Malcolm and Marie (2021) Review

RATING: 3/5

A boyfriend and girlfriend have relationship issues regarding the release of a movie.

Fireworks shoot out in a matter of a couple hours, but they don’t leave too much of an impact.

John David Washington played the character of Malcolm pretty well. He delivered the most fun, energetic, and lifeful performance in the movie. I mean that rant he went on due to a good review was, for the most part, a nice summation of the character.

Zendaya as Marie was good. But it seemed like Washington’s performance, at a couple points, was running circles over her. Not to say Washington was perfect. Both he and Zendaya were cheesy and over-the-top in some areas, but as I said, he delivered the most star power I feel like.

Learning about the characters and their relationship through the conversations about Malcolm’s movie was nicely done. It was exposition heavy sure, but I felt like it was needed for the situation displayed. Offering story bits of the film and detailing the behind-the-scenes side, showcased the innerworkings of the two leads feelings for each other and how it would evolve over the course of the film. Though it can be lengthy in a couple scenes, the emotions that were released hit well. A great scene involved Malcolm’s response to being called “mediocre” by Marie. Marie’s emotional side truly blossomed in one of the final scenes begging for a thank you. A “genuine” thank you.

Now how Malcolm’s movie interplayed with the relationship was good exposition, but the ones involving the political side of filmmaking and movie critics as a whole, slashed the movie. The feature seemed to not know what type of story to follow. On the positive side, I found Malcolm’s rant to be humorous and I got to hand it out to him for remembering all of his lines to pull it off. I liked the little detail of Zendaya laughing in the foreground as I felt that wasn’t in the script. But again, that rant on critics and how the political side of filmmaking is perceived, should have been handled in a way that ran parallel with the movie’s plot and Malcolm and Marie’s strained relationship. Those expositions went on for quite of bit of time and the focus was lost to some extent. Like is it a simple romance drama or a romance drama with socio-political themes thrown into the mix at the last second?

The cinematography was great all around. It was really showcased in the scenes where the emotions and atmosphere were slow yet tense. The camera would pull off nice close-ups whenever they occurred. Scenes where a character was alone contemplating or wondering where the partner was, looked good in the wide shot format. Times where scenes were done in one shot were executed so well.

Music was pretty good. Artist Labrinth did nice work at composing jazz-influenced tunes. My favorite was the piece that played after the bathroom scene. Though at times the music was a bit on the nose, particularly when an old-timey song came on to explain the emotional language occurring in the scene. It came off as childish.

The style was something to take interest. With its cinematography, music, atmosphere, and the film grain, I could maybe see the film being made in the 70s. In addition with the poster, the feature felt like a blast from the past.

“Malcolm and Marie” suffered from identity crisis. Two plotlines seemed to coexist with one trying to match the more empowering one. The movie didn’t know what to focus on properly. But nonetheless, with good performances, great cinematography, nice music, and some finely delivered hard emotions, this was a romance drama that one should see. Albeit there were cheesy and corny vibes brought out, but it was pleasantly made at how and if a relationship can survive.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lone_centric

Nacho Libre (2006) Review

RATING: 3/5

A monk skips his church duties to become a luchador, in order to make sure the orphans have a better life.

Real soft spot this one has on me.

The movie, revolved around Jack Black. Without him, I’m unsure if the movie would have still worked. Black was a complete joy to watch. Delivering such memorable moments and quotable quotes. The stretchy pants, the corn-smacking, eagle eggs, all of that was pretty funny.

As far as the rest of the cast, it was hit or miss, mostly miss. Outside of Nacho, his sidekick Stephen was certainly funny in some scenes. Especially when he screamed like a girl while in the ring. He didn’t deliver as much memorable material as Nacho, but still earned a place. When it came to the other characters, there were scattered comedic moments, but a big problem with them was that there was very little in terms of their personality. The movie didn’t go in-depth with them or make one care about them in the end.

There was good music presented. Like the opening song “Hombre Religioso (Religious Man)” by Mister Loco and of course, “EncarnaciĆ³n,” sung by Jack Black himself. Lots of the songs fit the movie in terms of tone, mood, and the location for where the film was shot.

The film did display some nice cinematography. One got to see some beautiful wide shots of the Oaxaca landscapes. There was good framing whenever the church/orphanage were pictured. Colors were popping and radiating from the screen. Which it should seeing that the sport of “Lucha Libre” shown was all flash and show.

