Movie Review: Fishbowl California

If you’re looking for an indie darling of 2018, look no further than Michael A. MacRae’s Fishbowl California. This charming comedy hits on all fronts with humor, entertainment and characters worth getting to know. Find out why this is a must see movie:

WHAT IS IT ABOUT:

The film centers on a down-on-his-luck guy named Rodney, played by Steve Olson (more on him later). Everything in Rodney’s life is falling apart. He’s lost a hold of his surroundings. Girlfriend issues, issues with work, nowhere to live. It’s an early life crisis. Rodney manages to find work from a bitter, unpleasant snarky widow that has a drinking issue. Not the kinda boss you’d wish for. They are an unlikely match that leads to lots of self-discoveries for both characters.

Fishbowl is relatable story of sorts. We’ve all had points in our lives where everything was going wrong and you start to lose hope. I’ve been there myself recently actually. It’s a story of a simple guy. Flawed. Tries to do good. Bad luck follows him everywhere.

HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

This is where things really stand out. As a small budget indie, writer and director MacRae surely didn’t have a budget to acquire big name starts, which in reality would probably have hindered this movie a bit, so instead he plucks out some real unfamiliar talent. The main one being Steve Olson.

264309116-2

What makes Olson such a gem of a find is how relatable he is on-screen. It’s as if he’s not even acting, but rather just being himself. This is perfect for the character he plays in the film. Olson has this genuine natural charisma about him. He’s funny without trying to be funny. Interestingly he commands this presence just by his authenticity. You want to watch him. Olson has this real comedic timing that’s hard to teach.

Katherine Cortez plays June, the miserable older lady that Rodney works for. Cortez manages to capture the essence of this character from the get-go. Her character is an ideal contrast to Rodney, but in a way they are also very similar. He’s goofy, outgoing and annoying, while she’s a gloomy, grouchy lady spewing clever one-liners. It’s noticeable that Cortez is a seasoned character actress.

1280x720-EaH

Jenna Willis plays June’s daughter, Olivia, who manages to match wits with Rodney and gives him some shit for his wild antics. She has this sharp no bullshit attitude and this serious sensibility about her. She’s a nurse, so it’s fitting that she’s the character most put-together and mature.

The most recognizable “name” actors in the film are Katrina Bowden (Piranha 3DD, Sex Drive) and Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side) playing supporting roles. Aaron has a really fun role of a convenience store clerk, it allows him to have fun and show off his personality.  Bowden’s role is a lot more limited, but she plays Rodney’s girlfriend and is significant to the plot.

HOW DOES THE MOVIE LOOK AND SOUND:

The one thing that is noticeable is how this film takes place in the bright California daylight. Now, maybe it was just a coincidence or budget and production didn’t allow much night filming, but it’s unique as it really puts a stamp on the California look and feel to it. There is a lot of natural light and it goes along with the quirky vibe of Olson’s character.

WAS IT ENTERTAINING: 

This film is a lot of fun. Each character has a unique humorous side to them and deliver the comedy in different ways. Rodney is more of smartass and has a sarcastic deadpan humor. When it comes to Aaron’s character, he has this oblivious sense of humor to him. Point being, each character delivers natural humor that fits their characters and the scenes they are in.

123249

The plot itself is constantly on the go. There is always some sort of drama occurring and a new obstacle Rodney’s character has to deal with. These obstacles are placed with a purpose. Guaranteed genuine laughs from start to finish.

IS IT WORTH SEEING:

Pick up that DVD when it comes out on May 1st. You won’t regret it. This is a well crafted sharply written film that manages to keep you entertained throughout the way. The element that ultimately stands out is the message that the movie delivers. The plot really comes full circle towards the end.

MacRae uses the majority of his characters that appear in the film with purpose and distinction. They legitimately all play a role in the essence of the plot. It’s a like a well gelled sports team. Everyone on the roster contributing to the success of the team. No role in this movie is small or insignificant.

PROS:

  • Talented cast that works well together
  • Clever script
  • Genuinely funny

CONS:

  • None noticeable, it works ideally as is 

Fishbowl California is a cinderella that plays like a blockbuster. Nothing seems amateur or “indie” about it. It looks good, it’s smart, the acting is high level and most importantly it entertains. When you leave with a smile on your face and and have this immediate “ah” moment, you know the movie did something well. This is the reaction I left the movie with. That’s a good thing. It’s one of my favorite movies of 2018.

VERDICT: A gem of a indie darling that feels and looks like anything but indie. Funny, witty and genuine. Highly recommend seeing it. Steve Olson is a name to watch out for. A surely bright career ahead of him. 

‘FISHBOWL CALIFORNIA’ SCORE: 97%

  • GENRE: Comedy-Drama
  • RUNTIME: 1 hr 23 min
  • Release Date: May 1, 2018 (available on DVD, Amazon, iTunes)
Advertisements

Movie Review: Traffik

The best kind of movies are the ones that stay with you long after they are over. Movies that make you reflect on your life in relation to it. It’s not common to come across a movie that impacts you that way. Traffik is that unique movie that will have you thinking and Googling all about what you see. Here is the full breakdown of the film:

WHAT’S THIS MOVIE ABOUT:

This is an interesting movie to describe. It’s actually a tale of two halves. The first half is a real solid action thriller, that’s both gripping and engaging. The second half continues the intrigue, but adds a heavy important layer of truth. In a sense, comparable to a documentary.

