Click on the links for full reviews
After the gloomy tone of Avengers: Infinity War, we are given an energetic, delightful, and welcoming attitude in Marvels newest installment: Ant-Man and the Wasp. We pick up in the action following the events of Captain America: Civil War. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is now under the watch of the FBI, with three days left of house arrest, striving to be a great father to his daughter, and not in good graces with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne aka Wasp (Evangeline Lilly). Peyton Reed returns in the directors chair, after the mild success of the first Ant-installment, working with a more familiar cast of characters, and relying heavily on the charm of Rudd and the kick-ass skills of Lilly, to make Ant-Man and the Wasp a dynamic duo.
The title of this movie is Bleeding Steel. Without knowing the plot, I assumed this was going to be an awesome Jackie Chan action flick, that would involve a cop that has injected with some kind of super serum that gave him steel blood, making him a super soldier that can’t die. And if you think my imaginary plot was ridiculous, wait till I tell you about the actual plot of Bleeding Steel. Writer/Director Leo Zhang and co-writers Siwei Cui and Erica Xia-Hou, had to have been on drugs writing this thing, or just wanted to combine every genre available to create a massive super spectacle. You have legendary stunt-action star Jackie Chan, in a movie that starts as a police drama, then quickly becomes a Star Wars-like sci-fi film, adds a little bit of kung-fu fighting, some intense action sequences like Mission Impossible, and sprinkles in the melodrama of reuniting a father and his daughter. Bleeding Steel is terrible, but it might be so terrible that you have to see it.
Original and in your face. That is how I would describe Sorry to Bother You, the madcap, dystopian future, oddball comedy from Boots Riley. For a large chunk of it, I was laughing and enjoying this strange satire, set in an alternate Oakland, California. My major problems however, are the multiple moments when the messaging didn’t hit, stalling in the end, like a dead car engine. Lakeith Stanfield stars as Cassisus Green, an underpaid worker at a telemarketing company. He lives out of his uncles (Terry Crews) garage with girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson), just trying to do anything to make it ahead in life, but his efforts on the phone produce little results. An elder salesman (played by Danny Glover) advises him to use his “white voice” (appearing in the voice of David Cross) to make sales. Proving the racial bias of others does exist, Cassius begins to make sales left and right, moving to the top floor as a “power caller”, and catching the eye of wealthy overlord Steve Lift (Armie Hammer). The final result? Sorry to Bother You is a fascinating film, a flawed first-time feature, which I highly admire, but it did not entirely work in the end. This is a movie that is trying to say something. I’m just not sure the message will be received.
Nobody should be waiting for their knight in shining armor. That’s the lesson learned from Damsel, a western that turns the audience in a different direction as soon as anything gets too comfortable. This is a comedy of errors and ignorance, the newest venture from the Zellner brothers, who became noticed for their Sundance award winner, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter in 2016. Instead of banking off of their success, the Zellner’s have fun with running away from what is expected of them. Damsel has two of the acting professions best, with Robert Pattinson as a lonely cowboy in search of his darling dame, played by Mia Wasikowska. The journey to retrieve his love is paved with rocks, hills, and stupidity. Damsel is a different kind of comedy, a unique tale that flips the traditional heroes journey on it’s head.
If I didn’t tell you that Boundaries was a true story, you wouldn’t believe it. The entire time, I was thinking it was an original, well written movie, when actually everything about the drama is based on the life of writer/director Shana Feste. Because of that and a myriad of other reasons, it makes this movie even more fantastic. Vera Farmiga stars as Laura, a single parent, who works as an assistant to a wealthy family, loves her eccentric son Henry (Lewis MacDougall from A Monster Calls), and rescues as many animals as her home can hold. Someone who she doesn’t have the best of relationships with, is her father Jack (Christopher Plummer, great as always), a free living, retired man, who has been arrested too many times to count, and still deals marijuana on the side. It all amounts to Boundaries being a pleasant surprise. It kept me on my toes, with a narrative that is slightly ridiculous, sometimes humorous, and as life can be, it never stays within the lines.