Now Available: July 17, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

While on a spring break trip to Mexico, Olivia (Lucy Hale) and her friends join a mysterious stranger for a game of truth or dare. As is prone to happen when you play a game of truth or dare with a stranger in a creepy abandoned mansion with a stranger, things get a little weird. When they get back, Olivia and her friends begin to realize that the game isn’t over. One by one, the participants must choose to tell uncomfortable truths or to participate in increasingly deadly dares. The only rule in Jeff Wadlow’s Truth or Dare? Participate or die.

There has been a lot of good and unexpected horror that has come out over the past few years. Truth or Dare exists to remind us that the mediocre teen horror genre is still going strong. There’s not an original thought in the film, borrowing liberally from several superior films (the most obvious well from which they draw is 2000’s Final Destination). There’s no underlying sense of dread at all, just a handful of poorly executed jump scares. The filmmakers make an odd choice to have people under control of the game take on the look of what the film calls a “demonic Snap Chat filter” that has the effect of making otherwise tense situations just look pretty silly.

Thankfully, the cast doesn’t realize that they’re in an uninspired, run of the mill movie. Lucy Hale is really good as Olivia. Her relationship with Markie (Violett Beane) is the anchor of the film. Both actresses give their friendship a strong sense of history. Hayden Szeto is great as Brad, a young closeted gay man who on the surface has the most to lose by being forced to tell the truth. The ending of the film, which I won’t spoil here, is another strong point. It goes somewhere that’s quite unexpected and follows through on some of the ideas that the film tries (often clumsily) to examine.

Truth or Dare is a rote teen horror film with little to nothing new to offer the genre. Despite solid performances and a surprisingly satisfying ending, I’d suggest watching one of the many films it’s copying.

Also available this week:

Isle of Dogs- Our own Aaron White gave Wes Anderson’s second foray into stop-motion animation 4.5 stars here. If you’re an Anderson fan, and why wouldn’t you be, it’s a must-see.

Rampage- Aaron enjoyed this early summer popcorn flick starring The Rock and a CGI gorilla.  Read his review here.

You Were Never Really Here- This dark but artful examination of suffering isn’t easy to watch, but worth it says Aaron, here.

Disobedience- Don says: Sebastián Lelio’s followup to the Oscar winning foreign film Fantastic Women is worth a watch for it’s challenging religious themes and its underlying message about marriage.

I Feel Pretty- Jeremy says:This mostly laugh-less comedy that tries half-heartedly to have a positive message about self-image might appeal to those who haven’t yet tired of Amy Schumer.

Super Troopers 2- Jeremy says: If you’re a fan of the original, you’d probably better check this one out right meow. If you’re not, the second installment isn’t likely to win you over.


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 118: Troy

Back on the show with us this week to discuss the over 3-hour long Director’s Cut of Wolfgang Petersen’s 2004 epic Greek tragedy Troy, is Andrew B. Dyce from Screenrant.com. We tackle this violent, emotional epic telling of a classic tale as thoroughly as possible, and we hope you enjoy.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:09

(Boxed In – Patrick’s short film from the Little Rock 48-Hour Film Project)

Troy Review – 0:16:23

The Connecting Point – 1:49:50 

 

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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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Minisode 47: Interview with Director Gus Van Sant and Actress Beth Ditto of Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Aaron recently had the opportunity to share an interview of Gus Van Sant and Beth Ditto with John from the About to Review podcast. We discuss Gus’ latest film, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, as well as many unique topics brought up by our always interesting guests. This interview is spoiler-free. Enjoy, and be sure to check out John’s podcast when you’re done!


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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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Now Available: July 10, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

Late on July 18, 1969, a vehicle driven by Senator Ted Kennedy swerved off of a bridge, landing on its roof in Poucha Pond on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. While Senator Kennedy was able to get out of the vehicle and safely make it to shore, his passenger, the 28 year old Mary Jo Kopechne, died in the vehicle. Kennedy fled the scene of the accident and didn’t report it for over 9 hours. Due to conflicting accounts over the years by Kennedy and his associates who were were with him both in the hours before and after the accident, as well as coroner reports that indicated Kopechne died of suffocation, not drowning, have led to much speculation over the past 49 years about what actually happened that night. Did the accident happen as described by its only survivor? If so, why did he wait so long to report it? Were Kennedy’s actions properly dealt with or was this a case where the influence wielded by one of the United States’ most powerful families allowed justice to be undermined?

John Curran’s Chappaquiddick efforts to retell this murky story in a way that focuses on established facts to show the social and political ramifications of the incident while responsibly filling in some of the holes in the official version of the story. Jason Clarke leads an impressive cast as Kennedy, proving to be more than up to the task of transforming himself into the “Lion of the Senate.” Most everyone has a generic Kennedy impression somewhere in their repertoire, but Clarke surpasses mere imitation by playing the character as a man weighed down by his perceived responsibility to be who his father expects him to be as the only surviving Kennedy son following the assassination of his brother Robert just a month prior to the incident. His brother John’s shadow also looms large in the film, as much of the background noise is of televisions and radios tuned in to hear about Apollo 11’s journey to the moon, an endeavor fiercely supported by the late president that occurred on the same weekend as the accident. Ed Helms gives a rare but capable dramatic performance as Joseph Gargan, the cousin to Kennedy who became the estranged from the family as a result of the incident. Gargan is the conscience of the film and most of the blanks filled in on the story are consistent with the real life Gargan’s recollections of the incident in the 1988 book Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up by Leo Demore. Jim Gaffigan gives a surprisingly balanced performance as Kennedy family friend and Massachusetts District Attorney Paul F. Markham, a man burdened by his loyalty to the Kennedy’s as he goes about the icky business of effectively spinning the death of a young woman in a way that would salvage a promising political career. Curran’s direction and the screenplay are tight, giving the film an even pace and the feel of a thriller. I’m always impressed when a director is able to make a well-known event feel like anything could happen, and Curran is able to accomplish that here. It’s a well balanced film that avoids promoting salacious conspiracy theories but doesn’t paint a flattering picture of the senator either. 

Overall Chappaquiddick is an impressive film buoyed by a dynamite lead performance by Clarke. It’s definitely worth the price of a Redbox. It’s probably even still worth it if you forget to return it for a day or two.

Also available this week:

A Quiet Place: Patrick and Aaron discussed this film with special guest Patrick Willems on Episode 104 of the podcast and Aaron wrote a review here.

The Leisure Seeker

Lean on Pete

211

Future World

Sweet Country


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 117: Ant-Man and the Wasp

This week we are covering the sequel to the 2015 hit, and one of Aaron’s favorite Marvel characters, Ant-Man. It’s got jokes, it’s got heart, and it’s got the word QUANTUM being used more than a few times. We also have a great conversation about the recently released documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:00:56

(Aaron & Patrick – Won’t You Be My Neighbor?)

Ant-Man and the Wasp Review – 0:18:50

The Connecting Point – 1:09:03


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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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Minisode 046: Rush

It’s donor pick time, and it looks like we were too fast for our own good, seeing as how we sped right past June and are bringing you that pick a few days into July. Thanks for being forgiving and we hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we do. We’re talking Rush, Ron Howard’s 2013 biopic about the Formula One racing rival between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.


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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

Now Available: July 3, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

It’s 1982 and Lebanon is embroiled in civil war. Former US Diplomat Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is compelled to return to the city where his wife was murdered ten years earlier to negotiate the return of a kidnapped former colleague. Racing against the timeline of the abductors, Skiles must attempt to meet their demands while navigating around multiple obstacles in the form of the State Department and the CIA.