Writer and director Deon Taylor brings a real issue to light—human trafficking. We’ve seen movies hint or portray trafficking before. Heck, Eli Roth did it with Hostel years ago, but not in the way that Taylor manages to do it. What Taylor brings to the surface is not only human trafficking, but human trafficking that’s occurring in our backdoors, domestically.

Traffik

The quick synopsis sees Omar Epps and Paula Patton’s characters have their weekend getaway ruined by a biker gang. The gang is out for them and carrying plenty of dangerous secrets.

HOW DID THE ACTORS DO: 

Paula Patton turns any role into gold that she takes. No different here where she’s playing Brea. She’s fantastic. What Patton does so well is she’s relatable and knows how to be playful on-screen, but turn to a serious side within a snap of the fingers. Her role in Traffic requires her to show some real vulnerability, which she does flawlessly.

Omar Epps delivers on his end. His character John is cool and calm under a lot of chaos, but steps up when he needs to protect Brea.

Traffik

Luke Goss plays this slick villain. He’s oddly polite and subtly intimidating. The quiet terror.

Taylor assembles a talented and versatile cast that meshes well together and deliver fine performances.

HOW DOES THE MOVIE LOOK AND SOUND:

As far as the look, it’s has the perfect aura of a good thriller. It has this dark moody look that correlates to what’s happening on-screen. For example, when things aren’t chaotic and the plot is developing earlier on, most of the scenes take place in the bright daylight. Now, when things start getting ugly and dangerous, the scenes take place in middle of night in a desolate area. Perfect mood and ideal look to it.

The sound and music is fitting to the on-screen action. That’s a good thing.

WAS IT ENTERTAINING:

Hell yeah this movie is entertaining. It grips you and has your attention from early on. Actually, it’s a bit of a love story initially. You have no idea where it all will end up. The car and motorcycle chase scene is thrilling in itself and well shot. This movie has a really nice build that isn’t rushed and has good pacing to it.

It’s hard not to enjoy these actors bring it their all. Theme aside, this is a really entertaining thriller. You follow these characters and they uncover the truths and fight for their lives.

thumbnail_27318

You will be entertained and educated also. Win-win situation. Credit Taylor for blending the entertainment while still maintaining the big picture message and warning about human trafficking.

IS IT WORTH SEEING:

Most definitely this is a must-see movie. It’s important to be educated and made aware of an issue that’s happening right in front of us on a daily basis that affects us and people around us. It could be your child, friend, girlfriend, sister, mother, wife. No one is safe from this hidden silent pandemic.

The stats and numbers that are shared at the end of the movie will surely startle you. Hopefully it will make you want to research and find out more about human trafficking and how we need to be more conscious of it and have conversations about it.

Some scenes will make you cringe, but it’s the sort of cringe that needs to be witnessed. Traffik is the most important PSA movie you’ll see this year. Smart, crafty, slick filmmaking with an entertaining plot and gravitating performances. It’s terrifying and feels so real.

traffik-lead-18B

PROS:

  • Important message 
  • Entertaining plot 
  • Fine performances 

CONS:

  • Nothing that stands out

Traffik is a unique mix of fun and scary, with an important message at its core. This film is a conversation starter. Nothing can replace the power of that. I couldn’t help but think about this film for days after. It stuck with me. From personal experience, I always go into a movie with the hope that it can affect me and stay with me. Traffik does that. It educated me and made me a lot more aware of this international and domestic issue we don’t focus enough about as a society. I wanted to learn more about it and start those conversations that need to be had.

VERDICT: Deon Taylor made a movie that will impact people’s lives. It’s bigger than this review, Rotten Tomatoes score or any criticism or commentary it receives. The message is what stands out, and he delivers it in a startling way that will force you to notice. Consider this topic of conversation, started. 

‘TRAFFIK’ SCORE: 95% 

  • GENRE: Thriller
  • RATING: R
  • RUNTIME: 1 hr 36 min
  • RELEASE DATE: April 20, 2018

TRAFFIC is playing in theaters nationwide 

Commentary Recap Movie Review: Chappaquiddick

You may be asking, what’s a commentary movie review? It’s a review where I will provide the play-by-play of the movie. I will do that in commentary style, meaning that I will comment on the first thing that pops into my head as the movie plays out scene by scene. WARNING: This review will contain all spoilers, as I will be reviewing it from movie start to finish.

First and foremost you’re probably asking what the hell is Chappaquiddick? It’s a movie about Ted Kennedy’s (yup, those Kennedy’s) involvement in the car accident that killed a young woman. The film stars, Kate Mara, Jason Clarke, Ed Helms and Bruce Dern among others. So really, what does Chappaquiddick even mean? It’s actually a real location. Chappaquiddick Island is a place in Massachusetts, that also serves as the location of the incident that the movie is centered on. Now onto the play-by-play film commentary review.

The Opening Scene:

The first thing we see in the opening scene is a picture of the Kennedy family picture portrait. It’s mostly the Kennedy’s as children. Looks a heck of a lot like the picture portrait of Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. Old black and white family portrait pictures give me the shivers.

Background audio of the real-life Kennedy tragedy news announcement is playing as the camera zooms onto the pudgy kid wearing Donald Duck’s outfit, looks like that’s the young Teddy Kennedy.

IMG_6345

Friday, July 18, 1969 comes across the title screen.

