Judgementall Hai Kya Are you judgmental? is a 2019 Indian Hindi-language black comedy film directed by Prakash Kovelamudi, with screenplay by Kanika Dhillon starring Rajkummar Rao and Kangana Ranaut. Produced by Ekta Kapoor, the film was theatrically released in India on 26 July 2019.
Bobby is a strange wealthy young woman living alone in Mumbai and working as a dubbing artist. In childhood, she had interfered in a fight between her parents, causing them to fall off the terrace to their deaths. When a producer touches her at work, she reacts by slicing his nose with a knife. She is then sent to an asylum. Her uncle manages her property and offers her house as a rental to a young married couple. Keshav is the husband to Reema. Bobby is obsessed with the couple and spies and stalks them constantly. Reema dies in a fire in the kitchen when a bottle of pesticide explodes. Bobby suspects Keshav and tries to get the police to investigate him but they find no evidence. She hallucinates Keshav threatening her and hits him with a chair in front of the police. She is put back in the asylum. It is revealed that she is imagining things; during electric shock treatment, she remembers that she threw the pesticide on the wife because she hallucinated a cockroach on her.
Two years later, Bobby is taking her meds but not leaving her house. Her cousin in London arranges for Bobby to be an understudy in a re-imagining of the Ramayana that she is helping design. When Bobby meets her cousin’s new husband, it turns out to be Keshav. Keshav warns his wife that Bobby is not stable but his wife does not believe him. Bobby starts to lose herself in the character of Sita that she is understudying. She believes Keshav is Raavan and it is up to her to defeat him. Keshav panics and reaches out to her old boyfriend, Varun, who confirms that she obsesses over things and had imagined him to be a criminal. He breaks into her house and finds boxes of photos with Bobby photoshopped in instead of Keshav’s wife. A photo of Keshav’s wedding to her cousin proves that Bobby knew beforehand that they were married.
Keshav confronts Bobby. The next morning, he tells his wife that Bobby tried to kiss him, and she in turn tells his wife that he tried to rape her. When she later sees Keshav backstage, she grabs an ax and chases him, cutting a rope that sends a light falling. Afraid she has hurt someone, she goes on the run and gains three hallucinatory friends. They take her to a library, where she researches Keshav and thinks she has found evidence that he is a serial killer who takes on new identities and kills his wives. She returns to the house to confront him, dressed as Sita, ties up her pregnant cousin and when Keshav arrives, threatens him. Keshav tries to reason with her before revealing that he IS indeed a serial killer. He even killed his first wife, throwing the match on her after Bobby covered her in pesticide. Bobby fights him and she and her cousin are both saved when Keshav is burnt alive in the same manner in which his victims burned to death. At the end, she strides down the street in London surrounded by her hallucinations proudly declaring that she is what she is and will not change.
My Personal Thoughts
A brutal childhood trauma leaves Bobby (Kangana Ranaut) diagnosed with acute psychosis in her adult years. And after doing time at an asylum for assaulting a coworker, she is let off on the condition that she will stick with her medication. Bobby is a dubbing artist for movies, where she is the voice of the female lead characters. And interestingly, her mind is a medley of all the characters she has voiced. For every time she dubs, she gets obsessed with her onscreen avatar and imagines herself in place of the character. This obsession is dealt with a narrative treatment that’s cool and quirky.
To bring out this element of madness in her further, there’s also a busy wall in her house that has photographs of her dressed as every character she has dubbed for. And deep down, Bobby yearns to be an actor herself, something that her manager cum so-called boyfriend, Varun (Hussain Dalal), is unable to pull off. So he ends up grocery shopping with her more often than ‘getting lucky’ on dates. When he protests, she tells him without batting an eyelid, “Tum aloo ke jaise nahin ho sakte… easy going and adjusting. Be like aloo.”
In the midst of this existence, enter Keshav and Rima (Rajkummar Rao and Amyra Dastur) as her new tenants and a much in love couple. And Bobby gets drawn to their love story, which in her world is too good to be true. But then a murder breaks this momentum and Bobby believes Keshav is the culprit. Is it her overactive imagination, or is it her paranoia to the power ten that has led her to do this instead? The characters here are twisted… and you are left wondering, trying to figure which of the two has blood on their hands.
Bobby is always in a zone – that’s funny and alarming – and in her contorted world, she imagines characters and hears voices. Interestingly, the story leads to a frenzied turn of events, with Bobby’s imaginary world often blurring into shocking reality.
Prakash Kovelamudi’s narrative style is quirky, edgy and one that absorbs you instantly. The mood is set with shots in dappled light, play of light and shadows and high contrast shots. The stylisation of the scenes, characters and sound design ensures that the atmosphere remains intriguing throughout the story.
To give it another dimension, the film brings in an underlying motif of the Ramayana, albeit with a modern day twist. At one point in the film, Bobby tells Keshav, “Ab Sita Ravan ko dhundegi.” ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ keeps you engaged all the way, though the screenplay in the second half does go a bit awry at times, with some scenes that seem stretched. The climax, something that you’re waiting for, is hurried. Nonetheless, it is worth the wait.
The performances are consistent throughout and it’s delightful to see such talented actors feed off each other. Kangana Ranaut is brilliant as Bobby, as she seamlessly gets under the skin of her character, nailing the quirks and nuances. Even her styling makes a statement without going overboard. Rajkummar Rao, fits into his slightly macho, edgy persona like a glove. We haven’t seen him in a role like this before and he pulls it off fantastically. Jimmy Sheirgill impresses as he breaks out of the one note characters he has been playing lately. Amrita Puri, too, holds her own very well. And Hussain Dalal brings in the comic quotient quite effectively.
‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ keeps the element of suspense alive all the way till the end. The film pushes the envelope as a dark, psychological whodunit, with a social message weaved in that can’t be ignored. The film treads into a zone where Bollywood has rarely been, and just for that, it deserves applause.
I will rate this movie 6/10.
Ekta Kapoor Shobha Kapoor Shailesh R Singh
Rajkummar Rao Kangana Ranaut
Songs: Arjuna Harjai Rachita Arora Tanishk Bagchi Daniel B. George Score: Daniel B. George
Shweta Venkat Matthew Sheeba Sehgal Prashanth Ramachandran
Balaji Motion Pictures Karma Media and Entertainment ALT Entertainment
Ad Astra is a 2019 American science fiction adventure film produced, co-written, and directed by James Gray. Starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland, it follows an astronaut who goes into space in search of his lost father, whose experiment threatens the Solar System.
The project was announced in early 2016, with Gray saying he wanted to feature “the most realistic depiction of space travel that’s been put in a movie”. Pitt signed on to star in April 2017 and the rest of the cast joined later that year. Filming began around Los Angeles that August, lasting through October.
Ad Astra premiered at the Venice Film Festival on August 29, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on September 20 by 20th Century Fox. It received positive reviews from critics, with praise for Pitt’s performance and vivid imagery, but was a box-office bomb, having grossed only $127 million worldwide against a $80–100 million budget.
In the near future, the Solar System is struck by mysterious power surges, threatening all human life. After nearly dying from an incident caused by a surge, Major Roy McBride, son of famed astronaut H. Clifford McBride, is informed by U.S. Space Command (SpaceCom) that the surges have been traced to the “Lima Project” – created 26 years earlier to search the limits of the Solar System for intelligent life, under Clifford’s leadership – from which nothing has been heard for 16 years after reaching Neptune. Informed that Clifford may still be alive, Roy accepts a mission to travel to Mars to try to establish communication with him, joined by his father’s old associate Colonel Pruitt. It is shown in several scenes that Roy is very emotionally detached. He has no emotional reaction to his wife leaving him, or to the news that his father may still be alive.
After taking a commercial flight to the Moon, Roy and Pruitt are escorted by US military personnel to the SpaceCom base, located on the far side of the moon. En route in lunar rovers, they are ambushed by scavenging pirates who kill their entire escort. Upon arrival at the base, a dying Pruitt is placed into intensive care. Roy transfers to the ship Cepheus, bound for Mars. The ship receives a distress signal from a Norwegian biomedical research space station. Captain Tanner has the Cepheus stop to investigate despite Roy’s protests, and Roy and Tanner make their way to the station. It appears abandoned and the two split up, but Roy soon discovers an escaped baboon test subject feeding on Tanner, who is severely injured in the face. It attacks him when it notices his presence, but he manages to kill it. Another baboon attempts to attack him, but he quickly subdues it and locks it in another module. He then kills it instantly as it attempts to open the door, by depressurizing that module. Believing that he can save Tanner, he tapes over the broken helmet visor of his spacesuit and carries him back to the ship, where he is declared to be already dead. A brief service is held where Tanner’s body is ejected into space. Again, Roy appears to be very emotionless and calm after the violent encounter and death of Tanner. He does admit that he experiences rage, and recalls his father expressing his rage.
Another surge hits as the Cepheus lands on Mars, requiring manual piloting to complete the landing. The interim captain freezes in fear, while Roy remains very calm and takes command of the ship, landing it safely. Roy is led to the underground SpaceCom base where he meets facility director Helen Lantos and is tasked with recording voice messages to send to the Lima Project in hopes that Clifford will respond. During one recording, Roy goes off-script with an emotional appeal to his father and is abruptly taken off the mission on the grounds of his personal connection posing a risk to himself and the mission’s success. From the startled reaction of the recording observation team to his emotional recording, he assumes correctly that immediate response from his father had been received and demands to hear it.
Sequestered in a “comfort room”, he is visited by Lantos, who reveals that she was born on Mars and was the daughter of Lima Project crew-members. She shows Roy classified footage revealing that Clifford’s crew had mutinied and tried to return to Earth, causing him to turn off their life-support systems, her parents included. She tells Roy that the crew that brought him to Mars are leaving to destroy the Lima Project station with a nuclear payload. The two decide that Roy should confront Clifford himself, and Helen sneaks Roy to an underground lake beneath the rocket launch site.
Roy clandestinely climbs aboard as the rocket takes off and is subsequently discovered by the crew, who are instructed to neutralize him. The entire crew is inadvertently killed in the ensuing confrontation. During the long journey to Neptune, a solitary Roy reflects on his relationships with his father and Eve, his estranged wife. The isolation and stress of the mission take a mental toll, but after a couple of months, he arrives at the Lima Project. While approaching the station in a shuttle attached to the Cepheus, the shuttle is damaged in a collision with objects in Neptune’s rings and from another surge, preventing it from docking with the station. Roy enters the station via a space-walk while the shuttle drifts away. Finding the station abandoned and encountering the dead bodies of its crew, he plants the nuclear payload before encountering Clifford, the station’s sole survivor, who explains that the surges are coming from the ship’s malfunctioning antimatter power source, which had been damaged in the mutiny. Clifford has continued to work on the project, refusing to lose faith in the possibility of non-human intelligent life.
Roy copies data gathered by Clifford and his team for the “Lima Project” and persuades Clifford to accompany him back to Earth. He arms the nuclear payload and they climb out on the station’s surface in preparation for returning to the Cepheus. Clifford suddenly uses his spacesuit’s thrusters to launch the two of them off into space. With Clifford pleading for Roy to untether them from each other, Roy reluctantly does so and manages to propel himself back to the Cepheus using his own spacesuit and with a piece of the station’s hull as a shield against Neptune’s ring debris. Without enough fuel to return to Earth, he relies on the shock wave from the nuclear explosion in the station to gain the required speed.
The data retrieved from the base suggests that humans are the only intelligent life in the universe. This inspires Roy to reconnect with those closest to him, and he returns to Earth with a newfound optimism. After expressing his opinions in a psychological evaluation, he reconnects with his estranged wife Eve.
My Personal Thoughts
The masterful sci-fi sees Brad Pitt play astronaut Roy McBride whose father (Tommy Lee Jones) might just be responsible for a series of electrical storms, despite disappearing on a space mission 16 years ago.
