The Fallout (2021)

The Fallout is a 2021 American high school drama film written directed by Megan Park in directorial debut. The film stars Jenna Ortega, Maddie Ziegler, Julie Bowen, John Oritz, Niles Fitch, Will Ropp and Shailene Woodley.

High school student Vada Cavell goes to the restroom in the middle of class after her younger sister Amelia calls her when she has her first period. While in the restroom, a school shooting accurs and Vada hides in a stall with her classmates Mia, a dancer, and Quinton, whose brother is killed in the shooting. In the following weeks after the incident, Vada’s trama causes her to become depressed and isolated from her family. She also isolates herself from her friend Nick, since she cannot relate to the gun control activism he has been coaxed to do. Instead, she becomes closer to Mia and begins to spend lots of time at her house.

Vada’s parents put her in therapy and returns to school, but finds the situation uncomfortable. She cannot bring herself to go to the restroom where she hid, resulting in her peeing on herself when she hears a soda can being crushed. To cope with the stress, she takes ecstasy, resulting in Nick having to help her through the high. She and Nick argue about her weak coping skills, resulting in her venting to Quinton and trying to kiss him. Quinton rejects her, as he is not emotionally ready for a relationship yet. She isolates herself more from her family and friends, including Mia.

Later, Amelia admits to Vada that she assumed Vada was mad at her for the call that has put her in more danger. Vada tells her that is not the case and they make up. Vada recconnects with her parents and Mia, with the two of them agreeing to remain friends. Vada makes progress with her therapy, in coming to terms with what happened, though she admits that she and Nick might not make up. Vada waits for Mia outside of the studio she takes lessons at. She recieves a notification of another school shooting in the country.

The story of a school shooting is both powerful and disturbing and this film does cover that part, but it spends far too much time on Vada withdrawing from others in her life and her depression as well as her relationship with Mia. Not enough of this film is spent on the actual shooting, mostly just the aftermath and the students, school staff and the students’ parents’ reactions. Had the film focused more on the incident and not the feedback of the school community, I would have enjoyed it more. The acting from all the main stars is great. The soundtrack by Finneas O’Connell was also great.

The character of Vada Cavell is a tomboy with no real sense of fashion, dressing like a cross between a female basketball player, a rapper, hippie and Billie Eilish and had very little as far as personality, making her a rather boring protagonist. Mia Reed, the rich girl Vada becomes best friends with, also has very little perosnality and does underage and inappriate things, even with Vada like drink wine, skip school, smoke weed, have sex and listen to unedited music, making her not a likable character much at all either. Vada’s mother Patricia is overprotective of her daughters and her father is more likable as he is more lenient, fun and not afraid to curse (though some may not like that).

Overall, I found this film to be anything but spectacular. It is good and that is all. You’d think for a story about school gun violence, it would’ve been great, but I found myself rather bored for a good portion of this movie. Also the abrupt ending, just made it worse to me. Powerful story, not executed powerfully enough. 18+ 3/5

Last Night in Soho (2021)

Last Night in Soho is a 2021 British psychological horror film directed by Edgar Wright and starring Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Michael Ajao, Diana Rigg and Terrence Stamp. It is the final film appearances of Rigg and Margaret Nolan, who both died in 2020.

The film follows Eloise “Ellie” Turner, who loves the music and fashion of the Swinging Sixties and dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Her mother, who was also a designer, killed herself when Ellie was a child. Ellie occasionally sees her mother’s ghost in mirrors.

Ellie moves from her rural house in Redruth, Cornwall, to London, to study at the London College of Fashion, where she has trouble fitting in with the other students, especially her stuck up roommate Jocasta. Only John, another student, is sympathetic towards her. Unhappy in the dorms of the school, Ellie moves into a bedsit in Goodge Place owned by the elderly Ms. Collins.

That night, Ellie has a vivid dream where she is carried back in time to the 1960s. At the Cafe de Paris, she sees a brave young blonde woman, Sandie, ask about becoming a singer at the club. Sandie begins a relationship with charming teddy boy manager, Jack. The next morning, Ellie designs a dress inspired by Sandie and discovers a love bite on her neck.

Ellie has another dream in which Sandie auditions at a Soho nightclub, arranged by Jack. before returning to the same bedsit that Ellie has rented. Inspired by these dreams, Ellie dyes her hair blonde, changes her clothing style and gets a job at a pub. She is approached by a grey haired man, who recognizes her resemblance to Sandie is not living the life she had wanted and Jack begins to pimp Sandie to his male business partners. Ellie begins an investigation after discovering in a dream that murders have taken place in the bedsit and soon discovers that the owner of the place she is renting from has a dark past and that she may or may not be the real Sandie.

