Movies

The Devil All The Time

The following review contains mild spoilers, and fair warning, if you like dogs, avoid this movie.

Directed by: Antonio Campos
Starring: Bill Skarsgard as Willard, Tom Holland as Arvin, Haley Bennett as Charlotte, Sebastian Stan as Sheriff Lee Bodecker, Riley Keough as Sandy, Jason Clarke as Carl, Robert Pattinson as the predator Preacher, Harry Melling as the mad preacher, Eliza Scanlen as Lenora and others.

A movie not about God, but as it’s aptly stated in the title, a movie about the devil. God doesn’t ask anything evil of men, men forget that the devil exists. It’s a movie about wicked men who use the Lord’s name as an excuse for their own evil ways. In some matter or way, or another, every male character is so far gone from the light. It’s a movie about sin, and wickedness, and how they all intertwine together. A mad preacher, a flashy preacher who clearly is a predator (spoiler, pedophile), a burgeoning pair of serial killers – a husband and wife team, a dirty cop blinded by ambition whose sister is the wife of the pair of killers, a man suffering from PTSD and his son who’s affected by his father’s actions in his upbringing. The only good that comes out of it is the parents of the war veteran, Willard, that take in Lenora and his son Arvin.

The movie ilicits a feeling of unsettleness and dread. Only when we are with Arvin, and Lenora do we feel a sense of normalcy. Even then, Arvin has clearly developed his father’s sense of morality. His justice is swift and violent but not without purpose. There’s no room for innocence in this world portrayed in this movie. There’s only those with sinister intent, corruption, and brutality. This movie is a satanist’s wet dream.
I could say I had better to say regarding the story, but I honestly don’t. I don’t recommend this movie in the slightest. In fact, I regret watching it. That being said, all the actors and actresses involved did a phenomenal job portraying their various characters, and that might deserve some awards.

One could try and find meaning in the film, but I’ll leave that to others. I don’t wanna find meaning in this movie. I don’t even wanna offer a second passing thought to it. As I said earlier, it’s a satanist movie. Hard pass.

Movies

Freaks: You’re One Of Us

Written by Marc O. Seng of the TV show Dark, comes a German movie about individuals with powers. These individuals are suppressed by the government via a psychiatrist prescribing little blue pills. These pills turn the individuals into meek and dull zombies of themselves. When a chance meeting with a homeless man occurs with our main character, a woman in her thirties with a husband and young son, she is thrust into a world of possibilities. At the man’s behest and insinuation of super powers, she decides to stop taking the pills. And as it turns out, she learns the truth, she does have powers.

Similarly, one of her co-workers, a young man with seemingly autism or of being on the spectrum, is also taking the same pills. He’s motherless and his father is shacking up with another woman who he mockingly calls “mom”. His fate is intertwined with our main character, and of that of the homeless man. Together they go on a journey of self discovery and uncover a far reaching conspiracy.

As the viewer, we are meant to sympathize with the main character due to her job as a waitress with a mean boss lady that doesn’t treat her well. Her customers don’t give her any respect either, and her husband can be said to be a bit of a boor. She comes off as lacking intellect, and the case could be made that she’s bipolar. In fact, the entire movie, if you take out the powers aspect, could be said as a metaphor for bipolar/schizophrenia. The movie even has a line saying that the pills suppress their true selves, who they really are.

The change in both the young man and our main character is almost immediate. They go from being dull and meek, to being manic and aggressive. Yet she follows the path of a typical hero while he follows the path of a misunderstood villain. His mom wasn’t there to raise him properly while his dad constantly berates him for who he is. So when he gets powers and realizes his own self worth, it doesn’t take a blind man to see the path he’d take.

The movie doesn’t offer anything new on the superhero genre, nor does it reinvent anything. The message it sends is dangerous to those that are bipolar and/or schizophrenic because having known such individuals, the medication they take is necessary for a normal life. To stop their medication would be catastrophic.

The only good that comes from this movie is the soundtrack. The electronic music and classics such as Listen to your heart provide a nice reprieve from what’s shown on screen. The special effects are often done off screen and then we get to bear witness to the results. There are a few instances where CGI is seen, and for a low budget movie, it’s pretty decent.

Overall, I don’t recommend this movie. It goes to show that as a writer, one can write a masterpiece only to turn around and write utter schlock. This movie should be avoided. Don’t give Netflix the data that lets them think these kinds of movies are okay to be made.

Movies

Law Abiding Citizen

Massive Spoilers Below

If you’ve not seen this movie yet, please avoid reading this review.