So Roy sets out on his own mission to discover the truth behind his father’s disappearance, but does Roy succeed?
Ad Astra has now landed in cinemas after some unfortunate delays, but it’s proved to be worth the wait and packs a punch with its ending.
The masterful sci-fi sees Brad Pitt play astronaut Roy McBride whose father (Tommy Lee Jones) might just be responsible for a series of electrical storms, despite disappearing on a space mission 16 years ago.
So Roy sets out on his own mission to discover the truth behind his father’s disappearance, but does Roy succeed?
Roy’s journey is far from a smooth one. When we first meet him, he literally falls to Earth as a result of one of those electrical storms, which – Roy is told – come from cosmic-ray bursts near Neptune.
That’s where Project Lima, which Roy’s father Clifford was a part of, was last thought to be and NASA believes that the cosmic rays are caused by the antimatter used in the project. They believe that Clifford is carrying on the experiment, unaware that it now threatens the very existence of mankind.
So Roy sets off on his journey, initially just to get to Mars and send a message to his father, fighting off moon pirates and some rabid primates aboard an abandoned shuttle along the way.
He’s shown an SOS message from Project Lima by a friend of his father, Colonel Pruitt (Donald Sutherland), that says Clifford intentionally disabled communications. But it’s not until he’s on Mars that Roy finally learns the truth about his father.
After Roy’s kicked off the mission for being too emotional in his message to his father, Helen Lantos (Ruth Negga) – whose parents were on Project Lima – tells him that Clifford killed everyone else on the project, fearful of them mutinying against him.
Roy sneaks on to the shuttle heading to Neptune, but not without unintentionally killing the rest of the crew when they try to stop him boarding during take-off. Given that the journey lasts 79 days, he has plenty of time to mull over his decision with the isolation challenging his mental state.
When he reaches Neptune, Roy is reunited with his father, who has been carrying out the Project Lima experiment all these years. Clifford blames the Project Lima crew for their deaths, saying that they “never cared” and wanted to quit to head back to Earth.
“You and I have to continue on together to find what science claims does not exist,” Clifford pleads to Roy who replies: “We’re all we’ve got.”
The decision to have Ad Astra‘s big reveal be that there’s no other life in the universe is likely to be one that causes debate, but it also delivers a powerful message.
“What’s frightening for me is if there are aliens out there who are gonna come get us, kill us or eat us or whatever. There will be people who will be upset about it, but I don’t know why because why does it freak us out or terrify us that we have each other. That seems OK to me,” he said.
After the reveal, Roy persuades his father to give up and come home with him, putting an end to the experiment by blowing up the equipment. But Clifford has no intention of returning to Earth. When they head out the airlock to go to the shuttle, Clifford forces Roy to cut him loose and he drifts off into space.
Roy uses the explosion to kickstart his journey back to Earth, and the movie ends with Roy safely back home, hinting at a potential reunion with his wife.
The sequence after he returns was shot this year due to Pitt not being available earlier because he was filming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. But it wasn’t added because Gray felt the need for a different ending.
“There’s a famous Arthur C Clarke quote about it, either we are alone in the universe or we are not, both are equally terrifying, and that’s true. But, at the same time, Earth’s pretty good. I’ve got my wife and children and they’re great, and I can find plenty of joy in that.
“To rely on false Gods, the idea that there’s these little green men out there that’ll either save us or eat us, to me that’s more horrifying than having to rely on other people.”
“The ending was always part of the design where the guy reaches into the space capsule, and the camera pulls back. Then there was an added coda, the psych eval where he finishes by saying, ‘Submit’, which was something that I had added,” he explained.
“We wanted to make sure the audience understood his transcendence. Not that he was alright and he was gonna be doing great, but that he had been able to come out the other side.
“It was my intent never to make a downer or downbeat movie because, unlike his father, he breaks the cycle and he returns to the Earth. So I wanted his transcendence to be clear. We always thought of it as a coda.”
Brad Pitt Dede Gardner Jeremy Kleiner James Gray Anthony Katagas Rodrigo Teixeira Arnon Milchan
James Gray Ethan Gross
Brad Pitt Tommy Lee Jones Ruth Negga Liv Tyler Donald Sutherland
Hoyte van Hoytema
John Axelrad Lee Haugen
Regency Enterprises Bona Film Group New Regency Plan B Entertainment RT Features Keep Your Head Productions MadRiver Pictures TSG Entertainment
20th Century Fox (Worldwide) Bona Film Group (China)
August 29, 2019 (Venice) September 20, 2019 (United States)
Happy Death Day 2U is a 2019 American science fiction black comedy slasher film written and directed by Christopher Landon. It stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Rachel Matthews, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Ruby Modine, and Steve Zissis. The film again follows Tree Gelbman (Rothe), who is accidentally transported to another dimension, where she must relive a different version of the same day repeatedly as she tries to return home, while a new killer is on the loose. The film is a sequel to 2017’s Happy Death Day, with Jason Blum again serving as a producer through his Blumhouse Productions company.
The film was released in the United States on February 13, 2019, by Universal Pictures. It received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised Rothe’s performance, as well as the film’s shift to a more sci-fi tone, although some noted it as derivative of the first film. It grossed $64 million worldwide against a $9 million budget.
College student Ryan wakes up in his car on Tuesday, September 19. Returning to his dorm room, he walks in on his roommate Carter and his girlfriend, Tree. He resumes work on an experimental quantum reactor with fellow students Samar and Dre. After Bronson, the school dean, shuts down the project for triggering several power outages, Ryan is murdered by someone dressed as Babyface, and wakes up again on Tuesday the 19th. Tree explains her experience reliving Monday the 18th, and she and Carter agree to help Ryan. They learn the reactor was responsible for creating the loop. The new Babyface tracks Ryan down, but Tree unmasks him to reveal another Ryan. The second Ryan warns that the original must die for the loop to close. Terrified, Ryan activates the reactor, releasing a powerful energy pulse that knocks everyone unconscious.
Tree wakes up in Carter’s room on Monday the 18th, and relives her original time loop, with certain differences: Lori is not the Babyface killer, and Carter is now dating a nicer Danielle. Ryan theorizes that the reactor caused Tree to drift into another dimension. When Tree learns her mother is still alive in this new reality, she decides to stay.
That night, Tree goes to the hospital to intercept serial killer John Tombs before he escapes, but is confronted by a police officer. Babyface kills the officer and Tree runs into Lori, who tells her that Babyface cannot be Tombs because she just took him in for surgery. Babyface stabs Lori, then chases Tree to the roof, where she accidentally falls to her death. She wakes at the beginning of her loop, and demands that Ryan and his team help her escape it, requiring they test dozens of algorithms. At Carter’s suggestion, Tree serves as the group’s recorder, killing herself at the end of each day so they can start again. Eventually, her injuries catch up with her and she faints. Waking up in the hospital, Tree steals a gun to go after Tombs, only to find Lori already dead. Babyface attacks and Tree shoots him dead. However, a second Babyface appears, forcing Tree to kill herself and Babyface.
The group finally discovers the correct algorithm, but a technical issue forces a delay. Faced with a choice of which reality she wants to be in when both time loops close, Tree decides to remain in the current dimension. Carter urges Tree to consider the consequences of living a life that is not truly hers, and states that her experience with grief helped shape the person she is now. Tree hides from Babyface in a hotel. That evening, the news reports that Carter was murdered trying to save Lori at the hospital. Tree kills herself and deactivates the reactor so she can save Carter and Lori. The loop restarts, and Tree decides to return to her own reality. She advises Lori to end her affair with her professor Dr. Butler, discovers that Danielle is cheating on Carter, and has a final conversation with her mother.
Bronson confiscates the reactor before the group can activate it. Believing she is too weak to survive another loop, Tree insists they retrieve the device. The group enlists Danielle to distract Bronson while they recover the reactor. As Ryan readies the device, Tree goes to the hospital to rescue Lori from Tombs, but is trapped by the second Babyface—revealed to be Dr. Butler trying to bury the evidence of his affair with Lori. Dr. Butler’s wife Stephanie appears and shoots Lori, revealing she is in league with her husband, before he betrays and shoots her as well. Tree outsmarts Butler and kills him. Lori survives, and Tree and Carter kiss as the reactor activates, sending Tree back to her original dimension on Tuesday the 19th.
Later, Tree, Carter, Ryan, Samar and Dre are escorted by agents to a DARPA laboratory, where the reactor has been moved for further experimentation. When the agents say they need a test subject in order to see how the machine works, Tree says she knows the perfect test subject. In her bedroom, Danielle wakes up screaming in horror.
My Personal Thoughts
Tree Gelbman is living the same day again — again. Horror hit factory Blumhouse has returned to theaters with a mindbending sequel to Happy Death Day, its surprise success story from 2017, and this time, everything’s different. The sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, is taking audiences back to Bayfield to finish what the first movie started — or at least build on it.
If you’re confused about some of the movie’s weirder plot points, have no fear — we’ve diagrammed out the timelines and sorted through the sordid details with a summary you can follow, no matter which universe you’re watching from. The plot is weird and winding, throwing time-twisting turns and alternate dimensions at you faster than you might be able to process. But while this follow-up may be a little headier than the movie that came before it, there’s no reason to be caught out of the loop. Let’s break down the ending of Happy Death Day 2U.
The first Happy Death Day follows Tree’s journey from a stuck-up sorority mean girl to a sympathetic, gun-toting survivor — a satisfying character arc that felt like Groundhog Day by way of Friday the 13th. In that movie, much like in Groundhog Day, the mechanism that causes Tree to go into a day-repeating time loop is never revealed, appearing simply as a mystical phenomenon that serves to drive the story. But since the movie’s release, director Christopher Landon has promised there’s an explanation to the phenomenon hidden in the movie, all set to be explored in a possible sequel.
“The answer to why she’s literally stuck in a time loop — it’s something I have the answer to,” he told Insider in 2017. He also encouraged viewers to look for clues about the loop’s origins in the movie itself, saying, “The whole idea for my sequel is actually already in this movie. It’s hiding in plain sight.”
This assurance from Landon (who has sole writing credit on the sequel, picking up the torch from original movie writer Scott Lobdell), along with the emphasis on Tree’s dead mother and a long-lost birthday tradition, led to theories about her mother’s spirit having something to do with the loop, with Tree’s mother somehow manipulating time from beyond the grave to keep her daughter safe. But Happy Death Day 2U debunks those theories, revealing a source for the phenomenon that’s more sci-fi in nature than anyone saw coming.
In what feels like a wild departure from the original Happy Death Day, Happy Death Day 2U reveals that Tree’s time-twisting journey was caused by a literal time machine, located in a science lab on the Bayfield University campus. The device, somewhat surprisingly, is the invention of Carter’s roommate Ryan, the oafish goober from the first movie with a tendency of barging in every time Tree wakes up.
While the first movie paints Ryan as awkward, boorish, and sex-obsessed, the sequel reveals hidden depths and intellect that would do good by Doc Brown himself. As the opening of the sequel shows us, Ryan is in the process of developing the machine with a team of fellow student scientists named Samar and Sarah. While they haven’t perfected the device just yet — and lord knows how they’re funding this thing — the team soon discovers that it’s capable of disturbing the fabric of space-time, unintentionally sending Tree on her most bogus birthday journey. (Tree is decidedly not happy with Ryan upon discovering this information.)
The lab students who developed the machine call it the Sisyphus quantum cooling reactor, or “Sissy” for short. The name is an on-the-nose reference to the Greek legend of Sisyphus, a man punished by the gods to spend each day eternally rolling a boulder up a hill, doomed to crumple under its weight while never reaching the top. As viewers of the first Happy Death Day know, it’s a trial that Tree can quite viscerally relate to.
