Tag Archives: John Lithgow

Interstellar (2014) Review

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Interstellar

Time: 169 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Matthew McConaughey as Joseph Cooper
Anne Hathaway as Amelia Brand
Jessica Chastain as Murphy Cooper
John Lithgow as Donald
Michael Caine as Professor Brand
Director: Christopher Nolan

In Earth’s future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.

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I can clearly remember watching Interstellar in the cinemas for the first time back in late 2014, it really was one of the best cinema experiences I’ve ever had. It was truly an incredible visual experience, Christopher Nolan had a great handle on it, and it also had a great story. It has only gotten better and better the more I’ve watched it, Christopher Nolan and his talented cast and crew created something truly incredible here.

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For some, the early portions of the film might be a little slow, it’s about half an hour before Matthew McConaughey even goes into space. Having watched it a number of times though, at this point I liked that section. When I was watching the movie for the first time, there was a lot to take in and I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on, and I had to think about a lot about what it all meant. With that said, having seen it a few times now, I’ve grasped a pretty good amount of what this movie is. This is a long watch, just under 2 hours and 50 minutes in length, making Interstellar Christopher Nolan’s longest movie to date, so you have to be ready going into it (at the same time it’s also best going in not knowing too much about the plot). Of course having seen it at least 4 times now, I’m pretty familiar with the plot and what happened. Now it is a science fiction movie and has a lot of great effects, but at its core it’s an emotional story, and I was invested in that on top of loving all the sci-fi stuff. In fact this is Nolan’s most emotionally charged film to date. I guess some of the dialogue can be more than a little heavy handed when it comes to the themes and the philosophical portions, and those parts admittedly come across as a little clunky. There’s even a moment when Anne Hathaway flat out says the main theme of the movie like halfway through, and while I get it’s important to make that main idea clear, maybe Nolan could’ve pulled back from some of that a little. However if you’re invested in this story, that won’t matter at all. The only other aspect I have issues with is one part of the ending, I’m not necessarily sure about the handling of this one part. Outside of that, I don’t have too many problems with the movie.

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Christopher Nolan once again assembles a great cast, and they all perform very well. Matthew McConaughey is great in the lead role, in one of his best performances. Ultimately his performance is what anchors the film and is central to the movie through and through. There are a couple of moments in this movie that got to me emotionally, and 95% of it is because of McConaughey’s performance. The major supporting actors with Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine are great in their parts, and brought their A game. There’s also Mackenzie Foy, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, Timothee Chalamet and Wes Bentley who are good. Foy especially stands out as McConaughey’s daughter, and their scenes together earlier in the movie are great, especially as their relationship is one of the main driving forces of the movie. There’s also a robot called TARS voiced by Bill Irwin, who was a good addition to the movie. An appearance from a certain actor later on in the movie was also quite surprising and good (not saying who this actor is just for those few people who haven’t seen Interstellar in the years it has been released). I know some people have mixed feelings about his subplot, but I mostly liked it.

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This is Christopher Nolan, of course he’s going to direct this movie extremely well, even knowing that however, the level of filmmaking here is outstanding. This is Nolan’s largest scaled film to date, and you really feel it. The cinematography from Hoyte Van Hoytema is outstanding, and the visual effects are nothing short of fantastic, from the planets that the main characters go to, to space, all of it just looks stunning. The locations shown in the movie are great, and Nolan really makes the places feel believable and plausible. Hans Zimmer’s score is euphoric and really takes this movie to a completely higher level. One of Zimmer’s best scores to date, and that’s saying a lot.

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Interstellar is firmly on the list of the best science fiction films, especially in recent years. Whether or not this is his best film, this may well be Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film to date, from the scale, the cast, the direction, to the overall story. If you somehow haven’t seen it yet, definitely watch it when you can.

Pet Sematary (2019) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Horror, graphic violence & offensive language
Cast:
Jason Clarke as Dr. Louis Creed
Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed
John Lithgow as Jud Crandall
Jeté Laurence as Ellie Creed
Hugo and Lucas Lavoie as Gage Creed
Director: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer

Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home. When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his neighbour Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), setting off a perilous chain reaction that unleashes an unspeakable evil with horrific consequences.

