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!

The Vast of Night (2020): Makes For Good Radio, Or a Good Movie

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“The Vast of Night” is directed by Andrew Patterson, AKA James Montague or Junius Tully. Look up this guy on IMDb, the man has three names! This film stars Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz in a film set during the 1950s. Two people, a switch operator and a DJ behind a radio station uncover the mystery of a strange audio frequency that could end up changing the nature of their town.

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First off, if you’re reading this, happy second half of 2020! I cannot believe we actually made it this far as a society! Yippee! Second, this film came out at a bunch of festivals including Fantastic Fest, Chicago International, TIFF, and Slamdance (not to be confused with Sundance). Although it did not really grant much access to the viewing public until 2020. Given how there’s a big pandemic, it didn’t have all that much of a theatrical release. However, it did have a limited run at drive-ins so it managed to have some of that theatrical flavor. Having seen this movie, I think it’s a perfect fit for a drive-in given its vibe, how it’s set in the 1950s, and the color grading has a hint of that old-time feel. But I didn’t see “The Vast of Night” at a drive-in, I saw it for free on Amazon Prime, considering how the movie is marketed as an Amazon Original. Who can turn down a free movie?

Here’s the truth about 2020. It’s the f*cking WORST! I cannot believe that a year could have ever been this tragic and infuriating! You ever had a dream that you wanted to achieve in 2020? Guess what? Go home! Time to find a new dream! I could make a whole post about this, but instead, let’s stick with movies. Because otherwise I would have eradicated all of humanity through brutal anger. Actually, you know what? Let’s mix the two topics up. Not a bad idea! This is honestly what could arguably the single least satisfying and anger-inducing year for film that I have witnessed not just while doing Scene Before, but also my life. I am not watching as much new material as I have in the past. All the theaters are closed, and of the new movies I have seen, nothing stands out. The highest grade I gave this year for a new film was a 7/10. Let me just say something about “The Vast of Night…”

It might be my favorite movie of 2020 so far.

2020, this is what movies are! Screw “My Spy!” Forget “Scoob!” F*ck “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” to hell and back! “The Vast of Night” is a fun, engaging, and somewhat satisfying flick… That isn’t perfect, let me just be clear here.

Because it is 2020, the year of complaining, I’m gonna start off with some negatives. This is a 91 minute film. And surprisingly, it gets a little slow at times. When I look at the runtime of a film, I sometimes think “Oh wow! Ninety minutes? I can watch this in a breeze!” While “The Vast of Night” is not necessarily an exception to this belief, there are one or two scenes that I won’t specifically dive into, but they go on for a little longer than I would anticipate. There’s a lot of explanation to expose the happenings of the film and I get that exposition is a necessary part of storytelling, but it sort of felt like watching the 2019 Super Bowl, something that tried to have a fast pace but was missing something. This pacing problem did not ruin the movie, and I imagine if I saw this film at a drive-in like some people did, there’s a good chance that this complaint could be irrelevant, but it felt like there was one specific scene where a character drones on for a little too long.

The Vast of Night (2019) - IMDb

One of the standout things about this movie in general is that it comes from people I don’t know at all. The two stars, AKA Sierra McCormack and Jake Horowitz are people who I don’t really recognize from a lot of projects. The director, what do you call him? James Montague? Junius Tully? Andrew Patterson? Turd Ferguson? I looked this guy up on IMDb, this is currently his ONLY credit. This is his debut for directing, writing, producing, and if Andrew is ALSO known as Junius Tully and does not appear to be somebody else I should know, his debut for editing and being in the editorial department. Basically, it’s five debuts in one! A lot of times when I look at the credits of the film, maybe someone will write the film, they’ll also direct and produce the film, maybe play a role in it. It’s not every day that I see filmmakers do all these things at once though. Granted, if you look at acclaimed masters of the industry like Kevin Smith, Alfonso Cuarón, and the Coen Brothers, yeah they edit their own films. But it’s nice to have this mix, while also getting to see work from someone you haven’t really been exposed to yet.

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And I would imagine that prior to making this film, Andrew Patterson has had some proper training within the art. When it comes to editing and camerawork, it is some of the best I have seen all year. The color grading in this film is fantastic. As for the movie itself, it is genuinely mysterious and spooky. This movie kind of comes off like it is some ninety minute episode of “The Twilight Zone.” In fact the first shot of the movie is of an old television set that is playing the intro to a show that pretty much takes almost every single element from the intro of “The Twilight Zone.” Everything from the music to the suspenseful buildup and even the captivating voice. There are some notable differences, but nevertheless.

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I will also give credit to the actors in this film, who I might admittedly end up not necessarily remembering at the end of the year for their ability to convey their characters, but their ability to stay sane during a nine minute shot. There is one scene where much of the focus is on the main girl switch operator and we see everything going on from her perspective. I was amazed at how the crew pulled this off without much error. That’s one of the big compliments I can give this film from a cinematography and camerawork perspective, they do so much to make this film look so crisp while also doing these long, extended, neverending takes. It kept my eyes on the screen for a long, long time. Speaking of shots, there’s numerous scenes that take place on a basketball court, and it adds up to bring in some of the most insane filmmaking of the year. This may be the first time of 2020, that I legit had a mind-blowing moment while watching a film. The other one might have been “Sonic the Hedgehog” because if you know anything about video game movies, there’s an often-shared stigma that they’re lackluster and some of worst products put to screen. But unlike that movie, which at times felt like a product that was heavily commercialized, “The Vast of Night” comes off as a passion project made by a group of people who were really excited to show off their skills and experience, even if not everyone was that experienced to begin with.

