Showing posts with label Nicolas Cage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nicolas Cage. Show all posts

Saturday, August 6, 2022

"Nope" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Jordan Peele movie "Nope" as well as the Nick Cage film "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" and the British drama series "The Split."]


Nope (2022)


Brother and sister horse-trainers, OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Em (Keke Palmer), are struggling to keep their horse ranch going after their father's death, but when they see what they think is a UFO flying above their ranch, they decide filming it is their way out of financial ruin. What they don't realize is that it's not your "typical" UFO.

First there was "Get Out," then there was "Us" and now here is feature film number three from the creative mind of writer/producer/director Jordan Peele.

The film begins back in 1998, when during the filming of the TV show "Gordy's Home," one of the chimpanzees playing Gordy goes berzerk and attacks the actors.  

Fast forward to the present day to a horse ranch - Hayward Hollywood Horses - owned by Otis Hayward Sr.  He and his two children are horse trainers who provide horses for movies and TV. They claim to be the ancestors of the black jockey riding a horse featured in the famous Eadweard Muybridge stop motion animation, "Horse in Motion," that was one of the earliest moving pictures. Sadly and mysteriously, Otis Sr. is killed from a flying object that falls from the sky.  

Six months later, Otis Jr. AKA OJ is in charge of the ranch and needing money.  He has been selling his horses to Jupe Park (Steven Yeun) who runs a western amusement park called "Jupiter's Claim."  It just so happens that Jupe was once a child actor and guess what?  He was in "Gordy's Home" and witnessed the chimp attack that took place.  He is now making money off of that tragedy along with providing another sort of spectacle at his amusement park that is revealed later in the film.

Back to OJ and his sister, Emerald, AKA Em. OJ is a quiet, withdrawn guy, unlike Em who is out there, trying to make it as an actress and hustling for whatever she can get in Hollywood.  One night while on the ranch, OJ and Em witness what they think is a UFO, and Em gets the idea that if they can film it, they can make some money. They can have their "Oprah moment." So that's the plan.  They go to Fry's to get cameras and when the Fry's salesman, Angel (Brandon Perea), comes to the ranch to install the equipment, he can't help himself. He is an extraterrestrial fanatic and, not only installs the electronic equipment, he installs himself into the plan. OJ and Em also enlist the help of the very strange cinematographer, Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott). But none of them know what they are getting themselves into.  This is not just any old UFO, it's a monster of a UFO...literally.

This is "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" meets "Ghostbusters" meets "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" or maybe "High Noon," whatever your favorite western shoot out movie might be. Peele pays homage to Hollywood and combines horror, humor and the African American experience to create this unique roller coaster of a film. Here he comments on how African Americans have been excluded from Hollywood as well as how we humans love spectacle, even when it celebrates tragedy.  We can't turn our eyes away (and here is a bit of a spoiler. Looking at the alien is not good)! This film is not quite as tight as "Get Out" or "Us," and there are some head-scratching moments.  It's also a bit slow to get started but once it does, it's tense and scary and Peele always gets points for originality. 

Daniel Kaluuya is perfectly deadpan, and Kiki Palmer is characteristically manic (but it works here) but the break-out star is Brandon Perea, who adds some fun to an often very tense film. 

A favorite moment...you may or may not know that Jordan Peele was on "Mad TV," once a comedy show competitor with Saturday Night Live.  In the film, Jupe regales OJ and Em with what a great send-up SNL did of the chimp attack on the TV set.  Dark, I know, but very funny that Peele would do an homage to SNL. 

Oh, in case you are wondering about the title.

You know how you might go into a room and see something you don't like...like maybe your parents having a fight or like, say, oh, maybe a really scary alien? That's when you might say "Nope," turn around, and get the hell out of there! Daniel Kaluuya's utterance of the word is classic.

Rosy the Reviewer says...should you get yourself to the theatre to see "Nope?"  Yep!
(In theatres)


The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) 

Nicolas Cage plays Nicolas Cage in this send-up of Nicolas Cage and his movies.

Nicolas Cage just might be one of the most polarizing actors on the planet.  I can't tell you now many times I've mentioned a Nicolas Cage movie that I liked ("Pig") only to get a wrinkled nose response followed by "Ew, I don't like Nicolas Cage."  Of course, he has his fan base.  I mean he won an Oscar, for god's sake, but somehow he has gotten a reputation as a mannered, over-acting, intense actory actor.

