Death of Stalin (2017) will make you cackle if you have the patience to believe that it will make you cackle

by Banned Library in

Historic dramas have always been money in the bank. Get some well known actor, cover him in old looking stuff, and tell a fake story involving true people. Drama ensues because that's what people make. Get two or more people together and they shit themselves with drama. Historic comedies, though, are super rare because nobody wants to make people important enough to talk about into a bunch of raging assholes, aka real people. Death of Stalin doesn't mind so much.

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The Party (2018) is a quiet little frantic British… don't make me "dramedy"

by Banned Library in

Most stories are about secrets being uncovered. They have an engine, something that drives the story that might be a secret all its own, but at the end of the day audiences are a bunch of nosy bastards who want to know all a character's secrets. Get enough characters together and a lot of hidden blood will be spilt.

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Snatched (2017) just doesn't hold itself together very well

by Banned Library in

Back in nineteen eighty something, a blonde lady on the screen made me smile so hard my face hurt. She was screaming about something with Kurt Russell or in a dumb movie with Chevy Chase or in the army or coaching a team… You know, Goldie Hawn was in a lot of places for a long time. And she was brilliant. You know what? She's still brilliant. Snatched does not let that show, though.

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Thoroughbreds (2017) will make you believe rich girls can kill again

by Banned Library in

What is it about bored rich white girls that makes you want to see them murder the shit out of people? Or get murdered themselves? Or are just a thing to be reckoned with? Mean Girls, Heathers, Sorority Massacre IV… All these movies exist to show us that the rich and affluent have problems, too, y'all. Can I tell you a secret? I love the shit out of them and Thoroughbreds might be the best ever.

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Call Me by Your Name (2017) will subvert your expectations about what a romantic movie can be

by Banned Library in

We all know what romantic movies are supposed to be, right? Person meets person in a cute way, they initially are irritated, fate spills them into each other's arms, a force pries them apart, then they race back together for a finale marriage or at least reconciliation. There's some variety to be had, but for the most part this is it. Call Me By Your Name shows how real life is.

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Mother! (2017) is a well done allegory that really wanted you to know it and has JLaw, y'all!

by Banned Library in

When a movie sits you down and tells you, okay, today we're gonna tell you a story about one thing that means another thing, it's okay to get apprehensive. Most people that sit you down to tell you something without any type of presentation are full of shit. Too much the other way, too much presentation, and you can have the feeling you're being lied to. mother! straddles that line between jamming truth down your throat and lying as if it is out to fuck you and said you were just going to wrestle.

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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (2017) makes those pesky kids grow up and face the world. The original dog's dead, though

by Banned Library in

It's hard to face sometimes a long ago childhood innocence. Saturday morning cartoons that looked so bright and shiny, staying that way in memory. Don't look back if you want that shine to last. Of course, others can look back and deconstruct and make you remember the best parts.

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21. Paddington 2 (2017) Movie Review: Another fun prison bear movie

by Banned Library

Prison movies are hard to get right. I mean, after the Shawshank Redemption, what else can you do? Besides dye all the prison uniforms pink and turn it into a right good place for a spot of tea, anyway? Welcome to the hole, Paddington.

    The world's most favorite bear that doesn't sound like a bowel movement, Paddington returns in the sequel to my favorite new comfort film. The bear is still living with the Brown family, but his Aunt Lucy's hundredth birthday is coming up. He's found her the best gift, but when he's framed for stealing it he goes to prison. The Browns work on his release while he makes friends on the inside. Also there's Hugh Grant having a hell of a good time.

    It's a very English flick with set pieces of comedy that are charming and fun to watch. Like the first, what starts out as a small mistake on Paddington's part turns a regular event like washing a window into a violent torture scene of hilarity. Even though the film is animated, the physicality is on point. Like Buster Keaton or Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean before, the production creates enjoyable… You know what? It's funny and fun and sweet.