I stand by and understand the notion that all movies, in some way, are made for the sake of profit or raking in money. “The Vast of Night” kind of reminded me of an advanced student film, and I mean that in a positive way. It felt like a movie that I would want to make, to the point where I go beyond my imagination with the production value, the cinematography, finding the right people, and every other technical aspect you can think of. There felt like there was just a little more than the idea of getting rich when it comes to the aspirations behind “The Vast of Night,” and other than “The Way Back,” starring Ben Affleck, which I saw in March and have not reviewed yet, I don’t think I have seen as personal of a film this year. For those who are curious, this was shot in 17 days during September 2016 on a Red Epic camera. The result, satisfying.

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In the end, “The Vast of Night” is vastly entertaining. This is the movie that made me perhaps somewhat excited to watch and review new movies once again. It’s not perfect, as stated before, but given the limitations that this film had during production, to have it come out the way did is nothing short of incredible. At the same time though, maybe those extended scenes can also serve as a blessing in disguise, because even though I can tell that the story is relatively simple, maybe I’ll pick up on something in the future in regards to this movie should I watch it again. This year, I haven’t given any 10s, I haven’t given any 9s. Not because I’m trying to get a little more strict with my ratings, I just really have not seen much of anything worth talking about. And unfortunately, this year will continue to lack 9s and 10s, BUT I’m going to give “The Vast of Night” my first 8/10 of the 2020 calendar! Sometimes it does not take much to impress me, and in this case that is certainly true. This movie was produced for under $1 million, which in many circumstances is a lot of money, but for some cases within in the film industry, a million bucks is nothing. It’s chump change. “The Vast of Night” felt like a film that was crafted by someone who knew what they wanted to do and it felt just a tiny tad more expensive than maybe it turned out to be. The only thing that takes such a notion away are some of the extended shots, which are marvelous by the way.

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Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this post and have a WordPress account, consider leaving a like! Also, if you want to see more content, be sure to follow Scene Before for all the goings on here on Flicknerd.com. As for upcoming content, I was PLANNING on going to a Regal Cinemas location next week to see what they’re doing after all the shenanigans, but of course, they delayed their reopening because life sucks and nothing else matters anymore. In most cases, this comment sounds childish, but in the time of 2020, this is pretty tame. Just spreading the truth! However, there is some good news to share… I live in Massachusetts, and it was just announced by Governor Charlie Baker that phase 3 begins July 6th! That means movie theaters in the state of Massachusetts are permitted to reopen as long as they follow guidelines! I don’t know how many theaters would open, but to know that they are eligible excites me. So maybe I’ll do a post on how they are dealing with reopening and what it is like to go to a theater during this… (sigh) “new normal.” Hate saying that. There’s a good chance that I will review another movie within the next week should time allow such a thing to happen, but since I talk about “Tenet” a lot, maybe I’ll do something related to that, I dunno. But if you are bored and are tired of scrolling through my blog on WordPress, I have the solution for you. LIKE MY FACEBOOK PAGE! It’s like my blog, only different! More behind the scenes stuff and random s*it that you don’t get to see on here. I want to know, did you see “The Vast of Night?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie that is set in the 1950s that did not come out in the 1950s? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Minority Report (2002): Spielberg Conveys a Deadly 2054

TOM CRUISE MONTH POSTER

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

*LIGHTNING CRACK*

TOM CRUISE MONTH

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

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

“Murrrrder.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Last Samurai

Risky Business

The Firm

American Made

Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible II

Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Knives Out (2019): 2019’s Pop Culture Murder Mystery Dinner

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“Knives Out” is directed by Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Looper) and stars… well, pretty much everyone you know. To be completely serious though, “Knives Out” stars Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Exposed), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Gifted), Daniel Craig (Skyfall, Logan Lucky), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, The Shape of Water), Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges), Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You, Get Out), Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why, Love, Simon), Jaeden Martell (It, The Book of Henry), and Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, The Sound of Music). Holy crap, that’s a lot of names.

“Knives Out” takes place in the middle of Massachusetts and it typically centers around the interactions of a family after the death of a patriarch. Everybody gathers around a large house, everybody’s got a story, everybody’s got a motivation, but it is also up to a detective (Daniel Craig) to settle everyone down and find out the truth regarding what happened.

The murder mystery genre for me is kind of like horror, because I never take too many chances to dive into the genre itself. Granted, horror, at least to me, is a tad more predictable because it seems to have more of a staying power in today’s society, so I personally prefer the murder mystery genre. In fact, my favorite “Family Guy” episode ever, “And Then There Were Fewer,” is a murder mystery, so I do have some respect for the genre. And honestly, when it comes to Rian Johnson, I will admit that I have had a slight bad taste in my mouth because of the way he handled “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It’s a film that just got significantly worse after I first saw it. In fact, when I watched it a second time, I was kind of turned off by the result. I say that because I wanted the movie to go in a different direction than say “The Empire Strikes Back,” which is a great movie. However, despite the everlasting love and affection I have for 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” one minor flaw with that movie is the way they manage to basically rehash the earliest “Star Wars.” Granted, it’s a fantastic homage which had many repeat viewings for me. But as much as I originally appreciated it for going in a different direction, a lot of the choices they made to go in such a direction were sort of faulty and questionable.

