Currently, the MHT Top of 2018 list is 92 films deep and should see at least 50 movies added to it before we turn the page to 2019. (Which usually happens in mid-January because (a) January movies typically suck and (b) some “2018” films don’t get a wide release until January.) As typical, the Labor Day weekend is one of the weakest release weeks of the year with the widest release belonging to something called Kin about a kid who finds a space gun. Considering last year the widest release was Tulip Fever ($1.4 million opening on roughly 700 screens) and 2016 featured The Light Between Oceans, the only question really is where the heck is Alicia Vikander? (Note: Her next film, The Earthquake Bird, isn’t expected until 2019.) Since we’ve hit a lull and the only movie left for me to review of films I’ve seen is Black Panther and I want to see it again before I review it, here’s the 5 movies from each month MHT is looking forward to seeing:Read More →
Hot Take: Having never seen the original and with nothing to compare it to, Papillon was powerful and compelling and, considering most of the negative reviews blame comparisons to the (in their opinion) more superior 1973 version, it makes sense I don’t have the same complaints.
The original version of Papillon has been on my list of films to see since when it was the only version of Papillon. Both versions are based on the autobiography by Henri Charriere, known as Papillon due to the butterfly tattoo on his chest. Both stories detail the brutal tale which starts with the Henri’s claim he was framed for murder and sent to life in prison at a penal colony in French Guiana and follows Papillon’s numerous attempts to escape imprisonment. The original features Steve McQueen as French safecracker Papillon and Dustin Hoffman as Louis Dega, the rich forger Papillon vows to protect in exchange for financial backing of his escape attempts with whom he forms a friendship over the course of their time in prison. The update puts Charlie Hunnam in the titular role with Rami Malek in the role of Dega. Director Michael Noer’s take on the film is a dark, uncompromising re-telling of Papillon’s life in prison which was actually cut from an original cut of 3 and a half hours down to 2 hours and 20 minutes. Noer makes every attempt to put the viewer in the shoes of the prisoners and the more than intimate re-telling is unnerving at times and cuts no corners with the graphic nature of almost everything one might go through in prison. Read More →
Hot Take: A dark, honest look at the life of alcoholic turned paraplegic cartoonist John Callahan from Gus Van Sant featuring a stellar performance from Joaquin Phoenix.
Okay, so that’s not much of a Hot Take. Walking into Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot cold, I knew nothing of what the movie was about. Surprisingly, I quickly learned it was about cartoonist John Callahan with whom I was actually familiar with for in a previous phase of spending lots of time at the book store, I happened to pick up one of his collections of cartoons. I knew nothing of Callahan at the time other than his artwork was crude and his wit was dark but sharp and hilarious. The cover of “Do What He Says! He’s Crazy!!!” features a man holding a gun behind a cool fold out table to a hand puppet as three cops stare on outside of a Hand Puppet store with a broken glass window. Learning that Callahan was paralyzed due to a horrible car accident during his years as an alcoholic added some color to his life and choice of humor. Played by Phoenix, Callahan’s battle with alcohol and his eventual sobriety and ability to become a more functional paraplegic than he was as a person with full functionality is an impressive tale in itself. At this point, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is likely far from the box office though it still remained at 19 theaters through last weekend. You’re more likely going to have to catch this one on demand, through a streaming service or via Redbox and if you’re into tales of redemption and how AA can provide the path for a lost soul.Read More →
Hot Take: More amazing work from the most underrated filmmaker of our time. BlacKkKlansman should make you think, make you laugh and make you wanna holler. Ya dig? Sho nuff!
We’re not treated to the cinematic work of Spike Lee often enough. It’s been 3 years since Chi-Raq and that barely made theaters as it was released in conjunction with Amazon Studios and made it into just 305 theaters during its limited release. Lee’s musical focused on the gang violence in Chicago and was well received critically but audiences passed as Lee’s films rarely reach wide appeal. His latest, BlacKkKlansman — a film based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the Colorado Springs police department, and his infiltration into the KKK — actually managed to achieve Lee’s second widest release of his career with only Inside Man, the 2006 bank heist thriller starring Denzel Washington which also bagged Lee his biggest box office haul, opening wider. For BlacKkKlansman to screen in 1,900+ theaters is a feat upon itself as it’s likely we know now (thanks to Donald Trump’s ~40% approval rating) the % of the population unlikely to bat an eye this film’s direction. Lee crafts an incredible tale out of Stallworth’s 2014 book about his investigation into the KKK and provides some thought provoking commentary on race and police then and now. Read More →
Hot Take: The made-for-TV version of The Revenant with enough visual bells and whistles to find its way to the cinema.
