Tag Archives: Kaitlyn Dever

Booksmart (2019) Review

Time: 102 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Drug use, sexual Drug use, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Beanie Feldstein as Molly Davidson
Kaitlyn Dever as Amy Antsler
Jessica Williams as Miss Fine
Lisa Kudrow as Charmaine Antsler
Will Forte as Doug Antsler
Jason Sudeikis as Jordan Brown
Billie Lourd as Gigi
Diana Silvers as Hope
Director: Martin Scorsese

Academic overachievers Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high school peers. But on the eve of graduation, the best friends suddenly realize that they may have missed out on the special moments of their teenage years. Determined to make up for lost time, the girls decide to cram four years of not-to-be missed fun into one night — a chaotic adventure that no amount of book smarts could prepare them for.

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I have been hearing about Booksmart for the longest time, it had received acclaim from critics and audiences alike, and was often placed among the best movies of the year. I was quite sceptical about it, I have to say. From the brief glances I saw of the movie I got the feeling I wouldn’t love it as much as others, not to mention that I’m not a fan of coming of age stories. Still, I was going to give it a fair chance and I did. Having seen it, I have some very mixed feelings about the movie, and while I don’t exactly dislike it, I don’t really like it much either.

Booksmart practically announces itself as a subversive take on a coming of age story, especially with the main characters. While it seems different from other similar movies, that’s only surface level. Booksmart follows much of the same structure, story beats, and the like in most coming of age movies. There’s even a familiar argument scene between the main friend characters (which happens out of the blue and for no reason in this movie I should add). There are attempts at being modern and woke, parts of it are okay, but most of it doesn’t work, and often feels immature and out of touch. It’s pretty much what you first think of when you hear the concept of fully grow adults trying to write woke teen comedies, a mess to say the least. There’s something that hits me the more I thought about the movie afterwards, that lack of relatability. I’m not a big fan of coming of age movies, but much of why a lot of other movies in this genre are loved is relatability. Sure there might be a couple of things with the lead characters that you can relate to, but that’s where it ends. The best coming of age released in recent years for me was The Edge of Seventeen, and that was mainly because of genuine complications that the characters go through, even if you can’t relate to their problems, at least it feels somewhat real. I’m not necessarily expecting complete realism all the way through with Booksmart, but this movie is practically a fantasy and so over the top, from the scenarios to the characters. Even if it wasn’t going for realism, it’s nonetheless hard to emotionally connect to them on any level. In the third act when it tries to get emotional at a point, it just doesn’t hit at all, especially with how goofy the rest of the movie beforehand was. I haven’t even gotten to the humour yet, I really did not find Booksmart to be that funny. And it’s more than just it not being funny, there’s some scenarios and side characters that are completely awkward and hard to watch (the latter of which I’ll get into in a bit). Throughout the movie aside from maybe the early sections, I was not invested or entertained whatsoever.

The saving grace of the movie are the leads with Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein. There’s parts involving the characters and the writing that aren’t so great, but these two actresses work very well together and share wonderful chemistry. I absolutely believed that these two are friends, and when it’s just the two of them acting together, I actually liked it. They are the only thing that comes close to something somewhat carrying the movie. The rest of the characters are incredibly over the top cartoons, the thing is that none of them are funny. If anything, they just made the movie awkward and hard to watch. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was meant to be unnerving (because if that was the legitimate intention they certainly succeeded), but as it is, I think it missed the mark. Billie Lourd is particularly a reoccurring character that pops up plenty of times, and I guess she’s meant to be funny and the main ‘comedic relief’… but she just didn’t work for me. Like the others she was over the top, obnoxious, and made it hard to watch it.

This is the debut of Olivia Wilde as a director, she’s definitely showed off her talents well, and I’d like to see her direct a lot more movies. On the technical side, there wasn’t much I have to complain about except that the soundtrack was a little overdone.