However, having seen that movie, I now know that Johnson might as well be one to subvert expectations. Here’s the thing. Murder mysteries are supposed to keep you guessing. If this movie could keep me on the edge of my seat and questioning everything, then I’d walk out satisfied.

Honestly, I went into this movie with an idea of what is going to be. It turns out, I got something better than what I thought I would get. And that says a lot because the hype behind this movie felt real for me. The production design is some of the best I have seen all year. The acting, not to mention casting in general, is perfect. Everyone from Daniel Craig to Ana De Armas to Toni Collette, everyone served their roles properly and put a smile on my face.

I’ll just say though, I think the two most popular award ceremonies that have to with movies are the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. I have had a history of talking about both ceremonies on here, especially the Academy. But I never usually talk about another popular ceremony, the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards. One of the biggest awards they present on the night of the ceremony is one given to the entire ensemble of actors. We still have about a month left before 2019 is over, and a little longer than that until the ceremony takes place, but I’d argue that at this point, “Knives Out” has an extremely solid chance at winning such an award. I think purely based on how Rian Johnson has to handle so many actors at once, many of whom happened to already establish their name in the industry, including a couple who are a bit lesser known, there is a chance “Knives Out” could walk away with the biggest award from that ceremony.

One of the more solid examples that could let that case be true is Daniel Craig, who plays Benoit Blanc in the film. His performance, was part of what set the tone for the entire movie for me. Daniel Craig, while taking his performance seriously, realizes that this movie is sort of supposed to be fun. His introduction scene almost made me think I was watching something from Wes Anderson, because it is charming, quirky, and based on the way it was directed, I was perhaps hypnotized to leave the film, regardless of whether or not I liked it, admiring Craig in all his glory.

Another standout performer to me is one of the leads, Chris Evans. I think most of what I love about this performance has mainly to do with the screenplay and how the character is written. I say that because the movie is full of tense dialogue between characters, which allows serious vibes to kick in, but Evans manages to play a character who is incredibly laid back and sort of a smartass. Do I think other people could have played his character? Personally, yes, I think I could have played it if I tried, because if I were in this situation, this is probably how I would act. I’d try to have fun with the seriousness at hand, while also trying to deal with the current situation.

As for smaller roles, I think there are a number of them that stand out. Jamie Lee Curtis, Jaeden Martell, but the one I want to talk about is the one given by Toni Collette. I think Collette is not only a great performer here, but brought such life to her character that I cannot imagine anyone else bringing at all, or at least without being cringeworthy. Collette’s character sort of reminds me of a crazy aunt who likes to party. Maybe another good example is the mother from ABC’s “The Goldbergs,” minus the toxic affection she has for offspring. In a way, she’s almost like Chris Evans’ character, because as much as everyone else may be moody or depressed, which she kind of is at times, but still, she has a somewhat happy outlook on current happenings. Either that or she may just have some sort of God-given charisma that nobody else can have.

But if you ask me, I think the best performance in the film is given by Ana de Armas, an actress who I personally happened to have liked before this film came out, and someone who may been the main reason why this film was originally put on my radar. For the record, Ana de Armas was one of the supporting roles in my 2nd favorite film of 2017, and one of my favorite sci-fi films of the decade, “Blade Runner 2049.” She has this ability to take a challenging role and own it. Because in that movie she played a holographic woman that was supposed to have a connection to whoever owned them. The complexity of that role involved being someone who is robotic enough to serve their master, while also being human enough to understand emotion, because in that movie she was someone who happened to be in love with the main character. At the same time, it was almost as if she was a product of the main character’s desires.

As for this movie, we get more of a glance at a character where Ana de Armas has a personality where she is more worried about saving herself. In fact, I mentioned earlier that Daniel Craig presented himself as this quirky, out of nowhere detective. If you ask me, I think the biggest quirk in the movie didn’t necessarily come from him, and instead, came from Ana de Armas. Because she plays a character who practically cannot lie. If all other people were like her, she’d make the lie detector test obsolete. I say that because her character cannot tell a lie, otherwise she throws up. This makes every scene where Armas is forced to tell a truth or where she is being questioned all the more intriguing because not only was I, as an audience member, hypnotized to follow the mystery as it was unraveled, but I was also somewhat concerned for the character’s sanity, health, and sense of self.

From a technical standpoint, the cinematography in the film is amazing. The various dutch angles fit a number of the scenes and sort of had an old Hollywood vibe. The music is outstanding. By the way, such music is composed by Rian Johnson’s cousin, Nathan Johnson, who also worked with him in films like “Brick” and “Looper.” I think Rian Johnson could have a chance for being nominated in the Best Director category, I think his vision helped this movie immensely. This honestly feels like a movie that only he could have done. Maybe one or two other people could do this, but this feels like a personal project. And as much as I despise “The Last Jedi,” I could see what Rian Johnson was trying to do with that movie, because he not only directed that film, but he wrote it as well. “Star Wars” to me, must be a more collaborative piece of media to work on at this point, and with “The Force Awakens” pointing in a certain direction, it admittedly feels odd looking back to see one man with perhaps a sole vision take over for a big film that could expand on previous lore and build up to the next one which happens to conclude a trilogy. These are the kinds of films that I would prefer to see Johnson tackle. Could he do another big franchise in the future? Maybe, but I want to see more of his original work. Media that feels like something only he could own.

