Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Deadpool 2

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

When Deadpool came out in 2016, it was an absolute success. While becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time (becoming more popular than Jesus (The Passion of the Christ) worldwide), it marked a fresh addition to the realm of superhero films. Although my opinion of the film has slightly lessened since then, it's still hilarious & doesn't take it self so seriously.

Deadpool 2 has done something most sequels (except The Godfather Part II, 22 Jump Street & Speed 2: Cruise Control) have not done: be better than the original. It's funnier, better-made, & more meta than the first. The film follows our favorite unkillable pansexual "Merc with a Mouth," Wade Wilson, AKA Deadpool (played by Ryan Gosl... no, wait, Ryan Reynolds), who is still fighting crime while wisecracking & continuing his relationship with Vanessa Carlysle (played by Morena Baccarin).

However, Wade finds himself alone again (naturally...), & has become severely depressed, with Weasel (played by T.J. Miller but should've been replaced with Christopher Plummer) & Dopinder (played by Karan Soni) unable to help him. However, his old blind friend, Blind Al (played by Leslie Uggams) imparts some wisdom on him: "You can't really live until you've died a little." So Wade does this, of course, by blowing himself up.

Colossus (played by Stefan Kapičić) finds Wade in his destroyed apartment, & brings him to the X-Mansion (which now has more X-Men because the film can afford it now). Negasonic Teenage Warhead (played by Brianna Hildebrand), still being her moody teenage self, is also there, now dating Yukio (played by Shioli Kutsana). Colossus allows Wade to finally join the X-Men (as a trainee!)

Wade's first mission: help control young chubby mutant Russell Collins, AKA Firefist (played by Julian Dennison) at an orphanage, AKA a mutant rehabilitation center run by The Headmaster (played by Eddie Marsan), who is tyrannical. The X-Men are able to stop them; however, Wade, realizing Russell has been abused at the orphanage, kills one of the orderlies (who looks like a hybrid between Jared Kushner & a clean-shaven John Waters), & gets himself sent to the Ice Box, a prison for mutants, along with Russell. While in the Ice Box, Wade & Russell are put in the same cell, & are met by cultural appropriationist Black Tom Cassidy (played by Jack Kesy), who is the strongest guy in there.

However, Cable (played by Thano... no, wait, Jonah He... no, wait, Josh Brolin), a time-traveling cybernetic soldier from the future, comes to the Ice Box in order to kill Russell, so that an older Russell won't kill his family. However, Wade prevents this from happening.

Wade finds his way back to Weasel & Dopinder (who has acquired a taste & desire for violence), & decides to create a new supergroup (that will be young enough to carry the franchise for 10-12 years). They find 6 recruits: Domino (played by Zazie Beetz), who has the (notably uncinematic, according to Wade) power of luck; Bedlam (played by Terry Crews), who can distort electrical fields; Shatterstar (played by Lewis Tan), who is an alien that can do everything better than humans; Zeitgeist (played by Bill Skarsgård), who has acidic vomit; Vanisher (played by ???? ????), who is invisible; & Peter (played by Rob Delaney), who just wanted to join because he saw the ad. Together, they will try to stop Cable from killing Russell, stop Russell from turning bad, & make many pop culture references while doing those things.

The cast is fantastic. Ryan Gosl... no, Ryan Reynolds is dynamite again, adding more nuance to his character while also maintaining a persona of a deeply broken man hiding his pain with humor. Josh Brolin also does a great job, having great chemistry with Reynolds & functioning excellently as the straight man (double entendre!) in the duo with Reynolds. Zazie Beetz is the breakout star here, with her character being such a badass. And Julian Dennison also gives a great performance, building off the promise he showed in Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

David "The Guy Who Killed the Dog in John Wick" Leitch's direction is excellent. Leitch is no stranger to action sequences, & he does some of his best ones here. Also, he is able to mix the comedy & action together without there being any jarring tonal shifts.

