Review of DOWNTON ABBEY – Rated PG

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DOWNTON ABBEY REVIEW

By Mary Cox

PG rated

If you are a fan of the television series “Downton Abbey” you are going to absolutely love this opportunity to spend a couple of hours with the Crawleys of Downton Abbey and their staff.  If you have never watched “Downton Abbey” on television you can still enjoy the elegant writing of Julian Fellowes.

The movie stands alone but like the television show the story is chuck full of twists, turns and tension when it is announced that the King and Queen of England plan to visit Downton Abbey.

There is only one word that describes the cinematography, sets and costumes: majestic.  Everything about this movie is regal; especially the acting.  Even though the television program saw all the characters going their own ways, Fellowes found a way to bring them all back flawlessly.

Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary Crawley looked terrific with her new bob hairdo and she seemed a little kinder than before.  Lady Edith, (Laura Carmichael), has never looked better.   Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern returned as Lord and Lady Crawley.

The downstairs staff is back with the Crawleys.  Mrs., Pattimore, (Lesley Nicol) and the irrepressible Daisy, (Sophie McShera), are in the kitchen.  The retired Carson, (Jim Carter), is brought back by Lady Mary.  Mrs. Hughes, (Phyllis Logan) is still head housekeeper. Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates, (Brendan Coyle) have a son.  Anna saves the day when the royal staff come to Downton to replace the staff.

Imelda Staunton plays Maud Bagshaw, a cousin of Violet.  In real life she is Jim Carter’s wife.  You will recognize her from the Harry Potter series.

The banter between Violet Crawley, (Maggie Smith), And Isobel Merton, (Penelope Wilton),  was the highlight of the film for me and provided some of the funniest moments.

I am a fan of the “Downton Abbey” television show and I loved the movie.  I went to two screenings it was so good and I plan to purchase the film because this is a movie that you will want to see over and over; it will stand the test of time.  However, the best way to see the film for the first time is on the big screen.  “Downton Abbey”  needs to be seen on the big screen to do justice to the splendor of the production.

I GIVE THIS FILM 5 STARS

AD ASTRA – Rated PG-13 – 2 hr. 2 mins        

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This humble opinion is brought to by you T. K. Edwards

AD ASTRA – Rated PG-13 – 2 hr. 2 mins        

Director:  James Gray, Dan Bradley

Cast:  Brad Pitt, Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland

Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.

NO SPOILERS BELOWAD ASTRA isn’t a movie…it’s a magic trick.  The film gives you some amazing visuals and an outstanding leading man to distract your attention from the fact that the movie’s story is not as great as it seems.  The fact of the matter is, AD ASTRA’s story is weak, but because you’re watching Brad Pitt on screen and another one of his exceptional performances you’re not going to notice that, a lot (if not all) of this movie is below average.  Science aside (which I will get back too), the plot is as basic as it gets, and we’ve heard it a thousand times before. My dad left. My dad died. My dad might still be alive. My journey to find my dad begins now. There is nothing original about AD ASTRA except that it is Brad Pitt’s 1st Space Adventure Movie – (which was extremely fun to write just now, Lmao).  Now let’s talk about the science portion of AD ASTRA because it is atrocious.  I don’t know if the directors were trying to ground this movie in reality or make it more of a fantastical period piece, but either way it didn’t work because of all the “space laws” were pretty much broken and the set pieces just added to that confusion.  If you’re going to make a space movie your sets must follow the rules you are suggesting. For example, in the 2016 film PASSENGERS the film’s “space laws” were followed. Everything in the film looked like things that could not have been invented for a very long time or were not even at all possible.  They had cryo-tubes, a Michael Sheen robot that served you drinks and an amusement park ride that dragged you behind the spaceship you were hitching a ride on. Far fetched and we knew this because the story, set pieces and special effects supported this idea. In AD ASTRA, they do not do this. They make you think this is in our possible near future and a LOT of the stuff in this movie are not possible without some sort of explanation that they do not give to you, which in turn makes the movie distracting.  There’s also some other science in the film that they screw up, like…umm…I don’t know…let’s pick one at random…I know…GRAVITY!!! How do you screw that one up? That should’ve been the third question after they green lit this picture. What genre is the film? Sci-Fi. Who should we cast? Brad Pitt. What are we going to do about gravity in this film? It’s space, it’ll work itself out. No no no no no nooooooooooooooooo! One thing I did like about AD ASTRA is that it has proven once again what movie going audiences have already known for quite some time and that is…”IN BRAD WE TRUST!!!”  Brad Pitt can make a very weak movie with a story that is not written very well, look better than it actually is. Some prime examples of movies from his resume that do just this are the following:

  • THE DEVIL’S OWN
  • ALLIED
  • THE TREE OF LIFE
  • WAR MACHINE
  • THE COUNSELLOR
  • BY THE SEA
  • THE MEXICAN
  • COOL WORLD (Honorable Mention)

Pitt is one of my “ALL TIME” favorite actors and it seems like everything he does, he puts all he has into making the best film possible, but sometimes he’s working with a bad story.  And sometimes having Brad Pitt in your movie is just not enough. So, if you’re a big Sci-Fi movie fan, my suggestion is to stay away from AD ASTRA because it will only piss you off to no end.  But if you’re just a fan of Brad Pitt and don’t care about the laws of science, then it’s totally up to you to watch this one either at the theater or on your couch at home. Until next time, thanks for reading. 