I honestly don’t even know what problems come to mind with “Knives Out.” The camerawork is some of the best I have seen all year. The characters are all charismatic. The screenplay is nothing short of outstanding. The ending, as well done as it is, is little choppy in buildup. As for other problems, if there are any, they are a bit hard to point out. Overall, this movie kicks ass!

In the end, “Knives Out,” the movie with perhaps the most badass title of all time, packs a brutal punch of bloody goodness. It is easily one of the best movies of the year, and a step in the right direction for Rian Johnson as a filmmaker. I have not checked out his earlier work, but I really want to check out “Looper.” Films like these are the ones I’ll be excited for when it comes to Rian Johnson’s filmography. Films that are original, exhilarating, and keep me on the edge of my seat. If I have to say one more thing, I will suggest that you’d go see this movie with the biggest crowd you can. If you have one of those theaters with reserved seating near you, buy your tickets online and see how many people have already reserved seats. If there many seats reserved already, I implore you, PLEASE buy a ticket to that show because this is a movie where crowd reactions enhance the experience to the tenth degree. I’m going to give “Knives Out” a 9/10.

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Thanks for reading this review! Just want to announce to everyone reading that during this Thanksgiving weekend, I am going to be showing off my newest trailer for “Top Movies of the 2010s,” a project I plan to release this January, it is going to be the most ambitious countdown series I have done yet, and I cannot wait to share it with you all! If you want to be notified about this trailer, here’s what you can do. Follow Scene Before with an email, or if you want greater access, use a WordPress account! If you are on Facebook, check out MY PAGE and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Knives Out?” What did you think about it? Or, who happens to be your favorite fictional dysfunctional family? It can be from anything, books, movies, TV, you name it! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ad Astra (2019): Cliff Booth Goes to Space

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“Ad Astra” is directed by James Gray (The Lost City of Z, The Immigrant) and stars Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, World War Z), Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black, The Fugitive), Ruth Negga (Preacher, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Liv Tyler (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Incredible Hulk), and Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games, Ordinary People). This film is about an astronaut by the name of Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) and he is trying to fulfill a space mission with one person in mind. Specifically, his father. But it’s not easy, it is in fact, as this movie presents, dangerous to the tenth degree.

I. Love. Space movies. Period. Some of the best movies of the decade have primarily taken place in space. So naturally, I was curious about “Ad Astra.” I will say though, compared to other years, “Ad Astra” didn’t seem to have the same level of anticipation that I had for say “Interstellar” or “The Martian” as they were coming out. But, it doesn’t mean I didn’t take whatever anticipation I DID have into account. This is being released at the end of the summer into the beginning of the fall, which is around the kickoff of awards season. Plus, Brad Pitt is playing the starring role, which is something that is totally attention-grabbing for this year because Pitt just had the scene stealing role as Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Before going into the auditorium to sit down and watch the movie, I have been exposed to tons of positive word of mouth regarding the film’s technical aspects. Let me just say off the bat, to every person who said this movie is cinematography gold, you are 100% correct. And I can totally see why, because this movie is shot by Hoyte Van Hoytema, who shot another wonderful space adventure during the decade, specifically “Interstellar.” And he also shot “Spectre,” which had one of the most incredibly well-done opening scenes in a recent action film. And at times, you can say this film has thrills and vibes that maybe a film like “Interstellar” also had. But you can also say that much like “Interstellar,” it’s slow at times. Now “slow burns” are not a bad thing. As long as the “slow burn” is used to execute the story well, then I’m all for it. But that is something to keep in mind, because “Interstellar” was still entertaining and somewhat compelling at its slow moments, this movie is just… f*cking dull.

I mean, it’s not bad! But it’s utterly forgettable! This movie sort of reminds me of the most recent movie I reviewed, “Brightburn.” If “Brightburn” were considered an organism and had a personality, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had to take it to a professional to see if it could diagnose it with a minor disability. This film is sort of on the same level. Would I immediately go back and watch the movie a second time? Probably not, but maybe I would, there’s always a chance. But if there were any reason to pay attention, I’d say it would be due to certain well thought out and executed concepts.

One sci-fi flick I often think about is “Star Wars,” and one reason is because of their “spaceports,” which to me, are futuristic versions of airports, even though that movie takes place “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.” And guess what? One of the standout scenes in “Ad Astra” involves a literal space version of an airport! You’d look around and you have random shops, restaurants. If I were in this movie, I could literally go to the moon, get off the craft, be surrounded by walls, and go grab a muffin at Dunkin’. I guess this was in one way or another, just an excuse to shove product placement down our throats, but it doesn’t I’m denying that this was a good idea! I wouldn’t mind seeing a future where I could go to the moon and grab some chicken crispers or something at a Chili’s Too during a long layover to Mars.

The main message that I have honestly gotten out of this movie is to appreciate your parents and make them proud. This movie relies heavily on a plot involving the son of a famous astronaut, who also takes on the same lifestyle. In fact, one of the main reasons why our main character is doing what he is doing in the first place, is because of his father.

