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The Florida Project: An Absorbing Film That Features A Fantastic Performance From Willem Dafoe

March 6, 2018

The Florida Project is a fantastic film that stays with you because it finds warmth and heart in a place that everyone avoids. I grew up on the west coast of Florida in a small town called Hudson that was more country than a tourist trap. I wasn’t in a situation like the kids in Florida Project but I do remember spending my days riding around on my bicycle through the empty streets and hanging out in the wooded areas around my house. I was basically a free-range kid and seeing the areas around Orlando that aren’t dominated by Disney felt very familiar to me. I would say two of the most authentic “Florida” movies are The Florida Project and Spring Breakers. They are completely different and Spring Breakers has a very heightened aesthetic but I love how they were able to shine a different light on spring break and Orlando.

The Florida Project focuses on the denizens of The Magic Castle Inn & Suites. The Inn is located just outside the Disney parks and is home to townies and the occasional very confused tourist. The Inn is run by the kindhearted yet stern Bobby Hicks (Willem Dafoe) who has to deal with a litany of issues due to the collection of people that make their home at the Inn, and the fact that it is summer and bored kids have nothing better to do than cause trouble and annoy him. The main character is a tiny six-year-old dynamo named Moonie (Brooklynn Prince) who spends her days spitting on cars, exploring abandoned homes, mooching free ice cream and hanging out with her friends. She lives with her single mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) in a one-bedroom hotel suite and is occasionally called into action to help her mom sell stolen cologne, Disney wristbands, and other tchotchkes that help them pay their weekly rent.

The many abandoned homes provide fun for the kids.

The beauty of The Florida Project is that Moonie is still young and doesn’t know she is poor or her mom is loving but incapable of holding down a job, and makes money in dubious and destructive ways. The world is open to her and the backwoods of Orlando provide her and her friends room to explore and be kids. I won’t say her behavior is good because her mom lets her get away with murder, however, since she is so young her actions aren’t malicious or mean. She is an unsupervised kid who is being a kid and I really liked that director Sean Baker (Tangerine) films her without judgment or snobbery. The Florida Project showcases a slice of life in a very tiny area of Florida and it feels organic, kind and real. There is no judgment aimed at the characters and in the end, they all come across as likable and broken people who show real love and compassion while still being incredibly messed up.

I wish he won the Oscar

My favorite part of The Florida Project is Willem Dafoe. His performance is all heart and as the film progresses you begin to like him more and more. I don’t know why he puts up with the 24/7 job but he does his best to look after the tenants while having the patience of a saint. It seems like he loves the Inn and feels like it’s his duty to fight a losing job in order to protect a few people. Whether it be getting rid of bedbugs, fixing the ice machine and keeping the little children safe from gross predators he is always working and always likable. I think it is my favorite performance of 2017 and I can’t think of the last time that I’ve liked a character more.

The Florida Project is a beautiful film that showcases a tiny slice of life in a massive city and I think it is a must watch.


Blade of the Immortal: A Very Fun Film That Features Blood, Battles and More Blood

March 4, 2018


Based on the popular Japanese Manga series and directed by Takashi Miike (his 100th film) Blade of the Immortal is an epic experience that starts with a massive sword battle and ends with another massive sword battle. Words can’t describe all the carnage inflicted and that is a testament to Takashi Miike who throughout his 100 film career has learned to direct on a massive scale while still creating likable characters and non-repetitive slaughter. His 2010 movie 13 Assassins is one of my favorite action movies because it takes a stock concept (13 against many) and finds ways to keep you invested with its likable characters, horrible villain and a finale that leaves you breathless. He does the same with Blade of the Immortal and I love how he is able to blend immortality, limb loss, revenge, political intrigue, mysticism and epic battles into a cohesive two-hour film.

Blade of the Immortal revolves around a samurai named Manji (Takuya Kimura) who receives immortality after wiping out about 100 ronin who are looking for a bounty on his head. The huge battle left him only one eye and a lot less blood, but he is “saved” by a mystical nun who grants him immortality via sacred bloodworms that keep him young and repair his wounds. The movie then fast-forwards to 50 years later and focuses on a renegade group called Itto-ryu lead by a badass named Kagehisa Anotsu (Sota Fukushi) attacking a fencing school and killing everyone in it except for a young girl named Rin Asano (Hana Sugisaki). Rin vows revenge and teams up with Manji in a quest to become a warrior and take out the Itto-ryu.


