Podcast: SJ 168: The Foreigner; Happy Death Day; The Oroville; South Park; The Exorcist; Great News; After Porn Ends 2; Modern Family; Will & Grace

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about The Foreigner; Happy Death Day; The Oroville; South Park; The Exorcist; Great News; After Porn Ends 2; Modern Family; Will & Grace.

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Happy Death Day

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Swanner: In Happy Death Day, a college student is forced to repeat the same day over and over again until she can solve who keeps murdering her. First thing to know is this is a comedy, but it’s also a slasher horror film as well. It’s a nice mix and it makes this Groundhog’s Day look and feel a lot fresher than I had expected it to be. Director Christopher Landon and screenwriter Scott Lobdell give us a fast paced, smart and funny offering that is timely opening right before Halloween.

Judd: this is a standard low-budget Halloween cash-in, and I don’t mean that to sound like bad thing. But as such, the cast is full of unknowns, with Jessica Rothe playing our heroine Tree, and Israel Broussard playing the hero Carter. The movie is a comedy, but it could have been funnier. I don’t think it needed to lean into camp or slapstick, but the material could have been sharpened – but then, I’m not a fan of mean girl comedies..

Swanner: I enjoyed the mean girl set up. Tree is an awful person as the story begins but of course she discovers what a bitch she is as she’s repeatedly murdered. In the first segment we see the list of suspects grow as she’s mean to everyone. Who wouldn’t want to kill her. I also applaud the writer for keeping each new start quick so we’re not seeing the same day from the same point of view.

Judd:  You make a good point on the mean girl being a good set up for creating a list of suspects, which makes the actually killer a complete let down. When the killer is finally revealed, it made me think there was a small but crucial chunk of the story left on the editing room floor. Just because this is a low-budget, disposable Halloween movie, there is no excuse for such sloppy editing. They could have cut out one of the her murders to make time to explain the killer rather than leaving it up to the audience to make assumptions.

Swanner: It is a little Halloween throwaway, but I had a good time. I have to admit that my anticipation of the film was low going in so that’s probably why I actually enjoyed it.  I thought it was a smart move keeping the film short because gimmick movie stale quickly. If someone looking for something scary that’s not too scary, this would be a safe choice. But, you better see it quick, because once the pumpkin is in the trash, this will be gone from theaters.

Swanner: 2 ½ stars
Judd: 2 stars

The Foreigner

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Swanner: Jackie Chan plays Quan, a father who seeks revenge after his daughter is killed during an IRA bombing. Quan goes through the regular channels to find out who was responsible, but once he realizes the investigation is going nowhere, he takes control of the situation. When he sees Liam Hennessy on TV (Pierce Brosnan), a government official with ties to the IRA, Quan terrorizes Hennessy till he gives him the names of the bombers.

Based on the novel The Chinaman by Stephen Leather, director Martin Campbell and screenwriter David Marconi take what could have been just another Death Wish movie and gave it a facelift. Marconi’s adaptation is smart and full of twists that keep the action and story moving. It’s interesting that action films are now in the hands of older actors. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just so strange to see Hollywood cast Chan and Brosnan in action roles when their female contemporaries only get to be grandmothers, nuns, and crazy homeless women. Still, both men were really good.

I also have to give props to Chan who is in his 60’s and still doing his own stunts. I’m not much younger than he is and can tell you I wouldn’t be jumping out windows and climbing down rain spouts. He is in production on three sequels coming out over the next couple years so we will be seeing plenty more stunts from Chan. The rest of the cast is good but these AARP actors are what holds this film together. Some people might feel uneasy with the bombings due to the loss of life that we’ve been recently experiencing. This is a revenge movie and Chan will not let you down.

Swanner: 3 stars

Podcast: SJ 167: Channel Zero; Bong Appetite; Will & Grace; America Housewife; Great News; Modern Family; The Oroville; After Porn Ends; Marc Almond: Shadows and Reflections; Blade Runner 2049

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about Channel Zero; Bong Appetite; Will & Grace; America Housewife; Great News; Modern Family; The Oroville; After Porn Ends; Marc Almond: Shadows and Reflections; Blade Runner 2049.

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Blade Runner 2049

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Swanner: Blade Runner came to theaters in 1982 starring Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, an ex-cop who now works as a Blade Runner. The job of a Blade Runner is to find and terminate replicants. Now 30 years into the future, K (Ryan Gosling), also a Blade Runner, uncovers a secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Deckard, who hasn’t been seen in all of those 30 years.

Director Denis Villeneuve took on a big task to take on a sequel to the original film, which has such a huge following. Along with writers, Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, they have created a real story that is worthy of being called a sequel to such a cult favorite. They also paint an even more bleak picture of the future than the first film offered. That being said, the production value on the film is incredible. The look of this world worked in the original film, and it certainly tells a story here. All the technical elements are amazing. Cinematography, art direction, sound, editing, and score are all Oscar worthy.

The film has the same pacing as the original film, so the first half is a bit slow. As K makes his discoveries it starts to pick up, and leads to the big ending. Along with Gosling and Ford, the rest of the incredible cast includes Robin Wright, Ada de Armas, Jared Leto, Mackenzie Davis, Dave Bautista, and a stand out performance from Sylvia Hoeks. I was never a big fan of Blade Runner, but did love the world it created. Blade Runner 2049 should have people going back to watch the original film, which should create a new fan base.

Swanner: 3 stars

Podcast: SJ 166: So You Think You Can Dance; The Oroville; Difficult People; Modern Family; Will & Grace; Brooklyn 99; South Park; Great News; Survivor; Whitney: Light Upon the Lake; American Made

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about So You Think You Can Dance; The Oroville; Difficult People; Modern Family; Will & Grace; Brooklyn 99; South Park; Great News; Survivor; Whitney: Light Upon the Lake; American Made.

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American Made

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Swanner: Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is a TWA pilot that is recruited by the CIA to photograph the growing number of communist lead armies in Central America. With the success of his reconnaissance, he is also asked to run guns for the CIA to the the perceived good guys. Unfortunately in order to deliver the guns, he has to run cocaine for some drug dealers – and it just keeps getting more and more ridiculous. Seal, trying to please everyone, finds himself with so much money he can’t launder it fast enough. Seal is our protagonist? All this ultimately leads to Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, and the Iran-Contra Affair.

Director Doug Liman, along with screenwriter Gary Spinelli, tell this amazing story, loosely based on Barry Seal’s life. I was surprised that the film is a comedy, but it’s really the best way to tell this unbelievable story. Anyone Gen X or older will remember the Iran-Contra hearings and how it almost brought down the Reagan White House. Filled with laughs, even at some of the most terrifying moments, Spinelli’s script keeps it light and Liman tells this story with the same kind of efficiency that he did with Edge of Tomorrow.

I can see why Cruise was cast as Seal. He makes a guy who should really come off as a drug smuggling, gun running, Contra training scumbag likable and charming. Cruise really takes the role and runs with it. He’s excellent. It’s hard to imagine that you find yourself routing for this guy but you do, and Cruise is why you do. I don’t know if the upcoming awards season will give Cruise the accolades he deserves for this role but I can tell you this: the film would be nothing without his performance.

Swanner: 3 stars