The Disaster Artist

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In 2003, Tommy Wiseau released his film The Room, which in wrote, directed, produced, and starred in — and today it is widely considered to be the worst movie ever made. If you’ve seen The Room and want to learn about the disastrous making of it and how Wiseau made it to Hollywood, or if you haven’t seen or heard of The Room but want a hilarious but inspiring comedy about dreams, this is the movie for you. James Franco directs and stars as Wiseau, the odd and mysterious man behind this “so bad it’s good” movie, whose age, birthplace, and source of his “bottomless pit” of money he used to fund the film himself, are unknown. Wiseau was rejected and laughed at a lot by everyone he worked with or tried to work with, and Franco blends in to the role so well, and we can’t even see him, we only focus on the weird personality he portrays so accurately and wonderfully. Wiseau is a terrible filmmaker and made a widely hated movie, but he was able to succeed (not in the way he intended) with the film’s awfulness which it’s so well known for and laughed at even today. The movie doesn’t just see Wiseau as a bad person, but as a person with a dream and a passion, and uses his story as a message that even the biggest failures can be successful. Dave Franco plays Greg Sestero, Tommy’s best friend and costar of The Room, and the fact that they are real brothers makes their onscreen chemistry even more fun to watch. We feel for Sestero has he is dragged into Wiseau’s mess of a dream and his career is affected by it. Seth Rogen is also awesome in his role as Sandy Schklair, the script supervisor of the film, who’s always pointing out Wiseau’s behavior and antics.

The cast, especially Franco as Wiseau, help make the movie as hilarious and entertaining as it is, but Franco as a director was aiming for a little more than just entertainment. Franco was passionate about making a project on this film, which did so badly it’s become a cult film, and of course he wanted us to laugh at the project and how horrible and nonsensical it all was, but maybe he was aiming for a little more. Franco wanted us to still feel for these characters, including Wiseau, as real people, and understand that you have to aspire for success, even though you may end up failing hugely. There’s definitely plenty to enjoy, however. Franco as Wiseau is almost life-like and made me, and the entire sold-out audience of the film, crack up about every 5 seconds, whether its a humorous line or just laughing at the stupidity of it all, which was part of Franco’s goal. The whole audience went wild at the outrageous humor and fun you’ll have with the nonsense going on with Wiseau, but Franco was also able to make these characters connect to the audience as real people. This film was definitely a true story about failure, but it’s a reminder that everyone has dreams, and no matter how far you go to achieve them, you should always reach out for them. Franco definitely achieved his goal with The Disaster Artist — making a fantastic movie about a terrible movie.

The Disaster Artist is an absolute blast to watch, from the constant, non-stop humor to the excellent writing and cast, and it’s a small but inspiring film, and don’t worry, you don’t have to see The Room in order to enjoy it. It’s one of Franco’s best roles and films, and I recommend you see this in theaters with an audience to simply have an awesome time with a very entertaining and hilarious yet heartfelt true story.

A group of people in tuxedos in a theatre watching a film.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri follows Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), who puts up three billboards to raise awareness about the brutal murder of her daughter after the police have failed to catch the killer after many months. I’ve seen previous films from the director, Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, so I was aware of the talent he has with directing and writing. Both his films, In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, were not only directed well but were extremely entertaining and hilarious. I’m happy to say that this film is the best out of his three, because not only does he keep his terrific comedic style, but he blends it with some powerful emotion and relevant themes to make one of the year’s finest films. McDormand is mesmerizing in the lead, because despite lots of her lines being mostly for humorous effect, her delivery of the lines is as great as it can be, and we feel her character’s rage and anger at the world after her loss and at the police for not finding her daughter’s killer. The Ebbing police is led by Chief Willoughby, played by Woody Harrelson, who is singled out by the billboards and is angered by this yet feels sympathetic for Mildred’s cause. His role isn’t as large as McDormand’s but Harrelson still brings the best out of his character for another memorable performance among his impressive resume. Another highlight of the superb cast is Sam Rockwell, who has worked before with McDonagh, and here he brings lots of fun to his character but also plenty of feeling for the audience to connect with. Also worth mentioning is Lucas Hedges as Mildred’s son, and this is definitely Hedges’ best work since his brilliant turn in Manchester by the Sea, as we feel a grieving brother who is looking out for his mother while also under her wing. The cast is definitely one of the best of the year, but that’s not the only part that makes this movie a must-watch.

