Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band (2019): “Boo” Dylan

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“Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band” is directed by Daniel Roher (Ghosts of Our Forest, Brand Canada) and executive produced by renowned director Martin Scorsese. This is not the first time in which Scorsese is handling a project relating to The Band, as he previously directed the 1978 documentary “The Last Waltz.” This film is a documentary centering around Robbie Robertson and his musical group simply titled “The Band.” It goes into their story over the years, their ups, their downs, and mainly dives into the current perspective of Robertson himself as he is interviewed.

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Am I a music junkie? Well, not really. I will admit when I need to listen to some tunes, a lot of it is not from today. Classic rock, classical, heavy metal, and soundtracks are just some of the jams I prefer. I am not that trendy. Even so, I myself have waited until just fairly recently to find out about a quaint little music group titled “The Band,” as seen in this film. I had no idea who they were, or just about anything to which they could possibly associate. But here’s the truth. Movie theaters just reopened in Massachusetts. However, the number of the theaters that officially reopened their doors happened to be pretty minimal. And the one that I ended up going to had two other movies playing and I happened to already see both of them (Emma, Irresistible). So I shelled out some money to go see “Once Were Brothers,” I had a good time. Enough said.

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Once again, it’s 2020, this is yet another example of a movie that I saw that happened to be quite enjoyable, but even in July, I have yet to find that one movie that really cracked the code, I haven’t found that one movie that really felt worthwhile when it comes to seeing it this year. If “Tenet” came out last weekend as it was previously expected to, maybe that would have been the case, but we don’t live in a happy little wonderland. Global warming is killing us. Bees may go extinct. Coronavirus is the talk of the town. To put it lightly, anything that could go wrong in 2020, would go wrong. “Once Were Brothers” is definitely one of the more entertaining and well put together films I have seen all year. Or… Is it last year? IMDb identifies it as a 2019 film given how it already premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, anyway…

One of the most relatable aspects of life represented in film is failure. Granted, sometimes when people fail on screen, I question every single person in the film (I’m looking at you “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”). And one of my favorite parts of this film is seeing The Band collaborate with Bob Dylan because Dylan himself would perform at his own concert, be noted for his incredible charisma and success, but every time that The Band would come out, they would get booed. Now I was not living during the times of the group’s inception, and I have never attended a Bob Dylan concert, I can’t really say much about these folks’ live performances, but as someone who has personally dealt with failure of some kind in life, seeing this made me connect with them on a certain level. I do not go to many concerts, and the only times I’ve ever recalled booing somebody in a live environment to a serious level are during Major League Baseball games. Now I am a critic, but I often understand why performers try really hard to move on from booing audiences, just take them as they go, even though the impact of boos can be significant in a negative way.

This film also deals with a blend of dreams and reality, most notably when it comes to one of The Band’s members. So weird saying that… You figure that could be a sentence for anybody. One of my favorite elements of the film is the story of Levon, who supposedly carried much of the fun within the group itself. He clearly enjoyed his time as a member, but at the same time, there was a moment where he ended up needing to expand his identity, know more about himself. Much of the movie is told from the perspective of member Robbie Robertson, who based on the interview material, comes off as a pretty charming fellow. Hearing Robertson talk about someone who felt like one of the best friends he knew in his life and relating that thought to multiple scenarios felt rather passionate, it felt like a trip down his own personal “memory lane” if you will. And that’s what this documentary could end up feeling like for some people who enjoy music from say the late 20th century. It’s a sign that the documentary ended up doing its job.

The documentary ends with one of The Band’s key performances, and I will admit, if I were there, it could have been pretty fun to watch. I will say, even though it was not personally my biggest highlight of the entire film, it did look good on the screen while also managing to pack in a slight sense of finality to what has been built up previously.

