Onward (2020): Peter Parker and Peter Quill Cast Spells

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“Onward” is directed by Dan Scanlon and stars Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War, Spies In Disguise) alongside Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) as two brothers. These two brothers live together in a magical realm, or more specifically, a magical realm that has increasingly evolved over the years due to advances in convenience and technology. Now that both brothers are of appropriate age, they are able to execute a magical spell that can help them bring back their father for one day. When they are only able to bring part of their father back to reality, the two brothers go on a quest together to figure out how they can get the rest of him back.

First and foremost. It’s good to be back. While we are not back to normal yet, and yes, NORMAL, I’m tired of whatever the “new normal” is supposed to be! It is still nice to talk about a movie that has come out this year without as much distraction towards the greater pain of reality. “Onward” was one of the last movies I saw in a theater before everything ground to a halt. The film started off with a somewhat underwhelming box office performance, perhaps likely due to COVID-19 taking effect, but I did see it opening weekend, so I feel glad to be one of the chosen people. While there were other movies I was looking forward to this year more, many of which I won’t get to see for awhile, “Onward” was definitely one that had my attention. For starters, it’s a Pixar movie. And Pixar, kind of like Marvel Studios or A24, is one of those distributors that always delivers a midas touch. Heck, I even like all the “Cars” movies! I’ll go as far to say that I really enjoyed “Cars 2!” If you want action, that’s a Pixar movie I’d recommend. So even though “Onward” was not my most anticipated film of 2020, it was one that I thought would be at the very least, solid. And that’s what it was. A solid movie. As much as I make fun of Disney for their business practices, which work for them even though I don’t fully support them, I will forever love Pixar, which might be the mega-corporation’s greatest asset in terms of quality. Over the years, a lot of their films have been well-written, conceptually creative, and of course, beautifully animated. Especially over recent years, even if one of their films was never in my top 5 from them, I would not deny the amount of work that must have been put into those films to make them family-friendly, while also trying to keep not just kids, but adults interested. Even though I was, and I hate to say it, disappointed, with their late 2017 film, “Coco,” it is some of the studio’s finer work in terms of color and animation detail. Even though “Toy Story 4” is probably the worst movie in the series, there is a shot of a cat in that movie that looked like something out of real life. For the record, I saw “Cats” later in the year that “Toy Story 4” came out and none of the cats from “Cats” hold a candle to that digitally animated feline! That’s how much I appreciate Pixar as a studio.

Once again, Pixar does not let me down from an animation standpoint. Everything fits its respective environment, it’s crisp, and the attention to detail is spot on. I saw this film in IMAX and the animated shots of this movie shine on the big screen. I cannot say that it is Pixar’s best technical work, but it is absolutely superb nevertheless. The film is now on Disney+, and I imagine that the film does look pretty good on Disney+, but since movie theaters are starting to reopen, if “Onward” is playing near you, take the opportunity to see it! Because even if the movie is not that great for you story-wise I imagine it will still be fun to look at. It is a film, kind of like recent Pixar entries, that I see holding up for years if you want a tech demo.

As for the screenplay, I think it is at times predictable, but that is also what makes it work in certain moments to deliver a satisfying story. There is conflict in just about every single moment, there’s a good amount of setup and payoff that is done effectively. The playaround and mashup between this fantastical, dungeons and dragons-like sort of environment and our modern lives is undoubtedly entertaining and creative. It makes for some fun scenes and ideas. In a way, it almost reminded me of Disney’s “Zootopia” which came out four years ago. That’s a really good movie by the way! Because that movie took a bunch of talking animals, put them in a world like ours, and while that film more or less was a satire on modern society, it was cool to see a blend of fantasy and reality put together to deliver a fun time.

As for Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, I think both characters are well-written, but when it comes to casting. That is where things begin to become questionable. Now, I will say, Tom Holland as the younger brother is definitely worth keeping. But when it comes to Chris Pratt, I like him as an actor, but I feel like he’s more closer to a father figure than an older brother in this film. That’s just the first impression I got from him. After all in real life, Tom Holland is 23 right now. As for Chris Pratt, he’s 40! Now I know you can get away with a lot more in animation in terms of details, actions, voices, personalities, but hearing Chris Pratt’s voice attached to someone perhaps close to my age is a little bit weird. I’m not saying it’s off-putting, it’s just weird. Both characters are great, serve the movie well, and have likable chemistry, but I just don’t think Chris Pratt was the right choice for the character of Barley Lightfoot. Nothing against him, I respect Pratt as an actor, he’s got decent talent, but I think he was a little bit miscast.

As for Tom Holland, I think his casting was perfect. He plays a teenage boy, and I am willing to bet that due to his marvelous (no pun intended) performance as Peter Parker, that there may be some worries down the road that he may be typecast. Because Holland’s still in his early twenties, and he has tons of charisma that can convince somebody he’s likely able to play an older teen for a while. But nevertheless, when it comes to this animated role, his voice completely fits the character. It’s in this tone that is almost in what I would call a “downer” mood, I just made that up on the spot! I don’t even know what I’d call it! But Holland’s pitch matches his lanky character to a high degree. I will also give props to Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, Veep) and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, Ma) who also stood out for their fine performances, plus the solid casting on someone else’s part.

Funny thing is, going back to Pixar’s quality, I will admit that I have not checked out all their films yet. I own “The Good Dinosaur,” but I have yet to watch it. I also still need sit through “Monsters University” and “Brave.” When I was at university this semester, I had a screenwriting professor who saw “Onward” and he pointed out that when it comes to Pixar, it’s one of their inferior movies. He also went on to suggest that bad Pixar is better than a lot of movies. He’s got a point. From an animation standpoint, “Onward” is pristine. Story-wise, everything adds up, makes sense from beginning to end. Compared to some other notable animations or family movies that completely rely on immature fart jokes, “Onward” just tries to tell a needed story from beginning to end, which is usually what I go to movies for. And yes, the occasional visual spectacle of “Onward” is a much-desired and satisfying cherry on top of the sundae, but story must come first, which Pixar typically succeeds with, even in cases like this when it is not their finest work. Pixar was supposed to come out with another movie in June, specifically by the name of “Soul,” but that unfortunately has been delayed. Much like “Onward,” “Soul” is an idea that has not been tested out before by the studio. Going into these movies, I am always looking forward to where Pixar takes their characters and its creative concepts. When “Soul” comes out later this year, I will continue to anticipate attention to detail, but at the center, a dang good story.

In the end, “Onward” is a fun ride from start to finish. It is a movie that you can watch with your kids without really feeling the need to tune much of anything out. Pixar’s always had that intention and plan of execution in mind. I remember the first time I saw “Up” in the theater, and years later, my dad and I still remember the movie, and if I’m not mistaken, he’d probably watch it again if it were in front of him. Would I watch “Onward” again? Probably. Maybe not right away, but I can see the effort put into this film and that is something I totally respect. I’m going to give “Onward” a 7/10. Fun fact, a 7/10 is honestly a low score for the Pixar brand given their resume. So even though this is one of, and as weird as it is to say, Pixar’s worst movies, I think it is still worth your time. I’d probably rather watch this again than “Coco,” which, was good! But I expected a lot more from it. Maybe one of the downsides of that film is waiting until 2019 to watch this, whereas I watched “Onward” right away. But I could be sticking my feet into hazardous mud here.

Thanks for reading this review! Once again, it’s finally nice to talk about something that is not specifically about COVID-19! I wish I could do this more often. I don’t know if I’ll be doing a part 8 next week to my Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes series, but I’ll have to find out what I’m doing, what kind of mood I’m in, and so on. But if I were to review a new movie, my next one is likely going to be for “The Way Back” starring Ben Affleck. I will say, given how it has been a couple months since I’ve seen that movie, I wonder how much of a challenge it’ll be for me to talk about the film in detail, but that question shall be answered as we cross that bridge. Maybe I’ll rent the movie if I need to watch it again, but I also don’t to waste $5 or $6 for the sake of wasting $5 or $6. These reviews typically regard my first impressions, and I had little intention on changing anything in regards to how I do my blog, but this pandemic did it for me. It took some control away from how I operate everything I do at Scene Before. Or, maybe I’ll soon do my review for “My Spy” which is about to debut on Prime Video. I am officially one of the few that has ever seen “My Spy” in a theater, which I feel pretty lucky for doing. But as of recently, the film changed plans, and instead of getting STX to release it in theaters, the plan is to get the film on Prime Video as an exclusive. Given how very few, if any, sources in the U.S. have even talked about or reviewed the film at this point, it might be necessary to hold that review off for a little bit longer. It’s a truth that is difficult to handle at this point, but what isn’t difficult to handle during a pandemic? If you want to see more great content from Scene Before, give the blog a follow either through an email or WordPress account! Like this post, share it with your friends, show some appreciation for the Movie Reviewing Moron! Also, instead of scrolling across some clickbait articles with misleading information about COVID-19, check out the Scene Before Facebook page and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Onward?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your LEAST favorite Pixar movie? Why? Would you still consider it to be “enjoyable?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 7

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 7 of the Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

As much as I want to continue to create informative content, I’m getting to the point where this series has become an annoyance. But I continue to do it anyway because historians can look back on this and remember it as a dire time for the film industry, which it really is. And those reviews I’ve been saving for months cannot go to waste. So Scene Before is STILL your place for the apocalypse! But who knows how much longer this will last? If I have to do more than twelve or thirteen, I might shove an aluminum soda can down my throat. In other news, I still know how to put on pants, I have not been going outside, and if I’m not back in the cinema by the end of July, I am going to throw all my DVDs and Blu-rays out the window like I’m a stubborn child!

And since we are still on a downward spiral, let’s get to the news of the world!

Starting in New York, we have news regarding what could be the United States’ most famous public transportation system, the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York state, made a major change to the system. The MTA is known for having a 24/7 schedule, so they never stop running. However, under Cuomo’s order, the system will be shutting down from 1 AM to 5 AM. This is likely a financially responsible decision, as nightlife in New York is nonexistent at this point. Plus, ridership is down 90% as far as the system goes. With less money, there’s more of a willingness to engage in the system’s preservation. This is also part of an effort to properly disinfect MTA property and machines, making a safer and cleaner ride for customers.

While some states are going to have to wait a bit longer to reopen, some like Georgia and Texas have begun easing on restrictions. Another state that has announced some easing on restrictions is the New England state of New Hampshire. The state plans to partially reopen starting May 11th. Certain pieces of economic industry including golf courses, campgrounds, and hair salons are permitted to reopen. Outdoor dining is also permitted to take place. Strict guidelines are still in place however as there is still a tendency to keep people 6 feet apart. New Hampshire currently has over twenty-five hundred confirmed COVID-19 cases so far. That is more than neighboring states Maine and Vermont, but is significantly less than its other neighboring state, Massachusetts, which has over seventy thousand cases.

Let’s go over to the United Kingdom and talk about Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Previously diagnosed with COVID-19, Johnson spent time in intensive care and was monitored health-wise. As he gets back into his routine, he stated that doctors were ready to announce his death in an event that he refers to as a “death of Stalin’-type scenario.” Johnson told UK newspaper The Sun that he required “liters and liters of oxygen.” During hospitalization, the Prime Minister kept asking himself: “How am I going to get out of this?” In other news, Johnson and his wife recently named their newborn son Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson. The “Nicholas” in this full name is chosen in honor of a doctor who helped aid Johnson.

Before we dive into our main topics, here’s a conglomerate of news that I ought to share because it can be packaged into a little box. While most theaters in the United States seem to have a plan on opening back up in the summer, because nothing’s out until then, some theaters are already opening their doors. For example, in Rhode Island, the Rustic Tri-View Drive-In, located in North Smithfield, is now part of the state’s reopen plan according to Governor Gina Raimondo. As for non-drive ins, Texas has three Santikos theaters reopening with a $5 ticket deal. For the record, this is a third of the company’s locations. Honestly, while it is good news for business that these theaters are reopening, I think it is also good news for health that they are taking it slow. The major chains like AMC and Cinemark still plan on a July reopening, which I think is fine, because it builds up anticipation and there’s nothing really new playing until then. Outside the U.S., Norway is reopening its theaters starting May 7th, capping the limit at 50 people per screening. The movie theater to me is a place beyond the imagination. It’s also a place where I occasionally get to see masterpieces. These masterpieces often get awards, such as Oscars. Speaking of the Oscars, let’s talk about them!

THE ACADEMY CHANGES RULES FOR THE 93RD ANNUAL OSCARS

One of my favorite days of the year is Oscar Sunday. When this crisis first started, I was a little worried that would not even be able to see an Academy Awards show next year, much less get more movies that could potentially be nominated. After all, when you are a studio or crew and cannot come out with your movie, it’s kind of a struggle. However, The Academy may have something planned next year. One indicator of this is them announcing changes to their rules and layout. Most notably, the Academy is putting its traditional rule of its nominees needing to have a theatrical release on hold. Specifically, the rule that a movie must play in Los Angeles county cinemas for at least a week with daily screenings taking place at least thrice. So if you play your movie in cities such as Los Angeles, Burbank, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Glendale, Pasadena, Culver City, or anywhere else in Los Angeles county that may have a movie theater under certain requirements, it could potentially be nominated for an Academy Award. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Academy is making an exception for this year. The following quote is taken from The Academy’s website, oscars.org.

“Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories for the 93rd Academy Awards under these provisions:

  1. The film must be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming or VOD release;
  2. The film must meet all other eligibility requirements.”

So this means that films like “Trolls: World Tour,” “Scoob!,” and “The King of Staten Island,” which are either already On Demand or will be dropping towards On Demand soon, are considered eligible for the Academy Awards. Films that barely even got a theatrical release like “Bloodshot” or “The Hunt” also qualify. I’m willing to imagine to some extent that this *may* count a film such as “The Lovebirds,” which was going to theatrically release this year and make a debut at South by Southwest. Although the festival was canceled and Paramount is no longer putting the film out in cinemas. But unlike films such as “Trolls: World Tour,” which is available on platforms including Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu, FandangoNOW, AMC Theatres On-Demand, iTunes, and cable outlets such as Xfinity and Fios, “The Lovebirds” is going straight to Netflix. Given how Netflix has made a major presence at the Academy Awards in past years, films like “The Lovebirds” could be considered eligible, but is the Academy only considering certain platforms? Are exclusive platform deals going to tie in somehow? What about “Artemis Fowl” on Disney+? That movie was supposed to come out this month, but unfortunately that’s not happening.

