Swanner: As I walked out of the theater after seeing Suburbicon, I had no idea what I had just seen. Matt Damon plays Gardner Lodge, a husband and father in this quiet little suburb. One night two men enter the residence to rob the home. During the robbery Rose (Julianne Moore) is given too much chloroform and dies. Now father and son are left to fend for themselves. Fortunately, Margaret (Julianne Moore) Rose’s identical twin comes to stay with them. Next door a black family moves in and this quiet little hamlet freaks out.

Judd: With Joel and Ethan Coen as part of the writing team it makes sense that this has that Coen brothers feel and look. The rest of the writing team consisted of Director Clooney and his writing partner, Grant Heslov. This should have been a grand slam. The first half of the film, which includes the home invasion and the new neighbors moving in, just wasn’t enough to move the film. The pacing was too slow in comparison to the second half, which finally brings the film to an attention grabbing pace.

Swanner: I still don’t understand why the black family moving in was such a dominant part of the film. I get the irony that while the town is only focused the new neighbors, right next door there has been a murder. I just think forcing that ugliness on an audience was unnecessary, since the writers never give us a decent outcome more than forcing a family from their home. Oh the fifties and their racism! I expected more from the Fargo/Argo teams.

Judd: On the topic of the two conflicting storylines: it was a shame that what could have been a very interesting look at a black family trying to enter white suburbia, ends up being filler. All we get are dirty looks, cruelty at the grocery store, and a lot of head shaking. The filmmakers spend all this time on their storyline and all we know is that it’s the Meyers and their son Andy.  We know nothing more about them. It makes the film feel like one of the protesters, since it hasn’t taken the time to meet the new neighbors either.

Swanner: This is twice this month that a trailer has lead me to believe I was going to see a different film. I’m okay with the twists in the storyline and would be disappointed if they weren’t there; but I wanted to see the film that was promised in the trailer, or even something better. The film is well made and the cast is great, but with the slow first half and the misstep of the secondary storyline, leaves Suburbicon looking like every other house on the block with nothing very interesting going on inside.

Swanner: 2 stars
Judd: 1 1/2 star

Podcast: SJ 169: Bong Appetite; American Horror Story; Halloweed; Tales of Halloween; South Park; Modern Family; American Housewife; Fresh Off the Boat; Great News; Will & Grace; The Snowman

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about Bong Appetite; American Horror Story; Halloweed; Tales of Halloween; South Park; Modern Family; American Housewife; Fresh Off the Boat; Great News; Will & Grace; The Snowman.

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The Snowman


Swanner: In The Snowman, Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is trying to solve the disappearance and ultimate murder of women in a Norwegian city. Outside of every woman’s house is a mysterious snowman starring towards the house. First things first… Harry Hole? How can anyone concentrate on a storyline when characters are saying things like “Well it’s the great Harry Hole.” Brian and I were the only ones giggling every time they said it.

Judd: The movie is based on a book by Norwegian Jo Nesbø, so may Hole is like the Norwegian version of Smith. But they knew this movie was made for American audiences, and someone along the line had to know that the name Harry Hole sounds like a gay Bond Villain. To make matters worse the movie is two hours long, and about as bleak as a Norse winter. It was long, drawn out, and complete nonsense. Apparently, Norway has terrible detectives.

Swanner: I watched the preview again and realized they sold me another movie. The snowman has no importance in the film at all. It may have in the book but not here. It looks like a thriller which it’s not because a thriller must thrill. I mean, I expected to the film to be slow, but during the middle of all that nothingness, I found myself praying for the thaw. Nothing really made any sense at the end. I mean, I was thankful it was over but I still have so many questions and really don’t care enough to search for the answers.

Judd: I didn’t watch the trailer until just before the movie, so I was initially expecting a movie about a killer snowman, which would have been infinitely better. The movie had so much wasted potential, that that’s really what adds the insult to the injury. Val Kilmer hasn’t done a movie in years, and he gets 10 minutes of screen time for a character that was an important, but glossed over plot point – which really describes the whole movie.

Swanner: Since I don’t know the original story I can’t really comment on how badly it was hacked up but someone fucked up here. You take a best seller with what in any other film would have been an exceptional cast, how could things go so terribly wrong. I wouldn’t suggest seeing this film in theaters or on TV. I’d wait till it’s been remade and done right. Harry Hole? Shame!

Swanner: no stars
Judd: 1 Star

Happy Death Day


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


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.

Left Click To Listen, Right Click Here To Download

Blade Runner 2049


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