The Emoji Movie: Intercourse This Movie With That Sex Eggplant

The Emoji Movie: Intercourse This Movie With That Sex Eggplant

Sit around the campfire, boys and girls – you are going to read a scary story about something that happened to good old TJ. Good old TJ reviews films as one of his lines of work, but he never considered it work. He loved movies and would have gladly lived out his days at a cinema hall because that is where the world made sense to him. In this world, he is exposed to true cinematic brilliance occasionally and mediocrity at most other times.

But there is one classification which is rarer than “excellent”, and The Emoji Movie falls into that category. These are the days good old TJ dreads as he sees his hope, happiness and will to watch movies wither to a dry husk. And now, you get to share in his trepidation as you read about TJ and his terrible, horrible at the movies when he willingly bought a ticket to watch the terrible, horrible Emoji Movie.

I’ll clean up TJ’s language and opinions about this soulless branding exercise for you young whipper-snappers. The first statement he had coming out of the theatre was “Intercourse (I cannot say the word, obviously) this movie. Intercourse it with one of those deliberately shaped eggplant emojis present on each of your smartphones.”

Moving on.

For a full version of this review, please visit:

The Emoji Movie Review

Atomic Blonde: Miss Broughton You Are Cool But No Furiosa

Atomic Blonde: Miss Broughton You Are Cool But No Furiosa

So, you’re telling me that Furiosa is coming off that dumpster fire F-word 8 by featuring in an out and out action movie co-starring that guy who has 23 personalities and directed by one of the minds behind John Wick?

Alright, makers of this film – I’ll play ball, but with two conditions: 1. Shut up and take my money, and 2. Don’t make me regret giving you my money.

And here we go.

Atomic Bond – oh, forgive me, Atomic Blonde – follows the story of supposed MI-6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) as she kicks names and takes ass while traversing Cold War-ravaged Berlin and its wall in an attempt to retrieve the film’s McGuffin (a list which has the identities of many a spy) with the aid of a loose cannon British agent, David Percival (McAvoy).

With this plot line, the film quite obviously does not reinvent the wheel – instead, it takes a time-tested wheel and tries to drive away with it while trying to look chic. The first bit of information I’d like to give the movie-going masses is that this film is not the female version of John Wick (Jane Wick if you will) even if the trailers are cut with a deliberate intent of generating false expectations. What this film actually is, is a Cold War spy thriller with a sprinkling of some admittedly badass action.

When one hires David Leitch to direct a film, one can be sure of a few things. Firstly, he gets his crew of stunt trainers, choreographers, and performers known for creating spell-binding stuff. Secondly, he can direct pulse-pounding action while creating an unflappable mood and tone via his visual style and choice of music. And finally, his films need a clear and concise plot to be effective. What he does not need is the poor man’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. While I would like to applaud the director for expanding his horizons by making a convoluted spy thriller, his glaring limitations as a filmmaker are jarringly evident.

For a full version of this review, please visit:

Atomic Blonde Review

Glen Garry GlenRoss: Bloody Electric.. Nuff Said

Glen Garry GlenRoss: Bloody Electric.. Nuff Said

You know why I know this is a good movie? My mom, who does not give 2 shits about cinema, stopped doing what she was doing and started watching the movie with me. No context, no questions asked, nothing. All she wanted to do was listen to the conversation unfolding on screen. David Mamet, do you know the magnitude of your accomplishment!

Glengarry Glen Ross is a drama film directed by James Foley, written by David Mamet and stars Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey and Jonathan Pryce. The film follows two days in the life of 4 real estate salesmen and their boss after a new target is set for them owing to some underperformance.

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That is a seemingly wafer thin plot set in motion by David Mamet as he writes a screenplay based on his Tony and Pulitzer winning stage play. Mamet is a surprisingly forgotten name amongst the general film going public. Most people are familiar with his work but Mamet has rarely been held on the high pedestal that a Tarantino or Sorkin is. His filmography includes the endlessly watchable State and Main, modern classic The Untouchables and the take-it-or-leave-it follow-up to The Silence Of The Lambs, Hannibal. But through all those acclaimed works, Glengarry Glen Ross rises to the top.

