Tag Archives: Aubrey Plaza

Black Bear (2020) Review

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Black Bear

Time: 100 Minutes
Cast:
Aubrey Plaza as Allison
Sarah Gadon as Blair
Christopher Abbott as Gabe
Director: Lawrence Michael Levine

A filmmaker (Aubrey Plaza) at a creative impasse seeks solace from her tumultuous past at a rural retreat, only to find that the woods summon her inner demons in intense and surprising ways.

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I didn’t know much about Black Bear going into it. All I knew that it was a sort of thriller with some unexpected twists, it starred Aubrey Plaza in the lead role, and it had been receiving some pretty positive responses. Black Bear wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, but I liked it quite a lot, it was great.

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I can’t talk too much about the plot, otherwise I’d give too much away, and I really do recommend going into Black Bear as blind as possible. What I can say is that I liked the first act with its initial premise about a filmmaker in a cabin along with a couple. I liked the atmosphere, I liked the interactions that the three characters had, and I was interested to see where it was all leading towards. There’s a certain point in the movie where it takes a distinct turn to say the least. Some other reviewers have been openly talking about that aspect, however for the sake of your viewing experience, I’m going to hold back on that. I’m also not going to go into much of the themes that the movie touches upon. What I can say was that it was quite surprising, and I wasn’t expecting it. Now, I do think the turn was good and I was on board with it. However, it was also a lot to take in, it does admittedly detach you from the narrative, and as a result it loses a bit of its momentum following from that point onward. Also, it does feel like it is missing something towards the end, like it needed another section to tie everything together. With that said I have a feeling it was leaving room for interpretation, because that seems to be what the ending was going for. I’m not exactly sure what the ending was implying but I’m interested in reading peoples’ interpretations. One thing about this movie is that it is very meta and the line between fiction and history is blurred, and when the film takes its turn, whether or not it works for you will make or break the movie. The dialogue is nothing short of chaotic and razor sharp, with some very memorable lines throughout. As said previously, there is an effective atmosphere and uncomfortable tension throughout the movie, you do feel uneasy and it has you riveted.

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The acting is great, but it’s really Aubrey Plaza who is the standout in the lead role. Her performance is nothing short of captivating and intense. She delivers the dialogue expertly and emotes greatly with whatever her character is doing or feeling. This might be the best acting work I’ve seen from her, and she was already fantastic in Ingrid Goes West. The supporting cast are good too, especially Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon who deliver some great work here that shouldn’t be overlooked. However, it really is Plaza’s movie through and through.

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Black Bear is directed by Lawrence Michael Levine, and his work here is great. It’s quite beautiful to look at, and the way everything is shot with the intense camerawork gave the film a dynamic and real feeling throughout. The use of handheld was particularly effective. The sound design is great and sharp. The bleakness of its cinematography and the haunting score both matched the tone of the movie, and really helped to create a foreboding sense of dread.

Aubrey Plaza in "Black Bear."

Aubrey Plaza in “Black Bear.”

Black Bear is an mindbending, unexpected and well directed drama thriller, with effective tension, and some great acting from everyone. To a degree I’d say that it’s not for everyone, but even if it doesn’t completely work for you, it’s definitely worth watching for Aubrey Plaza’s performance alone.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) Review

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Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence, sexual references and offensive language
Cast:
Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers
Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells
Chris Evans as Lucas Lee
Anna Kendrick as Stacey Pilgrim
Brie Larson as Natalie V. “Envy” Adams
Alison Pill as Kim Pine
Aubrey Plaza as Julie Powers
Brandon Routh as Todd Ingram
Jason Schwartzman as Gideon Graves
Director: Edgar Wright

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) meets Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and instantly falls in love with her. But when he meets one of her exes at a band competition, he realises that he has to deal with all seven of her exes to woo her.

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I had watched Scott Pilgrim vs the World a long time ago, and I remember liking it at the time. Looking at back it though, I had this slight feeling that probably didn’t like it as much as a lot of people nowadays do. Rewatching it recently, that feeling was confirmed for me, but I still enjoyed it reasonably well. It’s not one of my favourites from Wright but his work on this movie was nonetheless great and I was entertained.

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I’m not familiar with the source material (the graphic novels) but I heard that the movie is pretty accurate to them. At under 2 hours long, Scott Pilgrim vs the World kept me reasonably entertained throughout. There are some simple but memorable enough characters, as well as witty and quotable dialogue. The plot isn’t overly dramatic or sappy, you aren’t really emotionally invested in the story or characters but I don’t think you’re meant to. The movie is funny, though the comedy doesn’t work quite as much as Edgar Wright’s other movies. There’s also definitely a lot of creativity throughout the film. I will say that the movie doesn’t fully work for me. The plot does what it has to and ultimately it works in its execution, however I’m not really invested in the plot and characters a great deal. Even though I said the movie probably doesn’t intend to be one whose plot you get emotionally invested in, I just wasn’t invested on any level. I was only watching because I was sort of entertained with what I was actually watching. I’m not inclined to rewatch Scott Pilgrim as much as Wright’s other movies. It’s not that memorable but it is still enjoyable.

