Thursday, August 16, 2018

Movie Review: "Crazy Rich Asians" (2018)

Director: Jon M. Chu
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 0 minutes

A college professor accompanies her boyfriend home to Singapore for his best friend's wedding. While there, she meets his family and quickly finds out that they are one of the wealthiest families in the whole country.
"His parents can't not like me, right?" (Image Source)
Culture, family, and tradition battle it out with love, passion, and individual happiness once again, this time in "Crazy Rich Asians." This romantic comedy is directed by Jon M. Chu, who has helmed other films like "Now You See Me 2" and "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." It is written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim and is based on the novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan. An economics professor named Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is asked to accompany her boyfriend of over a year, Nick (Henry Golding), to his best friend's wedding in Singapore. She will also be meeting Nick's family for the first time. Rachel doesn't really know much about Nick's life back at home or what the members of his family do, but she is about to discover that they are rich, like, crazy rich. The Young family are some of the most prominent real estate developers in all of Asia. Upon arriving in Singapore, Rachel is thrust into a lifestyle she isn't familiar with and must fight for approval from Nick's mom Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), who is more concerned about her son taking over the family business and doesn't approve of her son dating an American.
"Pursuing your American." (Image Source)
Welcome to the lifestyles of the absurdly rich and famous. When it comes to putting over-the-top opulence on full display, "Crazy Rich Asians" is hard to beat and does so in a lavish, extravagant, and elegant manner. On a 'glitz and glamor porn scale' ranging from 1 to 10, this dials it up to 11, and we sure dug stepping into a world like this for two hours. That being said, underneath the glitter, gold, and jewel-encrusted facade, at its core, this film is a mostly formulaic romantic comedy. It is pretty predictable and uses many tried and true romance tropes, like the disapproving wealthy mother, the boisterous best friend, a make-over montage, and a 'prettiest belle at the ball' Cinderella moment, to further its plot. Heck, if we gave you three guesses as to where the romantic climax of the movie takes place, you wouldn't need more than two.

As far as the romance goes, "Crazy Rich Asians" has tons of it. We absolutely adored both Constance Wu and Henry Golding. The audience falls in love with both Rachel and Nick separately and together, and we want to root for them because they have smoulderingly good chemistry, something most rom-coms severely lack this day and age. Wu is fantastic in this movie. As Rachel, she is a strong, independent, confident, and self-reliant woman who followed her passion no matter what it took. She's everything you want a movie heroine to be. Nick comes from money but has tried to live a life independent of his family's meddling hand. He is handsome, charming, and kind, the fantasy dream prince who is too good to be true, but certainly exists because this is that kind of a story. Henry Golding gives a marvelous performance and has a terrific leading man presence. If we didn't already know it, we wouldn't have guessed this was his acting debut, he's just that smooth. And Michelle Yeoh, good lord, we have no idea why she is so underappreciated! As Eleanor, she commands the screen with a combination of refined, nostalgic elegance and a fierce-but-protective "don't screw with my son" vibe. She has a couple of scenes that took me personally aback as her words cut like a knife on more than one occasion. Yeoh is absolutely brilliant in this movie. Give her more movie opportunities, people!
"No one loves free stuff more than rich people." (Image Source)
As for comedy here, I found myself laughing a lot. BigJ laughed a little less than I did, but still an ample amount. Most of the humor comes from Awkwafina as Rachel's old college roommate Peik Lin Goh, and her father Wye Mun Goh, played by Ken Jeong. Awkwafina steals each scene she's in, and we're glad she gets to show off how talented she is in this film. Her signature brand of humor won't be for everyone, but she's definitely growing on us as an actress. We will admit, not all of the laughs come constantly, and when they do, they aren't always huge chuckles, but compared to the other romantic comedies we've gotten in the last few years, "Crazy Rich Asians" is a much-needed breath of fresh air that reinvigorates the rom-com genre.
"You're not our kind of people." (Image Source)
Despite being a very by-the-book story plot-wise, we really liked and very much enjoyed "Crazy Rich Asians." It has some great characters who have wonderful, believable chemistry. The acting is excellent. There is a perfect amount of quippy and snippy dialogue to keep the audience invested. Top it all off with a sumptuous look steeped in culture and love, and you've got one hell of a fun ride!

