Film Review: Gemini (2017)

Release Date: March 12th, 2017 (SXSW)
Directed by: Aaron Katz
Written by: Aaron Katz
Music by: Keegan DeWitt
Cast: Lola Kirke, Zoë Kravitz, Greta Lee, Michelle Forbes, Nelson Franklin, Reeve Carney, Jessica Parker Kennedy, James Ransone, Ricki Lake, John Cho

Film Science, Rough House Pictures, Syncopated Films, Pastel Productions, Neon, 92 Minutes

Review:

“You know how you said you don’t feel safe? I feel like that all the time.” – Heather Anderson

Have you ever heard the saying “style over substance”? Well, this is a perfect example of that.

This is a film that looks really damn good with top notch cinematography, a strong understanding of mise-en-scène and stellar lighting. It also has better than decent acting but that’s about it for the positives.

This tries to be a modern film-noir but it fails in most ways. Just jumping right into the deep end of the pool, the ending of this movie is fucking terrible and it makes it so that the film doesn’t really have much of a point or a point within the framework that it seemed to be building. Like a noir, it had a twist. The twist, however, is that this movie was a waste of your time. It exists more as a critique of fame than a solid mystery crime thriller.

Zoë Kravitz’s character is killed in her home with the gun of her personal assistant. The assistant discovers her body, she becomes the prime suspect but like a typical noir, she goes on the run from the law, trying to figure out who murdered her boss. Spoiler alert: her boss is alive and the body belonged to a crazy fan that looked a lot like her.

That being said, the title of the film pretty much gives away the fucking ending! But even then, I figured this mystery out in one regard. I knew that the title would obviously be important. So when you meet the psycho fan and see that she looks an awful lot like the starlet, it was a dead giveaway that she would be the murderer or that she would be tied into the sorry excuse for this film’s twist. And when I saw the dead body, which is just shown from behind while on the floor, I thought it might be the psycho fan. Boy, was I right! But I hoped that this film was smarter than that and I kept watching, waiting for something profound that never came.

When you get to the end, the assistant finds the starlet hiding out in her other house. Then it’s like “Yeah, I’m alive. Sorry you went through all that shit with the cops. Let’s go talk to the press now and clear things up.” And that’s the end. Seriously, that’t the fucking end.

This is a film that was made with a lot of technical prowess but tried so hard to be artsy and a critique on fame that it just looked like every other self-obsessed Hollywood schlock that gets pumped out on a regular basis. I’m just sick of these type of films where Hollywood thinks its the most interesting thing in the world and where famous people are sick of being famous. Hollywood takes itself way too fucking seriously. This movie also took itself way too fucking seriously, which is laughable, considering that it was devoid of soul or real purpose.

Rating: 3.75/10
Pairs well with: Vodka and Valley girl pills.

TV Review: Californication (2007-2014)

Original Run: August 13th, 2007 – June 29th, 2014
Created by: Tom Kapinos
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Tree Adams, Tyler Bates
Cast: David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Madeleine Martin, Evan Handler, Pamela Adlon, Madeline Zima, Stephen Tobolowsky, Bill Lewis, Judy Greer, Tim Minchin, Mädchen Amick, Ezra Miller, Justine Bateman, Peter Gallagher, Kathleen Turner, James Frain, Carla Gugino, Rob Lowe, Zoë Kravitz, Meagan Good, Rza, Maggie Grace, Michael Imperioli, Heather Graham

Totally Commercial Films, Aggressive Mediocrity, Twilight Time Films, And Then…, Showtime, 84 Episodes, 29 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I heard a lot of good things while Californication was on the air. I held off on checking it out until it was over, recently binge watching it on Netflix.

The story follows novelist Hank Moody (David Duchovny) as he tries to win back his long time baby mama Karen (Natascha McElhone) and balance a life of sex addiction, drugs, booze and his daughter (Madeleine Martin). Also, early in the series, he gets caught up in having sex with the underage daughter (Madeline Zima) of his baby mama’s new fiance. The show is accented by Hank’s manager and best friend, Charlie (Evan Handler) and his wife, Marcy (Pamela Adlon).

The show starts out really strong and each season is actually pretty good before it runs off the rails in the final season of its seven season run.

Duchovny is lovable as the childish and womanizing novelist but ultimately, he constantly does questionable things and always finds himself in trouble or making situations much worse. Sometimes, it is just the result of unforeseen circumstances but typically it is the result of a myriad of bad or careless decisions.