Now with the Luchador scenes, I say there was some good choregraphed moves. My favorite was when Nacho and Stephen were fighting those two lion-gremlin luchadores. As mentioned prior, the girlish screams from Stephen were funny, as well as the dirty moves done by or done to Nacho. That’s not to say there wasn’t any bad choreography. There were times where one can clearly see the punches and kicks didn’t land. There were points of sloppy editing where it can ruin the pace and flow. In particular the Battle Royale scene where there was so much fighting happening all at once.

While I did like the film utilizing its practical stunts and effects, the couple times where CGI was used was an eyesore. I mean the scenes which it was used was understandable, but the quality of it was noticeable. I’ve watched the movie quite a few times and only now I’m just seeing it.

The execution of the plot was beat-for-beat. It followed the “liar reveal” tropes. I would say “School of Rock” handled it better. The character progressions were choppy. In the climax, Nacho got stronger through the power of love, friendship, and convenience, while the Ramses guy got weaker in a fraction of a second. Stephen was Nacho’s yes man for a majority and he received a rapid change of heart on orphans. Like the editing, the pacing and flow of the plot was scattered.

Despite a plentiful of flaws the movie threw, on a personal level there’s a special place in my heart for it. The awkward, quirky, crude, and ridiculous nature definitely won me over. Black owned the movie and it’s hard to imagine the film without him. It’s also hard to imagine that the film was inspired loosely by the story of “Fray Tormenta.” A priest who spent many years as a Luchador to raise money for the orphans he was caring. While the movie doesn’t do that the real-life story any justice, it was still enjoyable and fun to watch. For me there’s a good-size rewatchability factor. I recommend it for sure.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

Run (2020) Review

RATING: 4/5

[SPOILERS]

A wheelchair-bound teen suffering from numerous medical conditions, gets a sense of unease for how her mother treats her.

“Searching” director Aneesh Chaganty continues greatly with his thriller talents.

Performances in the film were really good.

Actress Sarah Paulson delivered in portraying a creepy and threatening mother (Diane). Who would do anything to keep her daughter safe and protected under her.

Actress Kiera Allen, who played the daughter (Chloe), was an interesting character. In the film, her character was portrayed as being smart and it truly showed. She was pretty resourceful in trying to escape her mother. Especially with the scene with her crawling on the roof while having her tools. The fact that she was suffering from all sorts of illnesses and disabilities, added layers in making one care for her so much. One slip-up, fall, or a shortness of breath, would have meant doom for her.

Just like with the movie “Searching,” Chaganty did very well at keeping one invested in the characters and story being shown. The snowball effect was handled nice in showcasing bits of information from Chloe trying to unravel the truth. Pieces were effectively shown while not fully revealed until the basement scene before the climax.

Suspense was definitely present in a number of scenes. One would be edge on what the mother would do with her daughter being extra sneaky. In particular in one scene where the mother was sitting still at the kitchen table as she watched her daughter on the computer. That moment was very creepy.

Speaking of the computer, there was a nice little Easter egg regarding the movie “Searching.” With the Microsoft logo appearing while the computer turned on.

Once the truth bomb of Diane not being the biological parent of Chloe hit, one felt a bit of sorrow and understood where the mother was coming from. Though that didn’t phase Chloe for one bit, from there the momentum built until the end.

The one film that this shared the most in common with was “Misery.” The comparisons were strong. But that wasn’t a bad thing. “Run” played things differently with the wheelchair-bound protagonist and again, there were additional layers to her that made one fear for her even more I think.

As far as the PG-13 rating, I don’t think it was too much of a fault. This was a good example of a thriller with that rating that worked. But there were moments where it unfortunately showed. There were a couple times where the dialogue or acting did get cheesy. It broke some of the tension for me. The best example where I rolled my eyes was when Chloe cussed and the scene cut before she finished. That kind of thing I’ve seen in some movies and it’s not warranted. Only in trailers and even there sometimes it’s not warranted.

I thought the number of diseases Chloe had seemed much. I say only two of the ailments were notably used while the rest were hardly utilized, except in the opening montage.

After Chloe finds out that Diane was not her mother, she for some reason still calls her mom. I feel at that point she shouldn’t be calling her that. Now in the revenge motive in the end scene was fine and it worked. But earlier I felt that she should not be saying that word.

