Tag Archives: Universal

Cocktails & Movies Review: “Get Out” – A Horror Debut Of The Highest Caliber

by Mike Reyes

Jordan Peele makes a writing/directing debut so impressive, it’s destined to be a horror staple.

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Socially conscious horror films can be pretty horrific, whether it be because of the actual horror in the content they provide, or just because they’re a really bad movie. Directorial debuts can be equally as painful, as talented folks who’ve “always wanted to direct” can be just as weird to watch. So somewhere, in some Hollywood lab, Get Out must feel like a film that’s grasping at a relevant subject, with comedic talent Jordan Peele trying to make himself relevant as a solo act. That lab couldn’t be further from the truth, as Peele is a true student of the horror genre, and has made a tremendously thrilling film that should stand as one of the pillars of social horror done right.

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) have been dating for four months. Surely that’s enough time to wait to introduce your African American boyfriend to your WASP-y family, especially when you haven’t told them his ethnicity? What begins as a strange trip to meet the family (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener) turns into something a lot more sinister, and more deeply disturbing than what you could ever imagine.

You can tell that Jordan Peele has had Get Out on his mind for a while now, as the film is nothing short of a breathless horror thrill ride. Not once does the film step out of line, nor does it deflate its tension with undue humor. If anything, the humor helps amp up the thrills, as the threat of further danger is always lurking out of the frame. This is thanks to Peele’s sense of atmosphere and world building, as he takes his time conditioning the audience into the right frame of mind that allows Get Out to really screw with their expectations.

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And at the center of it all is the all at once vulnerable and strong performance by Daniel Kaluuya, whose Chris is our guide into this world of macabre race relations. His relative innocence pitted up against Allison Williams’ naivete and the subtle menace of both Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener is what makes this film such a powerful horror film, as he’s put through quite a ringer of societal, mental and physical pain. All of this without stooping to stereotypical racial tropes, and without using the granddaddy of all racial slurs.

Though a moment should be taken to praise the entire supporting cast of Get Out, as there’s no role that’s out of place. If all you know of Allison Williams is her role on Girls, then you’ll probably be a bit surprised with her role as Chris’s girlfriend, as she’s definitely given more of a range than the show has. Not to mention former X-Men star, and character actor in the making, Caleb Landry Jones, as well as beloved character actor Stephen Root, both play some rather memorable members of Rose’s family. But perhaps the one actor that almost steals the film completely from under everyone else’s feet is comedian LilRel Howery, whose TSA agent / best friend to Chris is drop dead funny. His appearances help relieve the pressure of the threats that came before, while helping prime us for the next round.

Get Out is probably one of, if not the most, artistic horror films on the market. It helps that protagonist Chris is a photographer, which more than likely informed Jordan Peele’s writing and directing process in telling his story. But even in the prologue that takes place before Chris’s story, or even in the moments he’s not involved in, there’s a slick menace to Peele’s visuals and sound design. With the score and sound effects used as tools to enhance the dreadful atmosphere, rather than shock the audience into a cheap scare, it’s as if we’re being conditioned right alongside Chris. We’re just as helpless and scared as he is, and that’s something horror films forget to do by and large.

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Get Out isn’t a blunt instrument trying to bludgeon you with its message, rather it’s a subtle knife that cuts you in all the right places. With Jordan Peele’s strong and confident voice as a writer, director, and horror auteur, his ascendance should not only be seen as a triumph of diversity, but also as a victory for the horror genre. I, for one, am looking forward to whatever Peele does next, as he’s proven that he’s ready to take the reins again, perhaps on a bigger scale than before.

My Rating: 5 / 5

 

Cocktails & Movies Review: “Split” – M. Night Shyamalan’s Most Irresponsible Movie Yet

by Mike Reyes

The second M. Night Shyamalan’s “Mental Illness Is Scary” picture in a row, this film is not only dangerous in its message, it’s really sucks too.

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There is only one M. Night Shyamalan film that I actually hold as a favorite of mine: 2000’s Unbreakable. Somehow, he caught lightning in a bottle, and following up that film with the severely ok Signs, it looked like Shyamalan would be a filmmaker that could provide moderate to superior entertainment. Of course, the moment The Village happened, his entire career went into a tailspin that has provided no respite from sucking.

