THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017)

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A  film by Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon

It’s the 1960s  Elisa (Hawkins) is a mute  who spends her days taking care of an introverted,  artist (Richard Jenkins) — their apartments are situated directly above an old picture palace  Her best friend there, Zelda (Octavia Spencer), fills the air around the silent Elisa with her. One day a thing in a tank gets in the military facility where they work,  while those two are cleaning ,Elisa is a little curious of this thing. She tries to communicate with it and form an unlikely relationship. Oh! boy do I detect a love story here. 

The Shape of Water is a  familiar story, a hybrid of unusual romances and fantastical-creature-lost-on-Earth B rated movies. But del Toro can take old ideas and rewrite them He invests every moment here with beautiful  design and hypothetical atmosphere. Early scenes play with egg timers and time clocks and calendars and repetitive motions in Elisa’s workplace creating a sense of life ticking away. It also delivers an unforgettable fairy tale and a  piece of visceral filmmaking that plays on our emotions. Sally Hawkins never better here delivers little dialogue where she is along has two friends only and does not seems to fit in. The amazon creature here does not fit in this world and speaks no language. Elisa took a liking to him and a romance will develop. Two creatures that need each other. Jenkins is magnificent, his character bring a little life into the life of Elisa by watching old musical and movies. Michael Shannon as Strickland, the cruel agent Ex-military who likes  cheap candy and deals in intimidation and torture. Octavia Spencer always excellent in anything she does here, her character tries to protect Elisa who turns out to be her best friend. A terrific cinematic artistry here like you would see in those old b-rated movies. Nicely done here it took Three years to write the script and Del Toro said in an interview and a year to put it together. I guess it was worth the wait. 

 

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12 STRONG (2018)

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A film by Nicolai Fuglsig

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña

The story of 12 men from the special forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11. They team up with an afghan war lord and under a new captain to taken down the Taliban .

Chris Hemsworth Capt. Mitch Nelson, never been in a war, but did his training is going to lead 12 men to Afgannistan . They  were the first American troops to set foot in Afghanistan after 9/11. Hal Spencer (Michael Shannon) the most experience, Sam Diller (Michael Pena) the joker, plus a weapon expert Ben Milo (Trevante Rhodes) and the rest of the gang. Nelson gets his orders from the Colonel Mulholland (William Fichtner) and Lt. Col. Bowers ( Rob Riggle). Their mission is to invade northern Afghanistan through Uzbekistan with the help of the Uzbek warlord General Dostum (Navid Negahban), who has his own reasons for taking on the Taliban. Dostum and his men, Nelson and his team must capture the Afghan city of Mazar-Sharif. well despite their training the American is going to ride horses in oder to get where they are going because of the rough terrain. 

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Director Fuglsig here has shown what war can be a dark place where a blood bath is going to take place. Here is 12 men who are on horses against tank and heavy artillery survived this ordeal. Amazing or pure luck. Everybody underestimate Nelson is the dynamic here and he had little experience in the field. Not only he made a promise he will come back to his wife but tells the colonel he can do it in 21 days before the snow comes otherwise they are going to be stuck there. Not the big film here but the purpose of it is entertaining and surprising that those 12 men has survived this ordeal on horses. The film here is design to make you feel good.

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NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (2016)

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A film by Tom Ford

Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

Susan,(Amy Adams) a gallery owner in Los Angeles, leads a well-ordered life at the edge of monotony, abandoned by her husband Hutton Morrow. Until the day when, alone at home, she receives a book: Nocturnal Animals, signed by her ex husband Edward Sheffield,(Jake Gyllenhaal) of whom she has been without news for years.

Ok so I saw Collateral beauty and believe me when I say I feel a sleep during this film they rewrote to me anyway Miracle on 34th street in today world with a different tragedy and it was sloppy so my advice to you invest in Nocturnal Animals. 

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The opening scene of Tom Ford’s sophomore feature is a fetishistic spectacle. That is all I am going to say here. Trust me considered yourself warned. With the art exhibition, Ford forcing his audience to witness the ‘junk culture’ in front of them. The film’s thesis here for better or worse. When Susan (Amy Adams) receives a manuscript of her ex-husband Tony’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) new novel, she finds herself emotionally invested in his story. It  also trigger some memories when they were together back in the day. The story here switching between pulpy desert thriller and chilly L.A. You Susan is too cynical and Tony the writer is too naive and sensitive. Nocturnal Animals is a film about lapses in time, memory and relationships also about revenge.  It is book-like triggers memories, as I call it that is what Ford likes. It is an other way to tell the story. Ford paid attention to the details here to the design of casual luxury  and sharp tailoring, luxurious textures and rich jewel tones. The film as some kind of perverse junk culture with pulp novel effect. It is a raw film at its purest form. Micheal Shannon here is as usual outstanding. Do not miss this one.

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MACHINE GUN PREACHER (2011)

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A film by Marc Forster

Cast: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon

Sam Childers (born 1963) is a former biker member who now dedicates his life and resources to rescue children in the war zone of South Sudan.

In Africa, a warlord named Joseph Kony runs the so  called  Lord’s Resistance Army that has murdered hundreds of thousands, burned villages, and kidnapped some 50,000 children, forcing the boys to become soldiers and making the girls sex slaves.

