Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Frank - Movie Review

Welcome back to another edition of Baatezuu Reviews.  Tonight we have watched, for your entertainment and mine, the movie Frank.  What can I say about the movie Frank?

It is quite hard to sum up this film in a couple of paragraphs.  The basic premise revolves around a band and their creative process, but it gets much more interesting by the time it is all over.

General Comments

I wasn't sure what to think of this film when I first saw it.  I saw the picture of the guy with a giant silly head and thought, "This might be an interesting film.  Is this supposed to be funny?  Is it a film about a crazy ax murderer?  Is it a live action South Park?"

Well I can say this much, it is not a film about a crazy ax murderer.  It is a film about a band and the music they make together.  It centers around Jon Burroughs; a guy who is desperate to be an actual musician.  When Jon gets invited to play keyboard with an established band, he jumps at the opportunity.  Little does he know what he is getting himself into.  Lets get to the categories and delve deeper into this crazy little film.


This is one of those films that are not quite known for its costumes, but I always mention this is my reviews regardless.  The costumes always felt spot on for the characters in this movie.  They were crazy, but not so over the top you thought any of them had serious mental issues, even though some of them did. I suppose in some ways it is a nod to the costume designer, that their work does not stand out in a film like this.  I think the one shinning gem of costuming in this film is Frank's giant head.  It is actually very well made.  I noticed watching it that it had several well placed vent holes, latches, hinges, and fans.  Being a tech geek I can pick out things like that.

Special Effects 

I am going to list music under this category as it is such a large part of this film.  The music, while certainly not mainstream, is rather unique and is actually the heart of the movie.  The music is interesting and diverse sort of an electronic cacophony of sounds all mashed together in a very creative way.  I can imagine this being the way some Greatful Dead, or Phish songs were composed. The music reminds me of some of the later Doors live tracks. Looking back on the film, the special effects they used were very subtle.  In my experience most Indie films use very few special effect and this one is no different in that regard.


This film does do some fairly creative things with the camera.  You are always seeing the events of the film as if you are a spectator.  A fly on the wall so to speak.  They make you feel like you are right there with Jon and Frank as they go through their journey in this film.  You can certainly appreciate a well thought out scene and you can tell the director and cinematographer certainly were thinking when they filmed this movie.


The actors in this film were top notch and this film has a few unexpected gems of acting in it.  is amazing as Frank.  Michael brings an intensity to Frank that is gentle yet appropriate for the character.  Frank is awkward, and yet at the same time you get a sense that he really has the universe figured out.  has long been one of my favorite actors.  Maggie can be loving, gentle, kind, and absolutely freaking nuts all in the same scene.  Her performance as Clara in this film is certainly another outstanding piece of her work.

Last mention but not the least is who plays Jon.  Honestly the whole time I was watching this film I kept thinking to myself, "Is that the kid who played Ron Weasley in Harry Potter?"  I guess the reason that I kept thinking this is because he actually played Bill Weasley in the films.  Domhnall brought a certain sort of naive yet eager energy to this part.  This energy is important for the role of Jon who is quite enthusiastic, yet desperate to find his place in the band.


The film is really good at showing you a window into a journey of growth and self discovery.  It is real, believable and yet exciting enough to keep you interested in the what is going to happen to the characters next.  I am not typically good at guessing the outcome of most films, but I can definitely say I had no idea where this film was going until the very end.  This movie was also very good at creating a clear path for the characters when it was over.  I love it when a film allows you to continue the story in your head after the credits roll.

Closing Thoughts

I really enjoyed this film on many levels.  It was a look into the psyche, and what makes us human through the enjoyable mediums of music and film.  While the film is kind of a heavy with its themes of humanity and what makes us tick, it also has its fun moments to keep the overall tone from getting to dark.

The characters are all pretty likable and you will certainly be wrapped up in what is going to happen to the band.  Like many other Indie titles this one is a character films.  If you cannot connect with the characters then it is probably not going to hold your interest.  Overall I liked it and I would probably watch it again, but not right away.

Magic Math Machine tells us what our score is.  So we put some trash in the Mr. Fusion, scrape some lead paint off the wall, put a sock in the blender and carry a tune then you get 5.8.  So rounding up, I rate this film 6 out of 7 smiley Mike heads.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Jupiter Ascending - Movie Review (New Format)

Hello again.  Time for a new movie review by yours truly Baatezuu.  I am trying a new format for this review, let me know what you think in the comments below.  I went once again to my favorite movie theatre, The Alamo Drafthouse.  This time I saw the Sci-Fi epic Jupiter Ascending.

