The Last Shift (2020): Green Book, But Better

“The Last Shift” is directed by Andrew Cohn, who has directed a bunch of documentaries, but this is his feature-length debut for a narrative film. This movie stars Richard Jenkins (Kajillionaire, The Shape of Water), Shane Paul McGhie (Unbelievable, What Men Want), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (People of Earth, Selfie), Birgundi Baker (Empire, Black Lightning), Allison Tolman (Fargo, Good Girls), and Ed O’Neill (Modern Family, Finding Dory). This film follows a fast food restaurant worker who has done the graveyard shift for 38 years. His last shift is coming up, he’s training his replacement, the two have nothing in common, but they’re brought together by circumstance. The film dives into a developing relationship between the two as they spend night hours together at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish.

Over recent years, I have learned how much humanity truly has evolved as a culture of eating. With the invention of GrubHub, it has occasionally allowed me to order a large ice cream sundae from a place 3 towns over and have it be delivered to my place at 9:45 at night if I want it. Even though there are many complaints I have about society in 2020, the vast number of eating options is not one of them. Well, unless you count the fact that Massachusetts hasn’t allowed people to eat in a movie theater even though it is literally how they make their money! Stupid.

This movie, in one way or another, reminds me of how much our country “relies” on restaurants, specifically fast food, to get us through an assortment of times. It’s usually inexpensive, and gets the job done. Keep in mind, this movie mainly involves the behind the scenes aspect of people working at a restaurant, but this movie, from the very beginning let me know about how relevant we have made this industry today. Big chains like McDonald’s, KFC, and Wendy’s dominate, but it doesn’t mean regional chains can’t compete. Kind of like the chain represented in this film, Oscar’s Chicken and Fish. The vibe of this movie was partially infused from this reminder that sticks throughout the runtime. But that’s not all this film is.

You know what this film also is? FREAKING GREAT! That’s what it is! Honestly, this is one of my favorite films of 2020 so far! Granted, the only competitors for the #1 spot this year it really has in my opinion are “Summerland” and “Tenet.” Is this film better than those? I’ll address that notion later, until then, keep this in mind. The film is one of the closest things we as an audience will receive as a work of art this entire year.

In case you guys acknowledged the subtitle for this review, I should let you know that I saw the movie “Green Book” and enjoyed it. Keep in mind, this was during a time before any controversy related to said movie surfaced. If you ask me what I think about it today, I think as a film it is well done, charming, and delightful. It wouldn’t be my pick for best picture, I personally would have selected “Roma,” but still.

For those who live under a rock, the problem many have with “Green Book” is despite the film’s charm, or at least that’s what I got from it during my initial viewing. It revolves around people who actually exist, but tells a story that supposedly bends reality too much. Thankfully, “The Last Shift” is not based on anything. It’s an original script, no relation to true events, even though it takes place in present day. More specifically, present day where nobody wears masks. That way, there’s more that this movie can get away with in regard to how it tells it story.

I will say, the story in this movie is fascinating because it takes two people who are completely different, in fact they only have one, two, three things in common, and yet they play off each other perfectly. Their chemistry is spot on and they feel like real people living in a real world. In fact, I’ll say Richard Jenkins and Shane Paul McGhie give two of my favorite performances this year. If anything, I’d say they also have what technically qualifies as my favorite bromance of sorts this year. There are a couple scenes with these two together, the only way I can describe their interactions are by using words like “fun,” “joy,” and “charm.” But with it being a movie, of course there are bumps in the road. Because an unproblematic movie is futuristically speaking, problematic for how people view it.

This movie deals with a lot of issues from both characters. Marriage. Job stability. Getting by. This movie deals with issues that struggling men of different ages have to go through. Regardless of the specific issue, I ended up feeling for both of them.

I have never worked in the fast food industry. I haven’t worked with food period. But one of the things I love this movie for is that it addresses the entitlement of fast food customers. Guys, I get it. You want food the way you ask for it. BE NICE. RESPECT YOUR RESTAURANT. Look, I know the whole saying that “the customer’s always right,” therefore suggesting that they are the most important person in the room. I’m not denying that, but if you are that pissed over cheap food, just calm down a little bit. Mistakes happen. This is why every time I go to the movies, I try to put myself in the workers’ shoes. Are they having a good day? If not, what can I do to make it better? Maybe strike up an interesting conversation? I try to lighten the mood of everyone that I come across. If I go to a fast food restaurant, I expect good service. I expect good service everywhere I go! But fast food workers, like myself, are human! We all have feelings! I don’t want to call somebody a jerk without knowing their backstory! Now if there are times where somebody can cross a line like call me a nasty name or swear in my face, I will speak up and let them know that customer service should be taken as a priority. But still, what I’m saying is that fast food workers are people. Just like us. So let’s not try to tear them down.There’s a scene in this movie where a woman comes in suggesting her order was messed up, and she rages out against the two people working at the restaurant! I… Get that. I will be completely honest, I don’t work in customer service, in fact there has not been a point to this day where I have worked in customer service, but I understood the workers’ perspective here.

Although this movie excels in not just displaying the reality of having a low-paying job and trying to get by from not just one, but two individual perspectives, but it excels as a movie where an unlikely friendship develops. It’s about the bumps of life, all the hurdles that comes with it, and the desire to aim higher. You know that saying that no job is beneath you? I am not saying that statement is false, but this movie dives into the want for more. More money, a better job, a better life. At the same time it deals with the cons, and the sprinkled-in pros of the lives of our two main characters.

It’s still September as I write this, so for all I know things can change when movies like “Soul” and “Nomadland” come out, but “The Last Shift” is arguably the finest encapsulation of the human condition we have seen this year. Two Americans of different ages, of different backgrounds, of different identities, come together for a reason. Honestly, if you have ever worked part-time, you may relate to this movie. If you are of old age, you may relate to this movie. This movie dives into some serious issues, but at its heart, it’s just charming. It’s a good time, and that’s what movies are meant to be! Will it be my favorite of the year? Hard to tell at this point. We shall see.

In the end, “The Last Shift” is incredible. It’s an intimate tale of two vastly different people dealing with their own problems who despite some complications, still manage to get along. It’s a movie about a friendship that seems fine and charming, but the two have their separate views that collide. It’s sort of a broken friendship, which is cool. It goes to show that nobody is perfect! It’s about living in a suburban town where nothing goes on, the only thing that it has going for it is some local fast food restaurant that makes certain people happy. I get that. I come from the suburbs. I feel like one of those people who despite living there for 20 years, just wants to move away from it all and start a new life somewhere else, most likely Los Angeles. “The Last Shift” is one of the best movies of the year and I’m going to give it a 9/10! Do I like this movie better than “Tenet” and “Summerland?” I think as a story, it’s a little more compelling than “Tenet,” but “Summerland” has more of a surprise factor for me. I am not saying I was not looking forward to that movie, but I did not expect it to be as good as it turned out to be. Plus, “Tenet” has the benefit of practically being designed for the theatrical experience. This movie, even though it was great in the theater (and every movie is better in a theater), probably could have gotten away with a direct to On Demand release or something given what’s been going on with the pandemic. Even so, I’d put “The Last Shift” in my top 3 movies of 2020 at the very least because it is a really well done film. Check it out!

Remember how I said this is a better version of “Green Book?” Yeah, I’m not lying! I gave that movie an 8/10 during my original review. So regardless of controversy that has developed surrounding the movie, I am likely not lying about my statement. I have no idea how the rest of 2020 is going to play out. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected, but this is certainly a contender for my favorite film of the year! This is a great narrative directorial debut and as for everyone else who collaborated on the movie, I’d say they did an outstanding job.

Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to check out my next post which will probably involve… Something. I don’t know. I really wish I could tell you. “Wonder Woman 1984” would have come out this weekend if it for weren’t a mix of disappointing box office results for “Tenet,” other movies, or people being stupid. Also, New York and Los Angeles are two key markets that still need to open if the movie is going to succeed. I’m hoping they open by sometime next month, because I REALLY don’t want “Soul” and “No Time to Die” to get bumped. This year has been a screwball! You don’t know where it’s going! You’re spinning along with it! And in the end, it tires you out! Let’s just get through these trying times together, and if you are going to see a movie at a theater this weekend, remember to be safe, wash your hands, and take care of those around you. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Speaking of great content, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Last Shift?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite place to get fast food? Chain-wise, I’m a Burger King guy. I always have been. But if you’re ever in my area, be sure to check out Billy’s Famous Roast Beef in Wakefield, Mass. They make a mean chicken finger plate. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ways To See TENET in Theaters (From Digital to Film Stock to IMAX)

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I cannot believe I’m saying this, but for real this time, “Tenet” is almost here! The signs have been lighting up! Marketing has been increasing! Theaters have been opening! Sure, there are some key areas that may miss out on “Tenet” for now, but who’s to say markets like those can’t get the movie down the road? Nevertheless, this is something I have been looking forward to since last year, and it is finally here! I feel like a kid on Christmas!

