Radioactive (2019): Imagine Elements

MV5BZGZkNzY3MmUtYjJlNC00NTM0LWFiNmYtZDA4NzBiMmU1MzI4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODE0OTU5Nzg@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_

“Radioactive” is directed by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis, The Simpsons) and stars Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher, Gone Girl), Sam Riley (Maleficent, Control), Aneurin Barnard (The White Queen, Dunkirk), and Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma, The Witch). This film is about the life and story of Marie Curie, a scientist who discovered radioactive elements on the periodic table, which eventually changed the world. The film also dives into her family life, and her love life.

I knew a bit about Marie Curie before I saw “Radioactive.” In fact, when it comes to women in science, I think her name has a bigger lock in my head compared to just about anybody else. After all, there was a point during my sophomore year in high school where I knew her name through various means, and I wanted to do a project on her for my chemistry class. Unfortunately, she was taken. But as a consolation prize, her husband, Paul Francis Curie was available. So I did have some history regarding the Curie name, even if I didn’t really know them or consider myself to be a part of their legacy. I just… reflected on them. That’s a good word to use at this point.

MV5BYTMyMDIzYmMtNmUyNi00NWIyLWIyZDctNzNiNGQ2MTAyNDE3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTkxNjUyNQ@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1411,1000_AL_

Before we go any further, I just want to let everyone know that if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, this movie is free as it is an original production from Amazon Studios. Thankfully, Gofobo sent me a notice that Amazon was letting people see the movie early for free. For various reasons, I decided to wait a little to review it, but I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity. Having said that… This is one of the best movies of 2020!

BUT… Hold your horses! If you have been following my recent work, you’d know THIS DOESN’T SAY MUCH. 2020, as a whole, has been a wreck for movies. Not just because of the industry-wide impact productions and crews everywhere happen to be facing, but what we have gotten so far has been nowhere near worthy of high honors. At this point, I would not be surprised if “Sonic the Hedgehog” ends up getting nominated by the Academy for Best Picture. It’s that crazy of a year! I will say though, “Radioactive” is a movie that going into it, I really did not have much awareness towards, but walking out of it, I felt that I made a superb life choice to gaze my eyes upon it.

Of the movies that I have seen this year, this honestly feels like the most worthy contender of being a “well-rounded” production. It has an excellent cast who performs well in each particular role on the list, the script is attention-grabbing and very much follows the much-respected “show, don’t tell” route of filmmaking. It’s a win for visual storytelling. Directing-wise, this was a solid vision of the period and people in which it portrays. The production design in this film may be the finest of the year. There’s a lot to unpack here and appreciate. Speaking of the production design aspect, I know the competition is not that heavy, and it could increase as we get movies like “Tenet,” “The New Mutants,” and so on, I think if any movie were to contend for a production design award at this point, “Radioactive” could win. I felt like I was in a different period than my own. And this REALLY says something, because when I review new movies. Guess where I’m watching them? Either on the big screen in theaters, or at home on my 4K TV. I used neither of those for this movie. Instead, I used a laptop. Why? Because the link to the movie was provided to me so I could watch it on smaller devices. To say that I watched a movie on my laptop and felt immersed from a picture standpoint, is a tremendous compliment.

Amazon.com: Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and ...

This film is based on a graphic novel by Lauren Redniss, and that thought never popped into my head while watching the movie. I never really made any sort of connection. But as I reflect upon what I witnessed, it adds up. A lot of the images are packed with impeccable detail, the colors really resemble a dreariness that isn’t exactly depressing, but more or less brings a pop to the eyes.

MV5BZDEwODQ2NzctNDUzOS00Y2FlLWEyYmMtMzlmZDU0MDBhNjVjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzA4MDA0Mjc@._V1_

One of the best parts overall of “Radioactive” is the performance given by Rosamund Pike. I will admit, I need to see more of her work, but she breaks a leg here. So far, it is probably my favorite performance of the year. This film centers around Marie Curie, and Pike does a really good job at maintaining the sense of importance such a character in an environment like this can provoke. This is one of the most notable women in all of scientific history, not only was her story laid out in an organized manner that allowed me to gaze at the screen, but it’s nice to see Pike lay a dramatic effect to somebody whose name I recognized, but didn’t have a complete knowledge about. Also one of the highlights of the picture, there are various points where the script jumps through time, and it doesn’t really feel out of place. It’s a bunch of various extended cases of cause and effect. The story attributes Marie Curie’s accomplishments and also notes future achievements that occur, and perhaps mainly occurred because of Curie’s past work. It does a really good job at making you care about the main character without necessarily seeing the main character do much of anything or put herself into action. The editing here felt seamless and organized. I dug it all.

There are not too many standout issues I have with “Radioactive.” When it comes to the 2020 library of movies, it is definitely one of those that I would consider watching again. Pacing-wise, “Radioactive” is not bad at all. I will say though, even though I like the overall way the script plays out, it is almost a little by the numbers. In fact for a period-based film about Marie Curie, it feels like the crew went with… let’s say a rather cliche or ordinary vibe for this type of film. Despite its flaws, I would recommend “Radioactive.” Again, if you have Prime Video and pay for it, you can get it for free. Check it out if you’re ever in the mood. But in all seriousness, if I had to give one description for this film, it is “well-rounded” if you ask me. All the elements (no pun intended) line up for a competent picture that is entertaining, yet honorable to Curie’s legacy.

In the end, I will remind you all… It’s 2020. If you just want a good movie at this point, “Radioactive” could end up being for you. “Radioactive” elegantly presented the story of Marie Curie and despite the few critiques I would give to this film, it was extremely well done, especially if you had to line this film up with whatever else came out this year. That is if this is even a year anymore. Nobody has a concept of time at this point.MV5BYjgwM2JhNjItNjFlYi00MjYwLTlhYWEtZjk2NzcwYmZmYTg0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU1NzU3MzE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_ I’m going to give “Radioactive” an 8/10. In 2020, 8 really is the new 10. Sad to say, but if things actually come out in theaters on time or if we get better movies, that could change. Still mad about “Tenet…” Ugh.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Vivarium,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots. I won’t say much about the movie… But… It’s weird. Won’t say if that’s a good or bad thing, you’ll have to find out for yourself. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Or, you can get some alternate content from Scene Before through the official Facebook page! Give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Radioactive?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie about a woman in science? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Hope Gap (2019): Divorce is Hardest on Grown, Fully Developed Children

MV5BYmY0YmUzM2MtOTRhNS00MjA0LWJmMDctNWMzOTllNzk5ZDdiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzQ5MzY0NjM@._V1_

“Hope Gap” is directed by William Nicholson (Gladiator, Les Misérables) and stars Annette Bening (American Beauty, 20th Century Women), Bill Nighy (Love, Actually, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Country), Aiysha Hart (Line of Duty, Atlantis), Ryan McKen (Game of Thrones, Bancroft), Steven Pacey (Blake’s 7, Doctors), and Nicholas Burns (The Crown, Benidorm). This film is about a couple, whose son is returning home for some time. As we progress through the movie, we begin to notice that the couple cannot quite click. We notice that they have trouble communicating, and it is also revealed that the husband has plans to leave the wife, thus we have our movie.

MV5BMTk1ODY2MzMxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjk2MzQxNjM@._V1_

Looking at “Hope Gap” on the surface, it may not exactly be my type of movie. But just because something is not necessarily my “type” of film, does not mean I am going to count it out on my viewing list. It just means I may have priorities. Speaking of priorities, when the heck is “Tenet” going to hit theaters?! Anyway, “Hope Gap” was available to me as my mother rented it On Demand and I figured why not give it a watch. What have I got to lose? It’s 2020! It could be worse! It could be murder hornets!

Having said that, I watched the movie, and I will say… Is it just me… Or did movies just rise from the dead?! For the past few months, I felt like there has been nothing to talk about, nothing to get me excited, nothing to pump me up as a film fanatic, but now, back to back, I have seen TWO of my favorite films of the year. And what makes this film in particular a little extra special is how it’s not even in my wheelhouse of film genres. Yes, a lot of the actors in the film like Annette Bening and Bill Nighy have done acclaimed work in the past, in fact some of the movie’s cast have previously worked on another highlight of 2020 for me, “Emma.” The cast in this movie has a knack for talent and it shows here with some of the finest performances I have seen all year. But, I’ll mention, like the last film I saw which I reviewed… It’s not perfect, and once again, 2020 continues to be the worst year for film that I have witnessed, maybe ever.

MV5BZDE3OTU1N2MtMTNiNC00OWRhLTk3MjItODNhNTQzY2YxMjJkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjI2MTEwMjU@._V1_

Much like last year’s “Marriage Story,” which is a remarkably well-made masterpiece by the way, “Hope Gap” centers around a married couple who evidently cannot click. The performances from Bening and Nighy reveal this with a ton of force. Not only is their acting and chemistry believable and satisfying, but they are also well-written. Going back to “Marriage Story,” as I look back on that movie, I can point out to several moments where either member of the marriage can be labeled as a jerk. Here, I picked up that a lot of the reasons why this movie unfolded was mainly having to do with the husband, who seemed to display one very notable quality as the movie went on. He seemed very passive, at least when his wife is in the room. There was this scene in the movie where the wife got a bit serious and wanted the husband to express himself or open up, but he always seemed rather silent, perhaps uninformative. He never really felt any need or reason to tell his wife what he wants or needs. I sort of felt bad for the man even if he was the main catalyst for the main couple’s relationship going down the drain.

Interesting thing though, I have been through the process of seeing my parents have a falling out, separate, get divorced, and throughout the process, I was distraught. Admittedly, I still am today, seven years later, which is why I do my best to cherish the family I have as much as possible and see them when needed. Now, I will say, one of the main characters of “Hope Gap” is the couple’s grown son, he comes back home to visit his parents, his room has barely been touched, it’s even got a twin bed in it. My parents divorced when was in my teens. This guy is rather grown up, and during the movie… He doesn’t really seem to care about anything that happens to his parents, it doesn’t matter. After all, he’s on his own, he’s got his own life. Why does he have to care about the people who raised him? He never really reveals much of his emotions towards these dramatic and life-altering situations. In fact, I find it really funny how in the IMDb description, it mentions that the visit takes “a dramatic turn when the father tells him (the son) he plans on leaving his mother.” The drama, even though it is there, feels more like drama, for us, the viewers, the people in the movie themselves barely experience it. We’re along for the ride, and we see a passive husband, a son who barely gets involved in any of this other than actively listening to his parents, and the only person who truly feels traumatized or highly affected by all this in such a negative way is the wife. Is that a bad thing? No. Because the script of the film flows properly, and that along with several performances makes you buy into everything that’s going on.