But here's where this movie comes in.

Nick knows some of this and is not above making fun of his persona in this very self-deprecating and mostly fictionalized story of an egotistical and self-obsessed actor (Cage) who is struggling artistically and financially.  His wife (Sharon Horgan) is divorcing him and his daughter (Lily Mo Sheen) thinks he is a bit of a tool, so with nothing else going on he accepts $1,000,000 to attend the birthday party of a superfan.  It's a comedown for him, of course, but it doesn't hurt that it's in Majorca. But Nick has decided after this party, he is going to retire from acting. The superfan, Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), is a charming and very rich olive exporter who has written a screenplay he wants Nick to star in.  Despite Nick's initial reluctance to do this gig, strangely, the two actually bond (Javi is a charming guy), and Nick actually is interested in Javi's screenplay and becomes hopeful about his future. What he doesn't know is that Javi is under CIA scrutiny (is he a bad guy?), and Nick will be recruited by the CIA to find a girl kidnapped by a notorious arms dealer and will have to fight off bad guys to save his own life and the lives of his wife and daughter. Whew! Who knew an invitation to a birthday party could be so stressful?  But now Nick sees a new career path!  Spy!

Of course, this story, written by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten and directed by Gormican, gives Nick Cage the opportunity to channel some of his iconic characters as well as playing Nicky, his younger self, who keeps reminding him what a big star he is. And don't think they aren't dropping the titles of Nick Cage movies right and left here. "Face/Off," "Captain Corelli's Mandolin," "National Treasure," "Guarding Tess," "Gone in 60 Seconds," "The Rock," "Con Air." Gee, Nick's made a ton of movies, all different kinds of movies! Maybe he really is a good actor! Demi Moore even has a cameo as an homage to the 80's and 90's when she and Nick were at the height of their careers. 

Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz  play the CIA agents who recruit Nick to help them nail the bad guys. And speaking of Tiffany Haddish.  Just let me say that I feel about her how many people feel about Nick.  I am not a fan. She was funny in "Girl's Trip," but then she kept playing that character over and over. But it's not really her acting that I object to, it's her humor and how nutty she acts on talk shows.  Have you seen her on "Ellen?" But at least here, she is toned down.
 
This film is a lot of fun but the irony is that you will have had to have seen enough Nick Cage movies to get the many references to his films and if you don't like Nick Cage you probably haven't seen those films.  But here is the good part.  You don't really need to get the references to enjoy this film.  It's a fun romp through all of the thriller tropes you have come to expect from such movies and it's also very funny, especially when Nick and Javi take LSD together.

Nick is looking for the role of a lifetime and it turns out that role is playing himself!  The film is self-deprecating and self-serving all at once but always enjoyable!

Rosy the Reviewer says...I was once one of those Nick Cage critics but after seeing him in "Pig" and this one, I'm a fan.  Love him or hate him, you will enjoy this very fun film.
(Available on DVD and for rent on most streaming platforms)


***Streaming***


The Split - Season 3 (2022)


The DeFoes, a family of female divorce lawyers, must face their own relationship issues.

Nicola Walker plays Hannah DeFoe, a divorce lawyer who is going through her own divorce from her husband, Nathan.  Hannah has cheated on Nathan (Stephen Mangan), thus the divorce, but Hannah doesn't really want a divorce.  Sadly, Nathan has moved on with Kate (Lara Pulver). 

Hannah has two sisters.  Nina (Annabel Scholey) is a lawyer and is having an affair with Tyler (Damien Molony) a co-worker who just happens to be married to the boss, Zander (Chukwudi Iwuji) - a guy!  And Rose (Fiona Button), a child minder (she somehow escaped becoming a lawyer) is married to James (Rudi Dharmalingam) and experiences a tragedy in her own marriage.  Their mother, Ruth (Deborah Findlay), is one of the senior members of the firm and also has a podcast espousing "good divorces."

As you can probably tell, it's all very much a soap opera but it's a British soap opera which makes it okay.  The Brits know how to make everything classy, and this series, created by Abi Morgan, is not only classy, it's wildly addicting.

