Monday, October 23, 2017

'The Commuter' Trailer Promises Insanity for Final Liam Neeson and Jaume Collet-Serra Action Movie Team-Up


Liam Neeson has promised his action movie career is coming to an end. But Steve Soderbergh also retired from filmmaking in 2013, yet this year I swear that I saw Logan Lucky. Neeson believes it is getting a little silly for someone his age to be jumping from exploding vehicles and punching down a dominoes of baddies. Maybe no one should tell the seven years older Sylvester Stallone those thoughts.

If it is true this is near the end of Neeson undoing evil with his special set of skills, then I am glad he is doing one last team up with Jaume Collet-Serra. This will be their fourth time together as they've done Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night (because I need to mention it whenever I have the chance, he also directed the Neeson-less but well-substituted Blake Lively starring shark thriller, The Shallows that was a blast).

The trailer makes it look like an insane finale to the Collet-Serra and Neeson thriller team-up. It has also convinced me to never talk to anyone on a train again. Neeson's insurance salesman character is given one hypothetical, and next thing he knows he is watching a guys get smacked by a bus, rumbling around with a stranger, and stuck on a burning train. A long traffic jam on the way to work doesn't seem so bad anymore.

This looks to be following the Non-Stop formula where Neeson has to investigate several passengers and attempt to figure out the one who doesn't belong, Except this time, it looks like that person may be a witness that he needs to protect and several of the others may be in on some evil conspiracy. It will likely be full of loopy twists that film nerds will devote Youtube videos tearing apart, but Collet-Serra has a good eye for action and solid pacing where those things shouldn't matter while watching it. A good thriller distracts you from the holes during the experience.

I just hope this movie is half as ridiculous and crazy as this trailer hints and Neeson at least throws one nasty tough off the train. January always seems to have at least one goofy little actioner that can be a mess but is still a lot of fun, and this looks ready to be that movie.

It Isn't a Breakdown If I Am Not Forced to Retract a Lie


Fake news alert!

I spread two falsehoods on this morning's The Movie Breakdown podcast. It is probably something that I do far more often than I'd want to admit, but I only catch my glaring inaccuracies about two times a year. This is what happens when both Scott and I tend to ramble away on subjects that I did not do any pre-research and am relying on my dusty brain.

During the box office analysis segment, I mentioned that Jane is a documentary about Jane Goodall, which is indeed a fact. Jane is a primatologists who did ground-breaking work with her research with chimpanzees, made major discoveries in nature and was an incredibly successful female scientist in a male dominated field. But who she isn't is Dian Fossey, who lived in Rwanda among gorillas and is the subject in the Sigourney Weaver starring 1988 biopic, Gorillas in the Mist.

No, I do not think all female scientists who work with apes are the same person. I realize both are legendary and significant figures in history, and happen to be very different people. Especially since one is still alive, and the other sadly has a mysterious unsolved murder (sorry, to spoil the ending). But this does not change the fact that Jane looks to be a documentary worth checking out.

And my other glaring mistake?

The upcoming 12 Strong movie was not originally call The Horsemen, because the movie isn't about the apocalypse or a 1980s wrestling group led by Ric Flair. It was called Horse Soldiers, but I am guessing the studios decided that title was a little too on the nose.


The Breakdown of 'Only the Brave', 'The Snowman', '1922', 'Wheelman' and 'One of Us'


The Breakdown brings the heat this week as we review the action drama about the real life elite forest fire fighting team the Granite Mountain Hot Shots in Only the Brave. As well we have a snow covered thriller based on the Jo Nesbø best seller, The Snowman. Speaking of adaptations, we have another movie based on a Stephen King work in the horror thriller. 1922. From there we have the heist gone bad actioner, Wheelman and the documentary about three individuals trying to leave the Hasidic Jew community, One of Us. As always if you enjoy the show then please spread the word.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

01:30 Only the Brave review
20:03 Wheelman review
40:24 1922 review
58:28 One of Us review
1:12:18 The Snowman review
1:30:18 Box Office Analysis
1:42:11 Trailer Review: Black Panther, 12 Strong, Jim & Andy: The Great BeyondI, Tonya, Acrimony
2:01:00 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Only the Brave ***½ (CS)
Wheelman *** (CS & SM)
1922 *** (CS & SM)
One of Us ***½ (CS) & *** (SM)
The Snowman * (CS)

Friday, October 20, 2017

'Wheelman' Review: Frank Grillo Takes Us On an Emotional and Thrilling Ride


Four Star Rating: ***
Starring: Frank Grillo, Caitlin Carmichael, Garret Dillahunt, Wendy Moniz, Shea Whigham
Director: Jeremy Rush
Screenplay: Jeremy Rush
Music by: Brooke Blair & Will Blair
Cinematographer: Juanmi Azpiroz
Editor: Padraic McKinley
Production Company: The Solution Entertainment Group, Warparty Films
Distributed by: Netflix
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: TV-MA - Coarse Language, Mature Themes, Violence, May not be suitable for children 17 and under
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Run Time: 82 minutes

If in one year we can have three movies heavily influenced by the comedy classic, Groundhog Day, and avoid labelling them derivative because they use the concept in different genres, then there should be no problem that Wheelman has a striking similarity to the 2014 Tom Hardy starring dramatic thriller, Locke.

For the less independent movie savvy, Locke was a critical darling and a gem among indy movie lovers that tells the story of a man who is trying to keep his personal and professional life from unravelling after receiving a phone call while he was driving. The entire story is told while Hardy's character is driving his car and the narrative is pushed forward with his various phone calls. For Wheelman, director and screenwriter Jeremy Rush takes an almost identical storytelling approach but sets it in a heist gone bad thriller.

The movie starts in the dark for several seconds (for some it may feel like age), then the lights turn on to reveal that the location is a garage shot from the perspective inside a car. A mechanic then drives the car outside where he gets out of the car while the shot perspective remains in the vehicle while he has an exchange with a man cloaked in the shadows. The man is less than impressed it is a black car with a red trunk because it is now less than inconspicuous. The exchange informs us the man taking over the car has a less than lawful job description that require anonymity, but also shows someone who is exuding confident. There is no need for expository dialogue. It is clear he is getaway driver before the bank robbery goes down. The efficient scene signals that Rush is a director that won't bog down the narrative with unnecessary details and instead keeps things speeding along.

The driver is played by Frank Grillo (Purge & Captain America series) but just like Drive, we never learn his name as he is only referred to as the Wheelman (hence the film's title). The introduction shows both a bare bone storytelling mixed with a slick, assured shooting style, There are no fancy big set pieces because it is almost all shown from inside the car. Cinematographer Juanmi Azpiroz also provides unique shots aroud the moving vehicle that heightens tension but also lets the viewer soak up the atmospheric nighttime streets. The opening credit sequences feels like a 1970s exploitation action throwback with the yellow block letters, shots bathing the viewer in the night lights, and a pounding yet almost soothing film score by Brooke Blair and Will Blair. These technical aspects projects a noirish feel to the story of a troubled getaway driver. The setting creates a place that feels reckless and dangerous where one could be betrayed at any moment or get shot at by a driver enraged over being cut off.

