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Bad Times at the El Royale, 2018

On a dark and stormy night, several strangers' stories overlap at a seedy hotel called the El Royale that sits on the border of California and Nevada. These include a priest with encroaching dementia (Jeff Bridges); a talented backup singer (Cynthia Erivo); a secretive, abrasive woman (Dakota Fanning); a pushy salesman--or is he?!-- (Jon Hamm); and the hotel's twitchy clerk (Lewis Pullman).

Some movies are very much I am a movie and every character in them screams I am a character in a movie!. For better or worse, this is how I felt about almost every minute of this film. And this aspect is both a benefit and a detriment to the overall impact of it.

On the positive side, the film is not at all shy about pursuing a stylistic vibe. From the color scheme to the camera movement, there isn't a lot of subtlety. Sequences play out and then we see them again from another point of view. The characters speak very much in a "writerly" way, but for the most part the actors (especially Bridges and Erivo) have a handle on it.

I had also never really seen Erivo in much before this. She was a judge on an episode of Drag Race and I was not familiar with her. (I am well aware she starred in the well-received Harriet Tubman film, but I have not seen that yet). But here I was really impressed with her. She more than holds her own with Bridges, and the two of them together give the film a human element that is desperately needs. Also, dang, Erivo can really sing.

On the down side, that "overly written" feeling left me somewhat alienated from the movie. Many of the characters feel more like pawns being moved around--surviving bullets when it is convenient, dying when it's not--and many of their fates are predictable. This isn't to say that there weren't some real surprises here and there, but for the most part I simply didn't find myself invested. Chris Hemsworth shows up later as a sort of cult leader personality, and I found myself more annoyed by his character than engaged. It doesn't help that Rose--the hotel patron who summons him--is incredibly one-dimensional. Is there any more obnoxious character trope than the doe-eyed "true believer" pixie girl who is willing to tolerate or commit violence because she loves her "leader"?

Bridges and Erivo get the most character development, and by extension they were the characters I was most invested in. But despite their solid core, the movie felt overlong to me and the last act in particular just sort of felt messy.

The movie gets points for some of the acting and some points for general style, but I can't imagine wanting to watch it again.






Small town cops and the big problems they have to deal.
I liked this quite a bit.



THE OMEN
(1976, Donner)
A Biblical film



"Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666."

The Omen follows Richard Thorn (Gregory Peck), a US diplomat that accepts to take over an orphan baby boy after his wife's stillbirth. What they don't know is that the boy is actually the Antichrist himself, who ends up wreaking havoc in Thorn's life and those around him.

It had been a while since I had seen it, so I was thrilled to see it was available on Hulu. As I revisited, I'm glad to say it held up pretty damn well. The atmosphere that Donner builds from the first scene is undeniable, his use of light and shadows in the hospital or around the Thorn house, and that haunting scene with the nanny... all of that creeps up on you as you see this evil force engulf this family.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot
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Bad Times at the El Royale, 2018

On a dark and stormy night, several strangers' stories overlap at a seedy hotel called the El Royale that sits on the border of California and Nevada. These include a priest with encroaching dementia (Jeff Bridges); a talented backup singer (Cynthia Erivo); a secretive, abrasive woman (Dakota Fanning); a pushy salesman--or is he?!-- (Jon Hamm); and the hotel's twitchy clerk (Lewis Pullman).

Some movies are very much I am a movie and every character in them screams I am a character in a movie!. For better or worse, this is how I felt about almost every minute of this film. And this aspect is both a benefit and a detriment to the overall impact of it.

On the positive side, the film is not at all shy about pursuing a stylistic vibe. From the color scheme to the camera movement, there isn't a lot of subtlety. Sequences play out and then we see them again from another point of view. The characters speak very much in a "writerly" way, but for the most part the actors (especially Bridges and Erivo) have a handle on it.

I had also never really seen Erivo in much before this. She was a judge on an episode of Drag Race and I was not familiar with her. (I am well aware she starred in the well-received Harriet Tubman film, but I have not seen that yet). But here I was really impressed with her. She more than holds her own with Bridges, and the two of them together give the film a human element that is desperately needs. Also, dang, Erivo can really sing.

On the down side, that "overly written" feeling left me somewhat alienated from the movie. Many of the characters feel more like pawns being moved around--surviving bullets when it is convenient, dying when it's not--and many of their fates are predictable. This isn't to say that there weren't some real surprises here and there, but for the most part I simply didn't find myself invested. Chris Hemsworth shows up later as a sort of cult leader personality, and I found myself more annoyed by his character than engaged. It doesn't help that Rose--the hotel patron who summons him--is incredibly one-dimensional. Is there any more obnoxious character trope than the doe-eyed "true believer" pixie girl who is willing to tolerate or commit violence because she loves her "leader"?