For those of you who know anything about cinemas, there are some basic facts that can easily be picked up. For example, no matter what you are watching, it is usually on a big screen with high tech surround sound, but today, we are going to talk about one of the biggest movies of the year, and while we are not that far into the 2020s yet, I’ll go as far as to say it’s probably going to end up being one of the biggest and possibly defining films of the entire decade. That film my friends, is Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which I have discussed on Scene Before in the past. In fact, I cannot think of many other movies that I have discussed more before it came out aside from a few “Star Wars” flicks. In the trailers for “Tenet,” there’s a lot that can be picked up. For example, it is shot on IMAX film, which is often claimed to be the highest quality shooting format in existence, which also happens to be the highest quality projection format in existence. We’ll talk more about that in just a sec…

You may be thinking, is “Tenet” worth seeing in a theater? Now, don’t take my word for it, because I myself have not sat down in a theater to watch “Tenet.” And thanks to the spreading of COVID-19, almost nobody else in the world has gotten the opportunity to do such a thing either. This movie was originally supposed to release on July 17th of this year! What is that that ten eras ago or something? I think dinosaurs were still around when “Tenet” was supposed to come out! But, keeping that in mind, there are a couple things that you should know about “Tenet.”

  1. This film is directed by Christopher Nolan, who typically goes all out and advocates for the theatrical experience. If Warner Bros. were to kick “Tenet” away from its current release date, there is one thing that they WOULDN’T do, which is put the movie directly to home-based platforms. Nolan does not make his movies to be viewed at home. After all, when you spend over $200 million on this movie, putting all the biggest tech into it, why would you not put it into theaters?
  2. “Tenet” is being shot entirely through old-fashioned, heavy-duty 65mm film, some vertical and some horizontal. Again, I mentioned how this film was shot with IMAX, that is part of the 65mm process. The rest of the movie is shot on Panavision cameras which support the same format just in a vertical direction as opposed to IMAX’s unusual horizontal film stock. The film used to shoot “Tenet” is high quality and will look detailed on a big screen.
  3. Aside from high tech, “Tenet” also packs in a high concept. While much of the plot to “Tenet” currently remains secret, it involves time inversion (not to be confused with time travel), meaning that the movie will contain scenes where characters have to go backwards in time. There is also an international espionage plot moving everything along. Speaking of big, this movie was shot in seven countries.

As I’ve stated on this blog in the past, my most “anticipated” film of 2020 is “Dune,” which may be subject to change if it gets pushed back and that sort of thing, but who knows? Although, if there is currently a film that I want to see come out and succeed right now, “Tenet” would be my #1 answer. “Tenet” has a lot going for it both from tech and story. And I encourage you all to see it (that is, if you feel safe going out in August or September depending on where you live). But if you were to see it, you may overlook something… Where do you go see it? Well, here’s some options…

Digital (Resolution: Varies, typically 2K, 4K)

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If you have been to one to ten movie theater experiences in the past decade, there is a good chance that at least one of them, if not a majority, have been in digital. This is the industry standard as the equipment used is light, environmentally friendly, and maybe also because James Cameron wanted this to be the big projection standard for 2009’s “Avatar.” 3D is much more common on modern digital projection. Just for the record, “Tenet” is shot entirely in 2D, and will not be converted to 3D. To this day, all of Nolan’s films had no relation to 3D shooting or 3D projection. But this projection is basically what you’d be able to find your local multiplex like an AMC or Regal. This is not to say that mom and pop theaters don’t have it, but if you walk into a big chain theater, this is what you would find in almost every auditorium. It’s clear, bright (except when someone doesn’t know what to do when changing the filter for 3D), and like everything else in this 21st century society, computerized. Unlike film, this will allow for no scratched, tampered, or deteriorated images. If you want to go see “Tenet” and get a bang for your buck, see it in a digital theater. Keep in mind, the projection equipment may vary and the resolution may be better in some places than others. This is a very broad category, so be wise with your theater decision.

35mm (Digital equivalent: Approx. 6K)

Before digital projection of all kinds took over, the main source for projection during moviegoing happened to be 35mm. While many theaters have gotten rid of it for the digital projection you see today, many arthouse style theaters tend to have this format. In fact, I’ve seen two presentations in 35mm within the past year or so. To specify, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Little Women.” While I will admit one movie happened to be significantly more entertaining than the other, both looked crisp on the big screen. Given how 35mm is nearly equal to digital’s 6K, it is clearer than a vast majority of digital options on the cinema market today. Given how Nolan’s film was shot on 70mm however, some detail will be lost when projected. Which leads me to…

70mm (Digital equivalent: Approx. 12K)

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Back in the day, 65mm stock was used to shoot a number of big films that try encapsulate a large scope. After all, 70mm is such a large resolution and a feast for the eyes, which is why there’s a lot to love about it. And I can confirm that as I have seen “2001: A Space Odyssey” in the format twice. Pictures like the recently mentioned “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Ben-Hur” were all shot with 65mm, making them worth projecting in 70mm to see in their full glory. Christopher Nolan is no stranger to this format. As mentioned, he’s shooting “Tenet” entirely in 65mm, but this is not his first time doing so. The same can be said for his previous movie, “Dunkirk,” which like “Tenet” was also shot using IMAX footage. As for the scenes shot in traditional 65mm, those were shot to be presented in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio, same thing can be said for “Tenet.” This format was also what exactly was used for when the film was projected. This allows for no cropping or adjustments during various scenes that were NOT shot in IMAX. Given how the IMAX scenes are taller, those are cropped. Note for all the other non-IMAX 1.43:1 formats, they feature cropped pictures as well.

IMAX Digital (Resolution: 2K)

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Sticking with IMAX, the most mind-blowing thing about the brand for me is how much it has expanded over the years to the point where its multiplex-style theaters outrank what made them famous, their 1.43:1 aspect ratio screens (more on those later). One reason for this, easy digital projection and for the most part, retrofitting. IMAX Digital is typically projected onto screens with a 1.90:1 aspect ratio (kind of like the one above). But they are also used on the older style screens depending on the theater, and in some cases, what movie is playing. The screens these are normally used on are traditionally larger than the average movie screen and are comparable to RPX or Cinemark XD. They are also in theaters usually packed in with IMAX’s traditional 6 channel surround sound system, offering around 12,000 watts of power. While the image is not exactly the highest quality you’d get in a theater, the IMAX scenes do expand in this format and get rid of the black bars that are visible in other scenes. It is a good step up compared to most digital screens, which are smaller in size. As for the sound, that can also be a step up too in a lot of cases.

IMAX Laser (Resolution: 4K)

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Here we have the biggest digital offering yet. A typical setup containing 12 channel surround sound, bright colors, and full support for screens that are anywhere between five to eight stories high. This takes what IMAX was built upon and digitalizes it. While the IMAX brand started with their spankin’ clear 70mm projection, they are modernizing their brand while also recognizing their tradition. Large format technology that literally aims high. This is true with their IMAX Laser technology, which began rolling out in 2014. IMAX Laser presents movies in vivid 4K images and supports the traditional IMAX 1.43:1 aspect ratio used to shoot several of Nolan’s films including “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Interstellar,” and “Dunkirk.” This means once “Tenet” enters theaters, the IMAX Laser experience will allow for not just crystal clear images, but for several scenes to lack the black bars no matter what screen it is on. Keep in mind, if you have an IMAX Laser projector in your theater, it won’t always show the movie in 1.43:1 as the results will vary based on the screen’s dimensions. Some, like the very famous TCL Chinese Theatre in California, will show the movie in 1.90:1, much like the regular IMAX digital projectors in their specific theaters. Once again, if you are seeing the movie in 1.43:1, you are paying for the TALLEST picture possible. This is one of the best digital formats out there but keep in mind, like IMAX digital, some of the movie will have black bars, and if changing aspect ratios happen to be distracting to you, there’s a chance you may want to look at a different format. The same can be said for the next format, IMAX 70mm.

