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“Long Weekend” Interview with Zoe Chao

Bart (Finn Wittrock) with Vienna (Zoe Chao) in Sony Pictures’ LONG WEEKEND.

“Long Weekend” is a refreshing romantic drama/comedy about man who’s down on his luck until he unexpectedly meets the woman of his dreams. The film stars Finn Wittrock (American Horror Story) and Zoe Chao (Love Life). I chatted with Zoe to discuss the film, what it means to see yourself represented in the media, the current attacks on Asian-Americans and much more in this in-depth interview.

“Long Weekend” is currently playing in select theaters.

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Movie Review: “Nobody” – A Familiar But Fun Action-Comedy

Writer Derek Kolstad has graced us with the amazing “John Wick” movies; and for that I am forever grateful. If you don’t already know, John Wick is the badass who got ultimate revenge on those who murdered the dog his late wife left him. Each film has been an exciting thrill ride that leaves us wanting more. However, the same may not be said about Kolstad’s newest film, which feels almost too familiar.

Universal Pictures’ “Nobody” follows Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk), a middle-aged family man who barely has any life left in him. His marriage is stale, his son thinks he’s a wuss, but his daughter seems to actually like him. 

His repetitive, mundane routine is shaken up when two intruders break into his home and trigger a surprising rage in Hutch. We come to find out that Hutch is not just some mild-mannered man. He has a violent past and bears the skills of a trained assassin. He has sworn a life of normalcy, so he takes the high road and lets the intruders leave. But when he goes on a mission to take back what they stole from him, he witnesses a group of drunk men harassing a young woman on a bus. He channels all his pent up anger on them and goes full “Wick”. Unfortunately, those men have powerful ties that are now looking to get revenge on Hutch and his family.

Director Ilya Naishuller does a fine job with this movie overall, but the film has it’s flaws. The obvious being you are continuously comparing it to “John Wick”. Aside from that, there is a slow start. The action doesn’t really come into play until nearly halfway. Even the break-in scene is underwhelming for what is essentially the catalyst to Hutch getting back into his “old ways”. It doesn’t even come close to the feeling you have watching John Wick’s innocent puppy get killed by those monsters. (I wanted them all to pay!). In this movie they almost make you have empathy for the intruders. Which makes the later scene of him attacking the harassers on the bus feel a bit forced. Don’t get me wrong, it’s entertaining and fun to see the fight not take itself so seriously. But the entire time you’re watching, you’re wondering did these men really deserve such a blood bath?

However, it’s such a delight seeing Odenkirk in this role. He proves he is just as much of a badass as Keanu Reeves, Bruce Willis, and Denzel Washington. In fact, he’s the most realistic one. His minor injuries and reactions to pain makes him more human than the typical action star. The guy is a likeable character, which is more than I can say about his family.  With the exception of his father played by the great and hilarious Christopher Lloyd.

“Nobody” is short and sweet. There’s lots of value in it’s simplicity. It’s just hard to label the film as a stand out, because films like “John Wick” and “Equalizer” have done this story better. That being said, Odenkirk’s performance alone is enough to make this film worth watching.

Rating: 3/5

“Nobody” opens in theaters March 26, 2021

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Top 10 Best Films of 2020

10. Soul

“Soul” follows, Joe (Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who has lost his passion for music and sense of purpose. But when he is transported into another realm to help someone find their spark, he discovers a new appreciation for life.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this movie. Whether you have a dream you haven’t accomplished yet, or you feel as though your life hasn’t amounted to anything; take a second to reflect on all the good you already have. Your health, your family, your friends; our life is not as bad as we sometimes make it out to be. And remember to appreciate all the little things, even if it’s as small as a good slice of pizza.