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Pet Sematary was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. It was an adaptation of a famous Stephen King book, I liked the actors involved that I recognised, and the trailers actually made this look pretty good and effectively creepy. Prior to watching this, I had started reading the book (and finished it later on after watching the movie), and I haven’t seen the previous adaptation from the 90s. Sadly I heard that the 2019 movie wasn’t so great, and aside from The Dark Tower was among the only recent Stephen King adaptations that wasn’t generally positively received. Still, I wanted to see it for myself. While I’m not sure that I’d say that it’s terrible, it’s certainly uninspired and underwhelming.

The story for the movie was a very mixed bag. Having read the book in its entirety, I can confirm that there are a number of changes to the story, even if the essence of the story is the same. However even early on, there was some odd changes. While it definitely doesn’t need to follow the story beat by beat, it almost feels a little rushed, for example with the way they introduce the Pet Sematary into the plot. A lot of the changes seemed to have been made to make it the most simplistic version of the story possible. There are also changes later in the story as well which are vastly different from both the book and the 1989 movie. In fact while there are some similarities, the third act is mostly different from the book. Now as for the third act changes, I guess they were fine and I didn’t have too much of a problem with them. However at the same time they really served no purpose outside of just being different from the book, or potentially making it easier to put in a conventional horror movie. I mentioned earlier about how it seemed like the movie was trying to rush through the plot. At the same time, the pacing can be really slow, even with a runtime of an hour and 40 minutes. It picks up in the second half in the story and pacing however. I liked the dark tone and a lot of the ideas, but the ideas are straight from the book, which did them a lot better. It feels so by the numbers and generic here. Much of the harshest of the events happens right at the end of the story, but in the second half there is a real sense of dread. In the movie however, you don’t feel anything like that. You feel empty, and unfortunately it’s not the good, unsettling and most of all intentional feeling of emptiness.

The cast do fine enough with Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, and others as the family, and they definitely try their hardest with what they have, but these characters are just not given enough things to do. They are barely characterised, and you just don’t care about them at all beyond the fact that they are our main characters. The standout of the whole movie was John Lithgow, who was great as Jud Crandall, an older man who knows a lot about the Pet Sematary. It was perfect casting, and he plays the role very well.

The direction is a bit of a mixed bag. On a technical level it’s fine, but they weren’t exactly utilised the best. The scares didn’t work at all and didn’t produce a reaction anywhere close to genuine terror. Weirdest of all, there were some fake truck jumpscares that would randomly happen, and although I know why they were in there, it just made it harder to take the movie seriously. Think of all the bad clichés that most average to bad modern horror movies have, Pet Sematary 2019 does many of those things. From the building tension music that eventually stops and then a scare happens, or when a character looks around, concluding that everything is safe, before turning around and something scary is right in their face. There are some technical parts that work alright. Church the cat was handled well, from cat actors, to the makeup used on them, basically what you’d imagine him being based off the book. Without spoiling anything, the whole thing involving the character of Zelda was effectively creepy.

There was a lot of potential with Pet Sematary, and the source material seemed like there’d be a lot to use (especially with the recent solid Stephen King movies with the likes of It, Doctor Sleep and others getting some good adaptations). But it’s just so generically done. Not to mention it’s ironically devoid of life. There are some aspects of the direction that are decent, I like some of the acting, and some ideas from the book which still work. However it’s not enough to save this movie from just being average. If you really want to watch it and you’ve got 100 minutes to kill, then maybe check it out for yourself.

Bombshell (2019) Review

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Bombshell

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language & sexual references
Cast:
Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly
Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson
Margot Robbie as Kayla Pospisil
John Lithgow as Roger Ailes
Connie Britton as Beth Ailes
Rob Delaney as Gil Norman
Mark Duplass as Douglas Brunt
Liv Hewson as Lily Balin
Allison Janney as Susan Estrich
Director: Jay Roach

When Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) slaps Fox News founder Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) with a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, not a soul could predict what would happen next. Her decision leads to Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) coming forward with her own story, as well as multiple other women, inciting a movement that reverberates around the world.

