“The Last Shift” is directed by Andrew Cohn, who has directed a bunch of documentaries, but this is his feature-length debut for a narrative film. This movie stars Richard Jenkins (Kajillionaire, The Shape of Water), Shane Paul McGhie (Unbelievable, What Men Want), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (People of Earth, Selfie), Birgundi Baker (Empire, Black Lightning), Allison Tolman (Fargo, Good Girls), and Ed O’Neill (Modern Family, Finding Dory). This film follows a fast food restaurant worker who has done the graveyard shift for 38 years. His last shift is coming up, he’s training his replacement, the two have nothing in common, but they’re brought together by circumstance. The film dives into a developing relationship between the two as they spend night hours together at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish.
Over recent years, I have learned how much humanity truly has evolved as a culture of eating. With the invention of GrubHub, it has occasionally allowed me to order a large ice cream sundae from a place 3 towns over and have it be delivered to my place at 9:45 at night if I want it. Even though there are many complaints I have about society in 2020, the vast number of eating options is not one of them. Well, unless you count the fact that Massachusetts hasn’t allowed people to eat in a movie theater even though it is literally how they make their money! Stupid.
This movie, in one way or another, reminds me of how much our country “relies” on restaurants, specifically fast food, to get us through an assortment of times. It’s usually inexpensive, and gets the job done. Keep in mind, this movie mainly involves the behind the scenes aspect of people working at a restaurant, but this movie, from the very beginning let me know about how relevant we have made this industry today. Big chains like McDonald’s, KFC, and Wendy’s dominate, but it doesn’t mean regional chains can’t compete. Kind of like the chain represented in this film, Oscar’s Chicken and Fish. The vibe of this movie was partially infused from this reminder that sticks throughout the runtime. But that’s not all this film is.
You know what this film also is? FREAKING GREAT! That’s what it is! Honestly, this is one of my favorite films of 2020 so far! Granted, the only competitors for the #1 spot this year it really has in my opinion are “Summerland” and “Tenet.” Is this film better than those? I’ll address that notion later, until then, keep this in mind. The film is one of the closest things we as an audience will receive as a work of art this entire year.
In case you guys acknowledged the subtitle for this review, I should let you know that I saw the movie “Green Book” and enjoyed it. Keep in mind, this was during a time before any controversy related to said movie surfaced. If you ask me what I think about it today, I think as a film it is well done, charming, and delightful. It wouldn’t be my pick for best picture, I personally would have selected “Roma,” but still.
For those who live under a rock, the problem many have with “Green Book” is despite the film’s charm, or at least that’s what I got from it during my initial viewing. It revolves around people who actually exist, but tells a story that supposedly bends reality too much. Thankfully, “The Last Shift” is not based on anything. It’s an original script, no relation to true events, even though it takes place in present day. More specifically, present day where nobody wears masks. That way, there’s more that this movie can get away with in regard to how it tells it story.
I will say, the story in this movie is fascinating because it takes two people who are completely different, in fact they only have one, two, three things in common, and yet they play off each other perfectly. Their chemistry is spot on and they feel like real people living in a real world. In fact, I’ll say Richard Jenkins and Shane Paul McGhie give two of my favorite performances this year. If anything, I’d say they also have what technically qualifies as my favorite bromance of sorts this year. There are a couple scenes with these two together, the only way I can describe their interactions are by using words like “fun,” “joy,” and “charm.” But with it being a movie, of course there are bumps in the road. Because an unproblematic movie is futuristically speaking, problematic for how people view it.
This movie deals with a lot of issues from both characters. Marriage. Job stability. Getting by. This movie deals with issues that struggling men of different ages have to go through. Regardless of the specific issue, I ended up feeling for both of them.
I have never worked in the fast food industry. I haven’t worked with food period. But one of the things I love this movie for is that it addresses the entitlement of fast food customers. Guys, I get it. You want food the way you ask for it. BE NICE. RESPECT YOUR RESTAURANT. Look, I know the whole saying that “the customer’s always right,” therefore suggesting that they are the most important person in the room. I’m not denying that, but if you are that pissed over cheap food, just calm down a little bit. Mistakes happen. This is why every time I go to the movies, I try to put myself in the workers’ shoes. Are they having a good day? If not, what can I do to make it better? Maybe strike up an interesting conversation? I try to lighten the mood of everyone that I come across. If I go to a fast food restaurant, I expect good service. I expect good service everywhere I go! But fast food workers, like myself, are human! We all have feelings! I don’t want to call somebody a jerk without knowing their backstory! Now if there are times where somebody can cross a line like call me a nasty name or swear in my face, I will speak up and let them know that customer service should be taken as a priority. But still, what I’m saying is that fast food workers are people. Just like us. So let’s not try to tear them down.There’s a scene in this movie where a woman comes in suggesting her order was messed up, and she rages out against the two people working at the restaurant! I… Get that. I will be completely honest, I don’t work in customer service, in fact there has not been a point to this day where I have worked in customer service, but I understood the workers’ perspective here.
Although this movie excels in not just displaying the reality of having a low-paying job and trying to get by from not just one, but two individual perspectives, but it excels as a movie where an unlikely friendship develops. It’s about the bumps of life, all the hurdles that comes with it, and the desire to aim higher. You know that saying that no job is beneath you? I am not saying that statement is false, but this movie dives into the want for more. More money, a better job, a better life. At the same time it deals with the cons, and the sprinkled-in pros of the lives of our two main characters.
It’s still September as I write this, so for all I know things can change when movies like “Soul” and “Nomadland” come out, but “The Last Shift” is arguably the finest encapsulation of the human condition we have seen this year. Two Americans of different ages, of different backgrounds, of different identities, come together for a reason. Honestly, if you have ever worked part-time, you may relate to this movie. If you are of old age, you may relate to this movie. This movie dives into some serious issues, but at its heart, it’s just charming. It’s a good time, and that’s what movies are meant to be! Will it be my favorite of the year? Hard to tell at this point. We shall see.
In the end, “The Last Shift” is incredible. It’s an intimate tale of two vastly different people dealing with their own problems who despite some complications, still manage to get along. It’s a movie about a friendship that seems fine and charming, but the two have their separate views that collide. It’s sort of a broken friendship, which is cool. It goes to show that nobody is perfect! It’s about living in a suburban town where nothing goes on, the only thing that it has going for it is some local fast food restaurant that makes certain people happy. I get that. I come from the suburbs. I feel like one of those people who despite living there for 20 years, just wants to move away from it all and start a new life somewhere else, most likely Los Angeles. “The Last Shift” is one of the best movies of the year and I’m going to give it a 9/10! Do I like this movie better than “Tenet” and “Summerland?” I think as a story, it’s a little more compelling than “Tenet,” but “Summerland” has more of a surprise factor for me. I am not saying I was not looking forward to that movie, but I did not expect it to be as good as it turned out to be. Plus, “Tenet” has the benefit of practically being designed for the theatrical experience. This movie, even though it was great in the theater (and every movie is better in a theater), probably could have gotten away with a direct to On Demand release or something given what’s been going on with the pandemic. Even so, I’d put “The Last Shift” in my top 3 movies of 2020 at the very least because it is a really well done film. Check it out!
Remember how I said this is a better version of “Green Book?” Yeah, I’m not lying! I gave that movie an 8/10 during my original review. So regardless of controversy that has developed surrounding the movie, I am likely not lying about my statement. I have no idea how the rest of 2020 is going to play out. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected, but this is certainly a contender for my favorite film of the year! This is a great narrative directorial debut and as for everyone else who collaborated on the movie, I’d say they did an outstanding job.
Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to check out my next post which will probably involve… Something. I don’t know. I really wish I could tell you. “Wonder Woman 1984” would have come out this weekend if it for weren’t a mix of disappointing box office results for “Tenet,” other movies, or people being stupid. Also, New York and Los Angeles are two key markets that still need to open if the movie is going to succeed. I’m hoping they open by sometime next month, because I REALLY don’t want “Soul” and “No Time to Die” to get bumped. This year has been a screwball! You don’t know where it’s going! You’re spinning along with it! And in the end, it tires you out! Let’s just get through these trying times together, and if you are going to see a movie at a theater this weekend, remember to be safe, wash your hands, and take care of those around you. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Speaking of great content, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Last Shift?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite place to get fast food? Chain-wise, I’m a Burger King guy. I always have been. But if you’re ever in my area, be sure to check out Billy’s Famous Roast Beef in Wakefield, Mass. They make a mean chicken finger plate. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“You Should Have Left” is directed by David Koepp (Ghost Town, Premium Rush) and stars Kevin Bacon (Apollo 13, Footloose) alongside Amanda Seyfried (First Reformed, Ted 2) as a couple who book a vacation at a home in the Welsh countryside. I won’t say much, but strange things happen as we get to know our characters, their personalities, and their backstories.
“You Should Have Left” is the first film I watched on Peacock. For the record, I’ve had the service for a couple months now, but for the price, I’m digging it. It’s got a good selection of content, but one of my favorite things about it is the novel “channels” feature where programming is logged into a particular non-stop lineup. Nevertheless, as I stepped away from familiar territory to watch this movie, I was not sure what to expect. 2020 has been a roller-coaster of year. Not just for everything that’s been going on, but for film as well. The year started off horrible, stayed horrible, got slightly better. And unfortunately, I still don’t even have a 10/10 movie yet! I will say, I gave “Tenet” an 8, and upon repeat viewings, that score may have bumped up to a 9. Although that’s been pretty consistent with Christopher Nolan’s library.
As for “You Should Have Left,” it’s got a 5.3 on IMDb, mostly poor reviews from both critics AND audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 46 on Metacritic. Not the best verdicts if you ask me. But I watched the movie anyway, because it’s 2020, who cares anymore. I gotta tell you. I sat through this movie, waiting for something to happen. And yes, things were happening on screen. But nothing of value showed up for a long time. It got to a point where I really didn’t care about our two leads.
I’ve said this before this year, I’ll say it now for “You Should have Left.” This movie is BOOOOORRING!
Now, it didn’t make me want to shove ten knives in my eyelids, which is a positive sign. But I had nothing that I felt I would remember all that well by the end of the year. The house where most of the movie takes place looks nice. It’s a proper location for a movie like this. But welcome to my house! Welcome to the Jack Cave! You’re under my authority now, and as an authoritative figure. I command that “You Should Have Left” pays attention to my demands. My demand being, listen to my negative review!