General Comments

For anyone who knows me, I am a geek.  For those of you who do not know me, suffice it to say if it has cool tech gadgets I am on that movie as fast as a superhero to a damsel in distress.  No offense meant to the strong ladies in my life.  I am well aware that women kick butt too.  Anyway, back to the comments, this film is full of some of the most imaginative tech I have seen in a movie to date.  It is not just the tech gadgets that stun and amaze, it is the story and visuals as well.  There is even a love story too, so you can take your girlfriends that only like mushy films and she will not hate you for it.

Let me take a moment to explain the new blog format.  I felt I needed more room to express how I felt about the movies I decided upgrade to a seven smiley Mike head format.  In doing so I have more smileyness to work with, and no more strange half Mike heads.  Lets face it, half a Mike head is like something out of a horror movie.  Also, I now have more clearly defined section, and each section gets its own rating.  I will take these individual rating and combine them into some math magic machine to get the overall rating for the movie.  I think this will help to bring a little more logic into my rating system.  So without further ado, I will get on with the review!


Since I currently live with a costumer, I feel it necessary to put this category at the top.  This section is going to be rated on a scale of 1997 Batman & Robin to Downton Abby.  Of course that is not to say that Downton Abby has the best costumes ever, I just think period pieces should rank higher on the scale due to difficulty alone.  Having said that, this film has some of the most spectacular costumes I have seen since The Fifth Element.  That is saying something, since the costumes in The Fifth Element were designed by Jean Paul Gaultier.  We have everything from functional hero wear to elegant high fashion wedding dresses.  There are many different settings for the film, and many different sets of costumes.  The costumes always seem to match the mood and setting of the film, so kudos to Kym Barrett for her stellar designs.

Special Effects

 This section is going to be rated on a scale of paper figures on sticks, to Avatar.  I always say that special effects should help to tell the story, and not get in the way.  This film manages to accomplish that feat and then some.  While I am not a fan of bullet time, especially when overdone or when it is stretched out, this film seems to get it spot on.  It is used very rarely, and for just the right amount of time.  The action sequences are phenomenal as well.  There are a few scenes that are filmed over Chicago where things get blown up and it looks amazingly real.  Ships get blown apart while people are still inside of them.  It is all done so well that you just go, OK that could happen.  Yeah, I think I saw that happen to my uncle Jimmy once.


This is a section that I use to describe the overall camera work in the film.  To me there is nothing worse than a shot that is too close to see what is going on that is being filmed by a guy having a seizure.  you know what I am talking about Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence.  Or perhaps something being filmed by the stunt double with a Go Pro strapped to his head.  I think you get my point, onward.  This film was very will filmed.  They placed the camera at an optimal distance in almost every scene.  You could actually tell what was happening, but were not forced to count Mila Kunis' nose hairs.


The actors in this film were mostly veteran actors.  The movie stars Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones.  Mila does a great job of playing unassuming, vulnerable, and a little bit tough.  She does a great job creating very natural transition in the Jupiter character throughout the film.  

We also have Channing Tatum as Caine Wise.  Channing pulls off BAMF quite well in this film.  What is a BAMF, well start by using Google, since this is a family friendly blog, but I am sure you will see a photo of Samuel L. Jackson by the term.

There is quite a long list of actors in this film, and none of them were sub par.  Everyone did an amazing job.  All the character were quite will fleshed out.


The story is quite fascinating.  It starts off a bit slow, they keep feeding you nuggets of Sci-Fi and intrigue to keep you interested until the really fun bits kick in.  While it does feel a bit Dune like, this particular story line does have a different feel to it.  The rich aristocrats are interesting to watch in their power struggles and political processes.  There may be some familiar elements to the story it does manage to feel mostly original in the telling.

Closing Thoughts

This film is one of the best Sci-Fi films I have seen in quite a while. There is a lot going on, but it is not so heady that you must have a college degree to understand it all.  I personally want to go and watch it again five more times right now.  If you like actions films, and do not mind a little geekery this this film is for you.  If you like films with a little bit of romance, then this film is for you.  If you like puppets, go see the Muppet movie, what are you doing reading this review.