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The cast generally do well in their parts. Michael Cera plays the quirky and awkward Scott Pilgrim, and it’s likely his best performance. With that said, Pilgrim is quite an unlikable protagonist, so I can really get the people who are put off by him throughout. I certainly didn’t really care for him but I generally tolerated him for this movie. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is quite good in her role of Ramona Flowers. Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brie Larson and Aubrey Plaza are decent in their parts. The over the top evil exes of Ramona that Scott Pilgrim has to fight are pretty entertaining, especially Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman, though they don’t have a lot of screentime.

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Edgar Wright’s direction is the reason why the movie works as well as it is. The style can be described as being like a mashup of comic books and video games. I guess if the style doesn’t win you over in the first 30 minutes, then the rest of the movie probably won’t work for you. Looking at it, it’s so easy for it to become obnoxious or insufferable, but Wright makes it quite an entertaining and visually stunning movie. There is a lot of energy throughout which goes a long way. There’s also a lot of visual comedy which Wright is known for, and they’re quite well implemented into the movie. The editing is quite slick and adds a lot to the movie, especially with regards to the action. There are some beautifully shot action sequences that are very entertaining and creative. There’s also a great soundtrack to go along with it all.

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I think that Scott Pilgrim vs the World is good overall, if very flawed. Most of the cast are great, it’s very stylishly and incredibly directed by Edgar Wright, and it’s pretty entertaining throughout. It’s on the lower end of Wright’s filmography for me and I don’t really love it, but it still has a lot of his recognisable and great elements from his other movies.

Child’s Play (2019) Review

Time: 90 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
Aubrey Plaza as Karen Barclay
Gabriel Bateman as Andy Barclay
Brian Tyree Henry as Detective Mike Norris
Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky
Tim Matheson as Henry Kaslan
Marlon Kazadi as Omar
Beatrice Kitsos as Falyn
Ty Consiglio as Pugg
Director: Lars Klevberg

After moving to a new city, young Andy Barclay (Gabriel Bateman_ receives a special present from his mother (Aubrey Plaza) — a seemingly innocent Buddi doll that becomes his best friend. When the doll suddenly takes on a life of its own, Andy unites with other neighborhood children to stop the sinister toy from wreaking bloody havoc.

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I was probably in the minority, but I wasn’t necessarily against a Child’s Play remake. I think the original movie from the late 80s is just fine, I didn’t find it scary in the slightest, it was rather silly, and the movie didn’t really do much for me, despite it being a horror cult classic. I wouldn’t say it’s bad but nothing particularly remarkable. With that said, the concept had potential, and a modern interpretation of the setup could lead to something. It was quite the surprise, I liked it more than I expected it to.

Whether you like or don’t like this new and different take on Child’s Play, at least they tried something different instead of repeated the same thing. It takes advantage of the modern technology that’s somewhat relevant to today (it’s not a remarkable satire, but it didn’t need to be). At times it’s so different you’d think that the concept should’ve been made as a completely different IP. It’s generally too over the top for its own good, especially with Chucky’s abilities (it’s especially silly towards the third act). With that said, it’s actually getting creative with the concept instead of just repeating the whole serial killer in a doll with a knife (or whatever other weapon) thing. Whereas the original can be over the top 80s horror, the remake is a lot darker. That’s not to say that it takes itself completely seriously all the way through, there’s dark comedy throughout, and much of it is very effective. At 90 minutes it’s the right length, never really dragging.

The actors generally do well, Gabriel Bateman plays the kid protagonist very well, he more than delivers on his role. Aubrey Plaza who plays the mother, and Brian Tyree Henry who plays the detective, have done much better work in the past, but nonetheless they add enough to this movie. The acting of Bateman’s friends on the other hand weren’t so great, nor did I feel like the characters were necessary for the movie. Brad Dourif’s voice had a big part in making the original Chucky iconic. This time, Mark Hamill provides the voice, and while you can definitely tell this is his voice, he does a good job with this new incarnation of Chucky. He nails the animatronic voice and then when he goes full on killer doll, he’s creepy and sinister. Design aside, if we talk about the new take on Chucky, personally I think this one is scarier. Instead of a human being stuck in a doll, a broken mechanical doll is more creepier to me. Maybe it’s just compared to what the original movie’s version was, especially with Dourif’s Chucky having a lot more of a personality (and with the comedy). With that said, in terms of quality I won’t compare them, both of them stand alone.

Lars Klevberg has directed this reasonably well, I liked the visual aesthetic, and it looked good overall. The scares really are typical of a horror movie, and are rather uninspired, there are also some bad fake jumpscares which feel completely unneeded. Now for the design of Chucky. It’s known that even the original Chucky looked pretty scary on its own as a genuine doll being sold to children. However this new design is even more demented looking, at times it’s intentionally scary, at others it comes across as creepy when it shouldn’t. One thing I will say though is that I like that it went the route of actually having animatronics instead of just using CGI, which you’d think a big budget horror remake to use. It’s considerably more violent than the original, with plenty of graphic and at times over the top killing scenes, at reaches the level that you’d expect (and/or hope).

The Child’s Play remake was better than I thought it’d be. The main cast is good, it’s mostly directed well, and the newer take is quite refreshing for this story. However I know that some people are really not going to like it. As you probably figured out, I like the remake more than the original. It’s nothing great but it’s okay.