Monday, November 18, 2019

Doctor Sleep, 2019 - ★★½

I may be in the minority with this one, but I just didn't really like this movie all that much. As a follow-up to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, it just wasn't all that scary and I didn't really get into the whole steam-eating eternal-life subplot. Rebecca Ferguson (someone who I really like in most everything she's been in) plays Rose the Hat (yes that's her name in the credits). Rose indeed wears an annoying hat throughout and her and her rag-tag band of shinning vagabonds prey on other "special" shiners and end up prolonging their lives by feasting on the steam ("essence") that is excreted upon their death. That's really the premise of the whole film and whether this is a Stephen King brainchild or not, I just didn't like that whole supernatural element.

Ewan McGregor is great in the lead role of an older Danny Torrence with an alcohol addiction and the powers to be able to communicate with others like him through mental telepathy. The rest of the "True Knot" characters that are hunting child-shiners are forgettable and look like they're rejects from Twilight with the way they feast on the essence of others. Newcomer Kyliegh Curran was actually very good and believable as Abra (a new "shiner" that befriends Danny). Her solid chemistry with McGregor helps move the film along.

Now I really did like the Shining and all the creepy shit that went on in that film. Maybe I just was more moved by Nicholson's crazy metamorphosis and Kubrik's weird-ness but I didn't get that same feeling watching this film. My wife really liked and I know others did as well, but I feel like I missed the boat with Mike Flanagan's film here. Flanagan does do a few cool tricks including a trippy astral-projection sequence in which Rose "flies" over to Abra's house and all the musical and visual tie-ins to The Shining are well done, but overall I was just underwhelmed by the film as a whole. I think I wanted it to be more of an isolated horror story rather than the broader supernatural tale I was presented with. By all means, go and see it for yourself and make your own judgment. This isn't a bad movie, but it also just isn't for me.

Ford v Ferrari, 2019 - ★★★★★

James Mangold is on a nice streak of films coming off Logan (the best X Men movie) a couple years ago. With Ford v Ferrari he gives us an inside seat within the Ford racing team in their efforts to surpass Ferrari and become the top racing team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France in 1966. The chief players in this film are Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), the legendary race car designer, Ken Miles (Christian Bale, absolutely killing another performance), an English endurance auto racer, Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts), the head of Ford Motors, Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal), VP of Ford Motors and Leo Beebe (a dick-ish Josh Lucas) Senior Executive VP of Ford Motors. The cast all plays off one another beautifully in re-telling the true story of Ford's rise to respectability in the auto-racing world and Mangold drives the truck full-bore by delivering some of the best and most immersive auto racing footage in film history.

Thankfully I was able to see this movie at my local Dolby Cinema AMC theater. These theaters have seats that vibrate along with the sound of the film you're watching so I really did feel that I was along for the ride during all of the race sequences. The final 50-minute sequence at Le Mans is really worth the price of admission alone. I'm somewhat of a life-long auto racing fan (NASCAR and Indy) but I've never watched Le Mans before and now I feel like I actually lived the race. Mangold brings us details and intricacies of each race that aren't glossed over in showy highlights like we would see in other racing films. We get to see real team strategy and decision-making both on and off the track.

The real glue of this film lies in the chemistry between Damon's Shelby and Bale's Miles, two hard headed determined individuals who compliment each other perfectly in forming a powerful racing team. Bale is amazing as Miles, you really share his joy for speed as he talks to himself during his races. There's a little bit of his "The Fighter" character in Ken Miles but he makes it his own creation by showing his devotion to his wife and son and making him a figure you root strongly for throughout the movie. Damon gives another every-man performance that is highlighted by an emotional scene with Miles' son towards the end of the film.

I walked out of this theater feeling like I just raced 24 hours at Le Mans and I enjoyed every single minute of the ride. I can't recommend it enough to see this movie on the largest, loudest screen possible. Mangold (admittedly not a car-racing fan) took 60's endurance racing and made a cinematic showcase of a film that stands out in a year of constant sequels and reboots.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, 2019 - ★★★½

This is the first J&SB movie where I've officially felt that Jason Mewes is OLD. He looks weathered but still has that same youthful exuberance that make him so much fun to watch. Once again, Jay and Silent Bob race around the country running into the same cast of characters who all look older (especially Joey Lauren Adams). There's not much in the way of plot here but there is a bit more depth to Jay's character now that he has a daughter along for the ride (Kevin Smith's real-life daughter Harley Quinn Smith.... yes. that's her real name). The younger Smith seems like she might have a bright career ahead of her in acting. This was a fun escapist movie to watch and I can't help but think we'll keep getting J&SB films every 5-10 years until Kevin Smith or Jason Mewes die.