The introduction of Sissy marks a clear pivot from the first movie’s horror genre trappings toward straight-up science fiction, with the plot-explaining time machine having little in common with the more traditionally frightening tone of the first movie. But Happy Death Day 2U also leans into a more romantic angle than its acerbic slasher predecessor, becoming more of a sci-fi rom-com than the Scream-like original.
When the machine as activated to kick off the movie’s second act, it sends Tree into a parallel dimension, in which her relationships with the people around her are ever so slightly askew. The changes are small but significant, forcing Tree to reevaluate her own life and what she wants out of it.
While the first dimension’s Carter is single until he meets Tree, the second dimension version is happily dating Danielle, a rival of Tree’s and the alpha dog of her sorority. In Tree’s world, her mom is dead — in the second world, she’s still alive. As a result of these character change-ups, the tension this time around isn’t so much “will Tree survive this nightmare” as it is “will love prevail,” with the heroine’s biggest challenge being in figuring out whether she wants to live in a reality with her still-alive mother, or her original dimension in which she’d just begun what felt like it could be a loving, long-term relationship with Carter.
Much like Scream, Cabin in the Woods, and other winking works of meta-fiction, the characters in Happy Death Day 2U are cognizant of the fact that they seem to be living through the plot of a movie. In this case, parallels are drawn with Back to the Future Part II, the super-fun 1989 movie that saw science student Marty McFly not just revisiting the past, but also the plot of the previous movie, intersecting with the older narrative in new and unexpected ways.
On top of the Back to the Future sequel being surprisingly relevant to this movie’s plot, Happy Death Day 2U also sports a few cute references to the sci-fi series, such as the “Biff’s Tree Removal” wood chipper that Tree cheerfully kills herself in at the end of one loop, as well as the fateful speed of 88 mph she attains during a later desperate death behind the wheel.
While not necessarily hard to follow, Happy Death Day 2U clearly doesn’t want audiences to linger too much on the how of its storytelling, breezing through plot points faster than you can say “wait, what?”
After being shot through a hole in space-time to begin the September 18 time loop in a whole other dimension, Tree is faced with two tasks. The first goal is to return to her own reality, a course of action which she can’t immediately decide if she even wants to take, considering that her beloved mother is still alive in this new world. But the second goal of stopping the time loop is something she has to achieve no matter what, regardless of which reality she decides to live out her days in.
The problem is that Sissy is a work in progress, a powerful machine that neither Ryan nor his lab mates yet entirely understand. In order to get it under their control, they need to do more research — lots of research. Each time the loop resets, they lose their progress, with the memories of everyone but Tree being reset to the state they were in when the loop started. As a result, Tree is forced to become the team’s institutional memory, keeping track of the complex quantum mechanics that make the machine work. It’s a tall task and a battle of inches, with the team only making progress thanks to Tree resetting the loop via offing herself, elaborately and hilariously, over and over again.
Complicating all of this multi-dimensional quantum confusion is the inconvenient fact that, just like the first movie, there’s a killer on the loose. In the first film, the Babyface masked killer is portrayed by two characters — Tree’s sorority sister Lori, and a serial killer named John Tombs, whom Lori manipulates, collaborates with, and sets up to frame for Tree’s murder, with her capacity as a nursing student giving her close proximity to the hospitalized criminal.
In the first movie’s reality, Lori was motivated to kill Tree out of jealousy due to her romantic relationship with Gregory Butler, a married professor and medical doctor whom Lori coveted. The doe-eyed nice girl was a most unexpected villain, making for a satisfying twist when she’s actually innocent in the second world. So who’s killing people in 2U? The sequel features three characters wielding knives behind the Baby mask. For the most part, the killings in the second world are being committed by Dr. Butler himself, as well as — shockingly — his wife Stephanie, who seems to have been driven insane by Gregory’s infidelity. (While they appear to be in cahoots at first, that doesn’t really hold up after Gregory decides to shoot Stephanie during the movie’s climax. They’re apparently just both crazy, and totally deserve each other; what a shame that it doesn’t work out.)
The third killer only appears in the movie’s first act, while Ryan is experiencing his own time loop on September 19th — and the reveal is a weird one.
One of the weirdest threads in Happy Death Day 2U is the idea that the Babyface killer pursuing Ryan in the movie’s opening is actually another version of himself, invading Ryan Prime’s reality in an effort to stop him from causing the time loops in the first place. It’s an electric, tantalizing reveal, promising doppelgängers, evil twins, and intertwining timelines that the movie… just doesn’t follow up on. Seriously. If you went to the bathroom at some point and thought you missed something, you didn’t. You’re not crazy — the origins of this second Ryan are never explored, and the mystery of his motivations just isn’t answered.
As John Orquiola with Screen Rant points out, this second Ryan seems to be from the future, possessing knowledge about the time loop’s effects that no one beyond Tree should really have yet.
As much as it seems like it could be a setup for Tree’s own doppelgänger being the killer in dimension two, Tree is explicitly told that there aren’t two of her in dimension two. When Tree goes to the second universe, she replaces herself in it, and despite the clear establishment of two alternate realities, an alternate version of herself never shows up. So how did Ryan end up with two of himself running around in dimension one? There are many possibilities — but in the movie itself, no answers.
Happy Death Day 2U seems to end on the cheerful note of Tree returning to her own reality, the time loop broken, and all of her hard-earned progress in life restored. But the world of the movie gets blown wide open in an out-of-left-field mid-credits sequence, which takes the sci-fi trappings of the sequel and goes all the way with them.
The scene begins with Tree and her cohorts doing campus clean-up as recompense for their destructive, insubordinate, reality-shattering lab work, the destructive effects of which the faculty can only begin to imagine. But just because the dean and company are in the dark doesn’t mean everyone is. Out of nowhere, the students are approached by a whole fleet of dark-suited special agent types, pulling up with stern expressions and a serious agenda. A man introduces himself as Dr. Issac Parker with DARPA, an acronym for the real-life, federally-run Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The G-People promptly transport the students to their agency’s headquarters, where they’ve set up the confiscated Sissy machine to suit their own purposes. In what seems like a fantastic idea with no possible downsides whatsoever, Dr. Parker reveals that the agency wants to do research with the machine, and requires the students’ know-how to make it work. They also need a suitable test subject for further experimentation, proposing a sadistic experiment that no one deserves to experience — except maybe Danielle, who ends the movie waking up and screaming, caught in her own time loop.
The ending of Happy Death Day 2U marks a bonkers tonal shift that the sequel has spent its whole runtime building toward, setting up a third movie in a way few could have anticipated. We’re not just theory-crafting, either — writer-director Christopher Landon and producer Jason Blum have already said they would like to make a third movie, with the likelihood of it happening all depending on the box office performance of 2U.
As Blum explained in an interview with CinePOP, the genre-twisting nature of 2U and its stakes-raising ending aren’t unintentional. “What’s different about Happy Death Day,” Blum said, “Is I’ve never seen a franchise where one movie is a certain genre and the next movie is a different genre. And that’s certainly the case with Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U, and hopefully if we make a third one it’ll be a different, third kind of genre.”
As disappointing as it might be on some level to leave behind the slasher tone, it’s hard not to be interested in where this story could go. From the sound of the filmmakers’ comments, the sequel’s already abandoned horror quite deliberately. So if the audience turns out for it, why not abandon everything, and just go full-bore nutso in the next one? Could this movie be designed with loose ends to be tied up later, such as the mysterious second Ryan? It certainly seems that way — and if the threequel gets the greenlight, we can’t wait to see where the story goes.
I will rate this Movie 6/10.
Characters by Scott Lobdell
Jessica Rothe Israel Broussard Rachel Matthews Phi Vu Steve Zissis
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a 2019 comedy-drama film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Produced by Columbia Pictures, Bona Film Group, Heyday Films, and Visiona Romantica and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing, it is a co-production between the United States and the United Kingdom. It features a large ensemble cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, and Al Pacino. Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the film follows an actor and his stunt double, as they navigate the changing film industry, and features “multiple storylines in a modern fairy tale tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age”.
Announced in July 2017, it is the first Tarantino film to not involve Bob and Harvey Weinstein, as Tarantino ended his partnership with them following the sexual abuse allegations against the latter. After a bidding war, the film was distributed by Sony Pictures, which met Tarantino’s demands including final cut privilege. Pitt, DiCaprio, Robbie, Zoë Bell, Kurt Russell, and others joined the cast between January and June 2018. Principal photography lasted from June through November around Los Angeles. It is the last film to feature Luke Perry, who died in March 2019.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on July 26 and in the United Kingdom on August 14. It has grossed $372 million worldwide, with The Hollywood Reporter writing that critics had “an overall positive view” of the film, calling it “Tarantino’s love letter to ’60s L.A.” and praising its cast and setting, though some were “divided on its ending”.
In February 1969, Hollywood actor Rick Dalton, star of 1950s Western television series Bounty Law, fears his career is over. Casting agent Marvin Schwarzs advises him to make Spaghetti Westerns, which Dalton feels are beneath him. Dalton’s friend and stunt double, Cliff Booth – a war veteran who lives in a trailer with his pit bull, Brandy – drives Dalton around because Dalton’s alcoholism has resulted in multiple DUIs. Booth struggles to find work due to rumors that he murdered his wife. Actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, have moved next door to Dalton, who dreams of befriending them to restore his status. That night, Tate and Polanski attend a celebrity-filled party at the Playboy Mansion.
The next day, Booth repairs Dalton’s TV antenna. He reminisces about a sparring contest he had with Bruce Lee on the set of The Green Hornet, resulting in Booth being fired. Charles Manson stops by the Polanski residence looking for Terry Melcher, who used to live there, but is turned away by Jay Sebring. While driving Dalton’s car, Booth picks up a hitchhiker, “Pussycat”. He drops her off at Spahn Ranch, where Booth once filmed Bounty Law. He notices the hippies living there (the Manson Family). Suspecting they are taking advantage of the owner, George Spahn, Booth insists on checking on him despite “Squeaky”‘s objections. Spahn dismisses Booth’s fears. Booth discovers that “Clem” slashed a tire on Dalton’s car; Booth beats him and forces him to change it. “Tex” is asked to deal with the situation but arrives as Booth drives away. Tate goes for a walk and stops at a movie theater to watch herself in The Wrecking Crew.
Dalton plays a villain on the pilot of Lancer, and strikes up a conversation with his eight-year-old co-star, Trudi Fraser. Dalton struggles with his dialogue. After having a breakdown in his trailer, Dalton delivers a performance that impresses Fraser and the director, Sam Wanamaker, bolstering Dalton’s confidence. After watching Dalton’s guest performance on an episode of The F.B.I., Schwarzs books him as the lead of Sergio Corbucci’s next Western, Nebraska Jim. Dalton takes Booth with him for a stint in Italy, during which he appears in two additional Westerns and a Eurospy comedy, and marries Italian starlet Francesca Capucci.
Returning home, Dalton informs Booth he can no longer afford his services. They go out for drinks, then return to Dalton’s home. Booth smokes an acid-laced cigarette and takes Brandy for a walk. “Tex”, “Sadie”, “Flower Child”, and “Katie” park outside in preparation to murder everyone in Tate’s house. Dalton hears the car and orders them to leave. Changing their plans, they decide to kill Dalton after “Sadie” reasons Hollywood “taught them to murder”. “Flower Child” drives off, deserting the other three. They break into Dalton’s house and confront Capucci and Booth, who recognizes them from Spahn Ranch. Booth orders Brandy to attack, and together they kill “Katie” and “Tex” and severely injure “Sadie”. She stumbles outside, alarming Dalton, who was listening to music on headphones, oblivious to the mayhem. He retrieves a flamethrower and incinerates her. Booth is hospitalized, Sebring engages Dalton in conversation, and Tate invites Dalton over for drinks.
My Personal Thoughts
The film takes place during the 1960s in L.A., at the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age. To be able to understand the ending, we need to talk about what “the golden age of Hollywood” even means. Basically, think about the way you consume TV and movies today. You have about 21,388,120,938,120 streaming platforms to choose from; a whole world of movies is quite literally at your fingertips. You might not even remember the last time you went to an actual theater.