Chaganty showcases for his second feature film, that he can direct and write really good thrillers. The performances were great from the two main leads and tension and suspense were effective at keeping one locked on the screen. Highly recommend it.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Review

RATING: 3/5

A road trip in Texas takes a bloody turn in the absolute worst for five teens.

One of the greatest and influential horror movies of all time.

Right out of the gate, the film’s introduction was pretty good. With the opening crawl said by the narrator, the camera flashes of corpses, and news being listened through the radio while the opening credits were on-screen. In addition to the news detailing certain bad events happening in the area. It was really nice at conveying to a viewer that the plot of the movie shown was based on real-life events. Mostly. The intro also foreshadowed the nice technical sides.

The cinematography and certain editing moments I dug. Whenever the movie was going through something intense, the camera would do many things in its power to make the viewer feel uncomfortable in the right ways. There were times the camera zoomed in and out. The film would fast-cut repeatedly to make the viewer feel the hellish mindset certain characters felt. There were moments where the movement seemed handheld, almost like a low-budget documentary. Which was adding to the realistic-type mood that the introduction was giving off.

Times where the film wanted to be foreboding and suspenseful, those worked well. My favorite was the scene where a couple of the teens entered the Sawyer family house. The setup and pacing were pretty good. The camera movement that I loved was when there was a dolly of the girl walking up to the house. As she did this, it looked as though she got smaller with the house in the background getting bigger with each second. It went to show that whatever was in the house, was something way bigger than she could handle. Going in deeper, I liked that the house was colored white. Usually white can refer to as something peaceful and calm, but inside it was the total opposite. But it made sense for Leatherface and his family to trap their victims.

In terms of sound, it was well done in some scenes. Most notably was whenever the last girl, Sally, was running away from Leatherface in the dark. That entire chase scene was, albeit a bit long, but it was tense. The fact of hearing the chainsaw out in the dark, coming closer, and with no idea of where exactly its at, is terrifying.

There was quite of bit ambient sound present. Like I said the movie definitely had a way to deliver to right kind of tone and atmosphere; another way it did so was to simply let the noises of the environment create the eerie goosebumps. The wind blowing through the tall grass, the creaky windmill, the nighttime crickets, those things added some creepy layers. The film did include distorted and tampered sound effects during the rapid-cut scenes which were good. I swear the chicken in the cage sounded like a crazed witch cackling. Telling the viewer that the girl, lying on the floor, had nowhere to run.

While the film had blood, there was surprisingly not much gore. The only notable gory moment was when the truck ran over Leatherface’s brother. There wasn’t any nudity or sex scenes which became pretty much a staple in slasher movies in the future. So that was interesting.

The fact that some things portrayed in the movie were based on real-life events, notably the things surrounding the serial killer Ed Gein, really tells one how scary the world can be.

Where the movie did lose points with me were the lackluster characters. I understand interesting characters are uncommon in slasher movies, but here it stands out. Especially coming from “one of the greatest horror movies” ever made. One doesn’t care that much for them. I will say the only teen worth caring some was Franklin. He seemed to be the only teen with common sense.

In the end however, one only cared about the killers slaughtering them. Which by the way, I feel that they had a bit more interesting characteristics than the teens. There were crazy but in a fun and horrifying way. Mostly notably the cook, Drayton Sawyer.

There were also dumb, stupid, and questionable things that I feel the need to point out. The teens not getting the hint of the knife penetrating the hand, the truck driver leaving his truck instead of driving off with Sally, Franklin tumbling down the hill for no reason, or the chase scene earlier on the driveway. Though I can probably dismiss that one as torture was to the Sawyer’s likings. The house Sally stayed at as a child really let itself go in such a short amount of time. Also the Sawyer house being next door seems a bit coincidental.

I feel like this is a movie built for the experience alone. The experience of being chased by some maniac by a chainsaw wanting to eat you later, is a horrifying feeling indeed. Which very well could explain for the great technical sides including cinematography, editing, sound, and direction. It makes up for the lackluster characterization and thin plot. While saying its one of the best horror films ever made is a tad overkill, no pun intended. It’s a horror classic nonetheless that one should definitely see.

YouTube: LoneCentric Pictures/Tk Theater Productions

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic