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Movie Review: It: Chapter Two

It: Chapter Two

They say you can’t run from your past. To ignore it is to repeat it.  They also say that the past is a mistress past shared. But I beg to differ. If the past is a mistress that is a terrifying long-limbed clown with yellow eyes, sharp teeth, and a red balloon then (by all means) leave that past behind you. Or better yet, just kill the damn thing. Clowns are creepy as hell!

If you have not guessed by now, I am referring to the second installment, the final chapter of the It movie. A movie I found to be surprisingly heartfelt and emotional when, of course, Pennywise the Dancing Clown was not drooling and about to tear into some young unsuspecting flesh.

Granted, and you many find this shocking; I DID NOT READ THE BOOK. Yet from what I read online this sequel was a faithful adaption to the novel with some minor changes. The start of the movie was brutal and jarring. If you read the book, you will know exactly what I’m referring to. The scene at the carnival was a gut punch to my soul; a still relevant reminder to what marginalized people deal with today. The irrational “need” to attack those who are different than you, those who do not fit, those who do not conform is still being perpetrated by monsters in 2019.  And the scary thing about it they look just like you and me. Yes, my heart broke, but it would not be the first time during the course of this movie.

But let me slow down. And focus on the bigger cast— the Losers Club. I found myself thoroughly touched by the bond between them all grown up, collectively successful, but united by a shared history drenched in blood, terror, and red balloons. Each and every actor has brought this authenticity to their respective characters. And can I say that the casting was top notch?!

Actually, I found myself smiling when they all met up at (slight spoiler) the Jade of the Orient. The passage of time was stamped out as these grown friends laughed and reminisced about the good times shared in that fateful summer of 1989. Sure, there were not many, but enough to forge a bond borne of commitment, sacrifice, unity, and, well, blood. Literally. They consecrated a pact that fateful summer which led to them reuniting 27 years later once Pennywise emerged from his deep slumber to terrorize Derry, Maine once more.

As stated before, I found each character of the ensemble cast to be enjoyable. None without their flaws to balance their inherent strengths. The adults building on what their younger counterparts began in the first movie that was released in 2017.

It: Chapter Two

Bill Denbrough played by James McAvoy was still very much the leader of this ragtag team of muta… er… misfits in 2019 as eh was in 1989. I love how he was willing to lend an open ear and open heart once the truth emerged behind the reason for their reunion. I was waiting for the stutter and was not disappointed. McAvoy played the hell out of the role and I loved when he got distressed which made him even more determined to do what was right. And, guys, that Funhouse scene with the mirrors will give you a nightmare.

Beverly Marsh played by Jessica Chastain continues to be the enigmatic, flame-haired siren. Broken by her father, but still very much a survivor which you see early on in the movie. I love Jessica. She always brings a vulnerability and softness to her roles. Yes, even kinda in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. But the less said about that movie the better. “Your hair is winter fire, January embers.” This line suddenly reminds me of Jean Grey. Jessica would have been great… Malachi, focus!

Mike Hanlon played by Isaiah Mustafa was easily the heart and soul of the group. At least to me. As expected with him being the librarian, he was also their memory and purpose. Having lost his family early on to a fire, it was no surprise that he bonded so deeply with the other Losers. He was fierce, determined, and relentless in the pursuit of knowledge necessary to calling back his family not borne of his flesh to combat an evil so alien and corrosive. He had that—wait for it— “Old Spice” about him. Lol.

Ben Hanscom played by Jay Ryan, to me, was great casting on so many levels. For starters, I love how the “ugly duckling” (ugh, I hate that term) became this swan with, well, abs. If you are at all familiar with what I am talking about then you already know. If not, check out CW’s “Beauty & the Beast”. You’ll thank me later. But just like his younger counterpart, Ben was the sweetest, most adorable, and sensitive Loser of them all. Content to remain on sidelines even as shown with his introduction into the movie. He remained the same at heart even though he transformed everything else about his life. He is the poster boy for the “Glow Up”. I am envious.

Eddie Kaspbrak played by James Ransone intrigued me. He was another one who was cast perfectly. For his entire life fear restricted him. Sterile environments kept him imprisoned. But you see his character start to evolve throughout the course of the movie which was a beautiful sight. His one-liners were on par with Richie Tozier’s. I am always here for some good banter. But yes, he turned out to be the bravest one. Go figure.

Richie Tozier played by Bill Hader was such a treat! His introduction made me turn my face, but the follow up had me laughing hysterically. And this is something I would do throughout the movie whenever he opened his mouth to say anything. Levity in such a dark situation is needed. “Gallows humor” is what they call it, right? His humor hid a certain truth which was acknowledged in this movie. Fans of the book have already discussed this online. The memes are amazing. Look them up!

Stanley Uris played by Andy Bean was easily the most fragile of the Losers Club then and now.  Oh, and also great casting yet again! I admit I was shocked at a revelation (again, I did not read the book), but he showed that he was the true visionary and perhaps the most in touch with himself. But what do we do to visionaries in fiction? What do we do to them so that others enjoy life more? I will give you a moment. 