They say divorce is hardest on the children, but this movie made me think… If my parents stayed together, until I was… say 35. How would I feel about them getting divorced regardless of the situations/buildup that triggered them to go down this path? I mean, it is a life-altering situation, in fact of all the situations that I can think of in my life that I have personally been through, I think the divorce of my parents has altered me the most. Although, the COVID-19 pandemic might take that crown eventually if more s*it starts to go down. But hey, movie theaters are open in my state, so yay! If this divorce thing happened in my early twenties or my thirties or forties, would I try to get my parents back together? Plead them to stay? Or would I just stand by and let them go their separate ways? This movie in ways mixes drama with that “slice of life” feel and the vibes mix with excellence. I think it was a somewhat realistic portrayal of what could happen in a situation of this kind. There was even a moment where the wife got a dog, and I imagine it is being done sort of as a stress reliever or coping mechanism.

Did I mention this movie is shot beautifully? I mean, I think a lot of it has to do with the location choices more than anything, but this movie has some of the nicest shots of the year.

MV5BMjA4MzA3MjM5Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg2MzQxNjM@._V1_

In the end, “Hope Gap,” kind of like the last movie I reviewed, “The Vast of Night,” is one of 2020’s finer entries to the cinematic calendar. BUT, it’s not perfect. I will say, the movie does keep its pace for the most part, but there are a few moments where the movie does slow down just a bit. Also, even though the movie is pretty good, I don’t think it had the full on dramatic impact it was hoping to deliver. It made me feel something watching the movie, and it did touch upon a life-changing subject I can relate to. It did make me think, but not in a way that really made me reevaluate my life for as long as time shall march on. However, do not sit out on “Hope Gap.” If you find it and decide to watch it, I don’t think you’ll be completely disappointed. With that being said, “Hope Gap” is a high note for 2020, and I’m going to give it an 8/10.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know, phase 3 has officially begun in Massachusetts, which means that movie theaters have been given the green light to open as long as they follow along with government-based restrictions and guidelines. Not many theaters are opening in Massachusetts, but I do know of a fairly close one set to open its doors on this Friday, July 10th. If I have the time, I’m gonna make the trip to the theater to see a movie, get a review for you guys, and see what they’re doing to get through the pandemic. I cannot wait to see a movie in a dark room again where I do not have any reason to look at my phone. You don’t know how much I miss this experience… Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Feel free to leave this post a like if you have a proper account setup, share it with friends, and like my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Hope Gap?” What did you think about it? Or, are movie theaters open where you are right now? If they are, what are doing in terms of safety precautions? If not, is there any word on what your local cinemas will be doing upon the reopening process? And yes, I know chains like Regal and AMC are currently set to open on July 31st, but also if you have any local theaters that are within smaller chains or independent names, I want to know about those as well. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

All the Right Moves (1983): An Infinitely Wrong Movie

TOM CRUISE MONTH POSTER

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is time for the second entry to the official Scene Before event, Tom Cruise Month! It is week 2 in this limited run of reviews, or as I like to call it, a cure to boredom. I love Tom Cruise, I sometimes forget how much I appreciate him as an actor, not just as a performer trying to encapsulate the heart and soul of the individuals he portrays on screen, but also how much he is willing to learn, how much he is willing to risk his own life just to entertain a modern audience. He’s this generation’s Buster Keaton if you ask me.

We are still early into Tom Cruise Month, and speaking of early, we are going to travel back to the 1980s, when the actor was just getting started, taking on films like “Endless Love,” “The Outsiders,” and “Risky Business.” But we are not going to talk about those films. I didn’t watch those a few days ago. Although, the thought of going back to watch “Risky Business” does intrigue me. Instead, we are going to dive into the 1983 flick “All the Right Moves.”

So let’s dive right–Wait… Tom! I didn’t mean that way! Ah, whatever, let’s start the review. This is a series I like to call…

*LIGHTNING CRACK*

TOM CRUISE MONTH

mv5bndqzmdljmzktmtu5nc00zgrlltgxmgmtnzyyytgym2mxztdkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtmxmty0otq40._v1_sy1000_cr006411000_al_

“All the Right Moves” is directed by Michael Chapman (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver) and stars Tom Cruise (The Outsiders, Risky Business), Craig T. Nelson, and Lea Thompson in a film about a teenage boy from a western Pennsylvania town looking for a football scholarship. The town is dominated by a steel manufacturing company, and it is kind of boring, but Cruise does have young Lea Thompson as a girlfriend, so that keeps life interesting. The movie follows Cruise as he has to deal with the pressure of a big football game, and the challenge of trying to get into a good school while living in a town that seems to be stuck in its own traditions that he may consider beneath him. Gotta be honest, and you’ll hear some explanation about this in the review. When it comes to the high school kid wanting a scholarship or a desire to get into a good school, this is a plot I think “Risky Business,” another Tom Cruise movie, did three times better than this piece of crap.

“All the Right Moves” came out in 1983, back when Tom Cruise was getting started, before Oprah Winfrey ever could have been concerned about getting her furniture ruined. I bought this movie in 2017, watched it once a little less than a year later, hated myself afterwards, and moved on with my life. I did not think I would watch it again, but I kept it in my collection because when it comes to what I’ve got in said collection, Tom Cruise is such a crucial part. I believe I have more Tom Cruise movies in my collection than I do for Criterions. That’s how much I am willing to embrace the dude. I don’t agree with his personal views in regards to Scientology. But I don’t let that get in the way from how much I respect him as a performer. Granted, a lot of his roles have gotten more complex and dangerous as time has passed, but even back in the 1980s, I can sense strong acting chops from Cruise himself.

So, I have the Blu-ray, so I took it from the collection, carefully inserted it into the player, it asked me if I wanted to resume from the last place I stopped because my 4K Blu-ray player apparently remembers s*it from 2018 and robots are taking over the world, said no, then I began watching the movie.

It still f*cking sucks. Plain and simple. I have not seen all of Tom Cruise’s work. Heavy hitters like “Vanilla Sky,” “Collateral,” and “Cocktail” are all titles I have not dived into as of yet. I fell asleep during the first few minutes of “Jerry Maguire,” but that was more or less because I was tired and not because the movie sucked. But if you ask me, if I had to pick a least favorite Tom Cruise movie of the ones I have seen, this would be it. Either this or “Mission: Impossible II,” which I have previously labeled in my review as “Impossible to Enjoy.”

I am being harsh on this movie, admittedly, so I will point out that I cannot overlook the things I liked about it. Tom Cruise is pretty good as the starring role, I like Craig T. Nelson as the coach, the performances all around are halfway decent. The cinematography and directing are both competent. But even though Tom Cruise plays the lead character well, I cannot say I related to him. Yes, I don’t play football. I don’t even like football! I think as a sport it is one of the most overrated concepts I have ever seen, even though I have watched the Super Bowl for the ads. Now, I understand that one of the big techniques when writing a likable main character is to have them be broken, they can’t be perfect. But there are certain times where Tom Cruise’s character of Stefen just comes off as a dick. I don’t know why. Just the way he talks, he feels more selfish than anything. And I understand that when it comes to storytelling, everything is typically supposed to come from the lead character’s perspective. But when your lead character is doing things that make them come off as a complete jackass, why should I care? I was able to defend him maybe once or twice, but there are so many other instances where a part of me died inside.

I mean, if you look at a similar movie starring Tom Cruise, specifically “Risky Business,” I felt for his character for just about every second of the movie. And whenever there was a fault that he made, it didn’t make me roll my eyes and wonder why I was rooting for him. His character, Joel, was relatable, and at times I kind of wanted to be him. I don’t think I’d want to be Stefen from “All the Right Moves,” even if I did get to date a young Lea Thompson in high school… If I were Joel I’d get Rebecca De Mornay so that’s a pretty fine alternative. By the way, the high school in this movie, at least from the perspective of young student characters we see inside, is unrealistically steamy. Maybe I’m saying this as someone who went in the 2010s, but still. It felt like something out of a stereotypical cheesy CW teen drama.

I don’t know, but the way this entire movie plays out feels incredibly stupid. Granted, it has some solid buildup and introduces you to the world in a well executed manner, but when it comes to building the characters, I don’t really like any of it. I understand want, but there’s want, then there’s a Veruca Salt impression. Maybe that’s a little too far, but without spoiling anything, some of the actions that Stefen takes in this movie almost feel unacceptable or inexcusable. If you want me to like you, don’t be a dick. Don’t go around doing s*it that makes you the scum of the earth, it’s that simple. I don’t care if you don’t like a person that much. JUST… Be polite. I get that girls… supposedly like bad boys, but holy s*it, if I dated this moron, I’d beat his ass before getting out of his sight.

Not even a gorgeous young Lea Thompson could save this mess! I mean, another compliment I could give is if you really want something sexy, this… is kinda serviceable. There’s one or two parts of the movie that at least could fulfill that. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend it as a date night movie. I think date night movies should have a little more substance, at least if you’re asking me, but ya know. Although I wouldn’t stop you from watching this with your mom, even though there is nudity.

One of the worst things about this movie is the ending. I will not go into it, and even though it is coherent, it is nevertheless cringeworthy to watch as a viewer because I’m looking at the main character. Did he earn his fate? Honestly, he didn’t. It was just given to him. I don’t even know how it adds up.

Honestly guys, if you want a solid story where Tom Cruise plays a teenage boy going about his daily life that feels raw, packs a total punch, and feels fun all around, go watch “Risky Business!” It came out in the same year, has a slightly similar concept, but is just about better in every single way from directing to writing to camerawork to emotion to music, just about everything in that movie is better, and apparently it came out before “All the Right Moves” did. And even though I gave some flack for “Risky Business” not keeping their original ending, which can be seen in the bonus features from their 2008 DVD/Blu-ray release, I consider it a near perfect movie. If I had to choose a favorite Tom Cruise movie, I would have to flip a coin between “Risky Business” and “Mission: Impossible: Fallout.” At least this movie’s short, I didn’t suffer for too long.

In the end, “All the Right Moves” is all kinds of wrong. There are a couple things I like about the movie, there were one or two dramatic points that had me looking at the screen. Although when it comes to characters, they start out fine, but become flat or annoying as the movie goes on. I was not bored by this movie, even though it may drag at later points, I just found this movie rather unwatchable. Tom Cruise shows a decent acting ability even for an earlier role. Not enough to make a good movie. One or two scenes are kinda attention-grabbing. Not enough to make a good movie. Lea Thompson looks like a goddess! Not enough to make a good movie. I don’t know if I’ll be watching “All the Right Moves” ever again. That is even if I do keep the Blu-ray for the rest of my life. I’m going to give “All the Right Moves” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! Next week I’m going to be reviewing “Days of Thunder.” Another Tom Cruise movie I have not watched in a long time. I’m personally curious to see if any of my opinions change, but that will have to be revealed in the future. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, make the right move, and check out the Scene Before Facebook page! Give it a like too! I want to know, did you see “All the Right Moves?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Lea Thompson movie? SPECIAL RULE: If you say any of the “Back to the Future” movies, I want a second choice if you have seen one. Admittedly, this is probably me just looking for a recommendation or two. Leave those picks down below and I will have a “Days of Thunder” review next week! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Little Women (2019): Call Me “March” Like You Said You Would

mv5by2qzytqyyzitmzawyi00yjzllthjntutnzmymddkyzjinwm4xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtkxnjuynq4040._v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

“Little Women” is directed by Greta Gerwig (Isle of Dogs, Lady Bird) and stars Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Mary Queen of Scots), Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast, The Circle), Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Fighting with my Family), Eliza Scanlen (Home and Away, Sharp Objects), Laura Dern (Marriage Story, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy, Interstellar), Meryl Streep (The Post, Sophie’s Choice), Tracy Letts (The Lovers, The Post), Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Incredibles 2), James Norton (Happy Valley, Flatliners), Louis Garrel (The Dreamers, Redoubtable), and Chris Cooper (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood). This film is based on the book of the same name conceived by Louisa May Alcott, which has been adapted and brought to other mediums in the past, and this is another attempt to make a film out of it. The story of “Little Women” follows the lives of the March sisters, four women who are determined to live life on their own terms.