As mentioned, this movie stars Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried. Two competent actors. Both of them played their part well, I have nothing against their performances for the most part. I don’t think I would give them Oscar buzz or anything, but both actors serve their purpose in this movie and play their parts as best they can. But the problem is that I haven’t reached the opportunity to get fully attached to either of their characters. I don’t mind either of these actors, just the characters they’re playing. They try to give some depth to Kevin Bacon’s character, and said depth does play a sizable part in the film. However, for whatever reason, I never found myself 100% in love with either of the leads. I never had a chance to care. This movie goes for an hour and a half, but unfortunately, this movie spends much of its time making it feel like nothing’s happening.
Now I don’t mind slow burn type movies where not everything happens lickety split. I like challenges for the attention span every now and then. But this movie… I– wow! I can’t even describe it coherently! Nothing happens!
I will be positive here with my next statement, not just because I’m trying to lighten the mood, but because I like being honest. This movie also features Avery Tiiu Essex (Modern Family) and this is her second role… Ever. Her first documented role, at least according to IMDb, is Young Claire from “Modern Family.” I have not seen the episode where she appears. Admittedly, I quit watching the show during the middle of the series because I don’t see the humor other people see in it, but having seen her in this movie, I think she did a good job, and for a second documented performance. This ain’t half bad. I think Avery Tiiu Essex has a bright future ahead of her, but I simultaneously wish she just has better movies to back her up. At the same time though, this is perhaps the life of an actor. You do something to get your name out there, maybe the movie will suck, but you nevertheless put yourself before an audience. If I were a casting director, I’d consider her for a role depending on the project.
But honestly, just because this movie was competently performed throughout, does not excuse the lackluster writing. This movie has some cool traits behind it. The beginning is well-written and somewhat intriguing. It’s kind of spooky as well, and given how this movie’s in the horror genre, it works! But there are so many times where I just wanted to look at my phone. Keep in mind, I was watching this at home, not at a theater.
There were a couple times where the movie slowed down enough to give me the urge to rewind. And one line in particular caught my attention. And by that I mean, it sent an electrical shock into my brain.
This movie is based on a book by Daniel Kehlmann. For all I know, the book is better than the movie, I have not read it myself. But there’s a line where the family looks around the house to see what’s what. They come across what would become the daughter’s bedroom, and the mother suggests that her bed “is the size of Connecticut.” I know this is nitpicking… Connecticut is not that big of a state! CONNECTICUT IS THE 3RD SMALLEST OF THE UNITED STATES! There are so many other states you can choose from! Texas! Alaska! California! New York! Florida! BUT CONNECTICUT?! I know… This is admittedly, possibly the stupidest thing I could ever complain about, but it nevertheless irks me! Word choice matters! I’m sorry, but that line caught me off guard! I don’t know where it came from! The book, the movie! I don’t know! Maybe there’s something I don’t know about the character that could make the line better. What is their relationship with Connecticut? Did they go there? Did they live there? Do they hate that state with a burning passion? Which, if you do… Try Frank Pepe’s pizza! I It’s a place that started in New Haven and it now has become a chain in the northeast! This is not sponsored, I’m just a fan!
I gotta say though, before I watched this movie, I don’t recall watching the trailers. Although I did watch a bunch of On Demand previews because they showed up on my TV from time to time. This movie is not only less spooky than I would want it to be, but it feels very confused in its identity. I know sometimes there are movies where you don’t know what box to put them in because they are one genre or another, but if that were the case with “You Should Have Left,” it didn’t work. Is it a family drama? Is it a horror flick? I don’t know. It kind of tries being both, but in doing so, it can’t do either successfully. So if you get Peacock, kind of like I did, I’d look for another movie before turning this one on.
To add on even further disappointment, I should point out that this movie is written and directed by David Koepp. While I don’t talk about David Koepp too often, his resume is solid! Especially when it comes to his writing credits. “Jurassic Park,” “Spider-Man,” “Mission: Impossible.” He has screenplay credits for all three of these great blockbusters! I’ll even say that one film in particular he wrote and directed, specifically 2012’s “Premium Rush” is a film that I wish more people talk about. To see a guy with an admirable history in the film industry do something like this is profoundly disappointing, and it kind of makes the movie a little worse than it should be. Although I would imagine some would be willing to acknowledge his blunders as well. While I have not seen the film myself, many have pointed out that “Mortdecai” is one of the inferior additions to Johnny Depp’s cinematic library. Even so, Koepp’s a man who has brought some positive additions to Hollywood’s history! If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have gotten to hear Willem DaFoe sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Just, make better movies. That’s all I ask.
In the end, “You Should Have Left” is the best possible title they could have given this movie. Because it was basically telling me, the viewer, that I should have left. This movie is dull, confused as to what it wants to be, and even though it has some scares, a lot of them are forced, cheap, and shoehorned! I think the young girl in this movie has a bright future ahead, but this movie will not shine on my best list at the end of 2020. I’m going to give “You Should Have Left” a 3/10.
Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the all new movie “The Last Shift.” This is exclusively out in theaters now, so per usual, I won’t force anyone who doesn’t feel safe going to a theater to go see this movie, but without saying anything else, I highly recommend “The Last Shift.” I will explain more about why I recommend it in my review, which should be up later this week. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or a WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “You Should Have Left?” What did you think about it? Or, what are your thoughts on Peacock? Did you get the service? Do you have a certain plan for it? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I do not talk about TV that much here on Scene Before, but it has been over three and a half years since I talked about ten of my all time favorite “Family Guy” episodes. Some examples from the time include “PTV,” (S4E14) “Wasted Talent,” (S2E20) “The Simpsons Guy,” (S13E01), and “Blue Harvest” (S6E01). If you are wondering, no, I do not have any current plans to update the countdown anytime soon. Maybe in a couple years if I’m desperate, but who knows? Besides, even though “Family Guy” is still on the air today, many of the newer episodes are either unfunny, disposable, overly cruel, or downright unwatchable. But there have been some diamonds in the rough, most notably “Three Directors,” (S16E05) where it is one short story presented in the “visions” of Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Michael Bay, and “Trump Guy,” (S17E11) where Peter works for the Trump administration. But my favorite episode has aired during a time where “Family Guy” was just getting into the HD age.
Today, September 26th, 2020, is the tenth anniversary of my favorite “Family Guy” episode of all time, “And Then There Were Fewer.” Now I have a lot of respect for the “Family Guy” series. It is a show that I started watching at one point, and convinced my father to watch alongside me. I guess I got lucky, because at this point my father thinks Seth MacFarlane is a genius. In fact, I’m attempting to work on a bit of a “Family Guy” project myself. I can’t say much about it, but if Seth MacFarlane, Fox, or Disney reads this, I will be happy to talk with them about an idea or two I have!
When it comes to the adult animation genre, I think “Family Guy” reigns supreme in terms of humor and likable characters. From Peter to Stewie to Joe to Quagmire, the list goes on. Throughout the seasons, they all have their highlights in various episodes. And even if the episodes themselves are not that great, I still like the characters because at the end of the day, they have a likable presence or personality to keep the show afloat. Peter is a lovable idiot. While he is somewhat entitled and lazy, he plays the part great. I’m not a dog person, but Brian is probably one of my favorite dogs in media, mainly because of how well executed he is as a voice of wisdom. I occasionally enjoy myself realizing that Seth MacFarlane sometimes puts a bit of his own personality into Brian’s character. As for Stewie… He is probably in my top 10 most relatable characters of all time. Well, minus the desire to kill my own mother.
The supporting characters of “Family Guy” show themselves to be quite admirable too. From Tom Tucker, the charming newscaster who has a knack for dry commentary, to Mayor West, who is basically a college frat boy in a geezer’s body (RIP Adam West), and even though the actor himself is a controversial name as of today, James Woods had some of the greatest moments of screentime in the entire series.
This all adds up to something… That, kinda feels like a culmination.
The reason why I enjoy “And Then There Were Fewer” more than any other “Family Guy” episode is the same reason why I consider “Avengers: Infinity War” to be the best installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Every other movie felt like they played a part in a series of buildup. These movies eventually let “Infinity War” take elements from them to give a big, grand story that stands on its own and recognizes what came before, and even builds the story further in the end.
Keep in mind, “And Then There Were Fewer” is the premiere episode of “Family Guy’s” ninth season, but at times, it feels more like a finale. People die. The vibe is incredibly grand and massive. Also keep in mind, even though I mentioned “Infinity War,” this is not exactly like an epic. After all, this episode is a quirky but somewhat serious murder mystery. This episode relies a ton on its own, heavy, unique atmosphere that quite frankly, I have not seen in too many other “Family Guy” episodes. Your typical “Family Guy” episode goes straight for humor. Maybe it’s dark humor, controversial humor, or some plethora of pop culture references. And those are not always bad. These are in the show’s collective wheelhouse. In “And Then There Were Fewer,” the humor is there, but I stay for the story and characterization.
Let’s go over how the episode goes down, and I’ll give some of my thoughts along the way. *MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
The episode begins with the Griffins finding out they were invited to a party at Rocky Point Manor, a massive location where the rest of the episode would take place. This episode is the first one in series to be presented in 16:9 widescreen and high definition. In fact, the intro that is not often shown on television due to time constraints (it can be found on the DVD version of the episode, however) tries to make the viewer aware that they are in for something new. Not just in regards to looks, but the overall vibe. The scope is massive, almost movie-like perhaps. Instead of the traditional intro where they show the main characters in the Griffin House and an alternate venue singing, they rely on scenery and atmosphere. When the main location of the episode is revealed, the music, which by the way is a full-blown orchestra, is kind of bombastic and triggers an emotional punch. The music does a solid job of reminding me as a viewer of the beauty regarding the massive mansion up ahead. The colors and animation in these opening scenes are vibrant and finely detailed.
Now, this is a cartoon, meaning that you can get away with more in a presentation of its kind compared to something in live-action. Thus, this episode handles a crossover sort of situation at hand. Turns out the Griffins were not the only ones to get the party invitation, but as Lois points out, “the whole town got invited.” Not only did they get invited, but they got invited “in their honor.”
