Ambulance – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is non-stop action from the word go, which can get existing at times, but it is a riot to watch when Michael Bay is on his game.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

Ambulance. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Ambulance Review –

For a long time, Michael Bay has been derided for his films, and I think that is both fair and a little bit unfair. Because Michael Bay has a particular style of filmmaking that does not work with every script, however, when a story and cast line up with his filmmaking strengths, well, you can get something special. Today we are looking at a film that does just that as we romp across LA County, one explosion after another.

So to set the scene, Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is a war veteran. Still, he is getting shafted by the Department of Veteran Affairs because they won’t pay for his wife Amy’s (Moses Ingram) experimental surgery, and there is no way Will can come up with the $231,000 himself. Well, there is one way, but it means getting in contact with his estranged brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal), who followed their father’s footsteps into the world of illicit money. This is good news for Danny because he needs an extra man in his crew to take down one of the biggest bank hauls, and Will has five minutes to pick if he is in or not. The robbery was going well, right up until Officer Zach (Jackson White) comes up to the bank to ask out one of the tellers on a date, and things fall apart from there, including Zach getting shot. Well, the police are surrounding the bank, and there is no way out, or maybe because EMT Cam Thompson (Eiza González) has arrived on the scene to save Zach’s life and that big ambulance looks like the perfect opportunity to slip past a police cordon.  

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In The Land Of Lost Angels – Movie Review

TL;DR – An intimate exploration of a crime as it unwinds across the days.   

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film.

In The Land Of Lost Angels. Image Credit: The Filmbridge.

In The Land Of Lost Angels Review

In my exploration of cinema outside of my traditional Anglosphere, today I have another first. I think my previous investigation of Mongolian Cinema began and ended with watching The Hu on YouTube. Today, I take the first steps to fix that by looking at this brooding work of cinema.

So to set the scene, we open in the dark of a Los Angeles night. Ankhaa (Tumursukh Erdenemunkh) is on the phone back home telling everyone not to worry because his new job pays well, but clearly, this is not quite the truth. Along with his friend Orgil (Iveel Mashbat), they go through the motions of setting something up, including purchasing a gun, much to Orgil’s surprise. You are not sure where this is going, right up until they grab Scott (Mike Cali) from his car and slap a ransom note to the window.  

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The Little Things – Movie Review

TL;DR –  A film where the lack of consistency and drive leave you wondering what went wrong.   

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

The Little Things. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

The Little Things Review

There are times when you see a cast list and a concept, and you have a level of excitement because all of these factors should lead to a solid film. However, this is not always the case as there can be a myriad of reasons what a film does not stick the landing. Well, today we look at just such a movie filled with Oscar-winning actors that all seem to be in different films.

So to set the scene, we open with a young lady driving home down a dark street in an isolated stretch of the Southern Californian countryside. Then a car approaches from behind and forces her off the road near a diner. As she bangs on the closed doors for someone to hear her, the assailant opens the boot of his car to retrieve a bat and duct tape. The next day we come to Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington), a Kern County Deputy Sheriff, and someone clearly too old to be in such a low position. He is tasked to drive back to his old posting in Los Angeles to pick up some evidence for a court case. When there, he is roped back into his old homicide department by the new guy LASD Det. Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) because there is a murderer on the loose.

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First Blush – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film looking at people trying to find other people to plug that hole in their lives   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film.

First Blush. Image Credit: Gravitas Ventures.

First Blush Review

There has been a lot of reframing of traditional relationships in the post-modern era. However, when cinema has started to explore this realm, it rarely explores this world’s realities. Today we have a film that gives it a solid try if nothing else.

So to set the scene, Nena (Rachel Alig) and Drew (Ryan Caraway) are a mostly happy married couple living in Los Angeles. While everything is good, it does feel like they are sleepwalking through their lives until one day Drew plans a surprise birthday party for Nena with her annoying friend Carrie (Jordee Kopanski). The party is a bit rubbish, but while they are there, Carrie runs into Olivia (Kate Beecroft), and soon their worlds come crashing together.      