I have to say that I am hard-pressed to name another actress whose face is as expressive as Nicola Walker's.  If you watch much British drama, you will recognize her from such shows as "Last Tango in Halifax" and "The Unforgotten" and many more.  She has had a long career and this British drama series gives her a chance to really show off her acting chops and that face.  She is about as real as an actress can get. The rest of the cast are also first-rate and it's always fun to see Anna Chancellor, a British drama staple who is in practically every British series and movie out there.  She plays Nathan's rather vicious divorce lawyer who belies the idea of a "good divorce."

I got into this series in its third and last season because I found it on BBCAmerica.  Somehow I missed the first two seasons, but despite some references to the past, I was able to enjoy it without having seen those first two seasons, but now I plan to go back and start from the beginning (All three seasons are currently streaming on Hulu).  I will pretend those first two seasons are prequels (I don't mind prequels. It's sequels I hate)!

Rosy the Reviewer says...an engrossing family drama that will pull you in and keep you there.  My advice is to start with Season 1 - See you there! (Hulu)



Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Road to the 2022 Oscars, Part 2. "Who Will Win Best Actor?"

So far the front-runners for the Academy Award for Best Actor appear to be Will Smith for "King Richard," Benedict Cumberbatch for "The Power of the Dog" and Andrew Garfield for "tick, tick...BOOM!" - all starring in movies I reviewed previously (click on the links for full reviews).

I would venture to add Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicholas Cage to that list, who each gave outstanding performances in these unique films.


Don't Look Up (2021)





A giant comet able to wipe out humanity is headed toward earth.

Writer/Director Adam McKay won an Oscar in 2016 for his screenplay for "The Big Short," a satiric comedy/drama about the financial crisis of 2007-2008.  This time he turns his brilliant satiric mind to global warming, but it could just as easily be about the Covid pandemic.  

Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), a Michigan State University astronomy Ph.D. candidate discovers a previously unknown comet.  Her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) calculates that it is headed toward earth, that it is large enough to obliterate the planet and will hit earth in approximately six months.  Along with Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), the head of NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, they meet with President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her Chief of Staff, who just happens to be her son (Jonah Hill), and who keeps sniffing and rubbing his nose for some reason.  The two seem unconcerned about the comet.  

So Dibiasky and Mindy appear on television on a morning talk show, where once again they are brushed off and treated like alarmists by hosts Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) and Brie Evantee (Cate Blanchett). Kate loses it on air and becomes a figure of ridicule whereas Mindy is deemed a "hot scientist" because of his looks, which gives him the confidence he had lacked, having been suffering from panic attacks and insecurity. However, despite her initial indifference to the comet, when Orlean is caught in a sex scandal she decides to divert attention from herself to the comet and the decision is made to use nuclear weapons to blow up the comet.

In the meantime, Dobiasky has been silenced and Mindy has been hired as National Science Advisor and appears regularly in the media.  He also embarks on an affair with Brie Evantee despite the fact he has a loving family back home.

Enter billionaire Peter Isherwell, a Steve Jobs-type clone brilliantly played by Mark Rylance who seems to be able to transform himself into any character.  In fact, I didn't even recognize him at first.  Isherwell owns BASH, a tech company.  He also happens to be one of Orlean's top donors and has discovered that the comet contains trillions of dollars worth of minerals so Orlean aborts the original plan and agrees to exploit the comet by fragmenting it and then retrieving it from the ocean using Isherwell's technology. We can't let all of that money go to waste, can we? 

Interestingly, Isherwell's company has such advanced technology that he reveals they can also see every moment of everyone's life right up to how and when they will die. He tells Mindy that he will die alone, which upsets Mindy and gives him pause about the choices he has made, and Isherwell tells Orlean that she will be killed by a Bronteroc. A what?  He said his company has advanced technology but couldn't figure that one out.

So how is the world reacting to all of this?

There are those who want the comet destroyed, those who are in favor of the fragmentation plan because it will create jobs and there are those who deny its existance.  The White House advises "Just Don't Look Up" as in, ignore it and it will go away, just like the flu.  Now Mindy also starts to lose it, decrying the indifference of humanity and ranting on TV that Orlean is downplaying the crisis and ignoring the data.

What will happen?  Is the planet doomed?

Okay, who are we kidding here?  This isn't really about a comet.  It's really all about our unwillingness to ignore scientific data and our indifference to impending doom, and though McKay originally wrote his screenplay about global warming, this could just as easily be a stand-in for the mishandling of the Covid pandemic by the Trump Administration. The movie was already in production when the pandemic hit but, because of all of the political and emotional strife surrounding it, McKay decided to make his screenplay "15 percent crazier."  