Also keeping fine print in mind, these rules pertain to films that were once planning on theatrically releasing. So films like Netflix’s “Extraction,” which was intended for a streaming platform, or HBO’s “Bad Education,” which went straight to television, will not qualify. This policy is also not permanent, as the Academy intends to make this only apply for this year’s ceremony, and anticipates an end date in the future when there is a sense of normalcy, not to mention when theaters re-open. However, the Academy is also planning on expanding qualifying theaters to U.S. areas including New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami. As one who lives fairly close to Boston, I am disappointed, but we can’t have everything, even if sports prove otherwise. By the way, I hate football. I said it.

PHYSICAL MEDIA (and other electronic) SALES GO UP

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Now I imagine some people will flat out not care about this, but to me, physical media is the best way to watch a movie at home. Because when you buy a movie on Prime Video for example, you don’t own it. Yes, you possess the film digitally, but if the service goes down, crashes, or the company behind it closes its doors forever, you’ll probably never be able to watch it again. With physical media, it is all up to you. Now it is not a surprise that we have had more time on our hands to go on Netflix and watch “Extraction,” to flock over to Disney+ and watch “Star Wars,” to jump on over to FandangoNOW and give “Trolls: World Tour” a rent. But what KIND OF surprises me, and I say kind of, is how much of a presence physical media has in this pandemic. According to recent statistics, DVD and Blu-ray players went up 27% during the pandemic. Keep in mind, this is a market that Samsung recently abandoned.

Another thing to keep in mind is that DVD and Blu-ray players, which went up by 27% is not the only winner here, in fact, the increase is not as big as other categories such as TV mounts (41%), printers (61%), and streaming players (67%). So rather than just being a great boost for physical media, it is also a great boost for tech. TVs have been doing well, and so have computers. As for where the actual total of sales for DVD and Blu-ray DISCS stand, that’s another question. Although, based on this quote from NPD’s Tom Baker, that type of electronic may be doing just fine.

“Sales are up as consumers stay at home and look for multiple forms of entertainment. These include DVDs and Blu-ray discs to entertain children while their parents are working, backup access devices if Internet access is challenged by streaming, or simply the consumers’ realization that they may need a physical disc player as an alternative to streaming and either they didn’t already have one or the one they do have needs an upgrade.”

Honestly, in a time like this, I think some people are going to want physical media. Sure, it involves getting up and putting in a disc, but one of the reasons why I am such an advocate for it is the technical side of it. Outlets like YouTube and Netflix have lowered the default quality of content to standard definition. With Blu-ray, the default quality is 1080p, or if you have a smaller setup, it’ll work in 720p. Yes, standard definition is the quality of DVD, which is 480p, but again, I’ll bring up the fact that you have control over your content. Netflix, or more specifically, Warnermedia, is not going to snatch “Friends” away whenever the year ends like they did months ago. If you don’t want it, just sell it and get some money back! Plus, you get all the bonus features which can help you pass the time. I just got the “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” 4K Blu-ray last month, I still need to watch the bonus content! So I still have something to do! Also, what if the Internet goes down? You don’t need any Internet to watch a DVD! If I had to come up with any downsides, maybe it involves a little more activity, but since we refuse to go outside, it could be worth taking a couple steps to the collection and popping a disc in. Or, since places like Walmart sells them, there’s always a chance, given how grocery stores are becoming petri dishes right now, that other people touched the DVDs or Blu-rays and spread their germs, which may not be the most pleasant happening for a time like this. But of course, worst case scenario, you can always order these things online. Although I can also imagine that some people are buying these devices because they have smart capabilities as well, allowing them to contain apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video.

NO MORE KEANU DAY, BUT HERE’S MORE DELAYS!

One of the actors who arguably was the “winner” of 2019 is Keanu Reeves. His year in acting brought him success through films like “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” and “Toy Story 4.” He did films like “Replicas,” which honestly sucked, but he also became a heavy hitting piece of promotion for the upcoming game “Cyberpunk 2077,” by making a surprise appearance at E3 last year. And honestly, this might have spawned my favorite slice of all the content that went viral on the Internet last year.

In fact this year, the Keanussance is likely going to continue. After all, he is making an appearance in the third “SpongeBob SquarePants” movie in a minor role. The movie by the way for those who don’t know is titled “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.” Speaking of known properties, Reeves is also going to be reuniting with Alex Winter to star in “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” Although, if you are a fan of one of Keanu Reeves’ most popular franchises, specifically “John Wick,” prepare to be disappointed. “John Wick: Chapter 4,” once scheduled to come out May 21st, 2021, will now be releasing May 27th, 2022, a full year later. Taking the spot of “John Wick” is the “Saw” reboot titled “Spiral,” which was supposed to be out May 15th of this year. Speaking of Lionsgate films, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” which is a sequel to 2017’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” will be hitting theaters August 20th, 2021, as opposed to its prior date of August 28th, 2020. An upcoming horror drama, “Antebellum,” is set to release August 21st, 2020, as opposed to its original date which has already passed, April 24th, 2020.

However, sticking with “John Wick: Chapter 4,” this delay is a particularly interesting one. Not just because it involves a meme-worthy actor and a hit action franchise, but this film was originally supposed to come out the same day as another Keanu Reeves movie. And it’s not some indie film made by a studio like A24 or Neon. It’s not, THANKFULLY, a sequel to “Replicas,” a film Reeves starred in that turned out to be one of the worst films of 2019. It’s “The Matrix 4.” Now if you asked me five years ago about the possibility of a “Matrix 4,” I’d probably toss the idea behind my head. There didn’t seem to be much place else that the story could go. But hey, everything’s getting a reboot and a remake now, so why not “The Matrix?” I honestly don’t know what to expect from it, but the fact that this is a reboot and not a remake pleases me. Nevertheless, both films prior to the delay of “John Wick: Chapter 4” were scheduled to come out May 21st, 2021. The Internet has often called this “Keanu Day.” I will say that the delay of “John Wick: Chapter 4” is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because it avoids having the crew rush on making the film, but it’s also unfortunate because as a Keanu Reeves follower, I figured it would be fun to go to the theater and do a Keanu Reeves double feature. However, if more good news needs to be said, I should also point out it’s perhaps likely that these films, which by the way, are from different companies, will be marketed to similar groups of people, and maybe both could lose their respective studios money as a result. Both films debuting on their own release dates could not only benefit Lionsgate, who is delaying “John Wick: Chapter 4,” but also Warner Bros., who is responsible for “Matrix 4.” Not everyone has the money and time to go see two seemingly similar movies. While “John Wick” fans may have to wait, this could give Lionsgate a greater chance of creating a “John Wick: Chapter 5,” because what if “John Wick: Chapter 4” doesn’t warrant a sequel after losing lots of money to “Matrix 4?” At least the studio has a “Hunger Games” prequel and “Knives Out 2” potentially coming soon so it’s not like they’ll spend years losing money from here on out.

AMC THEATRES AND REGAL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP BAN UNIVERSAL FILMS

Can I get some popcorn?! Because I’d say it’s time to enjoy the greatest battle in cinematic history, and it’s not even in a movie! Tonight’s fighters are… movie theaters and Universal Pictures! Now, “Trolls: World Tour” is a one of a kind movie, mainly because Universal decided that it should be released directly onto VOD. Universal bragged about the film’s progress so far to the point where they thought it would be a good idea to release more of their films On Demand while also putting them into theaters.

Now, I’m going to have to be very careful here, because several different outlets have reported similar sounding items that might contextualize something different.

The story here begins by bringing the mega-chain AMC Theatres into the mix. AMC Theatres saw Universal’s plan to simultaneously release movies theatrically and at home and responded by saying that they will not play any of Universal’s movies if that’s the case. While a source like The Hollywood Reporter did a story on this and cited from AMC CEO Adam Aron that the company will no longer play any of Universal’s films in its theaters worldwide, one quote from Deadline’s article suggests, also from Adam Aron, that they will not do so “on these terms.” By that, it likely means that AMC will not release Universal’s films if they just follow a simultaneous home video rollout. Keep in mind, it is traditional for films to follow a strict theatrical window. While there have been cases of films like “Black Panther” that you can still see in some theaters while it becomes available at home, tradition has suggested that a movie released for theaters must be out for about ninty days before it comes home. Universal doing a release like this not only ignores the theatrical window, but it also makes the theater potentially lose money because people could just stay home and put the movie on their TV. In fact, movie theaters were against Universal since this pandemic started. While they did manage to have a rather solid idea of making “Trolls: World Tour” a straight to On Demand movie, other studios seemingly have concretely laid out their plans and avoided giving such a last minute notice like Universal appeared to. NATO (National Association of Theater Owners) head John Fithian was against this from day one.

“Only Universal, and only on ‘Trolls,’ did one studio skip the theatrical model and go straight to the home. Universal continues to advertise to consumers that ‘Trolls’ will be released simultaneously to theaters and the home on April 10. And they are lying to consumers. Universal knows that theaters will still be closed on April 10, so unlike every other distributor who must simply delay their releases in that time period, but still understand that theatrical release is essential to their business model, Universal on ‘Trolls’ didn’t make that decision. Exhibitors will not forget this.”

Fithian also shares his thoughts on the current matter of AMC abandoning Universal films with this quote…

“Universal does not have reason to use unusual circumstances in an unprecedented environment as a springboard to bypass true theatrical releases. Theaters provide a beloved immersive, shared experience that cannot be replicated — an experience that many of the VOD viewers of this film would have participated in had the world not been sequestered at home, desperate for something new to watch with their families. We are confident that when theaters reopen, studios will continue to benefit from the global theatrical box office, followed by traditional home release.”

Let me just say that if Universal is planning on releasing “F9” through VOD the same day as in theaters, that might be one of the worst decisions they’ve ever made. People go to those movies because they provide adrenaline rushes, the effect is not as great if watched on a TV, tablet, phone, or computer. This is why before this whole pandemic, I bought opening Thursday tickets. Luckily, I did get my money back. So if all Universal films are never coming to AMC again, it’s going to make it harder for me to review them as AMC locations are easy for me to access. The theater is a huge money-maker for Universal, to have hundreds of screens lost is not a great investment in the long run. People are inevitably going to get back into routines, and part of that routine is the movie theater. It might take awhile for some people, but if you’re someone like me who sees a difference in the experience from watching at home and in the theater, I’m going to choose the theater by a long mile. This is why I want to see “Tenet” in July. Heck, before this all happened, I probably had little to no intention of going to see the remake for “Mulan,” but I’ll show up because I want to support movie theaters.

But just you wait! There’s more! Universal, if you do nothing, cinema chains will double the offer! That’s two cinema chains not playing your movies, for a chance to lose more money! Cineworld, which currently owns the U.S. staple, Regal Entertainment Group, also said that they “will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows.” So, should Universal continue to release movies On Demand early, Regal, along with AMC, will not be playing those films in their venues. Alternate chains like Showcase Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, and Arclight for example have not really said much about this matter. But remember, the theatrical window is a sacred bond of trust. If you’re putting a movie in theaters, chances are you have to follow it or face consequences.

Also, I wonder how much longer this will go on for, because guess what? If you go to Universal Studios Hollywood, you’ll notice on the CityWalk that there is a movie theater that currently goes by the name Universal Cinema. The theater has reserved seating, recliners, a Director’s Lounge, and an IMAX with Laser. By the way, that IMAX is also equipped with a 70mm projector, which if the theaters open back up in time for “Tenet,” will probably be used. Guess who owns that theater? AMC of all possible names! Who knows what is going to happen there?! As for Universal Orlando Resort, they’re safer in this circumstance as they currently have a Cinemark. They had an AMC at one point, but that has now closed. Gotta love drama.

NEW HOME VIDEO RELEASES

First off, it is Tuesday, May the 5th! Meaning it is the day after “Star Wars Day,” AKA May the 4th! For those who have not heard it already, May the 4th be with you and as for today, enjoy your Revenge of the Fifth! With that being said, there’s some new “Star Wars” content on Disney+, including a documentary on “The Mandalorian,” the series finale of “The Clone Wars,” and since we talk about movies on here, one of the new additions is “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the conclusion to “The Skywalker Saga.” As of now, the full “Skywalker Saga” is available on the service. The only theatrically released “Star Wars” movie not available on Disney+ at the moment is “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” However, the movie is currently on Netflix. If you are wondering when “Solo” will be coming to Disney+, it will be available starting July 9th, 2020. As for what’s coming On Demand, one example is “The Lodge,” which is about a soon-to-be-stepmom who is staying with her finace’s children at a holiday village, where strange events begin to occur. The film is available today, May 5th, on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital. Another film getting such a release on May 5th is “Arkansas” starring Liam Hemsworth and Vince Vaughn. It is the directorial debut of Clark Duke and was supposed to be shown at this year’s South by Southwest Festival. The film is a thriller about two men who live under the orders of a kingpin whom they’ve never met. Unfortunately, a deal goes wrong, meaning they could end up facing harsh consequences. “Arkansas” was supposed to theatrically release on May 1st, the same day that “Black Widow” would have hit theaters had it not been delayed. However, it is now available physically and digitally starting today, May 5th. One more film to avoid skipping over is “I Still Believe,” which is now out on DVD and Blu-ray as of today. The film is based on the true story and journey of Christian music star Jeremy Camp.

Thanks for reading the seventh part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” Happy Revenge of the Fifth, hope all the “Star Wars” fanatics in the world are happily going about their lives and not getting into fights in comments sections, because that’s impossible, right? Also, Happy Cinco de Mayo, on a Taco Tuesday coincidentally! Two days that go together quite well! Also, if you want remind yourself of a simpler time when movie theaters were open, be sure to check out my latest YouTube video where I document my experience of going to see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” on opening night. Disney has already put copyright claims on it, but I really don’t care as I enjoyed making the video. Also, if you like the video, leave a like, if you want to subscribe, go ahead! Speaking of leaving likes, be sure to check out my Facebook page and immerse yourself to posts much shorter than these while also getting the latest updates from Scene Before! Since we’re still on the topic of likes, be sure to like this post if you’re enjoying the content, and as we’re continuing promotion, why not give this blog a follow either with a WordPress account or your email? I want to know, what is the biggest piece of movie news for you in regards to the COVID-19 crisis this past week or so? Did I miss anything? Also, how did you celebrate “Star Wars” day? Me personally, I started on May 3rd! TBS had a marathon and I watched for hours! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Uncut Gems (2019): Anything’s Possible -Kevin Garnett

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“Uncut Gems” is directed by Josh and Benny Safdie and stars Adam Sandler (Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore), Kevin Garnett (Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault, NBA 2K19), Idina Menzel (Frozen, Glee), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You, Knives Out), Julia Fox, Eric Bogosian (Billions, Law & Order: Criminal Intent), and this film tends to revolve around a jeweler from New York, who is always looking for big bets. He’s a bit of a gambler, and if you watch this movie, there are times in which it resembles a tad of an obsession. The film follows one big bet story and dives into the actions of the jeweler as a character as he tries to balance work, family, and adversaries.

