Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Triple Feature: The Birth of a Nation, The Accountant, The Boy and the Beast

Oscar noms, thrillers, and tales of family are here for this Triple Feature.

Well October certainly was a busy month, wasn't it? I'm sorry for not covering all of the most recent movies that came out during October, but given the fact that I was working on a massive Top 20 list as well as the 3rd Year Anniversary review, I figured that a Triple Feature would be just what the doctor ordered in order to get me back into the groove of things.

Actually, October wasn't that interesting of a month minus the one BIG movie that I'm going to talk about here, so this was also a little bit of a catch up for a movie that I missed out on earlier in the year. And then we have Ben Affleck because he needed to redeem himself after That-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named. November and December are shaping up to be more interesting and hopefully better months than the rest of the year, so cheers to that... hopefully.

The Birth of a Nation (October 7th, 2016)
Okay, let's get the ugliness out of the way. Yes, Nate Parker is an acquitted sexual assaulter. No, that case has no precedence on the rest of Birth of a Nation. If you have a problem separating the art from the artist, then never watch another Matthew Broderick (manslaughter), Woody Allen (sexually abused his daughter), or Mel Gibson (do I even need to say?). Anyway...!

The Birth of a Nation is a movie that I think should be better than it is. It has a solid premise, detailing Nat Turner's 48 hour rebellion in the early 19th century and how Nat became the radical freedom fighter, but the movie stumbles so much in the execution of it. Nearly every scene features Nat caked in Jesus imagery, whether it's preaching to a group of his people, getting lashes and turning the cheek, being executed against a crowd of people as they all deride and boo him, to him literally striking the pose of Jesus on the cross while in a jail cell. There's symbolism, but Birth of a Nation goes overboard.

Then you have a screenplay and plot that looks like it would belong perfectly in a high school history class, and I don't mean that in a good way. You know those days back in high school when your teacher would say you were going to watch a movie, but then it turned out that you were bored to death watching it and actually wished you were being taught? Yeah, it's kind of like that. Not only that, but there's a scene where Nat's wife is raped and beaten, but all it does is motivate Nat's character and his motives, while his wife is just bed ridden and in agonizing pain for the advancement of Nat's character. It's called Women in Refrigerators, look it up.

The performances are fine and when the rebellion actually starts up in the last half hour, it's good, but it's not enough to save the movie. It's going to be really interesting when the Oscars roll around to see if this movie gets nominated or not. If it does, you can expect controversy for supporting a sexual assaulter, but if it isn't nominated, then there'll be controversy from people saying that African American directors/actors/writers are still ignored in Hollywood. The easiest answer is just not to nominate Birth of a Nation, because while it does try hard to be good, it's too flawed to be fixed.

The Accountant (October 14th, 2016)
Wow I did not expect to like The Accountant as much as I did. No one really knew what The Accountant was about, or even cared about it for that matter, but after watching it, it's an incredibly well put together thriller that I may actually call one of my favorite films of the year. 

Ben Affleck is an autistic accountant that not only deals with small banking, but also does the books and accounts for some of the most infamous warlords and dictators in the world. He's a man not to be messed with since he can kill you six ways from Sunday, is a math savant, and is prepared for nearly any scenario that could happen to him. Ben Affleck does an absolutely incredible job portraying Christian Wolff, nailing playing a man with a mental impediment. I have played a character with the exact same impediment and social awkwardness as Ben Affleck, and I can attest that he did an outstanding job. 

The Accountant is an all around great action movie with some great fight scenes, some fun little jokes thrown in as well, and a pretty interesting mystery that kept me engaged the entire time. By the end of the movie, every question I had was adequately answered, and I walked away satisfied. The weakest link in the entire movie though was the B plot, where the U.S. Treasury is trying to figure out who Christian Wolff is, but they're always one step behind him and don't even catch him by the end of the movie. It's feels pointless and it doesn't add anything to the story besides how Wolff hates it if he can never finish something. 

It's been a couple of days since I've seen The Accountant, but I can't get it out of my head no matter how hard I try. It was one of the most polished and well put together stories I've seen all year, and it definitely has my recommendation. 

The Boy and the Beast (March 4th, 2016)
I don't usually follow directors, but there are three directors that I follow constantly just to see what they're working on next; Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, and Mamoru Hosoda. If you ask me, there is no one that makes anime feature films better than Mamoru Hosoda, and this year he gave us The Boy and the Beast, a movie about a young child growing up in the world of beasts and becoming a noble warrior and discovering who he is.

If you've ever seen a Mamaoru Hosoda movie, you know exactly what to expect in terms of animation and themes; the animation will be stunning, and it's going to be a movie about family. The Boy and the Beast is a movie about a kid that was adopted into a culture that he never knew about, and each step of the movie is great just to see the kid, Kyuta/Ren, interact with his loud mouthed, arrogant, and selfish father figure Kumatetsu. Kumatestu makes Kyuta his apprentice, and the entire movie is mostly just watching these two train, become a family, fight with each other, and support each other.

I don't want to give anymore of it away, but the movie takes several twists and turns that fit this world, and just seeing a world where animals walk and behave like humans in extremely fun. There are obviously going to be comparisons to Zootopia here, but I honestly prefer The Boy and the Beast to Zootopia, if only because the movie is just that much more enjoyable to watch. That isn't to say that Zootopia isn't entertaining or has a unique message, but The Boy and the Beast is more like an experience than anything else. It plays it safe in terms of its tropes and anime heritage, but it's so well executed that it's a master class in how to make an animated movie for adults. I cannot stress this enough, but you need to find this movie in anyway possible and give it a watch. It's that damn good.




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