Monday, October 23, 2017

Tag: Jason Bateman

Office Christmas Party (2016)*

Title: Office Christmas Party
Rating: R
Directed by: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Written by: Justin Malen, Laura Solon, Dan Mazer, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore and Timothy Dowling
Starring: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jillian Bell, Courtney B. Vance, Rob Corddry, Kate McKinnon and Jennifer Aniston
Release Date: 12/9/2016
Running Time: 105 minutes

Official Site
IMDb

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When the CEO (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close her hard-partying brother’s branch, he (T.J. Miller) and his Chief Technical Officer (Jason Bateman) must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client and close a sale that will save their jobs.


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Family Fang, The (2015)

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Title: The Family Fang
Rating: R
Directed by: Jason Bateman
Written by: David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on the novel by: Kevin Wilson
Starring: Jason Bateman, Nicole Kidman, Kathryn Hahn and Christopher Walken
Release Date: 5/6/2016
Running Time: 105 minutes

IMDb

Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman are Annie and Baxter Fang, the offspring and reluctant collaborators of Caleb and Camille Fang (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunket). Celebrated and controversial performance artists, Caleb and Camille’s work put innocent bystanders in the midst of elaborate staged scenes that frequently featured their young children. When the elder Fangs go missing under mysterious circumstances, Annie is convinced it’s just another elaborate prank-cum-art piece, while Baxter suspects something else might be afoot. In digging into the unraveling mystery, the siblings begin to unpack long dormant and unresolved issues from their unorthodox childhoods.


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Special thanks to Frank S. for this submission


Zootopia Review – 4 out of 5 Stars

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With the recent issues in our country, you would expect a lot more mainstream films to tackle race in America. Between smaller issues like #Oscarssowhite and larger problems like the shooting in Ferguson, racial equality is a serious discussion that needs to happen in our country. But besides maybe Straight Outta Compton, it’s rare to find big budget movies that are willing to tackle this story head on in a competent way. This may seem like an odd way to start to a review for an animated kid’s movie but believe me when I make this next statement. Zootopia is a fantastic movie not just because it’s a funny children’s film and a clever addition to the mystery genre, it’s also a fantastic movie because it manages to create one of the most intelligent and bold discussions on race that I’ve seen a movie do in years.

In the city of Zootopia, the buildings, jobs and attitudes very much resemble the world of our own. The only major difference is that this world is run by anthropomorphic mammals rather than human beings. Predators and prey must live together under the same roof and deal with each other despite their differences.

ZOOTOPIA. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

For our main character Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), her lifetime goal was to become a police officer. This proves to be a challenge because she’s a rabbit (prey) in a workplace dominated by bears, lions and wolves (predators). When she finally gets recruited, she finds out that the job isn’t exactly what she hoped it would be as she has to face discrimination and scrutiny from the other officers on the force. A missing person’s case gives Judy 48 hours to prove to her colleagues that she has what it takes to solve a crime. If she doesn’t get the job done in that time, she has to resign. With the help of a con artist fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), Hopps searches the wide, massive city of Zootopia for clues.

Before I explain my opening statement, I want to address some of the other things that made this such an entertaining film. For starters, the world inside of Zootopia gives directors Bryon Howard and Rich Moore a lot of leeway to create this expansive and ambitious landscape. I love it in movies and shows when you can tell how much detail went into the world building. The way they use the different animals is endlessly unique and there’s so much layers to the city of Zootopia from the billboards to the cities to the newspapers. You can find everything from a shrew that’s a crime boss protected by security guard polar bears to a sloth that runs a DMV. There’s an ice cream shop where elephants scoop ice cream with their trunks and there’s a drug lab that’s run by rams. I’m really reminded of something like Brazil or even Futurama where everywhere you look you can find concepts and characters that you want to learn more about. You can literally point at one area of the screen at one point in time and find something that deserves further acknowledgement. It helps that the animation for this film is the best I’ve seen for a Disney film since Wreck-it Ralph. One of the amazing things cinema can do is that it can build places that you can explore from multiple angles on repeat viewings; Zootopia has definitely succeeded at this.

The voice acting for this film is wonderful. Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman have great chemistry as Hopps and Wilde and they infuse there characters with charm and sincerity. They nail the funnier lines of dialogue and when the film gets darker, they make the drama feel sincere and warranted. In a particular scene, Wilde has to tell Hopps about a dark thing that happened to him in his past and it feels as authentically tragic as the darkest moments of a drama like The Big Short or Boyhood. They’re supported by a huge supporting cast who make the most of the wide variety of characters. Tommy Chong playing a stoner yak and Idris Elba playing a stern buffalo that’s the chief of police are only two of several wonderful choices they made with the ensemble.

