Showing posts with label Bird Box Barcelona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bird Box Barcelona. Show all posts

Monday, August 28, 2023

"Strays" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Strays" as well as "Master Gardener," and "Bird Box: Barcelona"]

Strays (2023)

A little dog whose owner has abandoned him teams up with some strays to get revenge.

I know. An R-rated movie starring anthropomorphic dogs.  But, hey, sometimes you just need to go for it and dogs are hilarious, especially dogs that talk, use the F word and consider a billboard featuring a postal worked "the devil in the sky." I'm glad I went for it!

Since this movie is R-rated, I am going to have a difficult time relating the plot or quoting from the movie without offending someone, but basically it's all about little Reggie (voice by Will Ferrell), a border terrier who lives with Doug (Will Forte).  Reggie was Doug's live-in girlfriend's pet but when she left, Doug kept Reggie out of spite even though he hated little Reggie and called him bad names (names I can't repeat here).  You see, Doug is not a very nice person. In fact, he's a bad man.  But Reggie doesn't know that Doug is a bad man.  He thinks Doug loves him and that when he takes him out into the country, throws a ball for Reggie and then drives off that Doug isn't abandoning him, he is playing a game with him called "Fetch and F***."  Doug throws the ball, tells Reggie to fetch and when Reggie finds his way back home Doug says "F***!"

But one day, when Reggie makes his way back home once again, Doug has had enough and takes Reggie three hours away to the big city, and this time Reggie has trouble finding his way back home.  But he meets up with Bug (voice of Jamie Foxx), a street-wise Boston Terrier, Hunter (voice of Randall Park), a Great Dane wearing a "cone of shame," who failed police dog school and is now a therapy dog at an old peoples' home, and Maggie (voice of Isla Fisher), a sweet Australian Shepherd with an uncanny sense of smell, and the three take Reggie under their wings, er, paws and become Reggie's friends.  They convince Reggie that Doug does not really care about him and that he is now a stray.  Reggie can't come to grips with that at first, but when he does, he gets mad and decides that he wants to take revenge by, well, what they want to do to Doug is a bit graphic, but let me say it involves biting a part of Doug's anatomy off and that part rhymes with "stick."  So off the four go to seek revenge on Doug.

And now we have an R-rated version of "The Incredible Journey (except without the cat)."

The screenplay by Dan Perrault is very scatological but hilarious with references to other films like "A Dog's Purpose" and "A Dog's Journey" (there is a funny bit featuring Josh Gad as a Narrator Dog) and Dennis Quaid even makes an appearance being, well, Dennis Quaid. And misfit dogs on an adventure finding friendship is a sort of dog version of "Stand By Me."  

But the dogs themselves are the highlight. This is not an animated film. This film stars real dogs and the dogs "talk." You know how sometimes when the mouths of animals move in films and it looks wonky?  Not here.  It's all spot on and the body language of the dogs reflect the dialogue and emotions perfectly. These are well-trained dogs! But like I said, it's R-rated so lots of leg-humping, butt sniffing, pooping and other activities we have come to know and love from our canine friends. And they are brought to life by wonderful actors.  Jamie Foxx is always funny and I don't think I will ever look at a Boston Terrier the same way again and Will Ferrell is perfect as Reggie.  

But the film, directed by Josh Greenbaum, isn't just about dogs dropping the F-bomb and revenge, it's also about getting out of toxic relationships and the power of friendship.  And believe it or not, I think you will tear up from time to time. But you will also laugh - a lot- especially when Doug gets what's coming to him to the tune of Miley Cyrus's anthem "Wrecking Ball!"

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, the movie is very scatological and obsessed with poop, but if, like me, you love dogs, you will laugh and you will cry and you will run right home and give your furry friend a hug.  And it's only an hour and 33 minutes long! (In theatres)

Master Gardener (2022)

A buttoned up horticulturist with secrets is the caretaker for a garden on a beautiful estate.

Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton) tends the gardens at Gracewoods, a beautiful estate owned by the wealthy Mrs. Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver). He also tends to Mrs. Haverhill, if you get my meaning. Unbeknownst to those he works with, Roth has a dark past and a dark secret that belies his passive nature, reminding us in these dark political times that we have no idea what is going on inside our fellow humans. And that's the case with Narvel. Slowly it unfolds just who Narvel was. But he has found solace in his role as gardener, quietly tending to plants.

