justjoia added their review for Aquaman: it was "meh". The effects were amazing, but amber heard and jason momoa can't act their way out of a paper bag. The overall story was good, but some of the writing was awful. It didn't piss me off like Justice League, but it wasn't anywhere near as good as Wonder Woman. It was almost a good movie. It was a good attempt by DC, but still not as good as anything marvel has done. I love me some Jason Momoa but his performance, along with Amber Heard's were equally atrocious. Willem Dafoe, who I love, was awful awful awful. It was a really really pretty film though like Avatar, only Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington can actually act. Nicole Kidman was the highlight of the film for me. Don't get me wrong, if you edited out everyone but Momoa and set it to music, I'd watch the hell out of it.
justjoia added their review for Dreams I Never Had: I enjoyed this film immensely. I was particularly impressed with the subject matter regarding human trafficking and indentured servitude in the United States. Priyom Haider did an amazing job as the menacing, yet handsome and abusive Adam Sahal.
justjoia added their review for I, Tonya: Margot Robbie goes for gold in “I, Tonya” but falls short, much like Tonya Harding did in the ’94 Olympic games.(possible spoilers, but I mean, it’s history. )I was coming of age in the 90’s and you bet your ass I was glued to the TV when there was anything Tonya Harding related on it. She was a true Cinderella story, a poor white trash girl from who knows where with the most amazing raw iceskating talent, a mouth like a sailor, and chose to buck the norm and use the music she wanted to use all the way to the Olympics, not once, but twice. Her story was sensational enough before Nancy Kerrigan was assaulted.I watched the 30 for 30 “The Price of Gold” a year or so ago and “I, Tonya” does a great job mimicking that documentary in this mockumentary/docu-drama. I really enjoyed the similarities and Allison Janney stole the show with her performance as Tonya’s abusive and trashy mother LaVona Golden. If anyone in this film deserves an academy award, it’s Allison Janney! She nailed her performance and owned the role. She was more LaVona than the real LaVona. Her performance was so memorable that I would say anyone and everyone should see this film JUST to see her performance in this role.What I didn’t like, was the breaking of the 4th wall throughout the flashbacks/storytelling. If you already have your characters talking directly to the camera as they are telling the story, they shouldn’t be talking directly to the camera as they are SHOWING the story. It annoyed me and really turned me off. I was also highly disappointed with Margot Robbie’s performance. She produced this film as a blatant attempt to at least be nominated for an academy award. That’s cool and everything, but if you’re going to play an actual person, who has countless hours of footage, and countless photos, and is still alive, go all out and commit to the role! Robbie did not commit to this role like Nicole Kidman did in “The Hours” or Charlize Theron did in “Monster“. Those women, went all in and owned their roles and were rewarded with their golden statues. Robbie missed some opportunities in this role. I was really disappointed with her body. Margot Robbie has a beautiful and very slender body. She has a strikingly beautiful face. At no point did I get lost in the movie and believe her to be Tonya Harding. It was always, “wow, she’d doing a great job playing Tonya Harding”. It’s mentioned SEVERAL times throughout the movie that Tonya isn’t built like the other figure skaters, yet all we see is Robbie’s slender, flawless legs, not the muscular quads and hamstrings we all remember from the 90’s. I really feel that Robbie should have either gained 10-15 pounds or at the very least, worn some padding so she somewhat matched her figure skating double. There is even a (well known) line in the movie where she says she’s out of shape (and let me tell you, at NO POINT is Margot Robbie even remotely close to “out of shape” in this film) and her coach replies, “a pear is a shape”. I find it offensive to your audience to present a string bean and try and sell it as a pear. I know they make padding that could have been used and looked good. I feel Like Robbie really missed an opportunity by not completely committing to the role on the ice. Tonya Harding made some really interesting faces as she was concentrating on her performances. Margot Robbie was completely beautiful throughout every single ice skating performance in this film and didn’t bother to actually imitate the person she was playing. It was a disappointment and even more so at the end of the film when they show the real Tonya Harding making those faces on the ice. It was disappointing that she didn’t 100% commit to the role. I feel as though she didn’t want to “ugly” herself and she only wanted to present the beautiful and slender Margot Robbie without going full force with the frizzy hair and silly faces. This lack of commitment might have cost her the academy award, if not the nomination altogether.Teen Tonya and Jeff Gillooly should absolutely NOT have been played by Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan. They should have used actual teens because neither one of them was believable as a teen.Figure skating costumes are far more modest than the costumes Robbie wore that showed way too much of her rear end. You would think that a costume designer in a major motion picture, about figure skating, would at the the very least, have considered consulting someone in the field. I was distracted by Margot Robbie’s uncovered ass every time she took the ice. Even now, in 2018, figure skaters wear leotards that cover their actual bottoms. I have no idea why she’s practically wearing a thong, when the rest of the costume design was on point. Other than the far too skimpy ice skating costumes, the costume designer predominately did a great job.I loved the movie overall. The skating footage was the best I have ever seen in a movie. Allison Janney was phenomenal and I feel it necessary to give kudos to Paul Walter Hauser as Shawn (the guy who hired the “hitman” who clubbed Nancy Kerrigan’s knee). He owned that role and completely nailed it. I enjoyed his performance almost as much as Janney’s.