IMAX 15/70mm (Digital equivalent: 18K)

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And now, onto the clearest format on the planet, IMAX’s 70mm technology. For those unfamiliar with the technology, IMAX started their company by using very large 70mm film that goes horizontal. As previously mentioned, it is used in their flagship 2D cameras, which were used during “Tenet’s” filming. Until sometime in the 2000s, it was the norm for IMAX to install theaters that have unheard of dimensions, installing screens that can rise up to a hundred feet. Once finished, they would have the IMAX GT (Grand Theatre) or IMAX SR (Small Rotor) projection systems along with 12,000 watts of surround sound, including speakers from the walls and behind the screen, which is a norm for IMAX. Although with IMAX’s newer 12 channel system, they have speakers on the ceiling. This system is meant to go with theaters that are converted or prepackaged with the Laser system, but are also used in several theaters that have BOTH the IMAX Laser and IMAX film projection models. Either way, you are getting the best the brand has to offer. Wall to wall, ceiling to floor picture. The clearest images of all time, many of which are shot to match the projector’s intentions. If you shell out the money to buy a ticket for an IMAX 70mm show, you are paying for the viewing experience Christopher Nolan literally intended for his viewers to get. One thing to note about both the IMAX Laser and IMAX film shows… Good news, they are presented the way in which the film was perhaps meant to be. Bad news, the theaters with the proper equipment for this are not dime a dozen, they are quite rare in fact. Not all of them will be used for “Tenet” for one reason or another. But, IMAX has a selection of theaters that are playing “Tenet” in the uncropped, true IMAX formats if you are curious to know more about them.

Now, I could go over other theatrical formats such as Dolby Cinema (includes dual 4K projection, DOLBY ATMOS, DOLBY VISION), AMC Prime (responsive subwoofer seats, enhanced sound and projection), RPX (large auditorium, large screen, high quality sound, exclusive to Regal-branded theatres), Cinemark XD (large auditorium, high quality sound, exclusive to Cinemark-branded theatres), and so on, but the reason why I am specifying on the formats above is because they are the basic projection features running today for this film. While formats like those are unique and specifically branded, they either offer something with “Tenet” that is very similar to what they’ve done before or it is too similar to other formats to go in depth about it. The reason why I included the three IMAX formats above is because Christopher Nolan treasures the IMAX experience and suggests that it is one of the best ways to see a movie, but the brand offers three somewhat distinctly different experiences today. As for 35mm and 70mm, these are classic formats that are not often used today and can enhance the movie experience for some. Plus, “Tenet” was shot in 70mm, so that’s another reason to bring the format into the discussion. I even brought up and broadened the digital category because chances are that if you have a movie theater near you, it is likely going to have that style of projection, but it can vary depending on where you go. Some of these experiences are rarely used for new releases and depending on which one you pick, you will achieve bragging rights, suggesting that you saw “Tenet” in a higher quality than the way your friends managed to.

By the way, if you are scrolling down because you hate reading, watch the very informative video listed above published by Slate (feel free to read more from their site) explaining some of the ways you can see this movie and how these formats work. NOTE: This is an explanation for “Dunkirk,” not “Tenet,” but the two are shot very similarly, so the information provided here can apply to both films.

“Tenet” is currently scheduled to release September 4th, 2020. Unless of you course you count early screenings starting August 31st. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, select states including New York, California, and Arizona are keeping their theaters closed for the time being. Please note: This is the release date for the United States. My international friends in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Ireland, and so on will be getting the movie as early as August 26th. You lucky ducks… Should coronavirus not continue to spiral out of control, the movie will likely release on time. Movie theaters have been closed since March due to COVID-19, but more are opening as areas continue to loosen restrictions and move along their calendar of phases. Whether or not they’ll remain open, is a mystery. Given how some theaters are already open and some will be opening soon, if said theaters open and operate without many issues, expect “Tenet” to come out on time.

Thanks for reading this post! If your movie theater is open and you do decide to go, please do yourself a favor. Respect their policies, don’t harass their employees, and be sure to distance yourself from other people. Remember, they’re a place of business, so even though the customer’s always right, there needs to be a collective effort from everyone to make sure the moviegoing experience is alive and well. When “Tenet” comes out, I’ll very likely see it whenever possible. I hope there’s an IMAX 70mm show near me, and if not, screw this world because Rhode Island and Connecticut have working projectors for this sort of thing. Just saying. My home state of Massachusetts does too but they’re not normally used for big Hollywood blockbusters. If you want to see more from Scene Before, be sure to follow this blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I know you already liked it… It just hasn’t happened yet. I want to know, are you seeing “Tenet?” And where do you plan on seeing it? If not, do you plan on staying home and watching something instead? What is that you’re watching? Coincidentally, “Mulan” drops on Disney+ the same day that “Tenet” hits theaters in the United States, so I’m gonna be interested to see which movie ends up doing better on its first weekend. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Words on Bathroom Walls (2020): Inside Adam’s Head

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“Words on Bathroom Walls” is directed by Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) and stars Charlie Plummer (Lean on Pete, Looking for Alaska), Andy Garcia (The Godfather Part III, Ocean’s Eleven), Taylor Russell (Lost in Space, Escape Room), AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Because of Winn-Dixie), Beth Grant (The Mindy Project, The Artist), Molly Parker (Deadwood, House of Cards), and Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, The Shield). This film revolves a boy named Adam. He’s in his teens and he has schizophrenia. Throughout the movie we see him adapt to a new drug, a new “father figure,” and a new school. Quite a few major aspects of his life change here. We get to experience what Adam’s life is like as he deals with voices inside his head, and potential effects of everything surrounding him internally and externally.

This is one of the films playing on a major weekend for cinema. Theaters in many territories, including my own, around the United States are reopening for business. Keep in mind, this pertains to a lot of theaters, but most notably to chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark. On this special weekend, this is one of the films available for customers in addition to other new releases like “Unhinged” and a selection of throwback titles including “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Inception,” “Black Panther,” and more.

I’ll be honest with you, when it comes to “Words on Bathroom Walls,” it never really struck me fancy. I never had any real attachment to it prior to giving it a watch. The main reason why I watched this movie, is because an outlet gave me RSVP access to watch the film online before it came out. When it comes these teen movies, they’re usually not my thing. Romance is not my thing either. But I’ve enjoyed certain movies with one aspect, another, maybe both, plus it is nice to talk about new content. So here we are.

This film is based on a book written by Julia Walton. I’ve never read the book, and after seeing this movie. I can’t say I’m gonna read it. Again, this is not my genre. Also, movies are more fun! Sorry, books! Nevertheless, I enjoyed this film for what it was. A solid story about somebody dealing with many forced adaptations, both internal and external. I think the screenplay, when translated into a visual medium, was incredibly well-realized. There was a scene that made me feel like I was watching some superhero movie like “X-Men” or something as opposed to some typical teen drama. This was well-written, and when it comes to the directing done by Thor Freudenthal, I approve. At times it gets a little dark, but the snappy vibe never escapes. In fact, this guy, unknowingly, was a part of my childhood for a few years.

For those who don’t know, Thor Freudenthal directed the 2010 movie “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” I was ten years old when I saw that movie, and I will point out, unlike “Words on Bathroom Walls,” that film got me to read the books which it happened to be based upon, so I’ll give it credit where it’s due. I have not watched that movie in some time, I think my most recent viewing was in 2012. However, looking back, one of the standout aspects of that film, is how much it maintained a quick pace, while occasionally relying on aspects of imagination or narration. Some of that translates well to this movie while being a completely separate thing. But also keep in mind, the movies are made for completely different audiences, so it really is a good thing that one movie is not like the other.

Those positive thoughts I gave on the screenplay? Yeeeah… It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Keep in mind, this review is being written by a straight white male whose favorite movies are in the action genre or similar fields. Some of the dialogue is a cringefest. There are a couple cheesy lines that I thankfully don’t have implanted in my head at the moment, but they were nevertheless cheesy. I wonder if the teen girl crowd will not care as I think they may be one of the core demographics for this film. Who knows? I never read the book, and I may be unwarranted to ask such a question… But, maybe it worked in the book? I don’t know.

But most of the screenplay does make up for its faults. There are some really exciting, gripping moments that grabbed my attention. There feels like there is conflict in just about every single scene. Something could end up going wrong, changing the main character’s life, or maybe make my head spin upside down.

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I will say though, I have mixed thoughts on the main character of Adam. On one hand, I did feel bad for him. This movie does a good job at highlighting the misfortune of schizophrenia, in which case I was able to attach myself to him. But there are like one or two moments where this guy sort of gave a creeper or stalker vibe. I won’t go into detail, I will let you as viewers see this for yourselves. Although I will give props to Charlie Plummer, who plays this lead role admirably. There’s not much I have against Plummer as a performer and I would like to see more from him. This is sort of based on looks, but I would be interested to see him in maybe a Seth Rogen comedy of some sort, he looks like he could fit right in if given the proper script and role. Maybe “Neighbors 3: The Next Generation” if they ever decide to make that? Just an idea. I’m not claiming it, I don’t have an outline for it, I’m just spitting it out there.

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I also really dug Taylor Russell’s character. Not only was I able to buy the relationship between her alongside Charlie Plummer’s character. But as an actress, I think Taylor Russell has a solid future ahead of her. She did a really good job at portraying this brainiac student who cares a lot about which direction she’s headed in life. This becomes more likable later in the movie when we meet her family, which I won’t talk about because I would rather have you see the movie for yourself.