We see Jason Clarke’s character sitting and getting interviewed. The cat is out of the bag, Clarke plays Ted Kennedy. I’m loving the grainy 60’s picture filter used. Looks like footage video from the time period. Gives the movie an authentic look and feel.

Ted is seen on the phone asking for favors from his cousin Joe Gargan, who is played by Ed Helms. Initially it’s odd seeing Helms in what seems to be a serious role, and trying to do a Bostonian accent.

Footage of the Apollo 11 launching is shown with voice-overs of the event coverage in the background. An introductory tour of Chappaquiddick Island is presented. Ted has a beach home there.

Olivia Thirlby’s character is laying on the beach chatting up Kata Mara’s character Mary Jo Kopechne. They are discussing Ted, who unexpectedly shows up behind them. Sort of like Batman would. Sneaky Ted.

The first valuable lesson of the film comes in the form of a cautionary tale of not allowing Ted and Joe to attempt to sail a boat. Amateurs. All this rush, just so Ted can crash a party and toast to his brother Booby’s memory, even though Ted seems to be the toast of this party as he continues to refer to the partygoers as part of his “family”.

The Plot Is Established

The party continues outside with Ted and Mara’s character Mary Jo sitting on the roof of the car talking about why Ted didn’t run for the White House after Bobby’s death.

A cop drives by and decides to crash their car party, but Ted being the rebel that he is, peels off, only leaving skid marks behind. His rush leads to tragedy, as Ted doesn’t see a bridge ahead and drives the car off the road and into the lake. The girl doesn’t survive.

Ted gets back to the house party and calls for Joe and tells him they have a problem and that he won’t be president. No Ted, you have a problem, not them. They sure do have a major problem as a girl just seemingly died under Ted’s watch. Is Joe supposed to be the official Kennedy problem fixer?

Joe and Paul (Jim Gaffigan)arrive at the accident scene and get down to their tidy whities and jump in the lake to look for the body. Ted just looks lost and lays down on the bridge and comes to realization of what just happened. My question is, how did he not even try to rescue her when he got out of the water in the first place? Instead just casually go look for Joe? Is it a moment of shock or ineptitude on his part?

Joe and Paul, who are attorneys in their own right, advise him to report the accident. Teddy doesn’t listen and instead decides to steal a fishing boat and have his buddies row him out of there. Instead, he checks himself into a hotel and attempts to drown himself in the tub. His recollections of the accident prevent him from committing suicide.

A eery flashback of Mary Jo drowning is mixed with Ted getting ready and leaving the hotel. It sort of demonstrates the lack of fortitude from him in running away from the accident and not even trying to save the girl.

He decides to call his dad—collect. Someone needs to raise the senators salary so he can make a proper call without charging others for it. Ted spills his guts and tells dad Joseph Kennedy Sr. (Bruce Dern) what had happened and asks for help, only to hear his father gasping for air or snoring on the other end. Ted can’t even sleep as he’s haunted with visions of Mary Jo drowning.

Bad news for the senator, a kid and his father discover a floating car which leads them to contact the authorities. Meanwhile, Ted is out at breakfast with some schmucks. Leave it to Joey and Paul to barge in on the lovely breakfast and give Ted a pep talk about the troubles that he’s in now. Geez guys, let the man eat his pancakes.

Joey being the good soldier goes back to the lake house to wake everyone up and inform them of the accident, he also asks them to stick together and help out the senator. Ted, decides to go seek cover inside the police chiefs office. Is that supposed to help? He did close the blinds in the office. Surely nobody will find him now.

Treading Water

Ted decides to call Mary Jo’s mother and inform her that her daughter died. He cries as he breaks the news. Ted isn’t done calling. He calls dad again. Father utters “alibi”. Ted tries to explain that he needs to do the right thing and own up to the accident and doesn’t want to be the failure of the family anymore.

Imagine the surprise the chief had when he walks into his office and Ted is sitting at his desk. He reads his statement and recollection of the accident. Ted heads back to pay a visit to his old man, who is revealed to be in poor condition. Ted assures his father that he has the situation under control. Does he now? Apparently not, since the father gives him a note saying that he lost his complete confidence and Ted needs to do as he says.

Chappaquiddick

Ted walks into the living room and there is a group on men in suits waiting for him. One looks to another and tells him he was able to handle to Cuban Missile Crisis, so he should be able to handle that. It’s clearly apparent that this is a group of top problem fixers that you’ll find.

The fixers are in uproar that Ted’s drivers license was suspended. Not the fact her was drinking or anything. What do the fixers decide? To get the ultimate fixer to help them out. These guys appear to be master PR pros.

Looks like it was smart for Ted to to make good with a local police chief, who followed the rules and read Ted’s statement to the press. Nothing like a good ol’ chief coming through. More trouble for Ted now that the media is all over the case. The media leaks the story and more questions arise.

Joe is trying to console Ted and prevent him from spiring out of control like he did after Bobby’s death. Lots of references to Bobby in the film. John Kennedy doesn’t seem to be much of a topic of conversation, but Bobby is. Show John some love.

Ted’s television interview airs and families, including the Ted’s, are watching it glued to the TV’s.

Not Much Change

Ted and Joe have their first real squabble when Joe tells him he shouldn’t be wearing a neck brace to Mary Jo’s funeral. So of course he wears it. As he begins to get heat from the press, Ted reminds his fixers to be optimistic and things can be salvaged due to the American people’s connection to the Kennedy name.

