Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: Mr. Holmes

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Mr. Holmes (MiramaxRoadside Attractions)

Mr. Holmes

Directed by Bill Condon

Written by Jeffrey Hatcher  Based on A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin

Starring Ian McKellenLaura LinneyHiroyuki Sanada & Milo Parker

Mr. Holmes is a beautiful movie about Sherlock Holmes at the end of his life. He is in his nineties and long retired. Suffering from Arthritis and Alzheimer’s some time after the second world war. It is a lovely meditative drama about his friendship with the young son of his housekeeper. A fantastic movie with an astonishingly poignant performance by Sir Ian McKellen. Well-directed and acted and beautifully written. I liked it a lot.

Verdict: SPARED

Mr. Holmes and Roger

I don’t know if you know this about me but you should, I’m a big fan of sports. We root for a team or for an athlete and when they do well, we call them heroes. I call them heroes. Yet they’re not heroes in any real sense. Not healers or warriors or leaders. They are fictional heroes. Heroes of the game. Only slightly more real than superheroes or heroes from literature. Sherlock Holmes is one of my literary heroes. My fictional hero. My first actually. But when you’re a fan of a player of any sport, one of the key developing dynamics of that hero-worship, in fact, that athletes greatest opponent, is the passing of time. Watching a… watching your heroes age and their skills diminish is something that they don’t tell you about when you sign up to be a sports fan. However our literary heroes, for the most part, don’t grow old before our eyes. We are spared that.

Ian McKellen as Mr. Holmes

In Mr. Holmes, our hero, my hero, is frail and sickly. A shadow of himself. And it’s painful to watch. His memory and concentration are not just waning. They’re almost gone. Alzheimer’s takes so much of you. For we are merely a collection of events and memories and thoughts. A wondrous stream of thoughts  And my own fear of losing those things in myself made the viewing even more disturbing. I don’t know if you know this about me but I fear losing my thoughts. Losing my words. Losing myself.

Ian McKellen and Laura Linney

But what we have in Mr. Holmes is a beautifully told story about Sherlock’s relationship to time. About his relationship to his memory and to his housekeeper and to his bees and to his mortality and to his fictional image and to the young boy who helps him to remember what it was that he was trying to forget so much that he ran away from his life and his career. Helps him to remember what he was trying to forget before his advanced age forced him to forget.

mr-holmes

I loved this movie. I don’t know if you know this about me but I start to wax poetic when I see something I like. However I plan to stop myself before it gets out of hand. But honestly, what a beautiful story. It tumbles slowly across the screen like the beautiful hills on the countryside where most of it is set. It plays with time and space and memory and jumps from the recent past to the distant past. Never telling us more than Sherlock himself remembers. So we too are trapped in the fog of unknowing, remembering or mis-remembering our hero in better and more cognitive times.

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And before I do get carried away I will leave you with this. I don’t know if you know this about me, but those things and people and movies and whatever it may be, those moments in life and art that make me want to write. That fill me with the urge to put pen to paper, fingertip to keys, they are my favorite things in this world. Mr. Holmes, a film about my first hero fighting his way through old age and mental deterioration to chronicle the story of his last case, to write, to write, to write it down. well that… passionately, makes me want to write… right now.

Sherlock Holmes

And for that I will love it forever.

– Mel

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Star Wars The Force Awakens Trailer SUPERCUT

All of the trailers for the new Star Wars movie edited together to form one super awesome trailer “supercut.”

This is all kinds of awesome.

Watch this before Disney takes it down.

I didn’t think I could be more excited for The Force Awakens.

But as it turns out, I could.

– Mel

Netfilx’s Marvel’s Jessica Jones Trailer

Okay this new Jessica Jones Trailer looks good and dark and scary. I was already in love with Krysten Ritter from… everything she’s ever done. Plus Netflix has been on a roll of recent. So I’m really psyched.

David Tennant as a scary bad guy is all kinds of awesome. Though I hear there will be a bit more of a comedy element to it, it’s good to know that it’s going to be dark as well.

Really fucking dark.

And Krysten Ritter…

Jessica Jones on the Subway

I love you.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl-film

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Written by Jesse Andrews  Based on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews

Starring Thomas MannOlivia CookeRonald Cyler IIJon BernthalConnie BrittonMolly Shannon & Nick Offerman

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl starts off really good. I was prepared to laugh and I knew I was in for a bit of a cry at the end. So I settled in for what I thought would be a good movie. But It lost its way some where in the middle. And also annoyed me with the stereotypical black friend in the white school. I think the thing I hated most about the movie was that it had no second act. The first act was awesome. I was in all the way. Touching. Funny. Beautiful. And the third act, we already knew what that was. It was given away in the title. But the second is non-existent. Something about making movies and a prom or some shit. Wow what a waste of a fantastic beginning.