The constant back and forth between Hank and Karen is enjoyable for the first few seasons but it eventually grows tiresome about midway through the series’ run. Maybe that is because I binge watched it and didn’t see their relationship grow, evolve and fall apart over the course of several years time.

Hank’s daughter started out as a decent enough character but after a season or two, she becomes completely unlikable and doesn’t recognize that her father isn’t really all that bad and that despite his pitfalls has genuinely tried to put her first.

The best overall story during the run of the show was the up and down relationship of secondary characters Charlie and Marcy. They go through more real world problems and drama than Hank and Karen do and in the end, they reconnect and find each other, ending off better than they ever were throughout their tumultuous relationship. And Stu, who becomes Marcy’s husband over a season or two, was hysterical. The love triangle between Charlie, Marcy and Stu was the highlight of this entire show. And honestly, this relationship makes Hank and Karen’s look like bullshit high school level drama.

By the time I got to the end, I really didn’t care about where Hank and Karen ended up because based off of their track record, I knew it had the possibility to go in the opposite direction five minutes after the final credits rolled.

The show was pretty solid for most of its run but the final goodbye was long overdue by the time I got to the end.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Shameless, Weeds, Entourage and Aquarius.

Film Review: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Release Date: May 7th, 2015 (TCL Chinese Theatre premiere)
Directed by: George Miller
Written by: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris
Music by: Junkie XL
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton

Village Roadshow Pictures, Kennedy Miller Mitchell, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures, 120 Minutes

Review:

*originally written in 2015.

This film is difficult to review.

I mean, being a lifelong avid film buff, I can only compare the task of reviewing this film to some crazed Evangelical Christian having to write a review of the Bible. Can a film be perfect? It is very fucking rare. Was this perfect? It is as close as anything I have seen in a very long time. This could honestly be the best film of this decade. It is certainly the best summer blockbuster film of this decade.

You see, the original Mad Max trilogy is an amazing thing. Those films are all great in their own way. Mel Gibson was prefect. But this film is something else entirely.

This is an homage to the original three films, a sort of reboot/sequel but ultimately, its own thing and a perfect amalgamation of all the things that made each of the original movies great on their own. It also offers up its own powerful ideas and vision and takes things further than any of the previous films could go, whether due to budget or because this film took George Miller decades to make. Having had three great films in this series, as templates and as trial and error efforts, this film took Miller’s life’s work and his direction and showed us what is possible if an artist is able to truly make the masterpiece they have intended all along. Balls to the wall, all out, motherfucking mayhem.

If this hasn’t set the bar higher in Hollywood, well.. fuck Hollywood.

Mad Max: Fury Road has proven that you can have an R-rated blockbuster and not have to cater to seemingly mindless PG-13 audiences. Also, the theater wasn’t full of a bunch of yapping kids muffled by Iron Man masks.

This is the big film that men have wanted since film became a neutered art form. This reminds me of all the things that made the original Robocop and the R-rated Schwarzenegger and Stallone films of the 80s so great. It had more testosterone than the last twenty minutes of Death Wish 3 after it pounded a few bottles of low-t medication and jacked off with a porterhouse in hand. This is a manly man’s film, through and through. It is high art in cinematic form for every man’s inner Neanderthal. It is like a Chuck Norris fist to the balls where the fist’s fingers are made up of little Bruce Lees. It made me sprout hair in places I didn’t know it could grow.

Tom Hardy was pretty damned good as the new Max Rockatansky. I will always feel that it is Mel Gibson’s role but the legacy is in perfectly capable hands going forward. Charlize Theron may have been her greatest in this film. She also had more lines and was more central to the plot than Max was. It is almost as if this was her movie and Max was along for the ride. But isn’t that Max’s modus operandi? He wanders around, stumbles upon some shit, rides the lightning and then wanders off again.

The use of colors and design in this film were amazing. The costumes were top notch, the set design was marvelous and this post-apocalyptic world that I got to traverse through with our heroes, was colorful and refreshingly vivid for being in the middle of such a desolate and bleak environment.

I actually don’t want to delve into too many details with this review because I think everyone should go see this movie. If, for some bizarre ass reason, you don’t find this film to be a tour de force of blazing machine gun testicles, something is seriously wrong with you. This film features enough bad ass action and intensity to satisfy any man and enough tough as nails female characters to inspire any woman.

Looking at what else is supposed to come out this summer, the rest of this blockbuster season is going to suck. Nothing will top this. In fact, Mad Max: Fury Road just magnifies all the things wrong with Avengers: Age of Ultron and every other big budget film I’ve seen in recent memory.

I may just go see this film again and again, every weekend it is still in theaters.