The story is standard formula with Grillo playing a lead who has a dark past that includes some prison time and now owes some dangerous people a sizable debt. He is the typical cool and no-nonsense type that isn't there to do small talk with his accomplices and wants to keep it strictly business. Unfortunately for him, one of the major movie rules is if you try to pull off a heist in the opening act then it needs to go sour. Grillo's character then finds himself trying to sort out if he has been set up while also trying to keep himself alive from the angry crooks that he betrayed. Of course, there has to be family drama as he is just a good guy deep down who is trying to keep things civil with his ex-wife (Wendy Moniz) and maintain some custody of his 13 year old daughter (Cailtin Carmichael). The reality is all the narrative turns and character development has been seen in countless movies before, but Rush recognizes this, keeps everything firing off at a steady and slick pace.

The majority of the movie is Grillo trying discover the truth and manage his life through phone calls, and while none of the dialogue is very distinct or engaging (most of it resorts to shouting matches and cursing -- though it is an understandable stressful night), Grillo's performance elevates the interactions. Most of the movie is Grillo putting on a solo performance, except for two occasions where he shares the car, but he brings huge emotions and drama to his nameless character. His performance reveals a man worn out from a tough few years who is trying to hold himself together so he can be a proper dad for his daughter that he truly loves while also conveying he is a man that won't be pushed around. He balances vulnerability with toughness, and makes us question how much is an act and what is his true character. Grillo takes us on a journey and proves he is worthy of more lead roles in the future.

Jeremy Rush also proves he is a director to watch as he adds some unique perspective shots to add a few thrills to the action sequences. The car chase scenes are kept tight and often either shown from inside the car or with much of the shots taken up with an outside view of the speeding car, and it draws us into the chase and often leaves us disoriented much like the wheelman The quick and varied shots add a new layer of tension and action. There are also a few scenes where Grillo leaves the car including when he enters into a bar to grab the guy who betrayed him. Most of his roughing up of this man is left to our imagination or done through the view of the windshield. It give a feel that we are stuck in that car and adds to a sense of isolation, but also gives some style to scenes that otherwise would feel token and generic.

Wheelman is the kind of movie that is a perfect fit for Netflix and the type of movie that I want them to distribute more often. It is an easy to follow, tightly-paced thriller that takes a few ambitious creative directions that most big studios would shy away from it. The picture is too small scale to meet the tastes of big event movie goers and lacks a big name draw, so it never had a chance to reach the multiplexes. This is a crowd pleasing and accessible thriller that is missed on the big screen, and can help Netflix stand out.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Happy Death Day', 'The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)', 'The Foreigner', 'The Babysitter', and 'Kingdom of Us'


It is October so that means we need a horror movie in the cinemas, and The Breakdown serves up a review of the horror comedy that is a Groundhog Day style slasher, Happy Death Day. The horror comedy continues with a teenage coming age story mixed with slasher, The Babysitter. We also look at Noah Bambauch's latest in the family dramedy, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). Then we move into the action territory with Jackie Chan's latest, The Foreigner and a documentary about a family dealing with their father's suicide, Kingdom of Us. As always if you enjoy the show then please spread the word.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



The Breakdown Outline:

01:11 The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) review
26:08 Happy Death Day review
42:38 The Babysitter review 
1:05:06 The Foreigner review
1:22:49 Kingdom of Us review
1:39:10 Trailer Reviews: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The New Mutants, Justice League, Blockers, Thoroughbreds
2:03:55 Box Office Analysis
2:12:02 Review Rundown

Star Rating Rundown:

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) **** (CS & SM)
Happy Death Day *** (CS)
The Babysitter ** (CS & SM)
The Foreigner ** (CS)
Kingdom of Us ***½ (CS & SM)

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Battle of the Blockbusters: Analyzing the New(ish) 'Justice League' and 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Trailers


The two biggest movies still to be released in 2017 dropped huge trailers this week in Justice League and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Both have been seen probably billions of times by now and been extensively analyzed by every major movie news web site, but they haven't been written about on this very minor blog. Both are major movie events with a salivating fan base, so both trailers were seen as big events on their own. As for the trailers, one did a great job on fuelling my excitement while leaving tons of questions (let it be clear, this is what a trailer is supposed to do) and the other wiped out the building excitement I started feeling over the summer. Find out which is which!

Justice League (November 17):


The fantastic Wonder Woman was a huge creative course correction for the DC cinematic universe.  Optimism for Justice League was high with hope DC now found the formula and that increased to huge levels when Joss Whedon was hired on to do reshoots. Many were very excited to see what he would add to the movie even if the circumstances behind it were quite sad (Zack Snyder needed to take time off to deal with the death of his son).

After seeing the latest trailer and what I assume the first to contain footage that would have Whedon's work in it, it is pretty clear this is still very much a Zack Snyder comic book movie. We have the return of annoying Snyderisms like the obsession with a metallic colour palate, endless mind-numbing explosions, and action sequences that deny any real world physics. The trailer has done nothing to take away my fears that in order to properly introduce the new characters like Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg to the point where you care about them while also telling the monster/alien/demon invasion story, properly explore the world grieving over Superman, and giving attention to the established character's arcs that this movie will clock in at about 8 hours. Or you know have individual movies for each character before doing a team-up movie, but I sense they may not have enough time for that.

I really dug the opening with the promise that Lois Lane may be a crucial character finally. The movie is actually going to really allow the death of Superman to sink in and be something that affects each character and have a huge impact on the world. It will make the previous events feel like they matter even if everyone including the original poster knows that Superman is coming back before the end credits. Amy Adams conveyed more emotion in this trailer than she was allowed in the previous two movies, so it gives me hope the drama will be more than just filler this time.

Wonder Woman though is back to being a side character in the this trailer, but the previous trailer make me think that is more just to usher in new footage, and I hope we get more than just Gal Gadot's millions dollar smile every few scenes.

There is also a sense of humour here. I like some of the one liners by Batman as he needs to adjust to his rather eccentric new recruits. Ezra Miller has a fun charisma and energy as the Flash, but it feels a little second string after already getting a lot of this routine from Spider-Man in the Marvel movies. Hopefully, there is something to make Barry Allen/Flash stand out other than he runs really fast and reminds us of a cheaper Peter Parker.

After the last trailer looked more polished, I'm back to being a bit hesitant on the CGI again. Maybe just the issue is that it is all just too much, too loud, and too bombastic. Sometimes this stuff does look way better on the big screen then squeezed on to my laptop. The other problem is it doesn't even look like they are planet earth, and most of it just seems like a nightmare Batman is having after downing too many late night lobster thermidors.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi:


Lucasfilm's has been really great with how they have handled the Star Wars trailers since reviving the franchise (as a series of new movies, because the franchise has been alive in books, cartoons, merchandise, and party napkins since 1977) by delivering a sparse amount of trailers for each movie compared to every other big heavyweight franchise that believes you need 140 trailers before release. This is only the second trailer released and has tons of new footage, but leaves even more questions rather than providing any answers to the many questions posed in the original trailer.

It looks like Rey is going to get a long training storyline with Luke Skywalker playing the role of Yoda this time. Unlike last time, the trainee freaks out the trainer. Luke mentions he only saw this much raw power once before and should have been afraid of it then, and it seems obvious to assume he is referencing Kylo Ren (but it could be misdirection). It looks like a major focus of this movie will be the connection and relation between Rey and Ren. It hints they are possibly the two people who are the most powerful ever with the Force. You get a sense it will be playing some deep cosmic connection between the two. It will also be interesting to see if Luke's comment about ending the Jedi that is shown in the original trailer comes before the training or after what I assume is Rey freaking him out with her powers. And does Luke abandon Rey, which causes her to flee to the arms of Ren and Snoke?