In the ’60s, the movie theater was THE PLACE to be. Most important, there was air conditioning, which was a major deal because most people didn’t have A/C in their homes. TV hadn’t gotten cinematic in the way that it is now (there was nothing anywhere close to Game of Thrones), so there wasn’t much in the way of entertainment that could compete with movies. People went to theaters in droves, and movie stars were, like, the most important people on the earth. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but still.
Why Sharon Tate was so important
Sharon Tate was the starlet of the era. She was stunningly beautiful, incredibly talented, and married to one of the buzziest directors at the time, Roman Polanski (who, I might add, was eventually accused of sexual misconduct and fled the U.S.). Sharon and Roman were, at the time, Hollywood’s golden couple during Hollywood’s Golden Age. A total double whammy.
When Sharon and her friends were tragically murdered by members of the Manson family in 1969, it catalyzed a palpable change in Hollywood. Dominick Dunne, a legendary investigative journalist, described the shift like this:
“The shock waves that went through the town were beyond anything I had ever seen before. People were convinced that the rich and famous of the community were in peril. Children were sent out of town. Guards were hired. Steve McQueen packed a gun when he went to Jay Sebring’s funeral.”
Quentin Tarantino subverts his audience’s assumption that Tex Watson and the three women with him (all members of Manson’s Family) are on their way to murder Sharon and her friends. Instead, they have a run-in with Rick Dalton, who scolds them for being loud in his cul-de-sac, so they change their minds and return to attack him—not Sharon. This is obviously the film’s critical twist, because in real life, Tex and co. murdered everyone in the Tate/Polanski home that night.
Cliff Booth, Brad Pitt’s character, is able to finish off the Family members in a totally ridiculous fight scene, and the infamous Tate murders are entirely thwarted. Rick, who’s been struggling with his dwindling career, joins Sharon and her friends for a drink at the very end of the film—a moment that seems to suggest he’s finally joining the inner circle of which he’s always wanted to be a part.
Besides the film’s climactic conclusion, everything else in the plot seems pretty historically accurate, so it’s not hard to think Tarantino is attempting to subject his viewers to a thought exercise, one in which the Golden Age of Hollywood wasn’t derailed by Sharon’s murder. What would movies be like today? What would Sharon have done with her career? What would’ve happened to people like Cliff and Rick? What would L.A. even look like? All we can do, of course, is speculate and imagine.
But let’s revisit Tarantino’s original premise. Clearly, he’s sentimental for the Golden Age of Hollywood. It’s not a stretch to conclude that he thinks these were the best years and things haven’t been the same since the era came to a tragic ending. You know what that kind of reminds me of? The intrinsic flaw of President Trump’s Make America Great Again message—the nostalgia for a “great” period that was really only good for white guys.
Margot Robbie has roughly 15 lines in the whole movie, and she’s the only woman to get top billing alongside Brad and Leo. The vast majority of the cast is white, and the film doesn’t acknowledge any of the racial tensions that were happening during the end of that decade.
Tarantino hasn’t talked much about the ending yet himself, so it’s hard to know *exactly* what he intended to message, but to me, his love letter to L.A. reads like a love letter that only certain people can relate to. Which, hey, isn’t that the same criticism that was levied against La La Land?
History proves that people “in the industry” l-o-v-e to make movies about themselves (hello again, La La Land). OUATIH is peak Hollywood nostalgia, as it asks viewers to play a fantastical game of make-believe, which is fine—movies are often tools of entertainment, after all. The thing that Tarantino gets wrong, though, is whether everyone sitting in the theater would even want to return to the 1960s.
I will rate this movie 8/10.
David Heyman Shannon McIntosh Quentin Tarantino
Leonardo DiCaprio Brad Pitt Margot Robbie Emile Hirsch Margaret Qualley Timothy Olyphant Austin Butler Dakota Fanning Bruce Dern Al Pacino
Columbia Pictures Bona Film Group Heyday Films Visiona Romantica
Sony Pictures Releasing
May 21, 2019 (Cannes) July 26, 2019 (United States) August 14, 2019 (United Kingdom)
The Irishman (also titled onscreen as I Heard You Paint Houses) is a 2019 American epic crime film directed and produced by Martin Scorsese and written by Steven Zaillian, based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. It stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, with Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jesse Plemons, and Harvey Keitel in supporting roles. The film follows Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a truck driver who becomes a hitman and gets involved with mobster Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and his crime family, including his time working for the powerful Teamster Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino).
In September 2014, after years of development hell, The Irishman was announced as Scorsese’s next film after Silence (2016). De Niro, who also served as producer, and Pacino were confirmed that month, as was Pesci, who came out of his unofficial retirement to star after being asked numerous times to take the role. Principal photography began in September 2017 in New York City and in the Mineola and Williston Park sections of Long Island, and wrapped in March 2018. With a production budget of $159 million and a runtime of 209 minutes, it is among the longest and most expensive films of Scorsese’s career.
The Irishman had its world premiere at the 57th New York Film Festival on September 27, 2019, and began a limited theatrical release on November 1, 2019, followed by digital streaming on Netflix starting on November 27, 2019. The film was praised for Scorsese’s direction and the performances of De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci.
Sitting in a nursing home in his wheelchair, the aging Frank Sheeran, a World War II veteran, recounts his time as a mafia hitman.
In 1950s Pennsylvania, Sheeran drives meat packing delivery trucks and starts to sell some of the contents of his shipments to a local gangster. After getting accused by his company of theft, lawyer Bill Bufalino gets him off after Sheeran refuses to give the judge any names of who he was selling to. Bufalino introduces Sheeran to his cousin Russell, the head of the northeast Pennsylvania crime family. Sheeran begins to do jobs for Russell, including murders. Soon, Russell introduces Sheeran to Jimmy Hoffa, the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who has financial ties with the Bufalino crime family and is struggling to deal with fellow rising Teamster Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano, as well as mounting pressure from the federal government. Hoffa becomes close with Sheeran and his family, especially his daughter Peggy, and Sheeran becomes Hoffa’s main bodyguard while he is on the road.
After the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy, Russell is thrilled while Hoffa is livid. Kennedy’s brother Robert Kennedy, who was named Attorney General, forms a “Get Hoffa” squad in an effort to bring down Hoffa, who is eventually arrested in 1964 for jury tampering. While in prison, his replacement atop the Teamsters Frank Fitzsimmons begins overspending the groups’ funds and making loans out to the mafia. Hoffa’s relationship with Provenzano, who was himself arrested for extortion, also deteriorates beyond repair. Hoffa is eventually released via a Presidential pardon from Richard Nixon in 1971, although he is forbidden from taking part in any Teamsters activities until 1980.
Despite this, Hoffa begins his plan to retake his power atop the organized unions. Hoffa’s growing disrespect for other Teamster leaders and related crime family interests begins to worry Russell. During a testimonial dinner in Sheeran’s honor, Russell tells Sheeran to confront Hoffa and warn him that the heads of the crime families are not pleased with his behavior. Hoffa then discloses to Sheeran that he “knows things” that Bufalino and the other dons don’t know he knows, and further claims that he is untouchable because if anything ever happened to him, they would all end up in prison.
In 1975, while on their way to the wedding of Bill Bufalino’s daughter, Russell tells Sheeran that things have reached their breaking point with Hoffa, and his death has been sanctioned. The two drive to an airport where Sheeran gets on a flight to Detroit. Sheeran tells Hoffa he will be in town early in the day, but arrives late that afternoon. Hoffa, who had scheduled a meeting at a local diner with Provenzano and Anthony Giacalone, is surprised to see Sheeran arriving in a car with Hoffa’s foster son Chuckie O’Brien and Sal Briguglio, another gangster. They advise Hoffa that the meeting was moved to a house where Provenzano and Bufalino are waiting for them. Sheeran assures Hoffa that everything is fine and joins them in the car. Upon entering the house, Hoffa is surprised to realize that no one else is there and that he is being set up. Hoffa turns to caution Sheeran, who then shoots him twice at point-blank range before leaving the gun and the body at the entrance. After Sheeran leaves, two younger gangsters arrive to take Hoffa’s body to a crematorium to eliminate all traces of him.
Sheeran, Russell, Provenzano and others are eventually convicted on various charges unrelated to Hoffa’s murder as promised by Hoffa, and one by one they begin to die in prison. Sheeran is eventually released and placed in a retirement home. He tries to make peace with his alienated daughters, but Peggy never forgives him for Hoffa’s disappearance. Sheeran prepares for his eventual death as a lonely man.
My Personal Thoughts
Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, The Irishman, is now on Netflix, telling a (mostly) true story about gangsters, deceit, and the perils of aging. After much hype and an endless amount of Marvel-adjacent discourse, the newest Martin Scorsese film made its debut on the streaming service.
The Irishman is a long-time passion project for Scorsese and star Robert De Niro, based on Charles Brandt’s book I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa. Sheeran (played by De Niro) was a labor union official who had close ties to both the Bufalino crime family and Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa. While many elements of Sheeran’s story have been disputed, his own claims to have not only been a mafia hitman but the man who killed Hoffa, whose body has never been found to this day, made him an irresistible subject for Scorsese.
The Irishman opens in a mundane and somewhat damp-looking nursing home, where Frank Sheeran, incapacitated and sitting in his wheelchair, recounts his life’s story to the audience. It’s a savvy call-back to the iconic narration of Goodfellas, but this time, the establishing tone is far less cocky and victorious. The story unfolds with Sheeran’s account of his life and alleged crimes, including his work with Jimmy Hoffa (played by Al Pacino) and Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci.) Over the course of many years, Hoffa and Sheeran become close not only as colleagues but friends and collaborators, with Hoffa forming an especially tight bond with Sheeran’s daughter Peggy (played as an adult by Anna Paquin.) During this time, the battle for leadership of the Teamsters hots up and Hoffa faces tough opposition from colleagues as well as Robert F. Kennedy, the new Attorney General who launched a senate select committee on improper activities in labor organizing nicknamed the “Get Hoffa Squad.”
Eventually, Hoffa is sent to jail for jury tampering but is released via a Presidential pardon from Richard Nixon in 1971, on the condition that he not participate in any Teamsters activities until 1980. Hoffa, of course, refused and began fighting to retake the top spot from his replacement, Frank Fitzsimmons, which led to fears from the Bufalinos that the crime families would not approve of his behavior. It falls upon Sheeran to “take care” of the problem. In 1975, as Sheeran and Bufalino are driving together with their wives to a wedding, Russell informs Frank that Hoffa’s death has officially been sanctioned, and Frank is sent on a private jet to execute his duty. Due to their friendship and deep-seated connections with one another, Hoffa explicitly trusts Frank as he drives him to a new house where their supposed meeting with a local crime family figure has been scheduled. Upon entering the empty house, Hoffa realizes there’s a set-up and turns to warn Frank. Sheeran shoots him at point-blank range, leaves the body to be disposed of by other gangsters, then flies back to the wedding.
Eventually, Sheeran and Bufalino, along with many of their collaborators, are jailed on various charges but never ones related to Hoffa’s disappearance. One by one, they all die in prison, except for Frank, who is left old and alone with nothing to show for his life or the supposedly indelible mark he left on history.
For many of the younger generations, the name Jimmy Hoffa is probably one they are only aware of through cultural osmosis. It’s easy to overlook just how intensely famous and powerful he was at his peak, especially now given the absolute diminishment of the labor rights and union movements in America. Hoffa was a lifelong union activist who secured the first national agreement for teamsters’ rates in 1964 with the National Master Freight Agreement. Under his leadership, the Teamsters became the largest union by membership in the United States, with over 2.3 million members at its peak. Almost as well-known as his union-management was his involvement in organized crime. He faced major criminal investigations but avoided conviction for many years (his lawyer was Bill Bufalino, cousin of Russell, and is played in the film by Ray Romano) until Robert F. Kennedy decided to focus on him with his committees. Eventually, when Hoffa was charged with jury tampering and sentenced to eight years in prison, it came to light how he had improperly used the Teamsters’ pension fund to give loans to leading organized crime figures.