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Although I have to say, there’s one character who could arguably be my favorite in the movie, and that is a priest played by Andy Garcia. This character goes by the name Father Patrick and he’s just incredible in this movie. Garcia brings his A game here! Every other line out of his mouth is so dry yet charismatic! I could listen to this guy narrate an audiobook version of The Cheesecake Factory menu! He’s that likable!

In the end, I enjoyed “Words on Bathroom Walls.” I think it’ll get some attention at the theaters once they reopen. For all I know, maybe fans of the book will enjoy this film. But I don’t think I’ll ever watch this movie again. Once again, I’m not in the core demographic, so I may not be the best guy to trust when it comes to reviewing this movie. However, I did enjoy it. It was never boring, never completely insulting to my intelligence, and I did have fun, which most of the time, is something I think many of us want to experience after watching a movie. If you have fun, then bada bing bada boom. I’m going to give “Words on Bathroom Walls” a 7/10.

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Thanks for reading this review! Just want to want to announce that depending on where you live, tickets for “Tenet” are already on sale, or they are just about to go on sale. Over the past couple months, I’ve been holding onto a post that I think could help certain moviegoers when it comes to deciding where to go see “Tenet.” Given how tickets are about to go on sale here in the United States pretty soon, my post related to this will be up around the same time tickets drop. Stay tuned for that post and if you want to see more great content from Scene Before, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Words on Bathroom Walls?” What did you think about it? Or, are you going back to the movies this weekend? Do you plan on going back soon? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Summerland (2020): My Faith in 2020 Is Officially Restored

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“Summerland” is directed by Jessica Swale and this is her feature-length directorial debut. Swale’s other credits include shorts and a TV movie. This film stars Gemma Arterton (The Girl with All the Gifts, Clash of the Titans), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle, The Morning Show), Lucas Bond (The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, Slumber), Dixie Egerickx (The Secret Garden, The Little Stranger), Siân Phillips (I, Claudius, Dune), Penelope Wilton (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Downton Abbey), and Tom Courtenay (The Aeronauts, The Dresser). This film follows a woman named Alice, she’s a writer, she’s a hermit, she’s bullied by local children, and she’s sometimes called a witch. Keep in mind, the movie is set during World War II, so when an evacuee is sent to her doorstep, her world turns upside down. However, their relationship develops as we get to know more about the backstory of both characters while also seeing how they engage with one another in the present.

I’m gonna be straight up with ya. 2020 is s*it. It’s f*cking stupid. So far, this entire year has been a waste. My spring break trip was ruined by the beginning of a pandemic. Movie theaters shut down for some time. Every comic con beyond March got cancelled. The only positive is that I don’t need to wear pants right now. As far as movies go… Screw that noise! Nothing is memorable! This year, like many, started off with some duds, but that’s expected. What I didn’t expect is for this entire first half of a year to just amount to absolutely nothing!

I got to see Joe Gatto in person… There’s something.

I saw “Emma” in February, the star and director happened to be there to promote the film. There’s something else.

I got to go to Universal Hollywood before they closed down… That’s pretty much it.

Things have been turning around however. Cases and hospitalizations have been going down in my area, I finally shaved my facial hair for the first time in months, and movies have been getting SLIGHTLY more watchable.

Note: I said slightly. “Vivarium,” “An American Pickle,” “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” they’ve all been fun to watch. But it’s hard to tell if I will remember them by the end of the year.

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“Summerland,” before I saw it, was an interesting little movie. One of the positives of the second half of 2020 for me was the reopening of some movie theaters. Granted, not all of them have reopened, but some of them, including a local spot known by the name of Lexington Venue have welcomed back patrons. “Summerland” was one of the movies initially playing on their second reopening, but I decided to wait and see it on the second weekend I returned. It was my third time at that theater in a span of a little over a week.

When I started watching this movie, a lot a havoc began. The projector was having problems. We had to stop the movie more than once. The movie itself was not much better. Ten minutes in, I already hated the main character. She came off as an insufferable jerkface that I would never want to meet in person if she actually existed. There was perhaps no redeeming quality to this character other than the fact she was a writer.

Then… Something happened. The movie went along, the main relationship builds, characters develop, and I will tell you something, I almost shed a tear. This is my favorite film of the year. Period. Granted, given how “Tenet” comes out soon, I would bet that such a notion could change, but it’s true. “Summerland” is one of the most emotionally investing movies I have seen in recent memory. It sort of reminded me of “Jojo Rabbit,” minus all the satire. After all, both films take place during World War II, and in some way, involve a young boy at the center of everything. Granted, his name is not the biggest on the poster and he does not have top billing, but he seemingly has much of a prominence in this movie as Gemma Arterton’s character does, who I really need to talk about by the way.

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Gemma Arterton plays a character named Alice, and when I saw her in this movie for the first ten to thirty minutes, I thought to myself, “OK, time to watch the latest pile of crap I’ve seen this year. 2020’s full of them.” I say that because her character comes off as a bitch in the beginning. Then she kind of grows a heart, where she is a bit nicer. I understood what the movie was going for in the long run. But at the same time, it’s like they were writing lines for Sheldon Cooper, but they turned him into a woman. And I say that as someone who loves Sheldon Cooper, but at times, this seemed like a draft version of Sheldon Cooper where the whole time he’s just a complete ass to those around him. At the same time however, I’ve grown to realize something. This character is completely relatable. Before staying home and being alone was cool, I was always focused on a number of things: Avoiding people, writing, and perfection. This lady, seems to be all about that! Alice is practically an older, 1940s version of me! I may be a little more welcoming to visitors, but I was floored on how much she reminded me of myself.

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As for Frank, the young kid in the movie, seeing how he develops in this film is quite intriguing. Seeing him adapt to his new environment was worth my time. I also think Lucas Bond does a pretty good job playing this character, providing one of the more admirable child performances I’ve seen in recent memory. The same can be said for a friend he meets in the movie, Edie. She’s played by Dixie Egerickx, and their relationship not only feels natural, there was a point where it sort of felt like Simba and Nala in “The Lion King.” Granted, it’s not exactly the same, but there is one scene where they are hanging out together and I sort of made that connection for some reason.

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What I really enjoyed about the relationship between Frank and Alice is not only seeing how both characters developed as individuals, but how their differences are obviously present, even though they don’t get in the way of the two being together. The relationship doesn’t entirely feel 100% in wonderland while not being entirely toxic either. I wouldn’t call it a Goldilocks relationship if you will, but if you see the movie, you might get a sense of what I’m talking about.

Admittedly, this movie did start a little slow. Considering that, in addition to perhaps a nearly painful introduction to Gemma Arterton’s character, make up the most notable turnoffs of the film. There are also one or two directorial choices that I wouldn’t have made. Although I won’t knock this film’s director, Jessica Swale, too hard given how this is the first feature she’s handled. But there is so much to love about “Summerland” that I almost don’t care. I will not dive into spoiler territory, but I went into this movie, wondering what the heck the title of this film even means. Is it a place? A thing? An idea? The way the movie handles the subject matter presented in the title is incredibly enchanting and satisfying. The way this movie sort of goes kind of reminded me of “Onward,” the recent Pixar film that came out. It’s not exactly the same though for several reasons if you watch both movies, but I nevertheless made such a connection. Now, I like “Onward.” I had a really good time watching that movie and it continues to prove that Pixar can do no wrong. But I expected to go into “Onward” and leave a certain way. “Summerland” gave me the feelings and emotions that I couldn’t quite get from “Onward,” even though I expected that they were almost a guarantee. I don’t want to dive too much into either film, because I want to avoid spoilers, but holy smokes!

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I walked out of “Summerland” similar to the way I walked out of “Marriage Story.” When I left my screening for “Marriage Story,” I was so moved… and floored, that I stayed for the credits. I then walked out of the theater and I needed to sit down somewhere. During my “Marriage Story” experience I sat on a bench inside the cinema, but after seeing “Summerland,” I sat in my car, partially because I wanted to look at some local restaurants on Google Maps in private. But also because I needed a place to process what it was I just saw. When your movie has me feeling nearly motionless for around five minutes. You’ve made something special. Period.

In the end, “Summerland” is my favorite movie of 2020. During a year where a pandemic has gotten me down, this movie happens to have lifted my spirits up just a little bit. This film is playing in a few theaters, but I am not going to force everyone to attend a theater right now, given how some of my viewers might be a little nervous. Plus states including New York and California, which any other day of the year, would be part of the biggest markets for moviegoing, are not open at the moment. But fear not! This movie is available on VOD if you want to watch it at home! I think the casting for all the actors was well done, I like some of the scenery and locations in the film, the backstories for certain characters were incredible and added a bit to the movie in terms of overall likability. “Summerland” is one of the better written movies of 2020 in terms of its screenplay. As far as directing goes, that is an area that “works,” but there are a few things I would have done different if I were at the helm. Nevertheless, I am excited to see what Jessica Swale has next. Keep in mind, this movie is not perfect… But it is the first time I’m saying this all year for a new release, unless you count “1917” even though it technically came out last year. I’m going to give “Summerland” a 9/10.