Finally, I have to discuss the outstanding score done here by Michael Giacchino. Between this and Inside Out, Giacchino has quickly become one of my favorite film composers working today. Whatever he does, he manages to make huge, breathtaking compositions that fit perfectly with the films without becoming too sentimental or overbearing. The music he does here reminds me of those old scores from the Hitchcock films and it helps to give Zootopia the feeling of one of those classic, large scale mysteries. The use of drums and a huge orchestra makes the movie sounds big and grandiose in a way that can’t be found in most major studio blockbusters today. I would personally take one soundtrack by Michael Giacchino over twenty of Thomas Newman’s sappy, phoned in soundtracks any day.

So now that I have gotten these basic things mentioned, what is it about Zootopia that makes it such a daring discussion on race? First off, the movie takes place in a world that doesn’t have any of the same people as our own. This allows them to take on race in a way that’s more abstract and less restrained. They can talk about the problems of the time while creating a work of art.

ZOOTOPIA – Pictured (L-R): Nick Wilde, Judy Hopps. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

And the problems in Zootopia do a great job presenting the problems in the US today. They present these animals of different types being forced to live and work together and they show the different misconceptions and beliefs that these animals have with other animals. For example, the rabbits see the foxes as savage liars who can’t do anything right. Hopps’ parents tell Hopps at the beginning that it was scientifically proven that foxes are born dangerous because it’s in there DNA. In a scene where Hopps and Wilde are arguing, Hopps’ immediate reaction is to pull a weapon on him when he moves towards her in a specific way. On the other side of the coin, the rabbits are seen as weaker and more pathetic. They can’t be police officers because they aren’t as strong and powerful as the other officers around them. When the officers do get a rabbit officer, they celebrate it as this big achievement but they don’t put her in the line of duty or give her a job that isn’t invisible. As Hopps puts it, they make her the token rabbit. Hopps and Wilde are only two animals in a city of prejudices lying underneath the disguise of thousands of animals living together in harmony. The movie constantly mirrors how people of different genders and colors are viewed in America but it does so using a blank canvas of opportunity for its world. The movie is totally different yet totally accurate at the same time.

The other terrific thing Zootopia does in handling race is in how it humanizes racists. In a lot of movies about race, it feels incredibly easy to make all the racists these big monsters and the oppressed these wonderful, beautiful angels who are practically perfect in every way. Don’t get me wrong, racism is a horrible thing and it would be incredible if we could live in a world without it. At the same time, it’s always seemed ineffective and hypocritical to me to simply portray racist people as the one dimensional villains. These are people who are very misguided, but they’re still human beings. They have friends, they go to work and they love just like the rest of us. And even though we might not personally want to believe it, sometimes we can all in one way or another be unintentionally racist to someone else. Racism is a struggle humans have to deal with, but if there is happy ending to our struggle with racism, the answer isn’t to attack and ignore every single person who disagrees with our world beliefs. Everyone has the potential be racist and the world doesn’t exist in black and white.

At first, Hopps seems like the clear hero who has to fight against discrimination. But as the movie goes on, her prejudices are revealed and it turns out that she can be just as judgmental as the people who were attacking her earlier on the film. The movie has no clear hero when it comes to racial tension, both sides are equally bad. And at the same time, both sides can be equally enlightened. A bully who beats up Hopps in her childhood is shown later on the movie to be a farmer working with her parents. So as the movie goes continues, the answer to the problem isn’t a fight or a self-righteous speech. The solution is the admittance of our errors and the hope that through simply hanging out and talking with each other, the misconceptions in our society can go away. Like Mannix and Warren in The Hateful Eight, the difficulties of racism are thrown away by the ability for two largely different people with different viewpoints to work together and see beyond their own opinions to share a common goal. Hopps and Wilde have demeaning opinions of each other that are solved by not just ignoring the problem until it hopefully goes away, but by solving the mystery. It’s bizarre to have to say this, but like the bloody Tarantino movie, the Disney film has found an honest and helpful way for us to view race in this country. In the ending, Hopps view of Zootopia isn’t as perfect and clear as she had originally thought when she was child. But at the same time, she sees it as a place where amazing things can still get accomplished.

Zootopia is a movie that I continue to love the more I consider it. Beyond the weighty stance on race, the film is a clever buddy cop movie set in a beautiful, complex world that I wouldn’t mind returning to time and again. Let me put it this way, I would watch the hell out of a TV show involving these two characters going around the city solving crimes. And it only adds that the film brought up racism in a kids movie with more nuance and depth than Crash, The Blind Side and Driving Miss Daisy combined. Every year we need one movie to come along to be the first amazing movie to get released. In 2014 it was The Grand Budapest Hotel, in 2015 it was Ex Machina and in 2016 that film is Zootopia.

Rating:(4/5)

Review by: Ryan M.