This brings every single character imaginable into the episode. Your main tag team including Mayor West, Quagmire, and the Swansons. They’ve also got Mort and Muriel Goldman, the Channel 5 news team, Dr. Hartman, you name it. This episode seems to open with big promise, but does it deliver above and beyond the idea of bringing tons of people together? You betcha.
“Good evening, everyone.” -James Woods
I know a lot of people are currently divided over James Woods as a person, but regardless of his personal views of the world, I will say that he has appeared in some of the best “Family Guy” episodes, and this one is no exception. His role in here is perfect as it solidly relies on previous buildup. “Family Guy” has had a history of using James Woods as an antagonist against several characters, including Peter, when he tried to copy several aspects of his life. He ruined Brian’s TV pilot, changing the core aspects of the script and overall vibe of the production. Throughout the episode, there are a couple of other things that other characters briefly bring up that make Woods look like an undesirable monster. Quagmire reveals Woods stole Cheryl Tiegs from him, Tom Tucker mentions Woods kept him from being the star of “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and Mayor Adam West says James Woods took the Twitter name @MayorWest, meaning he had to then use @Mayor_West. His presence in the episode is a reminder of how far this series has come and raises questions as to where it goes from there, and I admire that about Woods here.
Woods reveals he has recently become a born-again Christian thanks to his girlfriend, Priscilla (voiced by Ashley Tisdale). Because he’s just become a man of god, he felt it was necessary to invite all the people he wronged to make amends. The guests wonder why they should trust him, but James Woods begs for said guests to give him a chance.
When Woods exits the dining room where everybody happens to be sitting, waiting for dinner, Priscilla tags along. Quagmire’s annoying girlfriend, Stephanie, goes over to the Woods’ chair and sits down. Soon thereafter, blood pours out of her chest.
She dies. Head flat on the table.
To quote Agatha the Pre-Cog from “Minority Report…”
This is the perfect catalyst to bring darkness to this episode. “Family Guy” is usually known for being dark, but that’s usually just from a comedic perspective. From this moment, it might as well be gathered that some serious stuff is about to go down.
Everyone assumes James Woods killed Stephanie, thus leading them to flee to their cars. Upon beginning their drive, a tree collapses a bridge, the only way they can go in their escape.
So it’s back to the mansion!
Unfortunately, nobody is getting reception on their cell phones, and even though there’s a landline, it’s dead. Everyone is in panic mode. until James Woods enters the room, where such panic is dialed up a couple notches. After a penis joke, scolding, and further realization that Stephanie is kind of a gag character. James and Priscilla are confused by everyone’s fear. James claims he’s unaware of what’s going on. So they go to the next room, where Stephanie’s body no longer remains. A power outage ensues, summoning a series of black frames, and “Family Guy” does what it does best.
“Oh my god! Is this what black people see all the time?” -Peter Griffin
James Woods dies with a knife in his back.
We don’t see who strikes Woods down, nor does anybody in the mansion. Joe Swanson catalyzes the rest of the episode.
JOE: What I’m saying is James Woods isn’t the murderer. The murderer… is one of us.”
JOE: And someone ate the last goat cheese tartlet.
PETER: Now I hope I die next!
We soon see that Stephanie died due to a timed gun, which went off as soon as Stephanie sat down in the chair that was supposed to be for James Woods. Nobody admits to wanting James Woods dead, so it’s time to play Clue!
Unfortunately for Joe, he’s soon knocked unconscious by Peter, who takes over the investigation. The characters remind us, the audience, that everyone at the dinner had a motive for wanting James Woods dead, but one was willing enough to get revenge. We see tons of finger-pointing. Diane Simmons points at Tom Tucker, who points at Seamus the pirate, who then points at Mayor Adam West. We get into a finger-pointing frenzy! No answers in sight!
Carl shoves Chris into a bookshelf, causing books to gravitate downward. One hits a particular floor tile that pushes down, making the bookshelf slide, thus revealing an opening to the basement.
Everyone goes downstairs, Peter opens a book revealing James’ misdeeds. He’s written each one down so he remembers who to make amends to. Upon some investigation, Brian comes across tons of Oxycontin bottles with James Woods’ name on it. All of it comes from Goldman’s Pharmacy, appropriately owned by Mort and Muriel Goldman. James Woods blackmailed Muriel specifically, as he was being supplied with free medicine. Everyone assumes Muriel is the killer, but she escapes before she can be captured.
Peter divides everyone into teams, and if you watch “Family Guy,” a couple of these combinations make complete sense.
“Chris, you check the basement with Herbert.”
*Herbert stretches over to Chris, emitting a twiggish sound*
Peter even points out Joe and Priscilla, who are currently passed out, therefore they’re labeled the “unconscious team.”
We see these teams in action. Derek and Jillian investigate an attic, where a black cat, voiced by Patrick Stewart, jumps out. There’s even an inside joke to “X-Men” where the cat reveals himself as a “professor.” Chris and Herbert collaborate, and Herbert makes a request to Chris to burn his house down if he dies. Diane Simmons and Tom Tucker enter an art gallery, where Tom clicks a button with his shoe, thus sliding a painting automatically. Tom goes inside, but he gets trapped! Diane raises some concern, but where did Tom go?!
Meg and Carl enter a billiard room, as if this wasn’t like “Clue” enough already. Meg bumps into the stuffed bear from “The Great Outdoors” written by John Hughes.
CARL: Oh, it’s okay. It’s just the stuffed bear from “The Great Outdoors.” Did you see “The Great Outdoors?”
CARL: You suck.
Even though the duo are searching for Muriel, they decide to take a break and play some pool. Meg finds the pool cues, but she falls down a chute as soon as she grabs one of them.
We see Brian and Stewie humming TV themes to each other, when suddenly, a shriek is heard in the distance. The two run to the scene.
Muriel lies down with the knife inside her. Everyone else comes in as well.
And if you’re wondering, the thing I love about this death, not to mention a couple others in this episode, is that the people who died here have not been revived. In fact, the only person to die in this episode who has been revived is James Woods.
The clock ticks. The lightning strikes. The tension could not be higher. There is no other episode in the “Family Guy” series that I can think of that has given stakes like this.
Meg and Tom Tucker reveal their journey through an underground passageway to the rest of the crew, who are all standing together in the dining room. This is where we get one of the best jokes in the episode, and honestly, it has aged like a fine wine.
Derek reveals he’s getting reception on his cell phone. Peter speaks up.
PETER: Oh my god is that–…
*reveal Derek’s phone cover picture, him in front of the Hollywood sign
PETER: Are you holding up the whole Hollywood sign?
DEREK: No no no no, the sign was way in the background. I was standing in the foreground going like this (raises his arms) while Jillian took the picture. So, by forced perspective it looks like I’m holding up the whole sign.
PETER: I don’t believe you. I think you are a god. And I would die for you or kill others.
It’s stupid, but simultaneously brilliant, which to me is a core element of what makes “Family Guy” worthy of its cultural relevance.
Derek goes to the roof to call the police. Unfortunately, not everyone heard him say that. As evidenced by this next quote…
“Oh my god, Priscilla’s gone!” -Brian Griffin
We angle on the couch where Priscilla was laid to rest. We don’t know her fate, but she is nevertheless gone. But guess who isn’t gone? Joe! He’s back!
Some assume Priscilla’s the murderer. Some think there’s more data needed to confirm if that’s true. Then we get arguably the funniest outburst of the episode. Everyone’s arguing about the situation. Peter just jumps in being himself.
PETER: Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.
PETER: He did too, I saw the picture!
Derek reaches a balcony, dials for the police, but he’s smacked off. Splat! He hits the ground. Dr. Hartman steps in, confirms he’s dead, also noting his head was hit by a blunt object.
Everyone flies back into the mansion, gathers together in a room. Lois assumes Priscilla’s up to this, then Consuela discovers James Woods’ Golden Globe is missing. Everyone gathers around Joe, who suggests that if anyone leaves the group, they’re assumed to be the killer. They investigate Glenn Quagmire’s room, which doesn’t have anything of note. Although Stephanie’s huge underpants get some screentime, which provides for some funny lines.
LOIS: Oh it’s got flowers! I mean, why bother? Who’s gonna see em?
CHRIS: Maybe someone in space!
The gang moves onto Tom Tucker’s room. They search around, Meg gasps, slowly revealing a bloody Golden Globe in her hand.
Everyone turns on Tom Tucker, Joe wheels himself over prepared to possibly turn him in. Tucker brings up Priscilla, noting that nobody knows what she’s up to. Joe suggests that’s possible, then blood starts dripping from the ceiling.
Peter lifts Joe to the ceiling, Joe opens a vent, and a dead Priscilla is revealed, everyone screams. Tom Tucker flees the room as many of the men track him down. They capture him in the dining room, where he’s cuffed. The police take him in once the sun rises.
The music in all of these scenes, and the entire episode for that matter, is simply put, “ear porn.” That’s the best way I can describe it. I know “Family Guy” is often known for their numbers that they’ve sprinkled into various episodes, but this episode has my favorite musical score, or my favorite musical job without lyrics, particularly in the “Family Guy series.” It’s intense, grand, and it pulls you right in. It’s kind of like some movies such as “Star Wars” where the music practically plays a supporting role.
The episode’s not over. We’ve just witnessed the main course. Now it’s time for dessert.
Everyone’s about to leave, Peter and Lois are packing up. Peter checks his stuff and notices his Hot Wheels fire engine does not appear to be in his luggage. He asks Lois if they’re in the bathroom, but she suggests she put them all in his bag. Lois walks down the hall, enters Diane Simmons’ room. She asks if Diane’s okay, to which she responds saying she’s managing. Then comes… this quote.
“You sound like my mother, she actually bought me this blouse for my first solo broadcast. I guess that’s sweet, huh.” -Diane Simmons
Lois is confused, until she puts what Diane said together.
As Peter often says, “Holy crap!”
Lois backs away, suggesting she’s looking for Peter’s fire engine, but Diane points a gun at her. She’s the killer.
As if this wasn’t exciting enough, the backstory behind all of this is incredible. At times when I watch it, I feel like I am viewing this story from the point where Diane is the protagonist. It kind of gives a grand, emotional “John Wick” vibe. I even teared up a couple times by watching the last 5 to 10 minutes of the episode because it’s that good.