This movie opens with a family man, Gerard Butler, chatting with his young daughter while someone is knocking at the door. He opens it, without seeing who it is, and gets assaulted, tied up, and stabbed. His wife also gets assaulted, tied up and stabbed, and raped. His daughter gets taken away from his sight before he passes out from his injuries. With this set up in mind, the viewer is predisposed to have sympathy for Gerard Butler’s character, Clyde. Such a crime should not go unpunished. However, not a mere 5 minutes later we hear that the system is imperfect and that some justice is better than no justice at all. We, the viewers, can tell that Clyde is not gonna like that information at all. Who would after witnessing such devastation of their family? The lawyer, Nick Rice, played by Jamie Foxx, is as part of the problem as the criminals themselves because he’d rather push for a sentence he can get than to mess up his 96% conviction rate. Even if that sentence is but a tap on the wrist. I once heard that lawyers are supposed to be seekers of the truth, and the truth is what your client believes. Therefore, it is in your best interest to create the narrative that makes your clients truth plausible. The quick meeting between Nick and Clyde demonstrated that Nick has no interest in creating such a narrative, he is quick to shoot down any truth of Clyde. His sole interest is his own personal gain, and to me, the worst kind of lawyer; the type that gives rise to jokes about their profession as being blood suckers.

Roughly 10 minutes into the movie, the time skips ahead 10 years. Nick is at breakfast with his 10 year old daughter, and his wife reminds him of her cello recital. He says he can’t make it because he has to work, and his daughter says she understands because he locks up bad guys to keep his family safe. Her dad does not do that, he helps keep turning the gears of the prisons so that he may profit in return. He is not altruistic, nor selfless. The justice that he got for Clyde’s family was to let a rapist and a murderer provide false evidence and testimony against his partner who will now get the death penalty. An innocent man, for the crimes accused, will now die. He is not entirely innocent because he helped the real bad guy commit his crimes. Yet the system is content with that. The point of the justice system is to get judged by your peers, but Nick thinks himself above that, and 10 years ago, he made the decision of who should be punished.

That real bad guy, Darby, gets his due justice at the hands of Clyde. Who kidnaps him, and keeps him awake with medication, while strapped to a table rigged with a mirror to show him everything that’s about to be done. Clyde systematically cuts off his limbs and appendages as revenge. Morally, do I agree with his action? Yes, I do, because the system failed him and he acted with what he felt was appropriate. Ethically, Clyde has become the monster he hunts. And in turn, deserves to be judged by his peers.

Clyde is the bad guy now. He demonstrated that when he sent the video of his revenge porn torture to Nick’s family. I understand wanting Nick to pay, but bringing his family into this heinous world is what turned him from vigilante to monster. I lost my sympathy for him then. This is a movie with no likeable characters. It’s a light shone on the failure of the American justice system. Nick’s ego is what caused all of this in the first place. And for that action, he’s the antagonist. The protagonist, Clyde, is a villain with a tragic origin. I enjoy this twist on the typical formula.

Clyde brutally kills his cellmate with a piece of bone from a steak, and at this point, the rest of the audience is fully aware he’s a villain. Yet he’s still our protagonist, no matter how fucked up he is. Clyde let them know exactly what time to deliver his demands so that the lawyer he kidnapped would still be alive if the system worked. But the Warden is corrupt, power went to his head in being in charge of others, and decided that Clyde will get his meal when he says so. As a result, the lawyer is dead. “Everyone must be held accountable for their actions.” These words are the driving point of this movie. It’s revealed that Clyde is a killer for the defense department, he’s the guy you go to when you want someone dead that you couldn’t reach: a natural tactician, and a think tank type brain. A tinkerer that can come up with all sorts of devices to achieve death.

He kills the judge from his bail hearing with a modified cell phone. When Nick visits him in jail, Clyde says what I already stated at the beginning: that Nick does his lawyer job in the way that best serves him. Not his clients. Himself. Nick counteracts by saying it doesn’t work to blow up the system. But that’s the thing, that’s the only way to change the system. You have to tear it down completely and utterly, and from its ashes, create a new system. Otherwise, the system will adapt to your attempts at change. It will make you think that your outcry had some effect, and while in actuality that system has become stronger because you are now a part of it. Even if you don’t realize it. And it is because of this message why that the creators and producers of this movie could not continue with their intended ending. Why they went with the ending that they did. The system got to them, and they were afraid to promote the idea of disturbing the status quo. Clyde has to lose despite being our protagonist.

After going through with his promise that he will kill everyone should he not be released by 6am and all charges dropped, Nick sees him at the prison, but outside its walls. He promptly proceeds to assault him multiple times, typical of an antagonist who’s annoyed at the protagonist. Yet this man is supposed to be a defender of justice, and here he is blatantly breaking the law. Clyde reacts by saying that if Nick had bothered to even try, and not had his ego in the way, then none of this would have happened. And now Clyde is going to bring the whole “corrupt temple down on his head”. That would be an epic ending, but the makers of this movie are cowards. No need to mince words, that is what they are. This movie could have had a powerful message, like Joker, but they cowered to their financers and that did not happen. They were terrified of the repercussions this might weave with individuals watching.