It definitely looks like Snoke channels Return of the Jedi's Emperor by trying to lure the hero to the dark side. The movie has enough well-crafted new characters who can take the lead role with Finn and Poe Dameron that there is a slight chance we could see Rey accept the hand of Ren and be swayed to the dark side by the end of this movie. I don't think that is the direction, but her being forced to choose sides looks to be a major storyline. I am really interested to see if the interaction with Ren and Rey plays out the way it is hinted in the trailer or if it is a splicing of separate scenes.

Many months ago, it was mentioned that General Leia Organa was originally scheduled to be the focus of the third movie, like how Han Solo was the focus of The Force Awakens and Luke Skywalker is the focus in this one. Sadly, that isn't going to happen with the passing of Carrie Fisher, and now the big question has been how they will write out Leia with the movie already shot before her passing. This trailer is definitely playing into that speculation with it looking like Ren blows up his mom's ship and kills her just like he murdered his father. He is not the best son. But this could also be a slick Jedi mind trick and it is just an editing of random scenes that look like they fit as one (yep, they seem to be doing that a lot in this trailer).

We also see Finn in action, which is nice because it means he isn't in a coma for the whole movie. Captain Phasma looks to be getting a much bigger role this time and will be rumbling with Finn, as that rivalry had seeds planted in the previous. I really hope Phasma gets a character and personality here, and we learn more about who she is in this world.

Not much Poe other than being stuck in crazy battles, and it looks like the Resistance takes some pretty massive hits and casualties here. With Luke having a bleak outlook, Leia potentially facing her demise, Rey being wooed to the dark sides, and lots of shots of good guys' ships exploding, you get the sense this will be going The Empire Strikes Back route with the heroes being left in a dismal situation by the end.

We also get peaks at some new creatures including some wolf-like things and a fuzzy little chubby guinea pig creature who looks to be Chewbacca's new co-pilot (apparently, it is called a porg). I'm cool with the very targeted at making stuffies for kids new character, because that has always been a Star Wars staple and the last targeted to sell toys to kids creation, BB-8 was adorable and worked. I'll let this fuzzball prove his worth. I should also note that I never had any hatred towards the Ewoks and they make me smile too, so this may be the wrong place for that type of hate.

This had the opposite effect of the Justice League trailer, I am somehow even more stoked and thrilled and geeked and excited for this movie. This was already by far my most anticipated movie of the year and I've so far loved the return to this world by giving the two recent movie both 4 stars (The Force Awakens landed number one on my Top 10 of 2015). Rian Johnson is one of my favourite filmmakers and has created fantastic movies, and I am excited to see what he can do with a huge budget and a universe adored by billions.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Internet is Back


Internet has been down since Friday over here at Spicer Manor. It has been rather stressful trying to get work done that is almost entirely done online while also trying to be prepared for this week's The Breakdown where most movies are watched on Netflix and the show is recorded over Skype. Luckily, I was able to gallivant over to my parent's house for an all-night movie binge and then record The Breakdown on Sunday morning. But I had to eventually go back home to the world that the internet forgot.

It was dark days where my laptop couldn't take me to Google or allow me quick research over at  Wikipedia. I was burning through my data plan on my iPhone in order to research and contact my clients. But the light of a fully working internet in my own home has returned and it is. . . glorious.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Blade Runner 2049', 'My Little Pony: The Movie', 'The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson', 'XXX: Return of Xander Cage' and 'Berlin Syndrome'


The Breakdown is loaded up with five movie reviews this week. The big one is the hotly anticipated sequel to the sci-fi cult classic, Blade Runner 2049. It is also the continuation of Vintember with Vin Diesel's latest, XXX: Return of Xander Cage. Plus the Netflix Original documentary, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, the latest animated feature My Little Pony: The Movie, and the Australian thriller, Berlin Syndrome. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes. While you are there, please give us a five star review if you enjoy the show.



The Breakdown Outline:

02:00 Blade Runner 2049 review
21:19 The Death and Life of Marsha P. Jouhnson review
34:45 xXx: Return of Xander Cage review
50:45 Berlin Syndrome review
1:06:06 My Little Pony: The Movie review
1:19:20 Box Ofice Analysis
1:31:16 Trailer Review: Pacific Rim Uprising,Roman J Isreal Esq.,Wonder Wheel, Replicas,Only the Brave 
1:45:35 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Blade Runner 2049 ****
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson  ***½ (CS) & **½ (SM)
xXx: Return of Xander Cage ** (CS) & *½ (SM)
Berlin Syndrome ***½ (CS & SM)
My Little Pony: The Movie ** (CS)

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Breakdown is Thundercats are GO!

I did a little globetrotting, but I found myself a place to record The Breakdown while the internet remains a fantasy on the homefront. This means sadly that there won't likely be much writing or the Blade Runner 2049 review as I'll be burning the midnigh oil to prepare for the podcast, then it is back to the land that technology (or more specifically, Rogers) forgot.

Breakdown Warning

It may be a non issue in a few hours, but at the moment, technical issues are raging strong. So, this means the Blade Runner 2049 review continues to be delayed but also the Breakdown recording may need to be postponed, which means the show may not get posted Monday morning. I hope to avoid it but apologize now.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Pesky Technical Difficulties

Remember when The Breakdown was delayed due to some technical issues? Well, the Blade Runner 2049 review is set for the same delay because again technology hates me. Hope the issue is resolved quickly, but until then trust me that the movie is a shining example of what a sequel should deliver. Hope to write more when I do not have to type from my iPhone.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

20 Amazing Headlines You Will Never See on a Movie News (Clickbait) Site


There are many great, insightful, and deep articles written by talented writers for various movie sites. Sometimes those articles even get read by someone occasionally. The reality of social media and the fact that clicks mean money, articles often mean less about how smart and complex they are and more on how sexy is the headline. Often you get a headline that promises a shocking and exclusive revelation of events that happened on the set of The Last Jedi and then the article details the time John Boyega shared a ham and cheese sandwich with Daisy Ridley. Scintillating.

Now, I have a confession, my own little headline may have some clickbaity properties like the word 'Amazing' or you know the promise of a list, because the Facebookers love the lists. I am still confident that those big, popular movie sites will likely avoid the following twenty headlines.

1. Ten Actors Who Had Minor Disagreements with Other Actors That Did Not Lead to Any Disaster Just Like How You Sometimes Disagree with a Fellow Employee at Work

2. The Director That Has Been Rumoured and Reported Everywhere Else is in Fact Directing the Upcoming Blockbuster as You Already Knew

3. Here are Ten Movies that I Really Liked Watching This Year and Seven of Them are on Every Top Ten List You Have Already Read

4. Two Actors Who are Dating are Holding Hands Just Like Non-Actors and We Have a Picture to Prove It

5. A Movie of a TV Show or Toy or Video Game Might Get Made in the Next Few Years as Long as a Script can Get Written, Funding Can be Found, a Director Gets Hired, and Some Actors Cast

6. This Fifth Trailer of a Popular Upcoming Movie has Most of the Same Clips Shown in the Previous Trailers but Have Now Been Rearranged and Played to Led Zeppelin

7. Ten Times a Famous Actor Acted in Movies That We Liked

8. Top Twenty Times a Movie Got Made

9. Ten Times Actors and Directors Totally Got Along to Make Popular and Good Movies

10. Here Are Production Rumours on Movies That We Got Off Wikipedia and We Hope Are True

11. The Oral History of Yor the Hunter of the Future

12. Scientists Confirm that the Remake of Your Favourite 1980s Movie Will Indeed Not Murder or Burn or Murder Burn Your Childhood