This film is equal parts intense, twisted, bizarre and disturbing. The combination of putting present day London and 1960s London together is ingeniously done, combining the fashion and music of today’s Britain to the fashion and music and to what it was in 60s, along with the two stories clashing together as one and at times separately. The soundtrack is great combining both sixties and 2000s hits, the fashion is fantastic, everything Sandie and Jack (others from the 60s) wear is beautiful and spot on with the time period, making the film both gorgeous and thrilling at the same time.

Thomasin McKenzie does a good, not great job in the film as Ellie Turner, but was not the best fit for the role. Anya Taylor-Joy is outstanding job as Sandie , Matt Smith is equally outstanding as Jack. Terrance Stamp is good as Lindsey, the grey haired older man who stalks Ellie at the pub, I just wish he had had more lines in the movie.

The film seems to jump into the wickedness almost too quickly, not really building up much beforehand. You do learn how Sandie meets Jack, but you learn too fast, so that part is bit rushed, making it seem like she becomes nightclub star and he becomes her boyfriend and pimp overnight, which is impossible. The story is almost all intensity and too much of it takes place in the 60s world and not in the present day. Also, the film towards the end, stretches the horror factor too far, making the landlady into the overdone insane character, which at first you think is Ellie.

If the director would’ve spent equal time in both eras, stopped the overdoing of the weird towards the end and cast a better actress for Ellie, the film would have been fantastic. It is still entertaining, but I don’t see it winning any best picture awards or Palme d’Or at Cannes. But both Taylor-Joy and Smith deserve awards for their performances. 18+ 3.5/5

Classic of the Week: Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

 

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Drugstore Cowboy is a 1989 American crime drama film directed by Gus Van Sant, based on the autobiographical novel by James Fogle. It stars Matt Dillon,  Kelly Lynch, Heather Graham and William S. Burroughs. At the time the film was being Mae, the source novel was unpublished and later published in 1990, by which Fogle had been released from prison.

The film follows Bob Hughes who leads a group of drug addicts in the 70s – his wife Dianne, best friend Rick and Rick’s teenage girlfriend Nadine- traveling across the Pacific Northwest, robbing pharmacies and hospitals to help their drug addictions.

This film has an indie feel to it and takes you into the life of a crew of drug addicts and dealers and does it so well. Parts are very slow, so the film is boring at times, but you get to take a trip into a life of drug related crimes and health issues. Every single character is both alike in their dope obsession bot also very different. Matt Dillon is great as Bob Hughes the ring leader of the bunch, Kelly Lynch is equally great as Dianne Hughes, his wife. James LeGros is excellent as their best friend Rick and Heather Graham does a fine job as his girlfriend Nadine.

This film stakes you for a long dope filled ride into a an intense world of drug addiction, theft and drug dealing. The characters are so addicted the most feed their habits all the time and in order to do that, they must beg, borrow and steal. At first, they are very clever at being sneaky and stealing the drugs and hiding them, but then they are eventually caught and sent to prison.

This movie is filled with of course with drugs and substance abuse, crime, homelessness, money issues and illnesses. It is done quite well, although much of the movie is a bit boring. Some scenes have .little or no dialogue, but it fits the story. There is nothing exciting about this film at all, it is one horrible event after another.    Despite being rather dull in some scenes, the acting is fantastic, the soundtrack perfect, but the cinematography is rather dull so much of the time, making it seem like a cheap documentary, rather than a drama movie. I guess this was got make it seem more realistic, although it is an independent film. This is only Gus Van Sant’s second film.

This isn’t the most engaging film. In fact, I found much of it to be very dull, almost to the point of nt wanting to continue watching it, but it does get better not outstanding but a lot better. But what do you expect from a movie based off a book with this story? Not a musical that’s for sure.

Overall, this movie is very good, but not great. For a story like this, I was expecting a bit more action. There is violence is some parts, but much of this film just plain slow. They spend too much time in one setting in some scenes. I wasn’t expecting a wildly entertaining motion picture, but definitely not one that bored me nearly to sleep at times. Great plot, well done film. Adults only 3/5

The Night Clerk (2020)

The Night Clerk is a 2020 American crime drama film written and directed by Michael Cristofer. It stars Tye Sheridan, Ana de Armas, John Leguizamo Abdul Helen Hunt. The film follows the story of front desk clerk at a hotel that is suspected of a murder that happens after his shift.

Bart Bromley is a twenty- three year old man with Aspergers Syndrome who lives with his mom, Ethel. He works as a front desk clerk at night at a local hotel. He studies guests staying at the hotel with hidden cameras to help with his social skills. At home in his room, he has several screens set up to watch what he records from work. The videos start out innocent, but take a dark turn when he witnesses a man hit a woman and the murder of another female guest.