Review of HUSTLERS – Rated R – 1 hr. 49 mins.

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This review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser 

HUSTLERS – Rated R – 1 hr. 49 mins

DIRECTOR/WRITER:  Lorene Scafaria

WRITERS:  Jessica Pressler (Magazine Article)

STARRING:  Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Mercedes Ruehl, Lili Reinhart, Cardi B, Mette Towley, Trace Lysette and Wai Ching Ho.

Inspired by a New York Magazine Article, penned by Jessica Pressler (Julia Stiles), we meet Exotic Dancer Destiny (Constance Wu), trying to make a living in the world of Exotic Dance, not only so she can survive, but to aid her ailing grandmother (Wai Ching Ho) too.  When she finally meets “the Queen” of the Strip club they are both working at, the incredibly gorgeous, and smart Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), Ramona takes Destiny under her wing, and teaches her the ropes of their profession, and how to really make money from the tons of investment bankers, investment brokers, and Wallstreet tycoons that frequent their establishment, each and every week.  When the great fall of 2008 effects everyone’s bank account, including the gentleman that apparently can no longer afford their weekly stripper fix, Ramona, Destiny, Mercedes (Keke Palmer), and new girl on the block Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) decide to take matters into their own hands, coercing these gentleman once again, with their good looks, and dancing techniques, oh, and maybe a little drugging along the way too, before they manage to clean out their bank accounts, in order to continue to live the highlife, they have all grown accustomed to…

I give HUSTLERS a rating of WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD OR NETFLIX:  Even though it seems that there are many other critics singing this films accolades, even determining that Jennifer Lopez’s acting is worthy of some accolades come awards time, I personally think that this film was rather run of the mill, and middle of the road.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, Lopez is perfectly cast in this role, and she is really good in it ~ If I only had her perfectly sculpted body and poll dancing moves at 50, which in itself is truly amazing stuff to view ~ but beyond those facts, I wasn’t so blown away by her performance, that I felt it was Golden Globe or Oscar worthy. I actually thought that Constance Wu’s performance was the best throughout this film, as she channels an entirely different character, than the squeaky clean persona she portrays in last years “Crazy Rich Asians”, and with much more depth and realism that I think I have ever seen from her before.  The most amazing thing about this film, for me actually, was that it is based on real-life events, where these Hustlers made sure that the men that wanted to view “their merchandise”, ended up in a situation that they were all ill-equipped to handle, paying exorbitant amounts of cash-o-la, for not a lot of pleasure, when it was all said and done.  But, if you are thinking that you want to have a super-fun girls night this weekend and catch a slightly better than average chick-flick, then by all means, gather your girlfriends and head out to a theater near you this weekend and catch Wu and Lopez in action, but if you are hoping to see an incredible movie, with Oscar worthy performances, take my word for it, you are going to be rather disappointed, so that is why I am suggesting that you still view this film…you just wait to do it, when you can view it, in the comfort of your own home.

Review of BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON – Rated R – 1 hr. and 44 mins.

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“So funny, so real, and so inspiring, you just have to see it on a big screen near you!” Kathy Kaiser, Matineechat.com

This Review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser 

BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON – Rated R – 1 hr. and 44 mins.

DIRECTOR/WRITER:  Paul Downs Colaizzo 

STARRING:  Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Alice Lee, Mikah Stock, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Patch Darragh

Have you ever seen a film before that manages to move you to your core, and that’s just as funny, as it is real, with each passing frame?  Well, the Audience Award Winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival is all that, and so much more, as we get the pleasure of venturing into the messed up life of 20-something party girl Brittany (Jillian Bell), always looking for a good time, and a way to escape her rather mundane existence.  Set to liven up her life through chemistry, Brittany seeks to acquire and experience the effects of recreational Adderall, but, much to her dismay, her physician of choice Dr. Falloway (Patch Darragh), isn’t caving into her request of how to make herself feel better.  Instead, he suggests another way, stressing the importance of living a healthier lifestyle, while conveying how much better she would feel in general, if she could manage to get 50 lbs. off her not so large frame.  And how, pray tell, does one manage to get that much weight off, without a gym membership, which Brittany totally can’t afford, or better yet, how do you get the ambition to take on such a monumental task?  Enter her upstairs neighbor, and running enthusiast Catherine (Michaela Watkins), who of course has the perfect body, the perfect disposition, and apparently, an unlimited bank account.  Apparently trying to deal with her own demons too it seems, Catherine finally convinces Brittany to take on the world by joining her running group, where she meets fellow slacker, turned running groupie Seth (Micah Stock). When our newfound companions decide It’s the perfect time for each of them to gain control of their lives, they set out to train to run the New York Marathon.  But even with Brittany pushing everyone to follow the path they set forth with running the Marathon, it seems that she is still in need of some self-introspection along the way, in order to defy all of her insecurities, and emotional baggage, which apparently have nothing to do with her losing a few more pounds…