If you told me back in September that Adam Sandler was coming out with a new film, there is a good chance that I would have just responded to you saying “That’s cute,” and move on. However, to my surprise, “Uncut Gems” seems to have been met with high praise and many positive reviews. To me, this is an utter surprise, because as much as I like Adam Sandler, as funny as I think he is, his work in the realm of feature film is not always the best. “Grown Ups” is honestly one of the decade’s worst comedies. I haven’t even seen “Jack and Jill” so I think I am in a safe place at the moment. I liked “Pixels,” kind of… However, it does not take much away from what Adam Sandler did back in the day. I really liked “Happy Gilmore,” “Click,” and “Big Daddy.” In fact, “Big Daddy,” at least to me, is probably one of the most overlooked comedies that I have seen in my life. It’s a film that manages to balance being sweet, while also being incredibly immature, and somehow working. For that, everyone behind the movie has my respect.

I also had the privilege of seeing this movie early on December 8th, at the Boston premiere. The city just opened the new Arclight by TD Garden, which I may do a post on eventually if I feel like it. Me, alongside the rest of the audience, happened to be introduced to the movie by the Safdie brothers, the directors of the film, Kevin Garnett, who plays a supporting role, and Adam Sandler himself. They said hi, Sandler supported a nine or ten year old kid (and their parents) up front for coming to an R rated movie. The experience of seeing this movie was a fairly unique one, some might even call it awesome. Was the movie as awesome as the experience of going to see it? Yeah, I’d say so.

This is an interesting project given what’s entailed. It’s a rarity to see an actor like Adam Sandler taking on a serious role and project like he did here. He has my respect. The Safdie brothers do a really good job at directing this film. And one of the best parts of the film overall, and I really hope this does not get overlooked during awards season, is the musical score by Daniel Lopatin, who also did the music for “The Bling Ring” and “Good Time,” another film directed by the Safdie brothers. Just from early on in the film, it got in my head. It has this very mystical vibe that is kind of hard to describe. If they had to make an original song to describe part of the “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinte” sequence in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” part of this score would be a good way to do so. If I had to compare this to other films, maybe I’d compare it to maybe “Blade Runner,” perhaps “The Neon Demon.”

But let’s be real, this is Adam Sandler’s movie. And I mean that 100%. I have not seen all of Adam Sandler’s work. Heck, to this day I haven’t even seen “The Wedding Singer” or “Billy Madison.” However, if I had to compare this movie, in terms of Sandler’s performance, to anything else that he’s done, this is EASILY my favorite performance that he has given. And I think a lot of it has to do with the writing, because this character is taken a lot more seriously than Adam’s previous roles, and the directing, because Adam feels like he is a little more subtle than usual. Granted, there are moments that resemble a typical Adam Sandler performance like over the top yelling and moving around like crazy. But the thing is, when it comes to these tendencies from Adam Sandler, it feels a lot more grounded and much less goofy. I know Sandler took on a role in “The Meyerowitz Stories” which earned him a Critics Choice nomination, but I have a feeling that this role is going to be remembered for a longer period of time. For the record, I have not seen “The Meyerowitz Stories,” but I am aware of its existence. When it comes to Adam Sandler in “Uncut Gems,” I felt moved, I felt like I was there for the ride, and ultimately, Sandler manages to deliver an unbelievable amount of charisma to the table.

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And speaking of solid performances, I will also give kudos to one of the bigger surprises for me in the film and that is Kevin Garnett. Granted, his role is not all that complicated, because he does play himself. But based on his delivery in this film, I would not mind seeing more of him in other movies. Maybe he’ll be the next Dwayne Johnson or John Cena, one of those big sports stars who ends up going into the entertainment realm. In fact, much of the movie revolves around him and is based on events that took place during a big NBA playoff session. Speaking of celebrity appearances in this film, the Weeknd makes an appearance, and sort of dives into a fraction his life prior to today.

As for negatives, even though “Uncut Gems” is a really solid movie, a gritty, punch-packing, exciting thrill of a flick, I don’t see myself going back to theater to watch it again. If I ever find it on Blu-ray, I’ll definitely pick it up if I am ever in the mood. I think this movie contains bar none, the best performance ever given by Adam Sandler, but it’s not like one of those movies that I feel would require a second or third viewing because it is THAT good. Then again, there is another part of me, that thinks would need a second or third viewing to see if I missed anything subtle. This movie made me curious. It allowed me to wonder what was going to happen next. This feels like one of those movies that could end up being better on a second viewing, because this first viewing, while entertaining, feels like something I should process for a long period of time, but I am ultimately forced to in just a matter of a couple of hours. Technically, across the board, this film rocks. The music, the cinematography, the makeup, all of it works. I just don’t know if I’ll flock to it again. I love the screenplay, very much so in fact, but if it weren’t for very minor issues, it would almost be near perfect. “Uncut Gems” is a good movie, one of Adam Sandler’s finest in fact, so if that does not resemble a fine time at the cinema, I don’t know what does.

In the end, I think “Uncut Gems” is a damn fine film. It’s a GOOD TIME. Pun intended for those of you familiar with the Safdie brothers. I wouldn’t mind listening to the soundtrack at 2 in the morning while everyone else in my neighborhood is asleep as I write my screenplays like a madman. And even though Adam Sandler is often defined as a joke when it comes to actors today, I think this is a career-defining performance as far as he’s concerned. It’s honestly unlike anything I have seen from him. Now will he win an Oscar for it? It’s still hard to tell. I would not be surprised if he gets nominated. After all, despite not being nominated for the Golden Globes, he did win the Best Actor award from the National Board of Review, and he was just recently nominated for a Critics Choice Award. It’s still possible. Would Sandler be snubbed if he’s not nominated? From my perspective, I still need to think about that. We’ll just have to see. I’m going to give “Uncut Gems” an 8/10.

Thanks for reading this review! And if you are reading this review the week it has been released, you are in luck because I am about to remind you it is officially “STAR WARS” WEEK! This week is the official release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” I am going opening night, and I will have my review up (hopefully) on Friday morning. If not, it’ll be up by the end of the day, or sometime later during the weekend. Speaking of reviews, I will be seeing another movie this week, “Bombshell.” This film is based on the scandal revolving around Fox News’ Roger Ailes. I will have my thoughts on that film up as soon as possible, hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday. Only time will tell. If you want to see more content like this, be sure to follow Scene Before, like this post, and if you want to help me out a little more, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Uncut Gems?” What did you think about it? Or, who is an actor you thought couldn’t be taken seriously, but eventually turned themselves around for you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Lighthouse (2019): Spill the Beans! This Film Shines as Bright as a Bulb!

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“The Lighthouse” is directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Tell-Tale Heart) and stars Robert Pattinson (Twilight, High Life) alongside Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Aquaman) in a film where two men make themselves at home on an island with a lighthouse on it. This is a tale where two men basically go about their everyday lives and eventually have to deal with various happenings, including an enormous incoming storm.

Just want to let everyone know, that I went into “The Lighthouse” having seen at least one piece of marketing, but in reality, I went into the film with my mind containing perhaps as little as I am probably supposed to know. So for the sake of perhaps providing all of you, the viewers who haven’t checked out this film yet, with a proper experience, I am going to be a bit vague in this review, so bear with me here.

OK… I think we are officially getting a taste of awards season by now. We’re starting to get films like “Parasite,” which is SO GOOD by the way. Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has been in theaters for a little while. We are coming closer to seeing films like “Ford v. Ferrari,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Knives Out,” it is legit a fine time to be a moviegoer. And keep in mind, all these movies could suck, I haven’t seen them yet, I don’t want everyone assuming that all these films are the definitions of greatness right now. But staying on this topic, let me just kick off my thoughts on “The Lighthouse” by saying it is one of the year’s most well made films. Keep in mind, this film probably won’t be for everyone, but it is competently shot, terrifically acted, finely directed, and I like the visual choice of presenting the film in both black and white, not to mention in a 4:3 aspect ratio. It sort of reminded me of last year’s “Cold War,” which I mainly admired more for its technical aspects rather than its competence as a product meant to entertain. “The Lighthouse” however, not only looks fine and dandy, but really makes me want to slap a high five to the screen in my theater’s auditorium. Is “The Lighthouse” the best movie of the year? Honestly, no. In fact, I can come up with at least 5 movies this year that I personally enjoyed more than this. In fact, I think this movie, kind of like “Joker” for some people, could end up suffering a little due to a lack of replay value. As I reflect on “The Lighthouse,” part of me is continuously thinking that once is enough. Maybe I’ll buy the Blu-ray, but it’s going to be hard to decide when to watch it again.

At the same time though, like “Joker,” the insanity this movie can provide, especially as it comes to a close, makes it worth sitting through and worth my time. It’s absolutely hypnotizing watching two men perhaps lose their s*it as they are together on an island. I also found the “tall tale” that the movie describes, about killing a seabird, rather compelling, especially considering that it leads to a brutal killing of said creature later on. In that sort of way, it makes me never want to kill a seagull. I mean, I don’t think I ever wanted to in the first place, but still… That’s even if I’m on the beach and it ends up taking all my fast food that I purchased at the snack bar. Maybe in that case I’ll give it a little slap, but I wouldn’t flat out annihilate a seagull the way that one of the movie’s characters goes about doing so. And I think one of the more interesting things about the film that I can point out is that before the seagull death moment, it’s not like the seagull is just an innocent little creature, it looks like a complete nuisance, at least to me. Perhaps an insult to seagulls everywhere. If there were a seagull version of the Donner Party incident, this one would probably be the easiest target because it is a complete jerk to everybody in sight.

Aside from “Joker,” another goto comparison I have regarding “The Lighthouse” would probably be the TV show “Seinfeld.” Maybe I didn’t think about it too much while watching the movie, and maybe some of you who have already watched the movie are looking at me and wondering if an acorn fell on my head. Yeah, “Seinfeld” would usually contain more characters in a single twenty minute episode than this movie does in its entire one hour and forty-nine minute runtime. But regardless of character count, the idea behind “Seinfeld” can easily correlate with “The Lighthouse.” I say so because “The Lighthouse” is definitely entertaining as a story. But it is also about, well, nothing.
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In that sort of way, it can be somewhat easy to tell that “The Lighthouse” is sort of a slow burn kind of picture. Again, it’s about two guys stuck on an island with a lighthouse on it in the middle of a storm. I mean, come on! And just because it is slow, does not mean it is terrible. In fact, I cannot imagine this film in terms of pacing being represented in any other way.

Robert Eggers at an event for The Lighthouse (2019)

I will also say that I am rather surprised to be appreciating this film as much as I am, because this film is directed by Robert Eggers, who also directed one of my least favorite horror flicks of the past few years.

Movie buffs, feel free to take my “Official League of Film Fanatics” card. That’s a thing I just made up, but bear with me here. But if that did exist, let me just tell you that “The Witch” may be one of the most overhyped films of the decade. I know I am not alone, but I really did not like that movie. It wasn’t scary, it was just boring and occasionally annoying. If I had to be honest, it has to be one of the worst films that A24 has ever been involved with. But one thing that is definitely true about that film, much like many others put out by A24, I was able to witness a crystal clear directorial vision. That truth manages to make itself visible in this film as well. “The Lighthouse” is interesting in terms of its vibe, because it is definitely a calm film. That’s how it appears on screen in terms of visuals (although it is interfered by crashing waves, a storm, and a black and white shots). But it is also occasionally bonkers. I could talk about some of the crazy s*it that goes down, but then I’d just be spoiling the experience for potential viewers.

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse (2019)

In the end, “The Lighthouse” was definitely worth my time. I will say, if I sound like I am being more vague than usual in this review, it is because I feel that if you want to go see this movie, I think it is best to go in knowing as little as there is to know as possible. All I can say is, it’s good, it’s insane, and entertaining. That’s all she wrote. If any of you want to go check out “The Lighthouse” in the theater, give it a go. Not the best film of the year, but definitely worth checking out. Between the chemistry of the two leads and the atmosphere this film tends to provide, I’d say you are for something swell. I’m going to give “The Lighthouse” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that over a week ago I just saw the movie “Last Christmas.” I will have a review up for that very soon. And I am not sure what my schedule looks like, but as of now I have passes to the upcoming movie “The Good Liar.” If I get around to seeing it, I will have a review for it. But until then, we’ll just have to see what happens. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email to get notifications in your inbox, or for comment and like access, use a WordPress account! Stay tuned for more great content! If you also want notifications from Facebook, consider liking my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Lighthouse?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite pirate movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Midsommar (2019): Can Ari Aster Top Hereditary?

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“Midsommar” is directed Ari Aster, who is known for directing numerous shorts along with his feature-length debut which came out last year, “Hereditary.” This film stars Florence Pugh (Fighting with My Family, The Commuter), Jack Reynor (Sing Street, Free Fire), William Jackson Harper (The Good Place, The Electric Company), Vilhelm Blomgren (Gösta, The Days the Flowers Bloom), and Will Poulter (We’re the Millers, The Maze Runner). This film involves a couple and a bunch of close friends going away together to rural Sweden. While the main characters intended to take a simple vacation to view a mid-summer festival, they eventually find themselves becoming more involved with various activities having to do with a Pagan cult.

If you asked me about my thoughts on Ari Aster as a filmmaker before this movie came out, I would have simply told you that I love him. Granted, I could be biting off more than I can chew because he only directed one feature film, but it does not change the fact that said feature film, specifically, “Hereditary,” floored me as soon as I witnessed it in the theater for the first time. The interactions between the family was truly worth appreciating. The cinematography is eye candy as delicious as white chocolate Kit-Kats. And Toni Collette gave one of my favorite performances of the decade as Annie. Naturally, the more I heard about “Midsommar,” the more excited I got. In fact, of all the movies coming out this summer season, “Midsommar” might be the one I anticipated the most, which is surprising when you consider how I waited over a month to go see it in the theater. But I just checked it out, so here we are! I feel like I have some weight off my shoulders!

Although before we go any further, I want to give a special shoutout to a friend of mine. His name is Choyon, and he went to go see this movie in July, only to tweet the following:

I cannot say I have seen the original “Wicker Man” film, but from what I gathered by this tweet, that was probably an enormous insult towards “Midsommar.” Having said that, I replied to him saying that I’ll probably instead check out “Spider-Man: Far From Home” that weekend, which in reality I didn’t do until two weeks after tweeting that out. He replied to me saying “Spider-Man” sounds like a better choice, calling “Midsommar” “pretentious crap.” These were followed by two more tweets.