9. Words on Bathroom Walls

“Words on Bathroom Walls” follows Adam(Charlie Plummer), a passionate cook who appears to be a typical teenage boy until an incident in his High School reveals he has schizophrenia. He is expelled, and forced to finish out his senior year at a Catholic High school. It’s there he meets, Maya (Taylor Russell). Their relationship in the film is tender and sweet, but the beauty of “Words on Bathroom Walls” is getting to see perspective on a mental illness that isn’t shown often, especially through a romance. This is something else that deserves representation and understanding. And though the film centers around Adam and Maya, the relationship between Adam and his mom is just as powerful. Her tenacity shows us a mother’s love is unconditional.

8. Let Him Go

After the death of their son, Margaret and George Blackledge (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) have held on to the light in their life, their grandson, Jimmy. But when their daughter-in-law (Kayli Carter) remarries to an abusive man, Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain), he takes both her and Jimmy away to his family’s secluded home in North Dakota.  Margaret and George leave their ranch in Montana, and go on a mission to save what’s left of their family. Some may not find this movie special, but it transported me back to the theaters with how well it was shot and the incredible performances. You can’t help but feel for this couple, and want them to do whatever is necessary to get their grandson back.

7. On the Rocks

Bill Murray plays, Felix, a playboy art dealer who, long ago, walked out on his wife and children for the first of many women. He’s selfish and self-centered, yet you can’t help but love the guy. When he hears his daughter, Laura (Rashida Jones), is concerned about her husband’s many work trips, he assumes the worse and encourages her to look into the matter with him.  This film is such an easy and humorous watch. This is in big part due to the natural chemistry between Murray and Jones. Felix is trying to make up for lost time by taking this unfortunate circumstance as an opportunity to spend quality time with his daughter, who he genuinely cares for. “On the Rocks” highlights a sweet, yet unconventional father/daughter relationship, while also shedding a light on marriages that could use a little refresher.

6. Irresistible

I know politics is a touchy subject, but the beauty of “Irresistible” is that it really doesn’t try to sway you on either side. They focus more about how ridiculous a campaign can get and how much it costs. It’s not about conservatives versus liberals. Instead, the film makes you question the two party system. The all-star cast which includes Steve Carrell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, and MacKenzie Davis all give top-notch, hilarious performances. The banter between Carrell and Byrne alone makes this film such a delight. “Irresistible” is the insightful, laugh-out-loud comedy we needed during this election year. Putting into perspective what is truly important in any leadership role. 

5. The Kid Detective

To all my fellow “Harriet the Spy” lovers, this movie is what I imagine happened to the male version of Harriet. Abe Applebaum (Adam Brody) was a once celebrated kid detective. Even adults used his services. But after he fails to solve the mystery of a kidnapping of a young girl/friend, he is no longer the same quality detective. Fast forward to his 30’s, he’s a washed up drunk, taking any minor case he can get to make end’s meat. That is until he is presented with his first murder case. I know a lot of you probably haven’t heard of this film, but it’s a really fun watch. Brody carries the movie with his wit and charm, but the story is just as engaging. “The Kid Detective” is truly the hidden gem of 2020.

4. Onward

I’m surprised by how high I have this film on my list, but since January I can’t get this movie or the ending out of my head. It’s one I get emotional just thinking about. On the day of Ian Lightfoot’s (Tom Holland) 16th birthday, he and his older brother (Chris Pratt) are given a gift from their late father. Turns out it’s a spell that will bring their dad back to life for 24 hours,  giving Ian a chance to finally meet his father. But the spell doesn’t go exactly as planned. At first glance, this seems like a possibly boring, one disaster after another road trip that will end predictably. It’s safe to say that’s not the case. Although this is a film about a son seeking a relationship with his father, it also recognizes those in our lives who unexpectedly became a father figure and shaped us into the person we are today.

3. Palm Springs

Not since “Groundhog Day” has any film with the similar formula been worth raving about (Except for maybe “Happy Death Day”). That is until “Palm Springs”. It manages to put a refreshing spin on the romantic comedy genre and time loop narrative. Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) are two wedding guests reliving the same day. Samberg and Milioti are a dynamic duo with amazing chemistry. The film is heavier than you might expect. Nyles and Sarah are stuck together without even death as an escape. A romance grows, and soon they are partners in crime making the most of their care-free new existence; even if it comes with a rapid loss of meaning. “Palm Springs” is funny, sweet, and has a surprising little twist. 