The screenplay by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick & Ryan Gosl... no, Ryan Reynolds is brilliant. The plot is able to poke fun at the tropes of sequels (& its fellow superhero films & franchises), the characters are well-written, & the dialogue is absolutely freaking hilarious.

Jonathan "Cinematographer of Soul Plane" Sela's cinematography is amazing. The color palette here is more varied, & looks better than the grey color palette in Deadpool. Also, some of the shots are really great here.

And the makeup & hairstyling is phenomenal. The makeup is, once again, very transformative, especially with Wade, & it also works amazingly for a special cameo by a certain Hollywood big-shot who just can't help being saved in every movie he's in.

This is one of the best superhero films in recent memory, & certainly the funniest superhero film of all time. It manages to be one of the few sequels (along with The Dark Knight, Before Sunset, & Return to the Blue Lagoon) that is better than the original, fueled by an excellent cast, great direction, & an amazing screenplay.

Deadpool 2 was seen by me at the MJR Partridge Creek Digital Cinema 14 in Clinton Township, MI on Friday, May 18, 2018. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 119 minutes, & it is rated R for strong violence & language throughout, sexual references & brief drug material.

Monday, May 28, 2018


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is nothing short of an American icon. At 85, & having been a Supreme Court justice for almost 25 years, she has become a force to be reckoned with, noted for her striking dissents, sticking up for the oppressed in American society.

RBG goes into the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, & what results is a truly inspiring documentary of a modern American superwoman. The film follows Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. It starts with her childhood in Flatbush, Brooklyn in a Jewish family. She graduated from James Madison High School, & attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. That was where she met Martin Ginsburg, who would eventually become her husband in 1954. They had 2 children: Jane & James.

She eventually attended at the law schools at Harvard & Columbia, & eventually became counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In 1980, she was nominated by Jimmy Carter to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; she was confirmed not long after that.

However, her biggest achievement came on June 14, 1993, when Bill Clinton nominated her for the Supreme Court of the United States. She was confirmed 2 months later. Since then, she has become more of a trailblazer for & defender of women's rights, & has been cemented into pop culture for her dissents & her surprising vitality, as she works out multiple times a week. She is nothing short of a fantastic woman & a remarkable role model for women.

The direction by Betsy West & Julie Cohen is excellent. They have nothing but the utmost respect for Ginsburg, & I admire that, just as much as I admire Ginsburg.

This is one of the best documentaries of the decade. It's an eye-opening & crowd-pleasing documentary of an American icon that will make you want to become just like her. All hail The Notorious RBG.

RBG was seen by me at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI on Saturday, May 12, 2018. It is currently in 6 theaters in the Detroit area, including the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI; The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township, MI; & the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, MI. Its runtime is 98 minutes, & it is rated PG for some thematic elements & language.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

Although the LGBTQ+ community has become more accepted in recent years, they still face discrimination in various places, namely fundamentalist sects of various religious communities.

Disobedience, although imperfect, is a intimate drama buoyed by excellent acting. Based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Naomi Alderman, the film follows Ronit Krushka (played by Rachel Weisz), a 30-something photographer in New York. She had left her Orthodox Jewish community in London some years prior.

One night, Ronit receives a phone call that her estranged father, Rabbi Krushka (played by Anton Lesser), has died. After some momentary processing of this information, Ronit flies back to London. When she returns, she is coldly greeted by her childhood friend, Dovid Kuperman (played by Alessandro Nivola). Dovid was groomed by Rabbi Krushka to become his replacement. Ronit is also coldly greeted by everyone else she encounters in Dovid's home. She then talks with Dovid, & he tells her that he was married some time prior to Esti Kuperman (played by Rachel McAdams).

It is then revealed why Ronit left: in her teenage years, she had a lesbian affair with Esti. When her father found out, Ronit left, but Esti stayed, & was put into a relationship & eventual marriage with Dovid.