Diane reveals that she and James Woods met at a press event, but their relationship was a secret from the media. Then she does something that NO CARTOONS EVER DO. Age. The footage reveals she turned 40, and around this time, James dumps her. Speaking of being left behind by straight, white men, Tom Tucker started promoting a younger blonde anchor, who we now know by the name Joyce Kinney. This anchor was set to take Diane’s place in a matter of weeks.
“I saw my career and my love life crumble, and I wasn’t gonna stand by and take it.” -Diane Simmons
From here, Diane reveals she has previously taken advantage of an intern named Priscilla. Sound familiar? At Diane’s discretion, Priscilla persuades James Woods to become a born-again Christian. This inspired the dinner where Woods invited everyone he wronged. Diane wanted everything to go as smooth as possible so she could kill James Woods and frame Tom Tucker.
“Oh my god. You’re 40?” -Lois Griffin
As for Diane killing everyone else, this was not part of the plan. Stephanie, as suggested earlier in the episode, was an accident. As soon as the power went out, Diane took advantage of the darkness and put a knife in James Woods’ back. From here, she reveals that due to Priscilla and Muriel realizing Diane’s true motivations, they had to die as well. For Priscilla specifically, Diane hid her in Tom Tucker’s room. Muriel was left on the ground as everyone gathered around, and Diane was lucky enough to be “part of the scene.”
When everyone gathers in the dining room, Diane notices Derek running to the balcony.
Remember this line?
“Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.”
Yeah, you want to know why that’s possibly the best line in the episode? Because even though it was delivered in a manner where Peter was pretty much being a smartass, Diane Simmons utilizes it and takes it seriously.
“When Peter was yelling at everybody about that picture of Derek holding up the Hollywood sign, I grabbed the Golden Globe and slipped out. I followed Derek outside and did what I had to do.” -Diane Simmons
She then reveals the rest of her plan was a success as everyone turned on Tom Tucker.
But what about Stephanie? She was the first to die! But Diane didn’t acknowledge what happened to her body and where she went!
Turns out, Quagmire had Stephanie’s body locked in his trunk. Because when your annoying girlfriend dies, you might as well keep their body as a memento! It’s a lesson for everyone!
But of course, Diane has one thing left to do. Kill Lois.
Peter comes in the room, asks Lois if she’s on her way, and adds the notion that he wants to listen to tapes, but he can’t do that without the car key. Diane says she and Lois are going to take a quick walk. So Peter just asks for the key.
Lois awkwardly hands the key, Peter runs out of the room, and Lois is forced to follow Diane’s orders. Realization sets in that these may be Lois’s final moments. She and Diane walk to the back of the property, they stumble upon a cliff. Diane is set for the kill.
LOIS: Diane, please! You don’t have to do this! I won’t tell anybody, I swear to god!
DIANE: That’s right, you won’t. Goodbye, Lois.
By the way, the music here is glorious.
We zoom out on Lois, looking as normal as ever. Then we cut to a close-up of Diane, who has a bullet through her chest. She falls off a high cliff into the water. This is the last we’ve seen of her since.
Now who killed Diane? Lois didn’t do it! Nobody else was at the scene! So who killed her? Tom Tucker? Joe? Peter? Nope!
The answer is all kinds of badass, none other than Stewie Griffin himself!
“If anybody’s gonna take that bitch down, it’s gonna be me.”
Not only does this support Stewie being one of the most kick-ass cartoon characters of all time, but from a story standpoint, I am curious to know exactly he did this. I’m not saying there’s a plot hole behind it or anything, but for years, one of the biggest storylines in “Family Guy” history is that Stewie continuously desires to kill his own mother. The series even dedicated a two-part special where Stewie and Lois try to kill each other! This is how far they’ve taken this concept! Now, Stewie subversively SAVES Lois from danger. Why does he do this? Does he love his mother? Does he realize he needs a mother figure in his life? Did Diane piss him off one time? Does he just hate the news? I’m probably asking more questions than I need to! This is a complete twist, but I love it!
This episode is written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, and she honestly went above and beyond with it. All the characters within this massive cast had a purpose of some kind. Each one a motive, something to do, and unfortunately this episode has quite a few clips that cannot be shown on most TV broadcasts due to timing purposes. So I will definitely recommend you check this episode out if it plays on TBS or Adult Swim or something, but if you have the motivation, buy the DVD. I know the series is on Hulu as well, but I am not sure how long the episode is on there.
And Then There Were Fewer also uses a classical orchestra to its fullest potential, providing for a soundtrack that I still wonder why is not on iTunes or something. The opening theme for this episode is also used in a “Family Guy” mobile game, subtitled “The Quest for Stuff.”
The animation in this episode is incredible. Not only do we get to see everything in high-definition, but they utilize flashy water, crisp skies, and I must say that the manor inside and out is wonderfully detailed. I must say, this being the first episode in widescreen must have really set the tone, because this episode goes long. Not only because it’s an hour, but because there’s so much that goes on. A vast of number of characters! Plot point after plot point! Stakes dialed up to an 11! The episode barely has any dead air.
But I think the best part about this episode is that it relies less on comedy than usual. “Family Guy” is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I will say part of the reason why is because it makes me laugh harder than perhaps any other show I can think of. But when the show can do something different, make me feel emotions, almost get me to tear up WHILE STILL BEING FUNNY, that is a sign of a masterpiece. This thing gives me chills, man! I felt for everyone during the episode. Everyone who wondered if they were the next to die. Those who were perhaps about to die. Maybe not Stephanie, but she was a gag character, so it’s not like I was supposed to get emotionally invested in her. I even felt bad for Diane by the end of it. I understood her motivation despite the reveal that she killed everybody, because I got a sense of her struggle. This is a character that has appeared every now and then on the show, and to see her at this point, where she defends herself for her deadly actions, is kind of hauntingly beautiful.
But just a reminder, the most important thing we all learned in this episode iiiiiissssss…
“Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.” -Peter Griffin
Don’t you forget it!
In the end, And Then There Were Fewer is incredibly rewatchable, insanely beautiful, and provides perhaps the greatest blend of comedy and emotion in the entire series. Characters develop, thus allowing the show to develop down the road. It’s something I kind of wish this show would do more. Yes, it said goodbye to a few characters, but with an ending like this, comes a new beginning. We say goodbye to Diane Simmons, but now we have Joyce Kinney. They say change is inevitable, but I think “Family Guy” handles such an inevitability brilliantly. And Then There Were Fewer to this day, officially ten years after it came out, is my favorite “Family Guy” episode, and may just be my favorite television episode of all time.
You want to know how good this episode is? Even Seth MacFarlane himself says that this is favorite episode!
“I think this is my favorite episode of the series. A classic format, great-looking direction, and, I hope, a genuinely surprising ending. It was also the first episode to air in HD. It was really cool to finally see Lois’ pores.” -Seth MacFarlane (Retrieved from: Seth MacFarlane Reveals His 20 Favorite ‘Family Guy’ Episodes)
If the creator says its the best, that says something! Also goes to show that great minds think alike!
Today, “Family Guy” is continuously losing steam despite a few great episodes here and there. Although I will give the show credit for being a pioneer in adult animation for going where say “The Simpsons” can’t, and essentially making the cutaway gag a trademark. Season 19, not to mention the show’s 350th episode, is set to premiere on Fox tomorrow. I will most likely be watching, but “And Then There Were Fewer” is an episode that reminds me of what makes this series so watchable. The characters, the storylines, the brilliant writing. It all comes together beautifully. I will be looking forward to season 19 of “Family Guy,” not to mention the recently announced seasons 20 and 21. But I long for the day where “Family Guy” makes an episode as good as this. Although, just remember one thing, and one thing only.
“Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.” -Peter Griffin
It’s in the picture!
Thanks for reading this post! It’s not every day that I decide to talk about television, but I figured since And Then There Were Fewer turns ten today, that would make for a good opportunity to do a post like this. But if you are interested in my movie content, feel free to check out my review for “Tenet!” Or, as some call it, the only movie in theaters right now! I’m not sure when I’ll get to talk about TV again. Maybe when another streaming service comes out or something, but we shall see. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! You know what grinds my gears? The fact that more people are not checking out my Facebook page! So do yourself a favor, and check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you ever watch the “Family Guy” episode titled And Then There Were Fewer? What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Family Guy” episode? As of today, you have 349 to choose from, which is quite a buttload! Leave your freakin’ comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“Becky” is directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, the team who also brought you the movie “Bushwick,” starring Dave Bautista. This film stars Lulu Wilson (Annabelle: Creation, The Haunting of Hill House), Joel McHale (Card Sharks, Community), and Kevin James (The King of Queens, Paul Blart: Mall Cop). This film follows its titular character, Becky, as she and her dad drive-up to a house by a lake. Her life has hit rock bottom between family matters and trying to keep herself together. Aside from that, she’s a rather typical teen girl. Suddenly, convicts break into the house, so we begin our tension-filled ride where it is a matter of life and death.
I bought this movie for one reason, and one reason only. This might shock some of you considering how I imagine this guy can sometimes be considered a punchline when it comes to modern movies. Kevin James. I grew up watching his work like “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “The King of Queens,” “Here Comes the Boom,” “Grown Ups,” (which sucked), and so on. I even liked “Zookeeper!” How many people can say that?! Granted, I haven’t watched it in years, but it got plenty of laughs out of me through the times I have watched it. My fascination for his work has not died down in recent times, I went to his stand-up show, I follow his social media, and I checked out his YouTube channel, which has pretty cool concept behind it. Kevin James plays a sound guy on a film set, and I’ll show you an early video, where his character worked on “The Empire Strikes Back,” where one of the movie’s iconic scenes is about to go down.
I think the man is hilarious. Keep this in mind.
With that being said, I know a bit about one other lead, specifically Joel McHale. I’ve seen him in other movies, not to mention on ABC’s “Card Sharks,” which is coming back for season 2 very soon. Prior to this film, I didn’t really know much about Lulu Wilson, but I should also point out she’s mainly known for horror projects. When it comes to my knowledge about film, horror is one of my weak spots. So all in all, this was kind of my major introduction to Lulu Wilson.