justjoia added their review for Sorry to Bother You: The film starts out normal enough. Cassius Green, played by Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out & Atlanta) is canoodling with his rainbow haired artist, sign spinner, and activist girlfriend Detroit played by Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok & Westworld) in his bed until they are interrupted by his wall (the garage door) opening to reveal a street full of pedestrians and neighbors gawking at them. It is revealed that he owes his landlord and uncle played by Terry Crews 4 months of back rent. Desperate to earn money to pay back his uncle and ultimately save his home, he applies for a job at a telemarketing firm who reportedly hires anyone. While it seems to take place in current day Oakland, there are several key details that illustrate it’s not the reality we know. We see commercials in the background for a company that offers “lifetime contracts” where you can live, eat, and work all in the same place. The company weirdly mimics Americas prisons for profit, only these seem to be voluntary and the commercials make it seem like it’s a good idea.Cassius aka Cash easily gains employment but has issues closing deals. His coworker in the neighboring cubicle played by Danny Glover lets him in on a little secret, if he uses his “white voice” he will have a higher success rate. In the mean time, he also makes friends with coworker Squeeze, played by Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) who is attempting to orchestrate a huge strike in hopes to unionize. Just when the telemarketers stand up to their management and begin to strike, Cash is offered a promotion. He is faced with the choice between crossing the picket lines and continuing to work for the company or join his friends in unionizing. Cash chooses to accept the promotion.Crossing the picket line is no easy feat for the “power callers” and a team of security guards donning riot gear brutally cuts through the protesting crowd. Cash is faced with the consequences of betraying his friends and coworkers, yet he continues to work for the parent company, which is lo and behold, the same company from the commercials! As it turns out, his job is to sell workers we see in the commercials to different companies and establishments as free (read slave) labor.As he rises to the top in his field, he is invited to the head of the company’s home to discuss his position in the company. Armie Hammer is Steve Lift, the CEO of this “volunteer prison” who feels like everything he does is for the greater good. It is at this point where the film takes a turn towards the wacky. Stemming from a raging coke fueled orgy, Sorry to Bother You goes into a turn of events that rivals the film Mother! in its lunacy. Sorry to Bother You takes some whimsical twists and turns that make you confused, uncomfortable, and question everything.Coming off the success of both Get Out and Atlanta, Lakeith Stanfield does an excellent job portraying Cash. Throughout the film we are unable to discern what he’s going to do next until he actually makes the move. We want him to succeed, but not at the expense of losing the respect of his friends, family, and loved ones.Tessa Thompson, his love interest is often disappointed with his choices as she lights up the screen in every scene she shares with him. Her laser cut earrings have their own not-so-subtle messages that are spotlighted every time we see her including; “Murder Murder Murder & Kill Kill Kill” and “Tell Homeland Security & We Are The Bomb” I really enjoyed this film. Boots Riley is so punk rock in both his music and his filmmaking and I loved it. The zaniness of the film never impedes the overall message. It’s important to go into it with an open mind and be prepared to feel a little uncomfortable. I love anything that takes me out of my comfort zone and this film takes us far from reality as it also teaches us to pay attention to the world around us.