There are many reasons as to why this film resonates with such a large audience. While the laser focused direction and hilariously profane script are what warm me to it, the magnetic performances by its 5 leads are never far behind. The film has Al Pacino who adds just the right amount of Al Pacino to it, Alan Arkin and Ed Harris with brilliant turns as disgruntled employees to Kevin Spacey’s understated boss and Alec Baldwin who walks in R. Lee Ermey’s everyone and walks out almost stealing the movie (you’ve seen the scene with the one line and the brass balls).

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But the theme of the film, a scathing inditement of the American dream, is essayed out to absolute perfection by a grandfatherly Jack Lemmon. A hot shot salesman in his prime, Shelly Levine’s world comes crashing down as the very real possibility of him losing his sole source of income dawns on him.

The story of a man pushed to the very edge with no looking back is always compelling as it makes for empathetic characters but when said character is fuelled by a measured performance like this one, it elevates the film to a level reserved for a select few. The very deliberate set design which places the cast of characters at positions of hierarchy and the specific dialogues written for each of them open a window to the ever fading middle class and draws a parallel to the much-acclaimed Death of A Salesman.

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While salesmen, at least the sort shown in the film, are few and far between in modern day, the film’s sobering message is one that is relevant forever. The dog-eat-dog world we inhabit which empowers youth and sidelines the old might be maligned but is still one we choose to live in. The film is geared toward making an audience take a deep look at the world around them, the endless parade of zingers, quips, jokes and insults help keep the film entertaining till that lump falls into your stomach at the final shot.

Okja: Bong Joon-Ho’s Look Into A Child’s Coming of Age And Some Animal Rights Too

Okja: Bong Joon-Ho’s Look Into A Child’s Coming of Age And Some Animal Rights Too

Bong Joon-Ho continues to make outlandishly quirky films and they surprisingly resonate with most audiences. How does he do it? With The Host, he made a film about a lake monster which has its genesis owing to illegal waste dumping in the world’s water sources. Amazing. With Snowpierecer, he made a film about the prevalent class system plaguing the world using different classes of people live in different sections of a train circling the world (as a metaphor) because post-apocalypse. Astounding. With Memories of Murder, he made a film about the fragility of confidence and ego while treating us to the quirkiest set of detectives put to film. God damn it. How? And now we have Okja.

Okja follows the story of little girl Mija and her quest to save her pet super-pig Okja from being slaughtered. Okja is a one amongst 26 rare pigs seemingly discovered by Tilda Swinton’s corporation. These pigs grow to enormous sizes and are believed to be the answer to the world’s hunger crisis. The pigs are sent across the world to 26 different farmers which are to be taken back to HQ after 10 years to be bred and fed to the world. As Will Smith from the 90s would say, DAYUM!

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The absurdity of the concept aside, Okja is a fantastically fun time at the… um… Netflix. Rarely do I see a film that has such a great handle on its inherent silliness. A person accustomed to Bong Joon-ho’s work knows the style the filmmaker goes for and to the ones unaccustomed to it, “Welcome To The Party!” To paraphrase V from V for Vendetta, Bong Joon-Ho uses over-the-top ness to get prescient messages across while seldom taking sides. This is a tight rope act in every sense of the word but the man has talents that lend to such possessing a distinctive aura about his work. This might divide most audiences but to me, this is cinematic bliss.

Gorgeous shots of pristine Korean wilderness which are quickly replaced by the concrete jungle (so to speak) create a fantastic backdrop for a story that has more depth to it than it initially lets on. While some of the hijinks might seem implausible (Mija has to die 500 different times through the course of the movie) and some of the performances might come off as jarring, the film has a firm handle on what I feel is a very important message that kids need help understanding. Mind you, the film might not be fully appropriate for most kids.

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While the ethical and political debate about animal rights rage on through the course of the film and our real world, the film shrouds its most important lesson under the sea of endless PCP induced posturing. Without spoiling the fantastic final sequence, the film teaches Mija that the real world has no time for her emotions. The film teaches her that the world works via the barter system and to have something you love, you need to part with something too. I cannot begin to stress how important a lesson this is for not only children but a few grown-ups as well.

As a personal opinion, I cringe when films/people tell children that believing in themselves or true love will melt even the hardest of people while facilitating dream accomplishments. As most of us know, this is a fallacy and this film intelligently weaves this message into its narrative without ever being heavy handed about it.