It’s quite surprising when movies are able to make you laugh throughout but also make you get very emotional and attached to the plot and characters at the same time. We saw this with Manchester by the Sea last year, which had many humorous moments throughout and was even marketed as a comedy, but turned out to be an extremely depressing drama and last year’s most emotionally gripping film. This is a similar situation, but there’s so much humor that McDonagh carries down from his style in his other films that you can even call it a dark comedy of sorts as well. It’s shocking that McDonagh was able to fit so much comedy in this kind of movie, even though the trailer made it look only comedic. Whenever the humor is there, it’s absolutely hilarious, and every joke hit its mark. The trailer gives you a good taste of some of the best humorous moments but a lot of it is for you to see. However, McDonagh understands when we need to feel for these characters, and through this humorous style we get a great taste of who they are and some parts are definitely sad for these people. The themes about anger and hate elevate the story, and there are relevant storylines about the police today, and how the victims of crimes such as the one that triggers the plot of this film react to such loss. It’s almost satirical about the relationship between people and authority, or even just people and other people. When the plot first unravels, you are never told anything too quickly and we get we need to hear bit by bit. The script uses the show, not tell method very well to the story’s advantage, with great directing and scenery used to bring forward the plot and character arcs too. The characters written here have such personality and are so noteworthy that they even reach the heights of what the Coen brothers have been able to do with their characters. You’ll be guaranteed to laugh at the outrageous and brilliant humor but also reflect on what these people are going through and the realistic messages we get. It’s not a film about investigating the crime but rather about how people react to such a crime. The ending may be unsatisfactory to some, but I really liked the meaning behind it that McDonagh was going for. This film will make you laugh, smile, or even cry, but one thing is for sure — you’ll definitely be affected by this film but still enjoy the hell out of it at the same time.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of the year’s most genius films about grief, loss, crime, hate and anger. The over-the-top humor makes this possibly the funniest movie I’ve seen all year but the strong emotion and messages make it the most emotional film to come out in a long time, and also one of the most thoughtful. The cast bring their characters to life wonderfully, and I’m glad to say that Martin McDonagh has found his masterpiece. My definitive pick to win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, and hopefully it will get nominated for the other awards too, or even win. The lengthy title may make some people stay away from it, but don’t be fooled, it’s a powerful and applaudable must-watch for all that you can also enjoy and laugh with throughout.

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Coco

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In Pixar’s latest film, Miguel, a young boy who loves music despite his family’s ban on it, accidentally arrives at the Land of the Dead and must seek the blessing a family member in order to return home. The plot is a lot more complicated but that’s the easiest way to describe it without getting into any spoilers. The cast includes well-known Latino actors such as Gael Garcia Bernal and Benjamin Bratt, who are both fantastic in their roles, but I was also very impressed by the voice work of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez, who plays the lead role of Miguel with lots of charm. Coco may seem to some like a rip-off The Book of Life, a great animated film released a few years ago which also focuses on a young man with a love for music despite his family’s ban on it, who ends up in the Land of the Dead on a  journey of self-discovery, but that is the only comparison the two movies share. Coco is much more beautifully animated, vivid with story and characters, and sure to make you shed a few tears by the end, a profession in which Pixar excels at.

When this movie first started, I was enjoying the nice animation and sweet heart its characters and writing had to offer, but I felt like I could tell where the plot was going to go and how everything would end up. However, the movie twists in a direction I did not expect, and becomes an even more complex family film with its themes about family, dreams, and legacy. The songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the husband-wife duo who won Oscars for writing the songs for Frozen, are very good and entertaining as well. What I liked is that the songs don’t serve a huge part in the film but they are still there and blend well with the Mexican culture of the film. By the end of the film, many young ones will likely cry as they did in previous films of Pixar, because the poignant themes are both happy and sad in this film, and work effectively in both ways. Pixar’s movies always looks magnificent in terms of the animation, and often millions of people work hours to months to get even a single frame (and that’s one per 24 in a second) to look nice. As I was told when I visited their studio 7 years ago, each film of theirs takes 5 years to make, and the effort each member of the studio gives in always pays off, and not only are the visuals majestic, but the storylines are unexpected, sweet, funny, and tear-jerking as well. Pixar has been in the filmmaking business for over 20 years now, and they even started the computer-animation movie-making genre with Toy Story. I grew up watching many of their films over and over again, and lots of their films shaped they way I watch and appreciate movies today. Without them, my love of movies and reviewing them may have not been the same. Some may believe Pixar has lost some of their steam and that their golden age is behind them, but I think they are still on their feet and are making stories as wonderful, family-friendly, and touching as they were when I was first introduced to their films many years ago.