justjoia added their review for Solo: A Star Wars Story: While "a star wars story" is in the title of the film, this is NOT a star wars movie. I felt a little disappointed because it was missing the traditional Star Wars scrolling opening while being blasted by the music of John Williams (even though he DID compose the music alongside John Powell). There WAS an opening card sequence quickly detailing Han's back story up to that point. We were able to see who Han really is, how he obtained the millennium falcon, and how he became such close friends with Chewbacca the Wookie. Donald Glover did an amazing job as young Lando Calrissian. I absolutely love Woody Harrelson and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance in this film. There were some really great twists and turns throughout the story with a gasp-worthy revelation at the very end. As much as I love and respect Ron Howard, I really don't feel he was the right fit for a Star Wars film. This was more a Ron Howard movie than a Star Wars movie. That being said, overall, I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to my friends whether they were already existing Star Wars fans or new to the franchise.
justjoia added their review for Adrift: I really enjoyed this movie. I absolutely loved the cinematography. It was such a breathtakingly beautiful film. It was reminiscent of The Beach meets The Perfect Storm, meets Castaway. I loved all three of those films and Adrift embodied my favorite aspects of each one of them. Director Baltasar Kormákur was able to perfectly communicate his deep love, adoration, and respect for the ocean and brought out amazing performances from Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin. It is absolutely unbelievable that this beautiful and amazing story of survival was completely based on a true story and real events. I can't wait to see it again!
justjoia added their review for Wonder: (Possible Spoilers)Last night I watched Wonder staring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay as the "wonder" August Pullman. The movie is based on the NY Times best seller Wonder by Raquel Jaramillo.After seeing previews several times, I was eager to check this one out. Wonder is basically about a boy who was born with a birth defect, who has undergone countless surgeries to correct the defect. Upon entering 5th grade, Auggie's family makes the decision to no longer homeschool him and enter him into a private conventional school.I really truly wanted to love this movie, and to be honest, I kind of feel like an asshole for not loving it, but The movie wasn't all that interesting and really didn't go anywhere.He went to school. He was bullied. He made friends. The end.The most enjoyable thing about this movie was all of the star wars that was peppered throughout the film. Chewbacca the Wookie made several appearances and there was tons of star wars memorabilia all over. Julia Roberts gave a likable performance as did Owen Wilson. My favorite character was August's older sister, Olivia played by Izabela Vidovic. She really did an excellent job portraying a teen girl who was often shadowed by her brother's illnesses, surgeries, and general existence.There were a couple weird things. The family dog died and aside from Auggie saying that every time he came home from the hospital the dog was there, it really had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie and pretty much just took up time. I didn't understand why we were being shown the dog dying when the dog had very little to do with the story.At the big climax where Auggie is thrust into a situation where a handful of kids who had previously bullied him had to come to his rescue, one of the kids who he was already friends with hit his head on a rock. We were shown that he hit his head on the rock and he told Auggie that he was bleeding, then there was nothing else about it. I don't understand why we were shown him hitting his head on the rock if there were no consequences. He survived, he didn't need stitches, he didn't have a concussion, and he seemed to be perfectly fine. There wasn't any reason for us to be shown that he hit his head on a rock and there was no reason for him to tell Auggie that he was bleeding. I thought something was going to happen, but then nothing happened and all the kids went back to the camp and home to their parents.I truly wanted to love this movie but it was lackluster. Nothing really interesting happened.