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.4/10
RT Rating: ~93%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Movie Review: "The Cloverfield Paradox" (2018)

Director: Julius Onah
Year: 2017
Rating: TV-MA
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

An international crew of astronauts is working on an experiment that will provide unlimited energy for the earth, which is stuck in an energy crisis. When the experiment overloads, they inadvertently rip a hole in a space-time continuum, allowing elements from multiple dimensions to merge.
"If this doesn't work, I can't even think about what happens down there." (Image Source)
Suddenly, without warning, a new "Cloverfield" movie appeared on Netflix immediately following the Super Bowl this year. Seriously, it happened quick. The trailer for the film first premiered during the halftime show of Super Bowl LII and then there it was, dropped onto Netflix like it was no big deal. We didn't even get to see the trailer because we were not watching the big game.

"The Cloverfield Paradox" is the latest film in the "Cloverfield" sci-fi thriller anthology series. The film is directed by Julius Onah, who has only directed one other feature film. The screenplay is written by Oren Uziel, who has previously written movies like "22 Jump Street" and "Shimmer Lake." It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ava Hamilton, a British communications officer working aboard the Cloverfield space station. She has had some recent tragedies in her past, and they still haunt her every single day. Joining Mbatha-Raw are David Oyelowo as Commander Kiel, the commanding officer aboard the space station, Daniel Brühl as Ernst Schmidt, a physicist from Germany, John Ortiz as the space station's medical doctor Monk Acosta, as well as Chris O'Dowd, Ziyi Zhang, and Aksel Hennie, who play station engineers Mundy, Tam, and Volkov. The earth is in an energy crisis, and the team of scientists aboard the Cloverfield space station is using a particle accelerator to work towards a solution. During one of their tests, they rip a hole in the space-time continuum and accidentally jumbling multiple dimensions.
"We didn't destroy Earth, we just lost it." (Image Source)
For many people, "The Cloverfield Paradox" became over-hyped and then under-delivered all within the span of a few hours. For us, there simply wasn't enough time to get hyped in the first place, nor do we feel this film was a massive disappointment. Sure, it's not as good as the other "Cloverfield" movies, but this is still an average sci-fi fantasy thriller with some stunning visuals. We don't think it does any harm to the series. Each "Cloverfield" film exists in a bubble with only fleeting references to the other installments in the larger anthology. This particular "bubble" is all about Ava's journey and how she is eventually presented with a personal paradox and is forced to chose between what she feels is right for her and what she feels is right for humanity. Outside of her personal journey, there is a lot, and we mean a lot going on. Some characters are mere footnotes, check-marks, if you will, to give the appearance that the film is being inclusive when actually it's the actors who are completely underutilized that we wanted to know more about. The story deals with multiple dimensions and timelines, and whenever a story introduces such elements, it opens itself up to a lot of plot holes and inconsistencies. We're not going to lie, "The Cloverfield Paradox" certainly has them. There are a lot of questions as to how or why certain things happen which are never clearly answered, and at times, I found myself a bit confused at some of the minutiae going on in the story. BigJ on the other hand never had an issue following along and didn't find anything too confusing here. All of the neat looking sci-fi stuff is merely a contrived catalyst to further Ava's personal journey. That being said, the crux of this story also explains how the "Cloverfield" universe works as a whole with an infinite number of independent realities, which works moderately well to create cohesion within an anthology-style series.
"This dimension is eating us alive." (Image Source)
Despite its flaws, we still wound up enjoying "The Cloverfield Paradox" for the most part. One cannot deny that it's an impressive looking sci-fi movie. Even if we were a little confused on the details because of the story's multiple timelines, we were mostly entertained by everything that happened, and we still can't wait for the next installment of this anthology.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.4/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 17%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Movie Review: "Slender Man" (2018)

Director: Sylvain White
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

A group of teenagers watches an online video that is said to summon an entity known as Slender Man. They think it's all fun and games, but when girls start seeing strange things and start disappearing, it may turn out to be all too real.
This is Joey King and Julia Goldani Telles on their phone, which is the only thing they do for literally 90 minutes in "Slender Man." (Image Source)
A few times a year, we come across a film or two that makes us question our choices in life. It makes us ask things like, "as movie reviewers do we really need to try and see everything?," "isn't our time more valuable than this?," and, "what in the fuck were we thinking of, buying tickets to "Slender Man" instead of doing much more productive things?" Staring at a literal wall for 90 minutes would have been more entertaining than watching "Slender Man." If anyone cares, this film was directed by Sylvain White, who has directed other features such as "Stomp the Yard" and "The Losers," which is about audience members like ourselves who actually gave up 90 minutes of their lives to sit through "Slender Man." The screenplay is written by David Birke, who has written movies like "Horseplayers," "13 Sins," and the critically acclaimed "Elle." How the fuck Birke also wrote this codswallop is beyond our comprehension.
This is Annalise Basso trying to hide the fact that she's in "Slender Man." (Image Source)
"Slender Man" is about a group of teenage girls who one night decide to watch a video online that is said to summon a demon-like entity known as Slender Man, noodly appendages and all. And by golly wouldn't you know it, the video actually worked! Slender Man gets invoked almost instantly, which leads the girls to be tormented, driven crazy, and/or straight-up taken by Slendy.