That being said, this does bring up one thing… I’m not going to give anything away, especially considering how “Ad Astra” was not the highest grossing film of the past weekend. I’m kind of shocked, but apparently I underestimated the level of anticipation there was behind “Downton Abbey.” Anyway, in “Ad Astra,” some things were established about the main character’s father. What things? I’m not going to go into any of them, but based on the information that was provided about him throughout the film, I questioned why we were getting the movie we happened to be getting in the first place. If you ask me, if you were pitching two movies, they took place in the same universe, and a movie about the main character’s father was one of them, I’d rather watch that. It would probably be way different from what we’re getting here, but from an entertainment factor, I think a movie like that would have a better shot at putting a smile on my face. But, keep in mind, this is just an idea. The execution of the final product is what matters. Things like proper direction, stellar acting, and excellent writing are all supposed to culminate to make something special. Based on what I’m about to tell you regarding the screenplay… They don’t.

The movie’s script, on the surface, is not bad. There are a fair share of attention-grabbing and thrilling scenes. But between the pacing issues and lack of knowledge I have about Brad Pitt’s character or some other characters during the movie when it starts, it doesn’t flow the way I would want it to. I imagine some people, specifically those in the general audience demographic would rather watch “Ad Astra” than “Interstellar” simply because of the two films, it’s shorter. To me, when it comes to characterization, “Interstellar” has a significant advantage because it takes its longer runtime to have us as an audience get to know our characters and eventually care about them. I like Brad Pitt, but the character he plays is almost not even worth giving a damn about. But let’s get into something that I did not expect to talk about. One of the last pieces of marketing I saw for “Ad Astra” before going into it was a trailer where Brad Pitt is just narrating from start to finish.

There is a lot of narration in this movie. And I can’t say I dig it.

Granted, you can also make the argument that since Brad Pitt’s character is a little reserved in this movie, almost similar at times to Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Neil Armstrong in “First Man,” the narration works. It gives the audience some insight to what the character’s thinking given how little he tends to open his mouth. And if I had to judge Brad Pitt’s acting in this movie, it’s actually really good, but his character’s minor turnoff for me was the narration. There were a lot of times where it just felt tacked on. It makes “Ad Astra” feel more like a book than a movie. If this were originally a book, I’d understand everything that occurs in the film in terms of narration because narration in a book, specifically in the same case as the movie presents, which is “first person,” is a common happening. I’ve yet to watch the original cut of “Blade Runner,” although I’ve watched “The Final Cut” quite possibly ten times. But if you are familiar with “Blade Runner’s” different cuts, you’d notice that in the original, the main character of Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, narrates. I’m not forcing for this to happen, but I wouldn’t mind if one day they came out with an alternate cut of “Ad Astra” and they called it the “Third Person Edition” because I want to see how a narration-less version of this movie will turn out. It could be better, it could be worse. Who knows? But part of me thinks that the movie will end up benefiting from something like this because I think it would allow an audience member to immerse themselves into the vibrant environment of the film. Again, the cinematography in this movie is some of best I’ve seen this year. It’s up there with films like “Us” as far as 2019 goes in that realm. But sticking with the topic of narration, I will say that it doesn’t make me feel stupid, so as much as I am not exactly satisfied with it, I can tolerate it.

This review is weird! I’m saying I like this movie, but at the same time, I want two different ones that I think could be better, based on its material! Pretty f*cking crazy if you ask me!

In the end, “Ad Astra” has the potential of being the worst good movie of the year, if that makes any sense. Brad Pitt is really good in this film, although he is better in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” if you ask me. I like some of the directions in terms of concepts and story elements this movie tends to lean towards. The cinematography, lighting, and sound are all superb and this movie would be excellent to show off as part of a tech demo. But if you are watching purely for the story, I’d seek out another space movie. Who knows? Maybe this is one of those movies that will be better on the second watch, but I cannot say for sure. I’m going to give “Ad Astra” a 6/10. I almost gave this a 7, but I had a few days to think about this because I’ve been busy with life and school. This is a good movie, but I wouldn’t rush out to see it, but if you want to watch Brad Pitt act well and see big pretty things for a few hours, no judgments here. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that tonight I will be going to see a movie that will not be out until the end of October, and that is “Black and Blue.” I honestly know little to nothing about this movie, but since I have an opportunity to attend a press screening for it, I thought why not take it? Be sure to follow Scene Before to check out that review when it is up, I’m not even sure when the embargo lifts so I might have to guesstimate as to when I can officially release ANY thoughts related to the movie. Also, like my Facebook page and tell your friends about the blog, it really helps me out! I want to know, did you see “Ad Astra?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie that you thought you would be at the top of the box office charts on its opening weekend but couldn’t make it? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ready or Not (2019): The Greatest Hide and Seek Story Ever Told

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“Ready or Not” is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who worked together on projects including “V/H/S” and “Devil’s Due.” This film stars Samara Weaving (SMILF, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body, The O.C.), Mark O’Brien (Republic of Doyle, Halt and Catch Fire), Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible, Revenge), and Andie MacDowell (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Jane by Design) in a film where a woman gets married, has a traditional wedding where everyone gathers together, the couple gives their vows, kiss, all the basics. But that’s not the important part of joining the family according to the side of the groom. Why? Because it is tradition for the family to play a game starting at midnight. As seen in previews and as somewhat suggested by the title, everyone is playing hide and seek. Samara Weaving’s character has to hide as everyone tries to find her, but if you have seen the trailers and heard much about this film, you’d know it’s not the normal game as one may expect. Instead of a pleasant game where everyone frolics around looking for the hiding individual, there is a sinister element involved.