Release Date: 3/4/2016

Rating: PG

Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk and Shakira

Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush

Screenplay by: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston, Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jennifer Lee, Josie Trinidad, Jim Reardon and Dan Fogelman

Zootopia (2016)*

ZootopiaPoster

Title: Zootopia
Rating: PG
Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush
Written by: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston, Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jennifer Lee, Josie Trinidad, Jim Reardon and Dan Fogelman
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk and Shakira
Release Date: 3/4/2016
Running Time: 108 minutes

Official Site
IMDb

The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when optimistic Officer Judy Hopps arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde, to solve the mystery.


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Special thanks to Frank S. for this submission

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The Gift Review – 4 out of 5 Stars

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At its core, The Gift is an ugly film. This sounds like a bad thing to say about something but in this case this is what makes The Gift so great. You may have watched the sub-par trailers and looked at the forgettable title and expected your average stalker thriller but this film will surprise you right from the opening minutes due to how quiet and natural everything feels. Star and director Joel Edgerton’s film debut creeps up on you and before you even know what hit you; you’re sinking deeper and deeper into this brutal story about terrible people and the horrific, unchangeable consequences of their sins.

This movie reminds me a lot of Gone Girl or Ex Machina in that it’s much easier to talk about this film if I reveal plot points that are meant to shock in the film. I’ll try not to spoil anything here but I think you’d have a far superior viewing experience without knowing the synopsis or seeing the trailer. If you have even an inkling of interest in watching this movie, go in blind and then come back to this review. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are newlyweds moving to California for Simon’s new job. The area is near the place where Simon grew up and as it happens, he comes across Gordo (Joel Edgerton), an old student he knew from high school. At first everything seems fine and Robyn even seems to enjoy his company but after a while he begins to show another side that may be much more sinister. After Simon asks Gordo to leave them alone, odd things start happening around the area and they start receiving letters that reveal that Simon’s past history with Gordo might be much crueler than first expected. Simon must come to terms with what he has done if he wishes to save his life.

This movie tries to discuss two major topics, the first being of the quiet intensity of life in the suburbs. This idea might remind many of you of the amazing Gone Girl from last year in how it took these two seemingly happy people living the perfect life in the usual neighborhood and transformed there vices into something insane and grandiose. The Gift is far less satirical and much more subtle and creepy in how it dissects this hidden rage.

Robyn is a designer who has to leave her job to become Simon’s stay at home wife while he’s away at work. We find out half way through that she has had mental issues in the past and she has a problem with taking too many pills. Simon doesn’t take her job, her opinions or her issues seriously and it’s clear that even though Robyn is trying as hard as she can to be happy with this lifestyle, she feels trapped in a cage. She feels the pressure to be this simple person her husband wants her to be and she is equally horrified that she might not be that person and that she might be transformed into that person.

When Gordo shows up in her life, he provides her with an escape from a variety of things. Firstly, Gordo allows her to communicate with a person beyond the bubble who doesn’t behave or respond like the seemingly simple couples Simon talks to at their house parties. She seems him as this mystery that keeps her from being focused on this set in stone lifestyle she seems to be leading. Secondly, his appearance also allows for her to release some of the anger she’s been hiding about Simon. Gordo and his hidden past with Simon gives her a reason to be suspicious of her husband and it allows her to see him for what he really is. He allows for her to rip apart Simon in a way she’s been afraid to for such a long time and its fascinating watching her discontent for everyone surface in the form of their odd friendship. In this, The Gift exposes disillusionment and discomfort within suburban life.

For his directing debut, Edgerton goes a long way technically to express these feelings Robyn has to the audience. He does a great job keeping the soundtrack from being too loud and flashy, he keeps on shots for an uncomfortably long period of time and he shoots the house from her perspective in this way that makes you feel like someone might be secretly watching her at every second. Through this, he not only makes a scary looking thriller but he also presents the claustrophobia in her life and the feeling of paranoia she has about everyone. There was some points in this movie that reminded of the way Amour used long shots and lack of music to put the audience into this place of near hell. It does a great job making you feel uncomfortable with her as she has to face this variety of things that seem out to get her whether it be Gordo or her husband or the repressed neighbors.

The other thing this film tackles is the way a sin from the past can morph into something far worse over time. As you might’ve guessed, Simon isn’t exactly the heroic type who bravely protects his wife and takes down the bad guy. There are numerous points where Gordo is a much more sympathetic person than Simon. Robyn goes snooping around and discovers that Simon was the school yard bully when he was in high school. Gordo is creepy but regardless Simon is a monster in his own rights. He is shown to be willing to destroy lives to get what he wants and he takes some sort of pleasure in crushing people who he sees as worse than him. Without saying here what he did to Gordo, Simon did something that ruined that basically his life and made him an outcast to society. You could almost say that Gordo is the creature built from his bad deeds sent out to destroy him. In a twist ending that is as shocking as it is disturbing, Gordo puts Simon in almost the same position he put Gordo in years ago. Simon has to live with this mystery that destroys his dreams and the pride he fought for. The movie ends by blurring the lines between victim and offender to the point where both Gordo and Simon are terrible, destroyed people who went past the point of no return.