I love Hereditary, I am almost scared for how I’ll feel about this thing after seeing that film. –Me

It may be a letdown, just saying –Choyon

I’ll remind you that Choyon has previously been a contestant on “Jeopardy!” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” so I for one am able to trust him in an assortment of ways. Then again, while he appeared on “Jeopardy!,” he participated in the final round only to do this:

Yeah, that happened! It even got featured in a video from SGSA (Stupid Game Show Answers), a famous name in providing game show fail compilations for years.

But even with that, he is right. “Midsommar” broke me, tore me apart, and ignited me into scorching flames. If I had to judge this as if it were two movies, I would point out the movie’s excellence in terms of direction, cinematography, and location choices. The technical aspects stand out for good reason. But there is a lot that I can’t stand when it comes to how the film plays out as to what characters do on camera.

From the very start of the film, I am instantly reminded of one of my problems involving “Hereditary.” Below is a quote from my review of said film.

“I heard him crying and made me think he was doing a terrible impression of Matthew McConaughey.”

If you put that in context, I will point out that “Hereditary” had a ton of terrific performances by its cast, including Jackoff winner Toni Collete, but one performance that caught my eye at a certain scene was the one given by Alex Wolff. Why? Because he happened to be crying in a manner that managed to lack any sort of match to realism, and overall, it made me think of him as some cartoon who fails at animating their own expressions. This movie gave me the worst possible first impression it could by having Florence Pugh’s character also cry in a manner that just irked me. Granted, I know crying is a natural thing, I know people do it in various situations, but again, I just don’t know if these actors would cry in the movie in the same way they would in real life. And having seen two movies from Ari Aster now, it makes me wonder as to what he will have stored in the future for his projects. Is this going to become a cliche? Is this going to be an Ari Asterism? Is he going to have at least one oddball, Lifetime movie-esque sobbing scene for each one of his films? And I will say, this crying, while annoying, was not even the worst part of this sack of crap!

I will say, when it comes to the characters in general, they are very off and on. For one thing, I kind of hate the main group of guys in this film because they all seem to just be less than friendly to the main character at times and it is sort of off-putting. There’s a scene where everyone completely establishes they don’t want to go on this trip to Sweden with her, only to pretend to be nice to her when she’s in the room and invite her to the trip. I understand why they would invite her, even if they have something against the main character to begin with. But even so, upon first seeing all the guys, they all had this rather unlikable vibe to them. It’s like if a speeding ticket was a person!

But I will say, upon first seeing rural Sweden and the setting for the movie’s main events, I was undeniably impressed. The setting looked vibrant and beautiful, almost to the point where I wanted to go there. All the costumes stand out and it brought this feeling of immersion. Sadly though, as the movie progressed, there was not much of interest when it came to various happenings in Sweden. Granted, the movie does a good job at letting us as an audience experience the traditions of the cult, but when it comes to shock value, which this movie seems to promise, I almost felt nothing. Maybe because I saw it coming though. I remember going into this movie being told it’s more gross than scary, and honestly I can see why, but I won’t go into it.

One comment about this film before it came out that admittedly made my hype levels rise as high as a skyscraper came from director Ari Aster himself. Back in March, he referred to “Midsommar” as “a ‘Wizard of Oz’ for perverts.” Honestly, I took that as a bit of a joke. I did expect this movie to be somewhat gory, I did expect a lot of the costumes to pop, I also expected the locations and setpieces to set the tone for what’s to come, but holy s*it, he’s right. I won’t go into complete detail, but that is a good way to describe this film based on certain scenes.

But it does not change one thing. THIS MOVIE SUCKS!

I–I can’t believe it! This is Ari Aster I’m referring to! I should be praising him like he is god or something! But now, he has diminished some of my hopes for his future projects! As if the movie itself was bad enough based on the beginning and the main events as everyone happens to be in Sweden, the ending just takes those two concepts and makes them look like a breeze to sit through. Why? Because, again, without spoiling anything, it is simply one of the most repulsive things I have witnessed in recent memory. In fact, I might even go as far to say that the ending to “Midsommar” could qualify to be a part of my top 10 worst endings in film history! Granted, I saw where the film was going with the ending, trying to have this compelling vibe that maybe could get some viewers to be speechless or something. It could possibly get them to activate their brain a little bit. In a way, if I had to use a recent example, it kind of had a similar feel to the ending I witnessed in last year’s “Annihilation,” only that movie was ten times better and more interesting than this piece of crap!

In fact, if I really had to make a comparison between this film and something else it has to be “The Favourite.” It’s a film that I heard a lot about, it has a reasonable amount of hype behind it for various reasons, it looks beautiful (both in previews and the final product), but it turned out to be a colossal disappointment. Granted, I will point out this movie is superior to “The Favourite” in terms of how invested I was from start to finish. It was less boring, better paced, and overall a slightly more hypnotizing story. But it does not change the fact that when it comes to “Midsommar,” it is a film that had tons of potential to be associated with prestige, and sadly, it ends up falling flat on its own face.

The best way I could describe the ending to “Midsommar” without further context is by once again going back to the idea of this movie being gross as opposed to scary. To me, it was neither, it was simply annoying. If you think hearing Jar Jar Binks and his hellish voice is ridiculous at home on your living room TV, try going to a cinema with surround sound and listening to every single utterance during this film’s climax. I imagine when this film comes out on DVD, it is not going to change how nearly headache-inducing the ending could possibly get.

Ari Aster, I love you! Please make a better film than than this! I was rooting for you!

In the end, “Midsommar” might as well have as much of a chance of completely impressing me during a repeat viewing as White Castle does of creating a pancake-sized burger. The worst thing about “Midsommar” is not necessarily how bad it is, but how disappointing it is. I say that because there are lot of movies out there that I knew were going to be terrible before watching them like “Batman & Robin” and “The Emoji Movie,” but “Midsommar” looked fantastic. In fact when I call this my most anticipated film of the summer compared to another film that opened the same day, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which ended up surprising me to the point of absurdity, it leaves a hole in my heart. I cannot even recommend this movie as background noise, because again, this film has an ending that is probably just as annoying to me as annoying as Teletubbies may be to parents who are raising newborn children. But again, I cannot give this movie a 1/10 because it is well shot, it does look impressive, and I say that to the point where it would make for a good tech demo. Well, as long as the product is on mute at certain points. I’m going to give “Midsommar” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that pretty soon I’ll have my review up for “Crawl,” a film about a father and daughter who are caught in the middle of a Florida hurricane. If you want to read a review for an Ari Aster flick that I think is worth your time, my link to my “Hereditary” review is down below! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account, also be sure to like my Facebook page if you have an account there as well! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Midsommar?” What did you think about it? Am I crazy right now or something? Or, who is a director working today who doesn’t have much background that you are curious about? Aside from Aster, Tim Miller would be one of my picks. I’m somewhat curious as to what he’s going to do with “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Hereditary (2018) REVIEW

Scene Before 2019 HALFTIME REPORT (And Glance Into the Future)

WARNING: The following post is over 8,000 words long. Disappointingly, it’s not over 9,000.

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! 2019 is midway through and this year is going by fast! As far as my personal life goes, I’m in between my first and second year of college, I am enjoying my time off, and I’m the same movie reviewing moron as usual. Things have changed, but at the same time, I’m still the same flick nerd I have always been. And I mean that literally, but we’ll get to that later. However, I wanted to try something I haven’t done before on this blog. At the end of the year, I tend to do some reflective work, most notably countdowns. And while I am not going to do that at this current midway point, I would at least like to sit myself down and go over some recent highlights related to Scene Before. At the same time, I’d like to also look into the future. Admittedly, some of this is still in planning stages, but still.

I’d like to start off with something I’d like to call “TERRIFIC 3” and “TERRIBLE 3.” I am going to list 3 movies that I have watched this year that I would recommend to people and 3 other movies that I would tell people to avoid. Now, of course, these picks are subjective, if you think differently about these films than I, it might be slightly harder to talk to each other, but you are nevertheless entitled to your different thoughts. In fact, these are not supposed to be my top 3 best or worst of the year so far. If I like a film, I’ll list it, if I don’t like a film, I’ll also list it. These are not meant to be in any particular order. Anyway, let’s begin!

TERRIFIC 3!

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Starting off the Terrific 3 is “John Wick: Chapter 3!” I went to see this film in Dolby Cinema alongside my dad, who might be a bigger “John Wick” fan than anyone else I know. He and I walked out agreeing that the action in the film is absolutely top-notch. The action in “John Wick” films is certainly the aspect that would grab my attention more than any other. Long takes, innovative setpieces, gritty violence, all of it adds up to make some of my favorite action scenes of all time. When it comes to current action franchises, I am having some slight trouble deciding whether I prefer this or “Mission: Impossible.” It’s that good!

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Up next is a stellar DreamWorks animation whose franchise I never watched religiously, but always liked, “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” If you have ever seen the game show “Deal or No Deal,” the show always highlights the phrase “timing is everything,” and when it comes to “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” that phrase becomes more relevant than ever. This movie came out in the middle of my second semester of college, and I could not help but feel like the people behind the movie were trying to consider me in its target audience. After all, while “How To Train Your Dragon” may be a franchise directed towards families and children, this growing adult could not help but feel like a kid again. In fact, to add more to this true masterpiece of an animated film, I became more emotional during this movie than I did during perhaps more than any other. Even more than “Toy Story 3.”

Last but not least for the Terrific 3 is a movie that I decided to list because it’s on a slightly different end of the spectrum. Because let’s face it, I’m kind of recommending movies to you, and why recommend “Avengers: Endgame” when almost everyone went to see it? So let’s recommend a smaller movie, such as Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” Now some would argue that this is a 2018 flick, but in the United States, which is where I live, this didn’t come out until 2019. For those of you who don’t know this movie, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” took decades to make, and it’s about a guy who reunites with someone he worked with during a production. This person he meets with is convinced that he is Don Quixote. This did not get that big of a release in theaters, but it is worth seeing just because of its history, because despite going through “development hell,” it managed to turn out quite well! The movie is now available on home video including various VOD options.

Now let’s move onto something that probably doesn’t deserve any attention, but because I believe in equality, we’re talking about it anyway, the Terrible 3!

TERRIBLE 3!

First up is a movie that I want to put on here because what’s the harm with having an unpopular opinion? Oh wait, everything. Who cares? One of the most successful movies of the year, “Captain Marvel,” just didn’t stick the landing for me. This had a lot of hype building up to it, but I personally just couldn’t relate. And when I saw the final product, I felt like… Wait, why’s everybody laughing and cheering? Yes, there are a couple of cool moments in the movie. For example, I dug the 90’s references such as Blockbuster Video and Dial-Up Internet. Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson have some good chemistry, but when it comes to Larson in general, her performance was kind of mediocre. Granted, I know grade-A acting isn’t the biggest component of a comic book movie, but Brie Larson, an Academy Award winner, felt more like she was in a couple straight to DVD films and that’s it. Granted, I think she did a slightly better job in “Avengers: Endgame,” but her performance here simply underwhelmed me. Plus, there’s a moment in this movie that references a significant part of the MCU lore (having to do with Samuel L. Jackson) and quite honestly, the way they go about it just killed my brain.

Up next is a movie that could have been great but was simply wasted. From the creators of NOT “Firefly” comes “Serenity.” “Serenity” could be somewhat fun, not to mention a great “thinker” movie, but it manages to become more boring the more I think about it. I love the movie “Interstellar,” so I was somewhat excited to see Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway unite once again for another project. Both have talent as actors and they’ve proven they have great chemistry. Honestly, I’d just go back to watching “Interstellar” if this is the movie we’re getting. Although this movie came out in January so it should not be surprising that we would get a movie of this quality.

And finally, we have what may be my worst movie of the year should nothing surpass it, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” The sad thing about “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is that I was actually desperately anticipating this movie. When I went to see it, I was ready for what was about to happen. Or was I? Seeing movies in IMAX may be great because it feels so big, but when they’re a big mess, what is the point? Maybe the monster fights could be fun, but if I wanted to watch this movie again, I’d probably have to be heavily drugged. Because let’s face it, as cool as big monsters are, the unforgivable part of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” are the one-dimensional human characters. This could be slightly less intolerable if the human characters were less of a focal point during the movie, but they made me want to go back and check out some of the “Transformers” movies again! They’re THAT horrible!

I just showed you all my terrific and terrible picks, now let’s go over a few recent highlights from my blogging journey.

As usual, I kicked off my 2019 with my traditional countdowns to reflect on the year of 2018 in film. I went over the best of the year along with the worst of the year. Some of my top picks included “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Eighth Grade,” and “Mission: Impossible: Fallout.” Some of my bottom picks included “The 15:17 To Paris,” “Uncle Drew,” and “Life of the Party.” I enjoy doing these countdowns every year and this is the first year that I started writing what I would put in the countdowns as early as August. I did not do this for every single movie, but I visualized the lists a long time prior to actually releasing them. This does not suggest that I avoided considering movies released past August, as evidenced by some of my picks.

After I did my lists, I saw my first 2019 release, which according to IMDb, is actually a 2017 release. Based on my experience and research, I’d call it a 2019 release, but still. That film by the way is “The Upside,” which is a remake of 2011’s “The Intouchables.” I personally have not seen “The Intouchables,” and while “The Upside” from my perspective is not really anything special when it comes to cinema, it is still a fun time. I went to see it at a press screening, and there were tons of laughs to be heard.

A couple weeks later I went to one of my local arthouse theatres to see a flick that I almost ended up passing on. Specifically, “Roma.” Why? Because when it comes to today’s media, Netflix is a company that I traditionally tend to avoid. But one of my local theaters managed to get access to a 70mm film print of “Roma,” which would be presented for a limited time. I took advantage of the opportunity and purchased a few tickets for a matinee show. Not only was the experience breathtaking, but the movie was one of the best of the past year. If I had to redo my top 10 lists of 2018, this would be on the best list, but I saw “Roma” after completing said lists.

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I also decided to try out a new concept this year which I have decided to make an annual tradition, the Jackoff Awards. For awhile, over the past year, I have grown to admire the Oscars based on how much respect they tend to pay towards the film industry. Granted, they’re not perfect, but what they’ve done over the years is absolutely intriguing. I thought to myself, why not do a big awards related post? Present similar categories to other major shows, I do my own comedy bits, and it was perhaps the most ambitious post I have ever done. As for Best Picture, I decided to present what was then my top 10 of 2018, which DID include “Roma,” and instead of having me choose Best Picture, I would allow my audience to choose the winner. I figured it would allow for diversity in terms of opinions, and I managed to get a surprisingly diverse number of votes. I got some votes for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “First Man,” “Ready Player One,” but the winner turned out to be last year’s biggest comic book movie, “Avengers: Infinity War.” Honestly, if there were any movie to put in my Blu-ray player on a Friday night at this point, it would most certainly be that one.