If it wasn't already apparent, we loathed this movie. It is an absolute slog on top of being a nonsensical mess narratively speaking. Sylvain White tries his best to create an unsettling mood and build tension but fails miserably. Some kid running into the theater after just being in the bathroom was scarier than all of "Slender Man." The atmosphere is pretty much limited to dark and foggy forests, dark and foggy rooms, and dark and foggy cinematography. Every attempt at tension seems to be derived from a video call coming from an unknown number. Seriously, who the hell answers a phone call anymore, let alone a video call from an unknown number? The film is overloaded with cliches, jump scares complete with loud-to-silent music drop-offs, and mounds of expository information delivered through the faithful horror-movie-trope of scary-web-searching-followed-by-frantic-link-clicking. The story is a jumbled, frazzled mix of who the fuck knows as plot points are both brought up and go nowhere and are brought up and never get finished. People, places, and plot details are dropped just as quickly as they arise. We feel bad for cast members Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, and Annalise Basso because they all deserve better.
This is Javier Botet doing the best he can, trying to bring some sort of creepiness to "Slender Man." (Image Source)
"Slender Man" is a waste of celluloid. The only good thing about this movie is that it is short. It's disgraceful to moviegoers who paid to see this and to the studio that spent money on it that this is the final product we/they got. There is no mood, no tautness, and no scares. It is full of laughable dialogue and has a screenplay that's in shambles. The story doesn't make a lick of sense, and we know why: the script clearly never got finished because this is obviously an incomplete film. For such a creepy horror figure like Slender Man to get this as a movie is unfathomably horrendous. Slendy deserves better. Please do not make the same mistake we did. Our suffering can be your reward. We watched this piece of trash movie so you don't have to. We are not praying people, but you bet your ass we prayed for a meteor to hit our movie theater to put us out of our misery.

My Rating: 1/10
BigJ's Rating: 1/10
IMDB's Rating: ~3.1/10
RT Rating: ~13%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Movie Review: "McQueen" (2018)

Director: Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

A look at the life of fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
"He was deeply looking to understand everything." (Image Source)
As Lao Tzu said, "the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long." Few flames in the fashion world have burned brighter than Alexander McQueen's. The documentary "McQueen" is directed by Ian Bonhôte and is co-directed by the film's writer Peter Ettedgui. It tells the story of fashion designer Alexander McQueen through interviews with his friends, family, co-workers, and through stock footage of McQueen himself. It looks into how McQueen went from living a modest middle-class family life in England to becoming the hottest new talent in the fashion industry. From there, we learn about more intimate details of his life, his blossoming fashion career, and what may have led to his eventual tragic suicide.
"I get very scared when he picks up the scissors. He's ready to cut things up." (Image Source)
In many ways, Alexander McQueen's life as told by writer Peter Ettedgui is a pretty standard rags-to-riches true story, though McQueen was never really in rags. He was a self-made man who got noticed through his hard work, his unstoppable perseverance, and his immense talent. As a film, this is a very standard documentary shot in a very rudimentary way. Luckily, McQueen's clothing tells an entirely different story. His fashion sense was shocking, provocative, unique, and iconic. This film is loaded with footage of McQueen's fashion shows, each one darker and more anguished than the last. The best part of this documentary for us was seeing the beauty and the bold artistic look of his designs and experiencing how cool they looked traipsing across a runway. Off the runway stage, we hear about how Alexander McQueen fought with some very dark demons that ruled his life in ways no one, not even those closest to him, could fully see.

In terms of enjoyability, BigJ didn't think this story was very compelling apart from McQueen's runway looks. I personally don't care much about the fashion world, but to me, this portrait of a man with so much sadness and so many deep, sinister scars drove me to want to learn more about such a compelling figure and his history in the fashion business. "McQueen" unpacks the psychological aspects of McQueen's demons, which directly fueled his artistry in disturbing but innovative ways.
"It was about sabotage and tradition, which is the perfect combination." (Image Source)
One cannot deny that Alexander McQueen was one of the most talented, alluring fashion designers to ever live. He shook the industry in more ways than anyone can imagine. Though it can be interesting and engaging, we wish "McQueen" has been a bit bolder and daring like its subject.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.4/10
RT Rating: ~100%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Movie Review: "A Futile and Stupid Gesture" (2018)