Though McKay hammers on the political and governmental side of inaction when faced with a crisis, he also casts a shadow on us humans too, who seem to care more about pop culture, like the break-up of a rap singer and his girlfriend, than our fellow humans and the end of the world. We are so consumed with our own lives and interests we have lost sight of the big picture - doing our part to save humanity. And it's all distorted by social media and the almighty dollar. What should really matter is our loved ones and our human connections. And this is not just about global warming or a pandemic. You can apply this to any catastrophe that involves public health or the need for us humans to give up our particular interests and band together for the greater good.

It's an all-star cast led by DiCaprio, who is no longer that young, handsome baby-faced leading man we first saw in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" and who went on to play Romeo in "Romeo + Juliet" and Jack Dawson in "Titanic."  No, this is a mature DiCaprio - don't get me wrong, he's still killer handsome - but DiCaprio has moved on to character roles, albeit handsome characters, and can be counted on to give Oscar-worthy performances which he does again here (he won in 2016 for "The Revenant.")

McKay who should be nominated for a Best Director Oscar also has fun paying homage to "Dr. Strangelove," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Lawrence was up for the lead role) and all those "end of the world" movies we have come to love, but don't get me wrong.  This is very much a satire so it's not all doom and gloom.  There is fun to be had, well, fun until you realize just how right on he is.

Note: Don't stop watching when the credits roll.  There is an epilogue and you will finally find out what a Bronteroc is.

Rosy the Reviewer...along with a Best Actor nomination for DiCaprio, Rylance should get a Best Supporting Actor nod and this picture should be nominated for Best Picture.  Why?  Because they all had IMPACT!!! (Netflix)



Pig (2021)


After his truffle pig is kidnapped, a hermit living in the Oregon wilderness must go back to his old life to find his pig.

I have never been a huge Nicolas Cage fan.  Let's just say I totally got why so many comedians would do impersonations of him.  He had mannerisms.  But here all of that is not in evidence as he puts in a subdued but riveting performance as a man who has turned his back on his old life.

Rob Feld (Cage) has retreated to a life alone in the Oregon wilderness, living in a shack with his truffle hunting pig.  He supports his lifestyle, if you can call it that, through Amir (Alex Wolff), a young guy who buys Rob's truffles to supply to high-end restaurants in Portland.  When Rob's pig is stolen, he reaches out to Amir, his only lifeline to the outside world, and the two drive to Portland and enter into the restaurant "underground," a world of secrets and violence.  I mean, who knew restaurant people have their own "fight club?"

Rob thinks he knows who might have stolen his pig so the two stop at Eurydice, the hottest restaurant in town where we learn that Rob was once the hottest chef in town. The chef, Derek, who use to work for Rob reveals that it was probably Amir's wealthy father and restaurant impresario, Darius (Adam Arkin), who was behind the theft of his pig, so next stop, find Darius. 

When things start looking bleak for finding the pig, Rob tells Amir, 

"I don't need the pig to find truffles."

Amir replies, "Then why the f**k did we do all of this?"  

Rob replies, "I love her."  

Enough said.

But it's not just love for the pig that is driving Rob. Reminiscent of Ricky Gervais' wonderful series "After Life" - this is all about what can happen when you lose a loved one, how each of us grieves in our own way and what it sometimes takes to accept grief and loss.  

The film is moody and atmospheric, and when Rob visits his old house, the story of how Rob ended up in the woods slowly unfurls. But the film is not the least bit slow. I appreciated how it got down to business right away. Instead of lingering on Rob's lonely life out in the woods, within 11 minutes, the pig was kidnapped and we were off and running.

This is Cage's film and he gives a wonderful, subdued performance but Wolff holds his own and is equally excellent as Rob's sidekick.

Written by Vanessa Block and Michael Sarnoski and directed by Sarnoski, the film paints a shady picture of Portland restaurant life and shows a very unique and satisfying way to seek revenge.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if he is nominated, I don't think Cage can beat Will Smith or Benedict Cumberbatch for Best Actor but this is a very strange but original and mesmerizing little film where an older and toned down Cage gives one of the best performances of his career. Don't miss it. (Hulu)

Oscar nominations will be announced February 8.


Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)