My favorite moments in Blade of the Immortal feature Manji engaging in one-on-one combat with members of the Itto-ryu after he becomes Rin’s bodyguard. Each of the encounters are different and the movie starts to feel like a video game where the bosses keep getting tougher-and-tougher. Manji has to make his way through a guy with decapitated heads on his shoulders, a badass female samurai and an immortal who is older than he is. Throw in several other cool-looking killers and an army at the end and you have enough blood and violence to satiate you until the next Takashi Miike film. There is a bit of carnage fatigue and there are so only so many henchmen that can be murdered before tedium sets in, but I was never bored and the experience left me happy and wanting to watch 13 Assassins again.

If you are looking for a fantastic action film that features lots of carnage and cool characters you should check out Blade of the Immortal.

Mute: An Interesting Miss by Director Duncan Jones

March 2, 2018


Mute is worth watching because director/writer Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) took a massive swing and missed. I like that Jones went down swinging and didn’t strike out by watching pitches fly past him as he stood motionless. Mute is dripping with earnestness and I think it was hurt by the recent releases of the better Blade Runner: 2049 and Altered Carbon because it felt way too familiar when compared to them. I think this film was such a passion project for Jones (16-years in the making) that he never took a step back to reread the script or take any advice from Netflix or other producers/writers. Thus, we get a spiritual sequel to Moon that doesn’t successfully build a new world or tell an interesting story but you can still feel the love behind the camera.

Mute revolves around a mute bartender named Leo (Alexander Skarsgard) searching for his missing girlfriend in a futuristic Berlin. Due to his Amish upbringing and beliefs, he was never able to have surgery to fix his voice after a childhood injury. Thus, he lives a simple life that involves pouring drinks in a club owned by criminals which often gets him involved in altercations with people he shouldn’t be messing with. Things go south when his girlfriend Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh) goes missing and it starts him on a noirish mission to find her and protect her from some very dangerous people.


While Leo is searching for his girlfriend we are introduced to a pair of black market surgeons who specialize in fixing up mobsters who have been injured while on the job. Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) and Duck (Justin Theroux) are AWOL from the American army and they are hiding out in Berlin making a lot of money via illegal surgery and working a side-hustle involving performing cybernetic surgery on children. Bill is desperate to get out of Berlin with his daughter and is waiting for the papers to come through so he can get out of town. While he is waiting, he has to keep Duck in check because of Duck’s interest in young children (it gets weird) is getting too extreme and could risk both of their freedom.

Eventually, all the puzzle pieces fit together and it leads to an underwhelming conclusion that doesn’t justify the two-hours of setup. There could’ve been more detective work and it felt like the chess pieces moved around with no regard for a checkmate. Mute needed a tighter script or more time to establish the world, relationships and reason for villainy.  When the movie ended I hadn’t felt like I wasted two hours and I didn’t have the vitriolic response that many critics had. I just wished it featured the quality of Moon and Source Code and showcased the heart they had

The best parts of Mute are the committed performances of Skarsgard, Rudd, and Theroux. You can tell they trusted Jones and they went all-in with his weird little vision. I’d love to see more bad Rudd because with his recent Ant-Man bulking up and nice guy mannerisms he could totally be a solid villain, Also, Skarsgard went out on a limb and committed himself to his silent and unshowy performance which forced him to be totally different from his Tarzan, True Blood and Big Little Lies characters.

If you are a fan of Duncan Jones I recommend Mute because it needs all the support it can get and I still think he has a lot of quality stories to tell.


Only the Brave: A Fantastic Film That is Full of Emotion, Depth and Solid Performances

February 28, 2018


I really wish I would’ve watched Only the Brave in the theaters. It looks amazing and under the direction of Joesph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion) the $38 million budgeted movie hits above its weight and delivers a memorable gut-punch of an experience. I can’t think of the last time that I became so engrossed in a story that I knew the ending to. I love how Kosinski let the story unfold and you can feel the influence of the screenwriters Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle) and Ken Nolan (Blackhawk Down) are all over the film. Only the Brave is a stirring fact-based story that features a stacked cast, lots of heart and some jaw-dropping shots.