Director: David Wain
Year: 2018
Rating: TV-MA
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

 The story of the founder of National Lampoon Magazine, Douglas Kenney.
"You want me to give up a career in law to rely on you and start a humor magazine that will undoubtedly fail?" (Image Source)
Before the name "National Lampoon" became associated with shitty low budget straight-to-DVD films, it once was synonymous with comedy that was satirical and pushed the envelope of what was considered tactful. It was a hugely popular magazine that spawned a radio show, numerous well-received films, and had many comedy contributors that would go on to major stardom. People like Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, and John Belushi all came up through National Lampoon. However, "A Futile and Stupid Gesture" is not about any those people (though some of them are included in minor roles), but rather, it is about Douglas Kenney (Will Forte), the man who started the magazine, along with his partner Henry Beard (Domhnall Gleeson). This Netflix original is directed by David Wain. The story starts out showing how Kenney and Beard met at Harvard and how they started writing at the Harvard Lampoon, through the publication and massive success of their magazine "National Lampoon," through the completion of Doug Kenney's most famous movies "Animal House" and "Caddyshack."
"Always go with your worst instincts." (Image Source)
We didn't know much about this movie before we sat down to watch it. Hell, we didn't know a thing about Doug Kenney, the origins of the "National Lampoon" magazine, or Kenney's involvement in two of our favorite comedies. "A Futile and Stupid Gesture" is a self-aware comedic biopic that uses things like narration and the breaking of the fourth wall to tell the story of its protagonist and to make some humorous observations about his life. Will Forte and Domhnall Gleeson both deliver some terrific, witty dialogue that kept us laughing pretty consistently for much of the film's runtime. Forte has brilliant comedic timing. Gleeson fits right in amongst the fray and holds his own in such a joking story despite that he is not known as a comedy actor. The supporting cast also brings a lot of laughs since a room full of crazed comedians pitching extremely wild ideas is often a good source of entertainment. Not everything about this movie is funny. It does touch on the more hard-hitting and dramatic moments of Kenney's life, including his drug addiction and a mental breakdown at one point. That being said, it never falls into melodrama or forgets that it is a comedy first and foremost. It uses Kenney's personal crises as opportunities for dark humor. We understand this may bother some people who feel like those involved in this biography shouldn't use tragic moments for comedic purposes, but we thought it was fitting considering the fact that Doug Kenney spent much of his life lampooning serious subjects with jokes, wit, and dark humor.
"Boys need something to read while getting teargassed." (Image Source)
"A Futile and Stupid Gesture" was a winner for us. It's a significant cut above many of Netflix's other recent original offerings.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Movie Review: "Generation Wealth" (2018)

Director: Lauren Greenfield
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

A documentary exploring our modern society's obsession with wealth and opulence.
"I do believe it's unamerican to say you can have too much money." (Image Source)
Just like ABBA said, "money, money, money, must be funny, in a rich man's world." "Generation Wealth" is a documentary written and directed by photographer Lauren Greenfield and explores the sociology of wealth. For the last 25 years or so, Greenfield has flown around the world photographing the wealthy and famous. In this film, she conducts interviews with numerous people who were the subjects of her photoshoots and asks their views on money and wealth to see if anything has changed over the years. Greenfield also tries to look at how America and many other parts of the world became so obsessed with gaining and attaining wealth, or even the appearance of it, despite it sometimes being beyond their means.
"Being average has never been an option for me." (Image Source)
Lauren Greenfield has spent a large portion of her career surrounded by celebrities and wealthy socialites as she filmed, photographed, and documented their excessive lifestyles, putting them on full display for the world to see. Now, after seeing where our culture has gone and how image-obsessed it has become, especially in the age of social media, she reflects on her own work and tries to decipher where this obsession comes from. Greenfield and others attribute it to a few things. First, the removal of the gold standard. Second, Reaganomics and shifting priorities in the 80's that led people to value material objects over hard work and frugality. Finally, the mass media, from our infatuation with television and watching the rich get richer to the social media boom and our ever increasing need to "keep up with the Joneses." If the film had stayed focused on trying to understand what drives the "more, more, more" mentality, it may have been great. Unfortunately, it starts to become more about Greenfield's subjects trying to reconcile with their kids due to the damages money, fame and fortune have brought them. It also turns into a story about the problems she herself faced with her mother growing up in an upper-middle-class household in the shadow of her parents, who both went to Harvard, problems she believes she inherited.