The Gift additionally has three terrific lead performances. Rebecca Hall always seems to give a good performance in sloppy films so for once it’s great to see her talents used in such a top notch movie. She has to play the most sympathetic and relatable character in the movie and her performance captures the uncertainty and anxiety of the audience as we all try to figure who’s doing what and who to trust. Joel Edgerton definitely has the easiest part to play but he delivers it in a way that’s inspired. The crazy person he creates here is different because he’s a creepy wacko who also happens to be sympathetic and even at times normal. He can be scary but in other points you can also tell that he has a sad past and you can even see him as someone who might even come off as somewhat pleasant if you were to maybe talk to them for only two minutes or so, he’s manages to go back and forth between intimidating and pathetic.

However, I have to give the edge to Jason Bateman as Simon for the best of this ensemble. You’ve seen him before in great comedy work but this is definitely his most serious work to date. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such an honest and raw portrayal of a bad person. Bateman brings a touch of humor and charm to the part and at first you can even see how a girl like Robyn could fall for someone like him. What makes this part so different is how the film very slowly pulls off his cool, confident exterior to reveal this egocentric animal that is driven by greed and selfishness. He’s not doing things as blatantly freaky as Gordo but this guy is deeply unlikable in a way that’s grounded and true to real life. He’s the bully who grew up and became successful. And even when he’s being terrible, there’s still the sense that this is still a human being. In one of my favorite scenes, Simon does a horrible thing and he then goes and breaks down in front of his wife as though he just realizes how unchangeable and how messed up he really is. Much like Edgerton, Bateman plays it in a way that makes it seem like a realistically dangerous person you could imagine meeting in real life, he’s certainly evil yet he manages to still make him a little sympathetic.

As for some complaints, I think I would’ve liked to see more of Robyn’s character near the end of the film. In the last ten minutes, the film becomes more about Simon and Gordo’s arc rather than hers and a little bit of the sense of her as this guide for the audience is lost near the ending as she becomes this giant pawn in the messed up game between the two of them. You also need to recognize that this flick is a very slow movement towards a dark, bitter finale and there’s nothing about the ending that will leave you satisfied or pleased. The moment never comes where someone realizes there wrong doings or gets to leave the scene. This isn’t a criticism but it’s more of warning in case you’re expecting something that will have a moment of perfect clarity. So with that said, it’s a film that’s very easy to appreciate and respect but I can’t imagine this being something I will ever feel the need to return to.

Of the things out right now in major theaters, this is the best film you can watch. The Gift makes sure that no one from the characters to the audience leaves happy. This film is a long, twisty road of pain, frustration and fear that never really ends but rather fades into total darkness. There are some great performances from everyone on board and what it has to say about marriage, happiness, history and terrible people is as truthful as it is depressing. Get some soda and some popcorn and sit back and enjoy one of the coldest, grittiest films of the year.

Rating:(4/5)

Review by: Ryan M.

Release Date: 8/7/2015

Rating: R

Cast: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall and Joel Edgerton

Directed by: Joel Edgerton

Screenplay by: Joel Edgerton

Gift, The (2015)

TheGiftPoster

Title: The Gift
Rating: R
Directed by: Joel Edgerton
Written by: Joel Edgerton
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall and Joel Edgerton
Release Date: 8/7/2015
Running Time: 108 minutes

Official Site
IMDb

A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.


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LEGO Brickumentary, A (2014)*

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Title: A LEGO Brickumentary (aka. Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary)
Rating: G
Directed by: Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge
Written by: Daniel Junge, Davis Coombe and Kief Davidson
Starring: Jason Bateman and Jamie Berard
Release Date: 7/31/2015
Running Time: 93 minutes

Official Facebook
IMDb

A look at the global culture and appeal of the LEGO building-block toys.


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Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)*

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TITLE: Horrible Bosses 2

RELEASE DATE: 11/26/2014

RATING: R

Dale, Kurt and Nick decide to start their own business but things don’t go as planned because of a slick investor, prompting the trio to pull off a harebrained and misguided kidnapping scheme.

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This Is Where I Leave You (2014)

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TITLE: This Is Where I Leave You

RELEASE DATE: 9/19/2014

RATING: R

When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.

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Longest Week, The (2014)

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TITLE: The Longest Week

RELEASE DATE: 9/5/2014

RATING: PG-13

Affluent and aimless, Conrad Valmont lives a life of leisure in his parent’s prestigious Manhattan Hotel. In the span of one week, he finds himself evicted, disinherited, and… in love.

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During Credits? No

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Special thanks to Frank S. for this submission

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