Hoffa’s disappearance has been one of the great unsolved crimes of the 20th century. It’s a mystery mired in sleaze and speculation, and plenty of conspiracies over his ultimate fate have been formed over the decades. Sheeran’s claims are but one of these answers to this eternal question. As shown in The Irishman, Hoffa’s death was sanctioned by the Bufalinos because he knew too much. The two families were intertwined, with the Teamsters having hefty financial ties to the crime syndicate headed by Russell. During a testimonial dinner in Sheeran’s honor, Russell tells Sheeran to confront Hoffa and let him know that the major crime families are unhappy with his attempts to get back in charge of the Teamsters. Hoffa does not listen and lets Sheeran know that all the dirt he has on the Bufalinos will ensure that he remains untouchable. Given how much money he loaned to the family over the years, it seems that he probably had some serious stuff in his favor. As many a Scorsese movie has shown, trying to get one up over the mafia almost never works.
Bufalino insists the hit is not personal, it’s just in the best interests of his business, and since Frank is technically his employee and the man he sends out to do all his hits, this shouldn’t be personal for him too. Of course, that makes little sense given that Bufalino deliberately helped architect the partnership between Sheeran and Hoffa that evolved into some sort of friendship. Hoffa trusts Sheeran in a way he probably doesn’t do with anyone else he isn’t directly related to, hence how his first move upon entering the empty house where he is to be killed is to check that Frank is okay. Ultimately, Frank Sheeran is the staff, the hired help with no true power in this messy ecosystem, and he does as he is told, just as he has for his entire life since joining hands with the Bufalino crime family. It’s all too personal for Frank but he doesn’t refuse the job, which is his biggest fault and what the movie drives home as the root of this sickness of violence that permeates Frank’s world.
The Irishman is a pretty testosterone-heavy movie that doesn’t have many major female roles. The biggest part goes to Anna Paquin as Peggy Sheeran, and as many critics have noted, she barely gets four or five lines of dialogue throughout it. Her stony silence and obvious fear and disdain for her father are a tough reminder of how Frank’s chosen life path has left him devoid of tangible and unconditional human connections to the rest of the world. Peggy’s closeness with Hoffa, a man she seemed to prefer over her own dad as a child, only further highlights the rift between father and daughter. When Hoffa’s disappearance is reported, Peggy seems to instantly know that her father had something to do with it, and following this, she decides to fully remove him from her life. Even when he tries to visit her at her job when he’s old and borderline infirm, she blanks him, refusing to give him even the dignity of a conversation.
In a narrative built mostly on the backstabbing machinations of male crime families and their intersections with union organizing, where everyone seems painfully aware that they’ll die prematurely from a bullet in the back of their head, it’s Peggy’s rejection of Frank that stings the most because his ignorance over his paternal duties in favor of being the Bufalino/Hoffa right-hand-man has left him alone in ways he was never prepared for. In retrospect, he should have known from the beginning how a life of violence would leave his family at arm’s length at all times. One of the reasons Peggy fears her father is because she has borne witness to his blood-stained fury from an early age, including an incident where he beat a shop worker into a pulp for grabbing her arm. Frank’s violence and secretive work were tough enough for Peggy to tolerate, but him having a hand in the death of Hoffa, a man she deeply admired and who she thought her father felt the same way about, was just too much for her to bear.
After the director made his comments about Marvel movies, many people shot back with an insistence that all of Scorsese’s films are derivative gangster movies. Aside from this being crudely inaccurate (this is the man who made movies about the Dalai Lama, the movies of Georges Méliès, and a musical starring Liza Minnelli), it was also grossly reductive of said gangster titles. What makes Scorsese so celebrated as a storyteller in this particular genre is his keen understanding of how even the most rose-tinted view of a life of crime cannot conceal its true demons and inevitably bad ending. Goodfellas gets accused of glorifying the mafia to this day, a point that seems to overlook how the film shows its lead descending into coke-fuelled paranoia and a life of isolation.
The Irishman shares many characteristics with films like Goodfellas and Casino and makes some clear call-backs that Scorsese fans will appreciate, but its true genius is in its overwhelming sadness. There is absolutely nothing about Sheeran’s life that is appealing or aspirational. Any glimmer of intrigue or allure that these men’s lives may have had in their youth quickly dissipates as they become old men. Their endless talking in codes become near-indecipherable, even to them, and the weight of their chosen lives crushes them every single day. There is no glory to this backstabbing or grasping for power, be it from Bufalino or Hoffa. Sheeran doesn’t even have any of this power. He’s been a goon for decades and remains one until the day he dies. He has never possessed any true autonomy and, almost like a dog, obediently does whatever Russell Bufalino tells him to, even if it means killing the one man who he could have called his best friend.
Much has been made about the film’s de-aging technology and whether or not using it was the right choice. While it does make De Niro and company look a little bit like Call of Duty cut-scene characters at time, and De Niro doesn’t help much by still acting like his 70-something self when he’s supposed to be in his 30s, it does serve a fascinating metatextual purpose. As much as Scorsese’s career has been defined by the gangster movie, it has been shaped by his long-time collaborations with Robert De Niro. In many ways, they have grown up together in the industry and become legends alongside one another. The Irishman is an often very literal take on that notion and one that acts as a fascinating commentary on both Scorsese and De Niro’s careers. This a movie first and foremost about old men coming to terms with their own mortality and the impact they’ll leave behind on the world that they have a complicated legacy with. Fortunately, Scorsese and De Niro’s respective legacies are secured and will never fade away, no matter how many people sneer that their work in inaccurate terms.
Given the questionable veracity of Sheeran’s claims, The Irishman cannot help but also be a film about the passage of time and perceptions of memory. Whether or not Frank Sheeran really did kill Jimmy Hoffa on the orders of the Bufalino crime family ultimately doesn’t matter because the life that Sheeran has insisted he has led has given him no satisfaction in life. It hasn’t made any of his associates happy either, and their increasingly cryptic conversations to one another signify both the smothering nature of a life lived in secret and how ultimately nobody even seems to know why they’re killing one another anymore, other than because it’s all they seem to know how to do. By the time they are sick old men in prison with nothing but one another for company, the loneliness of their existences is hammered home. Frank has nobody to tell his stories to other than disinterested nurses, a kindly but distant priest, and the unseen audience, and it just leaves him feeling more empty than before. Frank Sheeran comes to represent the end of an old way of life, one that the rest of the world seems happy to be without. The Irishman ends with the door left open on the past but one nobody wishes to return to.
Martin Scorsese Robert De Niro Jane Rosenthal Emma Tillinger Koskoff Irwin Winkler Gerald Chamales Gastón Pavlovich Randall Emmett Gabriele Israilovici
I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt
Robert De Niro Al Pacino Joe Pesci
TriBeCa Productions Sikelia Productions Winkler Films
September 27, 2019 (NYFF) November 1, 2019 (United States)
Cold Pursuit is a 2019 action thriller film directed by Hans Petter Moland (in his Hollywood debut) from a screenplay by Frank Baldwin. The film stars Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson, Emmy Rossum, Domenick Lombardozzi, Julia Jones, John Doman, and Laura Dern. It is an official remake of the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten), also directed by Moland, and follows a vengeful snowplow driver who starts killing the members of a drug cartel following the murder of his son.
The film was released in the United States on February 8, 2019, by Summit Entertainment. It was a moderate box office success grossing over $76 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the action sequences and the dark humor.
After being awarded “Citizen of the Year” by the fictional ski resort of Kehoe, Colorado, snowplow driver Nels Coxman’s quiet life is disrupted when his son dies from a forced heroin overdose. Nels’ wife Grace leaves her husband in grief. He is about to commit suicide when he learns that his son was murdered by a Denver drug cartel. He decides to seek vigilante justice, makes a sawed-off rifle, and kills three members of the cartel, dumping their bodies in a nearby river.
The cartel’s leader, drug lord Trevor “Viking” Calcote, first suspects that these deaths are the work of his rival White Bull, a Ute with whom he has so far avoided conflict. Viking has one of Bull’s gangsters murdered, not knowing it is Bull’s only son. This drives Bull to seek revenge (“a son for a son”), and he orders his men to kidnap Viking’s young son.
Nels seeks advice from his brother Brock, once a mob enforcer known as “Wingman,” and learns about Viking. Brock tells Nels that killing Viking requires a hired assassin, and he recommends a transplanted African American hitman known as “The Eskimo.” The Eskimo agrees to kill Viking for $90,000, but decides he can get another $90,000 from Viking by informing him that “Coxman” has hired him for the hit. Viking doesn’t appreciate the Eskimo’s “lack of professional ethics” and kills him. He thinks the Eskimo meant Brock Coxman, and he takes Brock for his “last ride.” Since Brock is dying of cancer, he claims responsibility for the hits to protect his brother.
Viking tries in vain to stop the gang war by using one of his own men as a scapegoat and sending White Bull the man’s head. This is insufficient to placate Bull, who kills the messenger. Meanwhile, Nels kidnaps Viking’s son from his prep school before Bull’s men can, in order to draw Viking into an ambush. Nels treats the boy well and protects him from the violence to come.
Nels’ identity is revealed to Viking by the prep school’s janitor. Though promised $10,000 for the tip, he too is killed after his disclosure.
Both gangs arrive at Nels’ workplace, and most of them are killed in the ensuing shootout. Viking, attempting to drive away, is trapped when Nels impales a shorn tree into his car, and he is shot in the chest by White Bull. He dies when found by Kehoe police detectives Kimberly Dash and Gip. As Nels leaves the property in his snowplow to continue his work, White Bull jumps into the cab, and the two men drive away together. Bull’s last remaining enforcer, who had set off on a paraglide flight from the ski resort hotel where the gang stayed the night before, accidentally lands directly in the snowplow’s path and is killed.
My Personal Thoughts
“Cold Pursuit” is the 2019 version of a recently minted tradition, the late winter Liam Neeson revenge flick. It’s one of the strangest, least predictable movies he’s made in years, which isn’t the same thing as saying it’s consistently good. Based on the Norwegian movie “In Order of Disappearance,” and directed by the same filmmaker, Hans Petter Moland, it’s a fragmented, meandering tale in which Neeson’s character, a Kehoe, Colorado snowplow driver named Nels Coxman, gets a taste of vengeance and becomes a glutton. At times it plays less like a self-contained movie than a couple of episodes of a TV series that don’t quite add up the way you wanted them to. It’s a shame that it isn’t better. At its best, it plays like a wry critique of this unexpectedly lucrative period of Neeson’s career, and a borderline-spoof of the genre as a whole.
“Cold Pursuit” kicks off with Nels accepting an award as Kehoe Citizen of the Year, then jumps ahead to the murder of his only son Kyle (Michael Richardson, Neeson’s real-life son with the late Natasha Richardson), an airport baggage handler kidnapped and killed by members of a local drug cartel over a mishandled cocaine shipment. The killers made Kyle’s death look like a heroin overdose even though the young man didn’t do drugs, a touch that adds insult to injury. Nels swiftly dispatches the men directly responsible for his boy’s murder, wraps their corpses in chicken wire, and dumps them off a waterfall so that they’ll settle on the bottom of the Colorado River and be stripped clean by fish, an evidence-disposal technique that he later says that he learned by reading crime fiction. Unsatisfied by the deaths that he metes out early on, Nels resolves to work his way up the underworld’s ladder until he slays the boss of bosses, Trevor “Viking” Calcote (Tom Bateman).