The oddity of Alpha is the central figure of the film, a wolf named Alpha, is not the main character. Yet the main character, Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a boy becoming a man on his first bison hunt with his father during the final days of the Stone Age, falls third behind Alpha and the film’s IMAX-friendly visuals in what you’ll likely find interesting when you sit down and view Alpha. It’s a flawed film which fails to distance itself far enough from 2015 Best Picture nominee The Revenant which sets the bar for man vs. wilderness films even with the addition of a canine sidekick who basically steals the show from the main character. Director Albert Hughes, the more technically talented half of the Hughes Brothers who had worked as a team up until 2010, shows his technical touch in his first film on his own. There’s a stiffness to the performances outside of Alpha who is played by a Czech wolfdog named Chuck. When it comes to Alpha, it’s okay but likely to lose something as the visual spectacle is diminished by the size of the screen and the sound system in the screening.Read More →
Hot Take: Simple and adorable, the return to The Hundred Acre Wood is as soft and fluffy as you’d imagine its source material.
Part of me wishes Christopher Robin would have come out during the colder months. The way this film, featuring a grown up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) who has turned his back on Pooh and Friends in favor of adult things, eventually warms your heart and soul would be better than chicken noodle soup on a cool, fall day. Likely to be more satisfying to adult audiences but also appealing to children still growing up with the characters of Winnie the Pooh and the rest of the inhabitants of The Hundred Acre Wood, Christopher Robin would be a nominee for Movie With The Biggest Heart if Oscar decided to expand their Award subjects even further.Read More →
Hot Take: It’s embarrassing to admit but puppet vulgarity and raunchy puns found my funny bone. It reaches its shelf life about 2/3 of the way through but it’s funny enough.
Within minutes, The Happytime Murders earns that R rating. It’s well before a scene featuring an octopus milking a cow’s 8 utters to what appears to be sexual climax in the back room of an adult video store and that scene occurs in the first 20 minutes. Hopefully, that paints a picture of how obscene and inappropriate the Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson) directed pulpy, profane, puerile puppet whodunit laced with more foul language than the standard Andrew “Dice” Clay set is. It’s easy to see why critics would receive it so poorly and audiences could be turned off. However, I’m willing to admit I laughed audibly at times. The plot wasn’t awful though derivative and done before. The puppetry is impressive, the use of Melissa McCarthy works in the lead role (did I just say that?) and the supporting cast finds a way to not be completely overshadowed by the crass, uncouth puppets that star in the film.Read More →
Hot Take: If you’re a Mission: Impossible fan or just a Tom Cruise fan who has been under a rock during the past two decades of Mission: Impossible films, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a must see.
It’s been 22 years since the original Mission: Impossible film hit theaters. Since then, we’ve been treated to a new Mission: Impossible chapter every 3-6 years with Mission: Impossible – Fallout having the shortest gap between releases at almost exactly 3 years since Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. With Fallout, it marks the first return engagement of a writer/director as Christopher McQuarrie expertly crafted Rogue Nation and was given the reigns on the follow up. McQuarrie is in great company when considering the creative talent that has powered this action franchise following in the footsteps of Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird on the directorial side of things and David Koepp, Robert Towne, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Abrams, Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec on the writing side of things. Outside of Towne, he’s the only one to make a repeat showing from film to film as Towne was co-writer on the original and received sole screenwriting credit on Mission: Impossible 2. Outside of Tom Cruise who has been the foundation of this franchise, Ving Rhames appears as the only cast member to make it through the six chapters unscathed and uncompromised with Simon Pegg also returning for his 4th engagement. Mission: Impossible – Fallout helps support the theory that Mission: Impossible is the most healthy action franchise going outside of comic books and Star Wars. The box office seems to grow with each release as does critical acclaim with Mission: Impossible – Fallout earning the franchise’s highest Rotten Tomatoes score with a 97% Tomatometer and the highest audience score from CinemaScore with the franchise’s first A after a run of A- ratings for the previous 3. Read More →
Hot Take: If you weren’t over the Peter Berg/Mark Wahlberg machine before Mile 22, you might be now. The film’s only saving grace is Iko Uwais’s action scenes. Other than that, there’s not much to see here.
If bloodshed, bullets and Mark Wahlberg being Mark Wahlberg is your thing, you should run (not walk) to the theater to see Mile 22. Not necessarily because Mile 22 is a great movie, (It’s not!) but more importantly because it’s likely poor box office performance should see that 3,520 opening theater count drop not dwindle in the coming weeks. Directed by Peter Berg, it makes for the fourth partnership between the two and it’s easily the least entertaining flick of the quartet. Basically, Mile 22 is an awful combination of Mission: Impossible, The Accountant and the Bourne series. Wahlberg fails to even bring his best Mark Wahlberg and the supporting cast fails to add anything to the movie. Read More →
Hot Take: For me, 8th grade wasn’t comfortable and Eighth Grade is about as realistic as fiction comes.
It’s been about 30 years since my time in 8th grade. Granted, many of the ways in which Kayla spends her time didn’t exist during my middle school years, the theme of Bo Burnham’s opus to the early teen years is frighteningly real. Elsie Fisher’s depiction of Kayla might be filled with modern day interactions with things like Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and cell phones but the terror of being an awkward 13 year old and the move from middle school to high school is one of the more accurate coming-of-age films to hit theaters in some time. The only audience members who might think this is a more contemporary depiction and not a timeless tale are those select few of us who somehow skated through their grade school years with ease. The rest of us get it. Eighth Grade is as real of a tale of fiction that we’re likely to get in 2018.Read More →