But then enter, Maya (Quintessa Swindell), Mrs. Haverhill's grand-niece, a young biracial girl. Her mother has died and Mrs. Haverhill wants Roth to take Maya on as an apprentice so that she can eventually take over the Gardens, an odd assignment since Mrs. Haverhill has little to do with Maya while she is there.  And it doesn't help when Maya and Roth become close (we saw that coming a mile away). When Norma spots Roth leaving Maya's room, she fires them both. 

Like Roth, Maya has a troubled past, and though she is trying to clean herself up, her drug dealer, R.G. (Jared Bankens) and his friend, Sissy (Matt Mercurio), show up and cause her trouble and eventually vandalize the gardens leading to a violent showdown.

Writer/director Paul Schrader is known for his gritty films like "Hardcore," "Raging Bull" and "American Gigolo," and one can't help but draw parallels here with one of his most famous films - "Taxi Driver."  An odd older loner befriends a troubled young girl that culminates in violence? Mmmm, sounds very familiar.    

But though it's slow to get going, when it does it exudes the dark, sinister quality we have come to associate with Schrader, but unlike with "Taxi Driver," Schrader has softened a bit because there is an optimism here as he draws parallels to the life of a garden to life itself. And Schrader shows here that he is also the master of his film garden with interesting camera angles, an intense focus and artistic juxtaposition of the quiet solitude and healing of a garden and the violence of the real world.

Joel Edgerton has perfected the hang dog, troubled-guy-with-demons persona and newcomer Swindell holds her own with him.  And 73-year-old Sigourney Weaver, who doesn't look a day over 50, lends her own finely honed persona, that of the well-bred icy wealthy woman.

As an aside, this film is all about flowers and plants and stars Weaver.  Interestingly, there is a series on Amazon Prime right now starring Weaver called "The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart" which is also all about flowers and plants. I guess flowers and plants as symbols of life is a thing. But I digress...

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you seek a "smart" movie like "Oppenheimer," except shorter and better, this not only gives you something to think about but combines an interesting story with lots of drama. Worth seeking out.  (Amazon Prime)

Bird Box: Barcelona (2023)

There is an evil entity out there and if you look at it, you will kill yourself.  

"Bird Box" starring Sandra Bullock was one of the most popular movies of all time on Netflix and this film is clearly taking advantage of that.  I am usually not a fan of remakes or sequels, but in my mind, this one isn't really either of those things. It's a more like another chapter. It makes sense that the evil entity we first encountered in "Bird Box" would have taken over the world and is now in Spain wreaking havoc there, so I am not mad at that, and this is in fact a sort of reverse version of the original as it has a major twist.

If you remember from the first one, there is something out there that no one can see but if their eyes are open when it swirls around and they "see" it, it somehow manipulates their emotions and they will instantly kill themselves. So everyone wears a blindfold when outside. 

At the beginning of the film, we meet Sebastian (Mario Casas) and his daughter, Anna (Alejandra Howard), but in a series of flashbacks we learn that Sebastian lost his wife and driven by grief and despair is on a mission. We also learn that our hero is perhaps not really a hero.

It seems that some people can look at the entities and not turn to self harm and a cult has formed around these people led by Padre Esteban (Leonardo Sbaraglia), who believes that the entities are angels and that humanity would be liberated from suffering by embracing death. So there are people out there trying to avoid looking at the entities and other people out there trying get people to look so they will be saved. In flashbacks, we learn that Sebastian encountered the Padre and his life changed. 

Later, Sebastián encounters another group that believes that they will be saved if they reach Montjuic Castle, considered a safe haven. Sebastian joins them but has an existential crisis as he begins to doubt his beliefs.

Written and directed by David and Alex Pastor, unlike the original "Bird Box," the film has many religious overtones that questions organized religion and blindly following one's beliefs.  

Rosy the Reviewer says...though the flashbacks that eventually reveal Sebastian's mission are confusing at times, the film is engrossing and scary and one can't help but wonder if this is the beginning of a franchise.  Is "Bird Box Paris" next? (Netflix - In Spanish, English and German with English subtitles)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

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