Complications ensue, and not necessarily the ones you’d expect from having watched other Liam Neeson revenge movies. Moland and his American screenwriter, Frank Baldwin, play around with Western movie motifs, photographing the snow-packed mountains, valleys and roads like panoramas in a John Ford cavalry picture, and envisioning a Cowboys-and-Indians-type rivalry between the white-run drug cartel that’s responsible for Kyle’s murder and a Southern Ute Indian gang that mistakenly gets blamed for Nels’ retaliatory spree. There’s also commentary on how outlaws lust after cliched signifiers of respectability. This is conveyed mostly through Viking, a divorced yuppie clotheshorse and preening psychopath who treats his own young son, Ryan (Nicholas Holmes), like a pet, or some kind of experiment in conditioning, micromanaging his diet and recommending “Lord of the Flies” as a self-help manual.
Like its source, this American remake is comparatively light on graphic violence (the beatings tend to be uglier than the shootings), and it has the confidence to handle quite a bit of that business offscreen, staging significant killings behind drawn curtains, or in the cut separating one scene from the next. The film also detours from the main story to spend quality time with Viking’s drug gang, his henchmen (including Domenick Lombardozzi as the aforementioned fantasy football sentimentalist, who refers to Mozart as “Moe-zart”); Nels’ ex-criminal brother Brock “Wingman” Coxman (William Forsyth), who got his nickname from “Top Gun”; a couple of Kehoe cops (Emily Rossum and John Doman) trying to make sense of the mayhem, and assorted mates and exes. Laura Dern has a few scenes as Nels’ grieving wife Grace, who leaves Nels almost instantly, perhaps sensing that her presence would be wasted in a movie filled with sad, violent, self-involved men.
“Cold Pursuit” is at least four-fifths a dark comedy, filled with eccentric, often introverted and sad American archetypes. Most would be mesmerizing and/or hilarious if they had been fully fleshed out as characters, and if the film surrounding them were more elegantly structured and paced. The project suffers from a certain flatness in the characterizations, as well as from an inability to introduce new faces, or arrange meetings between established characters, when the plot needs them, as opposed to much later, when the audience is ready for the story to end and tends to view major new developments as narrative speed bumps.
But even at its most navel-gazing and disorganized, “Cold Pursuit” still showcases elements you haven’t seen before, like the tight-lipped hero asking how many words he’s required to speak at an awards dinner, the henchman who keeps losing at fantasy football because he’s too loyal to his favorite childhood teams and players, and the Ute crime boss who’s saddened by the appropriation of his people’s clothes and jewelry by white designers—more so when he turns over a label and sees “Made in China.”
The film might have been doomed to historical footnote status regardless, because it opened mere days after its star made one of the weirdest, most clueless unforced errors in the history of movie promotion. In an interview, Neeson tried to connect this film, and the futility of revenge in general, to an anecdote drawn from his twenties, when he responded to a white female friend’s rape by a black assailant by wandering town around with a crowbar, hoping to get in a fight with another “black bastard” and kill him. Although Neeson didn’t kill anyone back then, or even fight them, he flunked the present-day personal disclosure-as-advertising test by failing to realize that the racism part of his story—which he did not apologize for, or even note and explain—was as disturbing as the revenge part, which he condemned on the spot.
I will rate this movie 6/10.
Hans Petter Moland
Finn Gjerdrum Stein B. Kvae Michael Shamberg Ameet Shukla
In Order of Disappearance by Kim Fupz Aakeson
Liam Neeson Tom Bateman Tom Jackson Emmy Rossum Domenick Lombardozzi Julia Jones John Doman Laura Dern
The Goldfinch is a 2019 American drama film directed by John Crowley and written by Peter Straughan, adapted from the 2013 novel of the same name by Donna Tartt. The film stars Ansel Elgort as a young man whose life is transformed after his mother dies in a terrorist bomb attack at a museum, from which he takes a famous painting called The Goldfinch. Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, and Nicole Kidman appear in supporting roles.
Film rights to the novel were sold to Warner Bros. and RatPac Entertainment with ICM Partners brokering the deal. Two years later, Crowley was hired to direct the film adaptation and Elgort was selected to portray the lead role of Theodore Decker; much of the rest of the cast joined from October 2017 to January 2018. Filming began in New York City in January 2018, before moving to Albuquerque in April 2018 for the rest of production.
The Goldfinch premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and was theatrically released in the United States on September 13, 2019, by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film received generally negative reviews from critics and was a box-office bomb, with estimated losses for the studio as high as $50 million.
Thirteen-year-old Theodore Decker’s mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. In the aftermath of the bombing, Theo takes a painting, The Goldfinch, one of the few remaining paintings by Carel Fabritius and hides it at his apartment. Theo is then placed with the Barbours, the family of his estranged friend Andy, as he has no other relatives in the city and his father has abandoned him.
Theo reconnects with Andy and becomes close to Andy’s mother, Samantha Barbour, who encourages his interest in her antiques and art. After Samantha finds an engraved ring in Theo’s possession, he goes to visit the shop where it came from, Hobart & Blackwell. The shop is run by James “Hobie” Hobart, whose deceased partner Welton “Welty” Blackwell died in the bombing and gave the ring to Theo to return. Welty’s niece, Pippa, was also at the museum and survived the bombing. Hobie allows Theo to visit Pippa, who has serious injuries, and the two bond. Theo begins to visit Hobie regularly, even after Pippa leaves to live with her aunt in Texas.
Theo begins to settle into life with the Barbours and is invited to go on vacation with them as Andy is hinting that his parents are considering adopting him. Before they can, Theo’s estranged and alcoholic father, Larry, newly detoxed, and his girlfriend Xandra arrive to reclaim Theo and relocate him to Las Vegas. One of the few items he takes with him is The Goldfinch painting.
Theo makes a friend, Boris, a Ukrainian immigrant whose father is physically abusive. Boris, who has also lost his mother, introduces Theo to drugs and alcohol. Theo’s father, sliding further into alcoholism and gambling, dies in a car accident. Terrified that Xandra will place him in foster care, Theo decides to return to New York, begging Boris to come with him. Boris promises he will follow Theo, but never does. Theo goes to Hobie, who allows him to live with him.
Eight years after Theo returns to New York City, he runs into Platt, Andy’s older brother. Platt informs Theo that his father was bipolar and that he and Andy were killed in a boating accident during one of his episodes. Theo goes to visit the now sickly Mrs. Barbour and reconnects with Andy’s younger sister Kitsey, who flirts with him.
Theo works selling the antiques that Hobie finds and restores. A disgruntled art dealer accuses Theo of selling a fake, which Theo offers to buy back. However the dealer believes that Theo possesses The Goldfinch painting and is using it as collateral to finance his shop. Theo is shocked that the man has made the connection between him and the painting, but is relieved that his guess as to its whereabouts is wrong as Theo continues to keep the wrapped painting in a storage locker.
Theo becomes engaged to Kitsey, whom he does not love, still harboring a secret love for Pippa, who now lives in London. Theo catches Kitsey cheating on him, but decides to remain engaged due to his love for Mrs. Barbour and Kitsey’s permissive attitude towards his drug habit.
Looking to score pills one day, Theo goes to an unknown bar where he runs into Boris. The two reconnect, with Boris telling Theo that he owes everything to their friendship. Boris apologizes to Theo, which Theo initially believes is for never coming to New York City, but he then realizes is because Boris stole The Goldfinch years ago, after Theo showed it to him during a drug blackout. Ever since, Boris has used it to finance his life of crime. Boris is now no longer in possession of the painting, as a gang of thugs have stolen it. Theo is horrified and runs away from Boris.
At Theo’s engagement party to Kitsey, Boris arrives and tells him he has a plan to recover The Goldfinch. They fly to Amsterdam, where Theo pretends to be a wealthy businessman, and they reclaim the painting. However, the plan goes badly, and Boris is shot. Theo kills a man in self-defense, losing the painting again.
Theo goes to his hotel room and tries to commit suicide, only to be rescued by Boris. Boris tells Theo that, knowing where the painting is, he had a friend call in a tip to the police to recover it. After organizing a raid the police were able to safely recover the painting along with other lost and stolen art including a Rembrandt. Boris argues that perhaps their strange and unwieldy path was all for the greater good and that it is all part of the strange thing called life.
My Personal Thoughts
The Goldfinch tells the highly-realistic story of a young man, Theo, who lives in New York with his beautiful mother. Theo gets into trouble for smoking at school. Instead of facing the music and the principal, his mother takes him to an art museum instead. Terrorists bomb the museum, Theo’s mother dies. Through plot machinations, he ends up stealing his mother’s favorite painting. By an obscure Dutch master, this is the goldfinch of the title.
It’s not worth recounting the rest of the plot in case you see the movie, which, based on the fact that the only people in the theater when my wife and I saw it were my wife and I and one other person five rows in front of us, you will not. But know that the cast of The Goldfinch includes Ansel Elgort as an adult Theo, Nicole Kidman, as a frosty society dame who nearly adopts Theo, Luke Wilson, as Theo’s gadabout gambler father, who shows up looking for money, and a smoky Sarah Paulson, who plays Luke Wilson’s girlfriend. Also there is Finn Wolfhard, from Stranger Things and It, rocking a Russian accent, and Jeffrey Wright, as an antiques restorer who takes Theo under his wing.
The name actors all deliver name performances, with the exception of Elgort, who either stares blankly or weeps copiously. He’s one of the least charismatic film stars of our day. During the scenes in Amsterdam, I kept wishing Ansel would fall into the Amstel.
Ansel Elgort is one of the two main problems with The Goldfinch. The other is that the director and screenwriter decided to tell the story non-linearly. Tartt’s novel begins with a little narration from an adult Theo, but then goes fairly straight from there, with almost no flashing back. The film, perhaps in an attempt to get to the awful Ansel Elgort parts sooner, operates the narrative on multiple timelines.
It lingers on minutae early, but doesn’t pay off that detail work later. You don’t see the terrorist bombing, the book’s most gripping and moving set piece, until toward the end, and then only in fragments. The thrilling crime drama that grips the book’s final third flits by in about five minutes, as the director perhaps realized that we were already at the two-and-half hour mark. At that point, we could have used some grit, but instead all we get are violin music and crying. But there’s already plenty of both in The Goldfinch.
This is all very frustrating because despite its hair-pulling structure problems, The Goldfinch is an extremely faithful adaptation of Tartt’s book. All the characters look and act exactly how she described them. The locales are on-point, and beautifully photographed by Roger Deakins, including a longish section set in a disturbingly foreclosed housing complex on the edge of Las Vegas. The script even takes time to explain the mechanics of furniture restoration. But not, apparently, to show an exciting chase scene through the streets of Amsterdam.
The Goldfinch falls prey to the Memento effect, or the Interstellar effect, where every movie has to be a puzzle box. Except that The Goldfinch’s puzzle unfolds perfectly the way that Tartt tells it; the way the filmmakers structure the story takes away from the book’s profound emotional impact and plot surprises, leaving us with empty emotion, and no impact. I doubt my dear departed mother would have liked it much. This movie tarnishes my memory of how The Goldfinch, the novel, helped me grieve her tragic death. For that reason, I liked it even less than I might have.
Iwill rate this 5/10.
Nina Jacobson Brad Simpson
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Ansel Elgort Oakes Fegley Aneurin Barnard Finn Wolfhard Sarah Paulson Luke Wilson Jeffrey Wright Nicole Kidman
Amazon Studios Color Force
Warner Bros. Pictures
September 8, 2019 (TIFF) September 13, 2019 (United States)
Ready or Not is a 2019 American black comedy supernatural horror thriller film film directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett from a screenplay by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy. The film stars Samara Weaving as a newlywed who becomes hunted by her spouse’s family as part of their wedding night ritual. Mark O’Brien portrays her husband, with Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, and Andie MacDowell as members of his family.
