1. Kill Your Friends - This is a terrible movie. Just terrible. The best way to describe it is as a wannabe American Psycho mixed with Filth, except with awful acting and a really dumb plot. There is a scene in which the main character violently kills someone accompanied by the song "Smack My Bitch Up". That's how obvious and cliche this movie is. It's about A&R execs at a major record company in the late 90s (which is relevant because that's when record companies were relevant), and they are all very evil people. I interned at 2 major record companies about 5 years after this movie takes place, and I can say from personal experience that people working in the music industry (even on the corporate side) are not this menacing at all - especially in the A&R department. These people tend to LOVE music, and have a passion for discovering talent. Yes, they also party a lot (it's part of the job), but the way this movie represents this whole process is very disturbing. I realize that it's not supposed to be realistic and that it's "just a movie", but I can't help but call bullshit. The audience is obviously not supposed to like the main character - he says things like "I have zero interest in her sexually, so she doesn't exist" about a female co-worker and, oh yeah, murders people. But you're not supposed to like the main characters from American Psycho or Filth, and yet through the writing and acting, I was able to still enjoy watching these terrible, evil people. With this film, I cringed every time Nicholas Hoult spoke and I just wanted to whole thing to end as quickly as possible. Plus, it has James Corden in it, so...I mean, that says it all really.
2. The Infiltrator - Nothing memorable or special, but a solid 3 star movie. Great performances by Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, and a stand-out performance from Diane Kruger. Perhaps my opinion of this movie is marred by the existence of the Netflix show Narcos because it's basically the same story but not done nearly as well - although it's actually 2 different true stories told during the same time period. This is interesting to think about, because there were so many different operations going on to take down Escobar, and many of them ended up impeding each other. Too many cooks in the kitchen, as they say. Anyway, this movie had several editing issues, and a ton of plot discrepancies, but the biggest issue I have with it is the nagging, bitchy, jealous wife character. It's never a good sign when you root for an innocent character to be murdered by a drug lord. I guess there really is nothing left to say, except, maybe watch Narcos? I was dragged into a Narcos binge for days and it is totally worth it. I can't wait to see where the story goes after the last finale, because it changes the whole course of the show (which is genius).
3. 20th Century Women - Hmmmm....I heard very good things about this movie, so expectations were quite high. I didn't love it, though. In fact, it was exactly what I feared - a movie about entitled white women, who think the world revolves around them. Which is odd, because the movie is supposed to be about how these women come together to help raise a teenage boy to be respectful of women, to communicate his feelings, and to question societal and social expectations (in other words, be a decent human being). I liked the idea that a young male brain can benefit from female interactions and role models, instead of the typical story of a single mom trying to find a "father figure" for her son. However, I don't think gender is really that important in raising children. I feel like this movie was very subtly shunning masculinity, and that is problematic for me. There is a difference between being "masculine" and displaying "toxic masculinity". There is nothing wrong with being masculine, just as there is nothing wrong with being feminine. I also think it's a little idealistic to think that just because this boy is surrounded by complicated women that he will automatically be empathetic to the female story. Aside from that, I did really like the female stories - Elle Fanning is just more and more spectacular with every movie she does. This is no exception. And I even liked Greta Gerwig (playing the exact same role that she always plays, but boy does she do it well). Of course, Annette Bening is wonderful. I think the poster really has the best way to describe the movie - "A rushing river of gorgeous moments". That is definitely true. The moment when her son declares "I am not all men. I'm just me", and she replies "well yes, and no", is just perfect. The menstruation scene is just glorious, as well. So, there is a lot of good in this movie. Maybe after analyzing it more, I might find even more beauty in it, because just writing this short paragraph about it actually made me appreciate it more. Hmmm...we shall see.
4. Don't Breathe - I'm actually a bit shocked at how much I disliked this movie. It's not a bad movie, at all - decent acting, interesting plot, strong pace and editing. But it's just so unlikable. This is the only type of horror movie that I usually connect with (anything that seems realistic - and psychopathic murderers are extremely realistic). It reminded me a lot of Hush, and similarly just like I felt with The Infiltrator and Narcos, Hush did it MUCH better, so I have no choice to be disappointed. So first, let's talk about the good stuff. Jane Levy is perfect. I need her to explode into stardom, like, yesterday. The kid from 13 Reasons Why (too lazy to look up his name), is really good too, as the "voice of reason" character (even though he turns out to be just as dumb as the rest of them). There are also some really cool circular tracking shots. That's all I got, because even though it has a strong premise, the actual plot is dumb as fuck. Let me break it down: *spoilers ahead obviously* These 3 teenagers (?) decide to break into the house of a man who received a large settlement due to the death of his daughter. They decide he *must* have this money in his house...just because (?). He's also blind. So, these 3 people are the worst that humanity has to offer (they are willing to steal from an old blind man who lost a child). They've broken into homes before bc the "good guy" (?) has a connection to an alarm company -- so they use that to their advantage bc they can just walk out through the front door without any signs of a break-in. However, for this, they break a window (so...obvious break-in) but the guy who is blind, and has other heightened senses doesn't hear a window break (?). He does eventually wake up, realizing that there are people in his house, chaos ensues - along with several gunshots that no one in the neighborhood hears (?). Then, the kids discover *Major spoiler ahead, in case you are still reading and you shouldn't be* that this man has a woman locked in his basement, and that woman is the one responsible for killing his daughter (accidentally). His intent was to get her pregnant, have a new child, and then let her go (?). They obviously had to make him a bad guy too, because otherwise we would root for him to kill the other 3 awful people. Then, the "final girl" gets away, and then gets captured, then gets away, lather, rinse, repeat another 4 times, until she finally does "get away", only to learn that this guy is being seen as a hero for killing 2 intruders into his home. Because apparently he was able to clean up all the blood, the broken ceiling glass, his entire torture chamber in the basement, etc., within 5 minutes of police arriving - all while being BLIND (?). How fucking stupid.
5. Masterminds - Predictably dumb, but also kind of interesting that it's based on a true story. I'm fascinated by people who commit crimes in such a dumb way, and actually believe that they will get away with it. I mean, this guy robbed an armored car company but didn't destroy one of the main cameras! LOL. It's also really dumb that the "masterminds" stayed in the area, and spent all of the money so extravagantly. If I were to illegally obtain money, I would move somewhere off the grid for at least a few years. Also, I realize how jaded I am by living in NJ when 17 million doesn't even seem like that much money. I instantly questioned their lifestyle, but then reminded myself that it took place down south. That mansion alone would cost at least 10 million up here. It could have actually been a good movie, if the characters felt more real. Instead, Zach Galifianakis did his weird dude act, and Kristin Wiig did a mild version of one of her SNL characters. So it's a bit odd that a movie about real people felt really fake. Oh, and it wasn't funny. At all.