The Little Things (2021): Jared Leto Steals the Show and Warner Bros. Almost Steals My Money

“The Little Things” is directed by John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks, The Rookie) and stars Denzel Washington (The Equalizer, Training Day), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Night at the Museum), Jared Leto (Blade Runner 2049, Suicide Squad), and Natalie Morales (The Grinder, Dead to Me). This film is about two cops who try to track down a serial killer.

“The Little Things” is the latest film from Warner Bros., the studio that was supposedly set to save theatrical exhibition this summer with “Tenet,” only to have it underperform in various markets and have them simultaneously release a ton of movies, including this one on HBO Max the same day it hits theaters. What do I think about that? Well, if things went right, which I will tell you as one who often backs filmmakers, things did not go right, I think this is not only a blow to the movie theater industry, which has already suffered enough over the past year, but also shows that an entire studio can kind of get away with avoiding contractual obligations (like the fact that “Dune” was supposed to be a theatrical exclusive) and go behind clients’ backs. Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins get a ton of money for this deal? What about all those other people responsible? I am not going to deny that there are perks in case you live in a state where theaters are closed, in which case, I am happy you can have the opportunity to watch these movies, but this is one giant double edged sword as an avid supporter of theatrical exhibition.

To avoid making a tangent longer than it needs to be, I will say off the bat, having seen “The Little Things,” this does feel like a film that would have gotten away with being a streaming premiere. Whether it ends up in some theaters or not, it kind of has that “watch at home” feel. This is not an enormous mockery on the film by any means. It’s sort of a mockery, but it is not to say it is entirely terrible, but there are times where it kind of has a television feel. In fact, one of the film’s actors, Jared Leto, happens to agree.

“They think they can just make so much more money with the bigger event movies. They found that for television, if they can do something that’s episodic, then people still enjoy those kinds of stories. I’m not saying they should stop making movies like ‘The Little Things,’ but I do think if you talk about like ‘The Undoing,’ people like to spend more time with those characters. And there’s less stigma going back and forth from television to film.”

While I cannot say I have seen “The Undoing,” Leto seems to have a point.

Although if you want me to be real, “The Little Things” is not that great. Let me start off with the positives however. “The Little Things” is a well-directed and well-cast film. The feel is borderline expansive yet intimate, and it flows all the way through. In fact, all the lead cast members portray their roles with proficiency. However, this film has problems and they too need to be addressed.

People say that art is subjective, therefore film is subjective. Those people are not wrong. My subjective opinion, “The Little Things” is a little boring. I was able to keep my chin up all the way through, but for all I know it may just be my luck. “The Little Things” is one of those films that starts off slow and stays that way for the entire movie. I feel as if I am starting to say this more often than I should but it bears repeating. Slow does not equal bad. Slow is great if it is executed well. Anything can be great if it is executed well. Whoever thought “The LEGO Movie” would work? Not everyone, that is for sure. Guess what? It is my favorite animated film of the 2010s. Anything can work if you know how to deliver on the concept. Sadly for “The Little Things,” the almost snooze-worthy first half allows the movie to fizzle. It does pick up however, and the second half is worth the price of admission. Without going into detail, my favorite parts of the movie is when situations get heavy and we see characters interact with each other in scenarios that could become more tense by the second. The film also kind of gets twisty, and I dig it.

I will state once again, one thing that truly sells “The Little Things” are the performances. Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto are all likable in this film. Denzel Washington has this sort of mellow feel to him. Rami Malek plays a suave-looking detective and I almost cannot imagine anyone else playing his character. Malek’s performance here allows him to continue to define himself as an admirable actor. He already has an Academy Award on his shelf for his role in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and while I do not think he will get as much recognition for this performance, Malek’s portrayal tends to reveal that he will continue to commit to his craft.

As much as I like Washington and Malek, who are both talented and reveal themselves as competent in their own rights, the star of the show is Jared Leto. Jared Leto has honestly been a controversial name for me over the past few years, and not necessarily because I hate him, but because his roles have gone from somewhat underwhelming to unbelievably great. He basically went from playing the worst live-action Joker in “Suicide Squad” to encapsulating something beautiful with Niander Wallace in “Blade Runner 2049.” Keeping the latter in mind, I liked Jared Leto in “Blade Runner 2049.” In “The Little Things,” he is another animal. Because this movie presents itself as an opportunity where he can just let himself loose. And it is not like a live-action cartoon or another Jim Carrey or anything, although I do think Carrey would have done the role properly if it were in his hands, it’s just a crazy guy who occasionally says some kooky lines and has these oddball mannerisms. Some of the stuff he says just flies off the tongue and it intrigues me every time. If you plan to watch “The Little Things” this weekend, I will say that if you watch for Rami Malek or Denzel Washington, you might not be disappointed with either of those two, but I think you may want to *stay* for Jared Leto. After seeing his performance here, I am now more curious about “Morbius.” I did not think I would say that. Well done, movie!

In the end, “The Little Things” is solid in some parts, but noticeably dull. There are probably more positives than negatives, and I would not refrain from watching it a second time, but if I had to predict which movie I would be talking about in the most positive light by the end of the year, it would not be this one. There are still reasons to watch it, and it is from a likable director, specifically John Lee Hancock. Have you seen “Saving Mr. Banks?” Watch it! Now! Although it does have a plethora of personal issues to keep me from calling it the next big thing. Just because this is entertaining, does not mean it cannot make you nearly want to fall asleep. I am going to give “The Little Things” a 6/10.

Minor sidenote, the movie also comes with a brand new Warner Bros. logo. We’ve kind of seen teases of it during films like “Tenet” and “Wonder Woman 1984,” but if I am not wrong, “The Little Things” is the first film where we get to see the new standard edition of the revamped logo, and it does not seem to disappoint.

“The Little Things” is available now in theaters and on HBO Max for all subscribers at no extra cost. Get your tickets or subscribe to HBO Max now to enjoy your experience.

Thanks for reading this review! If you are a movie fan like me, you may follow the awards circuit. And now as the Movie Reviewing Moron, I am here to remind you that the circuit is not complete without me throwing my hat into the ring. This March I will be doing my 3rd edition of the Jackoff Awards, this time focusing on 2020 in film. If you want to watch the trailer promoting it, scroll to the end of this post. Speaking of 2020 in film, one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, “Nomadland,” is FINALLY coming to theaters. It was supposed to be in theaters this December, only to get pushed back due to COVID-19, and while it is not going to be fully released until its simultaneous theatrical and Hulu debut on February 19th, “Nomadland” is now playing in select IMAX theaters. And next weekend, one of my local spots is going to be getting this movie. I already got my tickets, and I cannot be more excited. Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account, and check out the Facebook page, so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Little Things?” What did you think about it? Or, are you planning to watch the movie in the theater or on HBO Max? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

I’m Your Woman (2020): Gone with Baby, Gone

“I’m Your Woman” is directed by Julia Hart (Fast Colors, Stargirl) and stars Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, House of Cards), Arinzé Kene (The Pass, Youngers), Marsha Stephanie Blake (When They See Us, Orange Is the New Black), Bill Heck (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Leftovers), Frankie Faison (Banshee, The Wire), Marceline Hugot (The Detour, United 93), and James McMenamin (Orange Is the New Black, Nurse Jackie). This film takes place in the 1970s, where a housewife is forced to go on the run with her baby after her husband betrays his partners. She has to deal with personal struggles, meeting unfamiliar people, endless questions amongst herself, and life or death situations.

“I’m Your Woman” has been out for almost a month, and it is currently free on Prime Video for all subscribers. I was going to watch this film early. In fact I remember obtaining a virtual link, but I decided to skip it as I have my Prime subscription handy. So I waited until now to watch the movie. Aside from exposure to this film through getting an advance screening email, I did watch one trailer when I saw “Mank” in the cinema. It kind of looked like a goldilocks thriller type film. What do I mean by that? Let’s take the three bears. It’s that basic analogy with the porridge. Not too hot, not too cold, just right. This was a thriller did not look like it was either too bombastic or too slow. This felt even tempered. Prior to putting on “I’m Your Woman,” I cannot say I knew too too much about the film, even though I did sit through that one trailer.