Wow that feels good. I have still not given a 10 this year unfortunately. This film came close, there are a couple changes I’d make before calling it perfect. But that leaves a question for the rest of 2020. What will get a 10? “Unhinged?” “The New Mutants?” “Tenet?” “Wonder Woman 1984?” “Dune?” “Black Widow?” “Soul?” “No Time to Die?” Who knows at this point? For all I know, there might not end up being any 10/10s this year. Even so, I’m glad to actually have a reason to say 2020 has a glimmer of hope in it at this point. Because I have waited SO LONG to finally see something memorable. I was wondering at this point, is “The Vast of Night” the best thing this year’s got? Because I’d be quite unsatisfied if that’s the case. Nope! Thank you, “Summerland!” And also, thank you Britain! Hundreds of years ago, my country separated from you over our differences regarding things like tea, but I’m glad to unite on something as simple as the movie “Summerland!” Go watch this movie! I recommend this movie to just about anyone, and who knows? Maybe it’ll put a smile on your face!

Thanks for reading this review! Just want to let everyone know that I got an early access invitation to watch the new movie “Words on Bathroom Walls.” I’ll be blunt, this does not look like my type of movie. But, as a reviewer, I am glad to talk about new content, so I am likely going to watch the film and discuss it here on Scene Before. If you want to see more content like this, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Summerland?” What did you think about it? Or, how is your cinematic year for 2020 going? Are the movies good? Bad? Anything you want to see? Have the delays got you down? Personally, I have not seen a cinematic calendar more disappointing and underwhelming in quite some time. I am holding out hope for films like “Tenet” and “Dune” this point. And “Tenet” tickets go on sale soon! Let’s hope it actually opens! PLEASE. If it pushes back once more I’m running over my TV with an Amtrak train! Leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

An American Pickle (2020): More Seths, More Fun!

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“An American Pickle” is directed by Brandon Trost (The Disaster Artist, This Is the End) and stars Seth Rogen (Neighbors, Sausage Party) and Sarah Snook (Predestination, Steve Jobs) in a film that takes place over a span of a century. We start off by seeing a character by the name of Herschel Greenbaum. He’s immigrating to the United States, he’s got a wife, but when a factory gets condemned, Greenbaum falls into a vat of pickles and stays there for a hundred years. After escaping, he meets up with his only remaining descendant, Ben Greenbaum, also played by Seth Rogen. From here on out, the two get to know each other and slowly reveal their notable differences of how they go about daily life.

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This movie was originally supposed to come out in theaters. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sony, who produced the movie, gave the distribution rights to Warner Bros., which lead to the film going straight to HBO Max, the new streaming service that has been around since May. “An American Pickle” is the first original movie to hit the service, although the film has been theatrically released in countries outside the United States.

The concept of “An American Pickle” honestly intrigues me, partially because I admire Seth Rogen as an entertainer. Whether he’s doing voices, maybe working behind the camera or in front of it, Seth Rogen can do no wrong. So getting to see two characters played by Seth Rogen was an oddly charming idea to say the least. Granted, the world has seen two Adam Sandlers on screen before in 2011’s “Jack and Jill,” which ended up being one of the most critically panned films of the past decade. Let me just say, I have not seen “Jack and Jill,” although I’ve heard enough about it to know that I should never witness it. But I am glad I saw “An American Pickle.” From the very first scene, this movie has this weird charm to it. It’s almost as if Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, and the directors behind “The Wizard of Oz” had a lovechild of some sorts. Of course you get some of the modern comedy flair in “An American Pickle” as well, but as I watched the movie, I felt like I was watching something that I couldn’t really get anywhere else. There seems to be an odd, but interesting blend of satire, heart, and informative messages about the importance of family and modern culture.

I got to admit, for a film that has Seth Rogen involved in one way or another, this is surprisingly light and sweet. It has its moments of commentary and controversial humor here and there, but nevertheless. Having seen some of Seth Rogen’s other work (for the most part), there doesn’t really seem to be much that warms the heart if you will. Not really much that feels calming. “Long Shot” comes close to being in that category though. In fact, a lot of Seth’s films seem to have a quick and snappy pace to them. And this one is no exception. Maybe that’s a Seth Rogen trademark, and I kinda like it. Although when it comes to “An American Pickle” I should not have been too surprised given how the film clocks in at around 89 minutes.

They say that if you talk to yourself, that is perhaps a sign that you’re crazy, right? Well, if Seth Rogen happens to fall into a pit of craziness, I’d say it’s worth it because he gives not one, but two likable performances. The two characters he plays can easily be differentiated even though they come from the same bloodline. They also feel like they have easily detectable individual personalities. I will say, Seth Rogen’s voice that he does for Herschel, the older character he plays, is almost on the goofy side, but it works for what it is. It’s like the rest of the movie, simply charming. It’s not supposed to be real, it embraces the fantasy factor, even though it does involve some things that are happening in our world right now. Such as our attachment to technology, vlogging, political controversy, and so on.

This movie is directed by Brandon Trost, who is a name that I am sort of surprised I have not heard so much about. Trost has worked with Seth Rogen for some time because he is a cinematographer on a lot of his movies including “Neighbors,” “The Interview,” and one of my all time favorite comedies, “The Disaster Artist.” However, “An American Pickle” is Trost’s feature-length solo debut. For the record, he has a brother by the name of Jason Trost who co-directed 2011’s “The FP” alongside him. “An American Pickle” on the other hand is a solo project. I really like Trost’s vision of this film. It’s incredibly wacky, super fast-paced, and it almost feels like a live-action cartoon, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I say that because if turn on something like “Bob’s Burgers” or “Family Guy,” there’s a good chance that they don’t waste a second using dead air. This may be a huge exaggeration, but “An American Pickle” almost feels like it belongs in that category when it comes to how it is paced. Granted, given how this is live-action, there’s a lot of time spent where dead air or beats are perhaps used, but once the movie starts, it feels like it refuses to stop. In fact, there are various portions of the score, composed by the legendary Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) that accompany this movie’s quick pace.

Looking back on this movie though, I will admit, I don’t know if all the commentary portions of the film will sit in my memory forever. I’m probably going to remember “An American Pickle” more for how good of a production it was despite being done by a first time director doing a movie without somebody else, and Seth Rogen doing two likable performances. Even though this movie does touch upon a lot of commentary that I liked in the moment, I don’t know if it will be something to be permanently implanted in my memory. I will also say though, even though the movie itself is fast-paced, and I kind of like that, there’s a lot that happens in a certain twenty minute period that feels like we’re getting to the end of the film’s second act lickety split. It’s almost as if the movie wants to end without diving into what could possibly be a moment to breathe. Although in all seriousness, I definitely recommend an “An American Pickle” and if you like Seth Rogen, you’ll like this movie. If you have a Roku or Amazon Fire player, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to get HBO Max, but it is available on other platforms including cable, Android TV, Samsung Smart TVs, Apple TV, and game consoles. There are ways to watch this movie, but because society is insane, we can’t have all of them.

In the end, “An American Pickle” is ridiculous fun, but it’s hard to tell at this point if I will remember it by the end of the year. Granted, it has the benefit of being the only original film on HBO Max right now, but still. I really liked Brandon Trost’s vision, and if he has any more solo projects he wants to tackle as a director, sign me up! Seth Rogen, per usual, is really good here. He’s a delight on screen as not just one, but two characters. Bravo! I’m going to give “An American Pickle” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I will be reviewing the movie “Summerland,” which I just saw in the theater. It is playing in some places, but it is also available on VOD if you want to give it a rent. I can’t say much about this movie, but something interesting might happen in my review. Just letting ya know… Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, if you are interested, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “An American Pickle?” What did you think about it? Or, did you get HBO Max? What are your thoughts on the service so far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Made in Italy (2020): Taken to the Gallery

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“Made in Italy” is directed by James D’Arcy (Dunkirk, Cloud Atlas) and stars Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Cold Pursuit), Micheál Richardson (Cold Pursuit, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), Valeria Bilello (Sense8, Curon), and Lindsay Duncan (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Birdman). This film mainly revolves around a father and son duo. They travel to Tuscany to sell a house inherited from the late wife of Neeson’s character. Only thing is, the house is run-down and pretty much a mess, so the two have to fix the place up before it can be given to a new owner for the sake of profit. Meanwhile, the son character played by Richardson wants to buy a gallery.