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I will say though, one slight disappointment, and I may be a little biased as I love films, and even though this is a movie about music, I will always put movies before music in most cases. As mentioned, “Once Were Brothers” is executive produced by the legendary Martin Scorsese. A director who I will admit I am mostly unfamiliar with in terms of actually seeing his films, but I respect him nonetheless and what I have seen from him, such as “Goodfellas,” has impressed me. He’s barely in the movie. Now, this may seem like a weird complaint as the movie has almost nothing to do with Scorsese himself. But given how he was credited as an executive producer, I was somewhat disappointed that he only appears maybe twice. Just a small, odd complaint that doesn’t really affect my verdict of the film a ton, but it is something that I did want to get off my chest.

As for the film, it has a solid blend of interview footage, archive footage, and so on. I don’t know if I’d tune into it again right away, but if you are bored, “Once Were Brothers” is now available to rent. Or, if your theater reopened and happens to be playing the documentary (like one of mine did), check it out now!

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In the end, “Once Were Brothers” is lively, charming, and occasionally on a certain scale of compelling. If I had to use one word to describe “Once Were Brothers,” it would be “classy.” It’s a classy time. It’s a classy flick. It’s a classy series of happenings all put together. The movie just feels like it is full of… class. I don’t know how many other documentaries I will get around to watching this year, because evidence shows that is one of my weaker areas as a film fan, but if this is the only one, I will say that I have picked a good one. I am going to give “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Big news everybody! “Tenet” is delayed again! I talked about the first two delays, maybe I’ll talk about the third one… And by talk, I probably mean complain 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 the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band?” What did you think about it? Or, what are your thoughts on The Band themselves? 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!

Why I Won’t Review The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last night the Super Bowl aired on NBC and with another Super Bowl around that means another set of overpriced ads that are basically trying to become more important than life itself. The ads overall were underwhelming, however there were a few good ones personally. These good ones came from Bud Light, Amazon, Sprint, Groupon, and M&Ms. As usual, the Super Bowl featured a few movie ads. Some of which were trailers for trailers, which is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. One movie spot that specifically caught my attention was “The Cloverfield Paradox.”

I actually knew about this movie before it came out, but I didn’t think it would be coming out now. The movie was originally titled “God Particle” and it was going to be in theaters. This film had been in development since 2012 and its release had been delayed several times. After that, it has been confirmed that this is the third “Cloverfield” installment, following “Cloverfield” and “10 Cloverfield Lane.” As the trailer for this film aired during the Super Bowl, some people were surprised, and I was too. I’m not sure about other people, but I wasn’t surprised there was a trailer. I was surprised about three other things. The first surprise was that it was out in a couple of hours after the trailer dropped. The second surprise was that it wasn’t called “God Particle” and instead called “The Cloverfield Paradox,” but hey, you gotta make the title come off as something people know. The third, and biggest surprise, is that it’s coming out on Netflix.

As of now, a number of people have already watched “The Cloverfield Paradox.” Many of the final verdicts of the film are on the positive end. You want to know my verdict on the film? Well, I can’t tell you since I never saw it. As matter of fact, I don’t think there will come a day where I actually sit down and watch it. If you have seen “The Cloverfield Paradox” and enjoyed it, good for you, I’m glad you had a pleasurable experience. My reasons behind not watching the film don’t have anything to do with hate towards the “Cloverfield” films or the fact that I’m lazy. Also, if you hated it, I’m sorry, and you probably deserve your time back. Although now that I say that I’m lazy, I don’t really exercise as much as some people. My lack of review has more to do with my refusal to use Netflix.

I sound like a total weirdo that doesn’t belong in the generation I was born into, AKA the millennials, especially considering that almost everyone I know my age uses Netflix. Although I refuse to support them for a number of reasons.

The first reason behind this sounds absolutely crazy, but it still exists. I miss Blockbuster Video. Sure, I was a kid, so I never really had to deal with paying late fees or maintaining a Blockbuster membership card or driving to the place. Heck, even if I was my mother or father, I wouldn’t usually have to worry about that because we used to have one that was walking distance from my house. Even as a kid, there was such a joy to be had about that store that I could only replicate by going to someplace where you could buy a movie. Every time I went there felt like a small birthday present. You can’t get that with Netflix! Not only that, but on Netflix, you can’t actually get a deeper emphasis of the film you’re watching by looking all over the case, seeing images, descriptions, all sorts of information. Also, you don’t even need WiFi to play a DVD or Blu-ray. There’s something about streaming that’s kind of depressing. Granted I do use certain streaming services such as Amazon Video and Crackle, but if anything, Netflix was the biggest killer of Blockbuster. I can kind of understand certain movies going straight to streaming, much like how I can understand certain movies going straight to DVD or straight to TV. Although with Netflix’s exclusive content, it’s pretty much ALL straight to streaming.