“Ready or Not,” to my knowledge, is a movie that I did not hear much about until a couple months ago when the first trailer came out. But as soon as it came online and was brought to my attention, there was nothing I could do except watch it, which eventually led to me raving about it.

Take everything I have said about this seriously, because the trailer to this film just kills. Even if I never saw the actual film, I would at least recommend the trailer. If you know me in real life, then you must have known my excitement regarding the fact that the movie had a pre-release screening in Boston the day before it came out. I took advantage of the opportunity, scored myself two passes through a reservation online, invited my dad to tag along, and we hit the road!

And I’ll tell you what guys, this is a film that I was highly anticipating. Kind of like how I had massive expectations for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” recently. As far 2019 goes, “Ready or Not” was definitely one of my most anticipated films. There are a lot of instances where people set their expectations high and end up disappointed. Granted, my expectations for “Ready or Not” were not as high as some other films I have seen throughout my life, but as far as this year goes, my hype levels were astronomically high. Although I recently rewatched the trailer, because again, it’s awesome, and I read the comments, and everyone feels as if the movie reveals too much in its trailer. I won’t entirely say whether or not it does because it is not even out yet (except one element in just a moment), but holy crap! I think we may have my favorite film of the year so far!

As I type this review, I cannot tell a lie. My head is still f*cking spinning after what I just saw. This film is a combination of a dark comedy and horror, and it feels like it knows it wants to be that way. It meshes both genres together and creates a spectacular birthchild if you will. It’s not a film that gets confused about its own identity in the same way that a stereotypical middle-schooler would. The best way I can describe this film is referencing Pixar’s “Ratatouille.” You know that scene from “Ratatouille” where Remy takes a bite of one thing, takes a bite of another thing? Both have their own theme music, only to lead to a bite of both things at once which leads to an absurdly upbeat theme that lasts for a few seconds? That’s the best way I can describe “Ready or Not.” It’s hilarious and scary in the best ways possible. I know I said I won’t mention whether or not this movie’s trailer reveals too much, but one thing that I can say is that the trailer contains a number of the movie’s funny parts. This isn’t to say that the movie isn’t funny, but that is something to point out for those who are perhaps coming in for the comedy. It also does not mean that there are not any funny moments not shown in the trailer. I won’t go into detail about them, but this movie has more hilarity than what has already been exposed to most of the public.

In fact, one reason why this movie works so well is the characters. Samara Weaving plays the main character of Grace who I just plain adored. She was performed very well, had incredible charisma, and I bought into the relationship between her and the husband. By the way, the husband’s name is Alex Le Domas and he’s portrayed by Mark O’Brien. To me, Alex is probably one of the most out of field characters I have witnessed on screen this year, and I don’t mean that in a terrible way. His actions intrigued me, and his character went in multiple unexpected directions that made the movie lovable from my perspective. I won’t go into any of them, but I want to give the writers every ounce of credit possible for how they wrote him. When it comes to everyone else, my biggest salutes have to go to Henry Czerny (Tony), Kristian Bruun (Fitch), and Nicky Guadagni as the incredible Aunt Nadine. This lady is always either unhappy or crazy, and the actress portraying her manages to play the role with both traits at a level of absolute excellence. Even though her character is not the most prominent in the film, any screentime with her is a breath of fresh air.

And this film in some ways, reminds me of a film like “Avengers: Infinity War” because while I was not exactly rooting for the antagonistic side, I could see why they were doing what they were doing, and I could believe it or not, side with them. They have to find Grace, perform a ritual, and kill her. And they say that if they don’t do it before dawn, they’re all dead. So in reality, taking the standpoint of the protagonist (survival), or the standpoint of the antagonists (kill or be killed), if one side were to die in this situation, they would absolutely feel like they are doing the right thing for their own good. Not to mention in a way that makes them feel better about themselves. Granted, it’s a movie in a somewhat realistic and slightly intimidating setting for an adult audience, so I wouldn’t expect the antagonistic side to just be “a bad guy doing bad guy things,” but even with that in mind, the way this film plays out the rivalry and their motivations makes the screenplay completely worthy of my admiration. And even though I was able to feel bad at times for the antagonistic side even if their motivation seemed like it involved something that only they would believe, it does not change the fact that for just about every second I was rooting for Grace to run, hide, escape, just let this game of f*ckery come to an end. By the way, people die in this movie and when the deaths arrive, they are occasionally bonkers. You have to see them to believe them, they are masterpieces of darkness.

When it comes to other standouts, I really like the house this movie was shot in. This allowed for some noteworthy set and production design, a ton of dark rooms to highlight what kind of movie we were in for, and specifically for this film, a ton of reasons to intensify a simple game of hide and seek. I also think this film may have a shot during awards season at getting some costume design nominations. There are tons of outfits in the film that suit the characters well and are also impressively designed. I also really like how the film manages to elevate such a simple game traditionally played by children. If you told me five years ago that we’d be getting a movie with an intense hide and seek match, I don’t know what I would have thought, but I probably would have asked for something else. But having seen the trailer for this movie two months ago, I became interested. That interest was strong enough to make me go out and see it. Having seen it, I cannot help but endlessly recommend it.