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Neither the Animal Liberation Front nor the big businesswomen seem entirely out of place with their belief systems. While the people who want to save the animals/have them be treated fairly seem right when decency is taken into account, I end up asking myself “if I was a man in a remote country with no access to clean food or water (let alone internet) how seriously would I consider the living condition of livestock when I could starve to death if I chose not to eat said animal’s meat?” I would never know because I’m yet to be in such a perilous position. These two sides have been wrestling in mind for as long as I can remember and being a vegetarian myself, I could make arguments favoring both sides.

My personal thoughts aside, the film has a fantastic cast of characters all of whom (except Mija) are gloriously over the top. From that guy in the ALF who refuses to eat anything because he wants to leave no footprint on the earth to Jake Gyllenhaal’s ridiculous animal scientist, each character is rendered to be as such because the story is being processed through the eyes of a child. While this might not excuse the film’s campiness for a few, viewing the film through this prism might help most to connect to it better. The loud and jarring culture shock a city might levy onto a child living in the mountains is explored quite vividly.

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While the film has its issues and is most definitely not for all comers, I’m hard pressed to find another piece of media that aligned with my thoughts about the animal rights issue to such a high degree. The film does not provide any answers but I commend it for asking the right questions. Once one looks past all the caricatures it creates, (based on a few real world people) the film is sweet yet fantastical story carried by one of the best child performances this side of The Host.

Valerian and The City Of A Thousand Planets: Luc Besson’s Newest Cult Film

Valerian and The City Of A Thousand Planets: Luc Besson’s Newest Cult Film

Ah, Luc Besson is back on our screens. We know Luc Besson – the only (currently) 58-year-old director who has the artistic sensibilities of a 15-year-old. How else could one explain his truly splendid yet overwhelmingly campy previous efforts Le Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element (the pinnacle of Besson’s campiness)? After the ill-fated Joan Of Arc film and Arthur trilogy which steered wildly away from this previous work, Besson made a comeback of sorts with Lucy, a film that can stand toe-to-toe with Pacific Rim as one of the smartest dumb movies ever made owing to its preposterous plot and kinetic pace.

In 2017, he visits his teen sensibilities again by adapting one of his most beloved childhood comic books, Valerian And Laureline. The cinematic version of the aforementioned comic Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets might possibly take up the mantle of the first big budget cult movie to emerge from the summer of 2017. Why would I assume this film will only attain cult status and not be a full-blown blockbuster? Well, dear reader, that has to do with its plot, characters, visuals and overall camp factor.

Valerian And The City of A Thousand Planets follows the titular Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) as they attempt to bring peace and prosperity to the sector of Mul (which is located in the vivid planet of Alpha) by providing its citizens with pearls which are inexplicably replicated by an alien creature that sort of resembles a dinosaur (called a converter) while keeping the evil Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen) at bay. Yes, you just read that, and I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to all the other truly bizarre sub-plots, strangely compelling characters and paraphernalia the film has on offer.

For the full version of this review please click:

Valerian and The City of A Thousand Planets Review

The Spectacular Now: So Very Honest, Mature, Lively and Lovable

The Spectacular Now: So Very Honest, Mature, Lively and Lovable

God damn it! Every time I plan on watching a film that’ll lull me into a sense of brain-dead bliss and won’t employ me to think, I end up with a film like this. I recently experienced this phenomenon when I ran into Fifty Shades Darker. The Spectacular Now and Fifty Shades Darker might be split by a chasm of quality but both films activated my mind to a surprisingly high degree. While Fifty Shades Darker provided contrived and unsexy trite while wasting multiple good opportunities of elevating itself, The Spectacular Now works as a beautiful and poignant portrayal of the slice of life between the end of high school to the start of college.

The Spectacular Now follows the life of Miles Teller’s Sutter as he attempts to “She’s All That” Shailene Woodley’s Aimee (as a rebound girlfriend) but quickly realizes that he is in a film way better than the aforementioned seminal teen romance. This is a story about two Middle American high schoolers that actually feels like a film about two Middle American high schoolers. The overly dramatic/loud high school crowd is near non-existent, judgemental friends are relegated to background players and the main characters are given ample amounts of time to breathe and explore. This is a rarity in modern teen cinema and when this combines with an exceptionally gentle handling of the subject matter, we have a film that most members of the audience will look back on quite fondly, I know I will.

