Hail, Caesar!

caesarWhile I haven’t seen all of the Coen Brothers films, and amongst those are some of their best, something just intrigued me about ‘Hail, Caesar!’. Be it the top flight cast, the premise of the film, of just the overall silliness of the plot, it just pushed all right buttons for me.

Now, sometimes, films like ‘Hail, Caesar!’ take a while to find time to watch, and that is exactly what happened, but I finally found the time last evening, and it was well worth the wait. The Coen Brothers have crafted a film that takes on a satirical look at Hollywood during the 1950’s, from the Red Scare of American Communism, to protecting assets in an era when it was much easier to do so.

Be it big starts, like George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson or Channing Tatum taking on lesser roles that all help move the story along, of Josh Brolin dryly carrying the film, ‘Hail, Caesar’ is able to do all of this built on current Hollywood’s good will that the Coen’s have built up over the years.

Featuring film styles of the time, like Roman epics, dancing and singing musicals and the like, ‘Hail, Caesar’ takes a look into a not so typical 48 hours for main character Eddie Mannix as he fulfills his role of studio “fixer”, moving from set to set and playing both actors and media, doing his best to keep less than savory stories under wraps to ensure only good publicity for the fictional studio’s films and stars.

Loosely based on the real-life studio “fixer” Eddie Mannix, the film relates possible stories that Mannix helped clean up during the 1940’s and 1950’s for MGM. In the film, Mannix spends his days ensuring that fictional Capitol Pictures films proceed in order and on time (and also on budget), and that the actors and actresses in the employ of the Studio stay out of trouble, and failing that, out of the news whenever possible.

Josh Brolin is a very strong, central focal point to the story, and with a whisper of a 1950’s mustache, very much fits what one would expect the character of Eddie Mannix to look like. George Clooney with his Roman-esque short cropped hair, Channing Tatum with his dyed blond hair and Tilda Swinton in the duel roles of twin gossip columnists all fill out the early 1950’s the exact way that you would expect it to work, much to the strength of the film.

An irreverant, light hearted but dry comedy, ‘Hail, Caesar’ pokes fun at Hollywood’s under belly from the 1950’s and should always be viewed as one of the strongest films from the Coen Brothers and a great way to get a glimpse of what the film industry looked like sixty years ago. A definite recommend from myself to anyone out there.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Looks for more to come soon. Cheers for today.

Moana

moana2To say that Disney Animation has turned the corner from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s blunders that they produced would be quite the understatement. In a year that they release a “B” movie in ‘Zootopia’ that may be the most topically accurate film of the last decade, they also release the most visually stunning animated film of all time with ‘Moana’

Telling a story of the south Pacific and Polynesia specifically, ‘Moana’ touches many cords, from great songs, altogether amazing music, simply stunning animation from both CGI and hand drawn camps, to tell an epic story of accepting mistakes and not showing a blind willingness to take things at face value.

The one thing that ‘Moana’ does do really, really well is act exactly like you would expect a Disney Animated film to act. Disney Princess (and there is even a joke in the film about this) with an animal sidekick is told what she can or cannot do, then with the advice of older female mentor character, heads off into the unknown to resolve the film’s overarching issues.

That it does so in such spectacular fashion is a testament to the writers, animators and all involved in the film. While you know exactly what you are going to be getting during the film, the way that it is presented, how it is grounded in community, how it is designed as a commentary on today’s environmental issues, are all sights to behold.

While I’m not sure if I have just been more open to ideas in the past twelve months or so, I will admit that a handful of films have just resonated with me, and ‘Moana’ is one of those films. Whether reminding us of the fact that humans are explorers, or the fact that music goes right down to the soul and that there is nothing quite like music that fits perfectly with a story, or that mythology and amazing stories are similar from across the entire globe, ‘Moana’ touches all the right cords.