I give BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN:  It’s very rare to come across a film that is a true story, and scripted, acted and directed so well, that it manages to move you, without coming across as fake, or contrived, and that my friends is exactly what you are in store for with newcomer Colaizzo’s film, Brittany Runs a Marathon! Comedian Jillian Bell has spread her wings to show us all that she is one heck of a dramatic actress too, as her performance is so superb as Brittany, that it totally transcends all of her previous roles to date. Watkins, Ambudkar and Lee also manage to bring depth to this film in their respective roles, as they all convey a genuineness in this film, that is not only memorable, but moving as well.  Tender, touching and sometimes in-your-face all too real, Brittany Runs A Marathon is one of those uniquely created films, that will manage to not only affect, but totally inspire each and every person who gets the opportunity to view it, regardless of where you are peon your own life’s journey.  There is truly not one scene within this perfectly crafted film that you cannot relate to in one way or another, either from a point of reference earlier in life, or as for me, as I personally shed a tear of two when it came way too close to my present existence, so be prepared for to possibly shed a tear or two along the way as well!  Just know that from its comedic laughs to its heart-wrenching realities of life, Brittany Runs a Marathon is the definite “Must See” film this weekend, even with its limited release here locally, so just plan on taking that 30 minute drive to see this awesomely fabulous film, and I promise you, you won’t be sorry!

Check out the NEW TRAILER for BAD BOYS FOR LIFE – Hits Theaters January 17, 2020

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Genre: Action/Comedy

January 17, 2020

The Bad Boys Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are back together for one last ride in the highly anticipated Bad Boys for Life.

Directed By:
Adil El Arbi & Bilall FallahScreenplay by:
Joe Carnahan and Chris Bremner

Story by:
Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan and Chris Bremner

Produced by:
Jerry Bruckheimer
Will Smith

Executive Producers:
Doug Belgrad
Barry Waldman
Chad Oman
Mike Stenson

Cast:
Will Smith
Martin Lawrence
Vanessa Hudgens
Alexander Ludwig
Charles Melton
Paola Nunez
Kate Del Castillo
Nicky Jam
and Joe Pantoliano

Official Site#BadBoysForLife

AFTER THE WEDDING – Rated PG-13 – 1 hr. 51 mins.

After the wedding

This Review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser

AFTER THE WEDDING – Rated PG-13 – 1 hr. 51 mins.

DIRECTED BY:  Bart Freundlich 

WRITTEN BY:  Susanne Bier, Bart Freundlich and Anders Thomas Jensen

STARRING:  Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup, Abby Quinn, Will Chase and Azhy Robertson

Let’s venture across the world to an orphanage in India, where Isabel (Michelle Williams) lives out her days, bringing joy to all those around her.  As the orphanage struggles to stay afloat, it seems a certain benefactor has stepped forward to help keep them afloat.  But, this “anonymous source”, located in New York City, is adamite that Isabel venture back to the states to get everything in place, before she will relinquish any of the funds.  And as Isabel soon finds, nothing is ever quite as it seems, when she meets business mogul Theresa (Julianne Moore), who is wrapped up in her own life, to be totally engaged with Isabel once she arrives,  thus suggesting that everything they need to discuss wait until after her daughter Grace’s (Abby Quinn) wedding…

Anxious to return to India as fast as she can, as she longs for her life among the children that she can’t live without, Isabel soon finds that Theresa’s intensions, although not forthright in the beginning, are truly pure and above reproach in the end, thus bringing Isabel to rethink he own life’s journey along the way too…

I give AFTER THE WEDDING a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN:  Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams are both absolutely brilliant in this beautifully written, and even more beautifully portrayed film.  After the Wedding manages to poetically pay tribute to the passion of life, the passion of motherhood, and the sacrifices that every woman in this world will make for those they love.  After the Wedding is truly one of those rare films that draws you in more and more, with each passing frame, and doesn’t let go.  Maybe it’s the fact that many parts of my own life seemed to be flashing before my eyes on screen.  Maybe it’s because I feel that both Moore and Williams should be getting nods for their exceptional performances throughout every inch of this fabulous film.  Or maybe it’s just because there are few films made these days that truly touch on the essence of women, like this film does.  All I know is that when you combine the work of Moore and Williams, with the additional exceptional performances by Billy Cudrup, and Abby Quinn,  you end up with one incredibly moving  film.  And please make sure to bring along some tissues too when you head out to the theater, as if you are a mother, a wife, a lover or a friend, After the Wedding is going to touch you in a way, that few films have done before…

Review of ANGEL HAS FALLEN  – Rated R  – 2 hr.        

Angel has fallen

This humble opinion is brought to by you T. K. Edwards

ANGEL HAS FALLEN  – Rated R  – 2 hr.        

Director:  Ric Roman Waugh

Cast:  Gerard Butler, Piper Perabo, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Danny Huston, Nick Nolte, Time Blake Nelson

Secret Service Agent Mike Banning is framed for the attempted assassination of the President and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat.