A chance meeting between a hungover Sutter and a newspaper delivering Aimee kicks off a movie long conversation which might prove a worthy rival to the excellent Before trilogy(with breaks). The usual pitfalls of the bitchy ex or man running behind two women only to realize true love has been staring him in the eye all along are cleverly dodged with a very mature set of female characters. All of them understand Sutter’s downward spiral and are willing to help him and themselves in one way or the other. The nonchalant approach the film takes, through the first hour, exploring the many nuances of Sutter and Aimee’s characterizations is a joy to watch.

I had the sense of being a fly on the wall watching their camaraderie bud along the course of the last days of high school. The duo takes a shine to one another and the portrayal of said liking is extremely subdued but never stops being effective. Sutter’s penchant for defusing troublesome situations and his fear of forming a connection combined with Aimee’s single minded dedication and warmth concocts a beautiful relationship in which the characters find themselves organically. I cannot stress how rare that is in modern cinema.

Director James Ponsoldt handles the subject matter deftly. His sensitive touch on the complex thought processes of youth is commendable. The film bullied me into having a soft corner for Sutter and to foster a genuine liking for Aimee. I saw a lot of who I was and still am (to a certain degree) with Sutter. His lack of drive or purpose, his stumbling through life, his fear of failure, the undercurrent of sadness that underlines his very existence, so on and so forth struck a deep chord with me and helped keep my eyes glued to the screen looking for the next paragraph in a very important chapter of his life. Yes, I also do love Aimee’s maturity, caring, self-assured behavior and all that jazz.

The Spectacular Now is a deeply affecting film for a multitude of reasons which do not only begin and end with its characters. While the film has a solitary contrived moment, it does not seem out of line with the characters presented. There is a level of restraint required to not jump the shark when a story like this one is being told. This story does not require bombastic line readings or musical numbers or romantic gestures which envelop a whole neighborhood. It has what it actually needs in spades.

The miniature universe created for Sutter and Aimee is a big enough canvas for a tender story to unfold. A film with no cheap moments and a genuine understanding of the human condition is hard to come by and I need not convince myself too much to absolutely adore something so stunning.

War for The Planet of The Apes: Apes Together Awesome

War for The Planet of The Apes: Apes Together Awesome

One of my most cherished movie-watching moments was being witnessed to Caeser’s first word. When Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes made its way to theaters in the summer of 2011, most audiences (including me) had little to no expectations from it. Tim Burton’s ghastly reboot of the campy ’70s franchise (Ape-Raham Lincoln, NEVER FORGET) had left a nasty memory in the minds of many an audience member.

When Rise… took a wholly new approach by examining the origins of how ape-kind could physically and intellectually match and eventually overthrow mankind, I was fully on board. When Caeser’s defiant “NO” boomed its way out of the cinemas’ Dolby-powered sound system, every man, woman, and child sat up and took notice. This was different. This was not a run-of-the-mill effects-driven summer blockbuster anymore. The franchise had morphed itself into producing the thinking man’s summer movie.

Since that exchange with Tom Felton (Drako Malfloy, himself), Caeser’s journey as a character has been nothing short of Shakespearean. In the one and a quarter film that followed, that rightfully-lauded primal scream, he has led a clan of smart simians, has fostered a family, has had dissension with his right hand ape Koba, has been shot at, has lost his human family (James Franco, Frieda Pinto and John Lithgow) to the virus that created him, has lost and regained the trust of his son, has saved his colony of apes from certain destruction more than once, has broken his honour code by killing a fellow ape, and done so much more.

Many blockbusters would consider the checklist complete if they adequately explored even one of those many character moments. However, the films of this rebooted Planet Of The Apes franchise are unlike most blockbusters. These are wholly character-driven stories that refuse to follow the standard norms. In War For The Planet Of The Apes, what begins as a revenge drama as Caeser goes out to even some scores with (the excellent) Woody Harrelson’s Colonel after the latter executes the former’s wife and firstborn son, metamorphoses into Caeser and his cohorts having to fight for their very survival.

For the full version of this review please visit: 

War for The Planet of The Apes Review