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I remember hearing about Bombshell for a while, it was about the sexual harassment in Fox News (specifically about Roger Ailes) and starred Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie in the lead roles. As trailers started being released however, I was starting to be a little concerned about it, especially how the movie looked like a comedy (the use of Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’ certainly didn’t give off the right vibe. Now a movie about this subject could work, taking on sexual harassment in a work environment such as Fox News. It’s hard to pull off, but if executed well, could result in a truly great and insightful movie. Bombshell is not that movie.

Bombshell (2019) Margot Robbie CR: Hilary B. Gayle

One of my worries was that Bombshell was going to be a comedy on the whole. Now there wasn’t as much comedy as I thought there would be, but I do wonder if that’s because what they intended as comedy didn’t exactly produce much laughs and I just didn’t pick up that they were jokes in the first place. The thing that immediately comes to mind to this movie is the fact that this is Fox News, and of course people aren’t so into the idea of a movie following people who work at Fox, which is understandable. The movie isn’t necessarily pro Fox News, but it doesn’t full on take on them either. All the shots that they take at Fox are used in jokes, so they felt rather toothless and weak. There’s plenty of deserved criticisms about some of the prominent people at the centre of this story, but they were still victims, and their story still needed to be told. When it comes to the sexual harassment scenes, it’s fittingly uncomfortable, but that’s not exactly an achievement considering that it should feel uncomfortable. To address the elephant in the room, Bombshell is written by the writer of The Big Short (Charles Randolph), and you really feel that. Now I liked The Big Short, but with this movie it really does feel like someone did a half baked attempt at that form of storytelling. There is a lot of explaining to the audience, and that didn’t turn out so well for this movie. This style could potentially work for a movie taking on Fox News on the whole, however for one with sexual harassment as the focus, it doesn’t fit at all. People have talked about how this movie should’ve been written and directed by a woman, given the results here, women behind both roles definitely would’ve resulted in a much better movie. On the whole, Bombshell a real drag to watch, and unfortunately it’s not just because of the difficult subject matter. Lack of entertainment aside, it moves a such a slow pace and not a lot happens in the movie, with the movie not even grabbing your attention all that much. After thinking about Bombshell for a while, I just came to a realisation. This movie is just a whole lot of talking about what happened, sprinkled occasionally with deliberate shocking and disturbing moments about sexual harassment. Most annoying of all, there’s no deeper dive or complexity to it all (not with the people or at Fox), it’s all very surface level and basically a recap of what we mostly already knew happened. Even as someone who didn’t a ton about the story, I didn’t come out of Bombshell knowing much more than before I watched it.

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If there’s one reason to watch this movie, it is the performances. Charlize Theron is great here, managing to embody Megyn Kelly so believably, really great performance. A lot of the other acting is overplayed to some degree, but Theron feels grounded throughout. Nicole Kidman is not getting the awards attention that her co-leads are receiving, but she was quite good as Gretchen Carlson, who made the lawsuit on Roger Ailes. It actually made me wonder why Carlson wasn’t the lead character of the movie instead of Kelly. Margot Robbie plays a composite character, and I didn’t know what to think of that. Part of me got the impression that Robbie’s character might’ve been created because they wanted to have a main character who they could show directly harassed in a scene by Roger Ailes, but maybe I’m just reading too deep into it. Robbie generally acts well in her role, and she gets a couple great moments in the last act or so. John Lithgow plays Roger Ailes, and he played him uncomfortably well, really unpleasant and unsettling to watch when he’s on screen. At the same time, he scarily enough seems like a real human being, Lithgow did a great job on his part. There’s not much to say about the rest of the cast, they can be quite over the top and deliberately performed like a parody at times, but they’re fine enough.

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I’m not too familiar with Jay Roach, I know he made the Austin Powers movies and I’ve seen his last movie Trumbo. Many people have been saying that Bombshell has been heavily inspired by the directing of Adam McKay’s movies, and I can sadly confirm this. From voiceovers, breaking the fourth wall, cameos of people you may know of, you get the drill. Bombshell solidified that no one should be making Adam McKay-like movies other than Adam McKay himself. Now I personally liked The Big Short and Vice quite a bit, if you didn’t like them though, I think that you’d really dislike Bombshell. The camerawork was also documentary-like, and with the office taking up most of the prominent locations in the movie, it made you feel like you’re in an episode of The Office. It really didn’t serve to make the movie better, it just made it distracting and obnoxious to watch. Every time it zoomed in on someone, it gets just a little more annoying, and there are a lot of zoom ins. The visual style is so bland and uninteresting, and the movie relies so much on its visual style, unfortunately there’s not many appealing aspects here. What’s worse is that the style is not even that consistent, for example you only get the fourth wall breaks a few times, making you wonder why they did it at all. With so much of the directing and storytelling choices, it makes you wonder why they didn’t just make a documentary. The only aspect on a technical level that I can really give praise to is the great makeup, from making Theron look like Megyn Kelly and Lithgow like Ailes.

