Fantasia Festival 2017: Bushwick (2017)

Bushwick (2017)

bushwick

Director: Cary Murnion & Jonathan Milott

Cast: Brittany Snow, Dave Bautista, Angelic Zambrana, Christian Navarro, Arturo Castro

When a Texas military force invades their Brooklyn neighborhood, 20-year-old Lucy and war veteran Stupe must depend on each other to survive. – IMDB

Bushwick sets in an intriguing scenario if the southern states would be persuaded by Texas to join in to overturn the government. Their plan is to use insurgence to forcefully takeover unwilling cities. Their next target to get the Northern states was to make a small city of Bushwick located in New York. As the insurgence starts, we fall on scene with Lucy, played by Brittany Snow on her way to her grandmother’s house to introduce her boyfriend. It doesn’t take long before they head out and realize that something is very wrong and separated from her boyfriend almost immediately from the start, she has to avert danger. Luckily, circumstances lead her to meet Stupe, an ex-Marine who knows everything she doesn’t about survival and has a few guns to protect as well and who reluctantly agrees to take her to her destination, while trying to figure out what actually is going on.

Bushwick is a tight and tense ride. While the subtext is the insurgence from the private military force which terrifies the city itself and is the centre of all the danger, the best part of it all is truly the unlikely team in Lucy and Stupe. Together, the character development here and how they bond together throughout the film which is really only set over a few hours was compelling and engaging. One of the best parts of Bushwick is how they chose to film it. It has somewhat of a found footage way even though it isn’t. The start of the film is the best example as they choose to begin using the angle of the helicopters scanning the city from above. However, the best parts is how it chooses to follow the characters. We never seem to follow them directly in back but in fact, it chooses to go watch their feet as they scurry from location to location. It creates a sense of suspense as the camera plays with what we can see and in turn allowing us to be shocked just as the character by the unknown situations ahead.

Lucy and Stupe are two very different people. In fact, the story focuses on their story while not making it too dramatic and keeping it with the action. In fact, it focuses more on the situation at hand and how they work together to get themselves out. Because of this, there may be a difference in tone throughout the movie. While it may seem to make us wonder how serious to take Bushwick, it is well-timed and particularly makes Lucy’s character more believable when she makes some silly decisions in the beginning that may end up having serious consequences. As the movie moves along, their character growth and the value of their team is what will keep it intriguing as they see what this insurgence has caused the people around them especially the reason why a small town like Bushwick was targetted. Brittany Snow and Dave Bautista pull out some of their best acting in this one and delivers two great performances.

Talking about the reason of why Bushwick is chosen make this film seems like an obvious social commentary of sorts. It reflects perhaps the disagreements and wars about the values and beliefs of Northern and Southern states in America. However, the more prominent one is the fact that Bushwick represents a lower class multicultural community which seems like they are disjointed because of that and make them an easier target. However, surprisingly the film takes a turn of how the city’s different groups each may react differently to the insurgence but still survival may just bring everyone together. Going deeper into the message this may convey will enter spoiler territory so we’ll refrain.

To be honest, Bushwick is an interesting premise and it does take the path of some contrived moments. There may even be some predictable happenings that are meant to shock however, it also succeeds in creating an engaging experience by delivering characters such as Lucy and Stupe that make us want to cheer for them to get out of this ordeal. There are quiet and dramatic moments to help see a deeper side of the characters as well as endearing bonding moments, added in with a few comedic moments to slice through the tension a little. All of these moments tie in very well together. There is no doubt in the end that this is meant to be taken with a serious tone and for the most part everything fits together for an action and suspenseful watch through Bushwick. Its not so much about the politics of it all as it is about survival. Just for the performances and the premise and setting, Bushwick is worth a watch.

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Pitch Perfect was a hit for myself a few years back. You can find that review here. It had so much fun and crazy and musically catching. There was so much that worked even if it hit some absurd notes here and there. While I had my criticisms, it proves to be one that I watch over and over again and somehow love more and more. The way the first movie ended left it wide open for a sequel and in 2015, we got one. I’m not sure why I waited so long but maybe its a part of me that wonders how feasible a second one could be.

Lets check it out!

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

pitch perfect 2

Director: Elizabeth Banks

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Skylar Astin, Adam Devine, Ben Platt, Anna Camp

Oh, Pitch Perfect 2, so much good and yet so much felt a little overboard and disjointed. This franchise’s strength is in its musical numbers and in many ways, the sequel follows a similar formula to the first. Disaster at performance, loses credibility, new girl new ideas, losing group magic and journey to regain it and finally the final hurrah and of course, you can’t forget to throw in a great rival. What Pitch Perfect 2 adds is that these girls are all heading into graduation and call it a final showdown before they grow up and go their separate ways or whatnot, its also about letting go of this safety net they built and finding the courage to move on. This sequel also has following and gives them a pass because there is already some knowledge about these young ladies and we can’t help but at least like them. If they are leaving, then how are we getting a Pitch Perfect 3? While I don’t quite know the answer to that, there is something of a handing down the baton as we get a new member here played by Hailee Steinfeld and she, like Becca in Pitch Perfect, changes the formula of the Barden Bellas.

Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2 didn’t quite hit the greatness of its predecessor. The main reason being it seemed slightly disjointed. Some absurdities was really there because they could put it there and never seemed to serve much purpose. However, you can probably argue that these moments define the characters and show off the essence of the movie and is for comedic effects. And in some ways, it certainly delivers. In others, perhaps it tests where your funny bone lies, aka what makes you laugh. There was certainly a lot of humor here that worked for myself because I had the background of the first one and the respective characters. However, there were some rather ridiculous bits that just felt a tad a stupid and unnecessary.

Pitch Perfect 2

Fact is, Pitch Perfect 2 has a lot of parallels to Pitch Perfect. The rivalry or the riff off now called something else. There’s the bonding and rebonding. There are familiar faces that come back and extensions of relationships. There are new hurdles as they step into a new world just like the previous. The mash-ups aren’t as good as the first one but they are acceptable. It really elevates the concept that Pitch Perfect was great for its cast and this one brings them out as much as they can. They create more growth for Becca as she somehow strives hard to grow outside of the Bellas, Fat Amy connects with herself a little more and with Bumper (who makes a reappearance after his irresponsible exit in the first movie), Anna Camp stops by for a tough love bonding experience cameo, etc. Hailee Steinfeld plays Emily, the new addition with a knack for making original music and adds to their skill set

Overall, there really isn’t a whole lot to say about Pitch Perfect 2. It made me want to watch Pitch Perfect (again) and see the movie in its full glory. There’s a lot of similarities in the second one even in the story arcs and yet it never quite lives up to the original perhaps it lacked its own personality. The new characters didn’t bring anything new. The old characters still had their charm which is what kept it fun to watch. There were some laughs and equally some meh and some WTFs. In the end, it was an average experience.

Have you seen Pitch Perfect 2?

Hairspray (2007)

I’m a huge musical person! I love it all, well almost all…I have some issues with say, Nine.  Not the musical quality just the movie in general.  However, after a whole month of horror, torture, slashing, crazy people, I’m ready for some singing and dancing.  Corny movies are perfect for this phase and I’ve watched most of them so its perfect for this month while I’m writing like crazy 🙂 Hairspray is my absolute go-to movie when I need a lift in spirit.

hairspray posterDirector: Adam Shankman

Cast: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Zac Efron, Brittany Snow, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah

1962 Baltimore was influenced by the local TV show, The Corny Collins Show.  It featured a bunch of high school students who everyone wanted to be.  A “pleasantly plump” (as IMDB describes her) Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) lives and breaths the show, especially every month’s Negro Day.  Her and her best friend, Penny (Amanda Bynes) both run home after school to catch it and learn the new dance moves.  When there is an empty spot on the show, Tracy auditions for it but is turned down by the very snobby TV manager, Velma Von Tussel (Michelle Pfeiffer) who believes in upstanding the norms of skinny and white being the way it should be. When the show’s star, Link (Zac Efron) invites Tracy to go audition a second time at the dance event at school, Corny Collins (James Marsden) adds her in right away.  Her ideas of supporting integration doesn’t take a favor to Velma and along with her daughter Amber (Brittany Snow), they try to stop her. Despite all their efforts, she brings a whole new wave of thought to everyone around her.

hairspray 2

I really don`t think any other movie makes me as happy as watching Hairspray 🙂

Thats what I tweeted after watching Hairspray once (for the millionth time) on Friday night.  What I love about Hairspray is that it has catchy tunes and the cast is absolutely fantastic.  Just look at the list above! Its filled with actors and actresses I love.  A lot of those when I first saw Hairspray had surprised me that they had agreed to take part in this.

hairspray velma corny

Christopher Walken, really? Man, was he hilarious! Michelle Pfeiffer totally kicked some butt at being the racist and full of prejudice mother.  I’m a huge fan of Amanda Bynes back then because of She’s the Man and Brittany Snow because of John Tucker Must Die.  They were the teen flicks queens in my book (alongside Lindsey Lohan).  That one reason I want to see Brittany Snow’s career get better because she’s a respectful actress and I was happy to watch Would you Rather for Halloween (review HERE if you’d like to check it out).  These are all supporting cast.  My favorite would have to go out to John Travolta in what I assume is a body suit and playing as a woman.  He was impressive, especially when he did all the sequences with Christopher Walken, who played her husband.  However, the biggest joy I had was watching Queen Latifah on screen and everything she sang, its a total mood lifter.  Of course, our lead has to be amazing as well.  I have never heard of Nikki Blonsky before Hairspray and never after either. However, nothing takes away the fact that she was so fun to watch on screen.  She danced and sang and just took it away.