NO SPOILERS BELOWANGEL HAS FALLEN is the 3rd movie in the Gerard Butler “HAS FALLEN” action movie franchise.  When the first movie (OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN) came out in 2013 it was overshadowed by the fact that the same exact movie (WHITE HOUSE DOWN) came out at the same exact time – just like the following movies:

  • DEEP IMPACT vs. ARMAGEDDON
  • THE PRESTIGE vs. THE ILLUSIONIST
  • CHASING LIBERTY vs. FIRST DAUGHTER
  • BABE vs. GORDY
  • TURNER & HOOCH vs. K-9
  • VOLCANO vs. DANTE’S PEAK 

When the second movie, LONDON HAS FALLEN, came out in 2016 I was pleasantly surprised by the fact they were going to have a “go” at making this a new franchise.  I thought the action in both films was decent and reminded me of old school 1990s movies filled with loads of guns, a ton of bullets, obnoxious explosions and an overload of bloody violence.  Now, with the release of ANGEL HAS FALLEN I know that’s exactly where we’re going with these movies. The “HAS FALLEN” franchise is this generation’s new DIE HARD series and to be honest, I’m weirdly okay with that.  I really like Gerard Butler and I enjoy his character, Mike Banning, in these movies. Butler can handle the action, the drama and the cheesy comedy scattered throughout all of these movies. He is also still young enough to be believable and looks like he can handle his own too.  Another thing that ANGEL HAS FALLEN does that I love and I think helps the series move forward is the inclusion of the same characters from the previous films. This is Morgan Freeman’s third time playing the character Allan Trumbull, but with a little twist this time…he’s the President.  And let’s face it, there’s only so many times Aaron Eckhart can be saved and continue being the President before he says, “You know, I think I’m not going to run next term. Terrorists seem to really want me dead and I’m getting too old for this shit. Let’s pass the torch to Mr. Freeman and see what he does with it”.  One big surprise for me in ANGEL HAS FALLEN was the inclusion of actor Nick Nolte as Mike Banning’s father. I wasn’t expecting too much from him and thought his performance in the movie WARRIOR was his final peak in his career, but once again to my surprise Nolte was one of the best parts of ANGEL HAS FALLEN. His grungy alley cat performance was a perfect fit for his character in the movie and he even brought loads of levity to off the wall action scenes.  All in all, ANGEL HAS FALLEN is exactly what you’re expecting it to be. A good old fashioned action movie. My suggestion is if you have seen the first two HAS FALLEN films and really like them, then go see this third one in theaters, otherwise this is one you should definitely watch at home. Until next time, thanks for reading.

P.S. – There is a bit of a post credit scene at the beginning of the credits and then nothing else follows.  

Kathy vs TK’s view of THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON – Rated PG-13

“Friends are the family YOU CHOOSE…”

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This Review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser

THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON – Rated PG-13 – 1 hr. 33 mins.

DIRECTORS/WRITERS:   Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson

STARRING:  Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Bruce Dern, Thomas Haden Church, John Hawkes, and featuring Zack Gottsagen

As we trod down a path less traveled, as this Mark Twainesque adventure unfolds, we meet Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Downs Syndrome, who by no fault of his own, has been cooped up in an old folks’ home for far too long.  Zak passes his time longing to meet his idol, The Saltwater Redneck (Thomas Haden Church), who is not only a wrestler, but a wrestling instructor too.  When his roommate Carl (Bruce Dern) assists Zak in a rather masterful escape, it seems that he is now on the lam, seeking out a way to find his idol, so he too can learn the art of Wrestling.

When caseworker Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) realizes Zack is on the run, she has to find him, before he gets himself into a situation, that he has no idea how to get out of.  As fate would have it, Zak ends up crossing paths with local hooligan & fisherman Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who seems to be as lost in his own life, as Zak presently is in his.  So, as these two new compadres make their way in the world, traveling to find Zak’s idol ~ they both soon find too, that you can achieve anything in this life if you put your mind to it, and as long as you have the people who truly love you ~ for you ~ along for the ride…

Writer & Director Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson have created a film that exudes from every frame of its being, the beauty and brilliance of one young man’s life, and as authentically genuine and real as it gets.  Shia LaBeouf is exceptional, and I feel, at the top of his game this time around, playing the lost in life, and rather downtrodden Tyler.  Newcomer Zack Gottsagen is absolutely incredible every step of the way too, in this film that Schwartz and Nilson saw fit to write and create, just for him!  Dakota Johnson is fabulous too, playing Zak’s caseworker, as she really shines in this heartfelt and dramatic role.  And once you bring in veteran actors Bruce Dern, John Hawkes and Thomas Haden Church to the mix, The Peanut Butter Falcon soars to new heights, bringing you a passionate story of humanity and kindness, that you absolutely must experience for yourself!  And if this films perfectly crafted storyline doesn’t tug enough at your heartstrings enough to reel you in, the cinematography of this masterpiece in the making sure will, as this film plays out as a love story to our way of life in the bayous, throughout every inch of this film as well.  Suffice to say that The Peanut Butter Falcon is one of those rare films that will touch every fiber of your being by the time it’s through, making it a definite MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN film for me, which shouldn’t be viewed any other way! It truly is one of the most touching and compassionate films I’ve seen in a very long time, and you will totally be doing yourself an injustice if you don’t run out to a theater near you this weekend and catch The Peanut Butter Falcon, in all its glory, as soon as possible

 

This humble opinion is brought to by you T. K. Edwards

THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON – Rated PG-13 – 1 hr. 33 mins        

Director:  Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz

Cast:  Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen, John Hawkes, Thomas Haden Church, Bruce Dern, Jon Bernthal

Zak runs away from his care home to make his dream of becoming a wrestler come true.

