Tag Archives: Dave Franco

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
KiKi Layne as Clementine “Tish” Rivers
Stephan James as Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt
Regina King as Sharon Rivers
Teyonah Parris as Ernestine Rivers
Colman Domingo as Joseph Rivers
Brian Tyree Henry as Daniel Carty
Ed Skrein as Officer Bell
Emily Rios as Victoria Rogers
Michael Beach as Frank Hunt
Aunjanue Ellis as Mrs. Hunt
Ebony Obsidian as Adrienne Hunt
Dominique Thorne as Sheila Hunt
Finn Wittrock as Hayward
Diego Luna as Pedrocito
Pedro Pascal as Pietro Alvarez
Dave Franco as Levy
Director: Barry Jenkins

In early 1970s Harlem, daughter and wife-to-be Tish (KiKi Layne) vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together, but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

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If Beale Street Could Talk has been a movie I’ve been meaning to see for a while and it’s partly the reason why I have been holding off on making my favourite films of 2018 list. The main standout part was that it comes from Barry Jenkins, the writer/director behind Moonlight, an excellent film that rightfully won Best Picture of that year. I had been hearing so many great things about his latest film and I am so glad I waited to see it. I had a great amount of anticipation for If Beale Street Could Talk, and yet it blew me away, it was absolutely phenomenal.

Like with Moonlight, the film was written by Barry Jenkins, this time it’s based on a book of the same name by James Baldwin, however you can really feel that this is a Jenkins movie. It’s actually pretty difficult to explain why If Beale Street Can Talk works as well as it does, however I’ll do my best. Everything about the writing, from the story, to the dialogue and the characters feels so incredibly real and genuine, you really feel like you’re watching a real story with real people. You just get so emotionally invested with the characters. Yes, given the premise you’d be right to say that it’s quite melancholic at some points, because it is, given that it’s surrounding a black man being put in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit. However it’s not just one big long depressing watch, it feels very natural and human, with happy moments, humorous moments, sad moments and the like. Honestly the only thing about the movie that I might take issue with might be that there’s a scene where we get to see the families of both Tish and Fonny, and while we get a brief look at the family dynamics, we don’t get a dive enough into the conflicts beyond that one scene, it’s a very minor nitpick however and isn’t that big of a problem. The movie ends on a bit of an open note, but it was the perfect ending for the film.

There are a lot of actors involved with the movie and they all do a great job, no matter how big or little their roles are. KiKi Layne and Stephan James play the leads of Tish and Fonny, and they are really great. We only get some glimpses into their romance in the time before Fonny is arrested, however in the moments we get, they are very believable together and their chemistry is truly great. Often times when it comes to a romance movie, even if it gets most aspects well, I would feel very underwhelmed if I’m not truly invested in the lead relationship. Thankfully, Beale Street’s central romance works excellently. Layne is particularly wonderful in her role as the central lead, definitely deserving of a lot of praise. Regina King is really great as Tish’s mother, I can see why she’s the frontrunner to win Best Supporting Actress at this upcoming Oscars. Brian Tyree Henry is also briefly in the movie as a friend of Stephen James and while he’s not in a lot of scenes, he is a standout in his screentime. The rest of the cast were all really good. Even those who show up for a scene or two, whether that be Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal or Ed Skrein, they do great jobs at making themselves memorable for their screentime, and not necessarily just because you recognise them.

Barry Jenkins once again directs absolutely wonderfully here, like with his writing you can definitely tell this is a Jenkins film from his direction. Everything is so perfectly put together. I also noticed that there were plenty of visual storytelling moments, they are very sublte and small, and not a lot happens, but they tell so much. It’s a beautiful looking movie, with James Laxton’s great cinematography really adding a tremendous amount to the movie and at times really giving it a dreamlike vibe. That vibe is also helped by the score composed by Nicolas Britell, which was great.

If Beale Street Could Talk is fantastic and one of the all time best films of 2018. It’s a heartfelt and emotional movie, it’s perfectly written, the performances are great and Barry Jenkins’s direction was fantastic. I am absolutely astounded that despite floating around multiple film awards, it was shut out for Best Picture, had it been nominated this year it would’ve been my pick for it. I’m not sure how it ranks against Moonlight, I’ll need to rewatch it to be sure, but If Beale Street Could Talk is still a fantastic film on its own and is an absolute essential watch.