Was “I’m Your Woman” worth my time? I’d say it was. When it comes to thrillers this year, I do think there are better films. “Unhinged” is one such example, mainly because of its simple, relatable concept. It’s also got nothing on my favorite thriller of the year, “Tenet,” which admittedly will likely end up having more replay value than any other film of 2020 for me. I cannot compare it to “Run,” which a lot of people have seen recently, which I tried watching, but apparently Hulu was acting up and showing giant pixels and a large area of black instead of the film. Regardless of my comparisons and desire to have my movies work, “I’m Your Woman” is a hypnotizing couple of hours. It’s kind of slow at times, but there are also certain moments where the gears turn and everything speeds up. It’s a perfect blend, hence the recent goldilocks comparison.

This movie takes place in the 1970s, and I got that vibe right away. When the movie starts we see the main family in their home, they have this funky-looking wallpaper, everything is yellow, the kitchen looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss tale, and I think the art and production design department did a really good job at encapsulating the 1970s. Aside from that, you have all these older cars, there’s a crucial scene where our main hero uses a payphone booth as a hiding spot, and there are some key elements to the story that are well captured through our main character’s struggles and desires that define the time.

We live in an era today where women are all “You can do it,” and “Go get em’, girl!” People say that to women all the time now. And while the 1970s were not as restrictive to women as say earlier parts of the 20th century, the movie displays its specific time frame as a point when many women seem to typically be a housewife. They tend to stay home all the time, doing chores, cleaning, that sorts of stuff, and the man of the house tends to go out and bring home the bacon. And of course, the couple has a kid, so while the man is out, our main hero, Jean, is doing all she can for the child. Throughout the movie, while the couple is separated, Jean not only has to deal with the child that has been with her for a period of time, but now she is in the seemingly unfamiliar situation of being isolated, being alone. I felt for her. Having a kid is hard enough. Losing a partner who helped raise the kid is just another big blow. I do not think Rachel Brosnahan is going to win an Oscar for this film. For all I know, some awards outlet might recognize her, but she does a really good job at playing the main character.

Let’s talk about Arinzé Kene in this film. Kene plays a character named Cal who has a significant presence throughout. I’m very conflicted on this character. For the record, he’s written properly, every motivation and line regarding this character makes sense and does not feel illogical. At the same time, when I first saw him, I got an uneasy first impression. What do I mean? I did not agree with everything he did. But at the same time, everything about him falls into place and Kene’s performance is justifiably competent. If I had to compare this character and the actor’s performance to anything else, I’d have to use the Amazon movie, “Gringo.” For those of you who don’t remember Gringo, there’s this one character played by Charlize Theron. She’s a great actress, I like her in a lot of stuff she’s in, and the same can be said for “Gringo.” But what can also be said for “Gringo” is that Charlize Theron does a spectacular job playing a character I absolutely hated. It’s one of the few positives in that film. Maybe it’s because she’s good looking, who knows? Charlize Theron is an attractive woman, there is no doubt about that.

If there is anything else that stands out about “I’m Your Woman” it is the pacing. “I’m Your Woman” is a very… I don’t what other term I can use, uneventful kind of film. I don’t mean that literally, things do happen. But the buildup in each scene feels slow, it takes its time. And for the kind of thriller we’re dealing with here, it works. It kind of feels like “No Country for Old Men” meets “Blade Runner” if both those things took place in the 1970s. There are a couple cool action scenes that do not try to go over the top, but that is what makes them great. They’re not overstylized, but that grabbed my attention.

I also liked this one character named Evelyn. She’s played by Marceline Hugot and she’s kind of this charming, older woman. She almost sounds like a stereotypical cat lady. She’s got that Amy Sedaris type voice, the wrinkly hair, and she barely has a presence in the film, and while I won’t go into too much detail, there is one scene that was somewhat enhanced by her presence.

In the end, “I’m Your Woman” is worth watching and a fine slow burn through the 1970s. Vibe-wise, this movie kills. It is a great encapsulation of the time. Character-wise, I liked most of them, but there are a select few that I will end up discarding by the end of the year. I think this film did a great job at highlighting the struggles of our protagonist, and Rachel Brosnahan did excellent at enhancing said struggles. However, I do not think this is a film that I will watch again anytime soon. I will not rule it out. Maybe it could be one of those films that I could have on at 2AM if I have trouble falling asleep. This does have action, but it is also slow-paced enough to have some empty air. And thankfully, the empty air does not feel out of place. I am going to give “I’m Your Woman” a 7/10.

“I’m Your Woman” is now available exclusively on Prime Video for all subscribers. The film also had a theatrical release at the start of the month, but I do not think it is playing in any cinemas right now, partially due to the pandemic leaving some venues closed, but also due to other movies taking up slots. Give this a watch!

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the Tom Hanks film “News of the World” which is exclusively in theaters right now, but will likely appear on VOD very soon. Also, I plan to make “News of the World” my final 2020 movie review before I unveil my picks for the top 10 BEST and WORST movies of the year! Those lists will be up in early January! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “I’m Your Woman?” What did you think about it? Or, what have you been watching on Prime this year? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Fatale (2020): Michael Ealy and Hilary Swank Liven Up an Engaging (But Occasionally Predictable) Thriller

Fatale (2020) - IMDb

“Fatale” is directed by Deon Taylor (Meet the Blacks, Black and Blue) and stars Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, Insomnia), Michael Ealy (Think Like a Man, About Last Night), Mike Colter (The Good Wife, Luke Cage), and Geoffrey Owens (The Cosby Show, Lucifer). This film is about a married man who has a one night stand in Las Vegas with a woman named Valerie (Swank), only to have an incident happen in his household upon returning, and he soon finds himself in the center of a police investigation, where Valerie just so happens to be part of the department.

Deon Taylor - IMDb

“Fatale” comes to us from Deon Taylor, the same filmmaker who brought us last year’s “Black and Blue,” which I saw at a press screening. I’ll start this review off simple, I thought that this was a more entertaining experience than “Black and Blue.” I am not going to deny that the movie has its audience, it just wasn’t what I wanted. I thought it occasionally got a little too over the top, the supporting characters where nowhere near as charismatic as I’d probably want them to be, and I think I have forgotten a good chunk of the movie by now. It might take some time to determine whether I will ultimately remember or forget “Fatale” but there is no denying that this film is fun, lively, and kind of sexy. I knew going in that this sort of centered around a one night stand, I did not expect it to be as erotic as it was, and I give the film props for that.

When it comes down to everything, the real core of the film is the newfound relationship between Michael Ealy and Hilary Swank. They’re both in Las Vegas for alternate reasons, but despite their differences, they find each other charming and decide to hook up. Also, talk about good casting. I really like Michael Ealy as his character, I think Hilary Swank did a good job as her character, and I must say, Hilary Swank’s got that vibe of that fantasy woman that all men kind of want to a degree. They think about her, they dream about her, and they’ll do anything to have her in their life. Hilary Swank kind of feels eternally young to a certain point, and I think whoever thought about casting her deserves kudos.

But in all seriousness, I really liked Swank’s character. Despite what I previously said, Hilary Swank does more in “Fatale” than just be a seductive, dreamy, pretty face. That’s not to say that she does not do that well. She actually does so brilliantly, but the movie goes in and gives a lot of depth to her. I cared about her story, and at times I felt for her, even though much of the movie presents her as an interference to our main hero. She’s separated, she has kids, and she can’t see them. I am not a parent, but I imagine for some parents, that sort of feeling is not the greatest. This separation has her uneasy, she’s hoping things change, and it overall plays a factor into the plot and where things go from one point to the next.

There are a lot of genuinely good, classy scenes in “Fatale.” The scene where our two leads first meet is kind of sensual and fun, and really lets in the vibe that sticks around for the rest of the film. I think the part where they are in the hotel room makes for a rather entertaining moment as well and goes to show that the casting department did their job. Pretty much almost any scene with these two together does not disappoint, whether it is strictly plot related or just something in between. However I will admit, the movie does get to a point where I could predict what happens next, and guess who has two thumbs and is always right?

*points* THIS GUY!

This movie does not have the worst screenplay in the world. In fact for the most part, it is pretty decent. I think it provided for a thumbs up-worthy movie. But there is one moment that I saw coming from a mile away, and I guess the movie wanted it to be this grand thing that is kind of a revelation. I just thought to myself, “Okay, whatever.” I like being right when I play “Wheel of Fortune,” but I also like being surprised when I watch a movie. I want my expectations subverted. I want the movie to go in a direction that I am not expecting. Granted, I have seen a lot of movies, and the art form has been around for a hundred years, so sometimes it is hard to come up with something new and innovative, but I would like to see people try doing such a thing.