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Bombshell is a very mixed bag to say that least, and it’s a very hard movie to recommend. This topic is not pleasant to sit through (and it shouldn’t be), but it’s also more of a drag, and on top of that you don’t really learn that much from the movie (unless you’ve never heard of the story before) and doesn’t go deeper as it could’ve, also with some questionable writing and direction choices throughout. At the same time, the performances from Theron, Kidman, Robbie, and Lithgow are great, so maybe watch the movie if you really want to see their work here.

 

The Accountant (2016) Review

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Time: 128 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, Offensive Language
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Christian “Chris” Wolff
Anna Kendrick as Dana Cummings
J. K. Simmons as Director Raymond “Ray” King
Jon Bernthal as Braxton “Brax”
Jeffrey Tambor as Francis Silverberg
John Lithgow as Lamar Blackburn
Director: Gavin O’Connor

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a mathematics savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Using a small-town CPA office as a cover, he makes his living as a freelance accountant for dangerous criminal organizations. With a Treasury agent (J.K. Simmons) hot on his heels, Christian takes on a state-of-the-art robotics company as a legitimate client. As Wolff gets closer to the truth about a discrepancy that involves millions of dollars, the body count starts to rise.

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The Accountant was a movie that interested me, mostly because of the cast, which consisted of Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick and Jon Bernthal. Also the director, Gavin O’Connor, directed Warrior, which was a pretty good movie. So I was interested to see what The Accountant would offer. I was actually surprised by The Accountant, the direction, writing and acting were all great. It’s not a perfect movie, it’s got a couple of minor problems with the story, but they don’t really take away from the overall experience that I had with this movie. By the end of the movie, I wanted a sequel. I wanted to see this character again.

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I liked the writing of The Accountant for the most part. The first act was a little slow for me, and in that act I found some aspects of the plot hard to follow, it was mostly the accounting aspects that I was a little confused about. However, I loved everything else. It’s really a film that you need to be completely focussed on, it’s a very unconventional film in terms of how it tells its story, especially in how it integrates flashbacks into its story. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say this: everything is connected. Honestly, I don’t want to say a lot about this movie, it’s a film that’s better experienced if you don’t know much about it going in. One slight problem I have in the movie is that J.K. Simmons’s character’s story after a while, doesn’t really seem to matter in the grand scheme of the story and just gets dropped. I liked the story but it sorta ended abruptly. Aside from that and the first act, I have no problems with the story.

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Ben Affleck gives one of his best performances yet, he was very convincing as someone who is Autistic, which isn’t an easy thing to pull off. I don’t know how accurate his representation of an autistic person is, but with all his mannerisms, the way he spoke, everything, he was convincing at least for me. There was a lot to him, he was very likable, he was very capable and most of all, he was believable in the role. Anna Kendrick was also really good in this movie, I loved the interactions between her and Affleck, they played off each other very well. The supporting cast with actors like J.K. Simmons and Jon Bernthal were also excellent in their roles.

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The direction of the film by Gavin O’Connor is very solid overall. The film is shot very well, every scene was directed greatly and effectively. I wouldn’t say that this film is full of action, but when there’s action, it’s fantastic, its intense, it feels real. There’s quite a bit of it in the third act, making it so entertaining to watch.

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Aside from some aspects of the story which dragged a little or didn’t interest me as much as other parts, I loved The Accountant. The talented cast played their roles well, I loved the story, the action was great and mostly everything fits together in such a great way. I really do hope that we get a sequel to this movie, there’s definitely potential for it. I think it’s absolutely worth checking out when you can, it’s one of my favourite movies of the year.