NO SPOILERS BELOW

THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON was such a welcome surprise as far as an independent film that had more heart and humor than I was expecting.  The title alone makes people stop and go “bug eyed” if they haven’t heard of it yet. I know when I was telling people about the movie, everyone’s initial reaction to the title was exactly the same, they each said – “What’s the name of the movie?”, followed immediately by, “What the hell is it about?”.  So instead of telling them, I just let the trailer do the talking and I have to say, once again, everyone had the same response which was – “That looks good”, followed immediately by, “I’d see that” (LMAO). I love watching independent movies and I’ll use THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON as an example to why I do.  One: They are always a surprise to me. You never know what you’re going to see when you watch an independent movie because they’re not oversaturated by how much the movie company advertise them. The only way you really know anything about these films is if you do your own research by reading up on them or if you go out of your way to watch the trailer.  That being said, the only way you’re going to see a trailer for this movie is if it starts having a following. A great example of this exact situation is the movie THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE OF EBBING MISSOURI. No one heard anything about that movie until the actors started getting nominated for awards. A second reason I love independent movies is the cast.  The cast of independent films usually give audiences the feeling they care just “that much” more. Maybe it’s because the project hits closer to home for them. Maybe the story is their own. Maybe they want to help their friends to make it. Whatever the reason is, the cast usually gives 120% and that is definitely the case with THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON. Shia LaBeouf stands out front with this point the most.  We all know him from his crazy weird antics he’s been doing the past few years, but what a lot of us have forgotten is the guy is a great actor. He really is. And he shows us just how diverse he can be with his role in this movie. I attribute the success of this whole movie to him. I don’t want to take away from the other lead of this film, Zack Gottsagen, he does a great job too and I would say he’s the heart of the film and the rest of the supporting cast are amazing too, but the driving force of THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON, the thing that moves this machine forward is Shia LaBeouf.  As far as my recommendation for THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON, I would say this one is either one you should see in theaters or wait to watch it at home. Either way, it’s definitely worth watching and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you will be taken with both the characters and the story. Until next time, thanks for reading.  

P.S. – There is no post credit scene.

 

Interview with Writer & Director Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson, chatting about their new film THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON

 

 

Writer & Director Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson sit down to chat about their new film:  THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON

One of the most incredible 15 minutes of my life in the past few weeks, was having the  opportunity to sit down atop the Moonrise Hotel in University City to chat about the making of the film – The Peanut Butter Falcon – with the Writers and Directors of the film, Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson. 

Having just viewed the film before the interview, I couldn’t wait to hear Michael and Tyler’s thoughts on why they felt compelled to bring this totally authentic and genuine film to the big screen, and of course, how it all came to fruition…  

Kathy:   How long had you known Zack before you came to work with him on this film?

Michael:  We had known Zack for a couple years before we started down the path of making this film… 

Tyler:  We actually met Zack when Mike and I were volunteering at a camp for people with disabilities, and we were making short films with the campers there, and we saw him giving a performance that was really fantastic in the short film.  He was really making clever acting decisions and being very present.  He would do things like take his sunglasses off, and put them down on the table, and say “I’m going to do it like that, because that’s how this character would do it…”  He just had an innate sense of what to do when it came to acting, and we couldn’t believe how good he was.  I guess we’ve known him for 8 years now, about three working on the film and starting this process.  He always likes to point out that I’ve known him a little while longer than Mike J And he’s really quick to point this out too, that it’s been about a whole six months longer.  While we were making this film, he also loved teasing back and forth with Mike and I, “Tyler you are the real Director.”  And then the next hour he would say, “Mike you are the real Director”.  He likes choosing favorites, I think because he is so full of love, and he wants you to know that. But then if I would you call him out on it and tell him “I’m a real Director too Zack”, he would then just laugh and say, “your right, your right, your right…you are the real Director too!”

 

Kathy:  Had you done any work in film before you started working on The Peanut Butter Falcon? 

Tyler:  Mike and I had worked on a few short films, and a few commercials along the way too…but we really weren’t “Hollywood per se”, we were kind of lying on the outskirts of the film industry, working on these projects…

Michael:  In other words, we didn’t have any agents, managers, or famous friends…

Tyler:  We still are like nobody, really… we just felt that he had something that the world needed to see with Zack.  There was a story in him, that we needed to get out there for all the world to see.  I mean, most actors I’d seen before would just say their lines, and then wait for their fellow actor to say their line, and then just say their next line, not really creating a living breathing organism with their performances.   But when Zack would create scenes for us, they were fantastic, they truly became living, breathing organisms, which is a really unique thing for an actor to be able to do.  And then, on top of that, realizing that Zack, who has Down’s Syndrome, which we is considered a disability…which it really isn’t I must say…as he has a “different ability” especially when it comes to performing.  And when he would  show up stronger in his abilities than somebody that was coming to the table without any of that, we just felt compelled to share his story.