Overall, “Becky” is a movie that I don’t think will be remembered for much buzz by the end of the year. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. I watched this movie at home, and I will always defend the theatrical experience, even during a pandemic, although I would never force anyone to go during such a time if they didn’t want to. With that in mind, this movie had my attention like some of the better theatrical experiences I’ve witnessed this year. Movies like “Tenet,” “Summerland,” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.” But part of why it had my attention is because of the movie’s simplicity. It all comes down to the basic want to survive. And I think “Becky” does a really good job at highlighting the potential stakes. What does this family do? Will Becky make it? I was rooting for them, and when the movie can get me to do that, there’s a sign it is doing something right.
I will say though, when it comes to Lulu Wilson as Becky, I think there are a couple snippets of her performance that are a bit inferior to the rest of said performance. Wilson has IMDb credits going back to 2012, so it is not like she’s starting, but having not seen much of her acting career, I don’t really have much to say except, she’s “alright.” Much of the second half of the film is where she truly gets to shine. I won’t go into much detail, but when the movie intensifies, so does Wilson. For all I know, maybe this is a directorial issue. The duo behind this movie, like Wilson, has some experience helming media, but they are not as experienced as other filmmakers. I’m not saying they didn’t have a vision for this film, but what I am saying is that I feel like there are certain scenes where they managed Lulu Wilson and her character better and others where they just didn’t do as swell of a job.
Speaking of mixed thoughts, I have mixed thoughts on this film’s score. I know this film does not have a big budget, so it’s not like I was expecting something of the likes of John Williams to show up, but it’s got a very techno feel, and I’m not sure if I dug it. This film’s score comes from Nima Fakhara, who has a lot of credits. Can’t say I’ve seen many of them, but I imagine he’s done better work in the past.
But what may be the best thing in this film, and I sort of talked about this already, but it is worth bringing up once more, is the casting. This film has a good fit for Becky (Lulu Wilson), her father (Joel McHale), but I feel like the antagonistic side in particular is what stands out the most. Robert Maillet, who has appeared in a few blockbusters including “300” and “Pacific Rim,” makes an appearance here as a villainous sidekick of sorts. He. Is. Perfect. Some roles in movies will be remembered based on how an actor performs his or her lines. This role however will be remembered just because Robert Maillet… exists. That’s the best way I can describe this. Just seeing him on screen is scary enough. Just his height and physical structure makes for an outright intimidating character! He looks like Lou Ferrigno if he were always pissed off by his kids! Angry, muscular, tall, and he’s often got a murderous look on his face!
But of course, I cannot leave this review without mentioning Kevin James. This is complete subversion of my expectations. Because I’ve always seen Kevin James as the big, goofy, pasty white dude that tries to go for a laugh. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But here, there’s none of that. Kevin James isn’t funny here, and if he was, it would honestly ruin the movie for me. Because in reality, he’d be playing someone I’m used to seeing, perhaps “himself” as some would say for certain actors. Kevin James gives dialogue in a rugged manner that I am not used to seeing from him, his physical stance throughout the movie is intimidating at times, and so are some of his lines due to solid writing. I have always classified James as the guy who is charismatic, lively, and upbeat in a comedic way. This is a guy who lead a sitcom for almost a decade where he jumps on a couch in the nude eating pizza.
Just for clarification…
Is this guy.
This is not my favorite thing with Kevin James in it, but I cannot deny that this might be his best performance as an actor mainly because of how much of a diversion he’s taken with this. Gotta say though, after this movie, if they ever do an “Avengers” parody, I would not mind seeing James play Thanos. If it’s a full blown Marvel movie, that’s a no from me unless he changes his physical structure a little, but I would not mind seeing him in a parody.
In the end, “Becky” is a good movie, a thing we could all use in 2020. Although one thing I should mention, this movie’s not for everyone. If you don’t like blood and gore, you might want to stay away. My mother came into my room as I watching this film, I told her it has Kevin James in it, as she admires the actor. I’m starting to wonder if I’d recommend this film to her. It’s a good movie, but you probably have to have the right mindset and personality to fully enjoy it. I’m going to give “Becky” a 7/10.
Thanks for reading this review! TOMORROW, I’m going to be doing something fairly unusual, TALKING ABOUT TV! Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of what is arguably my favorite television episode of all time, “Family Guy’s” And Then There Were Fewer! I will be doing a spoiler-heavy dive into the episode, and talk about some of the reasons why I love it so much. As for movies, I’m not sure if I’ll see anything this weekend, but if I do, I will talk about it. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Becky?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite project with Kevin James in it? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“The Personal History of David Copperfield” is directed by Armando Iannucchi (The Death of Stalin, Veep) and stars Dev Petel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Anuerin Bernard (War & Peace, Dunkirk), Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who, Paddington), Morfydd Clark (The Man Who Invented Christmas, Crawl), Daisy May Cooper (This Country, Avenue 5), Rosalind Eleazer (Howards End, Death in Paradise), Hugh Laurie (Stuart Little, Tomorrowland), Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange, We Need to Talk About Kevin), and Ben Whislaw (Skyfall, Paddington).
This film is based on the similarly titled book written by Charles Dickens and follows David Copperfield, an orphan who finds himself needing to get through a series of obstacles.
“The Personal History of David Copperfield” already released in several film festivals last year, which eventually led to the film being nominated for a Best Casting BAFTA. The movie has not hit the United States until this past March, specifically at a festival, and has gotten a full fledged release in August. In my view, that officially makes this a 2020 movie. IMDb says this is a 2019 film, but it has not had an official theatrical release until this year, so I rest my case for now. As of late August, “The Personal History of David Copperfield” has hit several theaters in the United States, and so far has earned over a million dollars. Now, that’s a great total if I went on NBC’s “The Wall,” but the film’s budget is $15.6 million. The collective total at the box office worldwide is $11.6 million. That’s not entirely pleasing so far, but given how movie theaters are coming back to life at this point, it should not be too surprising. Nevertheless, I used one of my A-List tickets to see this movie last Sunday, and having never once read the “David Copperfield” book, I did not really know what to expect. I will have you all know, when movie theaters were allowed to reopen in my state, the first screening I attended contained one trailer, which was for this exact movie. That’s all. I could tell you I really enjoyed the trailer, but the reality was that I was more focused on the notion that a movie theater was actually open.
Even so, this movie had an advantage, because it was *that first trailer* I’ve seen in a while, it stuck in my mind like a catchy tune. So was this movie worth my time when I finally saw it? I’d say so.
Going into “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” I did not entirely know what to expect. Keep in mind that this review is written by someone who never read the book. I walked out of the movie fairly delighted. There was a series of well-directed, marvelously written scenes. I could thank the writers for this film, but maybe I should thank Charles Dickens considering how he wrote the material. It also goes to show how timeless this movie feels, and how one can possibly connect to some guy living in the 19th century. All the factory scenes from this film are incredible. Not only are they atmospheric, but they allow for this movie’s writing to shine. I felt for Dev Patel’s character of David Copperfield several steps of the way.
This movie manages to maintain its own vision from beginning to end, and I was massively entertained by said vision. While “The Personal History of David Copperfield” is not my favorite movie of the year, I will not deny that this movie manages to maintain its own flair every step of the way. I do not feel like I will end up remembering every character’s name, although I do imagine if I read the book maybe I will. Speaking of which, this brings up another point.
A lot of people tend a read a book, watch a movie, compare the two side by side. Personally, I see books and movies as two separate entities and I don’t always think they should be compared just to be one thing since they are two different mediums. However, let’s reverse what I just brought up for a moment. I watch a ton more movies than I read books, but if I were to take this movie, “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” I would definitely read the book that inspired it because I enjoyed the end product of the film. I don’t know when I’ll dedicate time to it, but it is a thought that I am intrigued by.
In terms of performances, I think everyone across the board did a great job from Dev Patel to Hugh Laurie to Peter Capaldi and Benedict Wong. Their performances help provide a refreshing take on what must be a classic. One of my favorite performances in this movie however comes from Darren Boyd, who plays Mr. Murdstone, who marries Copperfield’s once widowed mother. In addition to that, Copperfield has to work for Murdstone in his factory, which as previously suggested, makes for some of the finest scenes in the movie. This movie is PG, so according to the MPAA, kids can watch this and feel fine. There are some notable scenes where that PG rating shows, but at the same time, as I watched those scenes, I got the feeling I was watching somebody who was pushing the barrier a little higher. They say a movie is only as good as its villain, and “The Personal History of David Copperfield” utilizes that saying to full potential.
There are few other antagonists from movies this year that I can think of that I will remember for years to come. Maybe Dr. Robotnik from “Sonic the Hedgehog,” perhaps Sator from “Tenet,” and this might shock you, Paula Abdul from “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.” Just being honest. Murdstone is up there with the greats for me. I really hope we get a couple more comic book movies this year, because I am curious to see Taskmaster in “Black Widow” and see how he ranks against the rest of the Marvel villain crew. IF “BLACK WIDOW” MOVES AGAIN OR GOES STRAIGHT TO DISNEY+ I MIGHT BE DONE WITH MOVIES. Nevertheless, Murdstone is one of my favorite characters in this movie and his attitude says a lot about who he is.
If I have anything else to say, I also enjoyed the score in this film. I don’t know if I’ll end up listening to it during free time later, but hearing it in the theater was most certainly atmospheric and occasionally gave a larger than life vibe. The score is done by Christopher Willis, who has also done work for a couple Disney television shows and HBO’s “Veep.”
In the end, “The Personal History of David Copperfield” is a fine adaptation of the well-known Charles Dickens novel. I have never read the book, but after seeing this movie, who knows? Maybe I’ll give it a shot. I imagine it is better than the movie, given how Dickens is a household name. Even so, I found myself delighted with “The Personal History of David Copperfield” and I am going to give it a 7/10.
Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Becky,” which stars Lulu Wilson, Joel McHale, and Kevin James. I just got the Blu-ray recently, watched it, and I want to say some things about it. I’m not sure what my next review after that is going to be. I’m thinking either “Bill & Ted Face the Music” or there is also this one movie that has supposedly been out for a month called “Tesla.” I saw trailers for it at one theater, it never showed up, but it is also available On Demand for a cheap price. Maybe I’ll watch that. Although one of my local theaters, the Lexington Venue, just recently opened once more, so maybe I’ll check something out there if I have time. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Personal History of David Copperfield?” What did you think about it? Or, did you read the original “David Copperfield” book? Tell me your thoughts on that! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“All In: The Fight for Democracy” is directed by Lisa Cortes and Liz Garbus. This documentary mainly revolves around, not to mention stars Stacey Abrams, who ran for governorship in the state of Georgia and ended up losing to Republican Brian Kemp. The documentary in particular partially goes over the events of the election, but also dives into history behind voting. And despite the claims that everyone in the United States has a right to an equal vote, this movie plunges into why that may not always be the case.