2. Uncle Frank

If I could give anyone the Oscar right now, it would be Paul Bettany for his powerful and gut-wrenching performance in this film. I really hope this movie doesn’t go under the radar during award season, because it deserves recognition for its performances alone. Set in 1973, the film follows a teenager named Beth (Sophia Lillis) who leaves her rural Southern home to study at a New York University where her beloved Uncle Frank (Bettany) teaches. While there she discovers Frank is gay, and has been living with his long time partner, Wally (Peter Macdissi) – a secret he’s been keeping from his family for years. After the passing of his father, the three of them take a road trip home to North Carolina, and Frank is forced to face the worries and trauma he’s been running from. This film is my biggest tear-jerker of the year. I’m talking ugly crying. Watching Bettany play a character who has to hide his true self from his family in fear of how they might react is heartbreaking, and sadly, still relevant. “Uncle Frank” is a film everyone should watch.

1. Promising Young Woman

If you’ve heard me talk about this film, it should come as no surprise that it would make the top of my list. The movie has romance, comedy, mystery, revenge, and an all-star cast. “Promising Young Woman” features Carey Mulligan as Cassie, a med-school dropout who seeks revenge on a traumatizing past event. Not since “Hard Candy” have I enjoyed such an enticing revenge story. Mulligan is at her best, showing such complex emotions. She varies from cold-hearted to heartbreaking. This is a cautionary tale that would serve well in high school and college classrooms. Especially geared towards men who don’t seem to understand what consensual sexual activity means. The film goes beyond the actions of the men responsible for the sexual assaults. It also highlights those who turn a blind eye, and even the parties responsible for defending the guilty. “Promising Young Woman” is funny, dark, unforgettable, and for me, it’s the best film of the year.

The Best of the Rest:

11. Black Box

12. Shithouse

13. A Secret Love

14. Yes God Yes

15. The Trial of the Chicago 7

16. The Mauritanian

17. Da 5 Bloods

18. Freaky

19. Another Round

20. The Broken Hearts Gallery

Top 5 Worst Films of 2020

5. The Rhythm Section – I except more from Jude Law and Blake Lively at this point in their careers.

4. Underwater- A Knockoff underwater version of “Alien”. But bad, so bad.

3. The Sunlit Night- Terrible movie with the most forced and awkward sex scene.

2. The Prom – Had no idea James Corden was a bad actor until this film. Honestly, I couldn’t pay attention anything else.

1. The Witches (2020) – I almost forgot this movie happened. I’d like to keep it that way.

Trevor’s Top 10

10. Yes God Yes
9. Sonic the Hedgehog
8. Freaky
7. The Mauritanian
6. Palm Springs
5. The Old Guard
4. The Kid Detective
3. Promising Young Woman
2. Irresistible
1. Uncle Frank

Movie Review: “Wonder Woman 1984” Fails to Soar as High as its Predecessor

It pains me to write this review, as the first “Wonder Woman” movie was one of my favorite films of 2017. Patty Jenkins directed/wrote a simple, yet, thrilling, and charming story. It still holds up today as an incredible film. Sadly, the sequel, “Wonder Woman 1984” does not carry that same merit.

First off, what the heck!? I mean who approved this script!? Did they even refer to the last movie??

I just had to get that out. It is extremely frustrating, because we know DC can’t seem to figure out how to create the same kind of quality superhero movies like Marvel. That was until the first “Wonder Woman”. They found a gem in Patty Jenkins, and I know she is capable of much better than this.