Brad Anderson’s Beirut is a tense thriller that’s elevated by what may be my favorite film role in Jon Hamm’s career. For the most part, I’ve found Hamm’s dramatic film roles to be pretty bland, but as any Mad Men fan could tell you, playing a highly functional alcoholic with the keen ability to tell people what it is they want to hear is right in his wheelhouse, in fact it might be his wheelhouse. Rosamund Pike is, of course, great, and a little under utilized, as CIA officer and Skiles’ handler Sandy Crowder. When the story threatens to get bogged down with one too many complications, Hamm and Pike never let it become anything less than interesting. The cinematography is occasionally too dark, but for the most part it’s perfect in its dirty, gritty aesthetic. The story is intriguing, although occasionally it threatens to spin too tangled a web. Setting the story against the backdrop of an actual historical war is a nice touch that gives even the calmer moments a sense of urgency. 

Overall, while it doesn’t do anything to really separate itself in the genre, strong performances make the film worth checking out. Beirut is a pretty solid choice for a quiet Sunday night on the sofa.

Also available this week:

Blockers: You can read my review of this fun twist on the teen sex comedy here.

7 Days in Entebbe

Borg vs. McEnroe

Finding Your Feet

Journey’s End

Ismael’s Ghosts

Another Wolf Cop

The Female Mind

The Cured


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 116: Independence Day

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate this patriotic American holiday, we are finally getting around to discussing the beloved sci-fi adventure film, Independence Day. Josh from LSG Media’s Science Fiction Film Podcast joins us to as we try to figure out why so many love the cheesy nature of this film, but reject similar dialogue and plots in other movies. Spoiler alert, we definitely talk about “the speech” and even play it, too, so get ready to wipe your eyes and pump your fist!

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:30

(Aaron – Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Beirut)
(Patrick – The West Wing Weekly/Aaron Sorkin)
(Josh – Anthropoid, Mr. Nobody)

Independence Day Review – 0:19:06

The Connecting Point – 1:17:39


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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

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Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

MOVIE REVIEW: Sicario: Day of the Soldado

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO (2018)

When the man behind a suicide bombing at a Kansas City supermarket is revealed to have entered the country through the border between Texas and Mexico, the President of the United States is in a position to officially deem human trafficking a terrorist activity, giving them more latitude to deal with the controversial issue. With the intention of waging a battle on this new front in the war on terror, Josh Brolin’s Matt Graver and his team are given the task of firing the first shot.

“It might get dirty.”

“Dirty is why you’re here.”

Stefano Sollima’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado is the follow up to Denis Villeneuve’s outstanding Sicario that no one really knew we needed but were all, nevertheless, curious to see. Gone is Emily Blunt’s Kate Macer, the young FBI agent who served as the conscience and the audience stand in in the first film. Returning are Graver and Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), as well as their unorthodox, but unarguably effective, ways of dealing with troubles at the border. Their plan is simple. They are going to kidnap the 16 year old daughter of the cartel kingpin who killed Alejandro’s family and make it look like it was another cartel. The intention is to start a turf war between cartels so that the war on trafficking will be fought against distracted opponents. But of course, nothing is simple at the border.

To tell more would be to give too much away. Sollima has managed to craft a follow-up that perfectly inhabits the world created in Sicario. Villeneuve had a way of putting his camera in places that made the audience feel like they were in the vehicle crossing the border or in the hidden tunnels used to traffic drugs. Sollima, especially in action sequences, gives us that same perspective, heightening the tension with every note of Hildur Guonadottir’s haunting score. One of the biggest obstacles to a sequel in my mind was going to be that the protagonist (I use that term loosely) of this film was going to be a guy who we saw murder women and children in the first film. Taylor Sheridan is able to more fully round out the character of Alejandro in a way that doesn’t ask the audience to root for him but also doesn’t allow him to be despised. Once again, Del Toro is electric in the role, but at this point in his career, saying that Benicio Del Toro is great is pretty redundant because he’s just fantastic in everything. Most of the tales that Hollywood tells of hitmen either glamorize or bring a sense of humor to the profession. S:DotS shows us the blunt reality of the job, but Del Toro never lets Alejandro become a monster. Speaking of redundant, Josh Brolin is also fantastic as Graver. His character isn’t fleshed out too much more (other than apparently he’s left his flip-flops behind for a comfy pair of Crocs), but being in the dark about his past is what makes his character work so well. Isabela Moner shows a deep inner strength as Isabel Reyes, the kidnapped teen, even as she’s completely terrified and in the dark as to what’s happening to her.