Only The Brave tells the behind the founding, certification, and training of an elite group of firefighters called the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Founded by Eric “Supe” Marsh (James Brolin – fantastic as always) the crew became an elite collection of brave men who battled massive fires in Arizona and the surrounding states. The journey to getting a Type 1 certification (badass status) was a long and arduous process that took years but their hard work and forward-thinking leaders created a solid crew including Jesse Steed (James Badge Dale), Chris Mackenzie (Talor Kitsch) and Brendan “Donut” McDonough (Miles Teller). The catch-22 is their new certification put them on the front lines where they battled massive ground fires that were unpredictable and deadly.  Thus, everything leads to a gut-punch of an ending that feels earned because of the care it spent to make you cry like a baby.

I would’ve loved more backstory for some of the characters (because I like the actors) but I understand why the plot focuses mainly on Josh Brolin and Miles Teller’s characters. The highlight of Marsh’s story is his relationship with his wife Amanda (Jennifer Connely). The two actors have fantastic chemistry and I appreciated how Connely broke free of the stock “wife” role and was able to play Amanda as a headstrong, fierce and understanding woman who challenges her husband and can take care of herself. You won’t see any “phone wife” in her performance and Only the Brave reminded me of how awesome she was in Requiem for a Dream, Beautiful Mind, Little Children, and Dark City.

The casting of Miles Teller was very inspired and I loved his performance of a drug addict who realizes he needs to grow up when an ex-girlfriend tells him she is pregnant and doesn’t want him in her life. Teller’s performance feels naturalistic and every twitch seems organic and not like an actor throwing around fake twitches in an effort to appear like a recovering addict. Teller finds a way to underplay the role while still making him feel real. It’s the kind of performance that is so good that nobody realizes how good it is because it isn’t showy or grandiose (think of Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies).


It hurts my soul that it only made $28 million domestically because it is a crowdpleaser that features likable people and real heart. The approach to the material felt fresh and immediately after the movie I read everything I could about the making of it and how Kosinski was able to make it look so great on a smaller budget. The talent behind the camera was as stacked as the cast, and once you get into the film you will be very impressed with the CGI, camera work by cinematographer Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and editing by Billy Fox (The Crazies, Straight Outta Compton).

Only the Brave is one of my favorite films to be released in the last couple years and it is worth a watch.  I recommend you watch it and share how awesome it is to your friends.


The MFF Podcast #118: Predicting the 2008 Academy Awards

February 27, 2018


You can download the pod on Itunes, StitcherPodbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

The MFF podcast is back and we are predicting who would win the 2008 Academy Awards! We know they happened 10 years ago but we wanted to go back and see who would win today. With 10 years behind us, we look at the nominees and see if opinions have changed and whether or not they still hold up in today’s world. In this pod, you will hear us answer some very important questions about the nominees and 2007 movies.

  1. Would No Country for Old Men still beat out There Will be Blood?
  2. Does anyone remember Michael Clayton?
  3. Why wasn’t Hot Rod nominated for anything?
  4. Would Roger Deakins win?
  5. Does Live Free or Die Hard feature the most property destruction caused by one man?
  6. Does Hot Fuzz feature the best mustaches of 2007?


As always, we answer random listener questions and discuss Rod’s massive mountain fall in Hot Rod. If you are a fan of the podcast make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening and hope you enjoy the pod!

You can download the pod on Itunes, StitcherPodbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

MFF Special: Analyzing the Similarities Between Ernest Goes to Jail and Paddington 2

February 26, 2018

Let me start off by saying that I absolutely love Paddington 2 and think it earned its 100% Tomatometer rating. I also think its the most charming thing since Paddington and I’m not writing this post to be provocative or say Paddington 2 ripped off Ernest Goes to Jail (how crazy would that be though?). I just noticed some similarities and wanted to share them with the world because as somebody who was borns in the 1980s and grew up in the 1990s I am a big fan of Ernest P. Worrell movies despite their less-than-stellar quality. I’ve probably written too much about Ernest Scared Stupid and I can name off the Ernest films like Forrest Gump’s Bubba names off different ways you can cook shrimp.

If you’ve been reading MFF for some time you know that I write about a lot of random topics and enjoy embracing things that nobody else would care to think about. Thus, don’t take this post too seriously because I am drawing loose comparisons in an effort to add more random things to the internet.