Netflix began making exclusive content for some time now, and I can truly understand if Netflix wanted to make a TV show to put on its streaming service right away. I would prefer for Netflix to make their own TV channel, but apparently that concept is dwindling. I honestly don’t like that. It feels nice having a TV schedule as opposed to a TV clutter, and this is coming from a guy who hates schedules! The thing I really hate, is how every Netflix original movie has to be straight to streaming. People are saying that movie theaters are dying, and that is just UPSETTING. People are trying to get with the times by the endless recliner installation and renovation, which I think is overrated because you have a lot less seats than you would if you went to a theater with normal seats. Do you know why I go to see movies at the theater? Bigger screen, more audible sound, clearer images. Can you imagine someone watching “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Cast Away” or “La La Land” and it happens to be on a TV? OK, maybe it’s not that bad of an experience depending on your setup, but what if someone is watching one of those movies on a computer or laptop? What if they’re watching it on a tablet? Or an even more terrifying thought, their phone. What Netflix is basically doing is destroying not only history, because people gather at these places for special events, but they’re also destroying one of a kind experiences.

Netflix’s idea of releasing films the way they do is baffling to me because for one thing, if they release their movies in theaters, they have a chance to make more money! Amazon has a strategy which involves them releasing films, putting them in theaters for ninety days, and around the end of the theatrical run, the movie comes out to home video media and streaming. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can stream the movie for free on Amazon Video. Amazon’s method of showing their films in theaters has brought me to check out their films for this blog. I didn’t review all of the ones I saw, but I kept their theatrical releases in mind. This idea is a good way to make money while at the same time, providing a decent experience. If someone really likes a movie released by Amazon as they watch it in theaters, chances are they could watch it again once it hits Prime. Netflix apparently isn’t as bright of a bulb as Amazon, no wonder they’re in debt.

Will I watch “The Cloverfield Paradox” sometime in the future? I’m not quite sure. Maybe if they put it out on Blu-ray and I find it for a good price I might take it, but I also hope that maybe by the end of the year they put it in the theater. I mean, I’m not gonna be surprised if Netflix doesn’t allow something like this, because they are going to be distributing Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” and there’s a good chance it won’t be in theaters. If you don’t know who Martin Scorsese is, he departed the wolves off of Wall Street and made them join an aviator in flying towards the movie theater. Seeing his name on a project can make some people interested in seeing how said project turns out. It’ll get them right into the theater! But no, Netflix is different, and that’s good! What a bunch of malarkey!

To this day, I never really used Netflix for anything. I’ve been with other people while they used it, but I never used Netflix for anything I wanted to do, and unless they start putting movies in theaters, or maybe pick up a reality TV show that has shaped my life for three seasons (“King of the Nerds”), I will not be using their services, and I will not be reviewing their content. Yes, I’m not even gonna watch “Stranger Things.” I won’t watch “Altered Carbon.” I will not be watching “The Crown.” I’m not watching “Orange is the New Black.” If you like these shows, good for you, enjoy them. I just won’t be watching them. Nor will I be watching “Cloverfield 3,” or “The Cloverfield Paradox,” or “God Particle,” I like that the name the best, it’s kind of kick-ass. Thanks for reading this non-review! I’m sorry if I disappointed anyone, but I can understand considering how Netflix disappointed me during the Super Bowl. Although if you actually want to know, I will be reviewing more movies soon, such as “The 15:17 To Paris.” That comes out in a few days, so I might see that movie rather soon! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, what are your thoughts on Netflix? What are your thoughts on streaming? Did you see “The Cloverfield Paradox?” If so, did you like it? Also, where would you rank it along with “Cloverfield” and “10 Cloverfield Lane?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!