Now You See Me 2 (2016) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast: 860940[1] Violence
Mark Ruffalo as Agent Dylan Rhodes
Jesse Eisenberg as J. Daniel Atlas
Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney and Chase McKinney
Dave Franco as Jack Wilder
Lizzy Caplan as Lula May
Daniel Radcliffe as Walter Mabry
Morgan Freeman as Thaddeus Bradley
Jay Chou as Li
Sanaa Lathan as Agent Natalie Austin
Michael Caine as Arthur Tressler
Director: Jon M. Chu

After fleeing from a stage show, the illusionists (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson) known as the Four Horsemen find themselves in more trouble in Macau, China. Devious tech wizard Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) forces the infamous magicians to steal a powerful chip that can control all of the world’s computers. Meanwhile, vengeful FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) hatches his own plot against Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), the man he blames for the death of his father.

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I liked the first Now You See Me, its not great by any means but I had a fun time with it. So I had mild expectations when it comes to a sequel, it would probably be entertaining but at the same time it wasn’t really necessary, no one was begging for it to exist. Now You See Me 2 was pretty much what I expected it to be, it is around the same level of quality as the first. It’s pretty entertaining and decent but nothing much more than that.

The first movie didn’t really focus too much on The Four Horsemen, with Mark Ruffalo and Melaine Laurent being the main perspective. This time with the 2nd movie, it is from The Four Horsemen’s and Mark Ruffalo’s perspective. Like with the first movie, the plot isn’t great but it does keep your attention and for the most part it keeps you entertained from start to finish. I wasn’t really ever bored but it’s not a completely riveting plot, I was partially curious as to which direction the story was going in. It does feel like it’s just throwing twists at you, and I’m not sure how well those twists would actually hold up upon repeat viewings but I didn’t have too much issues on my first viewing. Though I have a feeling that I’d probably be able to pick some holes on a second viewing.

The previous cast returns with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco and others and they are still pretty entertaining. Isla Fisher wasn’t able to return for the sequel, so Lizzy Caplan ultimately took her place as the fourth horseman and she did a good job. On a slight note, it was a little rushed how they explained why Fisher wasn’t here, it’s a small aspect but its not movie breaking. One slightly annoying aspect was that in this movie, Woody Harrelson has a twin brother, which is an annoying cliché seen in many movies. He’s not as annoying as he you’d think he would end up being but he is still very distracting and pointless. It was great to see Daniel Radcliffe in a more villainous role and he actually does pull it off quite well, I’d like to see him more in this kind of role. Other actors like Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are nice to see return.

The direction was decent enough. Whereas the original was directed by Louis Leterrier, the sequel was directed by Jon M. Chu and it was about at the same level. Honestly had I not known this prior to watching the movie I probably wouldn’t be able to tell that the two movies were directed by different people, I wouldn’t have noticed it myself. It is quite entertaining to watch the characters perform magic, and that’s an area that the movie really shines in.

As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the first Now You See Me for what it was, I really enjoyed the sequel. I liked seeing these actors here, I was entertained by what was going on, I overall had a good time. This is an entertaining movie but I don’t think I would call it a good movie. If you don’t like the original Now You See Me, you won’t like the sequel, there’s nothing really here that’s going to change your mind. I heard there is going to be a third movie in the franchise, again, its unnecessary but I wouldn’t mind watching it if it actually ends up happening.

The Disaster Artist (2017) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast
James Franco as Tommy Wiseau
Dave Franco as Greg Sestero
Seth Rogen as Sandy Schklair
Alison Brie as Amber
Ari Graynor as Juliette Danielle
Josh Hutcherson as Philip Haldiman
Jacki Weaver as Carolyn Minnott
Zac Efron as Dan Janjigian
Director: James Franco

Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) become friends after meeting each other in an acting class in San Francisco. Hoping to achieve Hollywood stardom, Sestero moves to Los Angeles and signs on to appear in his buddy’s project. Financed with his own money, Wiseau writes, directs and stars in “The Room,” a critically maligned movie that becomes a cult classic.

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The Disaster Artist is one of my most anticipated films of all time. The Room has become a uniquely iconic film that I love for the same reason that many other people love it, because of how bizarrely and hilariously bad it is. I read the book about the behind the scenes of The Room titled The Disaster Artist (written by Greg Sestero) and I was immediately hyped when I saw that they were going to adapt it to the big screen. With James Franco (who both stars and directs), Dave Franco, Seth Rogen and more involved, I couldn’t help but be excited. The Disaster Artist was so great, it was pretty much everything I wanted it to be.

I will admit that it’s been years since I’ve actually read The Disaster Artist so I can’t remember exactly if everything in the movie is accurate to the book but I do think that at least most of it is right. One thing I loved is how this movie wasn’t just a piss take of The Room, it could’ve easily become that. You can tell that everyone who worked on this movie loved The Room and wanted to bring he story behind all that to the big screen. And they really achieved that. Don’t expect this to be just a story about The Room. This film almost feels like its in two parts, one is Tommy and Greg as friends trying to get into Hollywood and then the other is the filming of The Room. There was a good balance of drama and comedy overall, the movie is hilarious (it’ll be particularly funny for fans of The Room) but it also allows you to be invested in this story.