This film is tight, this film is tense, and this film is timely. Child separation, human trafficking, terrorism…those are all things that you can read about on the front page of your newspaper tomorrow morning. And Sicario: Day of the Soldado doesn’t presume to have any answers to these issues. While the original gave us Kate Mercer and her earnestness and her moral compass to see this world through, this film kind of just makes us sit in the filth and be disgusted (hopefully) by the machinations on both sides of this volatile scenario. There aren’t winners. There aren’t losers. It’s all just dirty.

So don’t go see Sicario: Day of the Soldado if you need a couple of hour diversion from your problems. But if you want a thoughtful, well-executed thriller, you’re not afraid to sit with a bit of ambiguity, and you enjoyed (or at least saw) the first installment, I think it’s worth your time.

Rating:


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

MOVIE REVIEW: Ant-Man and the Wasp

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018)

2 Hours and 5 Minutes (PG-13)

Riding the summer movie coattails of Avengers: Infinity War, the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Ant-Man And The Wasp. Our lovable insect-sized hero is back in the clutches of the law, struggling to learn how to balance being a father, a business owner and a superhero.

Paul Rudd is back as Scott Lang, the Robin Hood-esque burglar, 2 years after his Civil War appearance in Germany. Having stolen his suit to take part in the battle, Scott landed himself on house arrest; his actions also alienated both Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her father Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), unintentionally making them criminal conspirators. Having been the only person to go “sub-atomic” and survive, emotions are put aside when Dr. Pym and Hope insert themselves back into Scott’s life to extract any subconscious memories he has of his time in the Quantum Realm. Hope and Hank need Scott’s connection to the Quantum Realm in the hopes of saving Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp, who disappeared there decades ago. Hope suits up as “The Wasp” and this duo is back together just in time to face an enemy more powerful than they’ve ever faced. Ghost (Hannah John-Kaman) is an accidental science experiment who molecular instability allows her to phase through objects, coming in handy when she steals Pym technology for her own means.

Peyton Reed returns to the director’s chair for this sequel, bringing with him the same comedic wit and pure joy that was present in the first film. My favorite thing about the Ant-Man films is that the stakes are relatively high, but they’re not nearly as dire as they are in most MCU movies, where it seems like the fate of the entire universe is always at stake. Scott’s adorably dense yet somehow qualified ex-con friends are back,  played by Michael Peña, T.I. and David Dastmalchian, providing off-beat humor without drawing too much attention from the plot. Character growth was present in Hope and Scott, while we got a small glimpse into the past mistakes Dr. Pym made. At times the script felt like it was lacking in some stylistic ways, which could easily be explained by Edgar Wright not joining the team for this film; some of Rudd’s jokes seemed forced and unnatural, a few scenes seemed rushed without being able to fully play out their potential, etc. However, the fight/stunt scenes were well choreographed, the visual effects were blended seamlessly, and I’m still eager to see what Ant-Man and the Wasp get into next.

Once again, Reed has managed to somehow create a comic heist film but on a much larger scale, blending in elements of science fiction and physics, all while still adhering to the rules within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

PS: There are 2 post-credit scenes: the first, I was definitely not ready for but the second is completely useless and there’s no point in waiting for it.

Rating:


Erynne Hundley is Seattle-based writer and freelance film critic, currently writing and editing articles for Essentially Erynne. She prides herself on crafting spoiler-free film reviews that balance franchise history, stylistic approach, script interpretation, and the emotional turmoil the final piece creates. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram for article updates.