Ronit stays with Dovid & Esti in their spare room. Eventually, the attraction between Ronit & Esti is burgeoning once again, & can't be ignored. But their love is still forbidden, & their lives will be changed once again.

The cast is fantastic. Weisz gives one of her best performances in years. McAdams also gives one of her best performances. And Nivola easily gives the best performance of his career.

Sebastián Lelio's direction is phenomenal. Lelio uses a beautifully somber atmosphere throughout the film, & keeps our interest even when the flaws start to be a bit noticeable.

And the screenplay by Sebastián Lelio & Rebecca Lenkiewicz is very good. Although the plot is a bit clichéd & the story has a few uninteresting moments, the dialogue is fantastic.

This is a very good romantic drama. Although there are several minor flaws, those flaws are overcome by 3 truly excellent performances & strong direction.

Disobedience was seen by me at The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township, MI on Friday, May 11, 2018. It is currently in 4 theaters in the Detroit area: the Birmingham Theatre in Birmingham, MI; The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township, MI; the Emagine Novi in Novi, MI; & the Rave Cinemas Ann Arbor 20 in Ann Arbor, MI. Its runtime is 114 minutes, & it is rated R for some strong sexuality.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


★★★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

The beginning stages of motherhood can be a difficult time. You keep asking yourself whether or not you're doing the best you can as a mother. Eventually, you figure things out as you continue on the journey centered on the loving bond between you & your child.

Tully, while somewhat flawed, is a often funny & heartwarming ode to motherhood. The film follows Marlo (played by Charlize Theron), a mother of two children, with a third on the way. Her daughter, Sarah (played by Lia Frankland), is precocious for her age, while her son, Jonah (played by Asher Miles Fallica), has a developmental disorder. Her husband, Drew (played by Ron Livingston), when he's not working, spends his time playing video games.

When Marlo, Drew & the kids go have dinner with her more well-off brother, Craig (played by Mark Duplass) & his wife & kids, Craig suggests to Marlo that she should hire a night nanny, who would take care of the baby while Marlo gets some sleep. Marlo declines the offer, saying it would be awkward having a complete stranger in the house.

After Marlo gives birth to a baby girl named Mia, she quickly becomes depleted. Desperate, she decides to hire a night nanny.

This brings us to Tully (played by Mackenzie Davis). She's a 26-year-old free spirit that is wise beyond her years. Marlo is completely fascinated by her. Although it is odd at first, together, they embark on an eye-opening friendship.

The cast is superb. Charlize Theron gives one of her best performances. Theron is almost unrecognizable here, having gained 50 pounds for the role. We don't see Charlize Theron. We see Marlo. We see a real-life mother. 

Mackenzie Davis is also fantastic. Davis exudes a lot of charisma in her performance, & her chemistry with Theron is top-notch.

Jason Reitman's direction is great. Although his direction does falter a bit near the end, it does pick itself up quickly enough to go back to the steady hand that was shown during the first 2/3 of the film. Reitman, like he did with Juno, adds a lot of heart to his direction, & keeps the film from becoming cynical.

And Diablo Cody's screenplay is excellent. Cody's knack for sharp dialogue continues here, & the screenplay deals with themes of motherhood so excellently, & makes it feel so fresh.

This is a great comedy-drama. Although it isn't perfect, it does have some great performances from Charlize Theron & Mackenzie Davis, along with a terrific screenplay from Diablo Cody to make this film more than worthwhile.

Tully was seen by me at the MJR Partridge Creek Digital Cinema 14 in Clinton Township, MI on Saturday, May 5, 2018. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 95 minutes, & it is rated R for language & some sexuality/nudity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Final Portrait

★★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

The life of an artist is not as easy as it may seem. It's grueling, stressful, & chaotic overall.

Final Portrait, while not perfect, is a charming & sometimes witty testament of the life of an artist. Set in 1964 Paris, the film follows Alberto Giacometti (played by Geoffrey Rush), a famed Swiss painter & sculptor. He asks his friend, American writer James Lord (played by Armie Hammer), to sit for a portrait. Alberto tells him it will only take a few hours at most. James agrees to the proposition.