13. Here are a Series of Movie Advertising Disguised as Interviews That We Did with Movie Stars Because the Movie Studio Gave Us Tons of Sweet Free Stuff

14. This Famous Actor May or May Not Star in This Popular Movie Slated to be Released in Three Years

15. Exclusive: That Movie You Love is Hated by Someone and That Movie You Hate is Loved by Someone

16. Sixteen Times Celebrities of Varying Popularity Ate Spaghetti at a Restaurant

17. Twenty 2017 Movies that if You're a Movie Buff (and Hey, You're on This Site so You Probably Are) That We're Pretending You Never Heard About but You've Likely Already Seen Ten of Them

18. You Probably Already Guessed but rhe Movie That Made a Billion Dollars is Making a Sequel Because Studios Like Money

19. An Exclusive and In-Depth Career Perspective of Carrot Top

20. Breaking News: Your Life Will Still Be Great Even if the New Marvel Movie is a Disappointment

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, but Only One Gets Sold for Fundraisers


A child can never be too young to get hooked on capitalism. This is why Everett's school has him out selling chocolate bars in order to raise funds for different school programs. Everett has embraced the salesperson spirit on his first day with his box of chocolate treats by selling five to some of our neighbours. His award winning sales pitch was something like, "I'm selling chocolate bars for my school. If you buy enough I can win prizes. Don't you want me to get prizes?" Not the most traditional advertising route, but seems to be working. So, I'll add, seriously, don't you want this kid to win prizes?


Already posted a sales pitch on Facebook, but decided to take advantage of my blog readership by shilling some chocolates on this site. I realize, having over 80% of my readership living outside of Canada kind of hurts the chances of this being a goldmine sale, but this is targeted to those few living in or around the Brantford area. As long as I don't stuff all the chocolates in my pockets, they should keep real well if we may see each other over the next few months or so. Don't let some space between us stop me from hooking you up with the sweet sweet chocolate.

The deal is the chocolates are going for $3.00 a bar, as stated it goes towards programs and supplies for Everett's school. As Everett wants you to be reminded, if he sells enough then he gets some sweet prizes. And for such a good deed, you get sweet chocolate, so lots of sweetness for everyone.

In case you don't want to stare at the picture, the types are milk chocolate, French mint, crispy rice, caramel & sea salt (not bars but a box of smaller chocolates) and creamy maple (also the box of smaller chocolates). 

If you want to buy some then leave a comment here or on Facebook or you can contact me at christopher.d.spicer at the old gmail.
 

Monday, October 02, 2017

The Breakdown of 'American Made', 'Flatliners', 'Gerald's Game', 'Our Souls at Night', and 'The Last Witch Hunter'


The Breakdown reviewing five movies and it is one of those weeks Scott and Christopher disagree on a movie. We have two new theatrical releases in the Tom Cruise and Doug Liman collaboration, American Made, and the remake of a 1990s thriller hit, Flatliners. There are also two new Netflix Originals in the Stephen adaptation, Gerald's Game and the mature romance, Our Souls at Night. Finally, Vintember has barged its way into October with Vin Diesel's fantasy adventure, The Last Witch Hunter. As always, if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans or give us a five star reviews on iTunes.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

02:02 Gerald's Game review
16:47 American Made review
32:48 Our Souls at Night review
45:41 Flatliners review
59:04 The Last Witch Hunter review
1:17:00 Trailer Review: Annihalation, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, Father Figures, The Killing of Sacred Deer, Creep 2
1:31:50 Box Office Analysis
1:41:52 Review Rundown and Scott's passioned ultimatum

Rating Rundown:

Gerald's Game *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
American Made **½ (CS)
Our Souls at Night *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
Flatliners ** (CS)
The Last Witch Hunter *** (CS) & ** (SM)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle', 'The LEGO Ninjago Movie', 'Gaga: Five Foot Two' and 'Riddick'


Once again, huge apologies for The Breakdown being late this week, but we're still here to deliver four big movie reviews. We are knee deep in sequels this week including the comedic spy actioner Kingsman: The Golden Circle and the latest animated adventure, The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Plus Vintember lives on in the second sequel to Pitch Black in Riddick. From there we have the big event documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two. After the movie reviews, we look at mother! and discuss why its wide release is important even if it was not a big box office hit. As always, if you enjoy the show then please pass on the word to other movie fans or give us a five star review on iTunes. We really appreciate all the support and having the greatest listeners in the world.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

03:01 Kingman: The Golden Circle review
26:02 Gaga: Five Foot Two review
36:44 The LEGO Ninjago Movie review
55:33 Riddick review
1:10:49 What will be the impact of mother! as a wide release?
1:21:47 Box Office Analysis
1:31:08 Trailer Reviews: Tomb Raider, Isle of Dogs, Peter Rabbit, Just Getting Started, Wonderstruck
1:44:16 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:
Kingman: The Golden Circle *** (CS)
Gaga: Five Foot Two *** (CS & SM)
The LEGO Ninjago Movie ** (CS)
Riddick **½ (CS & SM)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Yes 'Breakdown'

It is almost two days late, but fingers crossed, this week's episode will be posted late tonight or early tomorrow morning. Apologies again for the delay, but sometimes technology can be cruel.

We plan to record the episode tonight, instead of our usual Sunday recording time. The crossing of the fingers is so we don't have a replay of the dreaded Sunday issues. Even if we do, I hope this time has far less couch pee and crayoned walls.

My Top Ten Reasons Why More Read the 'No Breakdown' Post Than Any 'Breakdown' Podcast Post of the Past Three Months

So, my quick little scribble on my iPhone announcing a postponed Breakdown podcast somehow tripled the numbers of Breakdown podcast posts views on this site for the last three months. I was about to take this as another opportunity to chisel away my self-esteem and lather on butter of failure, but then I thought it may be slightly more productive to think why a throwaway post rocked the views of posts that contained the actual podcast.

Here is my Top Ten Reasons 'No Breakdown' beat out the actual Breakdown posts of the last three months.

1. The most likely reason is the regular and loyal listeners of the Breakdown podcast know it gets posted every Monday morning around 6:30, so they don't need to check out the weekly posts about that on this blog and instead head over to iTunes or the podcast feed to download it. But they may want to find out why there isn't a new episode waiting for them over at iTunes, which 'No Breakdown' promised an answer.

2. I've been the worst at updating on here, and just the promise of words arranged in the form of sentence set off a great hunger in jilted readers who ferociously gobbled up the three sentence paragraph of little significance.

3. Midichlorians.

4. The huge community of Kurt Russell fans mistook my 'No Breakdown" title for a declaration that the 1997 thriller never truly existed and their beloved film has just been a figment of their imagination this whole time. They obviously needed to jump on here immediately to stage their protest until they realized it was just me announcing a delay of a podcast called The Breakdown. The movie continues to exist.

5. Word leaked that over the Labor Day long weekend that I composed a long rant about how numbers have dipped dreadfully for both my writing and the podcast over the summer and once again, poured out my heart on my mental and emotional health issues, but I decided against posting it, yet it has been left simmering in the archives. Sensing that more low numbers may inspire me to push the Publish button, readers every got together to appease my ego to stop it by giving me some high reader numbers.

6. I'm really thinking it is just the iTunes thing, and regular readers don't even bother coming on here for the podcasts anymore.