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I then continued my journey in March by going to the place that I would associate with film more than any other, Los Angeles. My family and I stayed right near Hollywood Boulevard and I got to visit a few media-related sights including Warner Brothers Studios, the TCL Chinese Theatre (where I saw “Captain Marvel”), and Universal Studios Hollywood. I also got the chance to witness a live taping of “Conan.” While I didn’t make a big post related to this, I managed to briefly discuss some of my highlights here and there.

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For those of you who are curious about my “Conan” taping experience, I managed to witness almost two full shows. Why? Conan O’Brien had to be somewhere when his Thursday show would air, so naturally, he had a demand, he wanted us, Thursday’s audience, to “make Tuesday’s audience look like s*it.” We got see all of Tuesday’s show, which had a couple comedy bits and an interview with Timothy Olyphant (Live Free or Die Hard, Santa Clarita Diet) and a good fraction of a Thursday night show which featured comedian Moses Storm, who joked about cell phone users, “Shark Tank,” and revealed a story where he would tape episodes of Conan O’Brien’s older talk show episodes over his religion-related educational programming. By the way, Conan in person looks like a real life action figure. Maybe it’s the makeup. Maybe it’s the lighting in the studio, but my gosh.

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I also got to visit an RPX venue for the first time. For those who don’t know about RPX, they are a premium format that can be found exclusively in cinemas under Regal Entertainment Group ownership. I didn’t plan on attending RPX when I did, but I managed to get something off my list of movie-related things to do before I died. After all, “Us” just came out, and I was in the Boston area. I figured just to save time, I’d go for the earlier, but more expensive show that Regal Cinemas Fenway was providing, as opposed to another show which would be starting a half hour later. For your information, I was aware that I was going into an RPX screen. I didn’t mind my decision, I figured if I wanted to see “Us,” I’d go see it in full scale glory because I was really anticipating it. While I have still yet to see “Get Out” to this day, I have heard about its overwhelmingly positive reception and I was expecting that Jordan Peele would deliver another sick movie. While “Us” was not perfect, it was definitely worth seeing, and I wouldn’t mind watching it again. As for the RPX experience itself, I thought the seats were not too bad. The capacity was through the roof, the screen, while not entirely wall to wall, was huge. As for the sound… It is undeniably better than a standard theater, but I was a little underwhelmed. Maybe I went to see the wrong movie, maybe the employees turned the speakers down, but when I compare the sound to something like IMAX or Dolby Cinema at AMC, I would go back to both of those places first.

Moving onto April, I managed to survive the whole “Avengers: Endgame” ticket buying craze. For those not fully immersed into what I just stated, I must point out that “Avengers: Endgame” tickets went on sale April 2nd, and the Internet went balls to the wall nuts when it came to snagging tickets. I had to wait in Fandango’s line, AMC was having problems, and it got to the point where I had to buy tickets from a somewhat local cinema chain, on their own, slightly buggy website, just to make sure I could get into school on time. I almost took the train to one of my local AMCs because I could stop by there on the way to school. If I did that, I am willing to bet I would have missed out on opening night of “Endgame,” which was the day I was shooting for. After all I did want to get my review out as soon as possible, and I did manage to score a couple tickets on remaining good seats for a 9PM show. Not at an AMC, but at a Showcase Cinemas. While it was not my first choice, I don’t regret going there, because an hour before going into the cinema, I got a glimpse at everyone leaving the 22 MCU movie marathon the theater was showing over a few days. Everyone was being applauded, and they left with some merch. I recorded this aftermath on Facebook Live, and despite my camera’s focusing problems and poor cellular service, I managed to get some respectable footage. Also as a Bostonian, I was proud of myself to catch a reporter from one of my local news channels, WBZ, or CBS Channel 4. To be specific, Tashanea Whitlow. As for the premiere itself, the movie was fun, and the three hour runtime was rather justified given what we as an audience received. I didn’t think it was perfect, I’d much rather watch “Infinity War,” but it was a great finale to over ten years of films. I will also say, this may be due to where I went to see the movie, seeing “Infinity War” was also a better experience. Because I went to see it at a 7PM show on opening Thursday on an eight story IMAX screen. If you have ever gone to see an event-type film in India, that is one of the most solid comparisons I could make to my experience. It was like going to a Stanley Cup game or something. “Endgame,” which was in a sold out theater in regular 2D, had barely any applause (although some reactions here and there), and out of everyone in the theater, I may have been the most obnoxious. If I had to make a sports comparison, I’d probably say it was like going to a slightly more competitive golf tournament. It was lively at times, but not like the roof was being blown off the place. I know some people are not particularly fans of going to theaters where everyone is reacting to the film’s key moments, but as a fan of the MCU, it’s something that I considered to be a privilege during my “Infinity War” experience.

May was an interesting month for me, because I just finished my first year of college, so I got a little more active on the Scene Before side of things. I’m now trying to earn revenue with the blog, I saw more movies than I did in months such as March or February, and I even changed my domain name. Unfortunately, scenebefore.com was taken, so I wanted to make sure I can fit something that would associate with me, but also be precise. I thought something like moviereviewingmoron.com, while definitely appropriate, is a tad too long. Luckily, after some searching, I found out that flicknerd.com was available. Did I ever call myself “flick nerd” on this blog? No, but I figured it would be a cool name to have because its simplicity will probably gain enough traction overtime. It’s hard to tell though, because this advanced blogging journey, at least from my point of view, is just getting started. I’m looking for sponsors, more potential viewers, but I’m also trying to be the same movie reviewing moron that everyone has come to know.

One of my highlight posts of the month is titled “What THE BIG BANG THEORY Has Meant To Me: A Nerd’s Perspective.” For those who are unaware, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” just finished it’s twelfth and final season on the air, so I figured I’d take some time to remind the world of what the show has meant to me as a fan, as someone who would constantly tune in to new episodes, and most of all, as a nerd on the autism spectrum. I probably won’t have time to give a detailed description of everything I said, so if you want to read the post, click this link!

I also saw another one of my favorite films so far this year, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum!” Not only that, but like I mentioned earlier, I managed to catch a Dolby Cinema presentation of it, which surprisingly, didn’t make me feel like I was getting shot in the head, which may be a good thing. Seriously though, “John Wick: Chapter 3” is probably the best installment of the franchise yet, and Keanu Reeves might now just have a better trilogy than “The Matrix!”

But I cannot say the end of the month was great, because “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” happened. Sad day. Even though I went to see the film in full scale IMAX glory, it didn’t feel like something worth my time.

Moving onto June, I managed to do something pretty cool with my dad. He and I go to the movies together a lot because for the most part we have similar tastes. We match together when it comes to sci-fi, action, comic book-based material, comedy, etc. However he has never been to an advance press screening, so I thought just for fun he and I could do so for the new movie, “Men In Black: International.” It’s a movie that I probably would have checked out had I waited for it to release everywhere. After all, “Men In Black 3” is my favorite movie of 2012. However, since this was free, not to mention, early, I thought dad and I could trek to the theater and see what this movie had in store. I personally enjoyed it. I know some people were scared of how this movie would turn out based on the marketing (Then again, it’s a Sony film, whaddya expect these days?). I thought the first trailer was alright, but not great. The second trailer was an improvement and actually got me more interested in the film. As for the film itself, it is not Shakespeare, but it’s a fun time at the movies. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have great chemistry together and I think Kumail Nanjiani’s character is a fantastic comic relief.

The best movie I saw this month was “Toy Story 4,” which I must point out, I probably was not even looking forward to back when it was announced. Boy, times do change! Unfortunately, I had to witness brain cell erasers such as “Replicas,” which I bought on Blu-ray since I had some Best Buy rewards to waste. I also saw “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” which is worse than getting scratched in the eye by a cat. Yes, Harrison Ford is in it. Yes, he is the best part of the movie. But I might as well be at the point where I would rather have a dog sniff my butt then go so that film again!

Now that I have recapped my highlights, I just want to remind everyone of what’s being planned for the future. Here is my unofficial schedule for the second half of 2019!

JULY:

Throughout the month of July, there are not that many movies coming out compared to other months in the year (at least according to Wikipedia), but I am planning on catching a few blockbuster highlights such as “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” despite how little anticipation I have for it. I also really want to catch Disney’s live-action remake of “The Lion King.” I am not a fan of the Disney live-action remake trend, but I feel that this movie will be a great theater experience and also rather compelling. I don’t know how much it is going to be a carbon copy of the original or how much it’ll go in its own direction, but I am somewhat curious as to what will come of it. I know it is longer than the original, which slightly worries me, because it could add something that perhaps the 1990s film didn’t even need, therefore ruining my experience. Plus, it’s being directed by Jon Faverau, who also worked on 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” another Disney live-action remake, which was one of my favorite movies of said year. I also really want to check out “Crawl.” The trailer didn’t have me fully onboard, but I am still curious as to how this film will turn out. Plus, it’s being produced by Sam Raimi, who is known for his work in the horror industry, and one of my favorite comic book movie directors.

This does not mean that I want to ignore independent work, because on the same weekend as “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” A24 is releasing one of my most anticipated movies of the summer. Specifically, “Midsommar.” When your movie is A: Directed by Ari Aster, who had a phenomenal feature-length directorial debut last year with “Hereditary,” another A24 film, and B: Described by Aster as “a Wizard of Oz for perverts,” I am instantly intrigued. “Midsommar” takes place in rural Sweden as a young couple takes a vacation and settles in the area. Alongside their friends, they eventually discover that this area has a festival that takes place once every ninety years, which creeps them all out. I want to see Ari Aster succeed, so hopefully this film does well.

Speaking of successful filmmakers, another well-known director in the industry, specifically Quentin Tarantino, is going to be releasing his ninth film, “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.” And to be honest, as anticipated as I am to see this film, I have to let something out. I have not seen much of Tarantino’s work. I will most likely be going to see “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” when it comes out, maybe in 35mm, but before I do that, I am going to be doing a small series of reviews for Quentin Tarantino movies. In fact, I already have a few lined up. Specifically, “Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Hateful Eight.” Those reviews will be done as weekly projects and they should all be up before the official release date of “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood,” July 26th.

 

AUGUST:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRemember how I would occasionally announce I am going to cons from time to time? For some reason I have failed to do that this year. It’s not like I am not going anywhere, but I have just failed to put myself in front of my keyboard and try to say, “Hey guys, here’s where I’m going, stalk me!” Not that don’t mind the attention, I’m just saying. But if you really want to know about my next con, I do have it booked, and I will be going to Terrificon, which for those of you who have been following me for some time, you’d know that is also the first con I ever documented on this blog. And I am thinking of doing something a little different this time, just to spice things up. I’m trying to push more video content into my posts, maybe I’ll insert a compilation of the con’s highlights. I’ll record it on my camera, maybe my phone, whichever has more memory at the time. Maybe I’ll post it on YouTube and link it here. Who knows? But here on Scene Before I am trying find ways to innovate, and maybe this could be one of them.

Speaking of cons, this is NO GUARANTEE, partially because I have not even bought tickets, but there is one convention that is about a half hour away from my house that I kind of want to go to. Whether or not I am going, that’s a different story, but should things go in a certain direction, I may end up going to Fan Expo Boston, which is a con I have surprisingly never been to. And the guest list this year, aside from a couple big cancellations, is solid so far. You’ve got Zachary Levi (Shazam!, Tangled), who I will say, even if you are not into his work, he is a fun guy to meet, he is upbeat and has a massive sense of charm. Part of the cast of “Blade Runner” is going to be there including Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, and Edward James Olmos. I have a feeling there are more guest announcements coming our way, and if there are, I cannot wait to hear them, because there have been a lot of cool names who were there over the years to the point where I almost have slight regrets on missing out. If I were to get tickets to Fan Expo, I’d probably just go for one day. After all, Terrificon is the week prior, and I am staying overnight during that weekend, so my budget might be slightly higher at that event compared to Fan Expo.

Moving away from cons, I will say that my biggest film catches for August right now have to be “Hobbs & Shaw,” “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” “Good Boys,” “Where’d You Go Bernadette?,” and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” There is not much from August that I am truly anticipating, but I will inevitably go see a few things here and there. And if you want to know something, I only put down “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” because let’s face it, “Dora the Explorer” was a part of my childhood, and nostalgia equals money nowadays. Granted, this movie looks a tad more adult-friendly than the cartoon. But am I looking forward to it? Hell no. In fact, I am thinking it is only going to ruin my childhood, but I might as well give it a chance just because I am a nice guy. I saw the recent “Power Rangers” film partially out of nostalgia and that worked for me, might as well do it with “Dora” and see if that works.

 

SEPTEMBER:
If I had to predict my least active month for the rest of the year, I have to call it right now, September is certainly a contender. For one thing, I’m going back to college, so I need to adjust to a new routine. I’m still going to keep my promise of doing at least one post within every 7 days or so, that way you can keep witnessing my constant dedication to this blog. I’m probably not gonna go see “IT: Chapter Two” mainly because I still have not seen the first one. Although the cast is pretty nifty from what I have experienced. But I am interested in “The Goldfinch,” I have some slight intrigue towards “The Report,” and maybe I’ll check out “Abominable.” I saw one of the trailers for it, and it looks like it might not be a new animated classic or anything, but I am somewhat curious to check it out, partially because even as an adult, I still have a slight need to check out animations from time to time. Plus, it is from DreamWorks, and I’m currently trying to seek out their next big thing. “Kung Fu Panda” is done, “How to Train Your Dragon” seems to be done, maybe this, or something else, can be their next kickstarter to a solid franchise. Then again, apparently they’re making sequels to “The Boss Baby,” “The Croods,” and “Trolls,” so why should I expect absolute quality? Nevertheless, it’s worth a shot.

Although if you had to ask me what my most anticipated movie would be for the month of September, it’s a no brainer, “Ad Astra.” I love space, I love compelling, dramatic stories involving space travel, even if it is close to Earth. Plus, the second half of the year for numerous ages of my life have typically contained at least one epic space movie. Maybe “Ad Astra” will be the next to join the ranks with other movies from this decade like “The Martian” and “Interstellar.”