SCENE FROM MOVIE 'HAIRSPRAY'

Hairspray doesn’t have a lot to talk about.  Its nothing that focuses on anything deep and profound but it does try to inspire change and to be open mind.  In the time that its set in, this was the situation they were in: the rights of blacks and whites.  Physical appearances like skin color and size was an issue that divided up people.  However, its as always, art, music and dance closes the gaps, with the help of a a few outstanding individuals who want to instigate change. Most of these musicals tend to carry a lot of inspiring messages. Its uplifting to watch it.

hairspray stubbs

Hairspray may seem corny to the max,  (maybe thats why James Marsden’s character is called Corny  Collins) but it packs in a lot of fun and good times.  Its filled with catchy songs and cute dances.  The cast is funny and silly most of the times and its really hard to not just laugh out loud, if you’re into musicals.  In whole, its just some good energetic and full of passion. It never fails to make me jump out of my chair and do some dorky dancing 😉

If you’re having a bad day and you like musicals, this is an absolutely awesome choice.  Even if you’re having a great day, it’ll make you feel even better 🙂 I actually played this movie a second time later that night, just to give you an idea how much I love it.

Halloween Marathon: Would You Rather (2012)

Originally, I was going to post the next part of Halloween, but I realized, as I was writing up the review for that one, that I had actually watched the 6th one instead of the 4th.  Which explained the lack of continuity that lunged forward in storyline and skipped a whole generation. I was going to just post it and backtrack but I wanted to do it right, it’ll be postponed till possibly next week. I apologize for that.  So now, I am on a last minute search for the 4th and last night, after some decision making at 11pm, I decided to watch this horror thriller, Would You Rather on Netflix.  Lets see what thats all about…

would you rather posterDirector: David Guy Levy

Cast: Brittany Snow, Jeffrey Combs, Jonny Coyne, Enver Gjokaj, Sasha Grey, John Heard, Charlie Hofheimer, Eddie Steeples, June Squibb, Robin Taylor, Rob Wells

After her parents had died, Iris (Brittany Snow) is left to take care of her sick brother and to manage the debts, bills and find the money for a bone marrow transplant at the same time. At this time, her doctor, Dr. Barden (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) introduces her to a wealthy philanthropist Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs) who runs a foundation for the more unfortunate and invites her to join a dinner party to play a game that if she wins, would give her enough money to get her out of this situation and save her brother. Once she decides to go, she sees seven other guests and once the dinner is over, they realize they enter a game of Would You Rather with a sick twist monitored by Lambrick, his son Julian (Robin Taylor) and his butler Bevans (Jonny Coyne).

would you rather  dinner party

Human nature is a scary thing and Would You Rather is a horror thriller that uses this as a focal point to bring this story to life.  Seven people with a desperate need for money who needs to do what it takes, overturn their ethics in certain situations and make tough and timely decisions to either stay alive or die.  Every decision has its consequences and that’s essentially what all this is about while entertaining the sick pleasures of the wealthy.  What works for this movie is that its never extremely gruesome even if the choices seemingly are but at the same time, it makes the audience wonder if they were put in that exact same situation, what would be their choice? Would you choose to protect yourself or

would you rather amy

Would You Rather is actually a pretty suspenseful and dark horror thriller.  It doesn’t scare you with mystical creatures or beasts or the paranormal, but with how someone’s choice is out of your control and simply those of another stranger.  What they do is based on their character and how their values affect what decision they make.  With that said, the characters of this flick are the stars.  I’ve always liked Brittany Snow as a young actress when she started in teen flicks.  I’m one of those that enjoyed her in Hairspray and John Tucker Must Die.  I’ve never seen her in the horror genre and let me tell you, she’s was convincing as Iris. The other actor that made me want to watch this was Enver Gjokaj since I’ve recently seen him in Dollhouse.  The first full length that I saw him in was quite good also.  However, there is no doubt that Jeffrey Combs in the star here and carries the calm sort of sadistic crazy really well.  He was downright scary and authoritative, maybe manipulative and of course, cruel wrapped into the body of his character Shepard Lambrick.

would you rather lambrick

When it comes to horror movie, I’m still a beginning but I like horror thrillers a lot because it makes us question whats going on.  I like the whole cerebral activity going on, which I tend to lack when I’m watching predator/creatures/slasher horror flicks.  Thats probably why I watch those when I’m alone so that I don’t end up staying up all night.  Don’t get me wrong! I didn’t stay up for this one but I like conceptS like these where its an exchange; a decision with consequences; tough choices, etc.  It makes a movie more powerful and the intensity increases.  I doubt anyone will find this movie perfect but I found it really good: the acting was pretty convincing, the focus wasn’t on gore and blood but on the idea of choices and what a person views as the lesser evil.

To me, I’m not sure I’d give this a second viewing any time soon but I think its done well enough.  The deal with this is how well you learn about each of the characters and that’ll determine how surprised you will be on the choices they make as the movie progresses.  Some parts may be predictable but there’s always two ways that it could go, so this gave me a late night full of nerves and chills.  I’d recommend it just so you can give it a chance 🙂