Posted in Movie Review

The Devil All the Time

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“The Devil All the Time” is the nihilistic movie we deserve right now. Just to be upfront, this form of woefully depressing, life is meaningless storytelling is right up my alley.  

Adapted from Donald Ray Pollock’s acclaimed debut novel of the same name (he also serves as the narrator in this movie, oddly enough) by writer/director Antonio Campos, and set between World War II and the onset of the Vietnam War, this “Hillbilly Gothic” tale follows the lives of three groups of people, a war vet and his son, a couple of evangelical preachers and a couple of serial killers, all seemingly trapped in a hyper-religious area within the Bible Belt, whose lives intersect in random and vicious biblical ways.

To some, the things in this movie may come off as violent and random, but every action and event that happens to these characters has divine meaning to them. This is the key thing to understanding how these characters interact with one another and the dichotomy at play. These are characters who live in a closed off world crawling with random acts of violence and predatory preachers. It’s our job to watch them squirm. So, if that sounds like a painful experience, then “The Devil All the Time” will be a tough watch.

That said, with tons of moving parts Campos does a superb job of methodically maintaining this ever changing two hours plus story of relentless despair and making it engaging while teasing us with hope and a plethora of fantastic characters. 

The movie also stars Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Riley Keough, Eliza Scanlen, Mia Wasikowska and Jason Clarke. I just made the runtime seem so much more tolerable, didn’t it? And the performances do not disappoint; especially from Pattinson, who is only in this for all of twenty minutes, but really shows why his willingness to take chances will eventually lead to an Oscar. Also, Jason Clarke does the best southern accent of any non-American, or even American actor working today. Someone had to say it.

Final Thought: If “A Serious Man” and “The Place Beyond the Pines” had a child, “The Devil All the Time” would be it and have a similar score.

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Posted in Movie Review

It: Chapter Two

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

it chapter 2

“It: Chapter Two” can only be described as nearly three hours of mostly entertaining horror nonsense…well, it could and has been described as much worse, but for the sake of this relatively positive review, “nonsense” is about as negative as I’m going to get.

In this review I’m not really going to touch on “It”, chapter one from 2017, other than to say that I wasn’t really a fan. I felt as though the plot was pushed aside in order to focus on cheap scares and really over-the-top CGI gore. That said, I find myself at a crossroads contradicting myself when I tell you that I mostly enjoyed the lengthier “Chapter Two” because the plot is completely pushed aside in order to focus on cheap scares and over-the-top CGI gore/gross-out effects.

This is the part of the review where I attempt to defend this film.

While not lacking for dutch angles, the story itself doesn’t seem to be important at all to director Andy Muschietti. As I stated earlier, Muschietti has totally thrown the plot aside for “Chapter Two”. That is not to say that he doesn’t tell a story. There is one and it’s as follows: Taking place twenty-seven years after defeating Pennywise the child-eating clown, the titular “It” has come back and has begun to feed again. And with this, most of the group (The Losers Club) gets back together to kill the thing once and for all.

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Molly’s Game) playing grown-up Beverly Marsh, James McAvoy (Split) playing grown-up Bill Denbrough and the real star of the show, Bill Hader (Barry) playing grown-up Richie Tozier, and of course Bill Skarsgard returning as Pennywise, all star in this tonally erratic story which fluctuates between drama, comedy and horror at will. Also, with the exceptions of Hader and Skarsgard, all of the big names were horribly miscast; or at the very least, boring to watch. Am I doing a good job defending it so far?

Anyway, the plot then goes on to involve a Native American tribe and some orbs and blah, blah, blah, who cares? Let’s get to the the point. This chapter sees Muschietti laying out a finale that (again) really doesn’t concern itself with telling a story. But furthermore I don’t think he expects people to pay attention to the story or even attempt to follow it. It’s apparent early on that the “story” is nothing more than connective tissue holding around fifteen bizarre horror sequences together. These sequences seem to be the point of the movie. As for the sequences themselves, they also fluctuate. Some are not really that inventive and frankly poor quality horror, while others work in a way which resembled something like “The Evil Dead” (blasphemy, I know) visually repulsive with a hint of humor. And still others (although only three or four) were very much nightmare fuel; visually striking in a way that mimics the unsettling atmosphere felt in a lucid dream.

Now, how could I recommend a nearly three hour movie where the story is not worth paying attention to, and what we’re left with is a highlight reel of horror sequences; horror sequences that don’t all work? Well, the answer is a majority of the horror stuff here does work. It’s nonsense, but it works and is only enhanced by how sloppily this thing is put together. I would venture to say that “It: Chapter Two” is entertaining in the same way a sketch comedy show would be. Also, there is a high dosage of comedy injected into this installment. Not to say it all works. If you can’t tell by now, nothing in this movie completely works. But, the comedy really makes the run-time more palatable. In fact, I would go so far as to say Muschietti may have a future directing straight comedies.

Final Thought: The math works out like this: The movie is nearly three hours long. The sections which include Bill Hader and Pennywise (75% of the movie) are entertaining. This leaves 25%. All of that stuff is forgettable filler garbage. Thus the movie could have been 25% shorter (EASILY). But if you are able to push the plot aside, you may find yourself enjoying the cheap scares and over-the-top CGI gore.

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