justjoia added their review for The Post: (Possible spoilers)On November 26, 2017, I had the privilege of attending a screening of The Post followed by a question and answer session with the writers Liz Hannahand Josh Singer. I have seen several movies at the Writers Guild of America now, but this was the first time there was a line around the building to get into a screening. I was lucky enough to get into the theater, which was seated at full capacity. There was an excitement in the air as the movie started.I was a little confused as to what the movie was actually about when I went into it, but it was quickly explained. Basically for the decades the United States was at war in Vietnam our government was well aware that we were "losing" the war and our service men and women were being slaughtered, BUT they were desperate to keep up the appearance that we were "winning". What is now known as the Pentagon Papers were the documents accounting what was really happening verses the story the American people were given. A man named Daniel Ellsberg played by Mathew Rhys steals the pentagon papers and leaks them to several news sources, including the NY Times. After first publishing a few pages of the papers, the NY Times is court ordered to cease publishing these documents and is accused of treason. Shortly thereafter, Ben Bagdikian played by Bob Odenkirk gets his hands on some pages and is determined to get them published in the Washington Post. Kay Graham, the first female publisher of a national newspaper, played by Meryl Streep is forced to make a decision: publish the papers and show the American public the atrocities committed by our government, or risk federal prison for being in contempt of court. Spoiler alert: the Washington Post is still very much alive and well!!!.Now I can talk about how amazing this movie really was. Meryl Streep delivered an Oscar worthy performance as the first woman who dared to be a publisher in a time where women stayed in the kitchen while the men handled the business. While this was a fast paced film where we follow these papers, how they were stolen and who they were distributed to (just about every publication in America) we are also gifted with watching Meryl Streepstruggle through her loyalties. She is forced to learn the painful way that people she thought were her friends like the Secretary of Defense (Robert McNamara, played by Bruce Greenwood) were actually manipulating her and what The Washington Post published. Alison Brie plays her daughter Lally Graham. Fresh off her success in the Netflix series GLOW, Brie shines in this role. The chemistry between Streep and Brie seems so natural and effortless.Tom Hanks delivers his own Oscar worthy performance as Ben Bradlee, the editor of the Washington Post who tries to bully Kay Graham into publishing the papers before she is ready. He goes behind her back to obtain pages of this report and pretty much includes the entire writing staff. Once again Tom Hanksowns his role and he offers an incredible performance supporting Streep's lead.In today's political climate, this movie so SO relevant, it's unbelievable! When we talk about transparency and "fake news", we really should look back on how and why we have the transparency we now have today and how important it is for us to continue to have journalists with integrity who will report what's actually happening, not what our politicians want to share."The Post" features an all star cast and was incredibly well written. "New comer" Liz Hannah does an excellent job adapting the book "Power, Privilege and the Post: the Katherine Graham story" and it's really apparent in her writing that she wrote this as a woman, for a woman and Meryl Streeppicked up the ball and ran it right into the end zone. Steven Spielberg does another amazing job directing.
justjoia added their review for The Florida Project: (Possible Spoilers)I was absolutely blown away by The Florida Project, written and directed by Sean Baker (Tangerine). The film is so raw that it feels like a documentary. There really is no story, it's more of a slice of life of a 6 year old named Moonee, played by Brooklynn Prince, her mother Halley, played by Bria Vinaite, and her little hooligan friends over one summer.The film itself is utterly and completely beautiful. The colors are so vibrant, you feel like you are in Florida with them. It takes place somewhere very close to the Disneyparks as we see when Halley takes her young daughter onto Disney Resorts property to trespass and sell discounted perfumes to unsuspecting tourists in order to avoid homelessness. The duo are very close to living on the street throughout the film as we see Halley struggle to pay her weekly rent for a room in the motel where they live. "The Florida Project" is a painfully accurate depiction of how many are living in central Florida as well as south Florida. My own children have played with transient children, much like Moonee, who were living in the campgrounds we were visiting during our weekend adventures. There was a scene where one child had to give away all his toys to the motel kids who were staying behind while he moved out of state with his parents because there wasn't room for them in the car. I have seen that exact situation played out with my own eyes in real life. Bria Vinaite did a fantastic job portraying a white trash exotic dancer who would literally do anything to keep a roof over her daughter's head.The cinematography was absolutely amazing. The beauty of the Florida sky was juxtaposed with the harsh reality for the people we were watching throughout the film. The children actors (Brooklynn Prince, Christopher Rivera, Aiden Malik, and Valeria Cottodid a phenomenal job as an ensemble and I wonder how they got the kids to be so natural. I suspect a lot of it was ad libbed. These children were horribly behaved as they have little or no adult supervision throughout the day. All of the adults are clearly negligent and we see several scenes where they harass the motel manager played by Willem Dafoe. Dafoe does an excellent job portraying a man who has to walk a fine line between doing his job and having empathy for the guests in the motel. He tries to have a tough exterior, but he clearly has a heart and it's shown in the few scenes he begrudgingly participates in the children's shenanigans. My only complaint about Defoe and this role is that he is too clean. It is apparent that they are in the hot Florida sun, in the middle of summer, in a weekly hotel, without central ac. He should have been sweatier. It was a tiny detail that shattered my belief that we were watching something real.I really enjoyed this movie and it made me sad. My eyes soaked up the beauty of this film like the cracked earth soaks up a summer rain. Unfortunately, I hated the ending. It ended super abruptly, like the Sopranos. One minute I'm near tears from the drama on the screen, the next I am saying, "WTF?" Overall this was excellent story telling that left me wanting more.