Apparently, this is one of multiple adaptations of “Little Women.” However, just a fair warning, I have never read the book, and I never witnessed any other adaptation of the IP. So this film took my “Little Women” virginity. I probably would have gone to see this film earlier, but due to time constraints, other films getting in the way, not to mention missing out on an opportunity to go to an advance screening, I just couldn’t get around to “Little Women” until now. In fact, the reason why I am watching “Little Women” at this point is to get caught up on this year’s Academy Award nominations, specifically Best Picture. Upon hearing which films were announced for the category, I have seen each one except “Little Women,” so I took today,  perhaps my least busy day of the week, and took the subway to a non-profit theater that way I could go watch the movie in 35mm film. I figured if I wanted to watch a Best Picture nominee, I might as well commit.

Sadly, I don’t feel like that commitment has worked out. I will be honest, I was kind of disappointed with “Little Women.” I would like to just point out, I admire Greta Gerwig as a filmmaker. I think she knocked it out of the park with her 2017 feature-length directorial debut, “Lady Bird.” Although if I had to compare “Little Women” to “Lady Bird” and my desire to go back and watch them again, it would be like comparing odds of finding a Chick-fil-A in a casino or a slot machine in a casino. Even though I have seen “Lady Bird” once, it would probably associate more with the slot machine. It’s a jackpot! As for “Little Women,” I might chicken out after a little while.

Now… Don’t think I am nagging on “Little Women” calling it a disaster. It is by no means the worst movie of all time, it just has problems is all. In fact, “Little Women,” in terms of direction, shines. I feel like in terms of a director wanting to get THEIR vision out to the public, “Little Women’s” Greta Gerwig succeeded at such a task more so than a good number of other filmmakers this year. A lot of the cinematography done by Yorick Le Saux is beautiful and totally stands out through the 35mm print shown at my screening. Alexandre Desplat’s score is great and fits the vibe! I also like the idea of not only shooting the film on location, but shooting it around the area where Louisa May Alcott wrote the “Little Women” book, Concord, Massachusetts. It provided for some of the most gorgeous scenery of 2019’s cinematic year and some of the better production design for said cinematic year. A lot of the scenes in the film are wonderfully realized and jump off the screen. Too bad the movie’s kind of boring.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie starts out fine. In fact, the first two thirds are somewhat interesting. The characters, not to mention the actors who play them, are not half bad. I felt the chemistry between pretty much every single character, which may have been the most necessary requirement for this film, because if I did not believe in the chemistry between the sisters, then why should I care? Amazingly, I got to a point where I did not care. I say that because even though this film is one of the better technical pieces of the year, I think pacing-wise, it suffers. I like the idea of these women dealing with their separate and collective issues, and there are some scenes that were in a word, capital! I will not go into detail, because despite having seen a trailer, I am not sure how much this film revealed beforehand. But I think one of this film’s bigger challenges, from a screenplay and directing perspective is meshing together all of these characters’ individual journeys and having a viewer like me care about all of it without it feeling a tad like a mess. Unfortunately, the film dives into the messy territory. “Little Women” honestly feels ten, twenty, maybe even thirty minutes longer than its runtime, specifically 2 hours and 15 minutes. For reference, I watched “Marriage Story” in the theater at the end of the previous December, which was 2 hours and 17 minutes. “Marriage Story” honestly somehow feels shorter than “Little Women.” To add onto this, I remember staying throughout the entire credits during “Marriage Story.” On the other hand, I left part of the way through “Little Women’s” credits.

I almost wonder if “Little Women” is one of those films that could get better through a rewatch, that way I can just concentrate closely on each character and maybe care about them with an all new point of view, but after watching this film for the first time, I don’t see much else of a reason to watch it once more. I have never been interested in the book, I have never sought out any other adaptation of this material, and in case you must know, and maybe this is affecting my thoughts on the film a little bit, I am not really in the target audience for “Little Women.” As far as I know, “Little Women” was never originally written for me, so I may not have the perspective that many of its targets would. I think actors like Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, and Timothée Chalamet do a fine job with their roles and suit their characters well, pretty much to the point where I don’t imagine anybody else portraying them. I also think the costumes in the movie are some of the finest and most sophisticated costumes in a 2019 film. “Little Women” has a lot of good qualities to it, but several things keep me from wanting to go back and watch it again. I am honestly shocked to say all of this, because I didn’t hate the trailer that I saw for this film, and I had faith in Greta Gerwig. To be clear, she did a good job with the direction, but had a few things been handled better, I think this could have been a damn fine vision, not to mention a better movie.

Plus, another thing to consider is this… I already mentioned that I am not the target audience. So I have to ask everyone reading a question and this may be important. First off, if you have seen 2019’s “Little Women,” what are your thoughts on it? Also, if you have seen any other material related to the “Little Women” IP, what are your experiences in relation to that? Was what you saw pretty good? Bad? Middle of the road? I’ll even ask this classic question, was this movie better than the book? Let me know!

In the end, “Little Women” is one of the bigger disappointments of a film that I have witnessed in recent memory. If you have followed this blog recently, you may know that I reviewed “Cats” because I apparently have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to watch “Cats.” When I reviewed “Cats,” I called it the most competent borefest of a film released in its particular year. “Little Women” was released in the same year as “Cats,” specifically 2019, and there is an argument that I could make from my end that “Little Women” may dethrone “Cats” to earn such a title. It’s gorgeous, beautiful, not to mention vibrant. As a production, it is a feast for the eyes. But the eyes need to do more than stare at pretty things for a couple of hours. Had the movie maintained the promising pacing and kept me as interested as I was during the first couple of acts, I would still recommend “Little Women” to a lot more people. Of the movies the Academy nominated for Best Picture this year, “Little Women” is honestly my least preferred. But to be honest, based on the positives outweighing the negatives for this film FOR NOW, I am going to give “Little Women” a 6/10. This film is no “Lady Bird,” and I’ll be honest, for everyone who is upset about Greta Gerwig not getting nominated for Best Director, I get it. But personally, gender is not a topic I am associating with how I view nominations, but that’s just me, I think a display of talent regardless of gender, should come first, doesn’t mean I want to start an online war about it. Although I will be honest, all the chosen nominees, to me, were better in terms of vision fulfillment, technical choices, not to mention creating an overall better movie, at least for the most part on some of these direction-related requirements. And if you want my two cents, I do have a recommendation for a great 2019 film directed by a woman. If you haven’t already, go watch “Honey Boy,” it’s gonna be on Prime soon and I highly recommend it!

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that I am going to be heading back to college next week, and hopefully it does not affect my consistent content release schedule. But maybe before I go back, I am planning on watching one more movie. Maybe I’ll watch more than one, but I didn’t want to end this post without mentioning “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson,” directed by Daniel Farrands. As of right now, this film is not playing anywhere near me, although it did get a release in theaters. And if this sounds somewhat familiar, this film is from the director of the 2019 abomination, “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.” I just want to say… I MIGHT sacrifice my soul and watch this movie. For those of you who have seen my worst of the 2010s list know that “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” earned a spot pretty high on the list. I’m just curious to know if “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is somehow any worse. If I watch this movie, please wish me luck! I might need it! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you want to leave a like or comment (if your account is eligible), please do so! It really helps me out! Also, please check out my Facebook page and spread the word about Flicknerd and Scene Before on social! I want to know, did you see “Little Women?” What did you think about it? Or, of the 2020 Best Picture nominees from the Academy, which is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Marriage Story (2019): A Child of Divorce Gives His Two Cents

mv5bzgvmy2rjndgtmtc3yy00ymy0ltgwodityzbjnwjhntrlyjdkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm4ntm5ndy40._v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_

“Marriage Story” is directed by Noah Baumbach (The Meyerowitz Stories, Francis Ha) and stars Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote) and Scarlett Johansson (Iron Man 2, Lucy) as a couple who are going through a divorce. This film dives into the events that unfold as the once married couple try to move on with their lives, work, and whether or not they get to see their own kid again.

Earlier this week, I could have stayed home, turned on Netflix, and watched not one, but two films already on the service! But, I like the theatrical experience, so I went to see both “The Irishman,” which I enjoyed, and then that was followed by this film right here! I went into this film knowing little about the material itself. I know it involves heavy dialogue, and based on the plot, it’s a serious situation. I was also made aware of various positive verdicts beforehand, therefore I had rather high expectations. Plus, it’s got Adam Driver, a fine actor who may have ended up being the best part of the new “Star Wars” trilogy. Alongside Driver is Scarlett Johansson who I, unashamedly, consider to be a celebrity crush. I think both actors are great and to see them together is a dream I did not even realize I had.

I was not even sure if I was going to watch this movie, because as much as I am beginning to appreciate Netflix’s efforts to expand itself into the realm of cinema, even to the point where even Martin Scorsese has considered Netflix to be more cinematic than Marvel, I don’t pay for their streaming service and I am not that invested in the company. Again, when it comes to media consumption, I’m kind of a dinosaur, I can’t help myself. That, and this award season has kept me pretty busy with films like “Uncut Gems,” “Knives Out,” “Jojo Rabbit,” and more. Well that, and blockbusters like “The Rise of Skywalker.” I still haven’t even seen “Queen & Slim” yet! That’s how busy I have been with this blog!

I have waited a little while to talk about this movie, keeping in mind that it has been since Monday since I walked out of the theater. With that being said, I was focused on getting my review out for “The Irishman,” which does not necessarily mean I wanted to delay my review for this movie, but with Christmas and other projects getting in my way, I am getting my thoughts out later than I expected, so I do apologize. Again, I walked out of the theater after seeing this film this past Monday. How did I feel then?

One word. NUMB.

HOLY F*CKING F*CK I FELT NUMB.

This movie captured perhaps everything I wanted it to capture and more. “Marriage Story” is an emotional, enthralling, not to mention exciting piece of art that did pretty much everything it needed to do. I walked out of this film not exactly in tears, but I did walk out feeling like my skin had gone through a paper shredder. It can remind you of how unbearable the idea of divorce really is from all sides.