Well, this is my second week in a row where I review a movie, specifically one I saw in the theater, that pretty much centralizes Italy or some sort of Italian vibe. Last week, I reviewed “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” which during my review, I had positive thoughts to spew all around. Admittedly, I’ll probably forget some things about that movie by the end of the year. However, I still need to process “Made in Italy” before such a notion can probably be finalized. Like “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” I really have not heard squat about “Made in Italy.” I read the description regarding the movie and what it’s about. I also saw the trailer for the film hours or so before I left the house to see this movie. That’s really just about all I was able to gather about the film before actually seeing it.

Now that I’ve seen the film, if I had to compare the two Italy-centric flicks of importance of the bat, I will say a positive here… I liked “Made in Italy” more than “The Burnt Orange Heresy.” I also think “Made in Italy” will end up being more memorable and reflected upon as a greater story when it comes to entertainment. At its heart, “Made in Italy” is really just a ride between a father and son who reveal their sense of unease towards each other when they’re together. They have their differences, but we see them together and despite those differences, it all adds up for some great chemistry.

One thing I will say though, this movie, even from a marketing perspective, was sort of a surprise for me because it stars Liam Neeson and the vibe doesn’t feel goofy in the slightest. Sure, you can get a sense of seriousness from movies like “Taken” if you think hard enough or put yourself in the right mood, but in recent years, it almost feels as if Liam Neeson, who I respect as an actor, just signs on to “latest formulaic action movie 101.” The most recent examples for this are “The Commuter” and “Cold Pursuit.” Granted, he’s done other things too including a small voice-role in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” and an uncredited role in Seth MacFarlane’s “The Orville.” But when my mind diverts to thoughts of Liam Neeson, I might as well make a connection of sorts to some goofy, generic action movie that may not be remembered by the average viewer overtime. Heck, there was a scene from “Daddy’s Home 2” that basically parodies a stereotype regarding Liam Neeson’s career choices.

When it comes to “Made in Italy,” I think this is one of Liam Neeson’s standout performances, at least regarding the ones I’ve seen. I still have yet to see “Schindler’s List,” which he received an Oscar nomination for.

I am a bad movie fan. A bad bad movie fan. Apologies to Steven Spielberg.

Now, IMDb lists this movie as a “comedy,” with no other genres attached. But when I saw the trailer, I figured this would be on the drama side of things. Now that I used digital technology to get a little blip of info in my brain, I know better. Nevertheless, when I watched this movie, I was a bit surprised on how much I genuinely enjoyed the comedic moments. Maybe it’s because it’s 2020 and I almost feel like there is nothing to laugh about anymore, but still. Besides, laughter is the best medicine. It’s the perfect cure to realizing your brain has set itself on fire.

LAUGHTER: Try it today! 11 out of 10 doctors and one Movie Reviewing Moron approve!

Believe it or not, this is the third time I have seen Micheál Richardson in something on screen. I’ve already seen him in his earliest acting credit, specifically in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” but he also had a role in “Cold Pursuit.” To be completely honest, I don’t even remember this dude. Although to be fair, he’s mainly done small roles. For research purposes, I have been looking at the “Made in Italy” Wikipedia page, and even though Micheál Richardson’s name is listed on the page, he does not have a personally dedicated Wikipedia page of his own. Seeing him in a heavier role like the one he has in this movie is sort of fulfilling because he got to show off his true abilities as an actor. He and Liam Neeson make a great pair and I bought into both characters personalities and motivations. I should really not be that surprised, but I failed to realize until sometime during the writing of this review, that Richardson is actually Liam Neeson’s son! So their fine chemistry actually makes sense! It’s like they’ve ACTUALLY known each other for awhile, because guess what? They do!

This movie is directed by James D’Arcy, who to this day has 77 acting credits dating back to 1996. As for directing, the only thing he did before “Made in Italy” was a short by the name of “Chicken/Egg.” That movie is also the first screenplay he did. Coincidentally, “Made in Italy” happens to be his second writing credit. I think for a first time feature director, James D’Arcy shines. Granted, I’ve seen better, even from first time directorial efforts from people who have previously established themselves as actors including  Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” as the most prominent example I can think of. I think D’Arcy’s screenplay is coherent, it makes sense. All the points that need to be there have a reason for being there, but there are likely going to be some characters or moments that will leave my memory based on how forgettable they might end up being. There are also a couple shot choices, maybe just one or two, that come across as a little awkward and feel like they defy reality a little too far up the ladder, and this partially has to do with how one of the executions of Liam Neeson’s lines happens to be handled. Again, Liam Neeson gives a great performance in “Made in Italy,” but it doesn’t mean the movie doesn’t have its flaws. It’s a bit cliche, yet enjoyable, but also packed with a suitable amount of fun here and there.

One of the phrases that I’ve learned in middle school that has stuck with me to this point is “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and sure, maybe my first impression of this movie being somewhere in dramaville was debunked. But I’m focusing on the opposite of that phrase here. Because this movie’s title gave me one hope… To feel like I’m in Italy for one to two hours. This movie fulfilled my wish in several scenes. The cover gave me something to look forward to, and I can’t say I was disappointed. After all, this is probably the closest I’m going to get to an Italian trip pretty soon because Italy, along with a majority of the world’s countries, pretty much hates the United States right now. What a time to be alive!

In the end, “Made in Italy” is a surprisingly fun and attention-grabbing movie in several parts. I think if you want some good performances and stunning scenery, you’ll get those two things here. When it comes to James D’Arcy’s directing career, not to mention his screenwriting career, I am curious to see what he plans to whip up next. Is it a drama? Action? Fantasy? Horror? I think as far as first time directing features go, this is a solid jump in the water. Maybe the next movie will bigger splash. Who knows? Anything can happen. I’m going to give “Made in Italy” a 7/10.

I’ll also point out, I did see this movie in theaters, and it is playing in quite a few places right now. However, the film is also available on VOD through various services including iTunes, Google Play, and cable On Demand providers like Xfinity and Verizon Fios. So if you are still uncomfortable of going to a theater right now for whatever reason, you can watch this movie at home if necessary.

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Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone, movie theater chains like AMC and Regal reopen in many markets next week. I know AMC is opening a bunch of theaters near me, as for Regal, I’m not so sure that they’re ready just yet, but I will hopefully be going to see “Unhinged” sometime soon, which is one of the first new releases that is going to be getting people back to the movies. And if the theaters are open long enough, who knows? Maybe I’ll get to see “The New Mutants,” maybe I’ll get to see “Tenet.” I am BEGGING for somebody, ANYBODY, near me to show the film in full frame IMAX. I’ll get a COVID test and hop on a plane somewhere if I have to at this point. I’ll do anything! Throw my phone out the window! Shine a flashlight in my eyes! Drink from a toilet bowl! Save Princess Peach! Build a Death Star by myself! Eat doorknobs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! ANYTHING! But hey, guess what? I’m already going to AMC twice next week, so this should be the start of something satisfying. What am I seeing? Thursday I’m seeing “The Empire Strikes Back” and Saturday I’m going to the “Inception” 10th Anniversary Event. I can’t wait, I’m excited to go back to AMC, even if I will admit they have been involved in some stupid remarks and decisions in recent months, and I do mean it when I say stupid. Granted, I also blame Universal Pictures, but still.

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 “Made in Italy?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Liam Neeson performance? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Burnt Orange Heresy (2019): Portrait with Orange on Fire

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“The Burnt Orange Heresy” is directed by Giuseppe Capotondi (Berlin Station, The Double Hour) and stars Claes Bang (The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Square), Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby, Everest), Mick Jagger (Being Mick, Running Out of Luck), and Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games, Pride & Prejudice). This film revolves around an eccentric, mysterious art critic by the name of James Figueras who is hired to steal a rare painting. As the movie moves along, he becomes greedier by the second. Simultaneously, he is romantically involved with a woman named Berenice Hollis.

Oh yay! Another movie that we can see in theaters! 2020 is turning around!

…Sort of. Not really. It’s still a crapfest all around and we just have to live with that! Boohoo.

“The Burnt Orange Heresy,” much like a lot of other movies I have seen so far this year, is a film that I really did not know much about going into it. All I really knew about the film is what I’ve read regarding it on IMDb and one or two other sites. I knew it got some attention already through festivals. Apparently, based on how IMDb lists the film as being released on March 6th, 2020 in the U.S., this thing has been theatrically released already. In fact, its distributor, Sony Pictures Classics decided that they’d hold onto the film and avoid putting it on VOD despite how many other films at the time such as “The Hunt,” “Bloodshot,” and “Onward” were going in such a direction. As of today, “The Burnt Orange Heresy” is a film that can ONLY be watched in theaters. As for when it will hit stores and digital services remains a mystery to me.