 

OCTOBER:

This October is pretty interesting to me, because there will be a weekend where my mother and sister are out of the house and I will quite honestly, need something to do. I can’t just stay trapped behind walls! I have to see the world! Nevertheless, that particular weekend is the release of “Joker,” which I am inevitably going to check out no matter what, but for the sake of having an early review, I’m going to check it out as soon as possible. I have Fridays off from school this upcoming semester, maybe I’ll do it then. The following week is the release of Will Smith’s “Gemini Man,” directed by Ang Lee, so I might see that. And the week after is slightly bigger because Taika Waititi is coming out with his latest directorial feature, “Jojo Rabbit,” where believe it or not, Waititi himself plays Hitler. I never pictured that, but this film certainly has my attention. That same week is also the release of “Zombieland: Double Tap.” I had fun with the first “Zombieland.” I enjoyed the chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, and it has, at least to me, a pure highlight from Bill Murray’s acting career. And to my surprise, he’s coming back for this movie! I also want to check out “The Aeronauts” which is being released by Amazon, and the reason why I want to check it out is because it is Amazon’s first attempt at an IMAX run and it is also being released a week early in that format. The film will technically be in standard theaters in November after it’s week-long IMAX run. And if this is the case, this reminds me of the excitement I had for Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk,” because that released a week early in IMAX and that was quite an experience.

Speaking of lesser known films, one other thing I want to check out is the South Korean flick “Parasite.” It’s getting tons of buzz at film festivals, having earned Palme d’Or at Cannes, winning the Sydney Film Festival, and already making tons of money in Korea. The film’s US release is this October, which would put it in a reasonable spot to be remembered by Academy and Golden Globe voters.

 

NOVEMBER:
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This November is particularly interesting. Because November 1st is the day I’m heading off to Providence for Rhode Island Comic Con, and that’s the day after Halloween! I’m not cosplaying (at least I have no plans to right now) at this con, but I just want to walk around the convention floor for hours and stumble upon every costumed individual and wish them a Happy Halloween. Nevertheless, I am staying true to my annual tradition of going to Rhode Island Comic Con. The guest list is usually filled to the brim, so I cannot wait to hear more announcements over these upcoming months. Even so, the convention has had some huge announcements for guests thus far. Some guests include Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Blade Runner 2049), William Shatner (Star Trek: The Original Series, Boston Legal), George Takei (Star Trek: The Original Series, Kim Possible), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead, Final Space), and to my utter surprise, and possible delight, Chevy Chase. By the way, Chase made an announcement about his upcoming appearance online and the video he made for it is very funny.

Sticking to the announcement wishlist concept, I recently made a submission on the con’s website suggesting names of five possible guests that I want to see. They include: James Murray, Curtis Armstrong, Kunal Nayyar, Doug Walker, and James Holzhauer. I could be mistaking Doug Walker for somebody else, but even if I am, he would be fun to see at the con. Of all these names, the one that really stands out to me is James Holzhauer. Out of all the people on this list, he is the least “celebrity-like” of all of them. James Murray comes close, but barely misses the mark. For those who are unaware, Holzhauer is the name of the recent “Jeopardy!” contestant who wouldn’t stop taking the show’s money. He has nearly broken Ken Jennings’ regular winnings record, only to be stopped by an opponent who beat him by more than double his final total for the game he lost. I think Holzhauer appearing at Rhode Island Comic Con would not just be unique, but also entirely appropriate. After all, it would probably bring in a new audience of people who would otherwise skip out on cons. Plus, as a game show enthusiast, I cannot help but keep talking about Holzhauer like he’s my own child. It’s almost as if being able to catch the latest “Jeopardy!” episode or at least reading up on the latest stats was the ultimate bragging right. Also, this year I’m going with a VIP ticket, which comes with various perks.

VIP Ticket Perks:

  • 3 day admission
  • Early bird admission (9AM Sat & Sun)
  • Private VIP Entrance
  • Private VIP Lounge
  • 3 Exclusive RI Comic Con Show Prints
  • Rhode Island Comic Con Swag Bag
  • 20% off RICC Branded Merchandise
  • Exclusive VIP 2019 RI Comic Con Badge
  • Exclusive RICC AR Comics-Comic Book
  • Exclusive RICC Comic Book
  • VIP Autograph Fast Pass Line
  • VIP Photo Op Fast Pass Line
  • Chance to Win 2020 VIP Pass
  • One Exclusive Mystery Item

I am personally excited for the con, and believe it or not, it is not the first time I’m getting a VIP badge, because the first time I went, which was in 2015, I managed to get said badge as well.

That same weekend is also the release of the new “Terminator” film, “Terminator: Dark Fate.” It is a cliche title, but its first trailer, personally had me intrigued. I’m excited to see what Tim Miller has up his sleeve in terms of direction. I am somewhat excited to see James Cameron involved again, although I am slightly worried because we now have more disposable “Terminator” movies than memorable “Terminator” movies. Let’s just hope we can change that.

Some of my other most anticipated films of the month include “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Knives Out,” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” “Ford v. Ferrari” takes place during a race to determine which of the two recently specified car brands will dominate. “Knives Out” is an upcoming mystery crime film directed by Rian Johnson. I did not like his interpretation of the “Star Wars” universe, but it does not mean I am not willing to check out his future work. Plus, this movie has a number of big names that I imagine a lot of people would like to see. Some include Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Logan Lucky), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Gifted), Lakeith Stanfield (Black Panther, Sorry To Bother You), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, War Dogs), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), the world’s best Kevin Spacey impersonator, Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, A Beautiful Mind), and recent Jackoff winner Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense). As for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” it is in the current conversation to be my most anticipated film for the remainder of the year. For one thing, I saw “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” last year, which much like “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” is about Mister Rogers. That documentary not only compelled me, but reminded me of my personal flaws in my childhood, and maybe inspired me to be a better person. I still rage out on this blog a lot, but it’s something that I don’t really do for me, I do it for the entertainment of others, so that’s different. But it reminded me of how much it pays to respect those around you. Plus, TOM HANKS IS PLAYING THE STARRING ROLE?! Who else could do that?! He’s practically the nicest guy in Hollywood! SIGN ME UP! Believe it or not, that comes out the same weekend as “Frozen II,” but who cares about that?! Rogers for life!

 

DECEMBER:

The end of the year is always a crazy time for me, but just like last year, it’ll perhaps be less busy than it has been in other years. My fall semester will end during the month, and I’ll be in the cycle of watching previous movies from the year at home. This does not mean that I’ll be skipping theatrical releases, because award season is in full swing. This means I’ll be paying extra close attention to films that receive Golden Globe nominations, and as for reviewing movies I watch at home, the chances of that are very slim. But this does not mean that big blockbusters are entirely off the table. For one thing, they tend to sometimes do pretty well in certain technical categories, and we have another “Star Wars” film this year. I have intentions to go see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” opening Thursday night, mainly because I want to buy tickets as early as possible. If I can’t do that, I am going to try extra hard to find an available press screening, because aside from “Endgame,” “The Rise of Skywalker” is perhaps the biggest movie of 2019. Aside from being titled “Star Wars,” it is supposed to end “The Skywalker Saga,” and J.J. Abrams is directing again. I was not a huge fan of “The Last Jedi,” but I love “The Force Awakens” like it is my own brother. I am honestly more excited for “The Rise of Skywalker” than I was for “The Last Jedi” before that came out because I was somewhat worried that “The Last Jedi” would be a carbon copy of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Turns out it wasn’t, despite similarities to older films in the saga. And I even say this knowing how some things in “The Last Jedi” turned out. Having seen the trailer back in April, knowing certain plot points that could play out, and realizing J.J. Abrams could save this sequel trilogy, I am rather giddy for this December. But despite my excitement, I gotta ask. HOW IS PALPATINE STILL ALIVE?! I am excited to possibly see him in this film, but really?! When he was thrown down the pit in “Return of the Jedi,” yeeaah, HE F*CKING DIED. There is no coming back from that. I’m intrigued, I just need to be convinced.

When it comes to smaller films, one such film I am very excited for is “Little Women.” The film is supposed to explore the lives of sisters as they live in 1860s Massachusetts. It may not be my type of movie on paper, but one reason why I am excited is because the film is being directed by Greta Gerwig, who also helmed one of the best coming of age stories I have seen in recent years, “Lady Bird.” In addition to that, the cast is killer! This movie’s got Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice, The Iron Lady), Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), Laura Dern (Big Little Lies, Jurassic Park), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Mary Queen of Scots), and Timothée Chalamet (Interstellar, Beautiful Boy)! I am also probably going to be looking into “1917,” which is a war film. Those tend to often go for awards, which is why I have my sights set on it. There are a couple films that I might check out that I would probably regret seeing, but the only real film that I’d struggle with reviewing is “Fair and Balanced.” Granted, this does not mean I am not looking forward to the film, nor am I expecting to be underwhelmed with it, in fact it sounds rather intriguing from a storytelling point of view. But the movie is about relationships between women and Fox News owner Roger Ailes, and I feel that it is going to be rather hard to keep my political opinions out of the review. I’m not saying I am a core conservative that keeps a closed mind, I try to see all sides and then form my own opinion. I have made various political jokes here and there on Scene Before, but politics is not my top priority, especially when you consider how divided we are as a country right now. Although I did manage to check out “Vice” last year, which was pretty good, but part of it had to do with the buzz it has been getting. Who knows? Maybe I’ll check out “Fair and Balanced,” for all I know it could be the best movie of the year, but I feel like it would be hard to review if I’m going to have to inject my experience with how the world operates in terms of politics. We’ll just have to see.

And of course, I’ll be finishing off the year, or perhaps more likely, kicking off next year, by recapping my top 10 BEST and WORST movies of 2019. I enjoy doing these countdowns every year, because I get to honor films one more time, and also give myself a minor stress release.

Although I must remind you, it is 2019, and here on Scene Before I am trying to constantly find new ways to deliver exciting content to you all. In 2017, I did a couple of cutaway style parodies, in 2018 I did a post talking about my Blu-ray collection, and just this year I introduced the world to the Jackoff Awards. The question is, where I do I go next? I’ve done tons of countdowns, reviews of the past, reviews of the present, what could be next? I know! ALL OF IT IN ONE. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have been following Scene Before and saw one of my posts in April, you’d know that I put out a trailer for something I once referred to as “Project 2020.” Although, based on statistics, I doubt many of you have even glanced at that post. But for those of you who know what I’m talking about, good for you. You get a “good job” sticker! But for those of you who don’t know, watch this trailer down below!

*ALL COPYRIGHTS BELONG TO THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS*

That’s right! I am going to be crafting a list of my highlight movies of the 2010’s, and I must have you know, I am setting this list up to be bigger than the lists I traditionally do at the end of the year. While this is still in planning stages, I will be intending to make this list perhaps a top 25, maybe a top 50. I was also debating on a top 100 as well. Depends on how much time I have. I am honestly MORE THAN EXCITED to work on this list, and release it to you all. I started Scene Before in 2016, which means I did not get too many chances to talk about films from years prior, so not only is this a personal reflection of various films I watched during my blogging journey, but a reflection of an entire ten year span that I lived through before becoming this active on the Internet. I’m not gonna say anything, but 2014 was a great year for film as far I’m concerned, so depending on how the rest of 2019 plays out, we might see a good number of films I’m passionate about from that year make the list. This is not to put down any other year from this decade, I’m just giddy of what’s to come…

And by the way, a worst list is in the works too.

At home I am making an effort to watch various films that have come out this decade just to catch up, and maybe add something to the best or worst list at the end of the year. I’m not gonna get into too much detail, because I do want to save some secrets for when the list comes out, but I am stoked just to be working on this.

Thanks for reading this post! If you like Scene Before and want to see more content, consider following me either with an email or WordPress account! As for upcoming content, I want to remind everyone, in case they forgot by now, I will soon be starting my Quentin Tarantino review series, which will eventually culminate with a review either at the end of July or beginning of August with my thoughts on “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” I cannot wait to get started on this, Tarantino is a filmmaker I have often admired behind the scenes, but I have barely seen any of his material. Now is a good time to start! Also, be sure to check out my Facebook page! Get your latest updates from the movie reviewing moron by using Facebook, the home of some of the all-time laziest efforts at wishing someone a happy birthday. Be sure to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, is there something that you would like to see be done here on Scene Before, perhaps for this half of 2019? Or, what is your favorite Scene Before moment, post, anything that I have done so far this year? It can even be this one for all I care! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Eighth Grade (2018): YouTube Channel of a Wimpy Kid

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“Eighth Grade” is directed by Bo Burnham and stars Elsie Fisher (McFarland, USA, Despicable Me), Josh Hamilton (Kicking & Screaming, Alive), and Emily Robinson in a movie where a girl by the name of Kayla Day is going through her wreck of a year in eighth grade. With her struggles of her introverted personality, struggles with other students in school, and struggles of simply trying to survive her last week, things aren’t looking too good for Kayla.

“Eighth Grade” happened to be one of my most anticipated movies of the year going into it. Not only did I LOVE the trailer and think this was going to be a fun yet maybe somewhat disturbing time, but the critical reception, while it didn’t really shock me, revealed excellence. There was a point where this movie had 100% on Rotten Tomatoes! As of right now it has a 98% with just a few of the many reviews on the site being rotten. Also, I’ll be honest, school sucks. It doesn’t matter what grade you’re in. If you were me, you’d realize that just about not one single school year was all that perfect. Elementary school was mostly just me being stupid, middle school was just confusing and perhaps full of me being judgmental and in all honestly, a tad more mature than other people in certain ways. In high school, something had to go wrong every single year, most unfortunately my senior year. Sure, it was a fun year, but with all of the ridiculous changes and unexpected happenings I had, it just didn’t flow the way I would have preferred. Let me just say though, if there is one year I hated in middle school–

*thinks*

…You know what? That’s tough to say, sixth grade was awesome, all the others were unlikable for the most part, but eighth grade certainly didn’t go the way I would have hoped. When it comes to this movie, I think it does a great job at capturing not only how awkward eighth grade can be, but also how different people with different personalities handle said year both in and out of school.

When it comes to Kayla Day and how magnificent of a job the writing happened to be for her character, that’s probably where this movie shines most. Just about every single moment she was on screen was either me thinking to myself, this movie accurately depicts someone of her generation, or I’m so scared for her that I want to s*it myself. Her character is very quiet in school to the point where she wins the superlative “Most quiet” in school, while at home she is a YouTuber who barely gets any views on a channel that really has content that matters. It’s not exactly complicated, but it probably has more of a purpose than whatever clickbait video PewDiePie has coming out of his ass. I doubt many people in my generation sign off using the word “gucci,” I’m sorry for not being “lit af” enough to truly know whether or not that’s the truth, although they do talk about it a lot.

When it comes to the chemistry between Kayla and her dad, Mark, that’s another place where this movie tends to excel. Mark seems to be very calm, but might not have the best connection with her daughter, partially because she tends to be on her phone all the time, including at the dinner table. Every scene with them together is either a feast of great writing or just plain near-emotional.