1. They Make Money by Cleaning Things

Ernest P. Worrell works as a night janitor at the Howard County Bank in hopes that one day he will become a bank teller. Paddington cleans windows so he can buy his aunt Lucy a sweet pop-up book of London. Both aren’t content to be cleaning forever and they consider these noble jobs to be stepping stones to much better things.


2. They Use Toothbrushes Uniquely

Paddington shoves toothbrushes into his ears to clean out gunk and Ernest created an insane invention that shoves about six toothbrushes into his mouth to cut down the time spent on brushing his teeth (I wonder how long it took to build?).

The clip of Paddington meeting the electric toothbrush is cued up below.


3. Ernest and Paddington Aren’t Great at Their Jobs

Both Paddington and Ernest are totally earnest about doing great work but they always find ways to either magnetize themselves, destroy a dude’s hair or cause lots and lots of property destruction.



4. Both Have Iconic Hats

When you think about Ernest and Paddington it’s almost impossible to imagine them without their iconic and familiar hats. They are on full display in both movies.


5. The Main Characters Get Stuck in Prison Even Though They are Innocent.

Neither character did anything to be put in jail but for various reasons, they are stuck in the slammer and need to get out to prevent a robbery and clear their names. Ernest is in jail because his doppelganger Felix Nash switched places with him when he was visiting a prison for a jury duty assignment. Poor Paddington was at the wrong place at the wrong time and was blamed for a robbery that the dastardly Phoenix Buchanan pulled off.


6. Mistakes Made While Doing Their Jobs Come Back to Help or Haunt Them

Paddington gets an insane prison sentence partly because he destroyed the hair of the judge presiding over his trial. Ernest survives the electric chair because he was magnetized earlier in the film when he was cleaning the bank.


7. The Bad Guys Plan on Getting Rich While The Heroes are Imprisoned. 

Hugh Grant is pursuing a lost treasure while Nash plans on robbing the bank that Ernest works at.

You need to listen to the How Did This Get Made episode where they cover Ernest Goes to Jail. I love that June Diane Raphael thinks “evil” Ernest oozes sexuality.


8. Security Guards From the Previous Films are Working for Different Companies

The MVPs of both films are Chuck (Gailard Sartain), Bobby (Bill Byrge), and Barry (Simon Farnaby). They provide legit laughs and there is just enough of them to make you want more.

Sidenote: Watch Mindhorn. It is hilarious and Simon Farnaby wrote it.


9. Disguises are Worn

Both Ernest P. Worrell and Phoenix Buchanon love dressing up in order to fool authorities, bystanders, and security guards. I’d love to see them do a doubleheader of one-man shows that feature their greatest hits. It would be epic!


10. Paddington and Ernest are Terrible at Washing Things

Whether it be Paddington turning all the prisoner’s clothes pink or Ernest almost killing himself in his homemade washing machine the two characters just can’t get the cleaning done successfully.

Take a look at the clip below because Jim Varney was a very good physical comedian.


11. People in the Prison Wear Pink

The prison guards wear pinkish uniforms in Ernest Goes to Jail and the prisoners in Paddington 2 have to wear pink outfits because of Paddington being terrible at washing clothes.


12. The Heroes Win Over the Prison’s Most Dangerous Criminals

Paddington winning over the incredibly scary  Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson) made me really happy and I loved their relationship that was based on food. Also, I really liked Ernest’s relationship with Lyle (Randall “Tex” Cobb) because it started off rough but Ernest’s weird way won over Lyle and they became buds and I see them keeping in touch while Lyle stays in prison.


13. They Escape From Prison to Prevent Heists

The escapes vary wildly but the fact remains that both characters escaped prison and saved the day. I will say that the reason leading to Ernest’s escape was really gnarly for a PG-rated film.


There you have it! Paddington 2 and Ernest Goes to Jail are totally different films that have many similarities.

If you like this random post make sure to check out the rest of my random data.