IMG_6363

Next up, Ted gets a visit from his dad. He leans over and gets smacked right upside the head with a mean left hand. He was certainly hoodwinked, blindsided. Ted tells his father that he never wanted to be president, that everything he did in life was to make is father proud of him. He references John and Bobby as being great men in their own right. Mr. Kennedy (not the wrestler), grabs a hold of Ted’s neck and they embrace in a hug as tears stream down Ted’s face.

This is one of the most powerful moments of this movie. Finally all the avoidance and dodging is confronted and Ted stops running away from his problems. As he walks out of the room he runs into Joe and tells him that he’s going to be resigning, Joe approves his decision.

Ted pleads guilty and and will due small time in jail. He promises the press he will answer all questions in a television special.

Moments before he goes on Television he has a final run-thru conversation with Joey who tells him, “this is not about opportunity, it’s about integrity”.

Chappaquiddick-movie-3

Ted begins his speech to the nation. He admits to being part of the accident, blames it on his confusion, dismisses the allegation that he was drunk and leaves the audience hanging with hope they can help him make the right decision and leaves his resignation up in the air. He couldn’t do it. His ego and letting down his father got the best of him.

Real footage of reporters interviewing people on the street about whether they would vote for Ted as president. The people give mixed reviews.

  • A long shot of the Chappaquiddick bridge where the accident occurred is shown. Follow-up text reveals that Joseph Kennedy Sr. passed away four months after the Chappaquiddick accident.
  • Joe Gargan was estranged from the Kennedy family.
  • Following the TV segment the people of Massachusetts reelected Ted, who ended up as the fourth longest serving Senator in United States history.
  • In 1980 Ted was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the Democratic Presidential race. He never ran again.

VERDICT: 

This film wasn’t as dramatic or compelling as I hoped it would be. The trailers made it a lot more dramatic than the movie played out to be. The entire movie is based on Ted’s struggle with himself and facing his demons brought on by his father and the accident, which is fine when it comes to the character, but you need more in the plot and script.

While Jason Clarke does a terrific job as Kennedy, and looks every bit as much as NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. The casting was done well for this film. Clarke did very well depicting the inner struggles that Ted had, as well as the lack of personal responsibility. He was somewhat of a big baby with his tantrums and comes of as cowardly at times.

Ed Helms did a great job as Joseph Gargan. He made the Bostonian accent believable and even though he had the Helms quirks that we know him for, especially during his characters subtle blowups.

Jim Gaffigan cast as Paul might have been one of the most surprising things on paper. In the film he doesn’t have too much work to do, but he’s solid and fits nicely into the role. Had I not known he was a comedian, his acting didn’t give any indication to it.

The film ran at least 15 minutes longer than it should have. It treads water (no pun intended) during large portions. It’s a interesting suspense story on the surface, but there is little substance or mystery to it.

Does the movie paint Kennedy in a bad light? Not purposely, but it doesn’t portray him as a great guy either. Does it ry to be fair and objective? Yes, it does a solid job at objectivity.

I had higher expectations for this film then it ultimately ended up being. Just drags too slow and doesn’t provide enough fresh plot points.

  • RATING: PG-13
  • GENRE: Drama-History-Thriller
  • RUNTIME: 1 hr 46 min
  • RELEASE DATE: April 6, 2018

‘CHAPPAQUIDDICK’ SCORE: 55%

(good performances, interesting story but plot lacks in building much intrigue) 

Movie Review: All I Wish

You often hear the phrase don’t judge a book by it’s cover (or movie), that phrase applies to this film. Writer and director Susan Walter puts together a modern relatable love story that delves deeper than what meets the surface. If you stick with this film (you should) this is what you can expect from it:

WHAT’S THIS MOVIE ABOUT:

Sharon Stone plays Senna Berges, a woman in her 50’s that’s struggling finding love and attaining her dream fashion designing career. The story gives little increments of her life before it fast forwards to the next year on the day of her birthday. Each year the birthday features a conversation with her mother Celia (Ellen Burstyn). It’s really not a conversation but more of a pep talk how Senna needs to find a man and get her life in order. Things subtly change when Senna meets Adam (Tony Goldwyn). Adam transforms her life in more ways than she can imagine.

V5KGZS5LUZBWZHBGDSFUYK2IHI

On the surface the film is about a woman that can’t find a man, so she settles for short flings and hookups. Every birthday she gets reminded of her apparent life failures. Is that all this movie is about? No wonder I found myself bored, right? Patience my friends. There is so much more to take away that ends up happening.

HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

Sharon Stone really owns her character. She plays a woman of her own age who clearly exhibits real life struggles that Stone must have related to and had a personal connection to in her own life. How do I know this? It’s wildly apparent how natural she is in the role. A seemingly complex character comes with ease to her. She has a variety of shades to her personality. She seems immature at times, stubborn, over-the-top and reckless. Then as the character grows over the noted birthday’s she becomes more self-aware, she lets go of her set ways and comforts and takes risks that expose her vulnerabilities. It’s a really nice transformation and Stone nails it.