One question that immediately is asked by many when it comes to The Disaster Artist is whether you necessarily needed to have watched The Room beforehand. I’ll say this: you can watch The Disaster Artist without watching The Room but you won’t get the full experience, at the very least try to learn about it and/or watch some clips from it. Fans of The Room will love it, and the best part is that it doesn’t ruin the experience of The Room, it’s a great accompany piece and if anything it makes it even better and helps you appreciate it more. The story of The Disaster Artist is quite inspiring, Tommy Wiseau set out with a dream and ultimately fulfilled that dream. It may have not been exactly what he wanted or expected but he made it in the end. And I think that was shown greatly. Make sure to wait for the post credits scene.

James Franco is absolutely fantastic as Tommy Wiseau. To be honest, the portrayal and performance of Tommy was something I was worried about going in. Franco is a good actor but I’d doubt the performance of any actor cast as Tommy because it can’t just be an impression, he needs to full embody Wiseau as a person (and I read The Disaster Artist, so I knew about some of the things that happened). And he did that. You do not see James Franco, you see Tommy Wiseau. He also portrays Tommy as a real person, it shows his weirdness and doesn’t shy away from how troublesome he was during the shooting of The Room, much of which consists with his very bizarre filmmaking decisions. But it also allows you to really see him as a human being trying to fulfil his dream. Both aspects are balanced well. It poses questions about him that everyone to this day is asking (like how old is he, where was he born and where does he get his seemingly endless supply of money) but it never answers them, still keeping the mystery of Tommy Wiseau. Dave Franco shouldn’t be overlooked either, this is probably the best performance I’ve seen from him. Despite the two being brothers, you quickly forget that, the two share such great chemistry and feel like best friends. There are also a lot of good actors in supporting roles with Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver and Zac Efron, and they are all great here. I do wish that we got a little more of the supporting cast, especially those who played the people who worked on The Room. They are great in their screentime though. There are also some really enjoyable cameos that I won’t spoil.

This film is directed quite well by James Franco. The recreations of The Room were done very well, it is surprising how much attention to detail they had, if you are a fan of The Room you will appreciate these parts a lot. Also the makeup on James Franco was great, making him look as much like Tommy Wiseau as possible without being too over the top.

I had high expectations of The Disaster Artist and it absolutely delivered. The performances were fantastic (from both Francos particularly), the story is great, it is entertaining and for fans of The Room such as myself, it is an absolute must see. Honestly it is a bit of an inspiring movie as well, an very unconventionally inspirational movie. The Disaster Artist is one of my favourite movies of the year and I couldn’t be happier to say that.

Now You See Me (2013) Review

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Now You See Me

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Jesse Eisenberg as J. Daniel “Danny” Atlas
Mark Ruffalo as Dylan Rhodes
Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney
Isla Fisher as Henley Reeves
Dave Franco as Jack Wilder
Mélanie Laurent as Alma Dray
Morgan Freeman as Thaddeus Bradley
Michael Caine as Arthur Tressler
Director: Louis Leterrier

Charismatic magician Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) leads a team of talented illusionists called the Four Horsemen. Atlas and his comrades mesmerize audiences with a pair of amazing magic shows that drain the bank accounts of the corrupt and funnel the money to audience members. A federal agent (Mark Ruffalo) and an Interpol detective (Mélanie Laurent) intend to rein in the Horsemen before their next caper, and they turn to Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman), a famous debunker, for help.

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Now You See Me does have a pretty neat concept, that being illusionists use magic tricks to pull off heists, and it was successful enough that it spawned a sequel which should be releasing anytime soon. Was the first film good enough to warrant a sequel? I will say that Now You See Me isn’t a great film but it is at the very least an entertaining one. The acting by its huge and talented cast and the entertaining visuals and direction are a big contributing factor in this happening. The majority of the flaws lies in the writing, although not bad, are still quite notable and does distract from time to time. However this movie is just so entertaining that it’s quite easy to forget that.

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One thing I’ll emphasise about this movie is that this movie is very entertaining. The pacing is reasonably fast, and you are entertained enough to pay attention to what’s going on. It’s not even close to perfect though. For one, the plot isn’t very interesting. The only reason that I was paying attention was that I was entertained by what I was seeing, I didn’t really care about what was going on. One of the bigger problems is that this movie doesn’t have very good characterisation, especially when it comes to the main characters (played by Eisenberg, Franco, Fisher and Harrelson). We see much more from Ruffalo’s and Laurent’s point of view. While I understand that they were going for a more outsider sort of perspective, it doesn’t make us invested in our main charactrers. While they aren’t unlikable I didn’t particularly care about any of the main characters, they’re just entertaining.