Now I think I have a somewhat interesting perspective regarding this film. Okay… Maybe not, depending on how you look at it. I’ll have to do more concrete research, but I often remind myself of the statistic that flies around regarding how over 50% of marriages end in divorce. That’s what happened to my parents when I was 13 years old, they announced their separation, and it took them quite awhile from that point for a full divorce to finally occur, but it happened. And I felt a part of my life had been destroyed. I am not joking. Look, have I adapted to a situation where I was able to live with one parent? You betcha. But behind the skin that conceals my mind, there was a part of me that wanted my mother and father living together. It just felt like the natural thing. Even at twenty years old, it is still something I beg for. I know it is a situation that is beyond my control, and if I were to interfere, I would probably be facing a head dunk in the toilet at best, or a fatality at worst. But this movie reminded me of everything in my life from my teen years to today.

I still live with my mother. So… Hit me up girls. You’ll find me very charming. For the record, I love my mother. I am eternally thankful that she is in my life. But not having a father figure in my life all the time is something that I feel has slightly diminished me as a person. I had no brothers, and even though some of you might think this is progressive or cool, most of the people I knew in my life, at least when this whole divorce thing first started, happened to be women. I felt like I could barely surround myself with anyone I knew. As if there were anyone in school that wanted to hang out with me. I still surrounded myself in activities that guys my age would typically enjoy. Video games, Internet surfing, and of course, film. But when it comes to people I could relate to who could take part in certain activities that others in my family or social circles wouldn’t really take part in, it would be dad. Did he want to do every single thing with me? I would not say yes, there’s a good chance that he had better things to do from time to time, but I felt there was a sense of brotherhood between us.

This is why I have forever feared “replacements.” I think some people at my age would have understood what I am talking about. When my parents separated, it seems that my mother did not usually have much trouble finding a date. I mean, she’s an amazing woman, why wouldn’t she? Why wouldn’t any guy want her? But whenever my mother got close with someone she dated, I was worried because that equated to certain transitions that I would have to adapt to whether I liked it or not. There also may have been a possibility that there was something about the person she dated that I felt would affect the way I grew up. Maybe I would have someone in my life that I am supposed to see as “my parent,” but a certain part of my brain would keep me from doing such a thing. There’s only one “mom” and “dad” for me, and I am thankful to have them both in my life, even if they are apart. But this movie sort of took me back to my childhood struggles. There is a certain event in this film that felt all too real for me.

Now I am going to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but I am going to dive a bit deep into this film as I talk about what happens during Halloween. This is not something that has happened to me personally. Partially because I never trick or treated when my parents got divorced, but with that in mind, there is a part of the movie that takes place during Halloween, where the parents decide at one point to have “two Halloweens.” The mother takes the kid out for a period of time, and then it’s dad’s turn. By the way, the kid’s name is Henry, and he is played by Azhy Robertson and he does a fine job in this movie.

I have never been in the situation where I had to have two Halloweens, but I imagine that I am not alone when I have to note that I celebrate “multiple Christmases” every year for now on. Now, prior to the divorce, I have celebrated Christmas at multiple venues for both sides of the family at different times. And as much as I continue to enjoy Christmas every year, including this past year, I found that it sort of deteriorates the specialty of the holiday. There are a lot of things in life that I would like to have more than one of during the year. Of course I’ll take multiple “Star Wars” related holidays! May the fourth be with you, and I shall have my revenge of the fifth! I would love to have more than one Marvel movie within a number of months! As long as they make them as good as they are at this point, I’d say they should keep crankin’ them out! But Christmas is that one day of the year that maybe in my childhood I looked forward to more than most others. Even though I still find Christmas to be unbelievably fun, I still long for the days of togetherness between the family I once knew. The very idea of this double Halloween alone brought such thoughts to my mind.

But I will say, the events of this divorce in this movie does not play out like it did in my life. In fact, why should it? If it did, then all divorces would supposedly be the same to me, making life very boring. One thing I will say that I sort of related to is the idea that maybe I would have a favorite parent. I think about that a lot less today, mainly because I am doing whatever I can to rely less on my parents and focus more on myself. But this movie does a really good job at highlighting the less than pleasant chemistry between Charlie, the father, and his kid Henry. There are some moments where the movie flat out reveals Henry’s love and affection for his mother, Nicole, that I clearly did not see between him and Charlie. Little things like that got me. Despite how they say divorce is hardest on the children, this movie is not exactly about how a child handles the situation of divorce, in fact, this child seems to be handling it in a way that I never could, especially at his age.

As for Nicole and Charlie, their screen presence together make for some of my favorite scenes of the year. There’s a scene at the beginning of the film where they seem to be seeking some counseling that give a basic idea of how high tensions are between them. Later on, past the halfway point, there is an extended argument that could be an Oscar reel clip for both of these people. I felt every moment of the dialogue and everything from their setup and onward was nothing short of fantastic. I think one of the best parts of both characters, at least to me, is that I could point out flaws from both sides and be able to realize that not only are these two demonstrating how they may not be right for each other, but I could equally argue that one person or the other is an asshole based on random actions that happen during the film. As nice as they may seem, they have their dark sides, and that’s what makes this marriage stor–sorry, DIVORCE story, so interesting. It’s not one side causing everything, it’s actions from both sides combining to form an eventual reaction.

The movie also does a really good job at providing depth to its two leads. I really enjoyed the backstories to both of the main characters. Scarlett Johansson plays someone who aspired to be an actress. In fact, we see her early on in a fake film flashing herself, which does come up a couple times later in some interesting ways. But she gave up her life in Los Angeles to allow Adam Driver’s character to focus on his career in theater. This not only feels like a story where a couple fights because of lost love or random attacks, it feels like something that has been gradually built up, which is why much of the dialogue in this film between the leads feels, in a way, climactic, that’s probably the best word I can use to describe all of it. There is an argument in this film that might as well be the human resemblance of what happens when a house is on fire.

I think one of the best things about this movie is how it handles getting custody over the kid. For one thing, it delivers more out of the two main actors, who also show off their chops here. In addition to that, Laura Dern shows up and gives an excellent performance as well. From a story perspective, I was almost on the edge of my seat, and this is not even a flashy action movie. There have been some films that I have seen where I honestly don’t know who precisely I am supposed to be rooting for, because maybe the film goes in an unexpected direction, or it is just flat-out stupid. Here, I feel the same way, I don’t know who exactly to root for, but that’s because I feel it is almost hard to pick a side. On the one hand, the kid could end up getting full custody from his mother, who he clearly likes more. On the other hand, if such a thing happens, the father, who wants to see his own child grow up, won’t get that opportunity. This is one of those movies that knows how to set up stakes and tension within its overall story. As a story, it is relatable, somewhat charming, and yet at the same time, depressing. It’s everything I could want out of this movie.

If I had to slide in any complaints, it might be for one scene in particular. Now this involves a scene that I overall enjoyed, so I personally would consider this a nitpick more than anything else. But kind of like much of the movie “Parasite,” another amazing film from this year, there is one moment that is borderline convenient in terms of moving the plot along. Maybe if I watch the movie again, I’ll change my mind, but having watched it once, this is just how I feel at the moment. Even so, I cannot think of too many other flaws regarding “Marriage Story,” and even though Netflix does not usually consider releasing physical copies of their material, I would pay hundreds for a copy of “Marriage Story.” I mean, Criterion is releasing “Roma” next year, so anything’s possible!

In the end, “Marriage Story” is a movie that I really enjoyed as I saw it, one that destroyed me upon leaving it, and one that has honestly gotten better the more I thought about it over these past few days. If I had any other flaws, I probably would have forgotten about them by now because I feel I am delaying my review a little bit, but even so, this is a film that I will probably to continue to carry in my memory. In fact, it is perhaps one of the most relatable pieces of art I have witnessed in my entire life. I think in terms of chemistry, or lack thereof depending on how you look at it, I think Driver and Johansson might make for the best on-screen pair of the year. Laura Dern does a really good job with the film. The directing, cinematography, and editing are a terrific trio. As for the screenplay, I want to frame it. There is very little that I could consider to be problematic with this movie. “Marriage Story” might not end up being my favorite film of the year, although I do have a few days left to decide for sure, but it is one of the few to hit me where I live and remind me of the ups and downs my current or prior experiences. Especially now, because during the time of another “split Christmas,” which again, I did enjoy, this felt like a story that I could potentially be a part of. I am going to give “Marriage Story” a 10/10!

Thanks for reading this review! I will be completely honest with you, I am not gonna make any guarantees, but it is a possibility that this is my final review of 2019. I might go see one more movie, but I am not too sure. If that’s the case, I do hope to have a review up on New Year’s Eve, hopefully New Year’s Day at the latest. After all, I am getting closer to sharing my picks for my top 10 favorite and least favorite movies of 2019! If I do have one more review to do, I will hopefully separate it long enough before you are all able to read my countdowns, which may be hard because of the millions of other projects I have going on right now. At least that’s what my life feels like at this moment. Nevertheless, if you want to see upcoming content like my countdowns or more reviews, be sure to follow Scene Before! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Marriage Story?” What did you think about it? Or, have you ever been through divorce of any kind? As a kid? Partner? Tell me about it if you feel like it! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Last Christmas (2019): I Gave You My Wasted Time

mv5bntq4zmy0njgtyzvhny00nzhiltk3ytytnzm1mtdjm2vhzda3xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtkxnjuynq4040._v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

“Last Christmas” is directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters, Spy) and stars Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Yeoh (Mechanic: Resurrection, Star Trek: Discovery), and Emma Thompson (Saviing Mr. Banks, Sense and Sensibility). This film is about a girl named Kate who is not the most responsible person alive. Despite that, we see her working at a Christmas store under a rather quirky boss. Meanwhile, she encounters a fella named Tom, who she gets to know throughout the movie. As Kate keeps running into Tom, they develop a close relationship that defines a majority of the film.

Just… Out of every movie… I saw this one. THIS IS THE CRAP I PUT WITH FOR YOU GUYS! I saw “Last Christmas” a week and a half before it came out. I would have put this review out earlier, but due to going on a brief getaway to Rhode Island Comic Con, a couple of other reviews being more important, life, and maybe a slight lack of motivation, I delayed this review until after the movie came out. Having said that, I can simply say that this is one of the most forgettable movies I have seen all year. And the little that I do remember, is honestly not favorable.

Let me just remind you all that this movie is directed by Paul Feig. I have not seen all of his work, but what I have seen (aside from “Freaks and Geeks”) is not that great. In fact, he directed the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot, which quite honestly destroyed my brain. The impact I have then faced from that movie is one that I will probably never want to achieve ever again. For the record, I don’t hate women, I just want good movies. And having said that, I would have rather seen these women under a completely different brand name. Originality would have probably helped these ladies just a little bit. Compared to most bad movies that I have seen, this is probably one I can think of where I felt at least slightly offended watching it.