“Wonder Woman 1984” picks up 66 years after Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) helped end World War 1 with the help of her friends and self-sacrificing boyfriend, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). She’s now in Washington DC curating ancient artifacts; working with a socially awkward Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). She is still saving the world, but she’s unhappy and living a lonely life without any loved ones.

Diana’s life is pretty routine until a foiled mall robbery shakes everything up. The incident leads to the discovery of an old artifact known as the dream stone, which grants wishes, but also takes something in return. It’s a dangerous tool that leads to a series of catastrophic events when it falls into the hands of a ponzi scam artist, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal).

The acting in “Wonder Woman 1984” is good. Gadot has some stand out moments, particularly in a heartbreaking, emotional scene with Pine. And Pascal plays a hilarious, wacked out nut job. And Wiig does a fantastic job as Barbara/The Cheetah. She was actually my favorite part of the film. I just wish they utilized her more as a villain. Though Pascal is great to watch, I would have loved seeing Wiig in her full evil mode for much longer than what we’re given.

The problem here is in the writing. It goes beyond campy into cheesy territory. The opening sequence of the film is promising. But early on after Pascal steals the artifact, the movie just goes downhill. It gets muddled, and doesn’t even make that much sense. Maybe too many people were involved in writing the story, or maybe they were trying too hard to make a unique plot. But it didn’t work. They focused on corny jokes and a fluffy subject matter instead taking the route of the previous film’s darker tone. There are minimal action scenes, and the few we see have no real impact or awe factor. And I can’t go into detail, but there are so many problems with the ending. I would vent about if I could.

As a fan of the first “Wonder Woman”, I still have to advise you watch this sequel, and form your own opinion. There’s still some fun moments, and the characters are enjoyable. My only advice is to go in with the lowest of expectations.

Rating: 3/5

“Wonder Woman opens in theaters and streams on HBOMax December 25.

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Movie Review: “Promising Young Woman” is a Provocative Revenge Thriller

Carey Mulligan stars as “Cassandra” in director Emerald Fennell’s PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features

Sometimes bad people need to be taught a lesson in hopes that they won’t do their harmful acts again.

How that lesson is taught may not always be conventional. In Focus Features new drama, “Promising Young Woman”, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) is a med-school dropout who seeks revenge after a traumatizing past event.

We first meet Cassie in a bar where is she appears to be wasted, barely able to keep her head up. She attracts several predators in suits, including Jerry (Adam Brody), a “nice guy” who offers to take her home. While in the ride share, he decides to take her back to his place instead and sees an opportunity for a little date rape. Little does Jerry know that Cassie sees an opportunity, too. She is suddenly wide awake and sober; ready to make him think twice before taking advantage of another woman again.

From this point on, we discover Cassie’s objective, but don’t always see her actions after her initial trap. Director/writer, Emerald Fennell (“Killing Eve”) chooses to leave a lot of her targets’ punishments to the imagination.

Things change after a chance encounter with an old med-school classmate, Ryan (Bo Burnham). Now Cassie is smiling, laughing, and dare we say happy? But how long will this last? And will it keep her from her ultimate mission?

Not since “Hard Candy” have I enjoyed such an enticing revenge story.  Mulligan is at her best, showing such complex emotions. She varies from cold-hearted to heartbreaking. Burnham is more charming and funny than ever. And you can expect to see some surprise familiar faces that will add to this already well-casted film.

“Promising Young Woman” is a cautionary tale that would serve well in high school and college classrooms. Especially geared toward men who don’t seem to understand what consensual sexual activity means. But the film goes beyond the actions of the men responsible for the sexual assaults. It also highlights those who turn a blind eye, and even the parties responsible for defending the guilty.

One can only hope that after watching a movie like this, it will impact audiences enough to understand how damaging any form of sexual assault or harassment can be and do what they can to prevent such acts.

“Promising Young Woman” highly entertains, as it has plenty of comedic and tender moments. But also, expect certain sequences to stay with you long after the film is over. It’s disturbing in a satisfying way. This is easily one of the best movies of 2020 and a must-see.