Before the pandemic, I had an opportunity to watch several movies in theaters through early access screenings. But unfortunately, due to the way things are, I have not been invited to any, and I have not been reminded of any for months. Although I will say that Amazon Studios has been coming through because they recently showed “Radioactive” early online, which at the time, may have been the best movie of the year in terms of acting and production design. This is yet another time they have come through during the pandemic as they are showing the all new documentary, “All In: The Fight for Democracy.”
Little info about me. Yes, I have my preferred candidates. Yes, I sometimes observe the goings on regarding the United States government. But let me tell you, this is arguably the hardest review for a movie I have made in my four and a half years doing Scene Before. For one, I don’t traditionally review documentaries. I typically review like one per year. I also will point out that I don’t really like talking about politics. Maybe in 2016 when the whole election was… Hilarious, I would have been delighted to dive into some conversation. But no matter what happens, I am guaranteed to piss somebody off if I don’t say exactly what they want to hear. And I will say that this documentary in particular reminded me of that. This movie is one of those cases where footage plays during the credits. Specifically, you have everything rolling through, everyone’s name is showing up, and you see cameras in action. A lot of it is related to the subject matter of the film. That’s great and all, but when all these main statements came to a close, the movie ended with a phrase that kind of stood out to me.
“Tell everyone you know.”
I don’t know how I felt about that phrase, because I remember all these public figures a couple years ago, even if they were not involved in politics, basically just telling everyone to vote. And I get it, voting is a right, but all of these people suggesting to do such a thing at one time feels incredibly overwhelming. Plus I remember scrolling through social media and I saw one post that I kind of took to heart, and I will not give much away about my political views, but I don’t devote myself to parties. Overall, I think they’re kind of ridiculous. But I remember I saw a post that said something along the lines of “Please vote for whoever I say.” It’s definitely a much different phrasing than what I just suggested, but with that in mind, I feel like a lot of these people are trying to get you to vote for whoever THEY want you to. I don’t know why, and this shouldn’t take much away from the film as a whole, but that statement felt icky if you ask me. Because it felt like it just forced itself into your brain. It felt very propaganda-like. And yes, propaganda is everywhere. It is a tool that probably works on everyone. But as I grow and mature, I have a greater wish to think for myself than have someone else form my thoughts. This is why I don’t watch cable news!
Overall, as an American vote-based documentary, this is informative. It gives a great deal of information regarding our history on the good, the bad, and the ugly. It also deals with issues of today including gerrymandering, which is a word I often have in mind, but not one I always choose to reference or reflect upon. So this was a good reminder of a few things that maybe I don’t often always consider. It even goes into a fascinating experiment on trying to see who has already registered to vote, and as for those who aren’t registered, why that is the case. Let’s face it, Americans, including myself, happen to be lazy.
Yes, I type reviews that I traditionally like to produce with a thousand words at minimum. But you know why I’m lazy? For starters, I just used up my word count by telling you that I like to use a thousand words at minimum in my reviews, and this is helping me get there. But I often use the excuse, “I don’t have time.” Maybe there’s a number of cases when I say that and mean it because I take public transportation, and as much as I want to respect the environment, public transportation doesn’t always respect my time. But there’s always other cases where I might as well just suggest that because I have “more important things to do.” I have time to ride elevators for fun. I have time to go see “Tenet” again. I have time to sleep in. Do I have time to vote? More important question is, do I, and to add further translation, do other Americans have the willingness to vote? Between long lines, not knowing everything about every single candidate, and wondering if your vote actually counts, the act of voting perhaps raises a lot of questions. In fact, this upcoming Election Day is perhaps at the worst possible time. Most of my in-person classes at college are set for Tuesday right now. I have a rather extended commute. I wonder if the Post Office will even be a thing. And guess what? Guess how many people can say this?
I turn 21 the next day.
Therefore, on the same day that the next president is supposedly announced, there’s a good chance that depending on the result, I might want to drink so much alcohol that I forget every single U.S. president that has ever existed!
Now, a good documentary can change your perspective, yourself, the way you see the world, your thoughts on a subject matter, but I think that this documentary in particular has not changed my thoughts on voting. For one, I’m already registered, so maybe I’m not in the key demographic they’re really trying to aim for. I will admit, even though I don’t devote myself to a party, some of the stuff that is going on in the Republican Party right now is driving me nuts. This documentary, even though it seems to never avoid shying away from obviously leaning left, does a good job on objectifying some wrongs from the right. However, I can obviously see some people giving this documentary a low score because they don’t like anything liberal or left. But did this documentary alter my perspective on voting? Not really. It gave me a greater look at some of the reasons why not everyone’s vote may end up counting, but I often think about the electoral college. So even though we should go out and vote, someone else ultimately has the say for the United States. It’s just weird. I don’t usually talk politics this much, I don’t particularly like talking politics this much, and I hope that even though Election Day is coming up, I don’t have to dive too far into the subject matter again. It could be worse, it could be 2020–WAIT A MINUTE!
In the end, “All in: The Fight for Democracy” is watchable, but I don’t think I’ll recall it that much by the end of the year. Unlike some superior documentaries, it did not alter my perspective or add anything to it. I think Stacey Abrams makes a good case for herself here and her history was nice to see, and speaking of history, some of the backstory behind voting was intriguing. It wasn’t enough, however. This movie is playing in some theaters right now, but it’ll be free on Prime Video pretty soon, so if you have a Prime subscription, maybe you won’t be COMPLETELY robbed. I’m going to give “All in: The Fight for Democracy” a 6/10.
Thanks for reading this review! Just a reminder, “Tenet” is out in theaters right now! If you want to read my review for it, click right here! If you’ve already seen it, great! You didn’t have to like it, but good for you! If you haven’t seen it, I will just let you know that it definitely is worth the big screen treatment! Audio could use some work though. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “All in: The Fight for Democracy?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite documentary of 2020? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
“The Rhythm Section” is directed by Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale, Divorce) and stars Blake Lively (The Shallows, The Town), Jude Law (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) in a film… Zzzzzzzzz.
Sorry, what was that? I’m very sorry. This film is about a woman who seeks revenge after discovering the plane crash that killed her family was an act of terrorism.
This film is based on a book written by Mark Burnell. Interestingly, he also wrote the screenplay for this movie. I don’t know how the book is, I have personally never read it, but for all I know, it’s a masterpiece of a generation. Although I will say this movie took me back to my high school years when I was forced to read certain texts. I’m looking at you, “Pride & Prejudice!” You guys remember English class in high school? If you liked every single book, text, or piece of reading material you’ve gotten in high school, good for you. To me, this movie felt like a book I was forced to read in high school, ended up detesting from the first ten pages, and I would either drudge through it or leave it to the last minute.
Want to know something else? This movie is not that long. It’s not the shortest movie ever, but it has a total runtime of an hour and forty-nine minutes. I could totally see myself splitting some movie viewings into a couple of parts to take some things in. I did it with “Braveheart,” which is about 3 hours long. Heck, many movies have intermissions! I’ve even heard some countries apply intermissions to modern movies playing in theaters that don’t even come pre-packaged with them! A movie like “Braveheart,” even though was a little heavy at first, is exciting and exhilarating until the very end! “The Rhythm Section” is… BOORRRRING!
Now, it’s not “Gretel & Hansel” boring, it’s definitely not “Cats” boring, but “The Rhythm Section” is still pretty stinkin’ boring! The training scenes, which are… Okay, I guess, don’t feel like something I’ll remember two weeks from now. The action is fine, in fact there is a scene in this movie that is brilliantly shot, but that might be the best part of the movie even though it probably doesn’t say all that much, because it really doesn’t have anything to write home about.
Speaking of that awesome action scene, I do want to say something about it. I won’t go into much detail about the scene itself, partially to avoid spoilers, as usual, but much like some of those books I’ve read in high school, I’m forgetting about it as we speak. What did Virginia Woolf do again? I will say though, there is one action sequence where a car chase is going down, Blake Lively’s character is driving, and the camera is in the car pretty much the whole time. For like a minute or so, the frame doesn’t cut, break, or switch. It just stays put the entire time in the same shot. I’ve noticed a lot of movies have done something like this in recent years, or more specifically, they take a bunch of shots together and make it look like one shot. “Kingsman: The Secret Service” had an awesome throwdown scene in a church where Colin Firth beat, shot, and stabbed everyone to death. “Zombieland: Double Tap” had an insane scene like this go down in Elvis Presley’s house. “Atomic Blonde” had something like this too, where Charlize Theron spends eight minutes taking everyone down. While the first two examples feel fantastical, this shot felt more like something that had an “Atomic Blonde” vibe. Unfortunately, “Atomic Blonde” is a much better movie, a more engaging movie as well, but like these examples sort of relate to “The Rhythm Section” in terms of camerawork. There were some scenes, like that one cool action sequence, where the camera was well-utilized. Unfortunately, I can’t always say the same about the editing.
I rarely talk about edits in movies that I don’t like, although I still wonder why “Bohemian Rhapsody” won an Academy Award for it, so there is that. There was a scene in the beginning that caught my attention, everything is all quick cutty and fast. And I get it, people have slow attention spans, but this was honestly too fast for my liking. Speaking of which, remember that awesome action scene? Well forget about that for just a sec, because I remember a scene towards the end of the film that took place on a bus, and it reminded me of the typical jumpcutty bullcrap that’s been seen a lot in recent action flicks. One moment we’re here! One moment we’re there! One moment we’re flying everywhere! It’s like the world’s worst Dr. Seuss book!
And of course, I should not go without mentioning one other thing, this movie has the same curse some other films manage to have. It’s a January movie! Honestly, this crap feels like it belongs in that month, it is one of the few months that many general audiences are not focused on new movies, even though “Bad Boys for Life” grossed a ridiculous amount of money for a January flick this year, surpassing 2009’s “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” by over double its total worldwide. Note, “American Sniper” came out in January 2015 and earned more money than both movies, but it does not count, considering how the movie was screened in a limited run since December 2014. Speaking of box office achievements, “The Rhythm Section” has the *honor* of earning the worst weekend for a wide release movie playing on over 3,000 screens. In fact, in just a couple weeks, that screen count dropped to just double digits! The film also brought in just short of $6 million worldwide! When your film has a budget of $50 million, this is a definite failure. And I know 2020 sucks for everyone right now, unless you’re a higher-up at Amazon, you work for Charmin’, or if you are an introvert who likes staying home all day, but this sort of makes me wonder how Paramount’s 2020 has been going since the beginning.