We talked about it with Zack, and he shared with us too, that he really wanted to be in movies and films.  And then once he shared these sentiments with us, and Mike and I realized what he truly wanted to do, we decided we had to make this movie with him, and for him.  I mean, there really aren’t a lot of opportunities, or material written for people in feature films with disabilities, like Downs Syndrome, so we decided to create a film where Zack could show his talents, the whole way through…

Michael:  But we also tried to be realistic with him from the start too.  Like, we didn’t try to build him up by saying “oh you can go be an astronaut Zack, because, as we all know, not everyone can be an astronaut; so we tried to take the same path with the making of this film.  We explained  there are things that you can do, and things that you can’t do for anybody in this world, including becoming an actor, as not everyone can be an actor in Hollywood.  And through this process, I made a point too to explain to him that the chance of me personally becoming a movie star was really slim as well…

Tyler:  Me too. I told him like my chances of becoming a movie star probably aren’t going to happen either.  But Zack was so sweet, and loving through the whole process, and then he just came out with “Well why don’t we just do this together. I mean, you make short films, and I AM an Actor, so let’s just do it together, and Mike and I thought about it for about 3 seconds…

Michael:  And decided GAME ON, let’s do it…

Tyler:  So, we went to the library, and checked out a bunch of books on writing screen plays.  I mean, we were story tellers, and we had done short films, and commercials, but we weren’t really versed on how to create, or write for that matter, a feature film.  Mike and I by this point have both lived a couple chapters of our lives, and we had lived our own wild stories too that we could draw from, but telling a story that is 30 seconds long, as opposed to telling a story that’s 2 hours long, is like going from running a sprint, to running a marathon, and you have to go into that process with a totally different mindset.

So, we sat for a year and worked on the writing of this film.  We went on road trips with Zack, and listened to him…

 

Kathy:  So how did you guys decide in what direction the storyline for your film was going to evolve?

Michael:  A lot of the dialogue in the film is actually things that Zack had shared with us over the years…I mean the storyline was truly written for him.  He loves wrestling, and that’s how that premise makes it into the storyline.  And Tyler grew up in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and so he knew about crab fishing, and that world, and we were both affected by books and literature, and Mark Twain stories throughout our lives, so it was taking all of these ingredients that we love, and what Zack had shared with us that he loves too, and combining it all and building it into this film.

Tyler:  And of course, getting what we could get for Free to start out with making the movie was important too through this process.   Our original premise to start the film, was to start a Kickstarter Campaign and raise $30,000, and then we’ll go make an Indie feature, and try to get it into a few film festivals. But, thank God we couldn’t raise that much money. I mean, we couldn’t even raise $30.  So, we had to switch gears and go out and shoot a proof of concept trailer that was about 5 or 5 and 1/2 minutes long, and we sent that out in a mass email.  And low and behold, through a friend, of a friend, or a friend, you know, like “a guy that I know had dinner once with a dude” kind of thing…

Kathy:  So, you mean Destiny intervened??? 

Tyler:  Okay, I’ll say it, “Destiny intervened, and Albert and Ron got ahold of our proof of concept trailer…

Michael:  Our Producers, Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, is who Tyler’s talking about.  These guys have made incredible films like Nebraska, and Little Miss Sunshine, so they were really able to bring in the star-power we needed from the start.  Like Bruce Dern, who they had made Nebraska with, and he signed on, and John Hawkes, who they made a film called Lowdown with, and he wanted to be a part of it.  And Shia LaBeouf, they had made Charlie Countryman with, so they were able to send our proof of concept to people that they knew, and that they had done incredible work with, and the actors kept saying, “Yes, I want to do this film…”

Tyler:  So then, as the yesses started coming in rather quickly, from that blessing of not getting the $30,000, both Mike and I were like…is this really happening?.  And as it all continued to blow up, we found ourselves on the phone with Dakota Johnson, who is someone we really admired from her work in Black Mass, and then she tells us she really wants to do the film too.  And then, we found ourselves on the phone with Thomas Haden Church, and he says “Okay boys, I’ll see you in a week” …it all just became too surreal!

Michael:  If you would have told me before we started that we would have any one of these Actors cast in our film, I would have told you “NO WAY”!