7. Major fans of the great director Pablo Larrain mistook my title 'No Breakdown' as an in-depth analysis and review of his fantastic movie about the 1988 referendum in Chile on if Dictator Augusto Pinochet should extend his rule. Never heard of this great movie? We reviewed it on the Breakdown, and after you listen to that, go watch the movie.

8. It has finally been revealed that what the readers of this blog really want is posts about how the Breakdown podcast has been delayed. My true road to success and massive readership is postponing the podcast on a regular basis and then writing up a quick excuse. Money!

9. Definitely think it is the iTunes thing, considering the numbers over there are still pretty solid.

10. Trump.

Monday, September 25, 2017

No Breakdown

We are having some serious technical issues this week. Issues that give me a dandy of an excuse for why there won't be much on here the next few days. Hopefully, it can be resolved real soon and we won't have a delay like this again. My huge apologies.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Breakdown of 'mother!', 'First They Killed My Father', 'American Assassin', 'Strong Island' and 'The Chronicles of Riddick'


The Breakdown is loaded up with five sizzling hot movie reviews, and even some glorious four stars get tossed out. It is definitely a show were we recommend some movies, but then there are a few to flee away from as well. For the new theatrical reviews, we have Darren Aronofsky's latest in the psychological mind jumble, mother! and then it is time for a bloody spy thriller in American Assassin. We also discuss the new Netflix originals in Angelina Jolie's latest directorial effort, First They Killed My Father and then a very personal documentary about race and the legal system, Strong Island. Then we jump out of 2017 to celebrate Vintember with the sequel to Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


Breakdown Outline:

1:23 First They Killed My Father review
19:10 mother! review
32:50 Strong Island review
46:08 American Assassin review
57:57 The Chronicles of Riddick review
1:10:28 Trailer Reviews: Blade Runner 2049 Prequel Short: "Nowhere to Run", Downsizing, The Disaster Artist, The Commuter, All the Money in the World
1:25:20 Box Office Analysis
1:30:21 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

First They Killed My Father **** (CS) & *** (SM)
mother! **** (CS)
Strong Island ***½ (CS & SM)
American Assassin ** (CS)
The Chronicles of Riddick ** (CS) & * (SM)

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Breakdown of 'It', '#realityhigh', 'xXx', and 'The Gallows'


The thrills and excitement of Vintember continues on The Breakdown this week, as we look at the launcher of Vin Diesel's third would-be franchise, xXx. Last week, I was delightfully surprised by Pitch Black and thought it was one of the better Alien knock-offs, but will I be lured by the Diesel charm again? As well, in a year where there are plenty, the most anticipated of the Stephen King adaptations has arrived in the bloody and creepy coming of age tale, It. We also head to high school with two movies targeted at the teenage crowd including the social media obsessed comedy, #realityhigh and the trapped in a school play horror, The Gallows. We also look at the failure of many movies this summer hoping to launch as cinematic universe and look at the studio responses and make some predictions for the future. As always if you love the show then please spread the word.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

00:55 It review
30:14 #realityhigh review
42:43 xXx review
59:02 The Gallows review
1:13:42 The Implosion of the Cinematic Universe
1:27:13 Box Office Analysis
1:37:55 Trailer Reviews: Insidious: The Last Key, Early Man, Lady Bird, The Current War, Three Billboard Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
1:52:11 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:
IT **** (CS)
#realityhigh * (CS & SM)
xXx ** (CS) & **½ (SM)
The Gallows ½* (CS & SM)

Monday, September 04, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Little Evil', 'Wnd River', 'Fences', 'Pitch Black' and 'Lake Placid'


Vintember has finally arrived! This month on the Breakdown we will be reviewing a Vin Diesel movie every single week on the podcast. We kick off with the movie that launched Diesel's career as an action star in the sci-fi horror actioner, Pitch Black. We also review four more movies including the horror comedy, Little Evil, Taylor Sheridan's murder mystery thriller set in the snow covered Native American reserve in Wyoming, Wind River, Denzel Washington's directorial debut in the 1950s character drama, Fences, and the homage to the B movie creature feature, Lake Placid. As always if your love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans or leave us a five star review on iTunes.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

1:08 Little Evil review
15:23 Wind River review
32:46 Fences review
50:02 Pitch Black review
1:09:16 Lake Placid review
1:24:27 Trailer reviews: Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, Blade Runner 2049 Short Movie Nexus Dawn: 2036, Super Troopers 2, Killing Gunther, Brawl in Cell Block 99
1:41:16 Box Office Analysis
1:51:12 Review Rundown & Shout out to Ed Skrein

Rating Rundown:
Little Evil **
Wind River ***½ (CS)
Fences ***½ (CS & SM)
Pitch Black *** (CS) & **½ (SM)
Lake Placid ** (CS) & **½ (SM)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Conservative or Liberal: You Don't Need to Be One or the Other


My beliefs and politics usually lean heavily towards the left. If I was told that I had to choose between labelling myself conservative or liberal, then liberal it would be. The problem that I have with outright calling myself liberal on the Internet in 2017, is there is a significant portion of people who would then make assumptions about my beliefs or demand that I hold to certain ideas and values. There is a misguided belief that conservatives have to believe one exact way and liberals have to believe another exact way. Both sides see politics and social issues as things that are black and white (in more ways than one). But they aren't. If anything, I would say my "liberalism" comes from my belief that life and politics and social issues are largely shades of grey and there are very few universal truths. 

My time on the Internet has made it clear that many people are very uncomfortable with accepting shades of grey and many want to declare that there is one almighty correct answer for every issue and question in life. It is why often when someone makes the mistake of trying to debate on the Internet that it almost always devolves into somebody pulling out an unrelated incident and using it as evidence that the other person is wrong -- like if a person dares to think cops are right in defending themselves in one specific incident then they must be okay with the time they shot an unarmed man or if you speak out against police brutality then it means you must be sympathetic to every non-white criminal of the past decade. In both cases, that is absurd and ridiculous and false.

Being liberal means I promote progress and diversity, but it doesn't mean I am ashamed of every aspect of my country's past.

I may be liberal, but I did not vote for either the provincial or federal Liberal parties that are in power.

I think black lives matter and there is proof of institutionalized racism, but I do not support everything about Black Lives Matters.

I despise Nazis and the modern rise of white supremacy, but I also disprove many actions by Antifa too.

I think Donald Trump is xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, petty, and unfit to be president, but also do not think his every decision has moved us to the apocalypse.

Hearing people say the word "fake news" drives me crazy, because I think it is a harmful stance that undermines free press. I also think there is both good and bad reporting from liberal and conservative media, and it is important to fact check all news you agree and disagree with.

Political podcasts are a million dollar business, but all have become pandering to politics of their listeners. It is exhausting to hear the verbal gymnastics taken to defend the very hateful and racist alt-right (aka Nazis and white supremacists) but it is just as tiresome to listen to shows that label someone alt-right the moment they are pro-Republican or Conservative policy.

There is a middle ground. Or even, someone has the right to agree sometimes with conservative beliefs but also champion for progress and diversity. The most unfortunate thing to be sprouted out from social media and the most recent American election, is the myth that believing in progress and diversity means you then have to believe in every far left group that has been birthed. On the other end, many wrongfully deride all who vote Republican and Conservative as being opposed to diversity and progress.

We have entered into a phase where some people can be over sensitive. I've often seen people Twitter who are quick to sharpen the pitch forks and scream racism or sexism the moment the right breathes. Not every piece of art or joke or comment was designed to be dissected with the lens of gender or race. Not everything has an agenda or is meant to be an attack. But I also will confess that I am a heterosexual white male, and despite my regular battles with depression and anxiety will concede being those things allows for an easier life than many. One thing 2017 has been pretty clear about and spending 10 minutes on the Internet will prove, sexism and racism is still strong and there is a backlash against progress. Things need to change, even if those pushing for that change could use a sense humour and some more open mindedness too.