The supporting characters should not go unnoticed. At times movies neglect the supporting characters and use them as fillers to prop the main characters. Not in this film. Walter does really nice work of making everyone valuable and have their own sense of being.

trailer_13660

Ellen Burstyn’s character has only limited time in the film but she’s the igniter that ultimately pushes Senna’s own boundaries. Liza Lapira plays Senna’s best friend Darla. She’s loyal and accepts Senna’s flaws and at times is her accomplice in their pursuit of no risk flings, until Darla finds her match. Tony Goldywn’s character Adam is the ideal contrast and complement to Senna. They are so in tune with another but outwardly project it differently. He has this mature sort of business like approach, while Senna is loud, unabashed and allows herself to have fun.

HOW DID THE MOVIE LOOK AND SOUND:

Nothing out of the ordinary on this front. The setting is beautiful coastal California. The beach scene adds another layer of personality to the characters and the surroundings. In general the film has this colorful vibrancy to it. The musical sountrack is a little bit corny at times, but still fitting to the overall theme of the film.

WAS IT ENTERTAINING:

Here is the issue. The movie starts out slow and it seems like it’s stuck in quicksand, but ultimately it’s the start of a build of what’s to eventually follow. I did find myself checking out early on, but I stayed patient and was rewarded. You will be also. Don’t let the seemingly replicated birthday forwards deter you. It’s part of the process that will make sense later on. If you stick with it, you’re in for a pleasing, relatable and modern romance flick. It’s also a lot of fun and has some genuine funny moments. The funny moments don’t come from some slick one-liners, but more from the characters playful interactions and the actors comfort with each other.

I appreciated the fact that characters aren’t young. They are past their supposed “prime” and at a later point of their lives. Films of these genre almost always are centered on characters dealing with dating and career struggles in their 20’s or early to mid 30’s. You don’t see or hear of stories of people in their late 40’s or 50’s that have to go through the same struggles. As if they have been forgotten. This film gives them the proper shine, it’s also what makes it so interesting and refreshing.

maxresdefault (1)The recent Oscars had all the nominations for the ladies from the Best Actress category be over 40 years old. That’s a great feat, but one that should be way more common that it is. I felt Walter shines a light on a similar issue with her casting of terrific experienced performers. Stone isn’t washed up, neither is Famke Janssen. Ellen Burstyn is a gem. These actresses along with many others defy age.

IS IT WORTH SEEING:

Unequivocally, yes! What starts out as a potentially campy Hallmark flick turns into a real and relatable imperfect love story that isn’t cliche or formulaic. These are characters that are flawed and confused, but that’s what makes them humanized and allows you to get behind and root for them. Personally I took a lot away from this film. As a single male in my early 30’s in the dating world, I didn’t initially see how I could relate to characters nearly double my age and their pursuit of dating. I was wrong. There were so many similarities and takeaways that left me a bit speechless. I learned that as much as I want love and find the one in my life, it doesn’t necessarily happen when you want it to.

The moral is that no matter what age you are, everyone is ultimately looking for love and a connection. We just look for it and find it in different ways. Sometimes unforeseen ways. Walter also sends the message that it’s never too late to find love and sometimes you need to be patient with it and wait for it to come to you. Older people want love also, they are also pigeonholed to go about it the same way their kids do. Online dating. Being in the middle of a hookup culture. I learned that as frustrating as dating is, you have to be patient and keep the hope alive. Your love could already be in your life, you just need to let it evolve and blossom. I really appreciated and loved that this film has the potential to inspire, like it did for me. Love is ageless. That’s a powerful message All I Wish shares and delivers.

PROS:

  • Genuine story, relatable characters, plot isn’t rushed
  • Lots of great messages you can attain if you allow yourself to
  • The storyline payoff is pleasing and satisfactory
  • Themed on older characters that you don’t often get to see in films of this genre
  • It’s legitimately funny and romantic

CONS:

  • The slower developing plot early on

VERDICT: Overall, this is a movie about hope and love. It shows love is ageless and we all deal with it more similar ways than we imagine. Good message and unique perspective depicted. It’s well worth seeing. 

‘ALL I WISH’ SCORE: 90%

  • GENRE: Comedy-Drama
  • RUNTIME: 1 hr 34 min
  • RELEASE DATE: March 30, 2018

ALL I WISH is out in select theaters, VOD and Digital 

Movie Review: Flower

Flower isn’t what you think it is based on the title. There is nothing pretty about the life of Erica, played wonderfully by my personal favorite actress Zoey Deutch, I’m biased, so what? The film labels itself as a comedy, but there are a lot more labels that can be attached to it if so desired. It’s dark, funny, thrilling, suspenseful and serious during various stages from start to finish. What makes this movie worth seeing then?

WHAT’S THIS MOVIE ABOUT:

It’s about a teenage girl named Erica (Deutch) trying to deal with the hand that life dealt her. Her father is in prison. Her mother’s boyfriend moved in with the family and is now bringing along his mentally unstable son to live with them. Sounds like a peachy life. Not to mention that Erica is subjected to and subjects herself to some harsh life situations. To get you prepared, the opening scene of her giving oral sex to a local cop is any indication. You clearly know what you’re in for from the start. These characters have no limits and the movie doesn’t hold back at all.

flower-adam-scott

HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

My affinity for Deutch has been noted by anyone who has spoken to me. She’s a fabulous actress. Not only is she stunning, but she’s she possesses the three r’s: relatable, raw and real. In many ways she has all the potential and talent to be the next brakeout star, such as Saoirse Ronan. She can do it all.