Well, at least “Mission: Impossible 7” is back in production.
Nevertheless, this feels like it deserves a January spot on the calendar, not only in terms of quality, but in terms of content. A lot of it either feels cliche, cold, or something that could easily be tuned out. This may also not be the easiest movie to market either. I’m not sure how popular the book is, so I guess the easiest way to tell is to find out how many people in the world have read the source material.
The actors are alright in this movie, and I will say, whoever the makeup and hairstyling crew for this movie happens to be, they deserve a thumbs up because Blake Lively looks the part. She comes off as a woman who really has seen some s*it in her life, and her hairstyle projects that idea to me. Unfortunately, some halfway decent acting could not contribute to a halfway decent movie. I don’t feel like I’ll remember most of the characters, the happenings, the movie as a whole. It’ll probably be a blur at some point. Technically speaking, it’s very hit or miss. I don’t see myself watching this movie in the near future even as background noise.
I don’t want to end this review too harshly, after all, even though I’ve been bogging the screenplay, because it is admittedly boring and nowhere near satisfying, it is also Mark Burnell’s debut, so I’ll cut him some slack here. In fact, he’s got another project lined up, so maybe he’ll knock it out of the park next time, maybe even learn from some flaws here. Unfortunately it’s based on another one of his books so… We’ll see. Burnell, if you are reading this and want my recommendation, get another guy who is well versed in screenwriting to collaborate with you. Maybe you can still go with your vision, but I think a voice of experience would be helpful in a case like this. The movie’s still in pre-production… Maybe there’s time for another draft? I don’t know.
In the end, “The Rhythm Section” unfortunately did not make its money back at the box office, but nevertheless robbed me of $12.99 that I ended up paying for the Blu-ray. Granted, that’s a cheap price for a fairly new release, but nevertheless. This movie feels like alcohol. Only I didn’t drink it to forget something, instead the alcohol leaped off the screen and slowly poured itself down my throat. I do not feel like I’ll remember this movie that well. If you want a good revenge movie, just go watch “Taken,” go watch “John Wick,” they’re much more worth your time. Even the “John Wick” sequels are better than this! I’m going to give “The Rhythm Section” a 4/10.
Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see a review for a much better movie, be sure to check out my review for “Tenet!” Big movies are back, baby! This is what I’m talking about! I wanted to watch “Bill & Ted Face the Music” this past weekend, as it was playing in some theaters (although it was available on VOD too), but unfortunately I just couldn’t find time to do it. So, if I have the motivation for either format this upcoming weekend, I will probably check that movie out. What else am I gonna watch this weekend? “The Broken Hearts Gallery?” I like one of the actresses in it… But, what else does it have to offer? Maybe I’ll get a last minute A-List screening or something, I dunno. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Rhythm Section?” Or did you contribute to its unfortunate records? What did you think about the movie if you saw it? Or, what is your favorite movie with Blake Lively in it? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
Before we dive into this review, I just want to remind everyone that this is spoiler free. “Tenet” is one of the biggest movies of 2020 for a lot of reasons. There are not only a lot of people waiting desperately to see this movie, like myself, but there are also many people who might want to wait to see this movie depending on how safe it is to do such a thing. There’s also some areas like New York, California, the country of Japan that for the most part, cannot obtain access to this movie yet. With this in mind, I am going to attempt to be as vague as possible with my thoughts on “Tenet.” Kind of like its own trailers. What did we learn? Not much, which I don’t mind because I’d rather go into a movie knowing as little as possible. What’s the point of a trailer if it’s going to simply show the entire movie? I do go into detail on one or two things, but the things I take the deepest dives into don’t have much to do with plot, story, or characterization. Without further ado, it is time to start my review for “Tenet,” otherwise known as the movie I have waited since the Jurassic era to witness on the big screen.
The day we’ve waited for has arrived…
“Tenet” is written and directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Dunkirk) and stars John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman, Ballers), Robert Pattinson (Good Time, The Lighthouse), Elizabeth Debicki (The Burnt Orange Heresy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Dimple Kapadia (Bobby, Fearless), Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules, Interstellar), and Kenneth Branagh (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Hamlet) in a film involving NOT time travel, but time INVERSION, which makes time move backward. John David Washington plays The Protagonist (yes, that’s his actual name) who journeys through a twilight world and faces a mission that could mean the difference between peace… or World War III.
It’s finally here! “Tenet” is arguably my most anticipated movie of 2020, not to mention of all time. For the record, I keep saying “Dune” is my most anticipated film of the year, but given how “Tenet” is supposedly the movie that will “save cinema,” that’s an added bonus for me. I’ve talked about this movie long before it came out. I reviewed one of the trailers, I did a couple posts on what we knew about the movie at the time, and I even brought it up a couple times during my temporary “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes” series. I don’t think I’ll be updating that anytime soon, because I can only take so much talk about COVID-19 at this point. “Tenet” is also directed by Christopher Nolan, my favorite director working today. “Dunkirk” ended up being one of my favorite movies of 2017, taking my #4 spot at my end of the year countdown series. Two of his movies showed up in my “Top Movies of the 2010s (THE BEST 25)” countdown, which by the way, one of them ended up being my #1 pick! That movie by the way is “Interstellar,” which is one of my favorite movies of all time! Christopher Nolan is a director who individualizes his work in the industry, partially because he’s developed a distinctive style himself, but also because a studio as big as Warner Bros. trusts him at this point to make “his movie.” Plus, this movie was shot entirely in 65mm film, much of which was through IMAX. I’m a sucker for large format filmmaking, and I knew that this movie was gonna look CRISP.
To this day, Christopher Nolan has not made a bad film. Keep in mind, I still have not watched “Following,” but I’ve seen every other film from him. I really enjoyed “Memento” and I thought its storytelling methods were pretty solid. His “Dark Knight” trilogy is not only fun, but kind of refreshing in a world full of big CGI comic book movies. “Interstellar” is incredibly rewatchable and I stand by it being arguably my most cherished movie experience. “The Prestige,” while I don’t recall much about it, was fairly enjoyable. “Insomnia” is an entertainingly gritty thriller and features a fine performance from Al Pacino. “Dunkirk” is proof that you don’t always need a centralized character to tell a story, and I kind of like that. As if “Inception” wasn’t already cool enough, I rewatched it four times this year! Two of those times were in IMAX! It’s that good! So, is this the movie we’ve been waiting for? Is this the savior of cinema? Is “Tenet” 2020’s goldmine? Is it worth the hype?
Honestly, I’d say yes. The best way I can describe “Tenet” is this. If you’ve never been to Fenway Park in Boston before, they have this one section where all the seats happen to be green, except for one. Why? Because former Red Sox player Ted Williams hit a 502 ft home run towards that seat, and even though all the other seats remain green to this day, that one seat, which is 502 ft from home plate, is red. I feel like in my imagination, all the other movies that I’ve seen this year, all possess the typical green seats, but “Tenet,” because of how much I enjoyed it, gets the special spot. I say that because as I’ve discussed on here before, 2020 sucks, not just in general, but in the case of what I focus on regarding Scene Before, our cinematic calendar is pretty much a waste.
We’ve barely had any animated features this year, and while they are not my goto genre, I’ve watched at least five per year in the past couple years. It’s something I miss, and I really hope more can come out because Best Animated Feature is a category I do during my awards show that I put on here. There’s one movie that I have lost all motivation to review partially because of the pandemic, and partially because I’ve pretty much put it out of my mind upon leaving the theatre (That movie is “Bloodshot,” by the way.) All the big blockbusters like “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “F9,” “Morbius,” “Eternals,” and “Top Gun: Maverick” have all been pushed back about a year. “Tenet” is not only a movie that, unexpectedly, would supposedly “save cinema,” but it was one that was made to specifically show off the power of cinema.
I saw “Tenet” at a regular 2D screening at an AMC, and it felt like I was at an RPX or something. It really felt like the audio was cranked up beyond the maximum limit. This movie has some of the most immersive, and all time best sound editing I’ve heard in my life. Everything from the opening scene to the grand climax is magic for the ears. As for sound MIXING… That’s a different story, and quite honestly, it’s my biggest problem of the film.
I’ve witnessed a few reviews before going to see “Tenet,” not mainly because I wanted to know how the movie was, but because I want to support the content from those who created it. Anyway, they seem to be having the same issue as me. “Tenet” is an audible, earth-shattering movie. Christopher Nolan is no stranger to this description. Have you guys seen “Dunkirk?” That’s gotta be one of the loudest movies I’ve heard in my life! Nolan is my favorite director of all time, but if there is one valid critique I will give to him, and this even stands true for “Interstellar,” my favorite movie of his. Christopher Nolan seems to be hyper-obsessed with having the sound mix be as obnoxious as possible, allowing sounds in the background like shotgun blasts, explosions, even music to take over the ears, thus making us lose some of what could be important dialogue. This wasn’t a huge dealbreaker because as someone who is an aspiring screenwriter, I know that words are not always necessary. Film is a visual medium. As long as I can see what’s going on and do so coherently, everything seems to be fine. Granted, I will always take good dialogue whenever possible, but what’s the point of making a movie when you can’t see or hear what people are “doing?”
I will also say, this movie has a lovable ensemble. Everyone from John David Washington to Elizabeth Debicki to Kenneth Branagh all happen to be great in the film. I enjoyed the presence of all their characters. I will point out though, once again, John David Washington plays a character whose name happens to be “The Protagonist.” I won’t say much about it, but I like the direction in which the movie took that meaning. I’ve read some things about “Tenet” before seeing it and I had no idea what that name could have to do with the movie, but the way they handled it was surprisingly pleasant, so kudos!