I want to stay away from the voice acting because it is awesome work from all involved, but hard to not say anything about Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson singing his own song in a Disney movie as demigod Maui, or Jemaine Clement channeling David Bowie for his song as Tamatoa either. But rising above all of that is the work of young Auli’i Cravalho as the title character Moana, and not only her voice work but her work doing all of Moana’s songs as well, at least one of which will be up for an Oscar.

2016 has been a banner year, not just for Disney Animation but for Disney as a whole, and it was bookended nicely by their animated films, and ‘Moana’ is the most visually stunning of them all.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers for now.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

kingsmanThere are a lot of spy/thriller/action films franchises right now, from Bond to Bourne, hell, even Mission: Impossible, so there are a lot of options out there for films to watch, but it is nice every so often to get something new and maybe a little off the wall, and that is essentially what we got with 2015’s ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, an adaptation of the Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons comic book series.

Giving us two concurrent story lines that at times cross into each other and then at the end mesh into one giant free for all, ‘Kingsman’ gives us, in the immortal words of Monty Python “something completely different”, and somethings that, while not perfect, at least something that works well.

Featuring Academy Award winner Colin Firth in one of the two main roles for the film and relative newcomer Taron Egerton in the other main role, ‘Kingsman’ is a relative 21st Century-millenial take on many spy tropes in film, all while paying homage to the grand-daddy of them all in James Bond.

Firth does an admirable job as the seasoned veteran trying to repay his debts while Egerton shows some youthfulness as the twenty something who is throwing away his potential until one final wrong step pushes him back onto the right path.

‘Kingsman’ also features Michael Caine in a bit of a throwaway role as the leader of the organization, but also features Samuel L. Jackson in a hilarious, scene-chewing role as the proverbial big bad. While the premise of the story may be a tad over the top, Jackson tackles it and makes the film all the better for it. The film also gives an interesting role to Mark Strong, one that almost seems as if it was written specifically for him.

Once you get past the overt British-ness of the film and its setup, the stylized action scenes are different enough to hook your attention while also delving into the meat of the main story and the recruitment arc all at the same time.

In the end, ‘Kingsman’ is an enjoyable romp, one that isn’t perfect due to the way in which it was filmed but one that overcomes that with enough laughs and action to satisfy most viewers.

For the new review system, ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ nets a solid 3 1/4 mind altering SIM cards out of 5.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer, and feel free to peruse older reviews of other films in the archives. Cheers.

Delivery Man

deliveryman

Every so often, it is nice to sit down to watch what is more of an adult oriented comedy, and that is exactly what ‘Delivery Man’ was. Not a gross out comedy, not a toilet humour either, nor a romantic comedy, just a comedy with a story geared towards adults looking for some laughs.

‘Delivery Man’ is a US remake of a French-Canadian film by the title of ‘Starbuck’. Directed by the same director who did the original, Ken Scott, ‘Delivery Man’ has its ups and downs, mainly with focusing on Vince Vaughn as the lead. Telling a story of a man who, without his knowledge, had his donated sperm used to father 533, and as a result, is involved in legal proceedings when 142 of those children try to find out who their biological father is.

At his best, Vaughn has some great comedic timing, and that definitely showed throughout ‘Delivery Man’. The other side of that coin though is at times Vaughn does not carry the dramatic side necessary for the lead role in this film, which in the middle part of the film actually leads to a serious downturn in connectivity with the audience.

On the flip side, ‘Delivery Man’ features a fantastic, at-that-time, supporting turn from Chris Pratt. Released in 2013, this film struck before Pratt became a household name with roles in ‘The LEGO Movie’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Jurassic World’. Pratt is, as mentioned above, simply fantastic in this film and really shows off his comedic talents. The one downside is, as the film went on, there were times when I was hoping he would show up again, and it is unfortunate this film could not take more advantage of his talents.

At the end of the day, ‘Delivery Man’ is a slightly above average comedy that won me over via its main supporting character but lost points for a middle act that showed flaws in the choice of main actor.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer, and stop on by here for reviews of other films that you may be interested in. Cheers.