  1. Jet Ski Action Scenes Are the Worst
  2. Zara the Assistant and Jurassic World Had a Bad Day
  3. Breaking Down The Mariner vs. Sea Beast Battle in Waterworld
  4. How Long Did it Take The Joker to Setup the Weapon Circle in Suicide Squad?
  5. Michael Myers Hates Blinkers
  6. How Far Does the Creature From It Follows travel?
  7. Jason Voorhees Can’t Teleport?
  8. How Far Did the Merman Travel in The Cabin in the Woods?
  9. How Far Did Matthew McConaughey Jump in Reign of Fire?
  10. How Fast can Leatherface Run?
  11. Deep Blue Sea and Stellan Skarsgard
  12. How Far Did Michael Myers Drive in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
  13. How Did the Geologist Get Lost in Prometheus?
  14. People Love a Bearded Kurt Russell
  15. A Closer Look at Movies That Feature the Words Great, Good, Best, Perfect and Fantastic
  16. An In-Depth Look At Movies That Feature Pencils Used as Weapons
  17. Cinematic Foghat Data
  18. Explosions and Movie Posters
  19. The Fast & Furious & Corona
  20. Nicolas Sparks Movie Posters Are Weird
  21. Predicting the RT score of Baywatch
  22. The Cinematic Dumb Data Podcast
  23. What is the best horror movie franchise?
  24. How Fast Can the Fisherman Clean a Trunk in I Know What You Did Last Summer?
  25. It’s Expensive to Feature Characters Being Eaten Alive and Surviving Without a Scratch
  26. How Long Does it Take Your Favorite Horror Movie Characters to Travel From NYC to San Francisco?
  27. What was the Guy’s Blood Pressure in Dawn of the Dead?
  28. Why Were There So Many Lemons in National Treasure?
  29. How Far Does The Rock Jump in the Skyscraper Poster? 

The Snowman: A Bad Film Made By Talented People

February 23, 2018


Many people run away from films like The Snowman because they don’t want to waste their time watching something that is incomplete, incoherent and disliked by its director. I totally get why people wouldn’t want to watch a movie that director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) admits isn’t complete because he couldn’t shoot 10-15% of the script due to a rushed shooting schedule and limited prep time. However, I ran towards The Snowman because I was intrigued by the drama, weird posters and behind the scenes talents like Martin Scorcese (executive producer), Thelma Schoonmaker (editor), Michael Fassbender (star) and Maria Djurkovic (production designer). I also am a big fan of Jo Nesbo’s books that feature the alcoholic/brilliant Norweigan detective Harry Hole (think Hole-eh) solving crimes while dealing with his demons. On paper, The Snowman should’ve been awesome but the end product turned out to be gloriously confusing.

I hate being here….


The Snowman focuses on a maniacal killer who murders women, leaves a snowman at each crime scene, and harasses a brilliant detective named Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender).  The super detective works in Oslo and occasionally finds himself in drunken stupors that force him to endure many cold nights because he is passed out in snow banks (this means he is very conflicted). During the investigation, he gets a new partner named Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) and the two embark on a twisty investigation that involves fantastic actors like Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, Chloe Sevigny, Toby Jones, James D’Arcy, and J.K. Simmons engaging in moments that will make you scratch your head in confusion (because many scenes don’t go anywhere).

I’m not quite sure why the creators decided to introduce the Harry Hole character with this film because it skips ahead several books and features some silliness that only works on the page. When reading The Snowman I never considered the snowmen to be silly, but when watching the movie I couldn’t help but smile and think about Calvin & Hobbes’ cold creations. The pacing, acting, and lack of enough footage makes me think that nobody really wanted to be on the set and they all regretted signing on to the project. The immense amount of apathy is evident in Michael Fassbender’s performance. I’m not sure if the director wanted him to be constantly morose and lethargic or Fassbender saw the writing on the wall and just wanted it over. I don’t think he would torpedo any role but when The A.V. Club compares his performance to a “teenager forced to attend a family party” and a “sloth suffering from clinical depression” you know something is wrong.

At first, it seemed like people were unfairly dogpiling negativity onto the movie because of the cheeky snowman and that fact that main character is named Harry Hole. I couldn’t fathom a world where this much talent is wasted and the end product features Val Kilmer’s lines being totally redubbed by someone who sounds nothing likes Val Kilmer. Also, I wish I could’ve been a fly on the wall when Oscar-winning editors Thelma Schoonmaker and  Claire Simpson did everything in their power to make The Snowman as coherent as possible. Then, when they realized the finished film was nowhere near coherent due to a lack of footage they went ahead and turned it into a funky art project that confused everyone and probably made studio executives pull their hair out with stress.

If you are into watching very talented people creating a very confusing movie you will love The Snowman.


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