As Alberto tries to start on the portrait, he finds a lot of trouble in even trying to get past the first stages of the painting. As a result, James has to push back his flight to New York. While waiting to get back, James meets some of the people in Alberto's everyday life: Alberto's wife, Annette (played by Sylvie Testud); Alberto's brother, Diego (played by Tony Shalhoub); & Alberto's mistress, Caroline (played by Clemence Poesy).

Eventually, one more day becomes two, & two becomes four, & four becomes a week. As the days go by, the frustration both in the art & the life become more apparent, as Alberto tries to make the portrait as perfect as possible, & as James tries to see the artistic genius in Alberto's work.

The cast is superb. Rush gives one of his best performances yet, channeling all the frustration & anger that an artist experiences while working on his art. Hammer also gives a great performance, also channeling a lot of frustration, albeit in a different way from Rush.

Stanley Tucci's direction is great. Although he doesn't manage to keep a steady hand throughout, as he doesn't maintain interest at points, he does manage to do a fine job at portraying the frustrations of artists in the midst of their work.

And Stanley Tucci's screenplay is remarkable. Although the story meanders & drags at times, the characters are well-written, & the dialogue features a lot of sharp wit.

This is a really good film about the mind of an artist. Although it does have several minor flaws, those flaws are overcome by clever dialogue & great performances, especially from Geoffrey Rush & Armie Hammer.

Final Portrait was seen by me at The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township, MI on Saturday, April 28, 2018. It is currently in 1 theater in the Detroit area: the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, MI. Its runtime is 90 minutes, & is rated R for language, some sexual references & nudity.

Avengers: Infinity War

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe started in 2008 with Iron Man, it has become a global box office juggernaut, raking in $15.5 billon at the box office, becoming the highest-grossing film series in history, with The Avengers leading the way with $1.5 billion. Although there have been a couple mediocre films in the MCU (The Incredible Hulk & Thor: The Dark World), the vast majority of films have ranged from good to excellent.

Avengers: Infinity War has been teased as the culmination of what the MCU has been building towards for 10 years. Every single minute has all been going towards this. For the first time, we've been able to see almost every single character from the MCU that we know & love on the big screen.

As a huge Marvel fan, ever since the first trailer for this dropped, I was absolutely hyped for this. And when the second trailer dropped, I was even more ecstatic. But I had a sinking feeling in the back of my mind that it wouldn't be as good as I hoped (& this was compounded by my sky-high expectations for the film). But when reviews started to trickle in, the vast majority of them being very positive, I started to breathe a little easier. And when I sat down in the theater to watch the film, in a huge packed theater on a Friday afternoon, I couldn't have been more excited.

It didn't meet my expectations. It surpassed them far more than I thought they could. It was everything I ever wanted a superhero film to be, & then some. It's definitely my favorite MCU film. Once again, the film follows our favorite group of superheroes, The Avengers: Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.); Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth); Bruce Banner, AKA Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo); Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America (played by Chris Evans); & Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson).

Bruce is sent to Earth through the Bifrost after an attack by Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) on a ship filled with Asgardian citizens, & lands in the Sanctum Santorum in New York, where Dr. Stephen Strange, AKA Doctor Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) & Wong (played by Benedict Wong) stays & helps protect the world from other dimensional villains. Bruce alerts Strange, Wong & eventually Tony that Thanos is coming in his quest to receive the 6 Infinity Stones: the Power Stone; the Space Stone; the Reality Stone; the Soul Stone; the Time Stone; & the Mind Stone. If Thanos gets all 6 Infinity Stones, he can complete his plan with the snap of his fingers: the killing of half of the life in the universe.

Soon after, 2 of Thanos's children arrive in New York: Ebony Maw (played by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) & Cull Obsidian (played by Terry Notary). Noticing this, Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland), gets out of his school bus & joins Tony, Strange, Wong, & Bruce (who is having trouble becoming the Hulk) in the fight.