Walking out of “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” I cannot say I’m disappointed. Partially because as mentioned, I did not know much about the film going into it. All I really gathered regarding it was the basic gist and concept. “The Burnt Orange Heresy” is a sensual, mysterious flick, which kind of makes sense as it does take place in Italy, which from my experience is an often romanticized country. In fact, let me just say, I am not dating anybody. Now that we are in the middle of a pandemic where everyone is supposed to socially distance from each other, I don’t really think I should be dating anybody, but I thought that if you are in the right mood, this could be an alright pick for a date movie. Granted, this movie is also not for everyone, as it does feel fairly artsy. Almost in the high-brow category if you will. Then again, this is a movie heavily involving art and someone trying to steal a rare painting, so it kind of adds up.

I really think the best part of the movie is the chemistry between the main romantic couple, specifically played by Claes Bang and Elizabeth Debicki. Their chemistry is some of the best I have seen in recent memory in regards to a relationship. Every one of their actions, even if it goes to a point of slight exaggeration, felt kind of raw. Again, this is kind of a sensual movie during a few bits and pieces, even if that is not what it is trying to present itself as in the long run.

Also, gotta admit, Elizabeth Debicki may be a new celebrity crush of mine, and based on her acting chops, I cannot wait to see her smash the role she’s got in “Tenet!”

*teary-eyed* PLEASE COME OUT ALREADY.

I also liked the main character himself, again, played by Claes Bang, an actor who I am admittedly not familiar with at all. This movie starts off with a pretty sharply edited opening scene where Claes Bang’s character, James Figueras, is on his exercise bike in his private quarters, but simultaneously, he’s lecturing to an audience about a painting. To save some of the mystery from you, the people reading this… I will not go into much detail about the scene itself, but it is a great way to not only start the film, but get a sense of our main character’s personality. What’s he like? What does he do? What are his mannerisms? Just in the first five to ten minutes of this film, I felt like I’ve already gathered a terrific sense of who exactly this character could be, or who he is trying to be. He’s mysterious, he’s quirky, I kind of wanted to know more about him. Sure, maybe on the surface he kind of looks like the dad from “Modern Family,” but as far as his traits and personality go, that is something that I wanted to be somewhat unraveled as we go along.

As I watched “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” it reminded me of one thing more than anything else. That my friends, is “Life Lessons,” the short film directed by Martin Scorcese as part of the “New York Stories” set. For those of you who don’t know what that is, “Life Lessons” is a film about an eccentric painter, who lives with his assistant as their relationship begins to spiral down the drain. Granted, the relationship seems to be working a lot better for both sides in “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” but I would not be lying if I told you that I did not make such a connection with these two films. Both of these films feel fairly dramatic, romantic, and occasionally a little bumpy. I will say, and this is somewhat forgiven as “The Burnt Orange Heresy” is a feature and “Life Lessons” is a short, but “The Burnt Orange Heresy” feels a bit on the slower side compared to “Life Lessons.” Without spoilers, the way certain events play out in both these films feels like they are a couple with their differences, but nevertheless happy to be together.

I said this once, I’ll say it again, this film is not for everyone. This film is almost on the verge of being kind of eccentric, and some will find it pretentious or high brow. But for me, I enjoyed myself. It is a film that I probably will not end up watching every day, but if I were to have it on, I would most likely not use it just as background noise. I also think that when it comes to how this film is edited overall, it is one of the finer editing jobs I have seen this year. A lot of the scenes are interwoven nicely and nothing really feels out of place. I’d give this film a thumbs up.

In the end, “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” despite what I just said about probably not wanting to watch it every day, is a film that I’d probably check out a second time because it has a vibe that feels cleansing and smooth to the brain. Plus, despite being an hour and thirty-nine minutes, there may be one or two things that I missed on the first viewing that I may want to pick up again. Maybe the dialogue went over my head or something, I don’t know. Nevertheless, this is good enough for a repeat viewing. I’m going to give “The Burnt Orange Heresy” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that I have a few new Blu-rays lying around for possible reviews, but HBO Max has just released an original film starring Seth Rogen by the name of “An American Pickle.” If I get the chance, I might just talk about that for an upcoming review, but who knows? Anything can happen in 2020. 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 “The Burnt Orange Heresy?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie set in Italy? 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!

Gretel & Hansel (2020): You’ve Heard the Story. Prepare to Fall Asleep to It.

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“Gretel & Hansel” is directed by Oz Perkins, AKA Osgood Perkins (Legally Blonde, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House) and stars Sophia Lillis (It, Sharp Objects), Samuel Leakey (MotherFatherSon), Charles Babalola (Bancroft, The Legend of Tarzan), Jessica De Gouw (Arrow, Dracula), and Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact, Chariots of Fire). This film is based on the classic tale by the Brothers Grimm. This has received adaptations in the past, but this is one of the latest attempts at adapting such material because well, originality is dead. So the best we can do now is take something in hopes of flipping it on its head hard enough to get something different, but also interesting.

Safe to say, this movie… Didn’t do that. I’ll get to that later.

Now, I will be fair to “Gretel & Hansel” here. Because the truth is, I am not that familiar with the material which this film happens to be based on. Have I heard the name thousands of times over the years? Sure. But you can say the same thing about my knowledge of other aspects regarding culture. Things like “Fortnite,” “Stranger Things,” “South Park,” Cracker Barrel, Red Lobster, Fanta, AKA a drink that wouldn’t exist if it were not for ties to Nazi Germany. It’s true by the way, look it up.

Let me just start off by stating some things I like about the movie. Oz Perkins does a really good job at providing an intimate feel to this picture. It made me wonder why I didn’t wait until say September or October to watch this. Granted, this film did come out in January, at least in U.S. cinemas that is, but if it came out in September and October, it would have provided a proper vibe for spooky season. After all, “Gretel & Hansel” is in the horror genre, it is genuinely creepy at times, not to mention kind of quirky, and the environment just screams “autumn.” In some ways, this film reminded me of the 2015 flick, “The Witch.” Now let me just say, I HATED “The Witch” upon my initial viewing, and I still haven’t watched it a second time. But I will admit, the style presented in “Gretel & Hansel” kind of reminded me of that movie. Things that stood out in this context include the slightly less than wide aspect ratio, the bold and nearly colorless grading, and the somewhat extended pace of the film. It all worked… At times.

In other times it was just… BOORRRRRRRRRING!

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Wow! I don’t think I’ve nearly come this close to tuning out a movie since maybe “Cats!” But let’s also be fair here, “Cats” is a disaster in every sense of the word that makes all other movies look like Shakespeare. Compared to “Cats,” which is an injection of infinite cyanide, “Gretel & Hansel” is one tiny little dart aimed at your leg. It hurts, maybe you’ll get to the point where you’ll pass out, but you’ll inevitably get back on the horse. Your chances of instant death are significantly reduced.

Nevertheless, I do want to point out, despite the fact that I do appreciate the art of filmmaking itself, not to mention an assortment of motion pictures that are perhaps, intentionally slow, take the “Blade Runner” films and “2001” as just a couple of core examples. I was just bored by whatever the heck was happening during “Gretel & Hansel.” I mean, I got the concept down willy nilly, but the in between of it all was just… tiresome. It’s really unfortunate that the movie just so happens to fall into a mess like this. Because there are several scenes that are visually stunning, not just from a practical perspective, but even some effects that are clearly fantastical manage to pop. There’s a nice blend between the grim–

Wait a minute, is that a pun? I think that’s a pun. Anyway…

There’s a nice blend between the grim reality and horrific fantasy here. Too bad I won’t remember a lot of it. In fact, as I write this review, I can only back track to what could be a very select few highlights of the film in terms of what I liked. Not the best of results if you ask me.

I will say though, when it comes to casting Gretel and Hansel for this film, I do think the department did a fine job when it comes to finding people who look the part and happen to provide fantastic chemistry. At this point, for an interpretation like 2020’s “Gretel & Hansel,” I almost cannot imagine anybody else filling in the shoes of these characters. They feel like two kids who try to work off each other despite having some differences. Given what time frame this movie takes place in and what this film in general has to offer, this feels like a legit brother and sister duo. Thumbs up to Claire Curry and Julie Harkin for their swell job on casting. In addition to that, thumbs up to both Sophia Lillis and Samuel Leakey for giving it their all in regards to their performances of their individual characters.

I don’t know what it really is about this movie… Why does it get a below average vibe from me? The production value is excellent and everyone involved does a top notch job. But the directing and screenplay doesn’t really seem to be that well executed when translated to screen. I can almost imagine the pitchroom meeting.

“We’re going to reinvent the German folktale for a new age! We do not need a lot of money to do it. The audience will take in the beauty and wonder of what will be a depressing world in which to live. It’s gonna be great.”