He meets a young lady, Andrea Rivera, who is a guest at the hotel and after spending hanging with her for the next few days, he becomes infatuated with her, even going the length to buy a new a car, get a haircut and dress clothes. But his work goes down the drain when he sees her with another man and becomes jealous. He soon forgives her after she cones to him at the front desk saying it was over with the man. She leads him, first acting a friend, then flirts with him and leaves with another man, that Bart knows is the murderer of the other lady.

Bart is found sitting on the bed of crime scene room when his coworker finds him and tells him not to touch anything, he’s going to call the police. Bart disobeys him, touching the blood of the dead woman, taking the chip out of his hidden camera and other things, leaving his fingerprints as evidence, as wel as the blood on his shirt. Because of this, police consider him a likely suspect.

Bart loses his job, confronts the man Andrea has been seeing, after catching him hurt her in her hotel room. Andrea and Bart escape to his house, where he shows her the hidden camera footage. She decides to play it safe and stay the night with Bart. Bart awakes to find her gone.

There have been many films involving autistic characters, some better than others. Some hit the nail on the head as far as mannerisms, lifestyle, etc., but many stereotype. This film gets Aspergers almost perfectly. Tye Sheridan is outstanding as Bart Bromely, portraying a socially awkward, autistic young man so well, making him seem like a real person. Helen Hunt is great as his mother Ethel Bromely, who is a little bit of sheltering mother, but also protective and loving. Ana de Armas is also great as Andrea Rivera, who plays with Bart’s mind throughout the film. John Leguizamo is fantastic as Detective Espada, who at first is iffy about making Bart a likely suspect, because of his disability, but is forced to do it.

Autistic people have trouble reading people’s emotions and the often have trouble understanding what a person has said. The often act or say inappropriately as well. Bart is prime example of that. He knew it was wrong to tamper with the evidence, but he wanted to get the camera and the footage out. He didn’t realize that Andrea was just playing him and trying to frame him until closer to the end of the film.

While the acting is superb in this movie, it does focus a little too much on Bart, his condition and him being likely guilty by police, rather than trying to find more evidence and reasons to arrest or not arrest him. This film starts out rather slow, but does pick up, other scenes are pretty slow too. You want Bart to get over Andrea, but he can’t, that’’s the way he thinks. He tries so hard to be more social, but it doesn’t always work.This isn’t action packed, but some scenes are pretty intense, some disturbing

You don’t have to relate to Bart or know anyone with Aspergers to enjoy this film. Although I don’t think is movie is fantastic, it is pretty good. It makes you wonder about howe disabled people get accused of crimes they didn’t commit. The acting is great, but there could have been a little less Andrea and Bart’s crush on her, could’ve been focused on less, it’s a crime drama, not a romance. I didn’t love this film, nor did I hate it. It was only petty good, because it did need some changes to be excellent. 18 & up 3.5/5

Classic of the Week: 12 Angry Men (1957)

12 Angry Men is a 1957 American courtroom drama film directed by Sidney Lument, adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. The film tells the story of a jury of 12 men as they debate on the conviction or acquittal of an 18 year old defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt, forcing the jurors to question their own values and principles.

This film is almost completely filmed in the jury room, with the jurors debating, getting angry, bickering, pounding table, yelling, pacing and getting in each other’s faces. They take breaks, then go back to deliberating. The acting is great. Some may find the it boring that the film is filmed in one room and the jurors just get mad and debate for an hour and thirty-six minutes. They may also find the plot not very unique or gripping. Younger people especially, may not appreciate this movie much, if at all and will probably find it very boring.

This film isn’t exactly exciting. It’s a bit boring at times. There are moments when the movie is getting very slow, then suddenly it gets interesting when a juror yells or pounds his fist on the table. This film would have been more compelling if it had been filmed in more than one room, wasn’t just about the jurors but the other people in the court during this case. But then again, it wouldn’t be called 12 Angry Men.

This isn’t the most boring movie, but it isn’t the most moving either. Hearing the men debate and their take on the conviction is the most intriguing thing about this film. This is a simple film with a deep storyline, that just needs to be simple, but not so lackluster set.

The men get angry from being cooped up for hours at a time in one room together having one big debacle over whether the defendant is guilty or not of stabbing his father. If the boy is found guilty, he will receive a death penalty. Many jurors argue against whether that is ethical or not.

I can’t say this movie is well done, because it’s so basic the way it was filmed, but it’s not awful. Good, not great is all I can say about it. If had been filmed more detailed, as in sets, not just a set, maybe seen the actual trial going on, then it would have probably been outstanding. Just because the acting is great, doesn’t always mean the film is excellent too. You have to have a balance of everything being really good and this motion picture maybe an oldie, but it’s definitely not a goldie. 17+ 3.5/5