“Fatale” also has some pretty solid action. At times, it is not just the action itself, not just the physicality that makes these sorts of scenes great, but it is also the dialogue, there is a scene towards the end of the movie that sort of had me oohing to myself. I mean, if this scene were a rap battle, you could argue that it is pretty fierce, pretty heavy-hitting. Although it does not take away from the excitement of the combat, the shootouts, but when a movie can interweave great dialogue into a fight, you know they are doing something right. And it may also reveal that the screenwriter, also known as David Loughery, has done his job to make a compelling story. Granted, it is also slightly predictable, as I have previously exposed, but it it is nevertheless compelling.

One last thing, speaking of action, I also really like the scene where Derrick and his wife Micaela are being robbed. You get a sense of mystery throughout, the lighting fits the moment, and the way they went about this scene kind of reminded me of a horror movie. You know how sometimes a horror movie might have a person or object coming out of nowhere? They did something of that nature here, and it kind of works. Not only is this movie white knuckle, not only is it erotic, but it is also a tad intimidating. It’s overall a good mix, even if the intimidation does not last that long.

In the end, “Fatale” was a good time. Usually this is the time of year where we are just getting into the awards season for film. The Golden Globes are around the corner. The Oscars are not too far away. The SAGs are also coming soon. The Critics Choice Awards are also on the list somewhere. Unfortunately, these sorts of shows are getting pushed back and as a result, this December seems lackluster for the kind of bait that these award shows eat up. Sadly, “Fatale” does not fit into the awards sphere, at least I would not say so. Maybe Hilary Swank has a small chance, but even that seems slim. At the same time, if you want pure entertainment, do not miss “Fatale.” This is not the next “Citizen Kane” or anything, but it can keep you occupied for less than a couple hours. I am going to give “Fatale” a 7/10.

“Fatale” is now playing wherever theaters are open. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! This Friday, I am going to see “News of the World” starring Tom Hanks. The film is getting tons of praise from critics and audiences, and Hanks usually impresses around this time of year, so I hope that he can continue delivering the goods with this movie. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and check out the official Facebook page, so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Fatale?” What did you think about it? Or, since Hilary Swank was in two films in 2020, which one did you like better? “The Hunt” or “Fatale?” Personally, I could not stand “The Hunt,” so that makes this deliberation that much easier. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Promising Young Woman (2020): I Promise, This Is Thrilling

“Promising Young Woman” is written and directed by Emerald Fennell (The Crown, Call the Midwife), and this is her feature length directorial debut. This film stars Carey Mulligan (An Education, Drive), Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade, The Big Sick), Alison Brie (The Disaster Artist, Glow), Clancy Brown (The Goldbergs, Billions), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie, Joey), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black, TRANSform Me), and Connie Britton (Spin City, Nashville). This film follows a young woman, like the title suggests, as she tries to get revenge on people she finds herself coming across after reflecting on an event from her past.

This holiday has brought a couple big movies to the masses, “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Soul.” I’ve seen the latter, and it is good. Not great, but good. Although it is a disappointment by Pixar standards. I also saw “Wonder Woman 1984,” but I won’t share my thoughts yet as it is going to be my next review. These two big films are not specifically theatrical exclusives in the United States. “Wonder Woman 1984” is playing on the big screen wherever theaters are open and on HBO Max while “Soul” is exclusively on Disney+. On the other hand, “Promising Young Woman” is a film that is currently a theatrical exclusive (even though it should land on VOD soon). What did I think of “Promising Young Woman?”

I think “Promising Young Woman” is a damn good time. If anything, I was quite surprised with how it turned out. Partially because the way I interpreted the film, given how I knew there was a revenge plot in it, would happen to be sort of similar to John Wick, but with vastly different issues at hand. But it is not, the beauty of the film is not in the physicality, not in the things people do, not in the action. After all, if you go in expecting a “John Wick”-like action film, your expectations may be a little subverted. The beauty of “Promising Young Woman” lies within a couple aspects. The dialogue, most of which was good. And the editing, all of which was excellent. This film is edited marvelously and provides for a unique flair at times. They take a slight core aspect of the film and use it to separate key moments, and the execution for this feels bold and manages to be delivered with a commanding presence.

By the way, this film is edited by Frédéric Thoraval, who has experience with editing not only a revenge story, but one of the best revenge stories ever filmed, with 2008’s “Taken.” “Promising Young Woman” is another killer flick to add to his resume. Then again, he also edited 2018’s “Peppermint,” which basically is kinda sorta “Taken” except that Jennifer Garner is in the spotlight, not Liam Neeson. And as an overall revenge story, it leaves much to be desired. I’ll say, Thoraval did a fine editing job, however. With the editing in “Promising Young Woman,” a lot the highlights seem to spark from a personal touch from director Emerald Fennell. A touch that only she could have conceptualized. However, it does not take away from the fact that the editing seems to make for one of the best parts of the film.

Let’s talk about the main character of the film, Cassandra. First off, Carey Mulligan is going to be a talk of the town during awards season. She knocked her performance out of the park, and she also looked the part too. Her character lives at home with her parents despite being at a crucial point in her twenties, and she does not seem to have any desire to leave. Speaking of desires, we see early on in the film that Cassandra does not have a lust for anyone else. We see that when she goes out to a nightclub, and what happens afterwards that sort of plays a crucial part in the film. We also see this with her interactions with Ryan, played wonderfully by Bo Burnham. Although she does keep herself occupied by working in a coffee shop, so she has that going for her. At the same time however, Cassandra had a path for herself building up in medical school, but she dropped out. In fact, the film even establishes that Cassandra’s parents are worried for her, they want her out of their life, they want her to meet a guy, fall in love, move out. They even get her a gift that basically symbolizes this. She gets the message right away.

One of my favorite screenwriters is Quentin Tarantino, not only because of his personal touch with each script he does, but also because in a film like “Pulp Fiction,” it basically makes fun of not only how movie scenes play out, but maybe even taps into how reality plays out. There’s this scene where Uma Thurman and John Travolta are eating together at a diner and they talk about awkward silences. That’s a fun scene that pokes at the way we communicate. There are one or two moments early on that evoke the same vibe. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but when it lands, it lands.

Except for a few minor problems that I have with certain lines that maybe do not fit, “Promising Young Woman” delivers one of the better screenplays of the year, and part of why I love it so much is not only because it sort of taps into our reality where it dives into why some men are pigs, why women want to defend themselves, but also because of how subversive it is. Yes, I talked earlier about how I went into “Promising Young Woman” sort of expecting “John Wick” with different issues at hand, and that’s not entirely what I got. Now I should say, I view “John Wick” as a quintessential modern thriller, so that’s part of why I used that example. But that’s not what I’m talking about. This movie has twists and turns, none of them feel shoehorned, forced. or out of place. I feel like this is a story that Emerald Fennell took her time on. This feels like a passion project. I have no idea if Fennell plans to make her career behind the camera as prominent, or perhaps more prominent, than the one she has in front of the camera. But if she is up to make another film, I am there. This was a good time.

In the end, “Promising Young Woman,” I promise you, is quite excellent. This had an intriguing beginning, some fun buildup, and a satisfyingly subversive ending. The cast offer some good performances, but Carey Mulligan is the star of the show and may be a talking point during awards season. If you like thrillers, if you like twists, if you like fine writing, and solid directing, do not miss this movie. I am glad I took the opportunity to see it, and I have a feeling many of you reading this will too. I am going to give “Promising Young Woman” a 9/10.

“Promising Young Woman” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open. There is currently no announced date for when this film will hit video on demand, but given how this film is from Focus Features, which is owned by Comcast, which also owns Universal, the film should debut on video on demand very soon.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the highly anticipated sequel “Wonder Woman 1984” which is now available in theaters and on HBO Max. I might also review one or two more films by the end of the year, possibly “Fatale” or “News of the World,” but we shall see what happens. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Promising Young Woman?” What did you think about it? Or, is there a movie that you’re looking forward to that could make some noise during awards season? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Honest Thief (2020): About a Man with a Wicked Set of Skills

“Honest Thief” is directed by Mark Williams and stars Liam Neeson (Taken, The Commuter), Kate Walsh (The Umbrella Academy, Grey’s Anatomy), Robert Patrick (Scorpion, True Blood), Anthony Ramos (Trolls World Tour, Godzilla: King of the Monsters), Jeffrey Donovan (Sicario, Burn Notice), and Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad, Divergent). This film follows a bank robber who meets a girl, falls in love, and aspires to spend his life with her. Although, because he wants to live a clean life, he requests to turn himself in for a reduced sentence, only to have every moment of his be interfered by two FBI agents.