    You should see it because you've had a bad day. Or you just want to smile. Or see a flick without 100 people dying or trying to hump each other stupid (although the subtext with Mr. and Mrs. Brown is palpable). It's not a superhero or an assassin. It's just a bear making friends and there's nothing wrong with that.

17. I, Tonya (2017) Movie Review: We All Abuse People We Don't Think of As People

by Banned Library

When Margot Robbie looks you dead in the eye three-quarters of the way through I, Tonya, when she looks right out and speaking as the white trash queen Tonya Harding she says we're all her attackers, she's damn right. We took a person, guilty or not, and judged and beat on her as a world. As a tribe. The audience, even by watching the movie, made Tonya Harding the spectacle and we loved it.

    Tonya Harding (Robbie) grew up abused and abandoned by her parents, her overbearing mother forcing her to be the best using the worst means necessary. Growing up, she finds in her husband Jeff (Stan) both a companion and abuser. The two go down in the history books, along with their dim witted "bodyguard," as the ones that brought violence to figure skating. Nancy Kerrigan will never forget, that's sure.

    Knowing winks are the center of this picture. Because the history of everyone involved is contradictory and full of holes, the filmmakers decided to place knowing asides and glances as well as "to-the-camera" style interviews. We are all in on the joke that everyone involved lied. And we are all in on the abuse Harding felt and still feels.

    When the subject of a story has to ask, to let the audience know, that she's a good mom… Well, that's a button right there.

16. I'll Push You (2017) Movie Review: Man, they really like each other

by Banned Library in

In 2004, my best friend and I went to Key West for New Year's Eve. We drove the whole way, seventeen hours down Florida and seventeen hours up. Near the end we were just about done and still had to live together as roommates. I thought about that while watching I'll Push You.

    This documentary tells the story of two men, Patrick and Justin, and their hike on the Spanish pilgrimage trail of El Camino de Santiago. What makes this special is Justin, wheelchair bound and totally dependent on Patrick during the journey. We watch as the two cross the Spanish countryside with help from friends.

    That's the bulk of the story. One guy laying there, the other struggling to walk and push and pull and get his friend where he wants to go. We learn about Justin's degenerative condition. and Patrick's utter devotion to his lifelong friend. The story becomes one of hope for humanity, a call to go out and help others by giving the extra mile. To realize that humanity is one thing, not seven billion separate lives struggling.

    At the end, I revisited my friendship with my oldest buddy. We've known each other since I was four and he was five and I poked my head under a fence to see what all the noise was and who my neighbor was playing with. Over thirty-four years of knowing each other, facing tragedy and heartache, supporting one another. Would I push him across mountains and through mud and down slopes until I bled?

    Hell no. And he'd do the same for me. But we'd laugh about it.

12. Pitch Perfect 3 (2017) Movie Review: Did that girl say she was possessed by a demon?

by Banned Library in

Trilogies are hard to pull off. Just ask George Lucas and the cast of Big Momma's House. I've covered some sequels this year already, from the regrettable Insidious: The Last Key to Darkest Hours filling in the plot between King's Speech (2010) and Dunkirk (2017). Never have I been more confused, though, than watching Pitch Perfect 3.

    The Bellas are back and singing their asses off on a USO tour. Why? Who the fuck cares? Talented hot girls, y'all. What's against them this time? Ultimately, the character of Fat Amy appears to have been birthed from the evil loins of John Lithgow and he wants her money that she didn't know she had. Confused? Well, so was I through most of this mess, especially when one girl says she was possessed by a demon the whole time.

    Let me let you in on a secret: I've never seen the previous Pitch Perfects. They didn't seem to be anything I would touch with a ten foot pole on a Friday in a town with only warm melons for fun. According to my fiance, this is not a good entry place in the series.

     I concur.

    The best thing I can say about this is it was entertaining. When the jokes didn't land, they were at least delivered competently by people who seemed to be having a great time. That wins something in my book because, honestly, I don't like watching movies with assholes who hate each other having to fake emotions.

    Looking at you, Hallmark Christmas Movies.