Ready or Not had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival on July 27, 2019, and was theatrically released on August 21, 2019 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It grossed $53 million against a $6 million budget, and received generally positive reviews from critics, with Weaving’s performance and the film’s blend of humor and thrills being praised.
The wealthy Le Domas family hosts a generations-long tradition of playing a game at midnight on the wedding night with each new addition to the family. In a flashback many years ago, young Alex Le Domas and his brother Daniel witness the killing of a man named Charles, who has just married their aunt Helene.
Thirty years later, Alex – who has been estranged from his family for years – returns to the Le Domas estate to marry a young woman named Grace. While he is hesitant to be back, Grace is reassuring and eager to become part of his family. After the ceremony, Grace is informed of the family initiation custom and meets with the rest of the in-laws. Participating in the tradition with Grace are Alex, his alcoholic brother Daniel, their father Tony, their mother Becky, Daniel’s snobbish wife Charity, Alex’s drug-addicted sister Emilie, Emilie’s whiny husband Fitch Bradley, and the somber Helene, who is Tony’s older sister.
Tony explains that Grace must participate in a session where she is required to draw a card from a mysterious wooden box and play the game written on the card with the Le Domases to be a full-fledged member. Tony also recounts that his great-grandfather Victor Le Domas made a deal with a man named Mr Le Bail where Le Bail would help create the Le Domas fortune if the Le Domas family established the tradition. Grace draws from the box a card that reads “hide and seek”. Believing the game to be harmless, Grace leaves to hide in the estate while the Le Domas family, excluding Alex, arm themselves with antique weapons to hunt her down.
Alex manages to find Grace before his family, and the pair witness Emilie accidentally kill one of the estate’s maids by shooting her in the head with a shotgun. Alex explains that hide and seek is the only game from the box that would prompt the Le Domas family to try to kill Grace, and he didn’t tell her believing the odds of the game were unlikely. The Le Domas family believes that if they fail to kill Grace before dawn, they will all die as agreed by Victor Le Domas and Mr Le Bail (whose name is an anagram of Belial, an alias for Satan), decades earlier. Grace is overwhelmed and furious at Alex having not told her about the ritual for fear that she would leave him. Against his family’s wishes, Alex promises to Grace that he will help her escape the estate and then heads to the house’s security room after instructing her to go to the exit at the kitchen.
While looking for the exit, Grace encounters a second maid, who is inadvertently killed when Grace activates the mechanical dumbwaiter elevator system to silence her. Daniel who, like Alex, hates the nature of his family, discovers her in the study. Grace pleads with him for help, but he laments that he has no options and grants her only a ten-second head start to run before alerting the others. Alex deactivates the estate’s security cameras and unlocks the doors of the house. However, he is discovered by his family who capture and restrain him for his betrayal. Grace, having torn her gown to increase her mobility and armed herself, manages to escape the house after eluding the family’s butler Stevens (by scalding him with boiling water).
The family members regroup and bemoan their difficulty in capturing Grace, but reiterate the urgency of finding her before sunrise. During this discussion, a third maid is accidentally killed by Emilie with a crossbow through the head. Stevens informs the family that Grace has left the house, but promises to capture her. Grace takes refuge in the barn on the estate grounds, but after being shot in the hand by Emilie’s son Georgie, falls into the “goat pit” where the family hid the remains of previous victims. Grace is able to climb out, but is further injured while escaping through a fence in a fruitless attempt to flag down a passing motorist. On the road, Stevens chases after Grace in a car, but she manages to temporarily incapacitate him after he gets out to restrain her.
Attempting to drive off with the car, Grace contacts the vehicle assistance company, but the car was reported stolen and they disable it remotely, allowing Stevens to tranquilize and capture Grace. While Stevens drives her back to the estate, Grace awakens and causes him to crash the car, killing him. However, Grace is discovered by Daniel who, knowing that Tony is secretly watching, knocks her out again and recaptures her. The Le Domas family prepares to sacrifice Grace in a Satanic ritual. After the family drink from a cup of wine as part of the ritual, they all begin to vomit, except for Daniel who non-lethally poisoned the wine, coming to the belief that his family deserves to die.
Meanwhile, Alex escapes his captivity. Daniel frees Grace and they attempt to leave the house before Daniel is shot and killed by Charity. Grace starts a fire, which is ignored and steadily takes hold as the family continues to pursue her. She gets into a fight with Becky and manages to beat her to death with the box. Alex arrives and, realizing that even if he lets Grace live, she won’t want to be with him, captures her.
The family try again to sacrifice Grace. Alex, finding himself unable to kill his wife, stabs Grace in her shoulder instead of her heart. Just as dawn breaks, Helene makes a last-ditch attack with her axe, but without warning she explodes into a cloud of gore. The other members of the family look at each other shock in horror; some try to flee, as Tony pleads for a reprieve to Mr. Le Bail but all explode one by one. Last to go, Alex begs Grace for forgiveness, but explodes when Grace demands a divorce.
As the flames break into the room, they briefly form the outline of Mr. Le Bail sitting at the head of the table. He makes eye contact and nods in approval as Grace turns to escape, covered in the blood of the exploded Le Domas family members. Outside the house, Grace sits on the garden steps as the fire blazes behind her, her wedding dress scarlet with blood, and smokes a cigarette as first responders arrive. When someone asks her what happened, Grace shrugs and replies, “In-laws”.
My Personal Thoughts
The trailer for Ready or Not, the black comedy horror film, made it obvious the Le Domas family would go to hunt Samara Weaving’s Grace on her wedding night as part of some sadistic ritual. However, the footage depicted that her new husband, Alex (Mark O’Brien), was on her side.
While it seemed they’d be on their own in this game of predator and prey, the film’s final act offers Samara a surprising villain, as it’s Alex himself who betrays her, shocking audiences as he tries to help his family to finish the job.
Grace is targeted because the Le Domas family wants to sacrifice her to Satan after she drew the hide-and-seek card after the wedding. It’s tradition to play games, but this death card is a means to repay the devil for offering wealth to the family. But from the get-go, Alex tries to save his new bride, offering clues about where to hide and attempting to switch off the house’s security lockdown so Grace can escape, only for him to be incapacitated by his own family.
Alex had no choice but to marry Grace because, even if they eloped or simply lived together, the devil would drain her life essence as they forged a bond through love. He hoped she’d draw another card from the box Satan sent to the family, and that instead play a boring board game like his siblings’ spouses had. But, alas, things don’t go according to plan, leaving him chained in his bedroom while Grace tries to survive.
Luckily, the wily Grace fights him off and, as dawn arrives, the man we thought was a hero finds himself facing a bloody fate. One by one, the family members, including children, start to explode in the occult room, splattering guts all over the bride. The prophecy of failure was true, and they’re paying the price. But Alex begs Grace’s forgiveness so he can live. She laughs him off, telling him she want a divorce as she gives back the wedding ring, and watches him as he explodes.
It’s the price for falling back in line with his demented family, creating one of cinema’s goriest endings. As Grace surveys the damage in her now-crimson dress, she sees the ghost of Le Bail, the merchant Satan used to offer the Le Domas family the box centuries earlier, and acknowledges amid all the violence, every death was worth it so she could have her freedom.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin Tyler Gillett
Tripp Vinson James Vanderbilt Willem Sherak Bradley J. Fischer
R. Christopher Murphy
Samara Weaving Adam Brody Mark O’Brien Henry Czerny Andie MacDowell
Mythology Entertainment Vinson Films TSG Entertainment
Fox Searchlight Pictures
July 27, 2019 (Fantasia) August 21, 2019 (United States)
Ford v Ferrari (titled Le Mans ’66 in the UK and other territories) is a 2019 American sports drama film directed by James Mangold and written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller. It stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale, with Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, and Ray McKinnon in supporting roles.
The plot follows an eccentric, determined team of American engineers and designers, led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby and his British driver, Ken Miles, who are dispatched by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca with the mission of building the Ford GT40, a new racing car with the potential to finally defeat the perennially dominant Ferrari racing team at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. In early stages of the film’s production, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were cast in the starring roles, but those plans fell through. Mangold was then hired in February 2018, and Damon, Bale, and the rest of the cast joined that summer. Filming began in July 2018 in California and lasted a little over two months.
Ford v Ferrari had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on August 30, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 15 by 20th Century Fox. The film received positive reviews from critics, who lauded the performances and racing sequences.
In 1963, Ford Motor Company Vice President Lee Iacocca proposes to Henry Ford II to purchase the cash-strapped Ferrari as a means to boost their car sales by participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Enzo Ferrari, however, walks out of the deal, as Fiat offers him a more lucrative deal that allows him to retain his ownership of Scuderia Ferrari. A furious Henry II orders his racing division to build a car to defeat Ferrari at Le Mans. For this task, Iacocca hires Shelby American owner Carroll Shelby, a racing driver who won Le Mans in 1959, but was forced to retire due to his heart condition. In turn, Shelby enlists the help of Ken Miles, a hot-tempered British racer and struggling mechanic.
Shelby and Miles test the Ford GT40 Mk I prototype at Los Angeles International Airport, working out all of its design flaws until it is race ready. Seeing that Miles is not their ideal driver, Ford opts to send Phil Hill and Bruce McLaren to the 1964 Le Mans instead. As predicted by Miles, none of the Fords finish the race. While Henry II sees this as a humiliating defeat, Shelby explains to him that the GT40 instilled fear in Ferrari, as it reached 218 mph on the Mulsanne straight before it broke down. Shelby and Miles continue development on the GT40 Mk II, but Miles is nearly killed when the car’s brakes fail during testing. In 1966, Ford Senior Vice President Leo Beebe takes over the racing division, with the intent to continue the program without Miles, but Shelby gives Henry II a ride in the car and wages his own company on the line to convince him that if Miles wins the 24 Hours of Daytona, he will be allowed to race at Le Mans.
Shelby American enters Daytona, but Beebe has a second Ford entered with NASCAR team Holman-Moody supporting it. While the Holman-Moody team has quicker pit stops, Shelby has Miles push his car’s limit to 7,000 RPM, resulting in him winning the race.
At the 1966 Le Mans, Miles struggles with a faulty door during the first lap, but after team engineer Phil Remington fixes the door with a mallet, Miles begins to set lap records while catching up with the Ferraris. While racing with Ferrari driver Lorenzo Bandini, Miles experiences brake failure and has his brake system replaced during his pit stop. Enzo Ferrari protests the move, but Shelby convinces the race officials that the brake change is legal. Miles and Bandini once again duel on the Mulsanne Straight until Bandini blows his engine, completely eliminating Ferrari in the race. With three Ford teams in the top-three positions, Beebe orders Shelby to have Miles slow down for the other two Fords to catch up with him and provide the press with a three-car photo finish. Miles is initially against this decision, continuing to set new lap records near the end of the race, but decides to let Ford have their way on the final lap. Ultimately, McLaren is declared the winner on a technicality, but Miles is grateful to Shelby for giving him the opportunity to race at Le Mans.
Two months after Le Mans, while testing the J-car at Riverside International Raceway, Miles once again experiences brake failure and is killed in the resulting crash. Six months later, Shelby pays Miles’ widow Mollie and son Peter a visit and gives Peter a wrench that Miles threw at him before winning an SCCA race at Willow Springs in 1963. Ford would continue its winning streak at Le Mans in 1967, 1968, and 1969, becoming the only American manufacturer to win the prestigious race. Miles would be posthumously inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001.
My Personal Thoughts
If it weren’t for Christian Bale, I probably would never watch a movie about car racing and the feud between car manufacturers. But early buzz about being an Oscar contender and the fact that James Mangold is the director enticed me a bit more and to my surprise, ‘Ford v Ferrari’ has quite the anti-corporation message that I wasn’t expecting from watching the trailer, and I very much appreciated it.
‘Ford v Ferrari’ is based on the true story of American racing star turned car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and race car driver and engineer Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they are hired by Ford to build and design a race car to compete against Ferrari at the 24-hour Le Mans, a whole day race in France.