 

Kathy:  Well, you guys have totally managed to blow my theory out of the water, after seeing the film, as I thought for sure you had these Actors in mind while you were writing the film, as they are so perfectly cast in their respective roles…

Tyler:  No, Not really. I mean Shia was a first choice for sure for his part, by far, as I think he is one of the finest Actors of my generation – and we both truly love his work as an Actor – and of course, they would all have been our first choices for sure.  And Dakota brought something that was so special too to the film too, but we never thought to dream that BIG! We never thought to dream that all these incredible Actors would want to sign on to do our film…

Michael:  I mean, when the whole process started, we thought we would get Bill from the dock to play Duncan, as we never dreamed that John Hawkes would want to come on and make this movie with us…

Tyler:  It was actually written as Duncan, because my buddies name is Duncan. Like there is a character named Winky in the film, who is Duncan’s Dad, and he owns a fish dock, and we just assumed we would get Winky to play that role.  The Character of Tyler is named Tyler, because we never thought we would get someone to come out to the bayous of North Carolina for a month, much less three to film this movie with us, so we assumed I would have to step into the role.  And in some ways, I attribute Zack dreaming bigger than people say he should dream, to allowing us to dream bigger too through this process too; realizing a bigger vision for ourselves that we even thought possible.  I mean, I never imagined being a Writer and a Director, and I don’t think you did either, did you Mike?

Michael:   No, it wasn’t a big goal of mine, I think as you focus on telling the story, you just step into the space that needs to be filled.  I mean, if Ron Howard would have said he was wanting to Direct our film, we would have said “Cool, he’s a great choice for that”, but that didn’t happen, so we just did it.

 

Kathy:  Now that you’ve created your first feature film, do you feel like you want to take on the roles again of Writing and Directing?

Michael:  I think we can, but I think it all worked because Tyler and I are first, good storytellers.  Like, I know how its suppose to go, you know…leading the story to where it needs to go.  So sometimes that means you lead, and sometimes you just need to get out of the way…and innately, I think we know that…

Tyler:  We aren’t fancying ourselves as professional Writers or Directors, but damn if I don’t fancy myself a good storyteller, like Mike said.  The people in my life that I always gravitated towards when I was younger, were people who told great stories.   You know, I loved the old guy sitting around the campfire who would say “Sit down son, I got a good yarn for ya…”.  I think loving those kinds of people in my life, and gravitating to those types of people, is a lot of the reason why we could sit down and write this film.  I mean, Mike and I knew what a good story was, and how to start and end it.  It wasn’t like we were doing brain surgery, wondering where to begin…once we sat down to write it, it felt natural for us to just sit down, and put it all together…

 

Kathy:  Well having just seen this film, I have to share with both of you that I was blown away by how authentic and real this film feels, and how the story just continues to unfold in a unbridled way… 

Michael: I have to say about the “realness” of this film, now that you brought it up, that when Shia showed up on set, we talked at length about going for the realness in every inch of this film.  I think that movie magic happens along the way in every film, but we really wanted this storyline to feel as real as we could get it, every step of the way.  And I think the entire cast bought into what we were shooting for, which is truly how this film ended up being so special when it was all said and done…

The Peanut Butter Falcon is A MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN FOR ME, Hitting theaters this Thursday August 22, 2019,  @ Landmark’s Tivoli and Plaza Frontenac Theatres

Review of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The art of racing in the rain

This review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser

  

“No race was ever won in the first corner…”

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN – Rated PG – 1 hr. 49 mins.

DIRECTOR:  Simon Curtis

WRITERS:  Mark Bomback (screenplay) Garth Stein (Novel) 

STARRING:  Kevin Costner, Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, Gary Cole, Kathy Baker and Martin Donovan

As we venture into the life of the most adorable Golden Retriever EVER named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner), his owner, and aspiring Formula One Race Car Driver Denny (Milo Ventimiglia) seems to have a way with the ladies, when he meets the beautiful Eve (Amanda Seyfried), and as sparks fly, it seems that Enzo’s life is about to change, and not necessarily for the better…

But as Enzo settles in to his new existence, his life’s journey with Denny will take a few more twists and turns along the way too, as they both find themselves trying to navigate this thing, we call LIFE… 

I give THE ART OF DRIVING IN THE RAIN a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD:  Emotionally draining and rather depressing at times, I suggest that you may want to wait and catch this film when there is more of a pep in your step, as this particular storyline makes some really sad and depressing pitstops along the way.  But, with that said, I thoroughly enjoyed Kevin Costner’s narration of this very touching film, as he adjusts to the trials and tribulations of life, trying to be the best companion he can be.   Milo Ventimiglia’s performance as Racecar Driver and Family man Denny is also exceptional, as he transitions from his television persona to big screen leading man rather seamlessly.  Let’s just say, I’m hoping that Milo has the role of 007 in his future, as he has the perfect presence on screen to totally pull off playing Bond.   Seyfried is perfectly cast this time too, as the girlfriend/wife and eventual mostly single mother, as she supports her husband’s dreams of racing “on the big stage” as a Formula One driver, someday.  Add in the complex family dynamic of Eve’s Father (Martin Donovan) and Mother (Kathy Baker), and you have one multi-dimensional story that leaves you needing a tissue or two, before this total tear-jerker is through…

Review of THE KITCHEN – Rated R – 1 hr. 42 mins.

THe Kitchen

This review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser 

 

THE KITCHEN – Rated R – 1 hr. 42 mins.