It/Pennywise the Dancing Clown by Alexander Skarsgård was AMAZING.  Alexander is easily the creepiest of the famous Skarsgård brothers. If you’ve seen Netflix’s Hemlock Grove you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Already super tall at 6’4 and in that tattered attire, Skarsgård truly set himself apart from Tim Curry’s iconic Pennywise. Bone-chilling with the wine-colored eyes promising death, this is not one clown you want to make a balloon animal for you. I foresee a plethora of Pennywises this Halloween. I am prepared for the Ritual of Chud if need be.

Before I bring this to a close, I want to tell you about a scene that has been shown in the trailers. A scene meant to scare us, but instead, it had me literally lol’ing in the theater. THE OLD WOMAN. Omigawd. The blank stare, her peeking from around the corner, and her lil naked shimmy while having a seizure, gave me life! I see her dance being all the rage at cookouts.

Anyway…

I recommend that you go see It: Chapter Two. You will jump at parts of the movie. You will even laugh. But you will definitely see the genuine hard work breathed into this film by the cast and crew. It sheds light on past childhood trauma and how it can echo throughout our adult lives. But like that old woman said “nothing ever stays dead ”.

Movie Review: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

teenagegirlposterBased on the autobiographic graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a brutally honest movie that shows that a film based on a comic can honor its source, but take itself seriously. The film may be the best movie based on a comic… ever.

Like most teenage girls, Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) is longing for love, acceptance and a sense of purpose in the world. Minnie begins a complex love affair with her mother’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend, “the handsomest man in the world,” Monroe Rutherford (Alexander Skarsgård). What follows is a sharp, funny and provocative account of one girl’s sexual and artistic awakening, without judgment.

Going into the film I was aware of the topic at hand, but I was somehow still unprepared for the raw and honest portrayal I was about the witness. Running at 101 minutes, the film feels a little long at times, but that’s partially because I couldn’t figure out where it was going, how it was going to end. Unlike so many movies based on comics, there’s not some climactic showdown to signal the end. There’s showdowns, but in this case it’s of the emotional kind. When the 101 minutes were up, I felt like I had been punched in the gut… and immediately wanted to see the film again. Set in 1976 San Francisco, The Diary of a Teenage Girl is an amazing crossroads of the end of free love, feminism, punk rock and all contrasted with the trial of Patty Hearst. This is really a film you can dissect and talk about for hours on end.

At the center of it all is 15-year-old Minnie played by Bel Powley who is a star in the making. Whomever found her deserves a raise, as the film is completely on her shoulders. Her out there performance bares it all (literally) as she balances between being a child and her impending adulthood. She’s a fascinating mix of child/woman/id/manipulative/and feminist, all rolled into one. Hers is a coming of age story that is as poignant as it is unsettling.

Skarsgård and Wiig are amazing in their roles on Monroe and Charlotte. Both can easily be justified for best supporting actors and Wiig especially is more than just a comedic actress.

Writer/Director Marielle Heller has also done the impossible. While we should be scolding Monroe for taking advantage of young Minnie, Heller has somehow crafted a story where everything and everyone is in a bit of a gray area. Who’s to blame? Is it Minnie? Is it Monroe? Is it Minnie’s mother Charlotte? While the law is clear, everything else isn’t.

While I haven’t read the graphic novel it’s based on, I can’t say how closely the film lines up with the source material, but the film itself is beautifully adapted. The use of animation, as well as weaving in art at times reminds you of what it’s based off of. The film reminds me of American Splendor (also based on a comic) in many ways, except instead of a grouchy man it stars a very liberated woman.

Expect some nominations when award season comes around. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is my favorite film based on a comic, and also my favorite film of the year so far. You may think you’re prepared for the subject and film before you see it, you’re absolutely not prepared for how brutally honest and shocking it is. The film is fearless in so many ways, a coming of age story that’s unsettling and beautiful at the same time.

Overall Rating: 10

Battleship Trailer

I’m both horrified and intrigued by this summer’s movie Battleship, based on the classic board game.  I mean the trailer says “From Hasbro, who brought you Transformers”… This movie could be over the top cheese and/or completely brainless, but also be beyond garbage.  We’ll find out May 18.

Cast:  Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Asano Tadanobu and Liam Neeson
Directed by:  Peter Berg
Writers:  Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber, Brian Koppelman & David Levien
Produced by:  Scott Stuber, Peter Berg, Sarah Aubrey, Brian Goldner, Bennett Schneir, Duncan Henderson, Jeffrey Silver

Peter Berg (Hancock) produces and directs Battleship, an epic-scaled action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force.  Inspired by Hasbro’s classic naval combat game, Battleship stars Taylor Kitsch as Lt. Alex Hopper, a Naval officer assigned to the USS John Paul Jones; Brooklyn Decker as Sam Shane, a physical therapist and Hopper’s fiancée; Alexander Skarsgård as Hopper’s older brother, Stone, Commanding Officer of the USS Sampson; Rihanna as Petty Officer Raikes, Hopper’s crewmate and a weapons specialist on the USS John Paul Jones; and international superstar Liam Neeson as Hopper and Stone’s superior (and Sam’s father), Admiral Shane.

Berg directs this epic action-adventure also produced by Scott Stuber (Couples Retreat), Sarah Aubrey (The Kingdom), Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir of Hasbro (the Transformers franchise), along with Duncan Henderson (Master and Commander) and Jeffrey Silver (300).  The film is written by Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber (Red).

The battle for Earth begins at sea.