I really wish I could‘ve liked Booksmart, it had potential for sure. Outside of Olivia Wilde’s direction and Dever and Feldstein however, it was rather hard to get through. It’s really over the top, mostly unfunny, very cliched (for all the attempts at subverting familiar coming of age tropes), and at times obnoxious. To be brutally honest, I did not get anything out of the movie except with the feeling that Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are great and definitely deserve the attention they are getting, and that Olivia Wilde should be given more directing gigs for sure. I guess if you’re somewhat interested in this movie however, see it for yourself. Booksmart is among the most loved movies of the year, I’m just disappointingly in the minority of people who didn’t really like it.

Detroit (2017) Review

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast
John Boyega as Melvin Dismukes
Will Poulter as Philip Krauss
Algee Smith as Larry Reed
Jacob Latimore as Fred Temple
Jason Mitchell as Carl Cooper
Hannah Murray as Julie Ann
Kaitlyn Dever as Karen
Jack Reynor as Demens
Ben O’Toole as Flynn
Nathan Davis Jr. as Aubrey
Peyton Alex Smith as Lee
Malcolm David Kelley as Michael Clark
Joseph David-Jones as Morris
John Krasinski as Attorney Auerbach
Anthony Mackie as Greene
Director: Kathryn Bigelow

In the summer of 1967, rioting and civil unrest starts to tear apart the city of Detroit. Two days later, a report of gunshots prompts the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Army National Guard to search and seize an annex of the nearby Algiers Motel. Several policemen start to flout procedure by forcefully and viciously interrogating guests to get a confession.

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I’ve been meaning to watch Detroit for a while. With a talented cast that included John Boyega and Will Poulter, as well as it being directed by Kathryn Bigelow, there was a lot of potential, especially with it being based on true events that took place during the Detroit Riots of the 60s. I also heard some pretty good things about it. Detroit was really impactful and was really great overall, it is a credit to the great performances and Bigelow’s fantastic direction.

Before you watch the movie, you should know that despite the title, Detroit isn’t about the Detroit riots, it mostly takes place in the Algiers Motel during the Detroit riots. The opening of the movie was a little questionable, with a lot of backstory dumped through the use of a very out of place animation. Detroit is around 2 hours and 20 minutes long, which was a little too long. I get that the first act is meant to set up events and the third act is supposed to conclude these events but they did feel a little stretched out. However, I will say that maybe it’s because I expected almost all of the events to just take place at the motel, it takes over 40 minutes for the events of the Algiers Motel incident to actually start. The second act is definitely the strongest act of the whole movie, from start to finish it has you riveted. You really feel right there where everything it is happening, it is very intense and can be really hard to watch (which it should feel).

Acting from everyone is fantastic. John Boyega once again proves himself a talent to watch, here he plays as a cop who has to almost be neutral when all these events are going on, he gives a very subtle performance and he deserves a lot of praise for his work here. The actors who played the real life people in the hotel like Anthony Mackie and Jason Mitchell were good, out of all of them Algee Smith was the stand out. The actors who played the cops like Jack Reynor were also great. Will Poulter is the stand out performance however, stealing the show from absolutely everyone as a racist and violent cop who really takes charge during the whole incident. He really deserved more recognition for his performance, if all you know Poulter from is as the kid from Narnia 3 and Maze Runner, that will change after watching him in Detroit. He was intimidating and scary at times but he also felt uncomfortably real, Poulter was a real screen presence. Definitely deserves a lot of praise, really everyone really deserves a lot of praise, they all gave great performances that added to the film.

Kathryn Bigelow is a great director and once again she brings her A game here. She brought to Detroit her shaky cam from her previous films Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker and it works here (more so than other movies with shaky cam) because it adds to the movie. You really feel like you are there when all the events are going ahead. The cinematography also supports everyone in this movie. Bigelow also does very well at making sequences feel uncomfortable and tense and she doesn’t hold back at all. Honestly much of the credit to this movie’s success should go to her, she did great work here.

Unfortunately, not enough people saw Detroit, given its box office failure. It’s a real shame because most people missed out on a great movie. There were some incredible performances and Kathryn Bigelow directed this very well, creating an riveting impactful film. It’s a tad too long and I wouldn’t say that it is as great as some of Bigelow’s other films like Zero Dark Thirty or The Hurt Locker but all in all it is really good. It’s not an easy watch, and I don’t see it having much rewatch value but I do recommend giving it one viewing at the very least.