“Promising Young Woman” opens in theaters December 25.

Rating: 4.75/5

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Movie Review: “Freaky” & Preview of “The Last Vermeer”

“Freaky” is a re-make of the 70s hit comedy, “Freaky Friday” which features a mother and daughter who switch bodies. Except that the 2020 version is a comedy/horror movie, so there’s a lot of laughs and, well, a lot more blood. Susan Stephens says it’s not for the faint of heart, but there are some laugh out loud moments for horror fans. Keep watching for a preview of the historical thriller, “The Last Vermeer.”

“Freaky” is currently playing in theaters

“The Last Vermeer” opens in theaters November 20, 2020.

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Movie Review: “Holidate” is the Holiday Cheer we Need this Year

Netflix has so graciously brought back the romantic comedy genre with a slew of rom-coms to choose from their library. Just in time for the holiday season, they have treated us with another delightful romance with the new film, “Holidate”.

It’s Christmas Day and Sloane (Emma Roberts) is, once again, being hounded by her family to meet someone and settle down before she gets “too old”; and becomes like her aunt Susan (Kristin Chenoweth). Instead of listening to her mom, she is inspired by her aunt’s holidate. Susan brings a different man to each holiday event, allowing her to avoid feeling lonely while having no emotional attachment.

After a horrible Christmas, Sloane runs into, Jackson (Luke Bracey), another lonely single looking to date with out the commitment. They soon pledge to be each others’ platonic plus ones for every holiday in the year ahead. The film is as predictable as it sounds and is self-aware of that, pointing out that in every rom-com the two leads don’t have real obstacles. And in the “Holidate”, it’s pretty clear that there is no real issue besides the default “scared of commitment”.

What “Holidate” does offer is two strong romantic leads with great chemistry and hilarious banter. Emma Roberts shows off her comedic chops and Bracey might actually give Chris Hemsworth a run for his money. We all, at some point in time, have felt lonely during the holidays, and a holidate is a fun concept to see played out. It’s entertaining to see these how these two celebrate each occasion together. Who knew there were so many holidays?!

There are some messages you can take away from the film, like don’t let the of fear of getting hurt stand in the way of a potential love. But, you shouldn’t go into this film expecting anything deep. This is more of a raunchy, well-made Hallmark Christmas special. It’s a lighthearted escape that reminds us of how we use to celebrate the holidays before tragic times.

Rating: 4/5

“Holidate” is available on Netflix October 28, 2020.

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Movie Review: “Come Play”

This week I review “Come Play”, based on the 2017 short film. The story follows Oliver (Azhy Robertson), a young boy who feels isolated from everyone. He seeks comfort in his cellphone and tablet, and it is there that he mysteriously comes across Larry – a disturbing creature who wants to be his friend.

Watch my full review, followed by previews of “Holidate” and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” in the video below.

“Come Play” opens in theaters October 30, 2020,

“Holidate” is available on Netflix October 28, 2020.

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is available on Amazon Prime October 23, 2020.

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Movie Review: “Possessor: Uncut” & “On the Rocks”

This week I review the Neon’s new sci-fi thriller, “Possessor: Uncut” and Sofia Coppola’s new comedy, “On the Rocks”. Both entertaining films, but one satisfies more than the other. Watch the review below to find out which movie you should see this weekend.

“Possessor: Uncut” is playing in select theaters now.

“On the Rocks” is playing in select theaters now and will be available on Apple-TV October 23.

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Movie Review: “Antebellum” and “Kajillionaire”

This week’s movie review features two very different films: Antebellum is a high profile mystery, thriller with a disturbing twist; Kajillionaire is a low key dark comedy that relies on quirky characters and dysfunctional family dynamic as a foundation for the story. Both films boast some highly respected actors and developing writers/directors. Which one should you go see?

“Antebellum” is available On Demand September 18, 2020.

“Kajillionaire” opens in select theaters September 25, 2020.

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