Coco isn’t just a gorgeously looking animated film and tribute to Mexican culture, but it’s also Pixar’s most original and moving film since Inside Out. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and best of all, people of all ages can enjoy it. Parents will definitely want watch it over and over again with their families, and kids will want to watch it again through their childhood and eventually show it to future generations of their family. In a world where animated movies is a genre that is dying out, it’s a miracle Pixar is there to save it, and have their movies inspire families and become classics for the family genre instantly. Bottomline — go watch Coco with your family and have a blast!

Now I’m going to talk about the one problem I had about the movie, and it’s not even about the movie itself, yet it’s the worst decision Pixar has ever made by far. Before the movie, an awful, and I mean awful short film titled Olaf’s Frozen Adventure screens, and although I like the actual Frozen movie, this short film (which is a long 20 minutes as opposed to the usual 7 minutes of Pixar short films) is unbearable to sit through, with an absolutely terrible storyline and soundtrack, and even the cast’s singing is off this time for some weird reason. Disney decided to cram 6 songs in 20 minutes and pay Pixar to screen such an awful waste of time in front of a fantastic movie, which is a shame. So if you’re late to the movie, don’t worry too much about it because you won’t miss anything amazing. Otherwise, Coco is still a wonderful experience to watch with your family and nonetheless a great film that I had a blast with, regardless of the terrible short film that comes before.

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Lady Bird

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Saoirse Ronan stars in actress Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut exploring the senior high school year of a girl living in Sacramento. Lady Bird is without a doubt a sweet and very entertaining coming-of-age film that’s especially impressive for a debut. I’ve always considered Greta Gerwig a great actress, with her touching and quirky performances in Frances Ha and 20th Century Women demonstrating her rare and impressive talent, and here she proves she can create a great story behind the camera as well. Ronan brings out her best performance since Brooklyn as an interesting lead role with a lovable personality. Her character is often self-centered and foolish but her emotion, charisma, aspirations, and love for her family makes her a unique protagonist. The way her relationship with her mother is depicted is very heartwarming and definitely the core of the film, offering another great performance from Laurie Metcalf. The supporting cast including Manchester by the Sea’s Lucas Hedges as one of the protagonist’s boyfriends and Tracy Letts as her father also give it their all and they bring a nice approach that make their characters feel like people involved in this world built around Ronan’s character. The plot and emotions from each character feel very human and aren’t exaggerated too often, and although there are some plenty of hilarious moments, it also known when to be more serious and the comedy and drama elements are balanced really well. Every scene flows from one to the other as if it was real life, and the realistic character personalities, emotions, and actions are reminiscent of films Gerwig has starred in herself. Although it doesn’t have any surprises in the story as it is another coming-of-age film, and some of the events at the end feel a little familiar, but Gerwig brings lots of humor and heart to create an affecting and human story about family, adolescence, and life.

Lady Bird is a great debut from Greta Gerwig with a fantastic performance from the talented Saiorse Ronan. Its mature content makes it one to be viewed by teens and older viewers, but its touching emotion, cast, and writing make it a recommended watch for those who are interested in a grounded and human story that will not fail to entertain you.

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Thor: Ragnarok

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Two years after he helped the Avengers fight Ultron, Thor has returned to Asgard, only to find a new threat who wants to bring an end to Asgard, and he wounds up on the planet Sakaar with his old friend the Hulk and his adopted brother Loki, so he must now fight his way back in order to return to Asgard and protect it from the powerful enemy who seeks to destroy it.

Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe has delivered some of the decade’s greatest blockbusters, their Thor movies are the weakest in the franchise, despite Chris Hemsworth’s great performance as the titular character. This one, however, with much more humor, colorful sets and visuals, and a creative style offered by director Taika Waititi, is able to deliver as an entertaining Marvel film that many hoped for, but also a very smart, funny, and pleasing one. The first two Thor films, although watchable and sometimes fun, didn’t have as much depth and feeling as it could have, as Thor is a great character that can be done a lot with, but Waititi is able to grasp onto what we love about Thor, and boast it with an incredible amount of humor, gorgeous set pieces and visual backdrops, and a lot of heart as well. The return of Hemsworth, Hiddleston as Loki, and Mark Ruffalo as the tough and angry but lovable hero we know as the incredible Hulk, are very satisfying, especially Ruffalo, as he isn’t the main character but he is given plenty of time for us to enjoy his time on screen and set up a character arc that will hopefully be explored more in the next films, Ruffalo and Hemsworth once again have great chemistry, and it’s awesome to once again see the team-up of two main Avengers in one of their solo films, after we saw Captain America join forces with Black Widow in The Winter Soldier. In addition to these returning characters, we also get some great new characters, including Jeff Goldblum is the hilarious, charming dictator of the planet Sakaar, known only as The Grandmaster, Creed‘s breakout star Tessa Thompson as a complex and ass-kicking warrior named Valkyrie, Karl Urban as Asgardian warrior Skurge, and Cate Blanchett as the ruthless villain Hela, who are all great as well, and not to mention a funny motion-capture character named Korg played by director Waititi himself. The cast has plenty to offer, as well as some expected and unexpected cameos, but that’s not all that makes Ragnarok such impressive fun.

There are lots of callbacks to the other Marvel films and the popular comic book storylines in this movie, but that’s not all that will please fans. There is plenty of clever humor, and you can tell the director just wanted to poke fun at a lot of it in many scenes. Apparently, 80% of the movie’s dialogue was improvised, and this style of directing made it seem like the cast and everyone else involved had so much fun making the movie, and I sure bet they did. I’m glad that they chose to make this film a comedy, but in some scenes the humor overstayed its welcome in parts where it felt like it was time to resume the plot, and it takes too much time for those specific scenes to leave the goofy, humorous parts, but most of the humor did turn out to be effective. The characters also get some good arcs and development, although some things are left unexplained that I really hoped the movie would address, such as how Loki survived the events of the previous Thor movie. Although lots of the ambition does pay off both visually and story-wise, this didn’t feel like a groundbreaking movie in terms of Marvel films. Last year, Civil War completely ditched the classic formula that was used in the past MCU films and instead we got a dark and complex story that was completely unpredictable. Although the movies Marvel has released this year (like this one) don’t really follow the established formula too much anymore, and I wasn’t expecting something extremely unexpected from this one, the past films we saw from Marvel this year both had something new to offer. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had a fantastic message about family that was delivered wonderfully and made it feel more heartfelt and meaningful than most the other films. Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s themes about adolescence made it also feel different and rather a coming-of-age film than the familiar movie about self-discovery and powers. In Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel pretty much shoots for the same things: lots of humor, cool action and visuals, and lots of comic book references and characters/appearances. The directing and style make it feel very exciting and light-hearted, and this movie definitely put a smile on my face, but Marvel didn’t really offer much that was new or unanticipated with the substance and overall product of this movie. What did take me by surprise was how much has changed by the end of the film. Unlike most superhero films, Ragnarok involves sacrifices with real consequences being made, and our hero has lost some important things to him by the end, which makes his journey to the next Avengers film even more exciting. We’ll just have to see how it’ll go for him this May, when we get the big team-up we’ve all been waiting for: Infinity War.

Thor: Ragnarok isn’t one of the best Marvel movies out there, but it’s certainly a blast to watch. The creative style, great cast and visuals, and entertainment level make this one a worthy watch in theaters, and you will definitely be satisfied with the final part of Thor’s individual journey, until he will once again team up with the Avengers next May in Infinity War. Until then, the hilarious, colorful, and awesome fun this movie has to offer will be enough to make you cheer this franchise on.

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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After their headquarters is destroyed by a drug kingpin, the Kingsman must team up with their American “cousins” known as the “Statesman” in order to save the world once again.

Ever since I saw Kingsman: The Secret Service two years ago, I knew that there should be a sequel, and that it would definitely be worth waiting for. I have to disagree with the disappointed thoughts from critics because I had a blast with the new Kingsman film. Matthew Vaughn brings back everything we loved from the first film and doesn’t lose his grip on the insanity, fun, and awesome characters. The action is over-the-top, entertaining, and mindless, and although not as bloody as I expected, Vaughn’s style is very special and works so well with the action sequences in the film. There’s a certain long-shot sequence that didn’t top the church scene from the first movie for me, but is still a very well-directed scene. It’s not as memorable as the first one, as the violence, music, and directing in the first one felt more fresh, but this movie brings back what I had so much fun with in the predecessor. The soundtrack that includes John Denver and Elton John (who also appears in the film) is also great and feels very fitting in the film.