Bridges and Erivo get the most character development, and by extension they were the characters I was most invested in. But despite their solid core, the movie felt overlong to me and the last act in particular just sort of felt messy.

The movie gets points for some of the acting and some points for general style, but I can't imagine wanting to watch it again.

Those are the exact same problems I had with it. I remember feeling the same way while watching Seven Psychopaths. I could almost picture the lines in the script as they were being recited. And you're also right about Erivo. She was the best thing in it.



I've never seen it but we should make a game out of this and try and name the actors based on the drawings. Danny Trejo is easy. And I'm going to say that the guy in the slouch cap and red bowtie is Peter Bonerz. The guy playing the piano looks sort of like Richard Dreyfus. That's all I got.



4 bags of popcorn? Seriously?
5 bags of popcorn. well been fan of katherine heigl for long time and loved her movies and this one is a chick flick and one of my favorite movies
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https://youtu.be/vXD8y7MjaUo Wanda Maximoff - Scarlet Witch +The Vision WandaVision
https://youtu.be/G2zyqYCuHao Wanda Maximoff - Scarlet Witch
https://youtu.be/cwvGyR-CgPs Natasha Romanoff-Black Widow
https://youtu.be/UEuN4tT47WM Wanda Maximoff - Scarlet Witch
https://youtu.be/NppeLvc_- ds Wanda Maximoff - Scarlet Witch
https://youtu.be/6z0QapneuYs Wanda Maximoff - Scarlet Witch



I liked this quite a bit.
Me too!
THE OMEN
(1976, Donner)
A Biblical film









The Omen follows Richard Thorn (Gregory Peck), a US diplomat that accepts to take over an orphan baby boy after his wife's stillbirth. What they don't know is that the boy is actually the Antichrist himself, who ends up wreaking havoc in Thorn's life and those around him.


It had been a while since I had seen it, so I was thrilled to see it was available on Hulu. As I revisited, I'm glad to say it held up pretty damn well. The atmosphere that Donner builds from the first scene is undeniable, his use of light and shadows in the hospital or around the Thorn house, and that haunting scene with the nanny... all of that creeps up on you as you see this evil force engulf this family.
And don't forget, it inspired this song as well:








Professional horse shoe straightener
'House of Hummingbird' (2020)


A very promising debut feature from Bora Kim. A coming of age type film about a girl trying to find her way in the world surrounded by a family that has more important things to deal with than her. There are some sombre scenes but some moments of beauty too. Fine performance from Ji-hu Park as the central character.

8.5/10





Well, things got a little out of hand, huh. Good movie, despite the hyper generic name.
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What Lies Below (2020)


This was a recommend from a friend so I watched it not expecting much given the other reviews I had seen. It was actually pretty tense and enjoyable for the first hour until it goes off the rails for the ending.

The ending itself isn't terrible, because it doesn't spend too much time making you think about how this really could have happened. Yet it does hit a certain level of absurdity to downgrade the overall quality of the movie. It reminded me of Cure for Wellness a bit due to the content, and almost a Sorry to Bother You left turn of an ending.



Bad Trip -


A very funny candid camera comedy in the style of Borat. The plot is as ordinary as it sounds: a hapless guy (Eric Andre) drags his best friend Bud (Lil Rel Howery) along on a road trip to win the affection of his dream girl (Michaela Conlin), but it provides an ideal canvas to string a bunch of pranks together. Highlights include their disastrous country bar visit and when they just miss Bud's murderous ex-con sister (Tiffany Haddish) - whose car the duo stole - at a restaurant, which has a patron whose commentary is pure poetry. Besides Andre, Howery and Haddish being such brilliant performers, the pranks work because they have just the right combination of outrageous and hilarious. Some pranks, like one at a zoo, are a bit more outrageous than they are funny, but there are more hits than misses. Oh, and if you like smoothies, be warned that it might put you off them for a while.
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Last Great Movie Seen
The Seven-Ups (D'Antoni, 1973)




Our Hospitality (1923, Buster Keaton)

Not my favorite Keaton but still lots of fun.



The Mauritanian (2021)

Rather disturbing indictment of US foreign policy starting after 9/11. All performances are smart but, really, Tahar Rahim is the stand-out.




Tahar Rahim is the stand-out.
He always is.
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