In Flower, Deutch takes upon one of her more challenging characters to date. Erica is a lost soul that’s searching for comfort in all the wrong places. She means well, but has no idea how to go about doing the right thing. In a sense she’s grown up too quick, without actually growing up. She’s been exposed to life’s ugly side and partakes in it, only due to her circumstances and fueling her own inner fire. Erica is snappy, boisterous, uncensored and loyal to her friends and mother. She’s very charming and convincing also. To emit that inner struggle while display the outward strength is a difficult feat for any actor to portray. Not only does Deutch manage that, she succeeds flawlessly in doing it.

c76si-5wkaeo92t

The two other characters of importance to note, are the mother Laurie, played by Kathryn Hahn and Luke the unstable stepbrother played by Joey Morgan. First, when it comes to Hahn, a widely recognizable comedic actress takes a turn to play a serious character. Laurie tries hard to be the best mom, but she’s stuck in trying to be a mother while being and acting like a best friend to her daughter. This tough balance leaves her in a middle ground of questionable parenting. Hahn brings this character lots of life. She’s relatable as a modern imperfect parent. She’s had a rough life, it’s evident even though there is little to no mention of it. Hahn also brings this coolness to the character that makes her fun and takes away any semblance of being boring and uninteresting.

As far as Morgan’s character Luke goes, he’s the key to the film. Morgan does wonderful work keeping an even keel when his character is surrounded by much more dominant and authoritative personalities. Luke is hard to read initially, but blossoms as the movie moves along, sort of like, a flower.

HOW DID THE MOVIE LOOK AND SOUND:

There is nothing special that stands out to to note with the music. When it comes to the visuals, it certainly noticeable with the lens filters they used. It’s this bright sepia-like color lens that not only brightens the look of the movie, but it gives it an yellowish tint. It’s noticeable when you see it. Now, I don’t know if it has any correlation with the theme of the movie of a bright yellow flower and the whole blossoming and keeping it bright aspect, but it could be. If not, then I’m just really reaching for things. It’s a unique look to say the least.

WAS IT ENTERTAINING:

It sure was compelling. This is a fascinating character study. Of young adolescence that rebels and for the most point is doing misguided sense of belief and understanding. Director Max Winker, yes he’s The Fonz’s son, depicts a story that’s not the typical coming of age. It actually is more of a coming out of age. What I mean by that is that the characters are almost too grown up for their own good and they need to reel back and have a sense of what it’s like to be a kid. A process that Winkler illustrates as the movie develops.

image5-800x433

It’s one of these films that has you anticipating what the next scene will bring and what these wild teens will do next. I never found myself bored at any point. Sure, there were some cringeworthy moments, especially the sex ones, but the plot has some unexpected turns that lead to a more suspenseful conclusion.

IS IT WORTH SEEING:

Most definitely it is. This film has a no-bullshit sense about it. It’s in your face attitude and lets it all out. The depiction of this damaged family is a lot more realistic than the idealistic families that tend to be portrayed in film. It’s the real world look into what American family of 2018 is in many cases. Non-perfect, struggling, making ends meet, trying to find and show love, but struggling to do so. Delving into dark waters to attain a necessity, such as money. Ultimately the movie blossoms and does justice to the title.

PROS:

  • It’s paints an authentic portrait of American family life.
  • Deutch is tremendous in her role.
  • Intriguing, mysterious unapologetic.

CONS:

  • Some of the sexual stuff can be off-putting, especially involving teens
  • Lacked some background story to insert to explain why Erica and her mother do what they do and how they ended up there. Also, it would explain the connection Erica has to her father.

VERDICT: Overall, this is a really interesting good film with terrific performances, especially from Deutch. It has turns that keep things exciting till the very end.

  • MOVIE RATING: R
  • GENRE: Comedy
  • RUNTIME: 1 hr 30 min
  • RELEASE DATE: March 23, 2018

FLOWER‘ SCORE: 85%

Date
3/23/2018
City
Chicago
Theater
Landmark Century
Talent
Zoey Deutch, Max Winkler
Moderator
Joe Swanberg
Start time
7:35 PM
Q&A time
9:00 PM
3/23/2018 Chicago Cinemark Evanston 18 Zoey Deutch, Max Winkler Moderator
TBD
10:15 PM 11:45 PM
3/24/2018 Chicago Landmark Century Zoey Deutch, Max Winkler Moderator
TBD
5:00 PM 6:40 PM
3/24/2018 Chicago AMC River East Zoey Deutch, Max Winkler Moderator
TBD
7:00 PM 8:30 PM

The Bachelor Finale: What Did Arie Just Do?!

Lauren Meets The Family

The Bachelor finale has finally arrived. It seemed like a long time coming. Chris Harrison comes out to a live studio audience. This is what they always do for the finale. Right away Harrison announces that Arie is about to be one of the most controversial Bachelors after this episode airs. Well, the spoilers have been out now for a week and spread like wildfire (I have managed to somehow keep away from them), so will it surprise anyone?

Off we go back to Peru. Arie is walking around reminiscing. Talking up Becca and Lauren and it probably won’t end up meaning anything in the end. Arie meets up with his family. His father reinforces to us what we already know, which is that his son is indeed crazy.

Lauren gets to visit his parents first. She reveals the obvious, that she’s not cool. A great bit of info is released when Arie’s sister-in-law tells Lauren that it’s always interesting around this family. Lauren, you’re about to get the full treatment of it. Like it or not.

IMG_5963

ABC

The biggest mystery might be as to why Lauren keeps bobbing her head as she talks? Will this be explained, ever?