Taron Egerton is once again fantastic as the protagonist Eggsy who brings so much charm and heart, and I believe he’ll surely be cast in a lot more roles after his breakthrough in these films. Mark Strong gives as much humor and fun as Merlin, who is as hilarious as he as when we met him in the first film. His character has a lot of great moments and brings lots of heart to the film. The new cast includes Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, and Jeff Bridges. Pascal steals a few scenes as Agent Whiskey who is lots of fun to watch and well-written, and Berry is also a good addition to the franchise, but Tatum and Bridges, although very good, weren’t in the film as much as I hoped. Colin Firth’s return is nice but felt a little too forced and heavy handed. Firth tried his best to be as great as he was in the first movie, but the excuse for his return was a little cliche and his character didn’t bring the amusement we got from him when we first met him. I think we would have been much better off not getting that information from the trailers and having the surprise saved for the film, even though his return is revealed in the film’s first act. My main problem in The Golden Circle is the villain, who is ridiculously eccentric, dull and annoying to watch on screen, and her motive completely makes no sense. What made Samuel L. Jackson’s villain from The Secret Service so great is that he had a feeling of charisma and lots of humor, and that we were able to enjoy his villain. Although he wasn’t very menacing, he was plenty of fun and delivered a new sense to his villain, and Moore definitely gives a shot at that sense of charm but ends up making her character feel heavy-handed and boring.

Although some my disagree, I believe The Golden Circle was able to do what a good sequel should do – bring back and build on what appealed from the predecessor, and bring in something new as well. Vaughn has a very recognizable style when it comes to action and editing, and although this wasn’t one of his best, I wasn’t let down by what I got. The characters are built on very well, both the old and new ones,  with arcs that include Eggsy’s romance with the princess of Sweden and the return of another character from the first film. The story at times has elements that don’t make much sense, and a minor subplot about the President of the United States wasn’t very interesting, but I had such a great time seeing the characters return with more great writing, action, and story. If you want to go to the theaters to have a very fun time and get your mind off life, then this is definitely the movie you should see.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle has received mixed reviews from critics, and it’s definitely not as good and original as the first film, but I wasn’t really let down by what I saw. From the awesome action to the great humor and cast, action fans and fans of the predecessor will likely enjoy it like I did.

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Logan Lucky

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Logan Lucky follows two brothers who attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. This film marks the end of Steven Soderbergh’s short-lived retirement from filmmaking, and I’m glad to say he hasn’t lost his steam since back before he retired. Here, he makes every shot and set feel lively and every scene feel engaging and exciting. The cinematography feels very stylistic and the editing of country and rock music as well as sounds of cars revving make the film very enjoyable to watch and well put together. The writing is tons of fun as well, with some hilarious dialogue and humor put into the film that is brilliantly done. This film has humor that not many movies has to offer, as most comedies nowadays have large budgets and forced and predictable humor, but here, the humor is clever and not always expected. Although the style and humor in this film are outstanding, my favorite part of the film was easily the cast, and the characters they play. Channing Tatum is terrific in a delightful and well-written leading role, and Adam Driver, who has gained fame for playing the main villain in the new Star Wars films, Riley Keough, who has shown lots of talent in films like this and It Comes at Night, and Daniel Craig, who seamlessly trades his British accent for a Southern one, are all hilarious and pleasing in their main roles. The supporting cast, including Seth Macfarlane, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterson, and Hillary Swank are also fantastic. All these characters, even if some of them are complete assholes, are compelling and entertaining to watch, so well put to screen by the talented actors who were very well cast. Even the smaller roles are given very fun and amusing moments. The movie doesn’t try to be something huge or groundbreaking, as the plot isn’t something that will blow your mind as it’s something that’s been done before. It draws similarities to Soderbergh’s heist film Ocean’s Eleven, which he even references in this film, but this still feels like something new and refreshing if you look at the characters, acting, and style that isn’t offered by all films nowadays. The story gets somewhat confusing at the end and could have been a little more clear, but that didn’t make me ignore all the entertainment that this movie has to offer. If you simply want a fun time at the movies, I couldn’t recommend this more.

I had a blast watching Logan Lucky, thanks to Soderbergh’s direction and a wonderful cast. It’s not one of the best movies that’s been released this year, but I think more comedies should have the brilliant energy and humor that this film has. If you’re looking for a movie to keep you entertained, you’ll be lucky to watch this one.

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