You may have read my previous review, which I did for “Gringo,” where I basically said the main character is one of the most down-on-their-luck I’ve seen in recent history, the same can be said for “Eighth Grade.” Not only does everyone, not essentially hate Kayla, but happen to be kind of against her, but a key difference between this movie and “Gringo” is that I don’t hate everyone enough to not care about Kayla. You aren’t really invested in the main character of “Gringo,” at least I wasn’t. Kayla just felt relatable and like she would be someone you’d encounter on the street. Some of the mannerisms that I should probably give total props to Bo Burnham for is her overusing the word “like” in one of the earliest videos she makes during the film. She’s kind of shy, quiet, and for what I can assume, wants the best for people but just doesn’t let her thoughts out except when she’s online.

If there are movies that this reminds me of in a way in terms of the vibe, it’s probably a combination of “Whiplash” and a stereotypical piece of work done by John Hughes. The writing for this coming of age story is nothing short of perfection. And while Kayla doesn’t really have a rivalry with a teacher, she certainly has a rivalry with her school. In fact, connecting this even more to “Whiplash,” there are so many scenes where I could I imagine watching them in the future with the need to bite my nails. You know how you get to certain scenes in “Whiplash” where the main character is with the teacher and it’s just intense because you don’t want the main character to f*ck up. That’s what certain situations in this movie are like, while this may be considered a comedy or a drama, it’s as haunting as a horror movie. It not only shows how scary school is, but how scary life outside of school can be.

I will say though, one thing I find interesting about this movie’s puberty instruction video is how “current” it is. Watch the movie and you’ll see what I mean, but there’s this female instructor talking to the camera saying that exploring everyone’s changing bodies is “gonna be lit.” I already found my classes’s health videos when I had to take those classes cringeworthy enough just because they felt basic or poorly made, and it honestly makes me kind of jealous that the class in this movie would get a video like that.

And you know what? This does bring up one question though, as much as I ADORE this movie and think it is a masterfully made film, what exactly was the writer and director going for? This movie was written and directed by Bo Burnham, and I am willing to bet he was going for a realistic depiction of how stressful eighth grade can be, and this is a bit nitpicky, some of these fictional elements brought into this realistic movie, while extremely effective, take a bit of the realism away. It doesn’t take too much away from this fantastic movie, but my complaint stands.

In the end, “Eighth Grade” delivered pretty much what I wanted out of it. The movie had moments that just haunted me. It reminded me, as an individual, of how much I can relate to Kayla, and most of all, the screenplay just made me bend over repeatedly. I know it’s only August, but I think “Eighth Grade” has a tremendous shot at winning “Best Original Screenplay” at the Academy Awards. A24 once again proves that they are one of the best studios working today, Elsie Fisher is going to move on to do great things in life, and despite the minor, and I do mean minor flaws, that this movie has, I think Bo Burnham not only did a spectacular job with “Eighth Grade,” but I’d love to see what he’d do in the future in terms of writing and directing. I’m going to give “Eighth Grade” a 9/10. And I gotta say, competition is heating up for best movie of the year so far! This movie IS a 9/10, but I feel like it could either change to a 10 in the meantime, kind of like “Blade Runner 2049” did for me, but I feel like with the fantastic screenplay, the possible replay value, and the relatability factor, this has a significant chance of being, maybe not my favorite movie of the year, but somewhere very close to that when we get to the year’s end. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m gonna have some reviews up for “Love, Simon” and “Game Night,” be sure follow me here on Scene Before and stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Eighth Grade?” What did you think about it? Or, what are some of your memories of eighth grade? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks! Gucci!

How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017): What the Punk?

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Before we get into this movie review, I need to ask something to all of my viewers, specifically those at least eighteen years of age. How is adulting? I will tell you right now, I have been an adult for only nine months, and I honestly don’t feel much of a difference than I did before that turning point. Then again, I spent most of my adulthood in high school, which is where I spent most of my teen years. Although I must say, while I do find certain things about being an adult rather fun and nifty, there are those days where I realize adulting is not all that enjoyable. To be honest, I don’t even think I am gonna end up wanting kids in the years to come. However, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with having them. If you want to judge me, go ahead, I judge movies all the time, so I can take whatever you’ve got. This even includes a couple by the name of Paul and Genevieve. These two can judge me as they realize how difficult their journey to conception has truly been. And while I do certainly recognize that raising a child is not the easiest thing in the world. Paul and Genevieve’s actions for years almost contend to be up there in the same levels of difficulty. This is all explained… in “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is a YouTube series where Paul and Genevieve “keep effin’ trying” to have a baby they have always been trying to make. New adventures pop up on the show’s specifically dedicated YouTube channel each and every Monday. These adventures dive into the latest in Paul and Genevieve’s quest to parenthood, focusing on topics like appointments, curse breaking, cycles, sex, “trying everything,” and objectively painful needles. IT’S A FACT! NEEDLES SUCK! Apparently it is a societal norm that you pay professionals to inject points that make you hate your life! IT’S THE TRUTH! Anyway, the latest episode, much like the one before it, is a bit on the rather calm side of things. Join Paul and Genevieve as they give a tour of the baby’s nursery! If you want to see other videos or be caught up on the latest content, be sure to visit the “WTIVF?” YouTube channel, subscribe, and hit the notification bell. If you want to find out where else you can find “WTIVF?” on the internet, click the links below which will take you to the show’s personal website and social media pages. Also, be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent ya over!

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“How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” otherwise known as something I kinda need to learn, is directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Rabbit Hole, Shortbus) and stars Elle Fanning (Maleficent, The Neon Demon), Alex Sharp (Better Start Running, To the Bone), Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge!, The Hours), Ruth Locke (Saving Mr. Banks, Jane Eyre), and Matt Lucas (Alice in Wonderland, Bridesmaids). This film is about an alien who separates from a group she’s with as she is touring the galaxy. She just so happens to be in the London-suburb of Croydon where she meets young inhabitants.

When it comes to “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” the marketing for it overall just comes off as somewhat quirky. The vibe of this movie when watching the trailers is a little hard to exactly recall because I have a feeling I watched a trailer a long time ago but I could be dead wrong. But if I were to watch a trailer to this, there’s a good chance I would have had some sort of fascination towards what this movie was trying to be. But as I got into the movie, it was starting out and the vibe happened to be what I expected, with a little more punk rock in the mix. What I didn’t expect from this movie though, is that this is one of those movies that turned out to be an overall surprise. From the very beginning, I was intrigued, but then start to notice a change in the footage. For some reason, the shutter speed slows down. I’ve seen this on a student film, that probably occurred by accident, but this film is not being directed by a student! Heck, the cinematographer has credits in the “cinematographer” category on IMDb going back to 1992! That’s two and a half decades before this movie released to the public! That’s not even the only time that happens during this film.

In fact, when it happens later during the film, I actually think it’s forgivable. And you know what? I take that back, I don’t think it’s forgivable. Because something like this probably would be a creative choice. Granted, that creative choice personally came off as ridiculous in the beginning, but as I saw more of it, I grew to admire it. And I saw that because from my point of view, the slower shutter speed seems to fit the later footage more than it does for the earlier footage. This is one of those movies that seems to start out lame then blows out this giant explosion of holy crap on a Ritz crackerjack! I probably should have seen my instant admiration for this movie coming especially considering it’s an A24 movie, but given some statistics that I’ve been made aware of prior to watching this damn thing, it almost felt like I was supposed to sit down and just take this movie and just try to survive. I mean, this has a 5.9/10 on IMDb! Not the best of signs if you ask me.

I will say though, when it comes to technical aspects, that’s probably one of the bigger problems of this movie. For the most part, I can’t complain about the lighting, the cinematography, or the editing. But there was one major occurrance in the movie’s footage aside from the shutter speed that kind of threw me off. There’s one scene that’s rather significant for the movie’s events, so I won’t get into spoilers. But the thing is about this scene, as much as I can approve of it moving the story along, and providing the correct feeling I’m supposed to have out of a scene like this, it just felt rather clunky in terms of cinematography. This is a sequence where you can tell that this was done handheld, and it almost feels like this was shot on a GoPro or something. According to IMDb, this movie was shot on an Arri Amira. As far as I’m aware, there’s no word of it being shot on a GoPro, even though that’s how the footage comes off to me. You can say to me a thousand times that the scene was shot with an Arri Amira, but at the end of the day, it feels like a GoPro. It felt like “Hardcore Henry” if it weren’t entirely in first-person.

Let’s talk about the characters of Enn (Alex Sharp) and Zan (Elle Fanning). First off, both names are pretty dope if you ask me! Enn is essentially the movie’s main character and he happens to build a bond with Zan. He also happens to be really into punk rock, and since this takes place around London during the 1970s, you certainly get to see lots of that in the movie! When it comes to the other character in the picture, Zan, she just so happens to be an alien. As I watched this movie, realizing what was happening and what was to come, I thought to myself, “Ohhhh no.” Why? Because I saw a movie last year by the name of “The Space Between Us” and simply put, it was one of the worst sci-fi films ever put on the big screen. One big reason for that was the unfathomably terrible relationship between the main character (Martian) and his love interest (Earthling). The chemistry was so horrible that not even the fact that the guy playing the Martian happened to be my personal choice to play the MCU’s Spider-Man (Asa Butterfield) saved the movie! Luckily, this film is smart. It has great writing, quirkiness, and lots of charm. When it came to the relationship, I totally bought into it. As the movie progressed, I grew to perhaps admire the couple even more. By the end of the movie I was deeply rooting for both characters given their situation! TAKE NOTES, “THE SPACE BETWEEN US!” THIS IS HOW A MOVIE IS DONE!

Speaking of the aliens, I think this is another thing that the movie surprisingly nailed. Because my first impression of them, once I saw one of the aliens, was that they looked very cheap or cliche. At times I wondered if I happened to be watching “Flash Gordon.” But then I saw more of them, what they did with each other, and even what they did with some of the humans they encountered, I grew attached to them as time went on. Not to mention, they also have some behavior that I think us humans would find peculiar, which does add to that alien feel. There’s a scene that Zan is talking to someone, I won’t say who, but they’re having a conversation and Zan is saying to this person that she had pancakes, she’s currently sitting on a toilet, and “excreting” them.

In fact, going back to the couple, I think the thing that really makes them likable, and this is kind of something that “The Space Between Us” should have been aware of, is that they weren’t robots or uncharismatic. If the aliens were robotic, I guess this could have worked in its own little way, but if we want to like characters from our own world, there’s a good chance that we’d want a character that either has personality, isn’t an asshole (unless you’re someone like Deadpool), and isn’t mopey. The couple, not only together, but as individuals, just so happen to come off as somewhat quirky. And I like quirky. You might as well have a quirky couple in a quirky movie.

In the end, I don’t really have much else to say about “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” because I went into the movie not having much information related to it on my mind. I feel like if you were to see this movie, you shouldn’t have too many details revealed about it in order to provide yourself with the best possible viewing experience. Also, I’ve gotta bring up the tagline for the movie, “Talk to the girl. Save the world.” NOW THAT’S A TAGLINE. I’m gonna give “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to look forward to more reviews very soon, and also be sure to check out some of my older reviews such as my thoughts on “Mission: Impossible: Fallout,” which by the way, if you have not seen that movie, I seriously have to ask what you’re doing with your life. Make sure to follow me here on Scene Before, like this post, and stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “How to Talk to Girls at Parties?” What did you think about it? Or, if you have a fantasy of falling in love with an alien, what would the alien look like? Let me know, even if it is extreme, I’d love to hear what you have to say! Also, one more thing, if you watch this movie, stay tuned for the credits because they have a line of text saying “NO ALIENS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS FILM.” Just… Genius. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/08/01/mission-impossible-fallout-2018-tom-cruise-is-a-madman/

The Last Movie Star (2017): The Secret Life of Waltzing Confusion

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“The Last Movie Star” is directed by Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City, Look) and stars Burt Reynolds (The Cannonball Run, Boogie Nights), Ariel Winter (Modern Family, Mr. Peabody & Sherman), Clark Duke (Kick-Ass, The Croods), Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood, The Circle), and Chevy Chase (National Lampoon’s Vacation, Caddyshack). This film is about a famous actor by the name of Vic Edwards as he is invited to a film festival in Nashville. According to the invitation, Edwards is said to receive a lifetime achievement award. Famed celebrities such as Clint Eastwood and Robert De Niro have also been invited and received this very award. Little does Vic know that his trip is about to go to hell real fast.

Going into “The Last Movie Star,” I can’t really say I knew all too much about it. The main reason why I watched this movie in the first place is because I have an Amazon Prime subscription, and this movie was free. And I was somewhat looking forward to it. After all, it was distributed by A24, one of the best studios out there today. Not to mention, there were some neat names attached. Burt Reynolds and Chevy Chase are highly revered actors. And even though “Modern Family” might be the most overrated TV show I’ve ever watched, I do like Ariel Winter and I think she has a ton of talent that she can show off to viewers. This movie had me with the actors attached, and the first few minutes, while not perfect, happened to be enough to keep me interested. Then I came across the movie’s first straight-in-my-face flaw, which occurred during the scene where it was so obvious that the movie was trying to make a parody of Southwest Airlines. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the thing that’s wrong is there’s this clerk that is probably the most overexaggerative person on the entire planet. It almost reminds me of one of those workers that is just trying to act all hyper just because they’re working at Disney World. Or if you guys have ever seen the atrocity of a comedy “How to Be a Latin Lover,” there’s one character played by Kristen Bell who is this cashier, it reminded me of that. It just came off as a bit too cartoony and it was like I just exited reality for a second there. And that’s just the kickoff of a downward spiral to Crashandburnville. Because the movie’s two main characters, at least from my personal perspective are DICKS.

I mean, seriously! How am I supposed to root for either of these characters in any sort of situation? Granted, as the movie progresses, they feel less dicky, but as I keep dredging through, I just don’t feel anything for them because of how moronic they came off earlier in the film. There is a point where the main character of Vic (right) breaks a camera that is specifically being used for the film festival! There’s also a point where Vic is calling everyone who attended the film festival losers! It reminded me of that SNL sketch that William Shatner did. There was this one sketch called “Trekkies.” A bunch of nerds are together at a convention, and they are near a booth where a guy is announcing what will be going on at the con. One big announcement is the introduction of William Shatner. He speaks, telling everyone to get a life, that all of the convention’s attendees made his work a waste of time. Granted, having seen that sketch, I understand the context and what it was trying to mock. I thought it was rather funny. But “The Last Movie Star” is not a comedy. If you watch this movie, you can probably make the argument that they were trying to either go for the “don’t meet your heroes” thing or they were trying to point out how much this guy has had to put up with during the trip thus far. Sure, for a guy of his stance, he did have to put up with a lot. It doesn’t really make his actions forgivable however. His actions made me care less for what was to come during the movie. And you know what? Saying that is somewhat sad because this could have been a really interesting film about realizing who you are even at an old age. If this were another character, I probably would have felt a tad more emotion that had been earned. And sure, I did feel emotion in some parts, but it didn’t feel as earned as it could have been. I say this because a part of my mind was asking if this dips*it really deserved all that he got.