"Generation Wealth" focuses mainly on those who have left a life of excess behind and how they now regret the choices they made during their time on top of the world. That being said, most of the individuals who are interviewed either never fully achieved that lifestyle or were forced out of their wealthiness and didn't leave it willingly. They talk about how true wealth is family and happiness and smiles and rainbows since they now have no money and/or live more middle class means. The story briefly interviews those who are still rich, but Greenfield doesn't focus on them, probably because they don't fit into her the overall narrative, which tells us she was more interested in creating an account that fits her beliefs rather than one that truly explores the subject in an objective way. Though her interviews are interesting, they aren't all that enlightening. We've already heard everything this film has to say. In all honesty, it could have been called "Money Doesn't Buy Happiness," but that would have been a bit too cliche.
"The closer you are to the money, the more you will have." (Image Source)
"Generation Wealth" can feel a bit drawn out at times. It's so long, in fact, that director Laura Greenfield repeats herself occasionally. Though it doesn't offer any new earth-shattering revelations about wealth, this is still a decent documentary, but it's one you can probably wait to see when it inevitably gets released on Amazon Prime.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.7/10
RT Rating: 45%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Movie Review: "Christopher Robin" (2018)

Director: Marc Forster
Year: 2018
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Now an adult, Christopher Robin lives in London with his wife and daughter. He has lost all of the joy he had as a child and is so work-oriented that he has begun to neglect his family. Meanwhile, in the Hundred Acre Wood, Robin's old pal Winnie the Pooh has just woken up from a long sleep and can't find his friends. He seeks out Christopher Robin for assistance, but in return, helps Christopher rediscover his inner child.
"Doing nothing often leads to the very best something." (Image Source)
We have loved Winnie the Pooh since we were kids so we may be a teensy bit biased whenever a new film featuring Pooh and friends gets released. "Christopher Robin" is directed by Marc Forster, who has directed films like "Finding Neverland," "The Kite Runner," and "Monster's Ball." As a kid, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) used to play in the Hundred Acre Woods with his friends Pooh (Jim Cummings), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Tigger (Jim Cummings), Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), Roo (Sara Sheen), and Owl (Toby Jones). Since the day he left for boarding school, Christopher's life has shifted towards work. All grown up, Christopher Robin now works in the efficiency department of a luggage company and works so much that he is forced to sacrifice time with his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and their daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). His current task is to find ways for his company to become more efficient and make more money. When Madeline uncovers some of her father's old drawings, it suddenly awakens Pooh, who needs help finding all his other friend who seems to have disappeared. Pooh travels to London and bumps into a shocked and startled Christopher Robin, who agrees to help Pooh find his pals. Throughout their time together, Christopher Robin starts to rediscover the childhood he left behind and begins to reconnect with what is really important in life: his family.
"There's more to happiness than balloons and honey." (Image Source)
If we had to describe "Christopher Robin" simply, it has the premise of "Hook" mixed with the tone and feel of "Finding Neverland." This is a movie about a workaholic learning to find his inner child again and beginning to reconnect with his family, though it is presented a bit more like a period piece. There is an undeniable nostalgic joy when we watch any movie (animated or otherwise) where Winnie the Pooh come to life on the screen in front of us. Hearing the Winnie the Pooh song tinkering in the background, hearing Pooh speak his funny, little sayings, or listening to Eeyore lament over how he is neglected when he really isn't, all of these things make us smile. Jim Cummings has been doing the voice for both Pooh and Tigger for over 20 years, and he hasn't missed a beat in all that time. His voiceover performance is exceptional, as is Brad Garrett's a newcomer to the voice of  Eeyore. When we saw the trailer for this film, we were a bit worried about the design of the Hundred Acre Wood pals. Luckily, their stuffed animal-like appearance comes to life in a wonderful, fully realized way. These characters look a bit more like the ones from the original drawings from the book series by A. A. Milne with just a hint of the Disney touch-ups and trademarks. The story here is a simple and predictable one. It definitely follows a specific "feel-good movie formula," but it provided us with a mostly positive viewing experience nonetheless. While I did like this movie, it's obvious that BigJ liked it a skosh more than I did. I feel like I eye-rolled just a little too hard at the end of the film, mostly at how Christopher Robin comes to his ultimate decision at his job. It's a little too soulless and corporate for my taste, but then again, look at the company who made this film. Its alternate title should be "Merchandising!"
"Your life is happening right in front of you." (Image Source)
"Christopher Robin" may lack a lot of emotional oomph because it is so generic where its story is concerned, but we can't deny that we had a pleasant viewing experience watching this feel-good family film.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.0/10
RT Rating: ~69%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!