Not long after that, Thanos's 2 other children arrive in Scotland: Proxima Midnight (played by Carrie Coon) & Corvus Glaive (played by Michael James Shaw). They ambush Wanda Maximoff, AKA Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen) & Vision (played by Paul Bettany), in order to get the Mind Stone, which is in Vision's head. Steve, Natasha, & Sam Wilson, AKA Falcon (played by Anthony Mackie) stop this & take Wanda & Vision to the Avengers Compound, where James Rhodes, AKA War Machine (played by Don Cheadle) & Bruce are staying. Eventually, they travel to Wakanda, the home of T'Challa, AKA Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman), who is being helped mainly by Okoye (played by Danai Gurira) in advance of Thanos's arrival. T'Challa's sister, Shuri (played by Letitia Wright), might be able to help separate the Mind Stone from Vision & protect it from Thanos. Also, Steve's old friend, James "Bucky" Barnes, AKA Winter Soldier (played by Sebastian Stan) is recuperating in Wakanda, & is able to help fight Thanos.

Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Galaxy: Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord (played by Chris Pratt); Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana); Drax (played by Dave Bautista); Mantis (played by Pom Klementieff); Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper); & Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) receive a distress signal & find Thor, who immediately becomes the talk of the town on the ship, much to Peter's chagrin. Thor believes Thanos is heading to Knowhere for the Reality Stone, & sends Peter, Gamora, Drax & Mantis to Knowhere, while Thor, Rocket & Groot travel to Nidavellir, where Eitri (played by Peter Dinklage) might be able to help build an axe for Thor that can kill Thanos.

Eventually, all of these people join together to fight Thanos, but as he is the most powerful villain they will most likely ever face, sacrifices may have to be made.

The cast is spectacular. Downey Jr., Evans, Hemsworth, Pratt, Ruffalo, Johansson, Boseman, Olsen & Holland are the standouts of the heroes. But Josh Brolin is the standout of the entire cast. Brolin, using motion-capture, is absolutely terrifying, & along with the characterization, makes Thanos not only the best villain of the MCU, but one of the best villains in comic book film history.

The direction by Anthony & Joe Russo is excellent. The Russo brothers manage to juggle so many characters & so many themes so excellently it feels like a Herculean feat has been completed.

The screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely is amazing. The plot is interesting, the characters are well-written (especially Thanos), & the story is well-crafted & doesn't pull any emotional punches.

Trent Opaloch's cinematography is astounding. Opaloch uses a vast variety of wide shots, & a eclectic color palette, a far cry from the ugly gray color palette that was a plague to some previous MCU films.

The editing by Jeffrey Ford & Matthew Schmidt is stellar. There are no distracting cuts that are commonplace in action films, & the pacing is excellent, making the film's 149-minute runtime feel like a breeze.

Charles Wood's production design is phenomenal. Like the cinematography, the sets are colorful & vibrant, & pops out at every second.

Alan Silvestri's original score is fantastic. Silvestri has always been a great thematic composer, & that's put to excellent use here, with a fantastic orchestral array leading the way.

The sound design is incredible. The sounds are loud, but never distracting. They add to the intense feel of what's at stake in the film.

And the visual effects are some of the best ever. From the wall-to-wall action of the battle sequences to the impressive motion-capture of Thanos, the visual effects are breathtaking at every turn.

This is one of the best films of the year, & one of the best comic book films ever. Led by some fantastic performances (especially from Josh Brolin), excellent direction, an amazing screenplay, breathtaking visuals, & a stellar score from Alan Silvestri, this is a cinematic event for the ages.

Avengers: Infinity War was seen by me at the MJR Partridge Creek Digital Cinema 14 in Clinton Township, MI on Friday, April 27, 2018. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 149 minutes, & it is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence & action throughout, language & some crude references.