With that in mind, “Last Christmas” is a slightly better movie. It’s not good, but for starters, I wasn’t offended. It was a tad more charming overall. But much like 2016’s “Ghostbusters,” “Last Christmas” just ain’t that funny. A lot of the attempts at humor just didn’t land. Granted, I still remember my theatrical experience from seeing “Ghostbusters” and slightly chuckling at ONE joke. Now for the good news and bad news regarding “Last Christmas.” The good news is, I laughed more during “Last Christmas” than I did during “Ghostbusters.” The bad news, in two parts, is that the humor was barely even in place, and I don’t quite remember what exactly was funny. In fact, remember how I said I wasn’t offended by “Last Christmas?” That is completely true. BUT, I was in fact, annoyed.

I saw this coming, as if the title of the film didn’t already give enough away. But the song “Last Christmas” plays in this movie. For those of you who know me in real life, I do celebrate Christmas. I think it is a fun time of the year, even if it is ultimately an excuse to shove materialism up our butts. But the one thing I am a total Scrooge about when it comes to Christmas, is the overplay of various songs that associate with the particular time of the year. I hear enough of the same regular crap on the radio everyday! The solution IS NOT to play Christmas crap instead! This may sound like nothing, but hearing “Last Christmas” play twice in a few minutes is just as annoying as it is to find out that your friend runs an annual awards ceremony dedicated to showcasing the best pieces of gum that are stuck on surfaces.

Anyways, let’s focus on the not at all offensive, but also unfunny characters. I will say that despite how this movie is ultimately rather unmemorable and completely lacking in a full sense of joy, I can say that Emilia Clarke managed to make the character of Kate rather charming. Clarke has a likable presence in this film. She takes a character that could have lacked dimension, someone who could have been the most lifeless individual in film history, and it makes her stand out. I guess it helps that Clarke kind of has that “cute as button” quality attached to her when it comes to appearance. For the little that I can pinpoint to and remember regarding this movie, I recall Clarke being all cutesy, which worked for the final product.

As for Clarke’s love interest, he’s kind of resemblant of someone who is dorky, but also rather charismatic in life. There was a point in the film where I was able to buy the chemistry between him and Clarke. At the same time though, the chemistry did not help the movie from being as sigh-worthy as it is. I think I just invented a new worthy term! Cringeworthy can suck it! Overall, their romance feels cliche, but it when it works, it stands out. Despite the little charm that exists when they are together on one occasion or two, it doesn’t entirely make for a masterpiece. Let’s put the characters in a box like this: If I met one of these two in real life, I wouldn’t instantly want to have lunch with them.

Speaking of less than pleasant characters, this movie also has an obnoxious boss. I have to go back and probably watch about thirty or so other movies this year to come up with a conclusion like this and confirm it, but I’ll say… The chemistry between actresses Clarke and Yeoh in this film is probably the least realistic chemistry I have witnessed all year! WHAT?! DID?! I?! WATCH?! When it comes to the scenes between the duo, I originally got a sense that while Clarke was kind of a slacker, I thought Yeoh was just being a bitch to her at times. As the movie goes on… I dunno, I feel as if these first moments between them never happened.

There’s also this subplot involving the boss that involves her and a separate love interest played by Peter Mygind. This has the potential to be funny and charming, but it really just feels like wasted time. And that’s what this movie is… Wasted time. If you are with friends and family this year during the holidays and if this movie’s still out in theaters, just go see “Star Wars.” Granted, that’s kind of irrelevant because I don’t even know how the new “Star Wars” is going to be, but still… just go see “Star Wars.” I command you! Either that, or go to Best Buy and purchase a copy of one of the “Star Wars” films, present it as a gift, and use that as an excuse to those around you to pop it in the DVD player.

In the end, as much as I would love to congratulate Paul Feig for directing a better comedy than “Ghostbusters,” it’s not enough for me. “Last Christmas” honestly feels like a film that could arguably go straight to Lifetime or Hallmark for the holiday season, but since it has a slightly higher production value and big names attached, it got a theatrical release. Emilia Clarke has some slight charm attached to her and there are a couple of chuckleworthy moments. But there’s nothing of real value that I feel I have received from this movie. “Last Christmas” is not something I’d watch when I’m home alone, and I would prefer that it dies hard. I’m going to give “Last Christmas” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have a couple more reviews for you all including my thoughts on “Jojo Rabbit!” I was very excited to check this out last weekend and I will have my review up by sometime next week! I also have passes for tonight to go to a screening of “Honey Boy” starring Shia Labeouf (Transformers, Fury). If I get around to seeing that, I’ll have my review up as soon as possible. If you want to see this, and other great content, follow Scene Before with email or WordPress account! If you want full access to comments and likes, I personally recommend using a WordPress account. And if you are on Facebook and need a movie reviewing moron in your life, check out my Facebook page for more moronic shenanigans! I want to know, did you see “Last Christmas?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie directed by Paul Feig? I gotta ask because I need a good one. I have “Spy” and “The Heat” on Blu-ray but I haven’t watched either of them yet. Asking for a friend, or even an enemy in this case! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Isn’t It Romantic? (2019): When Jack Met Natalie

mv5bzge1ngyxowitoddmmy00nwnhltgxzmmtymvjymvimgi0ntdmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynze2mtqymzm40._v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

“Isn’t It Romantic?” is directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson and stars Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, How to Be Single), Liam Hemsworth (Independence Day: Resurgence, The Hunger Games), Adam Devine (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Modern Family), and Priyanka Chopra (Baywatch, A Kid Like Jake). This film revolves around a woman named Natalie, who we first see in this movie as a young kid watching “Pretty Woman.” In this scene we hear her mother tell her that she’ll probably never see a romantic comedy about her, or she’ll never truly experience a fantasy worth living. Keeping this in mind, she grows up and questions the purpose and value of the rom com. Meanwhile, she eventually gets trapped in a PG-13 romantic comedy and now she has to deal with a new reality she never experienced before. Meanwhile, we as an audience, get to experience a parody that pokes fun at the rom com genre. AND IT F*CKING BLOWS, and I’ll explain why in just a sec!

Romantic comedies are not my preferred genre of film. In fact, the only two reasons why I am reviewing this film is because I found a Blu-ray copy of it at Newbury Comics for $5.99, which is probably the cheapest price this movie could be right now in the United States. Plus, in school, I have to do a project on something that I, a straight white male, happen to find “gendered,” so I figured this was a good opportunity. I almost considered watching “The Bachelor,” which frankly, probably would have been a better idea. Why? Because it’s free! I probably could have found an episode or two On Demand or something and just gotten it out of the way. It involves entitled brats fighting over a flower, but it still wouldn’t mean I’d be typing this crap away! F*ck this reality!

And in fact, speaking of realities, this movie has an alternate reality that’s less s*itty, less of an increasing everyday wasteland, everything is happy go lucky. I have nothing against this reality, except that nothing entertaining happens in it. I’m just going to have you all know, “Isn’t It Romantic?” is PG-13, and because of that supposedly intended rating, it tends to make jokes about how the movie can’t push the envelope to the tenth degree.

Remember that “Family Guy” episode, PTV? The one where the FCC starts censoring real life? One of the big jokes of this film is that Rebel Wilson is in this universe, and while she’s here, she cannot swear, she cannot have sex, and the only way she can enjoy an actual man’s genitalia is by sneaking a peek when the male’s getting dressed or something. “Family Guy” did something like this ten times better. The way the characters in “Family Guy” question this reality (for the most part) and overall the writing there much more clever. Here, it’s like an overstretched “Saturday Night Live” sketch. This is especially true when Liam Hemsworth’s character says “Good morning beautiful,” to Rebel Wilson’s character for the third freaking time in a minute!

Also, guys? Can we just agree that Chris Hemsworth is a much more relevant Hemsworth?

This movie attempts to parody the style and traditions of numerous romantic comedies. There’s the gay best friend who is incredibly hyperactive. There’s the big, hunky billionaire that someone lusts after. The movie has a joke about the lead character having a voiceover moment. I honestly think the biggest problem about a movie like this is that it not only is self-aware, but even the characters in the movie know about the self-awareness that’s ensuing. It kind of makes me feel unintelligent as a viewer!

I cannot say I watched a plethora of parody films, but do you guys remember “Spaceballs?” That’s a parody, but that was never talking down to its audience! The closest thing in that movie to letting the audience know that someone had the knowledge that they were in a parody was during the scene where they show all the merchandise. Oh and let’s not forget, “Spaceballs” is hilarious. The most generous thing I can say about “Isn’t It Romantic?” is that it got a laugh out of me out of at a couple of points, but 99.9% of the moments dedicated to this film have irritated me to no end. I think the fact that the main character has almost no knowledge of how a romantic comedy works made me end up not liking her. Just about every single choice from a screenwriting perspective pissed me off.

And I’ll be honest, I never fell in love with Rebel Wilson as a performer. She’s never been that funny, she happens to be put in roles that don’t exactly appeal to me. Her movies are not usually in my demographic, so therefore I can’t entirely blame her. Although at the same time she was in “Night of the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” and she just goes to show how this happens to be the worst “Night of the Museum” movie. In fact, I just saw her in a couple Match.com commercials recently and I cannot say that I was happy to see her. They were obviously trying to be funny, not to mention real about the dating game. They failed miserably. I pretty much already established my displeasure with her performance here in “Isn’t It Romantic?,” but like another movie Rebel happens to be in, “Pitch Perfect,” she certainly gives effort in her performance. But for some reason, the execution leads to a result that doesn’t sit well with me. And if Rebel’s character was supposed to symbolize how stupid lead characters can be in these types of movies. Maybe I could understand, but it still made me want to throw up on the Blu-ray copy I bought for this film.

Remember how in the abomination against humanity some like to call “Uncle Drew” there’s a dance sequence? In my review for that film, this is what I had to say about it… “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… THE MOST. POINTLESS. DANCE SEQUENCE. IN HISTORY!”

Now, “Isn’t It Romantic?” fortunately does not have a pointless dance sequence. OK, technically it does, but it doesn’t exactly hurt the movie as much as such a thing hurt “Uncle Drew.” But, ladies and gentlemen, I give you… THE MOST. POINTLESS. KARAOKE SEQUENCE! IN HISTORY!

I cannot recall the last time I got so angry towards a sequence like this. I was in fumes as this happened! I had a bunch of questions! What did this have to do with the plot? How does this benefit the characters? Why is this happening? Granted, it does address an “important” rivalry in the film. But as the scene went on, I thought… WHY?!

As for the movie’s ending, it is perhaps one of the most convoluted things I have seen in recent memory. A lot happens in a few minutes, I feel like there’s not much that I care about, and I continued hating my life. It also tries to tack on this lesson that feels amazingly forced and is a complete twist on almost everything that has been built up. This movie broke me! If I put this movie in my Xbox 360, it might just flash the red ring of death as a sign of begging for mercy.