My point is that it is complicated. We have pressed a little too hard on the politically correct button, but we also need progress even more. The problem is there are too many people obsessed with being right rather than being willing to understand the other side. It has turned into yelling and frothing and punching rather than trying to figure out why there is this gigantic rift between those who consider themselves conservative and those that consider themselves liberal. To the point that I now consider both pretty irritating and those words to be damaged.

It is why 2017 is the year where writing about politics on here scares me. I largely just ignore Facebook, because 99.9% of what is posted on there causes me to go into fits. It is the first time in my adulthood where I have started to think that as a society we are actively regressing, and there are moments that I am terrified what kind of world I am leaving my children. 

Of course, then I decide to stop thinking about the world as strictly political and take some time to play dress up with my beautiful son and daughter, and I actually get filled with hope and joy and love again. They don't see the world as liberal or conservative, and they don't have a stance on Donald Trump. Yet they somehow have found a way to love and embrace life.

I'm not preaching ignorance here. I do think it is important to be aware of the world. But I think, it is also important to realize this world is complicated and messy and beautiful and exciting and scary and most definitely, hard to define and categorize. The people that live in it are also all those things, and it is okay to not be one or the other. It is okay to not always be right or to at least, confess you don't know about a few things here or there. We are more than how we vote or worship or joke or watch or paint or eat or skip or believe. 

People don't like messy or complicated. This is why we seem to be in a state where you're either liberal or conservative. Republican or Democrat. At least in Canada, we have more than two major parties, even if usually only Liberal or Conservative get voted in (but we have the illusion of more choice). 

You spend 10 minutes on Twitter, and you are to believe you are either politically correct or politically incorrect; pro-choice or pro-life; atheist or religious; think the police are heroes or abusers of power; feminist or misogynist; capitalist or socialist; cat or dog. Guess what. It isn't true. It has never been true. If we can just take five minutes to realize the purpose of debate isn't to be right, but rather to explore different ideas, then maybe we can accept that there isn't just two sides but rather a bountiful field of beliefs and ideas and values. When you start to listen then you start to realize that two people can both believe a women has a right to choose what to do with their body but still think about the issue in very different and complicated ways.

In anything that matters or has real value, you cannot describe your position with one word or label. I realize that makes things a bit more difficult and what it means is that person who disagrees with you or even that person who you think agrees with you, you are going to need to actually talk to them. You have to listen to them. In the end, you probably will not agree with them, because we as human are stubborn and insecure. Maybe, just maybe, you will start seeing them as something far more than just a word and label.

'Courageous' is Awful and I Rejoice


Another summer is coming to an end, so of course that means Scott has once again lost the Summer Box Office Challenge contest, which resulted in him having to review three movies of my choosing. If you listened to this past Monday's Breakdown, you will know that I revealed my picks. To my surprise, it seems like Scott is not going to let the months drag on with the movie reviews this year, as he wants to rip it off like a week old Band-Aid. This means I get to revel in my prize a little earlier this year, and have more time to decide on my picks for when I inevitably win again next year. The first movie Scott has reviewed is the Christian propaganda drama, Courageous, and to my great pleasure, it sounds awful. You can head over to Scott's blog and delight in Scott's obvious pain.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Logan Lucky', 'Death Note', 'The Hitman's Bodyguard', 'The Message from the King;, 'The Bye Bye Man' and Remembering Tobe Hooper


The Breakdown is jam-packed with five reviews of 2017 releases this week that include the highly anticipated adaptation of a popular manga series, Death Note, and the return to filmmaking from auteur Steven Soderbergh in Logan Lucky. We also look at the career of Tobe Hooper and discuss what makes a strong female character. As always if you love the show then please spread the word.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

00:56 Logan Lucky review
22:48 Death Note review
40:51 The Hitman's Bodyguard review
51:30 The Message from the King review
1:02:38 The Bye Bye Man review
1:15:20 Remembering Tobe Hooper
1:22:27 What makes a strong female character?
1:27:58 Box office analysis and revealing Christopher's three picks
1:38:57 Trailer reviews: mother!, Molly's GameLast Flag Flying, Death Wish, Tulip Fever 
1:55:35 Review Rundown

Movie Ratings:

Logan Lucky ***½ (CS)
Death Note *½ (CS) & ** (SM)
The Hitman's Bodyguard *** (CS)
The Message from the King *** (CS & SM)
The Bye Bye Man ½* (CS) & * (SM)



Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Atomic Blonde', 'Annabelle: Creation', 'The Dark Tower', 'The Incredible Jessica James', 'Icarus', 'Naked' and Remembering Jerry Lewis


It is a special Thursday episode of the Breakdown. But why are doing two episodes in one week? Well, if you haven't noticed the last month of shows have not had reviews for any new releases. This is due to the fact that we recorded them all before any of the August theatrical or Netflix movies came out. This is due to the fact that I was too busy chasing lobster and not falling off cliffs out in the beautiful Maritimes. I am back now, and it time to catch up on several of the movies that I missed. Today's show we have six reviews of relatively new releases that includes the latest chapter in the horror cinematic universe, Annabelle: Creation, as well as the romantic comedy The Incredible Jessica James, and the cold war actioner, Atomic Blonde. As well, we pay tribute to the comedy icon Jerry Lewis. As always if you enjoy the show, then please spread the word or give us a five star review on iTunes.

As well, both Scott and I apologize for the technical quality of this episode as we had major Skype issues and then some problem with the editing software. It is clunky in a few parts, but we still gab it up about the movies.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


The Breakdown Outline:

1:16 Overview of our last month
16:23 The Incredible Jessica James review
28:47 Atomic Blonde review
42:15 Icarus review
57:55 Annabelle: Creation review
1:12:51 Naked review
1:22:42 The Dark Tower review
1:39:17 Remembering Jerry Lewis
1:48:35 Review Rundown

Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

The Incredible Jessica James ***½ (CS & SM)
Atomic Blonde *** (CS)
Icarus ***½ (CS & SM)
Annabelle: Creation *** (CS)
Naked *½ (CS) & ** (SM)
The Dark Tower ** (CS)




Monday, August 21, 2017

The Breakdown of Genre Filmmakers


One of our favourite episodes of The Breakdown is where we spotlight some incredible talents that may not be as well-known among the casual movie fan. This week it is The Breakdown of Genre Filmmakers, where we look at eight talented directors that specialize in low to mid budget fare that is usually in the genres of horror, thriller or sci-fi. It is a great variety from the very well-known in James Wan, to the absolutely legendary in Wes Craven, to the becoming red hot in Jaume Collett-Serra, to indy director on the rise in Karyn Kusama (pictured), to a South Korean genre-master in Joon-Ho Bong. It will be a great show to give you several movies to put on your "must watch list" and spotlight what is a pretty shining future for some of our favourite genres. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


Breakdown Outline:

00:44 Robert Eggers
14:39 Mike Flanagan
28:33 Karyn Kusama
42:18 James Wan
57:30 Bong Joon-Ho (yes, I realize he is South Korean not Japanese)
1:08:53 Wes Craven
1:20:55 Jaume Collet-Serra
1:32:15 Matthew Vaughn

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks: WINNER

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde $18 286 420
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $564 937 540

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation $35 040 000
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie $24 531 923
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard $21 600 000
Total: $403 358 198

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Breakdown of What We Learned After 200 Episodes


It is the 200th episode of The Breakdown. That is a long time to be doing a podcast, and we have our great listeners to thank for its existence. We have learned a lot doing 200 episodes of a movie review podcast, and how we analyze and discuss movies has changed since our first episode. This week we wanted to give some insights and perspectives that we have garnered over our time doing this show. We will provide some advice on what it takes to make a movie review podcast, but also what we have gotten out of the experience. It is a different type of show for us, and we would really appreciate feedback on how it worked. As always if you enjoyed the show then please spread the word to other movie fans. We both want to thank you for listening to us and being the greatest listeners for 200 episodes.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

NOTE: We were having major Skype issues and it somehow led to losing out on over 30 minutes of the show. We lost the segments "seek out the unknown", "champion over crush", and lost half of "don't sell an actor or filmmaker short", "focus on storytelling over universe building" and "trust your views and opinions" (misses the start of my Lone Ranger epiphany).




