to kill the rest of us. It's insane! Right?! [5 second pause] We are just letting terrorists into our country, giving them the keys to our country. Here you go! [makes exaggerated key jiggling motion] The Clintons want to let in 30 million Syrian refugees into our country. Or is it 50 million? I don't remember, but we can't allow that. Radical Islamic terrorism is the greatest threat to our country. Ok! Right? Ok. [shrugs sarcastically]"
Long story short: Ben Affleck plays an autistic murderer who is also a genius at finding out other people's money problems.
What was good about it? It's funnier than I thought it was going to be. It's certainly the most entertaining movie of this batch. At the very least I thought it had some interesting writing at work here. That moment in the middle of a fight when the bad dude exhaustedly says "What the hell?" was one of the most genuinely funny moments I've seen in a while. This movie gives hope to autistic children everywhere that they can grow up to be millionaire assassins.
What was bad about it? I figured out the "twist"character pretty early in the film. As neat as some of the individual scenes are, it's not super flashy as a whole. It hits a five or ten minute lull in the middle that is somewhat boring. All of the investigative stuff by the government looking into the accountant character's past seemed a little under-thought out.
Special Guest Review from Donald J. Trump: "I've always said you need two things to run a great business, a beautiful wife and a great accountant. Ben Affleck plays a great accountant in this film. I'd hire him. And I hire the best people. Believe me. I'd hire him... Even if he is a little... You know? A little... [does a quick impression of mentally challenged person] [smiles] [waits for applause]. No, but he's great. He knows the tax codes. And you can trust me on that, no one knows the tax codes like me. I'm very very good at tax codes. I'll tell you, me and The Accountant could do great things together. He also, UNLIKE MY OPPONENT, believes in 2nd amendment rights. Great performance by Ben Affleck. ...Ben Affleck, he's a Patriots fan. We like patriots around here, right folks? Robert Craft, such a great great owner. Best owner in the NFL. Tremendous owner. Tom Brady. Great friend. I have the best friends, right? Am I right? Gisele. Beautiful woman. You won't believe how beautiful she is. Believe me."
THE NEON DEMON
Long story short: Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives) directed another moody, atmospheric film with more style points than story points. This time it's about modeling.
What was good about it? Visually, it's awesome. Like, really awesome. The colors popped and the score is great. The violence is surreal and nuts. Basically, all of the usual good things you'd expect in a Nicolas Winding Refn movie.
What was bad about it? It has all the bad things you'd expect to see in a Nicolas Winding Refn movie, too. Minimal plot, cheesy dialogue, slow-moving scenes, etc. Watch only if you have a tolerance for artsy, patience-testing things.
Special Guest Review from Donald J. Trump: "Such beautiful models in this film. Do you want to know how beautiful they are? I'll tell you how beautiful they are. Very very beautiful. Reminds me of the Miss Universe pageants I used to run. They were the most successful pageants in the world. Ask anybody. They were successful. I had the highest ratings of any pageant in the world. Such beautiful women. Except for, you know... You know who I'm talking about... That one. You know, right? I won't mention her name because she doesn't deserve to be mentioned, but you know which contestant I'm talking about. Yeah, that one. Right? Anyway. I had the best ratings of any pageant in the world. The entire world, folks! The entire world. Much better ratings than the Clinton News Network, ok? Much better ratings. And I deserved them. Such beautiful women. I respect women more than anyone else. Except for the few women that don't deserve it. Right? And you know who they are. Sad. Pathetic."
Long story short: In an alternate 1960s Britain universe, a high rise was created with the rich people on top and the poor families on the bottom, and the social classes proceed to clash. Tom Hiddleston leads a very British cast.
What was good about it? It's got an interesting premise, for sure, but that only goes so far. I was picking up some serious Jean Luc Godard Weekend vibes, which is a good and a bad thing. It's good if you're a fan of absurdist, dark humor; it's really really really really bad if you're not. I would not expect the casual movie goer to enjoy this at all, but if you think of it as something like Weekend meets Snowpiercer, then it has some merits you can cherry pick from it.
What was bad about it? The plot goes from normal to insane so quickly that it felt like a reel of the movie was missing from the final cut. It doesn't have great storytelling, or even good storytelling, and it fails to explore what could have been a great idea. Oh, I see it's from the same guy who directed A Field in England, which was another great idea with awful execution. I guess I don't really like this guy and should avoid his work in the future. Noted.
Special Guest Review from Donald J. Trump: "Great film. But sad film. And I know great films. I have very very great taste. As you know, I'm also tremendous at real estate. Great construction on the tower in this movie. Probably used American steel to build these towers. Maybe? I don't know. Definitely. The guy who built the tower made a big mistake though... Shouldn't have let those poor people into the first twelve floors. Big mistake. BIIIIIIG mistake. And I know mistakes. Everything I do is a mistake. I'm the best at mistakes. But it doesn't matter. My numbers are through the roof no matter what I say. Ask anyone. I'm testing through the roof (every poll). One thing the architect did that I also tried to do in the 70s... No blacks. Didn't see any blacks in his building! And I love the blacks! The blacks love me. I poll through the roof with blacks (every poll). It's terrible what's happening to the blacks in our inner cities. Over 2 million murders a day in Chicago. Or it might be less? I don't remember? But a lot of deaths in Chicago. Very sad. This country needs more law and order. Ok? We need to be harder on the inner city gangs, and we need more guns on the streets. The only threat bigger in this country than the guns in the inner cities, which are different from the guns that I DO support, because I need the votes of the white people who love guns, is Isis. You know? How do we expect to stop Isis without guns to protect ourselves? Right? It's crazy! Right?! But we need to take away guns from the wrong people. Like inner city gangs and Muslims. But we should put more guns on the streets to stop the people we don't want to have guns. Ok? NO more guns, but WAY more guns. Am I right? Crooked Hillary is trying to take away your guns, which I am also trying to do, but only for the people who don't want to vote for me. Ok? Make sense? I'll say literally anything in an attempt to advance my power. Pretty simple. Right?! Make America great again."
(this was satire, btw, for those of you who don't like fun)