One last thing I’ll say is this. The final moments in this film are as masterful as air conditioning on extremely hot days. There is a line that I won’t go into during the final three to five minutes of the film, but that line made me pull myself back in my seat, drop my jaw in shock, and place my hand on my head in utter disbelief. I don’t mean that in a bad way, in fact, the exact opposite. I was floored to the point where I went from really liking this movie to wanting to see it again at full price. Let me just remind you that this is a year of fantastic endings. We’ve had films like “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” which to this day is the only film to flat out make me cry in a cinema. Then came “Avengers: Endgame,” which not only had a geek wet dream come to life, but a satisfying finale to over 20 films that came before it. And just a few weeks ago we had “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” which… simply put, is a f*ckstravaganza of madness. Now we have “Ready or Not,” which has an ending that is as wild as it is satisfying. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has the advantage of having the better climax and ending, but this film’s ending elevated its final verdict to me and if you ask me, “Ready or Not” as a film, to me, is better than “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

In the end, don’t hide, just RUN to the theater to go see “Ready or Not.” It’s a unique concept, has likable characters, and has an impressive amount of bloody violence to keep my eyes towards the screen. This film is from Fox Searchlight, a studio that happens to be a major contributor to many of the awards-type pictures that have come out in recent years. Will this movie be one of them? I don’t know, it’s possible, but it’s still August so I cannot exactly confirm that will be the case. Although many awards outlets are not that friendly to horror flicks so there’s a good chance “Ready or Not” may be ignored. But I will remind you, in Disney’s recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s assets, this is one part that they now can claim as their own. And movies like these are what I hope to continue to see from Disney with their new Fox additions. Movies that are compelling, original, and in the case of Fox Searchlight, small. Disney has recently exterminated Fox 2000, which is a sad move from my perspective, but if they eradicate or shrink the relevance of Fox Searchlight, that would be an even bigger mistake, and films like “Ready or Not” are why. This is a film that I want to see again, buy on Blu-ray, and this should not surprise you right now, I’m going to give “Ready or Not” a 10/10! Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that I just recently went to Terrificon over a week ago, I am currently working on a post related to my experience of the event, and I don’t know for sure, but I’m hoping it is up by the end of the week. Only time will tell though! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you are hiding from the real world and spending your days in the virtual universe of the Internet, I don’t know what you are doing, but who knows? Maybe you have Facebook. And if you have Facebook, do me a solid favor, check out the Scene Before Facebook page, give it a like, tell your friends about it, maybe your Facebook friends, and if you are an old school Internet junkie, tell your MySpace friends! I want to know, did you see “Ready Or Not?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played a whacked up edition of a particular game? If so, what was it like? Ready or not, let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Midsommar (2019): Can Ari Aster Top Hereditary?

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

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

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

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

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

It may be a letdown, just saying –Choyon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hereditary (2018) REVIEW

The Hateful Eight (2015): More Like the Mediocre Eight

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Just a reminder that we are days away from the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and I just want to let everyone know that I WILL be going to see it this Thursday in 35mm! I will also be reviewing the film as soon as it releases and by that I mean, hopefully by the end of the Sunday which it comes out. I might not have it up right away because I’m going to see the film on Thursday at 7:30, I’ll be out of the theater 2 to 3 hours later, meaning I won’t be home until sometime before or after 11PM. Then on Friday I’m going to New Haven, CT, which is 2 to 3 hours away from my house. I’ve got a busy weekend ahead, but it’ll likely be fun, so I’m excited! But, the movie is not out yet, so I am going to be reviewing my third and final entry to my Quentin Tarantino review series, specifically “The Hateful Eight.” This is the most recent product Tarantino directed and it even features his voice through narration. Without further ado, let’s begin!

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“The Hateful Eight” is directed by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs) and stars Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Kingsman: The Secret Service), Kurt Russell (The Thing, Furious 7), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Revenge, The Spectacular Now), Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, Justified), Demian Bichir (Machete Kills, The Bridge), Tim Roth (United Passions, The Incredible Hulk), Michael Madsen (Species, Kill Bill Vol. 1) and Bruce Dern (Nebraska, The ‘Burbs). This film takes place in 1877 as several characters interact, travel, and question each other during a snowstorm in Red Rock, Wyoming.

This is the latest film from Quentin Tarantino, and it was also one of those films that I really wanted to see in the theater. Unfortunately, I missed out. One of the reasons I wanted to go see the film in a cinema was due to the technology used for filming and presentation. This film was entirely shot with 70mm cameras, and much like director Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino is very particular to how his films look. After all, both directors have this in common. They either shoot on film, or they choose death. I have noticed that Tarantino has shot all of his past projects on 35mm, which is something he is also doing for his upcoming film for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” But this is Tarantino’s first attempt at shooting a full-length 70mm movie. And with that in mind, he’s trying to hark back to an era of old Hollywood, when glorious films like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” were shot in the same format. He even did a special engagement with select theaters where they would show the movie in 70mm (or sometimes digital), and present it in a roadshow format. This even had an intermission, which many of the other theaters’ versions of the film did not include. So if you went to see this in digital at your local Regal Cinemas, chances are you watched from start to finish.

In fact, another thing that I noticed was completely different compared to many other films is the aspect ratio. This film is presented in 2.76:1. Most modern films are usually not as wide. In fact, of any film I have seen to this day, this is without a doubt the widest. This is definitely a unique modern film in its own right simply because of how it looks, how it presents itself.

