Quick Hit: Inventive and well-acted, with a huge subtext.
Kaijus, and monster movies in general, are obviously very close to my heart. I love the large scale, global threatening type movies, as well as the smaller ones, like Gremlins, which we’ll be covering soon. Colossal seems to marry those, while also forming a message about genders and social constructs that is too clear to ignore.
The film follows Gloria (Anne Hathaway), whose life is just a complete mess. She’s an obvious alcoholic, and with her life falling apart, she moves back home. Here she encounters Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a friend from childhood, and eventually they begin to spend each night at the bar that he owns.
Now, from that short summary, what you may be expecting is a story that we’ve all seen played out on screen multiple times; ie, the person with their life in shambles returns to their small town, figures out life, and falls in love with the childhood best friend. And while the film starts in that direction, there’s an undercurrent of darkness that is palpable throughout the film, particularly in Sudeikis’s character Oscar. As more and more cracks begin to show in his character in a terrific, against-type performance, it’s clear that there’s more than one monster to be shown.
The Kaijus, which are terrorizing Seoul throughout this film, are fairly well polished. While there’s not quite as much explicit destruction (most of it happens off screen, most likely for budgetary considerations) as one would expect, it’s in keeping with the tone of the rest of the film. This movie is as metaphorical as it is literal, with monsters being reflected in nearly every scene. It’s some really extraordinary ideas and metaphors, which leads to a much more entertaining film.
While the soundtrack wasn’t exactly something I loved, it felt in keeping with a lot of the film.
The acting performances were wonderful; as previously mentioned, Sudeikis leads the pack but has Hathaway hot on his heels. To make alcoholics sympathetic is one thing; to make them sympathetic and likeable is another. These are both people with some serious issues, and neither actor dismisses them. These are real performances, where you feel like the characters are within reach. Hathaway’s stumbling, mumbling, head-scratching Gloria is a lot of fun, and Sudeikis uses his likeable persona to bring everyone in before things start to unravel fully.
Colossal turned out to be a lot more about the gender roles and stereotypes than monsters, but that’s all right with me, because it was handled extremely well. I’m giving it a “B+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: Truly hilarious comedy that is both intelligent and full of slap stick.
First, allow me to open with a whole-hearted thank you. First out to our very trusted reader, Nubs, who took the time to send in a request for this film. Second, I’d like to extend that thank you to Shannon for daring to watch (I’m assuming she did and didn’t write a post about not watching it) this absolute comedic gem. And without further ado, here’s a review of the second best Monty Python film.
And yes, Life of Brian is still the best of the bunch. But I'm not reviewing that. Or am I? You decide, if you answer me, these questions three.
In what may be some of the best credits in history, we’re instantly reminded of the joke-a-minute style of Flying Circus, but also in store for actual laughter. Whereas now many movies like National Lampoon and others will throw as many jokes as they can in the hopes that some of them are funny, Grail came from a time when the creators of the jokes took the time to craft each and every one of them to be funny. Some of this humor is self-deprecating – like trusty servant Patsy remarking “it’s only a model” and the constant references to budgetary limitations throughout the film. But despite the fact that it’s cutting humor, it’s viciously intelligent, showing no problems with puns, word play, and all together knowledge of the Arthurian legend.
This is a very particular brand of humor, one that not everyone can subscribe fully to. I understand that – watching a killer rabbit fly around attacking necks can be an acquired taste – but there’s a lot here for everyone. There’s some really good Python songs (I for one consider “Great Sir Robin” as one of the greats) here, and sometimes different cast members play up to eight or nine people. It’s that diversity that truly makes the comedic bits worth watching – but be careful, don’t get burned as a witch.
Another aspect of the movie which I don’t think gets enough credit is Terry Gilliam’s illustrations. Considering some of these actually move the plot forward instead of just serving as transitions, that’s quite an accomplishment – having hand drawn animation carry a plot forward in a comedic powerhouse movie, and still managing to be funny is tough. But alas, at the death of the animator, the Python gang gets away once again. These, clashed with some really good soundtrack music that often would be at home in other Arthurian biopics (though maybe not King Arthur: Legend of the Sword), give a clear indication that the cast loves and appreciates these movies just as much as we do – they’re just much better at parodies.
In the end, I’m going to give Holy Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrail a “B”
ok a “B+”
ok maybe an A-
Ok, ok, an “A”. Until next time,
Quick Hit: Tom Cruise stars in this perfectly average drug runner movie from 2017.
I remember when this hit theaters last year. I also remember it doing a decent amount to make back its US budget, but really nothing else besides that at the box office. American Made stars Tom Cruise as he continues to land morally ambiguous roles in this newest version of this career. Here, he reteams with the director of one of my favorite movies I covered for this site, Edge of Tomorrow’s Doug Liman. Cruise’s character is none other than Barry Seal, a pilot recruited by the CIA, then the drug lords of Colombia, eventually turning into a giant, license-to-print-money-and-bury-it-in-your-backyard-scheme.
At the surface level, American Made is a pretty entertaining film. There’s a lot of action, from the different flights and close calls that Seal experiences, and the high lifestyle that comes with having a ton of money. Cruise is still undeniably as charming as he ever was, flashing his trademark grin while attempting not to come across as too sleezy. But there’s also a hint of fear in the smile, a hint of nervousness that is hidden in it that continues to show why Cruise is such a huge draw – he’s actually a good actor that lives as an action movie star.
There’s also some pretty good cinematography hiding in this film, which is only hidden by Liman’s manic pace. There’s a lot of different scenes to work with, from the jungles of Colombia to the Gulf of Mexico, the fields of Arkansas to the swamps of Louisiana. It’s all really lush, textured shots, and then all of a sudden we’re off again for another of Barry’s questionable life choices.
That’s probably what I disliked most about this film – there’s really no depth to it. Barry is reflective of this – there’s no depth to his character. That’s not specific to Barry either – most of the side characters can barely be called “characters”, as the flicker in and out of the story with almost no impact to the plot. This movie could really have been called “Tom Cruise as Barry Seal: Drug Smuggler” and it would have still gotten the point across. There’s no emotional growth, even if there is a vague attempt at it towards the end of the movie. There also doesn’t seem to be very high stakes to any of Barry’s actions either, because he snakes out of all the consequences fairly quickly.
Most of this lack of depth comes from attempting to make a movie that is both a comedy and a drama all at the same time. There’s just enough laughs that land to call it amusing, but most of this keeps the dramatic elements in the movie from emerging. A better movie is hidden in here that either focuses more on the over-the-top action stunts that the film has, or dives into a character drama about what caused Barry to act like he did. It’s interesting to note the extreme liberties taken at the adaption of this story – I took the time to watch some of the extras about the film and a lot is greatly exaggerated – because the dramatic story was there, just ignored.
In conclusion, I found this movie to just be average, despite a decent performance from Cruise. I’m going to give it a “C”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"