Some might tell you The Visit was a break from the sucking, and those people will probably tell you Split is a good movie. In both cases, those people would be dead wrong, as M. Night treats mental illness with the same sensitivity in his latest film as he did in last year’s blockbuster meh-tacular.

Split BuckleyKevin (James McAvoy) has 23 different personalities, and all of them have created various factions in preparation of a 24th personality making its way into the fold. At about this time, Kevin abducts three young girls (Hailey Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Anya Taylor-Joy,) with a mysterious purpose in mind. As the hour draws nearer, and the girls get more desperate, Kevin and his personalities will do all they can to outsmart the girls who are outsmarting them.

Making matters worse, Spilt is horrifically edited. Intermittent flashbacks to the childhood of Casey, Anya Taylor-Joy’s protagonist, are mixed in with very little context throughout the film. Not to mention, one of those flashbacks is cut into a tense moment toward’s the film’s climax, on top of the one and only flashback we get to Kevin’s own traumatic childhood.  These aren’t the only instances of editing disasters in this film, as the first act cuts between the different stories in play so much, you can’t really develop the best grasp for the film’s supposed story.

And then there’s the patented M. Night Shyamalan “twist,” which finds a new place to make its home… a mid-credits sequence. This is where Split made me hate it the most, as the implication of this ending is such a cheap grab for nostalgic goodwill that it causes me to seethe with anger. On top of everything that Shyamalan bungles in terms of storytelling and film-making throughout this film, he goes and makes a Split Joybold faced move to get the audience to redeem his story. Considering how this ending is linked to Shyamalan’s previous filmography, it threatens to zero the balance of his goodwill account, putting him in a dead spin.

But hey? Who am I to tell you Split is a movie you shouldn’t watch? You might enjoy disassociative identity disorder being turned into a superpower! You might even enjoy people getting eaten, and cheap twist endings that beg you to like them. If you do, then Split is for you. But if you actually like movies, it’s hard for me to justify a reason for you to even give this film a second glance.

My Rating: 1/5

Cocktails and Movies’ Wrap Session – 3/17/14

BY TIM BARLEY AND MIKE REYES

Mr. Peabody and Sherman is top dog!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Mixers! We hope that your festivities have been and continue to be fun but safe. May you see more green than you can count but less red and blue than you like. (aka TAKE A CAB!!!) By the numbers though, we have seen what you didn’t see… and that’s movies. We’re back to lower end numbers, and that kind of upsets us… especially with a movie like Need For Speed coming out of the gate this weekend. Here’s the estimated box office takes for this weekend.

Cocktails and Movies’ Wrap Session – Feb. 21st – 23rd

BY TIM BARLEY AND MIKE REYES

The LEGO Movie builds into a bona fide hit, while Monday shocks us with bad news

Egon-Spengler with twinkieSorry we’re late today, everyone. As you are no doubt aware already, very sad news has hit Hollywood today. The man who gave us some of the funniest movies, either as a writer, director, producer or actor such as Meatballs, Stripes, Animal House, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Vacation and more, Harold Ramis, died today at the age of 69. Most remember him as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters and his scientific description of the supernatural energy in NYC vis-a-vis a Twinkie. He was a brilliant writer/director and actor and we all dare you to say you haven’t seen a movie that Harold Ramis was attached to. So, pour out a bit of your cocktail, people. Harold Ramis, you will be missed…

As for the weekend wrap, we’ve got some good news and bad news for you, Mixers.

The Weekend Wrap Session: No One Can Storm the Lionsgate

BY TIM BARLEY AND MIKE REYES

A Monstrous Weekend for Lionsgate, But A Triumphant One For Universal!

Cocktails and Movies wrap session Ride AlongGood Monday afternoon, Mixers! Looks like you spread the word on some older favorites this weekend, while you didn’t even bother with the only newcomer this weekend. Seriously though, did ANY of you see I, Frankenstein. Even Cocktails and Movies president Tim did NOT see it, preferring to enjoy some volleyball, then golf and some pizza and beer with the boys. Then there was Sunday… But as far as I (ay ay yay), Frankenstein, it’s okay if you saw it. We promise no public shaming, we just want to know your thought and who has your family and what the ransom is for their safe release…