Magic Math Machine says we rate this film a 6.2, so round down carry the one, split an atom, shake your margarita, and you get six out of seven smiley Mike heads.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Boyhood - Movie review

Welcome to another fun filled adventure with Baatezuu Reviews stuff, typically movies. Tonight is yet another movie review. The movie is Boyhood.

Believe it or not, I actually saw the movie at an honest to goodness movie theater, namely the Alamo Drafthouse. I know that this is a shameless plug, but they are quickly becoming my favorite movie theater. I love the Alamo because they obviously love movies, and they make going to the movies fun again. With good movie prices, and amazing food and drink choices, they are a great location for movie enjoyment. Sorry, I got sidetracked there, on with the movie review.

Boyhood is a movie about exactly what the title says, boyhood. This movie is actually quite unique as it follows the same actors through 12 years of life. When I say follows them, I truly mean follows the same actors as they age. It is truly a marvel to watch the children grow into adults on screen. Mason, the main character of the film, is only 5 at the beginning and 18 at the end.

Life is up on the big screen in all its glory, and horror. There are scenes in the film that are very uncomfortable, just like in real life. As an example, late in the film Mason's biological father is talking to his older sister Samantha about birth control. It is so honest, and difficult to watch, because it brings to mind experiences that I had in my own life. This is the true beauty of this film, that everyone can relate to aspects of it in one way or another.

The acting is actually quite natural and seemingly honest.  Given that the main character of Mason is played by a relative newcomer Ellar Coltrane. Ellar portrays some very intense emotions for someone so young. His facial expressions are perfect for each emotional state the character finds himself in.  There are a couple of seasoned actors in this film as well. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, give amazing performances as Mason's biological parents. Patricia is as powerful as ever in this role of a mother just trying to provide what is best for her two children.  Patricia is no stranger to the role of the strong, powerful heroin having played Allison Dubois in the TV show Medium.  Ethan Hawke does a great job playing the father to Mason and Samantha.  He actually makes you fall in love with his seemingly deadbeat dad character. Kudos to you sir for pulling that off as well as you did.

Costumes play a pretty big part in this film as in other film since it is filmed over such a large span of time.  The actors are always growing and new costumes would have to be found for each section of time being portrayed. I could only imagine the effort that went into choosing the right wardrobe for every time change. Having assisted a wardrobe supervisor on a film, I know how much work can go into picking out costumes for such things. So, I always make sure to give credit to the people who work so hard to get other people dressed.

The music in this film is really spot on. There are many great indie tracks in the film such as "Do you realize" by the Flaming Lips, and "Deep Blue" by Arcade Fire. Music can really set the tone for the emotions that we are feeling in life; such is the soundtrack of this film. Each song seems to add the perfect emotion to the moment. This is not an easy feat as I am sure you can imagine.

If you have read any of my other reviews you know that I am a sucker for personal growth and indie films in general, so it is no wonder that I loved this movie. This would be a great date movie if you do not mind the long run time. This film is three hours and fifteen minutes long, so perhaps it is best that you see it at the Alamo, since you can get food while watching the film. On the plus side you do not have to worry about your date seeing you stuff your face since you would be eating in the dark.

I rate this film five out of five smiley Mike heads. The deep characters, with all their flaws are compelling, and amazing to watch on screen. Definitely not a film for the easily bored, but you should find the characters entertaining enough to hold your interest throughout the entirety of the film.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Adult World - Movie Review

Those of you who have read my past reviews are aware that I do not always review the most popular movies, and this film certainly is no exception to that rule.  The film is Adult World.

It feels like someone should shine some light on the smaller budget indie films.  Come with me if you will as I cast my light upon this film of life, personal growth, and an adult video store.

This film really captures what it feels like to graduate high school and head out into the world.  You are so full of hope, promises, and ambition, but have no real idea where to apply it.  Such is the case with Amy () who is desperately trying to become the next Sylvia Plath.  Amy is confident that she is the greatest new poet that the world has seen in the years.  Her path leads her to two unexpected turns in her life.  The first is a job at an adult video store, which is rather amusing since she is a very naive young woman.    The second turn comes in the form of Rat Billings ().

With her parents pressuring her to get a job, Amy, rejected by several other places sees a help wanted sign on a building and walks in to enquirer about the position.  When she walks in she finds out rather quickly that it is an adult video/toy store.  Amy's initial reaction to the store is quite entertaining to say the least.  Rat is a published poet which Amy becomes enamored with.  She ends up meeting him at a book signing and eventually follows him home.  Amy becomes a bit of a stalker until Rat agrees to let her become his assistant.  Rat is quite tactless when it comes to delivering advice.