Childers (Gerard Butler) who is just got out of prison is going back to his old ways  raising hell with his buddy Donnie ( Michael Shannon)  drinking, drugs, raising hell, and making it hard on his wife and kids. While he was in prison , Lynn found God. One Sunday morning, after a bloody night of hell raising , Sam allows himself to be dragged along to a church service, where he confesses himself to be a sinner and then undergoes a baptism of full immersion. Later he ends up building a church where every one is welcome, which is going to bring us one night where he saw the news on Sudan and decided to build a church in Africa to save as many  children as they can. He raised money for Africa orphanage that he build to try to save as many children as he could. Butler incarnated beautifully well Childers as well as Monaghan who embodied Childers wife but the thing is that Childers fights back is raising a different kind of hell, yes he changes his ways but the anger that he had is targeted on the lord’s resistance army. A story that I did not know happened back in the  90’s still to this day Childers spent his time in his church and his orphanage in Africa.

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99 HOMES (2014)

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A film by Ramin Bahrani

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern

Ruthless businessman and real estate agent Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) is making a killing by repossessing homes on behalf of the banks when owners are unable to pay their mortgage. When he evict Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), a single father caring for his young son (Noah Lomax) and mother (Laura Dern), Dennis is so desperate to provide for his family that he agrees to work for Carver, the man who evicted him. And yes he made a deal with the devil and yes there is a cost.

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Here is an explosive film that will make you think is anything not corrupt in this world. The financial crisis hits and a lot of people has lost their homes then got evicted, and yes the banks are corrupt so are the real estate agents who evict people out of their homes.It’s a mesmerizing and disturbing portrait, elevated by two strong performances. In the opening shot you see a man dead in his bathroom with blood splatter of over the room.Wearing an immaculate white jacket and an expressionless face, Rick Carver ’s (Michael Shannon) cut-throat real-estate agent  leaves the premises, he is clearly a man with no conscience. Then we get to see a hard-working father Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) who has a son and lives with his mom who is going to be evicted. Soon Rick and Dennis are going to meet and the two will form a friendship that you would not expect but for Dennis at the time it seems logical he has two mouth to feed.Don’t get emotional about real estate, Carver tells Nash, and you can see where is it going to go from here, it is a two-way mirror. Ricks needs Dennis in order to say to himself well if he is doing it is OK for me to keep doing this. You will see a lot of eviction done by Dennis who is on his own and you will feel the pain of the people. Bahrani has said once all the eviction in the film are real, he has done his research on it. The real estate agent in Florida and elsewhere carried guns so Bahrani noticed so he put that in the film as well. Yes like I said there is a lot oaf corruption in the system and Bahrani shows you that they are real too, it has happened. The music goes through the film to build the tension although out of the movie. And the ending could be more perfect.

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ELVIS AND NIXON (2016)

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A  film by Liza Johnson

Cast: Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer

Say what Elvis has met the president Nixon? No way ! Way back in the 70’s elvis wanted to meet the president Nixon because he had some concern about the country and what direction is it taking plus the young people issues about drugs. So he decided to write to the president about it to see if he can see him to talk about those issues and more.

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This is the untold story of Elvis meeting Nixon. No transcript exists on these events, just a photograph that now has become the most requested photo from the US National Archives. one thing I did not know about Elvis is that he had  a deputy’s badge from Memphis. It also turns out that he went to meet Nixon so that he could become a Federal Agent At Large in order to influence the American youth to get them off drug. With a stroke of luck Elvis is in the house. It had to be funny to the politicians that Elvis wanted to meet Nixon. It is this crazy true story inspired by the book “Me and a guy named Elvis” Jerry Schilling,  who went on a trip , so someday he can tell us the story about  Elvis and Nixon. Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey deserves each other in this off beat comedy both of them has done a terrific impressions of their characters. Could you imagine this happening in a million years, well it did and what a beautiful film it is.

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MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (2016)

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A film by Jeff Nichols

Cast: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst

Here is the thing here you have a film writing by Jeff Nichols who to me rewrote the story of Close Encounters of the third kind. I said rewrote not a reboot, not a remake. The film opens as a child abduction and end with a spectacular Sci-fi finale. When M. Night Shyamalan came on the scene he started doing great film like the sixth sense, Unbreakable, later in his career he started to seek, but now we have Nichols who has a fertile imagination here and wrote this beautiful story about a kid who has powers and the relationship with his father and later his mother. In the mix there is kind of a cult and some bad people who wants the kid back to the ranch as they call it (the cult) add to that the FBI is on the trail also.

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Here the director  who does not explain everything, he does not have too, he  uses his imagination. Nichols keeps up in the dark for the most part of the film. Plus you get to see a classic 1972 Chevelle whose rumbling motor makes your insides vibrate, while composer David Wingo amplifies our sense of uneasiness follows but the agitated score. The thing is also as the film goes on you begin to think who is Alton the little boy and what is he capable of doing or is he going to die if they don’t reach their destination. What makes Midnight Special such a fascinating ride, holding our interest while Nichols refuses to adapt Hollywood mode pacing thriller. And now I hope he keeps going on this unconventional road.

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