10. Molly's Game (2017) Movie Review: Holy Fuck This Movie Is Sexy Good Times

by Banned Library in

Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba speaking Aaron Sorkin speeches. Fucking go to the theater right now.

    Molly Bloom was an Olympic skier hopeful who became one of the most sought after poker player set up game people in the nation. Kings and giants sat at her tables and lost fortunes. Not literal kings and giants. That's some fantasy shit and this is a true damn story from the mind that brought you Social Network and "I didn't think there would be that much drama in the White House."

    I don't have enough good words to say about this movie because I usually shit on movies. Not because I dislike most movies, but it's just more fun. Molly's Game delighted me with fast, good dialog spoken believably by accomplished actors at the top of their game. At one point, Elba did this long speech and when he ended I wanted to do that thing where you stand up and put up your hands. Like the motherfucker just punted a field goal.

    Rowsing. That's a good word for this movie.

    It won't win awards, I bet, because there's honestly been some really good flicks out this year. However, it deserves to be seen. Grab your fella or madam and go out to this one. You'll get laid.

9. The Vault (2017) Movie Review: A Mash'em Up Horror Crime Movie That Banks on Your Attention Shifting

by Banned Library in

Taking old things and spinning them into new gold is pretty much what people have been doing for millions of years. Fire guy in the cave guy just played on what fire in the field guy was working with. Wheel guy leaped forward the tech of dragging stuff. Citizen Kane dared to ask the question: can we make film students more pretentious? Then there's movies like The Vault trying to bank on movies like From Dusk Til Dawn.

    It's bank robbing time. With only two recognizable cast members in James Franco and Clifton Collins, Jr (as well as that woman from that show Drive Nathan Fillion was in. You know her), the vault has believe that you will care if our bank robbers make it out alive. Because watch out, y'all, this bank got murder ghosts. Then the assholes get murdered and the hot girls live. Because horror movie.

    The mixing genre is not new, like I said. This movie wants to be From Dusk Til Dawn but has no one charismatic enough like George Clooney or good enough effects to pay off the B-movie premise. What we are left with is an unlikeable cast with shifting alliances that systematically get killed like every other horror/slasher movie.

    As a bank heist movie, it does work though. As an Elmore Leonard fan, I enjoy unlikeable assholes pulling off a crime and doing weird shit. As a horror movie, it also works in the same way House on Haunted Hill (1999) did in that I wanted everyone to die and the monster ghost thing to kill them. Mashed together, though, and the ideas fall apart because I'm not invested in either scenario enough.

    Also, I fell asleep and missed ten minutes in the middle and caught right back up. In a movie banked on twists, that's a bad sign. Also a bad sign, the ending cliche that's a mess of, "Oh, he was a ghost the whole time? So what?" being beaten out by me realizing while reading the credits just now that the lead was Clint Eastwood's daughter.

7. Darkest Hour (2017) Movie Review: One Actor Verses the World

by Banned Library in

Gary Oldman for years has been the guy you look at and think "Hey that guy's really damn good," and then just forget about him until the next time. He's been a Harry Potter, a punk rocker, a drug kingpin, a space guy, and everything in between. Now he's in a fat suit and we're supposed to be impressed. Spoiler alert, I was impressed.

    In case he comes out as some kind of evil bastard with sex problems or is an armoured car robber, I must say I know next to nothing of him as a man. You know what, more actors should become awesome thieves. Not like when people shoplift and claim it's an acting thing, but more like that Kevin Bacon commercial when nobody can believe it's him. If Ray Liotta came in with a gun to the library and said, "Gimme the cash drawer," I'd be telling the cops "Some guy looking like Ray Liotta robbed me" instead of "Ray Liotta robbed me."

    Just saying.

    If you want a movie in between King's Speech and Dunkirk that has some heart, see this flick. It's more about the acting than the story. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but everything goes for broke and does well. Worth a matinee for some of the good shots or a rental if people keep talking about it for awards.