DIRECTOR/WRITER:  Andrea Berloff

WRITERS:  Ollie Masters & Ming Doyle (Comic Book Series)

STARRING:  Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss, Domhnall Gleeson, James Badge Dale, Brian d’Arcy James, Margo Martindale, Jeremy Bobb, Common and Bill Camp

Welcome to the movie version of Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle’s comic book escapades, known by the same name, and brought to the big screen by Writer (Straight Outta Compton and World Trade Center) and debut Director this time around too, Andrea Berloff.

Berloff takes us instantly into the lives of New York Mafia underlings Kevin O’Carroll (James Badge Dale), Jimmy Brennan (Brian D’Arcy James) and Rob Walsh (Jeremy Bobb), who have managed to find themselves under investigation by FBI Agent Gary Silvers (Common), who manages to send our boys up river, leaving their wives, and families in the lurch, to fend for themselves.

When Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy) decides to take her families future into her own hands, as she’s tired of waiting for the her hubby’s fellow Mobster associates to get them what they need, it seems that Kevin’s wife Ruby (Tiffany Haddish), and Rob’s wife Claire (Elisabeth Moss) are totally on board with Kathy’s plan and how to make ends meet…

Taking on racket their hubby’s have in place, and actually doing a better job of keeping the neighborhood safe, Kathy, Ruby and Claire soon find that they can totally keep this racket, and their lives, rolling along.

But as our ladies soon find, being a Mobster Mama isn’t a totally easy gig, although the neighborhood is coming around to their point of view, from them providing superior protection than what the business owners were experiencing before.  But, before all is well, it seems that  our ladies will have to circumvent interference from Ruby’s wicked old Mother in Law, Helen  (Margo Martindale), and the head of the Hell’s Kitchen mob, Little Jackie (Myk Watford), who seems to have lost most of his power around the hood…

But sometimes a lady still needs a male companion around…enter Gabriel O’Malley (Domhnall Gleeson), who is quite smitten it seems with Claire, even though he’s come on the scene to be the heavy for all the ladies, taking care of the pricks that keep getting in their way.

Now, as Kathy, Ruby and Claire continue to make their way about Hell’s Kitchen, it seems that the Brooklyn Mafia has come a calling, with Alfonso Coretti (Bill Camp) feeling the pressure from their control too, thus adding more drama to this situation, than even Kathy had bargained for…

I give THE KITCHEN a rating of 3.5 out of 5 – Blessed with the perfect trifecta of casting, with McCarthy, Haddish and Moss leading this film, Berloff makes her directing debut, bringing THE KITCHEN comic book series to life.  McCarthy shows once again that she can venture into powerful and dramatic roles, as this performance comes on the heels of her break-out dramatic role in last years Can You Ever Forgive Me?  Tiffany Haddish is flexing her acting chops throughout this film too, veering from her comedic roles (which I absolutely love to see her do), to taking a more commanding and powerful presence on screen which she proves, she is totally fabulous at too.  But the most impressive, and disturbing performance this time around for me, came from Elisabeth Moss, as her battered wife turned flagrant, dismembering killer, turns out to be the most intense performance you will find throughout this film.  So, with all those accolades, why not give this film a perfect score? With the premise harkening back to last year’s WIDOWS, I was hoping for the same intensity, and woman-power vibe, which never truly arrives.  Sadly, it seems that The Kitchen just couldn’t get all the burners lit at the same time, and even though there are some fabulous moments throughout from everyone on screen, it just couldn’t truly, pick up enough steam for me.  I totally felt like this film had lots of potential going in with its incredible cast, but the intensity throughout totally wains, that is until Moss and her “violent crazy” is filling up the screen.   Suffice to say, I enjoyed the premise and the performances throughout this film, it just left me waiting and longing for more, when it was all said and done…

Fast & Furious Presents:  HOBBS & SHAW – Rated PG-13 – 2 hrs. 15 mins. 

Hobbs and Shaw

This Review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser

Fast & Furious Presents:  HOBBS & SHAW – Rated PG-13 – 2 hrs. 15 mins. 

DIRECTOR:  David Leitch

WRITERS:  Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson, Drew Pearce 

STARRING:  Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, and Helen Mirren

As “Black Superman” and all around bad guy Brixton (Idris Elba) is out to destroy the world, the most unlikely of comrades from the Fast & Furious franchise – Diplomatic Security Service Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Mercenary Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are given no choice but to work together to save Shaw’s sister, and fellow M6 Operative Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) ~ and along the way ~ help save the rest of us too…

I give Fast & Furious presents HOBBS & SHAW 4 out of 5 Stars! 

Filled with action and more of a storyline than I was ever anticipating going in – I totally dug this spinoff from the very beginning, as Johnson and Statham continue their love/hate relationship throughout every inch of this film.

And having the added character appeal this time of including Deckard Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) along for the ride – only added to the excitement, suspense and entertainment value ~  as who doesn’t’ love a woman on a mission ~ intertwined with subtle insinuations that a possible romance may be blossoming…

Kudos to Director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) for managing to bring yet another amazing action-packed thriller to the big screen, and even though their were a few scenes that dragged along in places within its 2 hrs+ timeframe, the decision to add in cameos from two of my favorite actors along the way, totally made up for a few slow-paced scenes ~ making HOBBS & SHAW the definite “Must see on the big screen” film for me!