Overall, the family seemed decently impressed with Lauren being a “cool girl”. Even after she told them point blank that she’s NOT cool. Go figure.

Becca Meets The Family

Back to Cusco, Peru. Becca is up next to meet the fam. Becca is looking really stellar for the meet-the-parents outing. Classy and professional. Arie and Becca start out talking about how they fell in love with another. Arie’s mother seems to be settled in on Lauren though.

Arie’s dad seems to care about Lauren mainly, so he asks Becca about her. Insert face palm emoji. Arie’s father gives Becca the ultimate reassurance by telling her he’d be happy with either girl for Arie. Splendid. Somewhere uncle Gary is seething with his cane in hand and ready to use it.

IMG_5968

ABC

According to Becca it’s like comparing apples to starfish. Which one is Lauren? The poisonous apple? Or the starfish? Either way, a comparison that leaves you more lost then you were before she said that.

Quick, get Becca a bucket. She’s about to vomit next time she hears the name Lauren mentioned.

IMG_5967

ABC

Arie heads back to the family to get some final analysis of the women. Surprisingly the family is now all about Becca? They feel she’s a better fit for Arie and his father believes she’s the kinda girl who will give him the kick in the ass that he needs.

Lauren’s Final Date

Before they head out to the commercial break. Caroline joins Harrison in studio. She reiterates that she doesn’t think that Arie knows what he wants. She’s still appalled by him.

IMG_5970

ABC

Lauren gets her final date with Arie. Machu Picchu is the location. She’s so impressed, because she’s read about it in books at school. See, further validation she’s not cool and was studious.

Lauren makes sure to tell Arie how great it was to meet his family and he tells her how impressed he was by how comfortable she was. Here come the lies, galore. As Arie and Lauren are connecting, the elephant in the room has to be the shot of Arie’s chicken noodle legs. Not manshaming here, but give this man some more prop food!

IMG_5976

ABC

During the evening portion of their date, Lauren thanks Arie for willing to work with her and giving her confidence to open up, etc. Willing to work with her? What is he helping her with? Her history homework by taking her to Macho Picchu? False hope girl, but I’m sure Arie loves that.

The best question arises when he asks her how he sees their days looking like after the show. Lauren starts by describing them going to work, coming home together (do they work at a same job in her world?), have a glass of wine together (crucial). Then on the weekends “maybe” take the dogs to the part and see family. Sure hope she takes her dogs out more than “maybe” on the weekends. The first words of Arie’s response is “it’s funny”. Yes, you got that right Arie.

IMG_5977

ABC

He does also add that he wants kids soon. Yeah, good luck with her, when she can’t even commit to taking the dogs out regularly.

Becca Final Date

Becca gets her last chance to impress. They meet on the streets of Cusco and wander around town under an umbrella, with random children bumping into them. Their date gets better when they get to hang out with some sheep and alpacas.

IMG_5983

ABC

Arie can’t seem to focus because he can’t decide which woman he loves more.

Becca gets one thing right, she feels that Lauren is like most girls he’s dated before. They meet for a hotel chit-chat. Arie tells her he’s still conflicted. At least he’s being honest with her. This is when she presents him a rather meaningless note affirming her readiness to be committed to him. She even made a cute scrapbook for them. With a page left unfilled for their babies pics. Creepy Becca for you.

IMG_5985

Crazy alert! (ABC)

The Moment of Truth

Before another commercial break. Ben Higgins and Jason Mesnick share their thoughts on Arie’s looming decision and how their situation compared.

IMG_5986

As if Ben Higgins knows anything (ABC)

Bachelor favorite jeweler Neil Lane arrives with the rings for Arie to choose. This guy should be the next Bachelor.

The moment of truth has arrives, or one we think is. Stepping out of the first limo is Lauren. That’s usually a sign of doom for that person.

Lauren makes a passionate final plea and proclamation of her love for him. She talks about walls breaking down and loving him all along, but Arie is tipping us off at home by looking down and not at her. All she needs to do is look at him and stop talking. It’s over Lauren.

IMG_5993

ABC

Finally, Arie speaks. He says he gave it thought all night and can’t give anymore to her. He gave her his all, but still he can’t find place for her in his life. Damn.

All she can say is that she wishes him the best. Not much more she could say.

She’s stunned and blindsided by him. Doesn’t understand how he hasn’t made a decision until this morning. Lauren rides off in the limo shocked. It’s happened every season when someone is sent home in the finale. No surprise yet.

Becca’s turn to see Arie. This should be good news, but we still have an hour left in the show. She gives her statement about how wrapped up in love she’s with him. Arie doesn’t purposely look away this time. He gets down on his knee and proposes to her. She accepts.

IMG_5997 (1)

ABC

The happy couple celebrates. She accepts the ring and the rose. He asks her when are they making babies? Now, I have not seen a guy that quick to desire babies. Like he’s pushing it more than any girl that he was dating on the show. Chillax wannabe daddy Arie.

IMG_5999

Happy at last, or not? (ABC)

So it’s over, right? No it isn’t. Chris Harrison promises to show us uncut footage of something that happens that never happened on any reality TV show. Okay, sure Chris.

So Real the Drama Begins 

We are now sent to the final day in Peru after Arie and Becca were pronounced as a happy Bachelor couple.