The film is first set up as a sports movie, with a coach-player dynamic between Shelby and Miles as they have to deal with their own personal demons — Shelby, who had to bow out from racing earlier than intended, while Miles has to deal with his inability to listen to authority — to win this race. But as the film continues to unfold, it also underlines how big corporations and their committees and bureaucracy get in the way of human accomplishment.
While the film manages to uplift Shelby and Miles by showcasing their decisions to overcome their own weaknesses, humanizing them and highlighting the strength of their character, the film also goes as far as to demonize the corporate system, putting out in full display the pride and arrogance of corporate types who feel the need to take charge and act like a boss because they are in suits when, in truth, they had no real hand in the building and testing of the machines that are at the forefront of their company.
There’s a lot in ‘Ford v Ferrari’ that feels like Oscar-bait. While Damon, Bale, Catriona Balfe (who plays Ken Miles’ wife Mollie), Jon Bernthal (who plays Ford executive Lee Iacocca), and Noah Jupe (who plays Ken Miles’ son Peter) all give amazing performances, each of their big moments feel like they are shot and covered just right for an award season clip. Bale really shines as Ken Miles, though, because it’s another transformative performance from him. His Ken Miles is buoyant and unpredictable, and it is a light and charming performance that we haven’t seen from him in a long time. It’s a genuinely light-hearted, comedic performance that doesn’t have his signature intensity, which creates a completely new character for him. It’s a shoe-in for a nomination, for sure.
Aside from the standard beats of a sports movie and the surprising narrative points that show the corporate interferences with what Shelby and Miles have set out to do, the film like any sports movie does its best to try and explain the challenges of the sport and raises the stakes that Miles has to overcome to win against the then-unbeatable Ferrari.
’m no racing fan but even I got engaged and invested in the race at some point. Mangold manages to infuse the sport with the human aspect, like any good sports movie, and we understand what is really at stake here. And more than just being another race, or a battle between car manufacturers for a title, the film also becomes a testament to human ingenuity and invention. The technology we all enjoy now are all products of great minds — scientists and engineers and, for cars, test drivers — and without having to say it, you could feel the pride the filmmaker has with what man is capable of doing when one pushes himself to the limit.
And, as the film shows us, what man can do not just for himself or for science, but for his fellow man.
Yes, there’s an Oscar-bait feel to the movie but great performances, strong direction, and touching upon the proper narrative beats for a sports film makes ‘Ford v Ferrari’ an enjoyable two and a half hour ride in the cinema.
Peter Chernin Jenno Topping James Mangold
Jez Butterworth John-Henry Butterworth Jason Keller
Matt Damon Christian Bale
Marco Beltrami Buck Sanders
Michael McCusker Andrew Buckland
Chernin Entertainment TSG Entertainment Turnpike Films
20th Century Fox
August 30, 2019 (Telluride) November 15, 2019 (United States)
The Omen is a 1976 supernatural horror film directed by Richard Donner, and written by David Seltzer. The film stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Spencer Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Troughton, Martin Benson, and Leo McKern. The first installment of The Omen franchise, The Omen concerns a young child replaced at birth by American Ambassador Robert Thorn (Peck) unbeknownst to his wife (Remick), after their own son was murdered at the hospital, enabling the son of Satan to grow up with wealth and power. They are surrounded by mysterious and ominous deaths, unaware that the child, Damien, is the Antichrist.
Released theatrically by 20th Century Fox in June 1976, The Omen received acclaim from critics and was a commercial success, grossing over $60 million at the box office and becoming one of the highest-grossing films of 1976. The film earned two Oscar nominations, and won for Best Original Score for Jerry Goldsmith, his only Oscar win. A scene from the film appeared at #16 on Bravo’s The 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The film spawned a franchise, starting with Damien: Omen II, released two years later, followed by a third installment, Omen III: The Final Conflict, in 1981, and in 1991 with Omen IV: The Awakening. A remake was released in 2006.
In Rome, American diplomat Robert Thorn is in a hospital where his wife Katherine gives birth to a boy, who—he is told—dies. Moments later Robert is informed of a plan by the hospital chaplain, Father Spiletto, to secretly adopt an orphan whose mother died giving birth to him. Robert agrees, but does not reveal to his wife that the child is not theirs. They name the child Damien.
Later Robert is appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Not long afterwards mysterious events plague the Thorns: A large Rottweiler dog appears near the Thorn home; Damien’s nanny publicly hangs herself at his fifth birthday party; a new nanny, Mrs. Baylock, arrives unannounced to replace her; the five-year old Damien violently resists entering a church; and zoo animals are terrified of Damien. Katherine becomes increasingly afraid of Damien and distances herself from him.
Father Brennan, a Catholic priest, tries to warn the Ambassador about Damien’s mysterious origins, hinting that he is not human. The priest later tells Robert that Katherine is pregnant and that Damien will prevent her from having the child. Afterward, Brennan is impaled and killed by a lightning rod thrown from the roof of a church during a sudden storm. Katherine tells Robert that she is pregnant and wants an abortion.
Learning of Father Brennan’s death, photographer Keith Jennings begins investigating Damien. He notices shadows in photographs of the nanny and of Father Brennan that seem to presage their bizarre deaths. A photo of Keith himself shows the same shadow. Keith shows Robert the photos and tells him he also believes that Damien is a threat and that he wants to help Robert. While Robert is away, Damien knocks Katherine over an upstairs railing to the floor below, causing her to miscarry.
Keith and Robert travel to Rome to investigate Damien’s birth. They learn that a fire destroyed the hospital records and the maternity and nursery wards five years earlier; most of the staff on duty died in the fire. Robert and Keith trace Father Spiletto to St. Benedict’s Abbey in Subiaco, where he is recuperating from his injuries. Stricken mute, blind in his right eye and paralyzed in his right arm, Spiletto writes the name of an ancient Etruscan cemetery in Cerveteri, where Damien’s biological mother is buried. Robert and Keith find a jackal carcass in the grave, and in the grave next to it, a child’s skeleton with a shattered skull. These are Damien’s unnatural “mother” and the remains of the Thorns’ own child, murdered at birth so that Damien could take his place. Keith reiterates Father Brennan’s belief that Damien is the Antichrist, whose coming is being supported by a conspiracy of Satanists. A pack of wild Rottweiler dogs drive Robert and Keith out of the cemetery. Robert calls Katherine and tells her she must leave London. He says their friend Tom will arrive shortly to pick her up and take her to the airport to fly to Rome. Katherine, sensing how serious Robert is, agrees.
As Katherine struggles to change her clothes with her large humerus cast, she hears someone behind her. She turns to see Mrs. Baylock, who then pushes Katherine out the window to her death, crashing through the roof of a parked ambulance. Robert and Keith travel to Israel to find Carl Bugenhagen, an archaeologist and expert on the Antichrist. Bugenhagen explains that if Damien is the Antichrist he will possess a birthmark in the shape of three sixes, under his hair if nowhere else. Robert learns that the only way to kill the Antichrist is with seven mystical daggers from Megiddo. Appalled by the idea of murdering a child, Robert discards the daggers. When Keith tries to retrieve them, he is decapitated by a sheet of window glass sliding off a truck, matching the shadow across his neck which had presaged his death.
Returning home, Robert examines Damien for the birthmark, finding it on the child’s scalp. Mrs. Baylock attacks him and, in the ensuing struggle, Robert kills her. He loads Damien and the daggers into a car and drives to the nearest church. Due to his erratic driving, he is followed by the police. Robert drags the screaming child to the altar and lays him down. The child pleads with his father to stop, but Robert raises the first dagger and asks God to forgive him, just as the police arrive. The officer orders Robert to put down the dagger or else he will shoot. Robert looks at them, then begins to plunge the dagger towards Damien, upon which the officer fires his gun.
The double funeral of Katherine and Robert is attended by the President of the United States. A smiling Damien is then revealed, standing beside them. Just before the credits roll, Revelation 13:18 appears: “Here is wisdom, let him that hath understanding, count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man and his number is 666”.
My Personal Thoughts
I’ve never really been a religious person. I know, I’m an ordained minister and I’m not a religious person, fancy that contradiction eh? At any rate, this does have a point so please bear with me, but when it comes to popular culture I more often than not don’t really find myself giving a damn about it when its prime claim to fame is that it bases itself on religious doctrine. Sorry, but The Da Vinci Code is something I couldn’t give a damn about. So, when it comes to religious horror, how exactly do I stand?
Well, let me put it this way. If it’s a good horror movie, to begin with, I will watch it and enjoy it, because that’s all it’s based around. If however it gets its primary fears from the threat of damnation and preying upon the religious beliefs of its viewing audience, then it goes on the list of things I couldn’t give a damn about.
So, now with that long and plodding introduction out of the way, I’d like to come around to talking about the 1976 classic, The Omen. Although it’s a movie that has a lot of its roots based in Catholicism, it is still quite scary on its own right and maintains some of the most jarring imagery in horror history which makes it a classic by any definition of the word.
June 6th, 6 a.m., Rome, Italy. American ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) rushes to the hospital with the news that his wife Katherine (Lee Remick) is in labor. Unfortunately, by the time he reaches the hospital he finds out that his child died during the birthing process. everything seems to be going fabulously for the new happy family, and nothing could bring them down.
Until Damien’s fifth birthday that is. As Damien and his family are having a wonderful time at the party, a mysterious black dog watches from the fringe. Looking at the strange animal, Damien’s nanny seemingly becomes entranced, disappearing into the house and soon reappearing standing on the roof. With a smile on her face, she cries out for Damien to look at her, and that everything is his. She then violently hangs herself, smashing through a window as her lifeless body blows in the breeze.
What seems to be an isolated incident escalates into a series of strange events and mysterious, increasingly violent and lethal accidents. With the help of photographer Keith Jennings (David Warner), Robert is determined to seek out the truth about his son, and determine whether or not the prophecies are true and that Damien is none other than the antichrist. The only question is, can he stop Damien in time to save the world?
Directed by veteran action director Richard Donner, The Omen is a movie that knows how to maintain a great pace. Stylistically it never slows down, keeping at an almost breakneck pace creates as much terror as it does from its wonderful scare moments. This keeps the film not only grounded but accessible to most everyone watching it.
Bringing it into a level of the class far above many of its horror contemporaries are a top-notch cast including such great actors as Gregory Peck, Billie Whitelaw, Lee Remick, David Warner and Harvey Stephens as the young Damien.
Still, great and creepy an actor though the kid may be, the film is brought to a completely different level with the addition of Gregory Peck as the protagonist Robert Thorn. Peck has always been one of my favorite actors since seeing him in To Kill a Mockingbird, so to see him in a horror film I’ll admit to a bit of confusion at first. Then seeing him playing this role of a powerful husband and father looking to hold everything together, it all makes sense as he brings a sense of style and class to what could have otherwise been another macho middle-aged American guy sort of role. All around this film maintains a very top-notch cast.
The manifestations of Damien’s evil also deserve mention, because as of the time of the film nothing really had been seen as them. The imagery is startling, brutal and extremely violent, be it the baboon attack, the hanging, the lightning rod, or the films notorious plate-glass decapitation. The accidents that occur as manifestations of Damiens self-defense mechanism were definite precursors to the Final Destination series, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as they are quite gruesome and ahead of their time I the 70’s. Jerry Goldsmiths iconic orchestral score only helps push these manifestations of evil over the top, giving them power and lasting resonance (and perhaps a sense of fear the next time you hear a choir chanting ominously in Latin; then again, when’s the last time that’s been a good thing?)
Religious though its origins may be, The Omen gets its horror from traditional and excellently executed scares, pushed over the top by wonderful performances from a great cast. Truly a classic, so let us hope the remake gets it right.
I will rate this movie 10/10.
Gregory Peck Lee Remick David Warner Billie Whitelaw