Sadly though, while this movie manages to be extremely impressive in visuals, it manages to simultaneously suffer as a story. Granted, it’s not bottom of the barrel. In fact, the day I see a bottom of the barrel story from Tarantino is the day I think the entire art of filmmaking is dead. There are some elements of “The Hateful Eight’s” script that I can appreciate. It’s mysterious, occasionally suspenseful, and it has this one gag involving a door that I happened to appreciate from a comedic standpoint. I thought it was up there with the funniest parts of the movie.

But if you had to ask me what my biggest problem with “The Hateful Eight” is, it’s the characters, because I can barely remember any of them at this point. I should note, I watched this movie last Thursday. I guess a couple of the characters have interesting conversations, including one about a particular character’s interactions with US President Abraham Lincoln. Although when it comes to overall personality, none in particular stand out. The characters do and say cool things, but it doesn’t add up to making the characters lovable. Just me.

Although I did some research before this movie came out. If you don’t know, Tarantino’s film prior to this was “Django Unchained.” When this project first got into gear, Tarantino’s original vision was to make this a sequel to “Django Unchained.” And if you watch this film it is easy to tell the elements for a unrealized sequel are there. This is in the western genre, around the same time period, and a couple actors including Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins happen to appear in both movies. Did I mention both films came out on Christmas Day? While I do appreciate Tarantino for sticking to original material as opposed to expanding upon something that already exists, the mediocre quality of this movie almost makes me curious to know what would happen if this either took place in the same universe as “Django Unchained” or if Tarantino just stuck to writing a sequel to his previous film as opposed to having to spend lots of time developing something new.

Speaking of Tarantino, I’m willing to bet some of you who watched the movie may have noticed the narration during the film. For those of you who have yet to see “The Hateful Eight,” I won’t share the narration because it does dive into something important that can be seen during the film. But before checking this movie out, I was reminded by my dad of the film’s quirky narration, which quite honestly, was not that quirky if you ask me. Plus, to be honest, while it can be attention grabbing when it happens, it feels very out of left field. Why? While this is a “semi-spoiler” (maybe), there is no narration in the first half of the movie. It just happens at this random point where Tarantino probably was writing the script, didn’t find a character that was a good match for him that he could personally portray. Then he thought, “Hey! I can be the narrator! Perfect!” It’s a weird complaint and I almost question myself for making it, but I can’t help myself. It just stands out! Then again, I kind of made a similar compliant, while not exactly the same, for 2018’s “The Grinch,” so I guess it works here!

If you ask me, Tarantino has this excellent ability to match up a stellar script with spectacular locations or setpieces, or gorgeous cinematography. This movie rules in the technical department, I almost forgot to mention how much I enjoyed listening to Ennio Morricone’s score at times, but it fails when it comes to keeping me on the edge of my seat. Maybe it’s one of those movies that I have to pay full attention to with no distractions (in fact, I had to pause the movie to complete a task that took 30 minutes). But nevertheless, compared to Tarantino’s other films, this one just sticks out like a sore thumb because the characterization just feels weak in certain places. The only characters I feel like I’ll end up remembering are Marquis Warren, John Ruth, and Domergue. If I had to compare the behind the scenes efforts of this movie from Tarantino during this film’s production to another well known director, it would probably be Zack Snyder, because he’s very much a director who relies on style. This is evident in a movie like “Sucker Punch,” which at this point, I don’t particularly recall appreciating for the story or characters despite one or two kick-ass scenes. After all, one thing that would probably save the movie from being lower than the score I gave it when I first saw it is the amazing long take action scene that occurs on a train. There are redeeming qualities about “The Hateful Eight,” but they’re not enough to satisfy me.

In the end, after my watch of “The Hateful Eight,” I was slightly disappointed. Granted, I knew going in, according to others, this is not Tarantino’s best work, but even when you consider his resume and the fact that his name is attached to this, I might as well not be wrong to expect nothing but excellence from “The Hateful Eight.” To me, this film kind of reminds me of “Avatar.” It’s a film that looks very nice on the big screen, and is definitely built for a cinematic environment, but the story is not the strong point of the movie. I have not lost my faith in Tarantino however, partially because the trailers made his next film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” look really good. Plus, it’s already getting good reviews, but “The Hateful Eight” still left me with a less than satisfying taste in my mouth. Sure, it hits a number of the cool Tarantino checkpoints. Gritty violence, pretty locations, attention-grabbing dialogue (despite weak characters), and giving Samuel L. Jackson an interesting hairstyle. But if someone were to come up to me and ask me to recommend a Tarantino film, “The Hateful Eight” would not be my first pick. I’m going to give “The Hateful Eight,” as much as it kind of feels criminal to say this, a 6/10. And before I go off on other ramblings, I would like to point out Samuel L. Jackson’s performance. It’s good. But, there’s a scene where I personally think he overacts to the point of cringe. Just saying. Thanks for reading this review! Just a reminder that tonight I am going to be seeing the new film “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours). I expect to have my review up by Thursday because on that day, I’m going to see “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” opening night, and I feel like I should have just about nothing else blog-related that I should focus on during the weekend. In addition to all this, I have to give a report and my thoughts on some big news for Marvel, “The Avengers,” and the movie industry as a whole. If you follow movies, chances are you may know what I’m talking about. Be sure to follow Scene Before if you have an email or WordPress account, and once you click the follow button, be sure to stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Hateful Eight?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie from a director that you really love that disappointed you in some way? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOW HOLD ON!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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