In the end, “Isn’t It Romantic?” has destroyed every fiber of my being, tarnished my dignity, and it feels like the writers bitch slapped me in the face like I’m on reality TV! And you know what? This may not be my type of movie, but seeing the low IMDb ratings from both genders make me wonder if this movie was for anyone to begin with. “Isn’t It Romantic?” is almost the most anger-inducing movie I have witnessed all year. It might actually be more intolerable than “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which if you have seen that review, says A LOT. I did not expect to love this movie, but I also did not expect to have the urge to bury it in the ground either. But, it’s time to bury! Good riddance! I’m going to give “Isn’t It Romantic?” a 1/10. Thanks for reading this review! This Tuesday I’m going to be heading to an advance screening of “Zombieland: Double Tap.” I have no idea if I am going to like this movie, if I won’t like this movie, but I enjoyed the first one, so anything’s possible! I’m also interested in seeing Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” starring Will Smith, and if I have time, I might be able to catch it in the high frame rate edition. It will give me a film to review plus something else to talk about! If you want to see these new movies get talked about, or other great content, follow Scene Before with an email address to get notifications in your inbox. Or, you can use a WordPress account to like and comment on all my posts past or present. While you’re at it, give a like to my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Isn’t It Romantic?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Rebel Wilson movie? Seriously! I need a good one to watch to turn my opinion around regarding her! Please comment to save my life! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

What THE BIG BANG THEORY Has Meant To Me: A Nerd’s Perspective

mv5bmtq3nzm2mtc5m15bml5banbnxkftztgwnta4ndqwmdi40._v1_sx1777_cr001777999_al_

WARNING: The following post DOES NOT spoil the final two episodes of “The Big Bang Theory”

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Here on Scene Before, I like to make special occasions for myself to talk about TV news. Sadly, I have still yet to see a single episode of “Game of Thrones,” therefore I cannot talk about the chaos or excitement that may be going on in its final season. However, there is another show that recently concluded that has meant the world to me, “The Big Bang Theory.” A show that has literally impacted my life to the point where I wanted to write my own version of how its eighth season would begin. And no, I do not have available copies of this, they’re on a computer I cannot currently access. Also, I have no intention on sharing them with you anytime in the future, some of them kind of associate with cheese.

This is not going to be a review of the finale (although I do give my thoughts on it). I review movies, not TV shows. If I watched more TV, I might consider doing an analytical review, but that is not going to be the case. Instead, this is going to be a story of my life and how it connects to “The Big Bang Theory” in general.

My first exposure to “The Big Bang Theory” is most likely in 2009. I didn’t watch it, in fact, I wouldn’t do so for another 2 years. However, in 2009, my parents introduced me to a guy who I would come to know as “Sheldon.” A name that found particularly interesting. Why? Well, if you were born in the late 1990’s, chances are you grew up at some point watching “Spongebob Squarepants.”

When you dedicate part of an episode to mocking the character “Plankton’s” first name, which, as you may have gathered, is “Sheldon.” How can you not think of this character as you observe another Sheldon?

On November 5, 2011. I was in the living room watching TV with the rest of my family and my parents decide to catch up on “The Big Bang Theory” since it is currently on our DVR. We then turn on one of the many interestingly-named episodes, this one in particular being “The Pulled Groin Exploitation.” While I had no real attachment to anybody after this half-hour experience, plus another half-hour dedicated to the follow-up episode, “The Wiggly Finger Catalyst,” I enjoyed what I saw. The first episode contained a funny bit at a wedding involving “The Chicken Dance.” I got to look at Sheldon Cooper being a railfan, which is a character type I’m honestly surprised to this day that we even got on mainstream TV, or even TV in general. The second episode was very intriguing, even without knowing who the characters were simply because one was constantly interacting with another character who happened to be deaf. Also, going back to that railfan thing. I consider myself a railfan as well. For all you mainstream people, that means I am fascinated by trains. I didn’t even realize it then. Sheldon was me.

There are arguments to made involving other TV shows and forms of media, that I have embodied traits, mannerisms, words, and phrases from its characters. And I certainly have embodied traits of Sheldon as I watched “The Big Bang Theory.” I found him to be fascinating as I watched various episodes, therefore he became stuck in my head. There was no denying he was smart, which was a kind of man I myself aspired to be. I didn’t aspire to be a scientist, but I would aspire to at least have the collective knowledge that Cooper contains. After all, one nerd aspect that has rarely been touched on the program, probably because in some ways, it is not always seen as a nerdy thing, is game shows. Ever since I was a young kid, I would continuously watch shows like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy!,” and “Family Feud.” And the day that I discovered the Game Show Network was the day that I personally felt like I discovered the holy grail of life. In fact, aside from “The Big Bang Theory,” the amount of regular “new episode” programming I happen to watch is kind of small. There’s a certain level of commitment to regular TV programming that I usually tend to avoid. This is why I usually watch game shows. You usually don’t need background info from a prior episode or season to know what exactly is going on. The fact that “The Big Bang Theory” has allowed me to commit to a regular TV program for as many years as possible is a true feat. How many times do you watch a show on TV and stop watching religiously because you missed an episode or two? That happened to me with “The Middle.” It’s a good show, but there’s a lot of competition and shows like “The Big Bang Theory” became more attractive to me. And as a movie reviewer, commitment to TV is only getting more difficult. Yes, the DVR is a good invention. But as someone who prefers watching TV live as if it were an event, I have missed a lot of what might seem to be good television.

But in reality, another reason why I keep coming back to “The Big Bang Theory” is because there are a lot of situation comedies out there, but they all have this feel to them that kind of makes you feel like you’re looking at the same characters over and over. Yes, “The Big Bang Theory” is not exactly the definition of an exception to this rule, but it comes really close. A lot of situation comedies that I have seen over the years seem to have never made a “nerdy” group too prominent. Sure, you have special stereotypes like Urkel from “Family Matters,” but that’s about it. Although you can also consider Lisa and the Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons.” “The Big Bang Theory” however, has Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Rajesh, Bernadette, Amy, Stuart, and more unmentioned characters. It’s like I’m watching the “Revenge of the Nerds” of sitcoms. It made nerds relevant and cool, and if it were not for shows like this, I don’t think a show like “King of the Nerds” would have seen the light of day, or at least a second season. Part of me even wonders if we would even have things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe if it weren’t for “The Big Bang Theory.” Yes, superheroes are cool, but they’re traditionally meant for a nerdy demographic. This show managed to present itself fairly well to a mainstream audience to a point where they might as well have picked up nerdy interests along the way. Now I mention mainstream audience, and when it comes to this show, one of my friends made an interesting comparison about this show with another popular sitcom, specifically “Friends.” As nerds, he and I seem to agree that “The Big Bang Theory” has lost its touch over the years. Personally, in this last season, I think there have been a number of great episodes to feel like it has gotten said touch back, but that’s not the point. My friend said that the show has become less about nerds being nerds (even though there are occasionally nerdy activities or references) and has simply become “Friends” but with nerds as the main characters. I can sort of agree with that statement. It’s now more about the relationships between the characters more than anything else, which is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact as the show went on, I gave enormous praise for the program having some of my personal favorite bits of character development in anything I’ve seen. Whether it is between Sheldon and Amy or Leonard and Penny or even Rajesh and alcohol, it all adds up to be a work of art. In fact, speaking of characters, let’s talk about them.

I already mentioned I embody Sheldon, and I can honestly almost confirm that the creators behind “The Big Bang Theory” spent years trying to spy on my every behavior. Because let’s face it. Sheldon is practically a young child on the Autism spectrum. I myself have high-function autism, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. He and I cannot stand when people are arguing in a distance which I can hear everything that’s happening, which REALLY sucks because I have sensitive ears. I still have many fears that remain from my childhood (dogs, loud noises, needles). But then again, who doesn’t fear needles? He’s obsessed with collecting comic books as I am with collecting movies. He’s always afraid of change, and there are very rare exceptions in which I would be willing to accept change. I also to this day don’t have a driver’s license! Just for the record, I’m 19 years old, and Sheldon, who started off the series in his twenties, still didn’t have his back when the show kicked off. I’ve even been told as a kid that I mumble a lot. I don’t always think that’s a bad thing, I think that just makes me look like I have informative words to say. Granted, I wouldn’t say everything about myself completely links me as a Sheldon Cooper wannabe.

This is why we move onto Leonard Hofstadter. If Sheldon is the part of me that resembles my thoughts that make me feel like a child. Leonard is me as I grow up. I started watching this show in middle school, and I kind of became aware that at this point I probably had no chance with girls. As far as I know, boys and girls would hang out together, but based on how boys wouldn’t hang out with me (I thought homework and my 39″ TV were more important every night), why should I even have a chance with girls? Granted, as middle school began to conclude, the thought of wanting a girl to hang out with became more prevalent, but if you knew me in person, you’d probably consider putting a “kick me” sign on my back. Although that is hard to know for sure because I was generally a well-liked as a person in school, and some people appreciated me at one point for being “the guy who likes game shows.” Plus, I grew up in an area where pretty much everyone to my knowledge would treat others with respect. There are various exceptions that I have witnessed throughout my life, but for the sake of not calling people out, I shall remain silent on that subject. But when you consider how the show starts out, with Sheldon and Leonard heading into their apartment and they end up meeting their new neighbor, Penny, and Leonard begins to crush on her, it’s almost similar to what my fantasy was in life.

“Our babies will be smart and beautiful.” –Leonard Hofstadter

I wouldn’t call myself the worst looking guy in the world, but there is no way that I am Channing Tatum-level attractive. I think a good chunk of women would probably not want to go out with me if they found out my interests. In fact, I have almost evolved to the point where I don’t really need a woman to be happy. Maybe that will change once I graduate college, maybe start my life’s work, and I need a new purpose or something, or if I become close with someone in college, but the future is unwritten, and I cannot control it. In fact, much like Leonard, I still have yet to have my first kiss.

“…Maybe you’re graduating and you still haven’t had your first kiss. By the way, nineteen, Geraldine Coco, wherever you are thank you.”

For the record, I turn 20 this November.

I might even resemble a little bit of Howard, who I honestly think when it comes to this show, I think any teenage boy can relate to him. Let’s face it, if this show were “Family Guy,” Howard would be Glenn Quagmire. Only thing is that he THINKS he’s outgoing but he is not as successful as would he hope. Much like Howard I appreciate my parents and I’ll be honest, I like sex. I mean, who doesn’t? Although this brings me back to how I cannot get girls, I cannot say I have ever slept with anyone. Then again, I’m rather young so it might as well be wise of me to remain in my current position. I can’t really say I have a belt buckle collection, but much like Sheldon and Leonard, I tend to collect a lot of t-shirts. Also, Howard is an engineer, and apparently when I was twelve, I took an online test and it determined that I’ll be an engineer one day. I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet, but it’s still an interesting statistic.