There is not much playing in theaters right now in regards to new content, but “Honest Thief” did just debut this past weekend, and I managed to see it on the first Thursday it was playing. So, I consider myself lucky in getting to review another movie during a year which nothing really has happened. “Honest Thief,” marketing-wise, comes off as another cliche action flick starring Liam Neeson, and as far as the final product goes, that is pretty much what it is. If you’ve seen other action flicks starring Liam Neeson, this will seem stylistically similar to those. This is not exactly a punch to the face as far as this movie is concerned, because I will admit, I did enjoy myself from start to finish. This is not Shakespeare, but it is a damn good time, and worth the price of admission if you choose to support the film during its theatrical run. I am one of those people who will state that every movie is better in a theater, but I think many people would agree that action flicks are pretty much essential viewing on the big screen.

This movie has it all! Combat, shootouts, chases, and so on! This movie is worth it all the way through if you want to see some fun action scenes. Neeson carries the film quite well and I almost cannot imagine anyone else playing his character, even though this movie takes place in Massachusetts and almost embellishes that from start to finish. So if this is remade in 5 or 10 years, who knows? Maybe Ben Affleck, Chris Evans, or Matt Damon could step in. They’re competent actors from the area! Why not give them a shot? This is not a complaint against Liam Neeson. Again, he portrayed the lead role with excellence.

I will say once again, this movie is not Shakespeare, but it does not mean I failed to get attached to anyone on board. Liam Neeson’s character, Tom, is very likable. His love interest, played excellently by Kate Walsh, is also pleasing to watch. Their first scene together, is admittedly a little sappy, but that also brings me to one of my biggest compliments about the film. Despite how this film is a masculine adrenaline rush of an action flick, I was still able to feel some sense of emotion all the way through.

I also really liked the film’s antagonists. I will try not to spoil too much about the film, but I will point out that the antagonists are these two FBI agents who meet with Tom as he is trying to turn himself in. The police reveal that plenty of people have called them trying to claim they were the bank robber they were looking for, and when these two FBI agents find out this guy is for real, they try to take advantage of his earnings. I kind of like their motivation and the depth behind their backstories, especially when it comes to the character of Ramon Hall, played by Anthony Ramos. He’s got a kid, and it is brought up that when it comes to the amount of money at stake, one would probably want it all just to take care of a kid without a worry in the world. This movie is not going to be remembered as the greatest story ever told, but this side story from one of the villains did add something to the film itself.

I don’t know what it is about recent action films and dogs, I mean, “John Wick” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” if you can call it an action film, have become iconic because of their dogs and the scenes they’re in. Some of the best chemistry in this film comes from this tiny little dog, and Jeffrey Donovan. This comes from a guy who loathes dogs in real life, but even I will admit that every moment these two were on screen together amused me.

I will point out once again, “Honest Thief” is a pretty good action film, but that does not mean it does not come without flaws. For starters, despite how good it is, it really just covers the basics. Yes, you’ve got a kick-ass Liam Neeson who is not really phoning it in. You’ve got some slick-looking action. You’ve got a story that goes from point A to point B. But there’s nothing really that changes the game. It’s familiar content. Familiar is not always the worst adjective however, I enjoyed the familiarity of this movie. This movie is like that one cheap pizza place you may end up always ordering from. It may not be the best, but with the close location and inexpensive options, it makes itself pretty attractive. It’s a good pizza that gets the job done, nothing more. If you want to watch a good action movie, watch “Honest Thief,” but if you want to watch a great action movie, I don’t know, here’s another example with Liam Neeson, put on “Taken!” Skip the sequels, just watch the first one. Although parts of the third one are good. …Just, skip “Taken 2.” I’ve pretty much forgotten almost all of it by now.

If I had to state any other notable cons, it would probably just be one particular scene two thirds the way through the movie. I know that this movie does not have the biggest budget in the world, but given how it is 2020, the effects that a movie has should look at least somewhat real. To be completely honest, there’s this scene past the midway point of the movie with this really big explosion, the fire effects in that scene, especially towards the end, looked like they came from a middle of the road movie that came out in 2003.

Liam Neeson’s character of Tom, otherwise known as the In and Out Bandit, which… WHY DID THIS MOVIE NOT TAKE PLACE IN CALIFORNIA? What a missed opportunity! You know what? This guy’s from Massachusetts! He should be called the Dunkin and Dunkout Bandit! He’s on the run on Dunkin’! Anyway, this character took a lot of money from banks. Thankfully, this movie did not feel as if it was robbing me from start to finish. If you have a chance, give it a shot! I’d give it a thumbs up.

In the end, “Honest Thief” is a bit basic, somewhat familiar, but is entertaining enough to pass the time. Is it worth seeing in the theater? Well that depends. There’s not much playing at the cinema, and I know not everyone wants to go to the cinema. If you don’t want to see this in a cinema, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is out for home viewing by sometime next year. But if you choose to go to a theater and you want something big and loud, this is almost your best option unless “Unhinged” and “Tenet” are playing somewhere near you. If you are a fan of Liam Neeson, you like action, and you just want to see somebody kick some asses, this may be a good movie for you. Just because it has been done before, does not mean it is terrible. I am going to give “Honest Thief” a 7/10. So far I’ve seen two Liam Neeson movies this year. This one, and “Made in Italy.” I’ve stated positive thoughts on both films, so in my book, Neeson is 2 for 2 in 2020. Well done!

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for an unusual film. That my friends is the brand new animated musical “Over the Moon,” which hits Netflix October 23rd. Right now it is playing at select theatres if you want to see it early. I played a song from the movie on a loop as I did my review for “Honest Thief.”

…Take that as a hint for how good this movie is. I cannot wait to talk about it!

Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Honest Thief?” What did you think about it? Or, what are your thoughts on the “Taken” franchise? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Capone (2020): Josh Trank Chronicles the Gangster

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“Capone” is directed by Josh Trank (Fantastic Four, Chronicle) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk) as the title character alongside Linda Cardellini (Daddy’s Home, Gravity Falls), Jack Lowden (Dunkirk, Fighting with My Family), Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shameless), Kyle MacLachlan (Inside Out, Carol’s Second Act), Matt Dillon (There’s Something About Mary, Crash), and Al Sapienza (The Sopranos, Person of Interest). This film is about the famous American gangster, Al Capone, and is set during the last year of his life as he suffers from dementia.

This movie originally released on VOD this past May, and I have waited a little bit to talk about it for several reasons. For one, I took a break for the most part when it comes to movie reviewing during the spring. Also, “Scoob!” was a priority for me. It is an animated film, and I usually tend to review at least five a year now, so I wanted to get one under my belt. I should note that both movies released around the same time.

However, I was shopping inside Best Buy the other day and I came across “Capone,” which had a copy available on Blu-ray. I snatched it when I had the chance, and I popped it in a couple weeks later. For a price of $12.99, I felt that I was getting my money’s worth. After all, when this thing came out, I believe it was $19.99 to rent on VOD, which is still ridiculous to me. By the way, Disney, you’re crazy, and I say that as someone who may want to work with 20th Century in the future. “Mulan” deserves better and so do your customers!

Before I go any further, I should note that “Capone” has a 4.7/10 on IMDb. Given how a lot of the stuff on IMDb happens to be somewhere in the 6 to 8 range, that’s a pretty low score. I will say though, what kind of shocks me here is that this rating does not come from mostly 1s and 2s. Not even 3s. The most common rating for “Capone” is a 5 on IMDb. I’m not gonna give my score just yet. Per usual, we save that for the end. But I can see why 5 would be a common verdict here. This movie really isn’t anything special.

Now, this movie is directed by Josh Trank, who as far as my opinions are concerned has a fairly mixed resume. His movie “Chronicle” released back in 2012, was a fun found footage flick with a neat concept. I think it was pretty well done overall. But in 2015 he directed “Fantastic 4,” which ironically wasn’t even close to fantastic. When I was seeing it at the theater. I missed part of the climax as I was more concerned about getting more popcorn than I was about catching the rest of this movie. When it comes to “Fantastic 4” in particular, I don’t put all the blame on Josh Trank, given how that film was basically made as a quick money grab so Fox could keep the rights from reverting back to Marvel. So even though “Fantastic 4” was not entirely great, it wasn’t exactly earth-shatteringly devastating to watch. As for “Capone,” the same can be said for that movie. It’s by no means the best movie in the world, it’s not a masterpiece, not worth massive attention. It just… exists.