Breakdown Outline:

Don't judge a movie by its trailer 1:30 
Watch and read everything 10:13 
Don't sell an actor or filmmaker short 19:52 
Truth about star ratings 23:45
Focus on storytelling over universe building 30:44
Trust your views and opinions 32:49
Admit when you're wrong 40:54
Be flexible 47:06

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde $18 286 420
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $564 937 540

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation $35 040 000
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie $24 531 923
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard
Total: $381 758 198

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Trailer Review Rodeo: 'Death Wish', 'Wonder', 'Suburbicon' and More


Apparently, just because I have irregular internet access and in a new location every three days, the studios do not stop popping out movie trailers. Here are my thoughts on a few of the ones that have arrived the past few weeks.

1. Duck Duck Goose (Spring 2018):



Last year I stated that animated movies were having a huge quality renaissance and many of them rivaled live-action pictures for thought-provoking and creative stories. My claim extended to the belief that this spark for compelling original stories was coming from more than just Disney, Pixar, and Laika and that stuff deemed for kids had lots to offer for adults too. Apparently, it is those other studios' agenda to prove me wrong.

2. The Limehouse Golem (September 1):



The murder mystery thriller is one of those subgenres that I often get excited about despite the finished product often being a bit disappointing. Yet knowing this, here I am ready to dig in for this latest period piece mystery thriller. I love the visual sense that has a gothic feel mixed with a Victorian setting with a color palette that gives it a bit of a dream-like feel. I also love Bill Nighy, and Olivia Cooke seems set to be a huge star. I am always a sucker for blending fictional characters with real-life figures (interested to see how Karl Marx fits in), and the story of a serial killer before Jack the Ripper is an interesting one. This looks like it could be a smart and twisty mystery for adults, and a great start to the fall movie season. Of course, I assume I won't have a chance to see this until it comes to Netflix in a year or so.

3. Wonder (November 17):



Wonder is geared for a big Oscar run, but it seems a little more thoughtful, too focused on authentic characters, and have some real human performances to be labelled Oscar bait. I know this one will make me cry, and sure it may be manipulative, but I sense a lot of the emotions will be earned here. I really like the bits here between the kids, and obviously, Jacob Tremblay is in the hunt for a Best Actor statuette. I think he has a strong chance of at least getting a nomination for a Golden Globe if not an Oscar. Feel-good stories are great when they feel grounded and have a worthwhile story to tell, and everyone here seems ready to give something memorable. My guess is it will be a pretty solid box office performer with the average movie goer, which will be a huge help for it Oscar run. I am looking forward to seeing this one, which is not something I expected before seeing the first two trailers.

4. mother! (September 15):



I'll admit that I don't entirely know what is going on here, except that Jennifer Lawrence's character has a bunch of unwanted strangers in her home and her husband Javier Bardem may not be who she believed. Even if this trailer did not have some great creepy visual, interesting incorporations of some dark fantasy elements, and a top notch cast playing some eerie character, Darren Aronofsky is a director that commands anticipation no matter what movie he is crafting. It his big return to horror that has the same surreal and dark imagery of his terrific Black Swan that makes this one of the can't miss movies of the fall. I just beg my Brantford Cineplex to pick this one up, please.

5. Same Kind of Different as Me (October 20):



So, does Greg Kinnear just do big studio Christian heart tuggers, now? Probably not, I bet he will do small studios ones too.

6. Keep Watching (Fall 2017?):



For a few years, I've heard about The Strangers reboot/sequel, but it now feels like that plan has just been renamed Keep Watching. It has almost the same premise of a group of creepy masked individuals terrorizing a family that has to fight back to survive. Of course, that is also the premise of almost every home invasions movie ever, and with a few exceptions, like the terrific Hush, the movies are indistinguishable. This one also feels like The Strangers because it has a similar eerie answer when the tormentors are asked why they are terrorizing this family, "Because it is fun." Kind of hard to not to see the similarity to "Because you were home." Either way, this feels like something I've seen many times before, and I hope it has something up its sleeve to avoid its generic feel.

7. Goodbye Christopher Robin (October 13): 



I love A.A, Milne's two collection of children's stories Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, because it so wonderfully embodies the mind of an imaginative child with it innocence, naivety, mischief, curiosity, and gentleness. It is a balance of being comforting stories mixed with a sense of adventure. Milne did such an impressive job really getting into the mind of a child, which has helped make it one of the enduring collection of children stories (Disney probably helped a tad too). The upcoming biopic of the famous author is intriguing because it has that sense of wonder and whimsy, but also shows a man traumatized by the war and needing these childhood stories to heal himself. It also has a tender and complicated relationship with his son who ends up being one of the main characters in the stories of Hundred Acre Wood. Domhnall Gleeson is wonderful casting, because he has the dramatic heft to handle those moments of a man wrestling his past but also a natural kind-hearted spirit that shows a man able to write the iconic stories. Margot Robbie has proven to always be terrific as well, so hopefully she is given some substantial scenes. It will be interesting to see how the movie weaves his traumatic history with the creation of the iconic bear. This looks like another one that may earn it tears and be a solid feel gooder this fall. This trailer gives me a lot more anticipation than the first one that at the time made the movie feel a bit more derivative and manipulative.

8. The Hitman's Bodyguard (August 18):



I have really dug the marketing campaign for The Hitman's Bodyguard, and it has a fun Lethal Weapon like action mixed with comedy vibe except this one leans much heavier on comedy. Maybe it is more of a Midnight Run? This time around this trailer seems to be trying to hint that Salma Hayek has a bigger role than past trailers have promised. My feeling is the success of female lead pictures this year has made the studio want to capitalize on that demographic to beef up the box office. My guess, is she is still just a typical wife character that stays at home while the boys play, except she curses way more.

9. Death Wish (November 22):



The original Death Wish came out in 1974, during a time that crime in New York was rising and also many minorities were moving into the city. Those two things don't coincide, but the city was dipping into poverty and the citizens were petrified of crime. The 1970s was a time where there was a great mistrust of government and authority, but one of the big things was the feeling that the police were not doing enough to protect the average citizen from skyrocketing crime. It was movies like Death Wish and Dirty Harry that were playing like visceral fantasies were vigilantes didn't follow the rules and did whatever they could to fight crime. Things have changed a lot since the 1970s, especially that now a lot of the fear surrounds cops abusing their power to kill and the misguided vigilante with a gun who shoots the unarmed black man. It was this change of tide that made me nervous about a Death Wish remake and making me believe the producers behind it were tone death. My fears were increased when Eli Roth was attached, because he has a history of making movies that play on fears of xenophobia and fears of the "other" like Hostel and The Green Inferno. The trailer has now furthered my belief this is a big misstep in the studio constant obsession with using known properties to launch a franchise. The music and tone makes this look like a fun romp action picture, but it is still a white guy with a gun going around executing people and trying to make him look like some kind of hero. Maybe there is some layers and an attempt to make Bruce Willis' character complicated and tormented, but the grindhouse obsessed Roth has never proven to me to be a nuanced and complex storyteller.