One thing I’ll miss from the show is how it managed to tackle current geek phenomenons. There was an episode where everyone is trying to go see “The Force Awakens,” but that is slightly interrupted by Amy’s birthday, which many consider to be one of the best in the series. There’s also an episode where the guys are trying to buy tickets to San Diego Comic-Con, but not everyone bought tickets successfully despite refreshing computer screens with extreme effort. That episode by the way has a cameo from Carrie Fisher and an AWESOME guest appearance by James Earl Jones. Then there was another one that was basically an entire parody on our current gaming market. Sheldon has trouble deciding on two competing gaming systems (PS4 & Xbox One) and he feels the need to choose one cause, ya know, upgrades!

I’m guessing if Stuart from the comic book store showed up, he’d probably go with “PC.”

I was able to relate to these topics. I was obsessed with “Star Wars,” I love video games, and the idea of gathering with other nerds in a giant building just sounds like a hoot.

In fact, there is an argument to make that if I weren’t introduced to certain ideas that “The Big Bang Theory” manages to present, I’d be a completely different person. In fact, as of now, I don’t play many sports. I am now trying to go to more “event-type” experiences at the movie theater, and I have also given a greater appreciation to a lot of overlooked art, particularly in the film industry. I say this because while I think it is fantastic that nerdy has become cool, it has me worried that comic book movies (along with live-action remakes, sequels, etc.) is all we will be witnessing from major studios like Disney for years to come. I am now latching onto independent studios like A24, Neon, and more. It allows me to have a different perspective on movies than maybe some of my friends. I’m not saying they’re stupid for watching comic book movies, because those movies are great. Did anyone see “Avengers: Endgame?” If you haven’t, I recommend it! But when it comes to film, I have now fallen into a path where I tend to sometimes watch whatever the crowd isn’t watching. Kind of like video games, when everybody was talking about “Fortnite,” I never picked up my controller to play it because EVERYBODY. WOULD. NOT. STOP. TALKING ABOUT IT. Coincidentally, the show did have a funny episode dedicated to “Fortnite.”

Also, even though I mentioned I don’t like sports, I gotta admit, bowling is pretty fun.

When I am not watching the show, I would make references to it, borrowing various quotes from the characters, and it’s definitely more than just “bazinga.” I’ll occasionally wear t-shirts associated with the show. I have watched various bonus features, including one revealing how tapings work for the show. My family and I were going to California together for the first time, and the trip to LA in particular was a Christmas gift. While we could not get into a taping for “The Big Bang Theory,” we got the next best thing. A tour of Warner Brothers Studios, where the show holds its tapings throughout each season. I got the opportunity to look at Stage 25, which was recently renamed as “The Big Bang Theory” stage, in person. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures, as I was not permitted to take them, but going into a space that I have on my TV screen perhaps more times than my PS2, was kind of a dream come true. I got to know various hidden secrets about the set, and what parts of the soundstage remained during season 12. This set was used for movies like “Casablana,” “Blade Runner,” and “Gremlins 2: The New Batch.” As for TV shows aside from “The Big Bang Theory,” it was used for “Maverick,” “Cheyanne,” and “What I Like About You.” This experience had the magic of Doctor Strange and the wonder of being above a slightly cloudy sky while possessing a window seat on a Southwest flight.

And now, since we’re at the end, I must bring something up about a season 1 episode titled “The Nerdvana Annihilation.” This episode is perhaps the most unrealistic of the entire series. That does not mean it is the worst one made, but it has elements of extreme fiction intact. Why? Leonard wins a fully-functioning time machine on eBay. Another thing to consider is that nobody else bid for said time machine. C’mon! There’s no young guy who would want to go back in time and fix that one mistake he made on his geometry test or something? But if this episode has taught me something, it’s to never let go of what makes you “you.” There’s an entire side of the story dedicated to Penny being late for work and she takes her rage out on the guys. Her frenzy allows her to reveal her bewilderment towards the guys being “grown men” who own action figures, comic books, and other nerdy items. Yes, being a nerd can make you look like a kid. But I am one, even as I grow up, who would give anything in the world to keep various aspects of my childhood. I love “Star Wars,” I love superheroes, I love game shows. It’s all been a form of escapism for me throughout many years. Even in my house, a lot remains the same. My bedroom has the same furniture for almost a lifetime. I’ve had a baseball glove chair in the room since maybe age 12. Also, you know how I don’t like sports? Eh, baseball’s actually kinda fun sometimes. I have kept just about every gaming console I have ever owned. Why? Because it is all a part of me. If I get rid of even a console I don’t play as much as I used to like my Nintendo DS Lite, a part of me would feel incomplete. Much like Sheldon Cooper, it is hard for me to adapt to change. I have lived in the same town all my life, therefore I’ve always had my spot. Similar to Sheldon’s “bazinga,” I would always use the word “amazing” when I was young. And while the show may not always showcase this, he and I both seem to be night owls. In fact, in that recently mentioned episode, “The Nerdvana Annihilation,” Sheldon got out of bed at 2AM just to fool around with the time machine.

Change is inevitable, and sometimes it just SUCKS. And it especially sucks when you can’t get over changes that have happened ages ago. Thank you Sheldon, without you, I would probably have nobody to relate to.

Without spoiling the final episode. “The Big Bang Theory” ended as it all started. With a big bang. I thought the opening few minutes (either with or without the epic “PREVIOUSLY ON” segment), made for the single best opening in the entire series. It might be up there as my favorite sitcom episode opening ever. Why? It was like I was at an “Avengers” premiere where I started cheering for the positive things that happened. I kind of regret not throwing a party. Throw a few laughs in there, you’ve got yourself the perfect appetizer for that night’s episode. It puts a perfect bow with what has been built up from the beginning of season 12, and even adds in some fan service. The episode is not perfect, witnessing Sheldon, while definitely in-character, was a tad awkward at first, but as the episode goes on, it improves to the tenth degree. I highly recommend you’d watch it, especially if you have followed the series for an extended period of time.

I’d like to thank “The Big Bang Theory” for being an amazing and one-of-a-kind source of entertainment for these years. I honestly think this show will go down as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. And only time will tell if there is another show like it. Only time will determine if there will be another show of “Big Bang’s” quality, while also being a great influence on our modern day nerd culture.

THANK YOU JESUS! …As my mother would say. –Sheldon Cooper

And as for “Game of Thrones,” let’s hope the fans don’t cancel HBO.

Thanks for reading this post! This Tuesday I am going to see “John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” so I will have a review of that by the end of next week. As for other content, I am currently working on a post involving “Avengers: Endgame” and its odds of beating “Avatar” at the box office. Will it ever see the light of day? That’s hard to say, but I am working on it, and there is a good chance that if I have nothing else to do over the next few days (which is technically false, since I’m going to Rhode Island), I will spend some time working on that post. Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, what is your relationship with “The Big Bang Theory?” I will admit, I know some friends who think it is the worst thing on the face of the Earth, and they are entitled to that opinion. To me, it is a small part of what has shaped my life. Also, if anybody watched the recent series finale, what are your thoughts on that?

And, I would like to ask another question. What is your favorite episode? As for mine, I gotta go with “The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification” (S4E02). Sheldon as a robot kills me every time. Scene Before is your click to the flicks, and if you would like a behind the scenes tour of the set given by someone who worked on the show, check out the video below from Mayim Bialik!

Bazinga!

Long Shot (2019): The Hillary Clinton Story

mv5bztexyzdjmzitndgxns00yti4ltg1ndetothlntg1ytc3mmmxxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzy0mte3nzu40._v1_sy1000_cr006571000_al_

“Long Shot” is directed by Jonathan Levine (Snatched, Warm Bodies) and stars Seth Rogen (Sausage Party, The Disaster Artist) and Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious, Atomic Blonde) as the two work together while one of them, specifically Charlize Theron, tries to become President of the United States, although in reality this would actually never happen because Theron was born in South Africa, but still. While Theron is busy with her work in trying to promote herself as a likable candidate, Rogen joins alongside her as her speechwriter. Unfortunately for Rogen however, his journalistic background does not mix with serious politics.

I saw some bits of marketing for this movie before checking it out and honestly, it looked charming. The two leads are extremely likable so if you put them together, OF COURSE I would be there to see them on screen. If anything has been proven in recent years, if your name is “Seth,” you have a knack for comedy. Seth MacFarlane, Seth Green, Seth Meyers, and the main guy here, Seth Rogen, just because of your name, you are all SETH for life!

Aaaand, since my name is Jack, it appears that I’m not.

In fact, part of me actually forgets sometimes how much I really appreciate Seth Rogen. To me, it’s hard to point out a bad project from him. I even liked “The Guilt Trip!” I’m sorry, but it’s true! Even a formulaic and repetitive sequel such as “Neighbors 2: Sorority Uprising” worked for me. I love his tendency to push the barrier when it comes to comedy, as seen in movies like “Sausage Party.” I liked that movie so much that I saw it twice in theaters! I kind of regret not buying the Blu-ray when it came out, especially considering how I still don’t own the darn thing. In fact, his name helps me for his projects now, because Amazon has a show coming out called “The Boys.” I’ve seen and heard what it is about, but since I have a high dedication to movies, I don’t have much time for TV. Then I saw Seth Rogen’s name attached just recently, and now I want more of this project. It’s similar to another Seth, specifically MacFarlane. I am not much of a Trekkie. I like “Star Trek,” but I am not that religious to the franchise. Once I saw Seth MacFarlane attached to “The Orville,” the series had me hooked.

But we’re not here to talk about TV, we’re here to talk about film. So how was “Long Shot?” It certainly lived up to my expectations. I have to say that it certainly has a vibe of a Seth Rogen film while also being its own thing. Going into “Long Shot,” I have heard somewhere, I can’t remember the exact source, that this is a good date movie. I didn’t go to this movie with my girlfriend, in fact, to this day I can never say I’ve had one. Not that it matters, but having seen “Long Shot,” this is certainly a perfect way to describe it. “Long Shot” is a hip, cool, funny romantic comedy that really puts a lot of emphasis on the comedy. And by romantic comedy I don’t mean chick flick, it has a flair that feels very unisex going on masculine. Sex jokes galore, but luckily just about none of them feel cringeworthy or forced, which as a movie critic, is something that I tend to appreciate nowadays, especially when it feels like you have seen everything when it comes to comedy. Because comedy in movies, at least to me, has either become all sex jokes all the time, or physical mishaps that no pun intended, fall flat, or just plain cringe. “Long Shot,” much like some comedies from last year such as “Game Night” and “Tag,” sort of quenches my thirst like Gatorade.

I already dived into Seth Rogen as a person, but let’s dive into his character. I really like the direction which they took him, he’s a barrier-crossing journalist that leaves his job, which eventually leads to his working relationship with Charlize Theron. He’s not really that formal, which is something that he has to get used to overtime, which leads to a hilarious outfit change when his character, specifically named Fred Flarsky, travels to a foreign country and has to look presentable to a foreign audience.