I will say though, and this should not be completely surprising as this movie does come from a smaller studio, this project feels just a tad more personalized coming from a guy like Josh Trank. Maybe there’s some hints of a story formula that become obvious here and there, but if this movie were say, the next “Parasite,” I would be all over Josh Trank right now and completely excited to see whatever he does next. Although I should point out, unlike “Fantastic Four,” Josh Trank actually wrote the screenplay for “Capone” by himself. During the writing process for “Fantastic Four,” he was involved with the screenplay enough to receive a credit. But so were Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg.

I do like Tom Hardy’s performance here as Al Capone. One thing for me to consider, based on the other projects where I’ve seen Tom Hardy, such as “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Venom,” it doesn’t really feel like my typical vision for Tom Hardy himself. It actually feels like he’s playing a character. Although ironically, this movie comes out during the COVID-19 pandemic and this is the one time Tom Hardy plays a character that doesn’t wear a mask. Given his resume, such as the recently mentioned “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Venom,” along with other films including “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Dunkirk,” it feels a little out of the ordinary. I’m not complaining, it’s just something I noticed.

I should note that I watched this movie on Monday, August 3rd. This gave me plenty of time to gather my thoughts for a review. Unfortunately, the little that I do fully remember about this movie does not say enough for this movie to have a lasting impact. Yes, I did feel bad for Al Capone given how he was going through some health issues. There’s definitely a reason to get attached to such a character. Although, I’m gonna use this phrase once again, this movie doesn’t really have the oomph factor to push it over the edge. Do I care for Al Capone here? Sure. But will I care for him in a week when I move on to the next movie? That’s hard to say. This movie has some great dialogue exchanges between characters that make you somewhat emotionally attached, but I don’t feel like I’m going to remember anybody’s name in this film except maybe Al Capone because he’s on the flipping title of the movie for crying out loud!

For the most part, I do think Josh Trank’s “Capone,” kind of like the last movie I reviewed, “Gretel & Hansel,” is a competent production. I think the location choices were suitable, I like the casting, and getting Tom Hardy to play the lead role is a fine mix of name recognition and talent. I will say one thing though as a compliment compared to “Gretel & Hansel.” “Capone” was more entertaining in its span of a hundred and three minutes, compared to “Gretel & Hansel” in its span of eighty seven minutes. Sometimes, it goes to show… A movie is as long as the viewer makes it. “Gretel & Hansel” in this case, maybe took a million more years to get through. I was entertained by “Capone,” but I don’t think I’ll watch it again in the near future.

In the end, “Capone” is not… Terrible, but to call it next level material or even “good” would be a lie. It’s just some extended series of scenes that may or may not be a waste of time depending on your mood. I think there was some effort put into it, but again, there’s no lasting impact for me to remember this film forever. Maybe if I watched the film in a theater, who knows? It could be experiential, but I didn’t. I saw it at home… Where we are stuck for the rest of our lives… End this pandemic… I’m going to give “Capone” a 5/10. I will say, the rating could jump to a 6/10 as there were some entertaining parts. But when seeing a brief moment of “The Wizard of Oz” was the most fascinating part of “Capone,” that’s kind of a problem. It was a good scene, but still.

Thanks for reading this review! This weekend I’m planning on seeing “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” a new movie that is only playing in theaters. Can’t believe I’m saying that! This film is about an art dealer trying to steal a painting and the mission suddenly goes out of control. Sounds like a work of art.

*Cricket noises*

Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Capone?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Tom Hardy performance? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Minority Report (2002): Spielberg Conveys a Deadly 2054

TOM CRUISE MONTH POSTER

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! We have reviewed four Tom Cruise movies so far this month, now let’s make it five! Before we go any further, if you do want to check out my reviews for “Oblivion,” “All the Right Moves,” “Days of Thunder,” and “Top Gun,” you’ll notice that the titles are highlighted, meaning that you’ll find the links right there! These are all other movies that I have previously reviewed for the purpose of Tom Cruise Month, but we’re not focusing on those right now. Instead, we are going to focus on the year 2054, which looks mighty pleasant compared to 2020. It is time to talk about “Minority Report” as we begin our final installment of…

*LIGHTNING CRACK*

TOM CRUISE MONTH

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“Minority Report” is directed by Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, Jaws) and stars Tom Cruise (Risky Business, Top Gun), Colin Farrell (Ballykissangel, American Outlaws), Samantha Morton (Band of Gold, Pandaemonium), and Max Von Sydow (Flash Gordon, The Seventh Seal). This film takes place during the year 2054 and is based on the material once created by author Philip K. Dick. In a future where Pre-Cogs can see upcoming murders and related criminal acts, a special police unit is supposed to stop murderers and arrest them before such crimes are committed. Interestingly, one of the police officers themselves is accused of a future murder.

Prior to making this review, I had not once seen “Minority Report.” And at this point, getting to witness something new, even if it is almost a couple full decades old, is kind of a treat. I bought the Blu-ray when I was in Santa Monica, California, and I figured this Tom Cruise Month theme would give me a solid excuse to pop in the disc. Unknowingly, I was aware of this movie’s existence. I mean, sure, I guess I knew the title and everything, but what I did not know was that this movie was the picture featuring Pre-Cogs. Like every other person under the age of thirty, I achieved a great deal of knowledge, or at least a conglomeration of useless factoids, over the Internet. If it were not for YouTuber Jeremy Jahns referencing one specific scene…

“Murrrrder.”

…I would probably not know squat about this movie, or at least acknowledge squat about this movie. So I will say, this movie must have stood the test of time in terms of being recognized in pop culture. Then again, it is a Steven Spielberg flick, and he has a fairly recognizable, prolific, diverse, and masterful library.

By the way, before we go any further, one of the biggest compliments I’ll give to this movie is that the framing is very well done. The scope of “Minority Report” pulls you right in. It does not disappoint. It takes this 2054 type of environment and makes you embrace it. Speaking of which, one of the best shots of this movie, is the first full-on glimpse we get of a Pre-Cog, which is shown in the GIF I would assume you have scrolled through fairly recently. It’s just so clear and crisp. I don’t know why, but the more I look at the shot of that Pre-Cog, the more I want to go into a pool. Although, maybe not until next year, knowing how things are right now. I will say, on that note, even though I really like the way this film looks, it’s not pretty all the way through, because I think the color scheme of many of the shots are a little too somber. Granted, “Minority Report” is not a comedy, it was never supposed to represent the best of times, even though we do get some classy looking cars in the future, but there are some times where this movie doesn’t come off as a soap opera from the script, but the color palette begs to differ. It almost reminds me of the “Point Break” remake from 2015, only this movie is twice as good as that film and in my personal opinion, technically qualifies as a “movie.”

Since this is a Tom Cruise movie, and given how this is the final entry to Tom Cruise Month, let’s talk about Tom Cruise himself. When it comes to Tom Cruise in this film, this is honestly one of his better performances. I think casting was a job well done with this film, not just with Cruise, but with names including Max Von Sydow and Samantha Morton. I bought into all their performances and it helped enhance the movie. I will say though, not that it matters entirely, Tom Cruise with a haircut like the one he has here is probably one of his inferior looks for one of his roles. But that’s just me. Also, if you know me, when it comes to Tom Cruise, I don’t always point out my love and respect for him through his ability to convey a character, even though he’s a respectable actor in that regard, but his motivation to perhaps nearly kill himself. Like some of his other movies, he does his own stunts here. Granted, I never really noticed anything as scary or heart-racing as say his plane hang from “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” as an example, but is nice to know that like some of his other projects, Cruise himself put an effort into the stuntwork.

One of the best parts of “Minority Report” is the concept. You have a special police force trying to stop murderers who are predicted by Pre-Cogs. I think the way that this movie went around executing the concept was worthy of a thumbs up. The movie kind of had me in the beginning alone. I will say when it comes to pacing it does slow down overtime, but the climax is fairly entertaining as well. It ups the pace of the movie when said climax begins, and it makes the viewing experience worthwhile.