“Put an armed cop on every corner.” Yes, that’s a brilliant idea. And to what end? To show people the city’s secure. See, in any other rational mind, that would not have that effect. A force that only serves the interests of the status quo would not inspire confidence in me. In fact, not unlike current political events in the United States.

Nick discovers some crucial piece of evidence, and true to his character, he breaks the law again by breaking into a property owned by Clyde. “Fuck his civil rights” – that’s whole reason this mess started! The irony is thick on this one. I’m amazed at how thick headed and stubborn Nick is. But then again that’s the point, Nick is the system personified. He’s meant to keep Clyde down, while failing to realize that his own actions brought around everything. This is also why Nick wins in the end. As much as Clyde tried to change the entire structure, it let him cause chaos until it realized that Clyde could in fact win, and that’s why he must lose. The system does not fight fairly. It’ll adapt however it must to survive, even at the cost of supposed laws. As the Mayor in the movie says, “I don’t care what laws we have to bend.”

The movie ends with Clyde killing himself with his own bomb that they moved under his cell bed. In doing so, they’ve made a mockery of the entire movie and completely undermined any message it might have had. All it did was show viewers that you can’t beat the system, not even allowed in a fantasy. Yet Joker did it, only took 10 years. The final notes are that Nick sees his daughter’s cello recital and that the antagonist wins. The director F. Gary Gray is another cog in the propaganda machine of Hollywood. He bends over to studios and his financers, and instead of being brave and telling us a powerful story of man beating the system, he’d rather showcase that nothing can win. No amount of intellect or planning will allow them to lose. The status quo must always be maintained.

The acting was phenomenal by both parties involved, and the supporting cast was great. Overall, I don’t recommend this movie because it’s like having a case of blue balls so to speak. It offers such a great premise with an incredible possible message that it squandered away and gives no resolution. In the final 15 minutes, it abruptly flipped who the protagonist was to be the antagonist. And the antagonist became the protagonist. It’s just an infuriating movie.

Movies

The Sleepover

Another Netflix original that could be good but they went and ruined it entirely with a single character. In this case, it’s by having the younger brother included in the script. The movie would be ten times better if he was cut out or scrapped entirely. The child actor, Maxwell Simkins, is so bad and cringe and absolutely appalling next to the other child actors. How did he ever get casted? Who’s giving this child roles? Trying to watch any of his scenes is an exercise in patience. The other children are well done, and funny, and acted great. Sadie Stanley as Clancy is the best of the four playing Malin Akerman’s daughter, with Cree Cicchino as Clancy’s best friend, Mim. And Lucas Jaye as Lewis, a friend of the severely miscast Kevin, the aforementioned child actor above.

I can’t finish watching it. Kevin just absolutely turns me off. As much as I enjoy Malin Akerman, Joe Manganiello, and Ken Marino, they cannot save this dumpster fire. Normally I’m all for family films, but this one couldn’t decide what it was. Some times there’s enough that you can tell some parts are for adults while others, you can tell it’s for kids. Unfortunately, it’s marred solely by one individual. One character.

Avoid this movie at all costs. Maybe Netflix will get the message to stop funding trash like this.

TV Shows

Lucifer Season 5A

This season is split into two parts, with the first half currently out on Netflix. And I can say without a doubt, that this is the best yet but that’s only due to the build up of the previous seasons. The whole will they, won’t they between Lucifer and Chloe Decker finally gets realized as they get together. And it works! It doesn’t feel forced or over developed, I was so happy to see resolution. This half has been very emotional, to me, because the characters have all fully grown. Their arcs are nearing completion. Just this next half, and then a final sixth season.

As usual, the show follows a path of dead body that’s gotta be solved, interspersed with story and character development of the celestial and mortal kind. Amenadiel grows as a father and friend, Daniel grows in his own way, Lucifer learns to finally let Chloe in all the way, but Maze, she does not grow. She’s still stuck in that old “I hate Lucifer because he kept secrets from me” and it’s honestly tiring. And just when you thought she had genuine growth, nope. Goes back to her old ways. I feel they really missed an opportunity here with her. Miss Lopez also grows from simply being the super nice forensic scientist to being her own person that brings depth and new twists to the show.

Everyone’s acting is everything we’ve grown to love about the show. But it’s especially great to see Tom Ellis playing against himself as he acts as both Lucifer and his twin brother, the archangel Michael. To differentiate between the two, Tom has an American accent for Michael and walks with his right shoulder being slightly higher than his left. Perhaps an injury that is yet to be revealed in the show?

Overall, I love Lucifer because it’s totally social engineering to get us all accepting the devil as not a bad guy. As the old saying goes, the greatest trick the devil pulled was convincing others he didn’t exist. And that’s what Lucifer does, you don’t see him as the biblical bad guy. You sympathize and see him as a good guy, and not at all evil. Which is fair because this Lucifer is based off a DC character and ergo, a comic book character. I recommend this entire show and especially this new season.