I like immersion and great production as much as the next guy. But if you have seen me review movies a lot over the past year or so, one of the big things I bring up is pacing. If you have a good movie, but it isn’t well paced. You’re not always gonna get a pass in that department. Did everything that happened in “Gretel & Hansel” need to happen? That’s a tough question to answer. Because guess what? This movie is ONLY EIGHTY-SEVEN MINUTES LONG! By today’s standards for feature films, that’s pretty freaking short! This is the Napoleon Bonaparte of feature films! If “Gretel & Hansel” cut out a lot of what made it slowly paced, I almost wonder if it would just perhaps barely be feature-length by technical standards. According to the Academy it would probably be a feature because by their standards, features are over forty minutes long. Same goes for the AFI (American Film Institute). But you might not get a pass from the Screen Actors’ Guild, which considers features to be seventy-five minutes at minimum. I wonder… Does that include credits? Just curious.

In the end, “Gretel & Hansel” is making me sleepy-eyed just thinking about it. Seriously, as I type this, my face is tilting towards my shoulder. I do not think I will be watching this film again anytime soon, despite the excellent production factors put into it. I enjoyed “Gretel & Hansel” as something to look at for an hour and a half, and compared to other movies that I will not watch again, I did not exactly want to rip my face off afterwards. However, that is not enough for this borefest to qualify as a quality movie. I’m going to give “Gretel & Hansel” a 4/10.

This year, man. This year. Although this film came out in January so this is somewhat normal. In other news… Disney is getting greedier than Mr. Krabs by making “Mulan” a Disney+ exclusive that you have to pay $29.99 TO WATCH ON TOP OF YOUR MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION. I’ll pass! I’m already paying for Prime Video, HBO Max, and I just got Peacock the other day! I am not that much of a streamer, and I don’t need more! By the way, my YEARLY PRICE for Peacock is the exact price you have to pay for “Mulan” on Disney+. Buh-bye for now!

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Capone,” starring Tom Hardy. I just bought the Blu-ray a couple weeks ago, and I popped it just this past week to gather some thoughts on it. Stay tuned for that review and other great content from Scene Before! Follow the blog through a WordPress account or an email to see the latest goings on! OR, if you want bonus content, like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Gretel & Hansel?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your preferred adaptation of the “Hansel & Gretel” material? Are you an oldtimer who doesn’t want anyone on their lawn? Say the original material for all I care. Either way, there’s a good chance I have not checked out any of your answers so any thought I give to it may be invalid. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Vivarium (2019): As Strange As 2020

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“Vivarium” is directed by Lorcan Finnegan (Foxes, Without Name) and stars Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later, Green Room) and Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Now You See Me) as a couple who want to purchase a house. An agent shows them a house located in a quiet, seemingly peaceful area. Oddly, just about every house is identical and every aspect of the neighborhood feels like something specifically crafted for a lower budget, artsy Tim Burton picture or something. …Maybe the 2018 film “A Wrinkle in Time.” That one in particular is done by a different director, but nevertheless. As the couple tour what’s marked as house #9, they eventually find themselves without the agent, trying to escape the neighborhood. They never manage to find their way out. After the endless search, they find an infant, and are given instructions… “Raise the child and be released.”

Oh parenting, the hardest task in the world. Here. We. Go.

2020 has been a strange year. There has been talk amongst film fans, including myself, on what Best Picture could end up being. “Sonic the Hedgehog,” should nothing else arrive, could end up being a big contender. “The Invisible Man” has received plenty of positive verdicts. Honestly, with all things considered, I wouldn’t sleep on “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.” That is… if I controlled the Academy and had all the power. Love those guys. But one of the lesser talked about films of the year is this little flick called “Vivarium.” Prior to today, the film has a box office total of $123,044. I knew very little about the project, despite how it has some notable names attached. Although I did buy the Blu-ray, popped it in the player, and watched the movie later on. Do I regret watching it? Not really… But… Kinda.

Let me just say, as a movie from a technical standpoint, “Vivarium” is very pleasing. I like the production design and framing of the film. It very much reminded me of a Tim Burton project like “Edward Scissorhands” if it were set in a slightly more modern time. The movie has this blend of fantasy and touch of reality that gives it its own unique feel. I kinda dig it. I think all the actors including Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, and Jonathan Aris did a really good job playing their respective roles. They were all believable and well cast. If I were to watch this in a theater, I’d probably do my best to stay quiet and admire all the detail as things go by on the big screen. Although, I cannot see myself watching this movie many more times in the future.

One of the most controversial movies of the past year is Ari Aster’s “Midsommar.” For the record, I liked Ari Aster’s directorial debut, “Hereditary,” so I figured “Midsommar” would be a worthy follow-up to what he has provided in the past. I was wrong. It turned out to be one of the most insufferable film experiences I have put myself through in recent memory. Like “Vivarium,” “Midsommar” looked pretty appealing and had fantastic design to keep me gazing on the screen. It even had a good cast, I think Florence Pugh is a likable actress. Although if you ask me, I’d recommend an alternate film of hers to watch, “Fighting with My Family,” directed by the very talented and hilarious Stephen Merchant. But the film annoyed me in the long run. It was a film that tried to be disturbing and haunting, but just ended up feeling overly grotesque and off-putting. And while “Vivarium” feels a lot more tame, it kind of has that “Midsommar” feel. Upon finishing “Vivarium,” a part of me felt a little icky. And that’s a bit odd to say because while “Vivarium” is technically a horror movie, there is not really much that kept me disturbed. Maybe there were some spooks intact, but it didn’t really feel like something horrific or life-ending in a sense. It comes off as one of those artsy films that really tries to go all out there and be as strange as possible. In all likelihood, that may have been what the crew was going for, and in some ways, it works. But there are some cases where flaws happen to stand out.

I mean, no movie’s perfect, but this is a movie that really could have been awesome, but if the script didn’t go a certain way, I probably would have felt a little more satisfied. What way would I have wanted it to go? Well… I can’t tell you. That would perhaps spoil a great portion of the movie. But let me just say one thing, it involves the “kid” character, who I honestly grew to hate by the end of this movie. That’s all I can spit out without getting arrested by the spoiler police.

I like the way that this movie tends to handle parenting because it does go to reveal the disconnect between parents and their kids sometimes. Maybe the parents have a certain thought on their mind which may have to do with “helping the kid” or “doing what’s best for the kid” to which the kid ultimately disagrees or throws a tantrum or something of that nature. This movie sort of reminds me of why I may not want to be a parent anytime soon.

This is partially shown through say the performance given by Jesse Eisenberg, and I think that this is one of his better performances that I can think of if you ask me. Because when I think of Jesse Eisenberg, I will point out, I often reflect upon him in a positive light. I’ve seen him do good things, but he always seems to have this dimension to him that he carries from one character he plays to another. He’s a fast talker, almost to the point of mumbling, and it feels like he often plays a live-action cartoon. It’s like he’s on caffeine for extended periods which makes him rather obsessive and hyperactive. Here, from what I can recall, Eisenberg is calmer compared to other times I’ve witnessed him. Granted, I have not witnessed everything from Eisenberg. I still need to watch “The Social Network,” and not just the first two or three minutes which I think I DVRed one time.

I will say though, I am writing this review at the end of July 2020, and in a way, this movie may get a little too close to home for some viewers. Why? Well, it basically dives into what happens when a couple isolates in a home. Like, you know, just like every single one of us has in 2020. So do I recommend “Vivarium?” I’d say yes, minus the final five to ten minutes which were kind of a letdown for me. But remember, if you stayed in your home for four months, this could be a little bit… I’ll say creepy. I’m just hoping none of you have kids, maybe then it’ll get super creepy.

In the end, “Vivarium” started out alright, became pretty good, but nearly crashed during the climax. I know for storytelling purposes, there’s not really much that could necessarily be changed about the “kid” character, but that kid was one of the single most annoying characters I have seen in a movie in a long time. I get it, but… still, it drives me mad. I’m going to give “Vivarium” a 7/10.

Come on, 2020! Give me something great! Yes! We have “The Way Back!” We have “The Vast of Night!” We have “Hope Gap!” Those are good movies. I want GREAT movies. I think the last great movie I saw that was new may have been “The Farewell,” which technically speaking is a 2019 film even though I watched it in 2020 as I was wrapping my cycle for the 2019 lineup. If “Tenet” doesn’t come out on the first weekend of September, there is no hope left for movies this year. I wish I wasn’t being this dramatic. I want to avoid going into a rant, so… Let’s just move on.

Thanks for reading this review! I’m not sure what my next review is gonna be. I wanted to watch Greyhound on Apple TV+, but I’m trying to figure out the best way to watch it on my TV. After all, my smart platform, which is included with the television set, is Android TV, which of course, is from Google, one of Apple’s biggest competitors. This may be why there is no deal between the companies to have Apple TV+ on the Android TV platform. Nevertheless, if you want to see more great content from Scene Before, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the blog’s official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Vivarium?” What did you think about it? Or, how is isolation going for you? Are you still in the house? Are you out and about? As one who lives in the United States, I HATE MY LIFE. That’s all I can say. Leave your comments down below, and hopefully my next blog post will come sometime soon! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!