10. First They Killed My Father (September 15):



Combination of the notorious out east wifi that I am constantly been battling and the duties of the family tripping father has now made this piece stretch over two days now, so I am going to try to wrap this up soon, so we can all move on with our lives and this avoids being posted a week from my writing this (Saturday morning now). This is clearly one of Netflix's big grabs for that Best Picture Oscar nomination that has eluded them and has already gone to competitor Amazon Studios last year (Manchester by the Sea). I haven't heard a lot of buzz for this even though it looks haunting and powerful without using the token imagery from typical "message" movies. I really like Angeline Jolie's visual sense as a director even if she has a narrative she constantly returns to telling. Loung Ung's memoirs are powerful and I think there is still a lot to be explored during the genocide perpetuated during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The big issue will be having strong characters and having moments to breath during the heavy and dark material. The colourful a d bright visuals does a lot to set a contrasting tone to the story that will be told.

11. Suburbicon (October 27):



Wifi is driving me crazy and the small living space means I'm trying to create words while trying to ignore varying renditions of 'Let It Go' in between sibling Royal Rumbles, so it is time to tap out on this piece. I needed to say that the George Clooney directed, Coen brother written and Matt Damon starring quirky suburb thriller is right behind The Last Jedi as my most anticipated of the fall. It of course is very different, even if both will have great supporting roles from Oscar Isaac (who will be playing very different characters). The key here is how well Clooney can balance the satirical elements with the man raging against the mob thriller story. This one is brimming with personality and some intriguing characters. But once again, I find myself not entirely confident I'll actually be able to see it this year as it isn't a guarantee to be Brantford bound.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Promoting Scott's Newest Writing Endeavour and My Own Brief Exploration Into My Personal Emotional Warfare


The lesson of the past two week is that wifi is no match for mountains, oceans, and big trees. I had hopes of writing more than my one throwaway piece two weekends ago, but the islands have smote me by making my connection non-existent most hours of the day. I do not have a solid history with islands, as they seem to best me (my Medeba brethren know this well).

If my connection had been better then I would have already promoted the latest writing project by my The Movie Breakdown co-host, Scott Martin, He is still putting up movie reviews over at his Movie a Day Blog (a title that sadly often is not true, but he vows to make it a reality), but he has now started up a new site detailing his daily battles with mental health and anxiety called Ramblings of a Closet Nut Bag. Crippling anxiety and now agoraphobia have been a daily part of Scott's life for the last four years, or also known as his entire time co-hosting The Movie Breakdown, so despite its emotional crush, he has found ways to be productive.

Writing about mental health and having people be open with their own personal struggles is really important. I commend those brave enough to share their personal experiences. I do not think mental health has the same stigma that it once did, but a lot of that is due to people who are willing to really explain how it effects and dictates their days and lives. This is also why I've been drawn to the very talented and funny writer Nathan Rabin, who writes about pop culture and assortment of big creative flops, but has also not shied away from sharing his own compulsive tendencies, battles with depression, and daily warfare with anxiety. It has helped me realize that I am not on an isolated island who has a complicated writing career that is a dream and provider of solace while also a constant source of mind-exploding compulsive obsessive worry and panic attack inducing anxiety.

It has been my great shame that every day my emotions bounce to high blood pressure, painful muscle tension, and chest constricting anxiety to down in the deepest gutter depression despite having joyous children and a wonderful wife. I know, I have no reason to have these emotions, and feel that I have not been able to provide my very best, despite knowing my little cherubs and long-suffering wife deserve so much better. I have the usual panic attacks over where my next client will come from and fighting the dark voices that shame me that I'm not the breadwinner in my family despite being equipped with a penis. I also freak out when the phone rings or I know someone is coming over for a visit or there is the pending doom that is a social gathering on a weekend. I've been labelled a curmudgeon, even though I actually enjoy social interactions, but my anxiety likes to trick me into believing otherwise. Since April, I had many sleepless night and battles with bouncing emotions over this family trip over knowing how hard it is to be away when I am a freelancer (no thing as vacation pay and clients tend leave if gone over a week) and also just because my emotions have made me less flexible with change. Of course, I know the trip is good for me and it has been a grand experience for my family.

I also panic daily over being revealed that I am nothing more than a hack writer trying to delude himself into believing he can create anything that people want to read. Self-doubt and lack of faith in my skills has been something I've known most of my life, yet is then contradicted by a constant need to write and have public exposure. The voices scream constantly over how can I lure in strangers and grow an audience when I know that even most of my family and friends don't even regularly read my stuff (even if there is evidence that hundred and sometimes even thousands of people have read my stuff, thus going against this hourly fear). I obsess daily over my numbers in an attempt to validate myself as someone with talent and value as a writer. Sometimes it works out well when a piece is massively popular, but other times can crash against the rocks when it is revealed that my last two podcasts The Breakdown of Box Office Flops and Breakdown of Totally '80s (two pieces that I put a lot of time and heart into) didn't end up being the hits that I had hoped or imagined. I admit that I've been depressed they did not end up being popular, though if I am honest, they have had a decent amount of listenership for shows lacking new release reviews (plus history shows when I am not posting stuff regularly that the podcast numbers do dip slightly).

Actual facts are not enough to eradicate the cloud of failure that haunts me. It strikes me with lightening that causes daily panic attacks that I often fear are actual heart attacks, and leave me the depressed evening zombie that forces me to dig into the near empty energy vessel to finish client work after the kids are in bed and leave nothing after to maintain the blog that I keep promising will have regular content (and eventually be something that I want to have a large enough audience where I can derive a source of income). I have alluded to all this in past blogs, which is why I feel redundant writing about this now, though I am not sure if I have ever actually admitted fully to this daily war.

I also don't think I have fully admitted that every extended podcast hiatus has been my doing. It has been panic that the show isn't good enough or not worthy of listeners or isn't popular, so why put the energy into it. Or other times, other parts of my career seem to be suffering, so the podcast has been the burden that needs to be released. I regret it every time, and it has never resulted in anything worthwhile. I hope it never happens again, but I never trust myself when guided by fear and self-doubt.

This is why I am thankful for the Scott Martins and Nathan Rabins of the writing world who admit daily anxiety and obsessing over their popularity are struggles that more than myself face. It reminds me the crucial importance of being honest in my own writing and forcing myself to tackle these demons by writing about them when they are at their strongest. Though to be honest, I think all this is probably boring for everyone who isn't me, but at least it provides a reason for why I am often not true to my words when I promise the content will pour flow from the rainbows like Skittles. Though as I opened this piece, a lot of these past few weeks has more to do with my current environment and inability to access the wonders of the Internet.

This is my thank you to Scott for being brave, so please check out his daily blog, and prove it is important to write about mental illness and anxiety. Maybe we can prove there is a community out there that is supporting each other, and that we can manage this nasty emotional stuff to create something beautiful and magical.