As for the person alongside Vic in the picture above, Lil McDougal, she basically is driving and assisting Vic for the entire movie. But my first impression of her really ticked me off. How is someone THAT angry? I was able to kind of buy into the chemistry between her and Vic, but in all seriousness, when you take these two characters and put them together, you can’t help but think of them as two assholes selfishly traveling the Earth.

And I do mean SELFISHLY. The main story of the movie wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Vic the Dick not wanting to go back to the film festival. Granted, it was kind of a wreck, but you don’t have to be a big baby about it. At least try to impress those who made the effort to come. If you didn’t want to go, you shouldn’t have flown to Nashville in the first place. I will say, both actors did a fine job in both of their roles, but it doesn’t change the fact that both of their characters just plain suck!

I will say that the performances and cinematography do make up for this wreck. And there are I guess some rather “heartfelt” moments. Sort of. Maybe. I dunno. I was not fond of this movie. There’s not really much to say except that this movie was probably trying to be an interesting story about a guy remembering his past. That could have been really cool, but it was just bogged down by a couple of selfish and unlikable characters. I don’t really know what else to say except that one of my biggest problems aside from the characters is one moment that occurs as Lil is taking a bath. She has this TV in front of her which has smart features. Apparently one of them is an icon for Instagram, the very popular social media service where selfies on the beach are sometimes more important than a march for a good cause. I own a smart TV, and to be specific, I actually have a Sony Android TV in my room. In what universe can one actually use Instagram on their TV?! I will say, I do have a Samsung Blu-ray player that has a search engine, so you can search up Instagram on that thing. But this TV literally has a direct app! WHAT THE F*CK?! I’m not going to go into detail to avoid spoilers, but as I reflect on that moment, I continue to ask myself if I just witnessed the biggest plot convenience of the year. And I can probably guarantee you to the tenth degree that I just did. Whoope-f*ckin’-doo!

In the end “The Last Movie Star” just goes to show that not all good can come from A24. Granted, they’re a great studio. They released one of my favorite comedies of all time, “The Disaster Artist.” They’ve also released another one of my favorite films of the decade, “Room.” But this is a bit of a disappointment compared to some of A24’s other material. Although I did watch this film for free so I guess the movie does have its pros and cons. What I can say though is that this is one of those films that is DIFFICULT to rate. On one hand, the film managed to get a number of things right. But the characters really tarnished this bitch. So ultimately, this rating could change, but for now, I’m going to give “The Last Movie Star” a 5/10. I gotta say though, if part of this movie was trying to say “don’t meet your heroes,” it was a somewhat interesting take on it I guess, but I guess the unlikable parts about the main character got drilled in my head to the point that I just didn’t find this guy all that interesting. In fact, I’ll say, I met my heroes. And I feel proud to call them my heroes. They mean the world to me. I’m just proud to say that they were nothing like this guy. They were respectful, calm, and rather humble. Vic just embodies that celebrity you DON’T want to encounter. Similar to how I want to go back in time and not encounter this movie. Thanks for reading this review! For those of you who have been keeping up with my blog, you may know that I just finished reviewing all of the Tom Cruise “Mission: Impossible” movies. For those of you who haven’t gotten a chance to read any of them, links are provided down below to check them out! Be sure to follow me here on Scene Before and like this post! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Last Movie Star?” What did you think about it? Or, who is a celebrity you met who turned out to be a total asshole? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/mission-impossible-1996-this-movie-review-will-self-destruct-in-five-seconds/

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/mission-impossible-ii-2000-impossible-to-enjoy/

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III REVIEW https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/mission-impossible-iii-2006-the-young-and-the-fearless-spoilers/

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL REVIEW https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/06/18/mission-impossible-ghost-protocol-2011-your-movie-review-should-you-choose-to-accept-it/

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION REVIEW https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/mission-impossible-rogue-nation-2015-a-revisit-to-my-first-mission-impossible-movie/

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT REVIEW https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/08/01/mission-impossible-fallout-2018-tom-cruise-is-a-madman/

Hereditary (2018): No Chris Pratt, No Explosions, No Superheroes, Just A24’s Latest Dose of “WTF?”

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Before we begin diving into this review of “Hereditary,” it must be stated that the tagline for this film, as you see in the poster above, is “Evil runs in the family.” If evil ran in my family, chances are I’d probably be in a different family. I can’t say it does, but it’s possible that I also can’t say it doesn’t, because there are many ways of interpreting evil. Speaking of families, a new family will be formed in a matter of time. Paul, Genevieve, and their future child will eventually find themselves together. Although the journey to get to the guarantee of the couple and child finding themselves together was an absolute quest of tears and pain. This is all explained… in “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is a YouTube series which has been going on for months. Each Monday, watch a new short video of Paul and Genevieve’s misadventures of making their best attempt to create a baby. Every week, a new story is told concerning the couple, and it displays small positives and major negatives. Watch the two as they have to deal with unfortunate realities in sex, math, exams, crying, and needles sharper than the picture on that TV at Best Buy you want so freakin’ bad. You can find the latest episodes on the series’s dedicated YouTube channel, and new stories arrive each Monday! The latest episode in the series goes over the couple’s sixth, seventh, and eighth “IVF” cycles in a small matter of minutes. This episode is a bit shorter than some of the other ones you’d find on the channel, so if ten minute videos are your thing as opposed to six minute videos, make your way over to the “WTIVF?” YouTube channel (link below) and browse their video selection. Be sure to subscribe, hit the notification bell, and follow “WTIVF?” on other forms of social media aside from YouTube! To do that, visit the links below and hit the follow icons! Also, be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent ya over!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

“Hereditary” is the feature-length directorial debut of Ari Aster and stars Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine), Alex Wolff (Patriots Day, The Naked Brothers Band), Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Leftovers), Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, The Man in the Iron Mask) and reveals scary occurrences and events, not to mention dark secrets hiding within a family after the passing of its matriarch.

When it comes to “Hereditary,” I’ve heard mostly positive thoughts about it before I went out to see what this thing is all about. I recall seeing trailers, but not as much as other films I saw this year and others I’ve still yet to see. One of the biggest things that really got me excited for “Hereditary” is the studio behind it. This movie is distributed by the independent company A24. While their first films such as “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” and “Spring Breakers” released back in 2013, A24’s true recognition came during the year of 2015. In that year, they released films such as “Amy,” “Ex Machina,” and “Room.” All those films went on to win Academy Awards, and since then A24 has been bringing their A-game to the theaters. They released a number of films the following year, including the 89th Academy Awards Best Picture winner, “Moonlight.” Last year, 2017, was also a significant year for the studio. They’ve released several acclaimed films such as “The Florida Project,” “A Ghost Story,” “Lady Bird,” and what I find to be one of the best films of the decade, and in the conversation to be the best comedy of the decade, “The Disaster Artist.” This year, they’re still killing it. “Lean on Pete” has been getting great reviews, “First Reformed” is not getting many bad reactions either, and “Eighth Grade,” a film I’m really looking forward to that has yet to be released has gotten extremely positive criticism so far, with only a single rotten review on Rotten Tomatoes.

I walked into “Hereditary” with a smile on my face, all happy to see something that could potentially be masterful, scary, and just an overall well-done product. However I walked out of “Hereditary” thinking to myself, “What the f*ck did I just watch?”

NOW HOLD ON!

I didn’t say the movie is terrible, in fact, it’s the exact opposite. In fact, it’s in the horror genre so you kind of might want to think that. There were several aspects of the film that had me in awe, and others that dropped my jaw.

First off, we have the direction and cinematography. The first shot of the movie is the camera moving away from a window, and it kind of reminded me a bit of “The Witch” and “The Neon Demon” if you’ve ever seen those films. That same shot pans and moves into this dollhouse, eventually leading to the introduction of a couple of the movie’s characters. Part of me wanted to really know how exactly this was done. This dollhouse is supposed to resemble the house where the movie’s family lives, and part of me wonders how exactly they transitioned into our first character interaction. It could have been as simple as stopping tape and moving onto a real live-action location, trying to replicate EXACTLY where tape stopped in the previous shot. If so, bravo, I couldn’t even tell. Maybe some CGI work went into this whole thing. I’m not doing much research on this, but this makes me extra curious to watch the movie again once it comes out on home video just so I can scroll through the bonus features. But if someone were to ask me today, how exactly this scene was done, I’d tell you that I haven’t got the darndest clue. I mean, how would I? I wasn’t on set. I took a TV and video production class for four years in high school, and I’ve learned quite bit about filmmaking during that time, but I wouldn’t say I’m the ultimate guru when it comes to this stuff. When you combine this movie’s direction by Ari Aster and the cinematography by Pawel Pogorzelski, you get this plethora of wonder and suspense. This ultimately may have been the very thing, if not one of the very things that reminded me of “The Witch.” I say possibly one of the very things because that’s also a below average paced A24 horror film about the overall destruction of a family. One thing that’s different about “Hereditary” and “The Witch” however is that I find “Hereditary” to actually be a good movie.

I gotta say though, for those of you reading this on a later date, I saw this film during the summer movie season of 2018, which funny enough, based on the thoughts of some people, starts almost a full couple of months before summer actually begins. 2018 is looking to have one of the best summers I’ve witnessed in terms of movies. I’ve already given three perfect scores to movies this year, with two of them being for movies that got wide theatrical releases during the summer movie season. One of those two films wasn’t a blockbuster, but neither is this. Pretty much since June, I’ve given mostly scores of 8 or above to movies I’ve seen in theaters. While we have not even gotten to my final verdict section of the review yet, just a warning, this is going to continue my positive score frenzy.

Moving onto some of the characters in “Hereditary,” let’s begin this section by talking about Toni Collette’s character of Annie. I haven’t seen much work featuring Collette, but having seen “Hereditary,” I now want to go on and look at some of her past work because her performance here is fantastic! She might have just provided my favorite performance by an actor so far this year! I know it’s early, but when awards season comes around, I’m willing to bet that the name Toni Collette will be popping up somewhere. Her expressions, her emotion, her line delivery, everything about this performance was top-notch and kept my eyes on the screen. Now that I think about it, there’s one moment in this movie that takes place while the family is having dinner, and it reminded me a bit of “10 Cloverfield Lane.” It’s almost as if John Goodman’s character from “10 Cloverfield Lane” switched genders, took crazy pills, and started yelling up a storm. Collette gives by far the best performance of the movie, and if I were to do my own awards show where I choose all the winners, Collette might just take Best Actress.

 

Speaking of actresses, this movie is the film introduction of Milly Shapiro, who plays the character of Chucky–err, I mean Charlie. In terms of acting, this is not only a great performance by a child actress, but just a solid performance in general. I felt bad towards this character in a way, because as mentioned, the movie is basically about the events that occur after, in this particular case, Charlie’s grandmother passes away. And given the dialogue in one scene, Charlie feels like she gets greater care and attention from her grandmother than she does from her own birthmother. And the more I think about that scene and the way it’s written, I could make connections to my own life. I’m lucky enough to have my grandparents still living today. This includes grandparents on both my mother’s and father’s side. Once they die, I don’t know what exactly my parents will be thinking, but maybe it’s something along the lines of getting older, wondering how long they have to live, how much this will impact them, or simply being “next.” If one or both my parents die, and maybe I’m at any age range in this circumstance, I can’t exactly say how I’ll react, this isn’t something that’s supposed to be rehearsed. But I feel like a part of me will die too. I wonder how much longer I have left until I go.

I will say that all the actors in this movie give terrific performances, and this even includes one that who I’d say gives perhaps the worst performance in the movie, and that’s Alex Wolff. Now, when I say worst performance, I could be exaggerating. There are a good number of roles played by various actors in this film, but out of the main roles, Alex Wolff’s portrayal of Peter may have been the weakest. Granted, he was born in 1997 and is not even twenty-one yet, so it’s kinda sorta understandable that he’s not in the same caliber as say, Toni Collette, but I do find it somewhat surprising for him to be considered worse by me than Milly Shapiro. The unfortunate thing about Wolff’s performance is there are certain segments of scenes that kind of took me out of the movie for a second. I heard him crying and made me think he was doing a terrible impression of Matthew McConaughey. If that’s how he cries in real life, then OK, I didn’t know. But Wolff’s cry in this movie (no pun intended) doesn’t sound all that realistic. It made me think I was watching the climax of “Interstellar” and instead of trying to cry, Matthew McConaughey gave random choking noises that qualify as sad sounds. For the most part, Wolff was on his A-game, it’s a very solid performance, but if it weren’t for the crying, I would have been fully immersed into the movie.

One thing I will mention though is that I went to a restaurant after watching the movie, and I talked about it for a brief moment with the bartender serving my mother, sister, and I. If you ask me what I thought about how this movie ended, I’d say it was one of the better endings I saw all year, and I imagine a good number of people would feel the same way. When I heard from the bartender that he didn’t like the second half of the movie, I was curious to know why. I very much enjoyed the second half, thought it was disturbing, jaw-dropping at times, and made me question exactly what’s happening in such a positive way. There’s one thing about the ending however that I won’t get into that I particularly didn’t care about but he said he didn’t like. This is not the first time I heard a complaint like this, but it just goes to show that despite this movie’s acclaim, maybe it’s not for everyone. But it certainly was for me.

In the end, “Hereditary” is one of the most well directed movies of the year, along with a movie that just showcases tons of powerhouse performances. Toni Collette better get some chatter regarding the Academy Awards and depending on how the rest of the year plays out, her lack of appearance as a nominee for Best Actress will probably be a personal snub. I haven’t seen any of the shorts Ari Aster directed before going on to do “Hereditary,” however I would love to see some more work from him in the future. Maybe some more horror movies, film noir, or maybe something like a period piece. I loved “Hereditary,” I want to watch it again, and if it weren’t for issues as small as a Tic Tac, this would have received a perfect score. I’m gonna give “Hereditary” a 9/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m gonna have my review up for “Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation,” whether or not I’ll have it up this week is a total mystery to me, but I’ll be sure to have it up prior to the release of “Mission: Impossible: Fallout,” thus completing my Tom Cruise “Mission: Impossible” movie review series before that next installment hits theaters. Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Hereditary?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite A24 film thus far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!