The film has some spectacular acting.  John Cusack is perfect in the roll of Rat Billings.  His intensity as an actor lends itself to the roll.  Any lesser actor would not be able to accurately portray the depth of this particular character.  Emma Roberts is a surprise to me, as I have never seen her in other movies before this one.  At twenty two she was able to portray emotions that elude older actors.  Armando Riesco as Rubia, was very kind and funny, and Chris Riggi as Josh was both gentle and stern.

The sets were well planned out, and always felt natural to the environment they were portraying.  The costumes were well thought out for each character.  The script was well written, and it has character progression, which is one of my favorites in a film.

Overall it was a solid indie film with lots of heart and heartache.  This would be a great film to see with a date.  It should generate lots of great conversation after the film is over.  While I have seen better indie films this one certainly has a lot to offer the viewers. 

I rate this film four out of five smiley Mike heads.

I hope you enjoyed this review, feel free to leave comments below. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Warm Bodies - Movie Review

Who knew that a zombie movie could be profound, but this one was.  The movie is Warm Bodies.

It starts out rather awkwardly, following R.  Why is his name is R, because that is all he can remember of his name.  This is the perfect back story for lead character.  Video games have been using the amnesia thing for years.  If you are an role-playing game fan you will know exactly what I am talking about.  At any rate during an average food run in the city R comes across Julie.  There is something about Julie that changes R's life forever.

I find it extremely interesting that the film makers choose to tell the story from the viewpoint of the zombie.  It is something I have never seen done in a movie like this before.  The scary thing however, is how much I can identify with R's way of thinking at the beginning of the film.  There is a moment in the first 15 minutes of the film where they do something brilliant.  R thinks back to how it must have been when people were all alive, and could easily communicate with each other.  Then a flash back shows us the airport R lives in full of living people walking around staring into their smart devices not interacting with each other at all.  Almost like they were themselves zombies, huh, imagine that.

Social commentary aside, this film is truly exceptional.  The sets, are well done, and typical post apocalyptic fashion.  You have burned-out, smashed, and destroyed cars, dilapidated houses and building, pretty much everything you would expect from this type of movie.  Although in other scenes you find abandoned houses that look like the people just left one day.  The scenery really does a great job setting the mood for this film.

The costumes in this movie were also well thought out.  The zombies were all dressed in filthy tattered clothing, while the humans were dressed casually with function in mind.  After all the humans are busy fighting the zombie apocalypse.  You will look chic in these fancy designer jeans while you are smashing in zombie brains.  In all seriousness the costumes were correctly designed for each character.  Although, I can imagine the room full of people rubbing rocks and dirt over clothing to create the look for the zombies.  It is an amazing effect and makes for the perfect looking zombies.

The special effects in this film do not disappoint.  Perhaps the best piece of special effects wizardry is the Bonies.  The Boneies are things of nightmares brought to life by CGI magic.  These are the zombies who have completely given up hope on life and shed their skin to become nothing more than twisted black walking skeletons that eats the living.  Every piece of CGI is used to help tell the story.  It never feels like they are just trying to use up their graphics budget.

Speaking of the story, I will say that the writers did a good job conveying their message.  For me personally, this story was a touching tale of being kind to each other and accepting of our differences.  While this is not a unique message, it is certainly told in a pretty unique way.

For the first time ever, I have consulted with someone else to determine my rating for this film.  While my initial reaction had me rating the film much higher, speaking with my consultant made me see some of the cracks in the shiny exterior of the film.  The biggest issue is the amount of weight put on the love story.  Although some may not find issue with this you will understand what I'm talking about after you watch the film.

As my consultant stated, it is a date night zombie film.  There is something for everyone to love.  If you love hardcore gritty zombie films there is something there to keep you entertained, but it is not action from beginning to end like some others I've seen.  If you hate zombie movies this one might just change your mind.  OK, that may be a bit overstated.  I can say you will at least enjoy this film.  How about this, it has a love story, but it is not so sweet you want to vomit it back out and then burn the vomitous mass into a charred lump, and then bury that lump in your neighbors back yard.  Perhaps that was a bit much too.  I think you will like it.