Verdict: SPOILED

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SPOILER ALERT

First things first. If the two characters grew up together they would sound the same. Here’s the deal. Black people don’t sound like that just because their black. If those two grew up together and went to the same schools they would sound a lot the same. That’s annoying. But whatever. The annoying black friend who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks (yet close enough to walk by his house on your way to school) cliché is not the only thing wrong with this movie.

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The character of Earl is not the only thing that is wrong with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The main problem with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (besides the title, Giving away the ending and that Earl rhymes with Girl) is that the book’s author wrote the screenplay. That rarely works out (with a few major exceptions). A good movie and a good book are two completely different animals. Books should not read like they’re movies and movies should not play like they’re books.

The Dying Girl

Vladimir Nabokov and Charles Bukowski (two of my favorite writers) are the best examples of  authors adapting their books for the screen. Both divorced themselves from their original work and created screenplays that were barely recognizable as being based on their books except for themes and characters and the fact that they’re both amazing movies but that’s just it. They were both able to take a torch to their most popular book. While most authors can’t do that and you end up with crap like this.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl suffers so much from having no idea what to do in the second act that it does everything. It throws every High School cliché in a bowl. It introduces characters and conflicts that have little to no impact on the main story. There’s a whole thing with some little movies they make. And the movie titles are funny. Sophomoric puns but still funny. However there is as little substance to those short, one joke, films as there is to this one.

Me and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a lot like those little films. A title that gives away the premise. A premise that’s actually pretty promising. But there’s no story. And I’ll reiterate. All those little stories in the middle, make a book a book. You put those little stories in a movie without giving any of them a chance to develop, it’s what makes a movie a bore. And I loved the voice-over up until the point when he started to lie to us. And I loved the cast (especially the parents: Molly Shannon, Connie Britton and Nick Offerman) The movie just loses its way along the way and turns into a bit of a let down.

me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl 2

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl with its great cast and great chemistry between its romantic stars, let me down. It let me down horribly… and not only because the black friend Earl was so annoyingly and stereotypically the movie’s “black friend” when he didn’t have to be. It’s more than that. But it also feels like the filmmakers didn’t grow up around any black people. And only saw them in the movies.

Cornbread, Earl and Me

That’s right I said it, you jive turkeys.

Shiiiiiiiit.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: The Final Girls

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

The FInal Girls (Stage 6 FilmsVertical Entertainment)

The Final Girls Poster

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Written by M.A. Fortin & Joshua John Miller

Starring Taissa FarmigaMalin ÅkermanAdam DeVineThomas MiddleditchAlia ShawkatAlexander Ludwig & Nina Dobrev

The Final Girls is yet another one of those “fresh” takes on the slasher flick. They’re all supposed to be so clever and so original and I’m starting to get tired of them. The twist this time out is that The Final Girls plays more like Purple Rose of Cairo meets Cabin in the Woods because the main characters are transported INTO the movie quite literally (maybe a little too literally) and it quickly becomes high concept (a little too high concept for its own good). And even though it’s kind of funny and I really like the cast, I didn’t like the movie. It just wasn’t as clever as it seems to think it is.

Verdict: SPOILED

Farmiga and Akerman

SPOILER ALERT

The Final Girls fails because it’s cartoonish (or cartoony) with its violence and because the cliché movie characters that we meet on this trip into slasher film world are more three-dimensional than the modern kids who find themselves in the picture.

The-Final-Girls-Forest-Scene

I tried to like it, but The Final Girls is more of a clever idea you get while stoned than a clever film. An idea you get only to realize later that it’s a combination of already existent films and actually contains nothing original, leaps in logic and plot holes galore..

Final-Girls-2

However I do like the cast. Taissa Farmiga is one of my favorite young actresses and I’ve always liked Malin Akerman. And most of the other cast members I have enjoyed in other things. Another good thing is the relationship between Akerman and Farmiga. Akerman plays her mother but she’s also an actress, so when Farmiga goes into the movie she interacts with the character her mother plays and that relationship is the best thing in the movie but it gets lost in the concept. And The Final Girls is funny at times. So as yet another dissection of 80s slasher movies, it’s worth checking out if only to compare it to its predecessors. But make no mistake it is not a good movie. It’s the film equivalent of taking a selfie with the killer. “He’s right behind me isn’t he?”

The FInal Girls Selfie

But because it handles its subject so whimsically there is very little jeopardy and we fully expect everyone who is killed to miraculously come back to life at the end. And because of this it abandons its core genre. It doesn’t respect its source material. Slasher movies are supposed to be scary, but The Final Girls is a comedy on the level of Scooby Doo: Where Are You with just as much fright as a Saturday morning cartoon show.

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The Final Girls is a send-up of the 80s slasher film that wants to be so good and so clever and so funny. But its only mildly funny, mildly clever and not very good.

– Mel