Another point of the movie that stood out to me for a reason I truly should have grasped from the very beginning was the score. For the record, the score for “Minority Report” was conducted by John Williams, and I don’t know why for the life of me I didn’t conceptualize that from the beginning. I knew John Williams automatically went hand in hand with the “Star Wars” franchise but for some reason I completely forgot his attachment to Steven Spielberg, the two go together in the same way that Hans Zimmer and Christopher Nolan tend to go together. They have worked on so many films to the point where their coupling has become nothing short of iconic. When it John Williams, I will say, even though there are fractions of the score that I happened to like, it is one of inferior scores. This movie came out the same year as “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” another score that John Williams did. And even though I, along with many others, would point out that “Attack of the Clones” is a lackluster installment to the “Star Wars” franchise, there’s a solid chance I would agree with someone that “Episode II,” per usual had a kick-ass John Williams score. When it comes to his 2002 work, “Attack of the Clones” kicks “Minority Report’s” ass. Although, if you want me to go further, even though I barely remember, I do recall not hating Williams’ score to “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” But I have to watch that movie again as it has been forever since I saw it. Sticking with “Minority Report’s” score, I will say I enjoyed it, but if I had to say one standout negative about it, I think it’s a little overbearing on drums. Just a little bit.

Little sidenote, this review is being written in 2020, the year that “Cops” was practically taken off the air for a list of reasons, so I will admit, I did get a slight chuckle seeing that apparently the TV show “Cops” was still relevant in 2054. Just thought I’d point that out.

In the end, “Minority Report” is a good movie, and a likable futuristic vision with a clever concept. However, when it comes to futuristic visions, specifically ones that come from the mind of Steven Spielberg, I much prefer his vision of 2045, which was represented through 2018’s “Ready Player One,” as opposed to his vision of 2054, represented here in “Minority Report.” Then again, “Ready Player One” is based on a book by Ernest Cline, and “Minority Report” is based on a short story from Philip K. Dick, so in reality, it’s not Spielberg’s vision. Nevertheless, I think when it comes to movies that are set in the future from Spielberg, I personally prefer “Ready Player One.” Although I will say, one thought that has been in my head for a little bit about this movie is the desire to check it out once more. Not just because I liked the movie the first time, which I did. But I feel like there are possibly one or two crucial points that I may have glossed over that are worth noticing in the future. If your movie can get me to have a urge to go back and see it one more time, no matter what the reason (unless maybe I want to torture myself), I’d say a job well done is in order. There are better Spielberg movies out there, I’d say there are better Tom Cruise movies out there. But this was worth my time, I didn’t really have any regrets. I’m going to give “Minority Report” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Thanks to all who showed any ounce of interest in Tom Cruise Month! I will point out that July is coming up, and while I have no real theme for the month, I will note that “Tenet” is scheduled to come out pretty soon, so maybe I’ll review some Christopher Nolan movies if I have the time. I will point out though, given how I have not really paid much attention to this year in film all that much, I do want to give this year’s movies a shot before it is too late. So there is a solid chance that a lot of July’s content is going to be of some 2020 movies that I missed. I’ve got a few on Blu-ray, I can probably check a few movies through streaming if I have the proper account setup. And even though I personally don’t have Apple TV+, there is a movie coming to that service that I might end up reviewing if possible, specifically “Greyhound” starring Tom Hanks. Because who doesn’t like Tom Hanks?! Be sure to follow Scene Before either through an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! Speaking of checking things out, if you want to see some more of my Tom Cruise reviews that are not exactly affiliated with Tom Cruise Month, the links are listed down below. These reviews by the way go all the way back to 2017, my second year of film reviewing on Scene Before. I want to know, did you see “Minority Report?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite John Williams score of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Last Samurai

Risky Business

The Firm

American Made

Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible II

Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

The Gentlemen (2019): A Confused, Hungry Lion of a Ride

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“The Gentlemen” is directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Aladdin) and stars Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Sing), Charlie Hunham (Nicholas Nickleby, Queer As Folk), Henry Golding (Last Christmas, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Dockery (Good Behavior, Downton Abbey), Jeremy Strong (The Big Short, Succession), Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell), Colin Farrell (S.W.A.T., The Lobster), and Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral, A Very English Scandal). This film is about an American expat who is trying to make money through selling off his marijuana business in London. This leads to eventual chaos… And by chaos, I mean what my brain went through while watching this movie.

It’s been a week since I saw “The Gentlemen” just to get things up to speed. My noggin is still spiraling in all sorts of directions.

Honestly, I am sort of glad I have waited as long as I did to talk about this movie. I saw this on the Wednesday before it came out to a pretty active crowd, there were laughs and applause throughout, therefore this seemed like a fine experience. As for other reviewers, they seem to be digging this movie. I on the other hand cannot say I share the same opinion as everyone else. Let me just start with the positives, because believe it or not, this movie has some.

This film is finely directed and it feels as if Guy Ritchie is delivering his own style and implementing it into the final product. The characters feel like they could only come out of a movie of this kind, maybe a few others. The casting from Matthew McConaughey to Colin Farrell, to Michelle Dockery is all very well done. It also shows how brilliantly each character is performed based on each actor’s ability. In a way, it almost had a similar vibe to “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” while not exactly being the same film overall in terms of plot and style. And if you know me, you know I think “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is one of the better spy films of the past decade. Part of the movie revolves around two characters who are basically reading a movie script and analyzing what the movie calls a true story in an attempt to turn that into a feature film. One of the better parts of it is when they throw out archaic terms like 35mm, anamorphic widescreen, almost in that tone where someone thinks of what cinema is “supposed to be” like in the “good old days.”

A number of the action scenes are enjoyable. Again, going back to the characters, there is a scene, and if you watch the trailer, chances are you got a taste of it, where Matthew McConaughey almost looks like a madman as he has a gun in his hand. There are a couple other fun scenes too, don’t get me wrong.

Other than that, this movie has no real reason for me to go back and watch it again… Except for one thing, which I will get to later.

If you go back up the opening paragraph, chances are you noticed me trying to describe the movie and I ultimately present it as if some blanks need to be filled. I’ll be honest, that’s because pacing-wise, this movie is almost too fast. I said this film reminds me a tad of “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” One of the great things about that movie in my opinion is how it almost never stops, it kept me glued because of the bonkers action and ridiculousness of all to be seen. While that may have been a positive in “Kingsman,” such a notion honestly deters “The Gentlemen.” There could be an argument to make that this is one of those movies that could end up getting better through multiple watches, that way I can digest everything, but in order to do that, there has to be some sort of desire that a viewer like me must achieve to watch a movie again in the first place. After watching “The Gentlemen,” there are elements that I liked, but as a film, I have managed to find a lot of it forgettable and even though I am not great with names in real life, I walked out of this film wondering what everybody’s name was.

Just for the record, I have been previously been diagnosed with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, which is just a fancy way of saying that my mind likes to go in several places at once. This feels like a movie that maybe I would make if I were to shove in a bunch of ideas, locations, characters, but I just want them in there just for the sake of being there. In real life, my ADHD sort of represents a less than pleasant span of attention at times, and from one moment to the next, the movie just feels like it cannot stick to a proper idea for a suitable length of time. One moment it’s here, one moment it’s there, the next moment it feels like it is about to go everywhere! That’s the best way I can describe this disappointing mediocrity.

This film is directed by Guy Ritchie who also helmed “Snatch” in the past, which I have enjoyed due to its individualistic style and overall fast pace. I barely remember the film partially due to how I have only seen it once, but I remember enjoying it. But he also did “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” which was a waste of precious time. As a director, there is no doubting that Ritchie likes to do films kind of in his own way, sort of like Quentin Tarantino or Wes Anderson. I do respect the feeling of creative freedom that is represented from “The Gentlemen,” I just wish the movie was better as a result of said creative freedom. Too many movies seem to be tied down to a formula or locked into the requirements of a studio, “The Gentlemen” sort of reminds me of the kinds of movies I would prefer to see today. At the same time however, this movie almost feels like something Zack Snyder would direct. Now that is a bit of a stretch, but if you have seen films like “300” and “Sucker Punch,” which if I were to review right now, would receive positive grades, they feel like they ultimately do a better job at representing style over substance.

I also kind of see why a film like this sort of ended up in January, while I could probably market this film with ease and maybe represent it as summertime fun with all sorts of action, that’s not entirely what is shown in the final product. This is a film that I would imagine behind the scenes some were feeling would be not too difficult to describe, but not the easiest film to describe either. This makes it harder to form a concrete marketing campaign. January is usually seen as dumping ground for film, so it would not be surprising that the studio thought a film like “The Gentlemen” could end up in such a release month.

Also, over the past number of days, I’ve been starting to crush on Michelle Dockery because of this movie. Just saying. Not that it affects my score all that much.

In the end, “The Gentlemen” is a movie with a number of positives in it. The action is slick and fun, the writing style is something probably only Guy Ritchie himself would come up with, the casting is perfect! But this film needs to calm down. If anything, I should remind you all of another film that came out recently, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” I want to bring this up because one of the complaints I have heard about “The Rise of Skywalker” is that the movie feels like it is too quick. Having seen “The Rise of Skywalker” myself I have no idea what these people were thinking, I think the fast pace of the film made it fun, compared to its predecessor, “The Last Jedi.” But if you don’t like the bonkers pace of “The Rise of Skywalker,” try watching “The Gentlemen” and tell me you have a basic understanding of EVERYTHING that is going on. I don’t know, maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Going back to the one reason why I might watch this movie again, there is a good chance that I could watch “The Gentlemen” a second time and like it more because the film goes so fast, maybe I will catch something new. But having seen it once, I am going to have to continuously wonder if it warrants a second viewing. Until then, I have to be brutally honest, because I’m going to give “The Gentlemen” a 5/10.

Thanks for reading this review! This SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2ND, that’s Super Bowl Sunday, is the beginning of the Super Bowl for movies, the Jackoff Awards! For the record, the actual ceremony will not be up until SUNDAY FEBRUARY 16TH, a little more than two weeks from now. I am not going to provide too many hints for the nominations, but for those of you who have witnessed last year’s events related to the ceremony, you’d probably be aware of how I handled Best Picture. This year, once again, once I announce the nominees for Best Picture, I am going to provide a poll of the ten movies and have you pick the one that YOU think should win. Why? Because I already chose mine earlier this month in my best movies of the year list! Now, it’s your turn! Be sure to look out for my upcoming nominations announcement this Sunday! If you want to see this post and more from Scene Before and Flicknerd.com, give the site a follow via an email or WordPress account. Speaking of following, give me a like on my Facebook page, located on the Zuckerberg Land itself! I want to know, did you see “The Gentlemen?” What did you think about it? Am I getting ahead of myself? Or, what is a movie that you think is too fast-paced? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson (2019): Worse Than The Haunting of Sharon Tate?

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“The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is directed by Daniel Farrands, who also directed the gosh-awful piece of crap that some would call a movie, “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.”  This film stars Mena Suvari (American Pie, American Beauty), Nick Stahl (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Sin City), Agnes Bruckner (The Bold and the Beautiful, Once Upon a Time), Drew Roy (Falling Skies, Hannah Montana), and Taryn Manning (Orange Is the New Black, Crossroads) in a film that dives into the final days of OJ Simpson’s wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, as shown from her point of view.

If you have been following my blog, you’d already know that I have talked about a couple films this year and reviewed them. However, this is ultimately the first film released this particular decade that I have to tackle. And to be honest, I wish I could have chosen a better one.

To call what I’m reviewing a “January movie” is perhaps generous. Because for those of you who must know, the month of January is usually a dumping ground for films. Maybe the film is not that good, not that profitable, and maybe studios don’t know what to do with it. But when I think of other bad January movies, a lot of them contain some sort of charm when compared to “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson.”

This film is from director Daniel Farrands, who also directed a movie I mentioned earlier, which happens to be the worst movie I sat through in 2019, “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.” I don’t, THANKFULLY, remember all that I saw. But what I do remember is that I witnessed one of the most distasteful, incompetent, not to mention insulting films I have ever sat through. IT WAS EVEN RELEASED IN THEATERS! F*CKING THEATERS!

And guess what? This one is no different! Not only did it get a small release in theaters, but just like “The Haunting of Sharon Tate,” this piece of s*it can just go to Hell! I rented this film on Prime Video with absolute curiosity as to what I was going to witness. But honestly, this movie feels like a tarnation even if it is free. As I watched this film, based on the vibe and characters, this felt like one of those films that could easily go straight to Lifetime, but for some reason, I have no full idea why, this got approved for a theatrical release.

Technically speaking, it’s barely watchable. The music is fitting, but also kind of a waste of time and space. The camerawork… well, is full of properly framed material… But there’s not really much of anything special about it. But speaking of things on camera, this director must really love horror movies. Because I saw a review before checking this movie out, but having witnessed that review, I have been informed that there is a clip that might as well be out of “Nightmare on Elm Street.” Now, I have not seen “Nightmare on Elm Street” but I have seen the clip that this film CLEARLY rips off.

Actually, you know what? Saying that this film rips off “Nightmare on Elm Street” is honestly too generous. If anything it almost tries to… pay respects, I guess? BUT IT DOES SO TO ABOMINABLE LEVELS! If anything it just does a horribly shot and blasphemously edited sequence that pretty much can only be compared to something out of a really bad Michael Bay movie. The scene has so many massively off-putting jumpcuts and mind-numbingly annoying flickers that I am almost surprised I did not exit my viewing experience with a headache! IT’S SO BAD!

Speaking of Lifetime movies, the characters and acting levels represented in this film are very fitting for such an environment.

There’s this whole subplot about Nicole trying to find someone, the dialogue in the earliest scene regarding this is still in my head, specifically where one of her friends is trying to encourage her to go to town on a waiter. Cringe! Period! I can’t even form complete sentences at this point! GAH! Even if Arnold Schwarzenegger confirmed to me that it’s not a tumor, I’d probably feel like a tumor is destroying me as we speak.

I will give credit though to the lead actress, Mena Suvari, because I feel like even though this movie fell apart through screenwriting, music, and the lack of ability to helm a project, this is still a competent performance. I felt like this was the performance needed out of a character like this. She’s shy, not incredibly outspoken, and a bit reserved. It might be the best part of the movie. Although given how much this mess shatters itself like a newer model iPhone when tossed to the ground, it doesn’t really say much!

For all of you writing a book on the history of film reviews, mark this day, because I am about to use “The Haunting of Sharon Tate,” a film that broke me to no end that it wound up being my #3 worst film of the past decade, AS THE POSITIVE in a comparison. We have officially reached worldwide insanity.

Whereas “The Haunting of Sharon Tate,” did one thing, and I repeat ONE THING that could have been interesting regarding its screenplay, this film has nothing that feels fresh or emotionally investing, even though the main character is about to get bloody murdered! “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” AT THE VERY LEAST had one interesting point within its screenplay… Are our lives written from beginning to end? Is everything in our lives pre-planned? Can we write our own scripts? That reminds me, THIS MOVIE HAS A F*CKING DREADFUL SCRIPT! Am I being a little harsh? It’s possible. After all, this is the first feature-length script from Michael Arter, who also had a credit for “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” as a production coordinator. Still, I gotta be truthful, I have to point out what irked me, because honesty is the best policy.

In fact, get this. Whenever Simpson says something regarding how she thinks she is going to brutally murdered one day or something else along those lines, it felt like an utter joke. And speaking of jokes, there is a scene where Simpson and another character are sitting in the kitchen as they drink… WAIT FOR IT. WHAT COULD IT EVER BE? Oh, I know! ORANGE JUICE! Is it just me or is this movie a punishment for someone? Possibly a punishment for me?

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I should also point out, when it comes to Simpsons’ friends, specifically Kris Kardashian (Agnes Bruckner) and Faye Resnick (Tayrn Manning), their characters at times feature some of the most painful to watch overacting I sat through in recent memory. If this film was a parody, this probably would have worked. Admittedly, this is what the film feels like at times, but without any intention whatsoever.

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Also, Faye Resnick’s wig is one of the worst I have seen on film. It almost looks like a wig someone would wear if they made a poorly realized stage play for an episode of “Friends” and they needed someone to play Rachel.

“The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is just short of an hour and a half, making it barely feature-length. Luckily, it does not feel longer than it needs to be, but this almost makes the movie feel disappointingly cheap, especially when considering that not all of the footage is shot specifically for it! Daniel Farrands is a director who I will be honest, needs to avoid going down the rabbit hole he seems to have fallen into. Is he a nice guy in person? Probably. Maybe he’s a charming fellow. This isn’t the only type of film Farrands has helmed. After all he has done documentaries before he dove into feature-length movies. Documentaries which by the way, also focus on the realm of horror. But I really think stories based on famous murders is not going to be something I would look forward to from now on if Farrands is behind the camera. If Farrands is really passionate about horror, then maybe he has some potential to create something magical within its genre, but these past couple of films I have seen from him have been dull, unsatisfying, and a waste of my time. Speaking of unsatisfying, this film contains a sex scene that isn’t exactly gross, but it feels poorly put together. The music in this scene feels incredibly out of place! It makes the belly-button sex in “The Room” look like “Pulp Fiction!”