Speaking of “Tenet’s” ensemble, I will also bring up Michael Caine. For those of you who don’t follow Christopher Nolan, I should have you know that Michael Caine has been in every one of his movies since “Batman Begins.” He even had an uncredited role in “Dunkirk!” I’ve read about this before the film, and this is not spoiler, but Michael Caine’s character in the movie… is named Michael. Because, he’s already played everybody else in Nolan’s imagination, right? I won’t say much about Caine’s appearance in this film, but there’s a moment in the movie where The Protagonist ends a chat with him and my brain clicked as soon as I heard The Protagonist refer to Caine’s character as “Sir Michael.” Did Christopher Nolan originally write this movie with himself in mind for the lead role? I seriously want to know at this point!
I have already raved about this movie from an audio perspective, calling it one of the most immersive experiences I’ve had all year. I’ll also point out, I have never seen a movie “live in concert” before, but if they ever get to a point where they do such a thing for “Tenet,” I will IMMEDIATELY buy a ticket! Because let me just tell you one thing right now. “Tenet” may just have my favorite film score that I have heard in years!
One thing I’ve gathered about Christopher Nolan as a director is his tendency to work with people he’s worked with in the past. I recently mentioned Michael Caine. Nolan’s worked with Tom Hardy a couple times. Same goes with Anne Hathaway. He brought back Kenneth Branagh for this film. Hoyte Van Hoytema is the cinematographer for this movie, making this his third collaboration with Nolan. And if you ask me, this is another solid entry to his resume and I cannot wait to see how they used the IMAX cameras for this film. But I will point out one collaboration that I was shocked to see missing once I heard about it.
No Hans Zimmer.
Why is he not here? He’s busy. He’s been doing “Wonder Woman 1984,” “No Time to Die,” “Hillbilly Elegy,” and perhaps the biggest reason why he couldn’t fit “Tenet” into his schedule, “Dune.” Hans Zimmer said “no” to doing the score for “Tenet” because he wanted to fit “Dune” into his busy calendar. There’s no beef between him and Christopher Nolan, but he just wants to do “Dune” so bad to the point where he had to give up doing the score for “Tenet.” I was a bit disappointed considering how Zimmer and Nolan are one of the best duos in Hollywood history. The score for “Interstellar” is one I listen to quite often. However, the movie ended up getting Ludwig Göransson (The Mandalorian, Black Panther) who I will point out, may have made my favorite main theme for all the characters in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically for Black Panther.
RIP Chadwick Boseman and Wakanda forever.
I must say… This score very much reminded me of a few movies. It felt like something out of the “James Bond” franchise, which does make sense as this is a spy movie. But it also reminded me of the “Blade Runner” franchise, especially “Blade Runner 2049,” and I say that because, and pardon my unprofessional-sounding diction here, the score sounded “boomy” at times. That’s the best way I can describe it. There’s this occasional drum pattern of some sort that comes and goes, I cannot get it out of my head at this point. In fact, when I got home, I did something regarding this movie that I have never done before. I went online, and tried to see where I could buy a physical copy of the CD. There are a few movies like “Knives Out” or “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” where I would watch it, enjoy the soundtrack, and maybe a couple days or a week later find the soundtrack on YouTube and listen to it. This is one of those rare times where I wanted to pay money for a physical copy.
Going with a different than usual composer for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” sounded like a rather bold, not to mention somewhat peculiar move when it comes to my first impression, but this may have been the best thing that could have happened to “Tenet” overall. Honestly, looking back, I don’t mind this change. Let me just say, the last film that Nolan did before “Tenet,” specifically “Dunkirk,” was undoubtedly amazing. And if you ask me, a couple parts of the score were worthy of a thumbs up. However, if I had compare that to many of the other entries to Hans Zimmer’s resume, not just the projects he’s done with Nolan, but even projects like “Man of Steel,” “The Lion King,” “Kung Fu Panda,” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the “Dunkirk” score felt kind of underwhelming.
The thing I really enjoyed about Ludwig Göransson’s score is that it really emphasized the scale of the movie. The entire time I felt like I was on an action-packed theme park ride that specifically caters to adults. Aside from that, it’s fast-paced, and I would not mind listening to it every single day for the rest of my life. I know funerals are supposed to be sad and that sort of thing, and honestly, the last thing I want to do is know that I will make everyone cry at my funeral, no matter what I bring to society. So, if anyone wants some epic music for my funeral that way not many people cry but it’ll still tie into a “Jack Drees” theme, download the “Tenet” soundtrack on your preferred service! Then again, when I die, why should I care? I can’t plan a funeral when I’m dead! It’s for the living to remember the dead as they choose! I can’t interfere! It’s improper!
Would I like to see Ludwig Göransson collaborate with Christopher Nolan again in the future? Yes and no. Let’s say they do a “Tenet 2.” I’m not implying I want a sequel. I’m not implying the movie ends highlighting plans to do a sequel. I’m just saying IF they do a “Tenet 2,” that’s an obvious yes from me. I cannot imagine anybody else handling this IP from a musical perspective at this point.However, I would either like to see Hans Zimmer come back because he and Nolan go together like bread and butter, or they get some other composer to come in like Danny Elfman or Alan Silvestri. It would also have to depend on the type of movie they do. I may be getting ahead of myself here, but I think Ludwig Göransson smashed this score so hard, that if he does another one, I will probably end up looking forward to it so much that I will just end up feeling underwhelmed upon hearing it no matter what happens. In addition, I don’t know how Göransson could top this score in another Nolan project. To be fair, he’s a musical genius and one of the more unique film composers I’ve heard, so he could find a way, but I also have my doubts. It’s kind of like when I watch “America’s Got Talent” sometimes during the quarterfinals or semifinals and there’s one act that does something so amazing that even though I WANT to see more from that act and I want them to succeed, I don’t see them topping what they just did, so it would be hard to tell if they could do something nearly as cool if they advance. It’s a compliment, but also kind of a curse.
“Tenet,” to be quite honest, is not my favorite Christopher Nolan movie. Nor is it my least favorite. As of right now, when it comes to my rankings, it ends up somewhere in the middle for me. I enjoyed it more than all the films in the “Dark Knight” trilogy, but I’d say that I enjoyed films like “Dunkirk” and “Inception” more. But as a filmmaker, Nolan is like Pixar. Bad Pixar is still better than a lot of movies. Remember “Onward?” I gave that movie a 7/10. That’s a low grade for Pixar, but a lot of filmmakers would kill to have their movie receive that positive of a review. But I will say that when it comes to “Tenet,” this movie has something going for it. Rewatchability.
Now, I already bought tickets for a second “Tenet” screening BEFORE going to my first one. The main reason is because I bought a ticket for myself, but I wanted to see the film in IMAX, but I didn’t buy an IMAX ticket, plus I figured it would make for a good outing with my father. So my second outing is so he could see the movie as well.
Not gonna lie, I’m already thinking of buying tickets to a third screening. Maybe I’ll do Dolby Cinema this time. I gotta check all the boxes for different formats I can see this movie in. In all seriousness, not only is this film rewatchable for entertainment purposes, but like some other Nolan flicks, I feel like I missed some things the first time around that could be picked up on a second, third, maybe even fourth viewing. And I’m not saying that as someone who feels like they HAVE to watch “Tenet” again, I’m saying that as someone who wants to. I don’t think I’ve wanted to go back to the movies to rewatch something this much since… I don’t know… Maybe ever. This film has some problems. The sound mixing is the most obvious and I think going forward, I’m not sure how much control Nolan has over the sound mixing process, I think that could be something that he needs to either stay away from, or something he should leave to others. Either that or just make a silent film. Nice little throw back. It could be shot in 4:3 on 8mm film. AMC could bring in special projectors for select screenings. It’s event cinema! Come on, Nolan! I’m writing your ideas for you! Use them! Although between the likable performances, the dazzling camerawork, the unreal use of practical effects, one of the most heart-pumping opening scenes I’ve witnessed in recent memory, one of the craziest climaxes I’ve witnessed in recent memory, and THAT. FREAKING. SCORE. “Tenet” is a good time at the movies. I repeat, AT THE MOVIES.
I cannot thank Warner Bros. enough to sticking to a theatrical release for this film. This is a movie that is literally MADE for the big screen, perhaps more so than any other this year. I’ll be honest, if this went straight to HBO Max… I don’t know if I would have watched it. Maybe I would have since I paid for the service and I want to get my money’s worth, but I would have been missing a lot of what I’ve gotten from my recent experience. Thank you, Warner Brothers, and I’m hoping you stick to your guns for films including “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Dune.” Cannot wait for those movies!
In the end, “Tenet” is exactly as it was advertised, an “event” film. It has the best and worst of Christopher Nolan’s cliches. Massive scale, but sometimes it’s too massive when it comes to the sound mix. Even so, it does not take away from this film’s long list of positives. Is “Tenet” my favorite movie of the year? No. I still think “Summerland” is my #1, and for all I know, it could stay at my #1 spot for some time. But again, “Tenet” comes off as an incredibly rewatchable film. If this film warrants enough repeat viewings, and maybe some more aspects regarding it stand out with greater positivity, “Tenet” could become my favorite film of 2020, but for now I’m going to give “Tenet” an 8/10!
“Tenet” warrants a viewing on the biggest screen possible. And I know that not everyone feels comfortable being inside a movie theater right now. But, if there is a drive-in open near you and it happens to be playing “Tenet,” it could make for a fun night out with an easier chance to remain socially distant. Otherwise, the film will probably be out on Blu-ray sometime in the future, but I really don’t know when. Because if I’m not mistaken, “Tenet” is supposed to be in cinemas for a long time, and if Warner Bros. wants to keep that promise alive, I would imagine that they’d go on long past the traditional theatrical window to keep exhibitors happy. I don’t know what’ll happen, but I highly recommend “Tenet” if you feel safe enough to get out of the house. Go see this damn thing! It’s freaking sweet!
Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that “Tenet” is playing in several different formats to choose from. Many of the screenings perhaps near you happen to be in digital projection, but if you want other options, read this handy guide! I’m not sure what my next post is going to be as I am getting ready for my next year of college and I have a rather important family birthday coming up that requires major prioritization. But we’ll see what happens! Maybe it’s “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” maybe it’s “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” maybe it’s “Tesla,” who knows? Maybe I’ll cave in and get Disney+ so I can review “Mulan.” I really don’t want to, I think this is incredibly greedy, but who knows? I know you have seen more great content from Scene Before, it just hasn’t happened yet! With that in mind, do yourself a favor and follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Tenet?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite film director of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!