I rate this film four out of five smiley Mike heads.  I was initially teetering between four and a half or five smiley Mike heads, but as stated I reassessed this rating when talking with my consultant.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Movie Review - The Oranges

Hello again, just in time for the holiday season I bring you my review of The Oranges.

The Oranges is an off-beat comedy about two families living in the suburbs of New Jersey.  It follows the families through a major changing point in their lives.

We start the film by introducing the two fathers Terry (Oliver Platt) and David (Hugh Laurie).  They are best friends that live across the street from each other.  Their families have grown up together and they are as close as any neighbours could be.  Terry and his wife Paige (Catherine Keener) are in a rough patch in their relationship, when Terry's 24 year old daughter Nina comes home for Thanksgiving.

Nina's meddling mother Cathy (Allison Janney) is busy trying to set her up with David's son Toby (Adam Brody).  When Nina goes over to hang out with Toby, he ends up passing out on the couch.  Since Toby is asleep, Nina wanders through the house and finds David.  They soon realize there is chemistry between them, and when they act on that chemistry the film gets quite interesting.

The rest of the movie has David and Nina trying to work things out between them, her parents, and David's other two children.  It is a funny, yet moving film about how quickly lives can be changed forever.  The film always manages to feels quite real, and it is never boring.

Things don't go as you might expect they would in this film.  There were a few of time where I expected the film would go a certain direction, but I was pleasantly surprised when it did not.  As you would expect, there are a few uncomfortable moments, but overall I found the film quite entertaining.

The acting in this film is top notch, which is good considering in a film like this the acting is the center point of the whole movie.  Since there are no special effects or CGI it stands to reason that the acting becomes key.  The actors really make the characters come to life.  You feel like you are living in the neighborhood with these people watching their lives unfold.

Since I am married to a costumer I need to point out the costumes in the film.  While nothing spectacular, when compared to a period piece (Lord of the Rings, Titanic, Labyrinth) they are still quite well thought out.  Every character has on clothing that seems appropriate.  The costumes always match the scenes in which they are being worn as well.  Formal clothing for formal situations and casual for casual situations.

If you are looking for a film that will make you think, and feel then this is certainly a great choice for you.  If you like comedies that are a touch uncomfortable to watch then you should pick this one up right now.  No, really got out and rent a copy because this is comic gold.

As everyone knows I am a huge stickler for how a movie ends.  If you have not read any of my previous reviews then I will restate this fact.  The ending of a movie is perhaps the most important part of the film for me.  The ending can make a crappy movie good, or make an amazing movie into a steaming pile of dung.  This film had a very realistic ending, which suits this movie quite well.  Having given it some though it really seems like the most logical ending I could imagine.

I would rate this film four smiley Mike heads, but when you add in the great acting and interesting subject matter I have to rate this film four and a half out of five smiley Mike heads.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Movie Review - Beginners

This film is an amazingly human film.  It has odd uncomfortable scenes, but there is also happiness, love and compassion.  The film is Beginners staring Ewan McGregor and Mélanie Laurent.

When I picked it up I knew it was not your average Hollywood movie, but it truly surprised me with its depth.  The film follows the events surrounding the life and death of Hal Fields (Christopher Plummer) as see from the eyes of his adult son Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor).

There are no fancy special effects, explosions, car chases, or expensive costumes.  This film really is all about the story, the actors, and their emotions.  The film time shifts quite a bit between the past and the present, but the flow between time shifts is really well mapped out, so it is easy to follow the story.  It really is quite interesting to follow the path of the story to get to the end of the film.  This film has heart, and it shows in every scene.

Because the characters drive the story the acting is really critical to the success of the film.  The actors certainly did not disappoint you with their performances.  One must really give credit to the casting department for finding such great actors to fit the parts.  The characters are so well thought out, they are complete with character flaws and quirks to boot.  It makes you think that you might very well know some of the people in the film in your everyday life.

I really enjoyed this film, occasional uncomfortable scene aside, it really is worth watching.  I like films that make me stop and think, feel, and appreciate the life we live.  Yes there is loss, and heartache, but there is also happiness and joy.  There is also a sense of wonder, and just being happy with what you have and who you have in your life right now.  I rarely feel that sense of wonder when watching a film, so I try to give credit to the ones that can do that for me.

If you like movies that make you feel something, and take you on a journey, then I highly recommend this film for you to watch.  Plus it would make a good date night movie.  Who doesn't want a sobbing date leaning on your shoulder by the end of the movie.

I rate this film four and a half out of five smiley Mike heads.