As for Charlize Theron, I have to give a lot of credit, not necessarily to her performance, but everyone behind the makeup and costume departments of production. It seems like they had a lot of fun trying to come up with how Charlize Theron would present herself if she ever got into politics. It kind of feels like a stereotype, which really works for her character.

Speaking of politics, the president we see in the start of this movie (Bob Odenkirk) is actually kind of hilarious. Granted, there is not much to say about him, and he is sort of one-dimensional, but when he is shown early on in the film, his character reveals what he wants to do with his life. He wants to become a TV star, which makes sense as he was watching himself on TV early on. The more I think about it, the more I enjoy this idea for a singular motivation because you see all of these people acting in one thing or another and they play a president. You never think they are going to become the President of the United States, and now you have a president who wants to go in the realm of television. The more I think about it the more I go, “Yeah, that thing from the movie. Dope.”

And to be honest, I did not have many theories about “Long Shot” going into it. You know, aside from it pleasing me. Why’s that? Well, the movie’s title does not rhyme with “Avengers: Endgame.” But let’s say I had to go back and analyze any previous thoughts I had going into “Long Shot.” I didn’t think that this movie would become as serious as it did. I won’t say when, and I won’t say how, but this movie does become a fantastic parody of how politics works. In some ways, it really is all down to the marketing, and you can’t please everyone, sometimes including yourself. Charlize Theron has this plan to save the planet and not everyone in the world is onboard with it. As a viewer, I was onboard with the idea, but that has probably nothing to do with the movie and maybe more to do with my worldview. And speaking of worldviews…

This movie manages to parody on our media. It doesn’t dive too deep into MSNBC and CNN, but as for Fox News, it hits the organization hard. Granted, I don’t like Fox News, and I think what they did to Fox News in this movie is hilarious, but it also makes me think that this movie is going to piss some people off. I know some Republicans and they are nice people, but I wouldn’t take them to see this movie. Not that this movie is propaganda, but I would rather take someone who doesn’t watch Fox News everyday and bashes on the “fake news media.” And as for my thoughts on that, let’s just admit it, everyone has an agenda and no matter what organization you belong to, there are always guidelines and you are not always going to knock each report out of the park, let’s just be honest about that. Yes, there is a lady that is trying to run for president. And you know what? That’s not even the real propaganda of the movie, which I actually really appreciate. Although it does occasionally attack the Republican Party, the political system as a whole, and even Donald Trump. Because there is a line in the beginning of the film that I actually found rather funny when it came to Charlize Theron’s character wanting to run for president and guy pointed out that nobody wants to know what the president does to their hair, shortly after, he takes that statement back. I kinda like that joke.

In the end, “Long Shot” is a fun movie. In a time where President Orange is in office and he’s trying to get people to see less work from Hollywood, he ain’t stoppin’ me from prompting you guys to check this out. Well, then there’s “Endgame,” in which case, I truly wish this movie luck. The movie brought in a billion bucks for Disney, so yeah. I seriously wonder how much money it’ll lose, if anything. In all seriousness though, if all of your theater’s showtimes for “Endgame” are sold out and you don’t have any kids in your party, consider giving “Long Shot” a chance. I’m going to give “Long Shot” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I am going to have my review up for “Shazam” and for those of you who don’t know, I got the opportunity to watch “Long Shot” for free, and the same goes with another film that is set to come out next week called “The Hustle.” For those of you who have seen the film “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” this is a remake of that film and I have passes on me for that film. I might go see it next week depending on whether someone decides to come along with me. Be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Long Shot?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Seth Rogen or Charlize Theron movie? For Rogen, it would probably be “Kung Fu Panda,” which until recently, I might have never known he had a voice in, and for Theron it might be “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Cold War (2018): The Colorful Technology of Amazon Meets Black and White

mv5bntjmnzexogitztqymi00yzblltk0ztqtnzaxymuwzdqwzju4xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyode1mjmynzi@._v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_

“Cold War” is directed by Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida, My Summer of Love) and stars Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot as a music director and a singer who eventually find themselves in an unlikely romance. The music director is also trying to get the singer to flee Poland and enter France alongside him.

I actually heard some things about “Cold War” before going into it, but my prior knowledge didn’t really encompass of much. The main thing I did know however is something that I imagine a number of people don’t truly care about, which is the fact that this movie, at least in the United States, released on the infamous December weekend of death. It was released alongside big features including “Aquaman,” “Bumblebee,” and “Mary Poppins Returns.” Not to mention, another disadvantage this movie had is that it is a foreign film. And as much as everybody hates America right now for how it is being run as a country, many Americans can’t turn down a Hollywood film. I am usually the type of person who doesn’t care what country a film comes from. As long as a film is properly executed or well done, I can approve of it. And regardless of where this film in particular comes from, I enjoyed it.

From a technical perspective, “Cold War” shines. The film is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is rare for a film nowadays, but at the same time, has happened in the past with recent films like “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It successfully provides an old-timey feel. Speaking of old-timey things, the film is also in black and white. Artistically speaking, I can approve of such a choice because this film does take place between the 1940s to 1960s, when not everything has been put in color yet. Speaking of things that are quirky by today’s standards, one thing I found interesting is that if the film makes a time jump, it cuts to black and goes back to providing images in a snap. There are also various shots containing a plethora of information and it is just f*cking beautiful. I won’t go into detail, but the ending shot reminded me of Orson Welles’ “The Third Man” and Robert Zemeckis’ “Cast Away.” And I’m surprised to say that because this movie, again, is entirely shot in 4:3. Although at the same time, the more square-like images can make the information provided feel crammed, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It almost reminds me of when I go to see certain movies in IMAX like “First Man” or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” because those have scenes shot in IMAX and when you go into the IMAX theater to see the movie, the screen fills up for a period of time, taking a break from the scope aspect ratio.

Moving onto our two main characters, Zula and Wiktor, the best thing I can say about them is that they actually feel like a real couple at times. Not all the time, but there are many times where their relationship feels extremely authentic. I will say however, I did see the movie earlier this week, specifically Tuesday, and to give you a sense as to how I feel about this film as a story, I will remind you that I saw this in an art-deco theater. If you live in the Boston area, there’s a possibility you may have heard of the Coolidge Corner Theatre. It’s probably one of the most gorgeous and state of the art cinemas I’ve ever set foot in. I saw this movie in their largest auditorium, which has the old-timey red curtain, and I found myself to enjoy it. But days after viewing the movie, I almost don’t even recall a good portion of it. Whereas just the other day, specifically Saturday, January 19th, I just saw “Roma” at that same theater. I still remember it, I can’t stop thinking about it, and I can’t recommend it enough. “Cold War” on the other hand is a good movie, but really stands out more from a technical point of view as opposed to a character point of view.

When it comes to “Cold War” as a movie, it sort of reminds me of “Hail, Caesar!” directed by the Coen Brothers. “Hail, Caesar!” is a beautifully shot movie, which is not that surprising since it was done by Roger Deakins, who recently, FINALLY won an Academy Award for his work on “Blade Runner 2049.” Hell, both movies even have great moments of music and choreography! However, in terms of overall quality from characterization and other parts related to the story, that’s where the movie leaves a little bit to be desired. Granted, on paper, the movie sounds like a good, intriguing story, but the fact is, much of it is actually not that memorable. “Cold War” is kind of the same thing. It sort of attempts to harken back to a certain time period with as much purposeful authenticity intact. Granted, there is fiction inserted throughout the entire runtime, but said fiction is taking place in a time that realistically happened, and such a thing manages to provide a quirky vibe for both films. They aren’t exactly the same considering how “Hail, Caesar!” is sort of marketed to be more fun, but “Cold War” is advertised as a more serious, compelling drama.

I’m not saying I have the inability to sit through movies like “Cold War” that are sometimes slow in terms of pacing, which coincidentally is a minor problem at times. Although what I am saying is that this movie just kind of underwhelmed me. Granted, it didn’t underwhelm me all that much. When I watched it, I had a certain positive score for it in my mind once I left the theater, which by the way still stands. Plus, this movie is not even that long. The total runtime comes out to an hour and twenty-nine minutes. Although at the same time, maybe it did feel long because I did something I am somewhat ashamed to have done.

*Clears throat*

Forgive me father for I have sinned.

I had my phone on during the movie. Now don’t worry, the ringer was off! I often leave my phone on with my ringer silent during many of my moviegoing experiences. But given how I don’t have a watch on me, and since I don’t have an iPhone, nor do I care to possess an iPhone, meaning I never wasted hundreds of bucks on an Apple Watch, I put my hand in my pocket, took my phone out, and checked the time. If I recall correctly, the brightness was low. Also, don’t worry that much! There were a few other people in the cinema alongside me, I only had it on for a few seconds to check the time, the screen was hidden from everyone’s sight, then I shut it down and put it away!

Man, that felt good and horrible at the same time.

In the end, “Cold War” is kind of an enigma. I don’t really hate the movie, but over the past few days, bits and pieces of it are continually being erased from my mind. Granted, now that I am back in college, certain assignments and classes are affecting my time to keep this blog up to date, but still. Although on the bright side, the fact that I am reviewing this now as opposed to immediately once I get home from the theater might actually be a positive thing because I reviewed certain movies like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” I gave that film a 9/10 when I first saw it. Why did I give it a 9/10? Because I was a crazy fanboy that had certain requests I wanted fulfilled with the film. And while at the time, I had those requests fulfilled, little did I realize how much I would come to hate the movie in the very end. To sum it up, “Cold War” is one of the best-looking movies of the year, but story-wise, needs a boost, at least for me. I don’t know if this grade will make sense, or surprise some of you, but this movie was still enjoyable enough, and likable enough, that I’m going to ultimately give “Cold War” a 7/10. And who knows? Maybe the second time watching this will be better. It is coming to Prime pretty soon since it is an Amazon movie, so I can watch it for free in the future if need be. For all I know, maybe it will somehow be worse. It’s hard to tell. We’ll just have to see what happens. Thanks for reading this review! And if you have made it to the end of this post when it was released, congratulations! You picked a good post to read! Because this Sunday, I am planning to release my ultimate list of my nominees for the upcoming Scene Before Jackoff Awards ceremony. I am not going to say whether “Cold War” actually is nominated or not, but I will point out that this might be the last 2018 movie I watch before the nominees are announced. I might be going to see “On the Basis of Sex” this weekend, I don’t know for sure, but it is a possibility. But speaking of movies, I will admit that I have seen a 2019 movie recently by the name of “Serenity.” And no, this is not attached to the “Firefly” franchise, this is entirely different. My review for that will be up very soon, I’m not sure if I’ll release my “Serenity” review before or after the nominations, but it is a 2019 movie so it won’t even count in this current ceremony. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or an email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Cold War?” What did you think about it? Or, since I can praise this movie’s final shot, what is your favorite concluding shot to a movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!