First we get to see iPhone footage of them swinging in a hammock and proclaiming their love to another and all of America. When Arie talks about the great time he has with Becca, he mentions thinking about Lauren and how would life be like with her.

Arie is convinced that he made a mistake and wants to risk it all for Lauren. He tells Chris Harrison about calling off the engagement with Becca.

Poor Becca, is arriving in LA for what she expects it to be a “happy couples” weekend. It’s about to be anything but happy for her. Becca is wildly impressed about how huge Arie’s ring is–—I know what you dirty minds were thinking there.

IMG_6005

ABC

Becca anxiously await Arie as he walks up to see her.

Back to Harrison and the audience booing and gasping in disdain. Harrison doesn’t know what possibly the audience at home is going through? Well let me answer, nothing. It’s a show. Not life or death.

After the break, Harrison warns the audience that’s about to see the most emotional scene ever. Insert ten emoji eye rolls.

Arie and Becca meet. He comments on the size of her ring, which she won’t be wearing much longer. He keeps referring to their time together as “hanging out”. He tells Becca he doesn’t wanna be “half-in” with her and rather take a risk with Lauren.

IMG_6007

ABC

Arie rather do it in person then on After the Final Rose. How noble of him. She begrudgingly tells him that she hopes that he finds what he wants, as it’s clearly not her. You are right about that Becca.

Play-By-Play 

Lets go play-by-play on this. Becca retreats to the bathroom. Arie lurks by the door. He asks her if she wants him to stay. She doesn’t. He walks away. Arie walks out of the building, stands outside the door and looks down on his fingers. Apparently he forgot to trim his fingernails. Get this man a clipper.

IMG_6015

ABC

Arie’s camera goes black momentarily. He follows back into the house. Supposedly nails freshly trimmed and all. He heads straight to the bedroom. Looks like he lost his wallet, or maybe he’s looking for her. During this whole time not even one damn producer offers to help navigate him through this maze of a vacation home. Looks like he finally may have used his Arie senses and located the crying sounds coming from the same bathroom he left her by.

IMG_6014

ABC

Being the gentleman Bachelor that he is, he asks her if she’s doing okay?

“What are you still doing here?”

Maybe he changed his mind again Becca?

“Just go!”

At least Becca dressed for the action with some very flattering jeans and a fashionable cute ocean blue top.

As she wildly scatters throughout the place, Arie makes the best decision of the night and plants himself on the empty couch.

IMG_6016

ABC

Becca, “I have nothing to say”.

Sure you don’t.

“What did I do wrong?”

IMG_6017

ABC

Well, maybe you’re not blonde and are quiet like a mouse, just as Arie prefers his women to be.

Production is laying an absolute egg in all this. Becca is damn nearly hyperventilating and they won’t even offer her an oxygen mask or anything. Unreal.

IMG_6020

ABC

Arie wants to just talk “a little bit”. He proceeds to touch her shoulder…

“Don’t touch me!”

He removes his hand quicker than getting burned by the oven.

Arie is impatiently trekking Becca and now just wants 2 seconds with her.

1…2…..times up Arie.

IMG_6018

ABC

She obliges and manages to give him at least 2 minutes.

“I feel my future was ripped away”.

Not entirely Becca. Maybe you and Arie and Lauren can be a happy little family after all. Just compromise.

“I can’t imagine my life without you!”.

Start imagining it, because it’s reality.

At 50 minutes into this, Arie issues his first apology. Progress is being made.

“Well you finally saw me cry”.

That is true. Looks like Becca is turning a corner her.

“Just go, please just go”.

Apparently that was a queue for Arie to slide off the couch a little and stare at her. It’s fine, if you’re into that sort of thing.

He finally says, “ok, I’m gonna go”, but he does anything but that. Still staring.

After a slew of teases and mild attempts, Arie gets up and walks out—FINALLY!

IMG_6021

Only took 22 attempts for him to leave (ABC)

Becca rips off her mic and runs back to the bathroom. Shit just got real, folks.

Can we please get Montell Jordan in the house and queue up some “This is How We Do It”?

Back in the studio, Becca joins Harrison to share her thoughts on what happened. She hasn’t heard from Arie since. Harrison tells her that she will be seeing Arie tomorrow night in the special the network allowed to have. Nice cliffhanger. This long night is finally over.

IMG_6025

ABC

EPISODE RATING: 9.5/10 

(One of the more memorable Bachelor finales we’ve ever had)

BACH TALK:

Take aways from the finale of the show.

  • Finally a finale that delivered on the usual promises of being the most shocking or a first of something. This wasn’t all that different from what Jason Mesnick did, just played out on the finale and they kept the cameras.
  • I don’t feel any dislike for Arie. They are trying to paint him a villain, but the guy genuinely looked conflicted. I blame the show and the way it’s molded. It serves no purpose to force the finale to require a proposal. Give these people time to date and get to know another.
  • Becca got a raw deal, but he tried to be upfront with her and she sort of overlooked his undying connection with Lauren.
  • Arie has a type, Lauren is his type. Looks like he likes the idea of marriage, but he rather have a girl that’s his type, which Becca always seemed to be an opposite of.
  • I still feel this episode didn’t have to be 3 hours long. Could have been trimmed down to 2 hours.
  • Arie will feel the heat from the internet and those ladies from his season that will be in the audience for the After the Final Rose.

For more you can check out my site The Bachelor Universe also follow me on Twitter at @TheJimAlexander