In the end, this film is MURDER. It is nothing short of one of the worst experiences of film-viewing that I have ever dredged through. This is the first 2020 film, (some say it’s a 2019 film, but it’s a 2020 film as far as the United States is concerned) that I have witnessed. If this is not the worst film we are getting this year, not to mention for the remainder of this entire decade, then chances are this is God’s way of punishing us. “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is perhaps acted as competently as possible, at least as far as Mena Suvari is concerned. Although the film is also shrouded in a piss-poor script, catastrophic scenes, and terrible directing. Is this film worse than “The Haunting of Sharon Tate?” Honestly, yes. As boring as “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” is, the film, from what I remember is collectively acted better, and I’ll also reiterate that the conversations about fate were at least somewhat intriguing even if they were almost tacked on. Story-wise, this film honestly has nothing. I’m going to give “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” a 1/10. This is honestly one of the worst films I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of them, especially over these past number of years. I’d honestly rather watch “Cats” again! I’m not kidding! It’s that bad! Daniel Farrands, get your act together, and make better films! Get crackin’!

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that I just saw “Dolittle,” the latest movie, not to mention reboot in the “Dr. Dolittle” franchise and the first film featuring Robert Downey Jr. outside of Marvel Studios since 2014’s “The Judge.” I just went to see it in Dolby Cinema and I hope to have my thoughts on it as soon as possible. Be sure to follow Scene Before if you want to stay up to date on my latest content, you can do so by using an email or WordPress account! As for social media, check out my Facebook page if you want to not only receive access to my content as early as possible, but also random thoughts from the Movie Reviewing Moron. I want to know, did you see “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson?” What did you think about it? Or, now that 2020 is here, what films have you seen so far? I know it’s early, but just for fun, give me your best and worst. Just to make it easier, feel free to insert films from past years! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Irishman (2019): Jack Does a Short Review of Martin’s Long Film

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“The Irishman” is directed by Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street, Silence) and stars Robert De Niro (Meet the Parents, The Godfather: Part II), Joe Pesci (Home Alone, Raging Bull), and Al Pacino (Heat, Insomnia). This is a return to form for critically acclaimed director Martin Scorsese, who is well-known for his gangster movies including “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” and “Mean Streets.” In this film inspired by Charles Brandt’s book “I Heard You Paint Houses,” Robert De Niro’s character, Frank Sheeren recalls events of his past as he gets involved with Russell Bufalino and dissects into his involvement with Jimmy Hoffa.

I will be completely honest with you. There was a time, going back two or three years ago that I did not think I was going to check out this movie as all. After all, I don’t personally pay for Netflix, which I heard this movie was going to be on. I did not realize at the time that they were getting a bit more serious with their theatrical releases. To this day, my family uses Netflix, but I just never jumped on the train. I’m just not a streamer, it’s not my style. The only services I use today happen to be Prime and Crackle. When I heard this was getting a theatrical release, my curiosity levels shot into the air and almost splattered like glittery fireworks. Even though I am rather late to the party, I did make a trip to one of my local theaters to go see “The Irishman.” I’d say it was worth the trip. To be honest with you, even though some of the most well-regarded movies ever made are gangster flicks, that type of film has never been my style. With that being said, my experience of witnessing this film was still a good use of my time.

Speaking of time, “The Irishman” is three and a half hours long, making it my most extended watch of the year. This is both a blessing and a curse. I say that because the movie for the most part is entertaining and rather investing. The downside is that perhaps both the first thirty minutes and last thirty minutes happen to be the points where the film manages to fizzle. I may be exaggerating on the first thirty minutes because for one thing, the film was just beginning, therefore it was nearly impossible for me to divert my eyes away from the screen. But, for the last thirty minutes or so, I felt like I was watching something that was four hours as opposed to three and a half.

I did something I don’t normally do when I work on my reviews, but I jotted down some short notes after watching the film. I was in the middle of a double feature, because I watched both this and “Marriage Story” in the same day. Before my second movie started, I stated that “I enjoyed the little things.” There are a few scenes in this movie that sort of add something to the film, but almost feel like they belong on an extended cut. There is a scene towards the end of the movie, that I won’t entirely go into that involves a conversation about the delivery of a fish. It’s undoubtedly entertaining, and in the moment, it kind of put a smile on my face, but the more I think about it, it almost does not really add anything to the film overall aside from some random laughs. It just feels like wasted time. I mean, it sort of reminded me of “Pulp Fiction,” which has random conversations about uncomfortable silences and foot massages. These are two random topics that somehow got in the script in the first place, but most amazing of all, worked. However, “Pulp Fiction” feels like it uses every minute wisely whereas “The Irishman” almost overstays its welcome. The pacing drags at a point, which considering the runtime, is not that surprising.

While this movie may suffer in terms of pacing, I think it is nevertheless one of the best directed and acted films I have seen all year. Martin Scorsese manages to deliver a technically competent film on all levels ranging from camerawork, lighting, and delivering the best performances possible. This movie also contains what may be my favorite child performance of the year, given by Lucy Gallina. Her performance is very subtle, and any scene involving her was either entertaining or simply charming.

Speaking of surprise performances, I want to talk about Ray Romano. Do not get me wrong, I liked Ray Romano long before he signed onto this movie, but I never thought Romano had the acting range he does today. After all, he was the lead role on one of my favorite sitcoms, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” where he basically plays an exaggerated, alternate version of himself. In this movie he plays a lawyer by the name of Bill Bufalino, and honestly, it’s the best performance of his career. Looking at his past work, it might not say too much, but it’s still worth pointing out.

However, Romano is not part of the big three. Specifically, De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino. And while I do admire the portrayals given by the entire trio, Pacino, personally, cannot be beat. Pacino was perfectly cast as Jimmy Hoffa. This is a role that I honestly do not see anybody else playing, except maybe John Tuturro, not specifically because of his acting ability or anything, but at one point, I thought Pacino looked like Tuturro during the film. Out of all the characters, Hoffa was by the far the most charismatic and interesting of all. He’s bombastic, wacky, and quirky. He’s basically what you need out of a proper Pacino role.

I don’t have much more to say on “The Irishman,” but as I watched this film, one of the things I almost forgot about going in that I eventually reminded myself of is the de-aging processes that can be seen throughout this flick. De-aging through digital tech is a seemingly increasing trend. We’ve seen it so far in films like “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Tron: Legacy,” and “Gemini Man.” I think one of the best de-aging jobs that has been done recently is for Samuel L. Jackson in “Captain Marvel.” YES, I JUST BROUGHT UP A MARVEL MOVIE IN A REVIEW FOR A MARTIN SCORSESE FILM. REMIND HIM NOT TO READ THIS IN ORDER TO AVOID NIGHT TERRORS. As for this film, I could barely even notice the digital makeup applied to everybody. I’d probably have to watch the film again, and I have no plans to watch it again in the near future, but if I were to watch it again it would be for one reason only. Because the main actors are not that young, and I want to remind myself of how they move. They may look younger in the film than they do in real life, but do they move like younger people should? It’s a question that is still on my mind.

In the end, “The Irishman” is entertaining, but a tad too long. Although at the same time, this brings up a dilemma, because one of the most entertaining factors of “The Irishman” are some little additions that do not need to necessarily be in the final cut, but are entertaining nonetheless. This movie is a solid piece of work, and not exactly a waste of my time (maybe except for somewhere between ten and thirty minutes worth), so I’d still recommend it. I’d recommend it to a good number of people, unless you are an easily offended vegetarian. This film has a lot of steak consumption. I really liked Jimmy Hoffa’s story overall, and basically any scene involving him made the movie twice as swell as it already was. I’m going to give “The Irishman” a 7/10. One reminder to Martin Scorsese, there are two Marvel films I saw this year that I liked better than this. Just being real.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone, as mentioned earlier, I went to see “Marriage Story.” I will have my review up for that as soon as possible, and stay tuned at the rise of the new year for my countdowns on the best and worst movies of 2019! If you want to see more great content like this, follow Scene Before! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Irishman?” What did you think about it? Did you see it in theaters or at home? Tell me about your experience! Or, do you consider comic book movies like those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe “cinema?” Yes? No? Maybe? I don’t know? Part yes part no? State your case, defend your opinion, the universe depends on it! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!