Double Feature: Southpaw (2015) & Miss Sloane (2016)

Welcome to the next double feature. I rented Southpaw and Miss Sloane on discount on Play Store last month. Two very different films and two very different feelings about it however both heavily reliant on their main character.

Southpaw (2015)

Southpaw

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, Oona Lawrence, 50 Cent, Naomie Harris

Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Wills to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services. – IMDB

If there is one word to describe Southpaw, it would be disappointing. It isn’t particularly a bad film as the performances were great. Rachel McAdams did great for what it was. Jake Gyllenhaal was fantastic and I absolutely love Forest Whitaker who is an underrated actor. The girl who played the daughter was Oona Lawrence and that arc was decent.

However, the flaw lies in the fact that Southpaw is pretty much another Rocky story in many instances and we already had Creed recently that was much more engaging. It didn’t help that Southpaw was a little too dramatic at parts but never made it feel very exciting to watch. Seeing the stellar cast being in this uninspired script truly was a lackluster experience.

Miss Sloane (2016)

miss sloane

Director: John Madden

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Alison Pill, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg, John Lithgow, Jake Lacy

In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane is the most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. But when taking on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds winning may come at too high a price. – IMDB

Miss Sloane was a movie that I went in with no idea of what the premise is. I have heard good things about it and I have enjoyed Jessica Chastain. Miss Sloane is such a vibrant character wrapped up in a tough and ruthless shell. She is strong and strategic in all her plans and for all the reasons, it makes us wonder on what she has under her sleeve even in the most desperate of situations but it is what makes her compelling to watch.

Miss Sloane, just as the title implies, is truly based on Jessica Chastain and how she takes on the role and she did an outstanding job. As we navigate through her way of life and the little things, while she isn’t exactly a character you would cheer for because of her lack of ethics and morals in some of her decisions, every part whether planned or not comes into play and that gives full credit for the screenwriters doing a fine job at giving it a good pacing that keeps everything moving and finding a balance to learn just enough about Miss Sloane and keeping enough to make everything make sense and surprise when it falls into place.

While Miss Sloane isn’t typically the movie that I would watch, I’m glad that I did because it was absolutely awesome. Gripping, compelling and full of twists and turns around every corner. This one is a must see.

Have you seen Southpaw and/or Miss Sloane?

Fantasia Fest 2015: Cooties (2014) & Point of View (Short 2015)

Its really early in the Fantasia Festival to be feeling a little overwhelmed but after the showing of Cooties on Friday, I needed one because the late showing turned my schedule around and then the weekend was slightly crazy. Weekly Adventures coming up to explain that bit in more detail.  After a weekend of crazy, other than this one, I have two more Fantasia reviews to go up this week.  Thank goodness, the second week of Fantasia is a lot less hectic so I can catch my breath and get these reviews up.

Before Cooties started, we had a short film called Point of View open.

Point of View (Short 2015)

Point of View

Point of View

Its directed by Justin Harding who was present to introduce it a little. Running at 8 minutes long, its about “A tired coroner is stalked by the living dead — but only when she isn’t looking!” (Fantasia site).  Let me tell you: this short is awesome! The best way to start a movie like Cooties.  With an equally funny movie that had some little nerve-wrecking moments but all in 8 minutes that passed by faster than I ever imagined.

Cooties (2014)

Canadian Premiere

Cooties

Director: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion

Cast: Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, Nasim Pedrad, Ian Brennan, Jorge Garcia, Cooper Roth, Morgan Lily, Armani Jackson, Sunny May Allison

Clint (Elijah Wood) heads back home to Fort Chicken to hopefully work on his novel and gets employed as a substitute at the high school he used to go to when he was younger. There he meets a girl, Lucy (Alison Pill) that he used to go to high school with.  Lucy is dating the angry and awkward gym teacher, Wade (Rainn Wilson).  When contaminated chicken nuggets are sent to the school and a little girl called Shelly eats it, the virus spreads among the young kids and turns them into raging, flesh eating living dead.  As the school day progresses, the group of teachers and faculty that are struggling to survive try to find a way to escape the school.

cooties

You know how Shaun of the Dead was this really great horror comedy? Cooties is very much along the same lines except with a sillier sort of humor because its more Americanized? Its not meant to be offensive (in case you feel that way). Its just that British humor is in a league of its own. I always say this when I look at comedies: its totally subjective. While I’m not a huge fan of American stupid humor and there was a bit of it here, for the most part Cooties had a lot of effective laughs while being completely and equally effective at creating gory and tense situations. Even in horror comedies, kids being the ones infected or just in the scary side is incredibly creepy. There were really intense parts in Cooties, especially one of the kids who was just raging maniatic. The premise here and even the logic behind it is pretty great. Cooties essentially means that its a virus only in kids.  Plus, it even has some hidden messages about the education system…maybe I’m overthinking this but there’s one bit that made me feel like it was really poking fun at this new thing in school.  I don’t want to spoil it so I’m going to keep it vague. Point being, it works and does it in a really smart way.

Cooties

The next aspect I would like to talk about is the characters. We have a mixed bag with the teachers.  Our main character is Clint who is really the not so confident and not really a leader who kind of gets forced into the situation.  Wade is the weirdo angry gym teacher who has all the dumb lines but who actually is hilarious especially when they start running the movie references and all that stuff.  Alison Pill is the preppy teacher who isn’t really all that positive so we get a first taste of her layered characters.  Actually, all these characters have that.  In the more secondary role (and my favorite character) was the science teacher, Doug played by Leigh Whannell (also co-writer of the movie) who pulls the best hilarious lines.  I think almost everyone laughed whenever he said any of his lines because they were absurd and just so inappropriate most of the time, especially since he played the socially awkward dude and Leigh Whannell does it so well! As the movie progresses, even the secondary characters all collectively add to the awesome fun comedy that adds in a good level of tension.

Cooties

Overall, Cooties is a downright awesome horror comedy with just the right amount of comedy to satisfy your taste and very well balanced in the tense horror zombie movie its supposed to be.  With a fantastic cast that has script which gives us a variety of different characters that help create a balance that works effectively, it keeps the movie constantly entertaining. The premise of using kids (and having cooties) to be an actual virus that turns them into zombies is absolutely great.  The whole idea of it was simple but well illustrated during the movie as we learned more about this virus and just how it had spread.  Cooties ends with a bang and leaves it wide open for a sequel and you know what, if the same crew sat down to write the sequel, count me excited! You can bet that this one is going right into my movie collection when it comes out 🙂 Its really good and I totally think you should give it a shot!

Seeing as this is a Canadian premiere, I’m thinking its opened elsewhere.  Have you seen Cooties? What do you think of it? Are you a fan of horror comedies?