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This film has a huge cast with Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Melanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and many other very talented actors. Now as I said previously, the characters don’t really have much characterisation but the actors do play them quite well. The couple of actors who stole the show for me were Jesse Eisenberg, who usually has a reputation of playing the same character (except for Lex Luthor) and while this role is similar to his performances, he manages to pull off a variation on this performance. And Woody Harrelson is playing… well Woody Harrelson again, but it surprisingly worked for the movie and he was really entertaining.

Jesse Eisenberg plays J. Daniel Atlas, part of a team of thieving illusionists, in Now You See Me. </em

This movie is very entertaining visually, it is a very well-directed movie. The film looks visually beautiful, and it’s easy to see why, since Larry Fong (Watchmen, 300) is involved with the cinematography. With this stylish direction by Louis Leterrier it’s hard not to get pulled into the movie, especially when it shows the main characters pulling off their heists.

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Despite some problems with the script, as well as some characterisation issues, I actually think that this movie is worth watching. If you’re going to see this movie, don’t expect it to be high art or anything of the sort. Go into it expecting a very enjoyable and entertaining ride with good performances, great visuals and just an overall very fun movie. I don’t think it needs a sequel but I do think that it’s good enough to have a watch.

Unfinished Business (2015) Review

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Unfinished Business

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Offensive Language, Sexual References, Nudity and Drug Use
Cast:
Vince Vaughn as Daniel “Dan” Trunkman
Tom Wilkinson as Timothy McWinters
Dave Franco as Mike Pancake
Sienna Miller as Charlene “Chuck” Portnoy
Nick Frost as Bill Whilmsley
James Marsden as Jim Spinch
Director: Ken Scott

Tired of playing second-fiddle to his obnoxious boss (Sienna Miller), businessman Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) quits and forms his own competing mineral sales firm. He takes a retiring associate (Tom Wilkinson) and a dim-witted sales applicant (Dave Franco) with him. After a year and a half of struggle, a promising deal is in sight — then promptly folds, thanks to Dan’s ex-boss. Determined to save the deal, Dan and company fly to Germany, where a series of outrageous obstacles awaits.

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The two biggest sins that a comedy can commit is to be unfunny and boring. Unfinished Business is one of those films which unfortunately does both of them and this movie really was even worse than it should’ve been. Despite a talented cast and a good writer this movie fails on pretty much every level. It’s not funny, it’s not smart, so many jokes feel forced and almost every joke is so easy. There really isn’t any reason to watch this movie.

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As you could probably tell by now that the jokes didn’t work and weren’t funny at all. There were times where the jokes were so forced and at times cringe worthy. For example James Franco’s character’s last name is Pancake, that’s the level of comedy that this movie is at. It doesn’t help that some of the scenes and scenarios were created just to make a joke which as you can imagine, misses. Another bad aspect is that the whole film felt boring. The entire movie surrounded Vince Vaughn making some deal and that’s pretty much the whole movie, with countless scenes added and stretched out to pad the runtime so that it was at least 90 minutes. Also Unfinished Business felt like an unfinished film, there are scenes that don’t fit in with each other. For example this movie starts off with Vince Vaughn having an argument with his boss before leaving and it felt like there was supposed to be a scene beforehand, so from the get go the scenes in the movie starting feeling out of place. It’s hard to see how this movie had a script this bad from Steve Conrad, the writer of The Pursuit of Happiness.

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Vince Vaughn is really just playing Vince Vaughn again. He’s fine in the role (even though he doesn’t produce any forms of laughs) and actually comes out the best out of the main cast, that’s not saying a lot though. It’s not just Vince Vaughn who isn’t funny though, because Tom Wilkinson doesn’t give a good performance either, which is a real shame seeing as he’s one of the best actors we have working in the business today. Dave Franco is a good actor and can be good and very funny in movies like 21 Jump Street and Bad Neighbours. With that said, Dave Franco’s character in this movie is honestly one of the dumbest characters I’ve seen in a movie. I know he’s supposed to be stupid but it really wasn’t done right and it was a chore to watch his character do dumb things, making it even harder to watch the movie. All of these people are talented but none of them come out looking good on any level.

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The worst thing about this movie is that it’s really a time waster. This movie fails as a comedy, but it’s not like with Raising Arizona where I could just claim that it’s not my style for comedy. I don’t know what group of people would find this movie funny. Not one joke hit in the entire movie, for me it is one of the worst ‘comedies’ I’ve seen (though I haven’t seen Disaster Movie, nor do I ever want to). It wasted a good cast and there’s really no reason to watch it. Unfinished Business was one of the worst films of 2015.