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Map-It – Let’s Get Fast and/or Furious

TL;DR – Today we chart every location visited on screen in the Fast and Furious film franchise

The Fate of the Furious. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
The Fate of the Furious. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Map

For the site last week, I went through and watched all of the Fast and Furious films from start to finish for our review. As cars were taking down Tanks, Cargo Planes, and Submarines (oh my) and they started jumping around the world from Los Angeles, I started jotting down locations, and well we all know where that is going to lead to. So once again I have mapped out a franchise (you can also see our maps for James Bond and Marvel), from the start in LA to the ice fields of Russia. Note that we are using the named locations and not where they were filmed.

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TV Review – The Chef Show

TL;DR – Watching this I discovered that Orange Juice goes into ever marinade and there is a peach not-pie that has my name on it.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

The Chef Show. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

There are many reasons to make a food TV show, maybe you want to explore what drives the top chefs, maybe it is exploring the food that speaks to a place or time, or maybe you create a TV show so you can hang out with a friend and cook stuff across America.

So to set the scene, back in 2014 Jon Favreau wrote and directed a film called Chef about someone who quits his job in a fine dining restaurant to open a food truck. On the film consulting about the food was Chef Roy Choi who had followed a similar story in his real life. I have not seen Chef (though that will likely change in the coming days) it is clear that the two formed a strong friendship which we see all throughout The Chef Show.

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Movie Review – Loners

TL;DR – This is a film that was on the cusp of being something really interesting but just held back by an inconsistent tone    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Loners. Image Credit: Indie Rights .

Review

Sometimes I wonder if this political science adjacent degree I studied for will be any good in my future and then a political satire falls in my lap. I have a certain weakness for political worldbuilding and counterfactuals and today we have an interesting one to explore.

So to set the scene, in the not too distant future in an attempt to clamp down on the number of gun massacres. The government has created a system where introverts and loners are forced to wear an “L” Band across their heads that monitors them and helps them be better members of society. On top of this, once a week they have to meet for a group therapy session called “Lone-Anon”. Which is where we meet Lincoln (Brian Letscher), Tanner (Tyson Turrou), Ed (David Christian Welborn), Franny (Brenda Davidson), Jeremy (Khary Payton), Dabney (Neil McGowan), and Clara (Denise Dowse). After suffering through group theory sessions led by Mike (Keith Stevenson) they all got back to Clara’s house because they worked out that two hours of close proximity with six people is enough to get the authorities off their backs for the rest of the week. That is until Clara gets grabbed by the feds and Senise (Melissa Paladino) is brought in to join the group and things start not adding up.

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Movie Review – Chase

TL;DR – It explores what happens when a hitman’s work and life collide    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Chase. Image Credit: Vertical Entertainment.

Review

The hitman is a character that has been around as long as cinema has been a medium. Sometimes they are the bogeyman lurking in the shadows, sometimes they are a threat to contend with in running gun battles, and sometimes you kill the wrong person’s dog and you forfeit your life. One area that does not get as explored as much as it should is what happens when the hitman goes home and how does that affect their lives. How can you kill people by day and go home to your family at night and what happens if those worlds collide together? Well, today we look at a film that explores this intersection with Chase.  

So to set the scene, we open in as Chase (Damien Puckler) and his best friend who is also his sort of boss Miles (Aries Spears). Chase and Miles have been inseparable since they were 15 and ran off from foster care together. Miles is the boss and always seems to be in the position to manipulate the people around him and Chase is his best hitman. Chase has a simple system, he has a flat rate, double for women, and triple for kids and his only rules that he is paid in full up front, he not a repeat service so you will never see him again, and that he does not leave orphans. Chase has been living that life for a long time but in recent years he has found two attachments, his girlfriend Blair (Jessica Morris) and their child Micah (Eli Michael Kaplan). However, while Chase is good at compartmentalising, Miles thinks he is going soft and well as you can imagine this is a recipe for disaster.

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Map-It: Chef’s Table

TL;DR – With Volume 5 just released and Volume 6 just around the corner we take a moment to map out all of Chef’s Table

 

Chef's Table. Image Credit: Netflix

 

Map-It –

 

If you have been reading my reviews for a long time then you will undoubtedly know that I have a deep love for David Gelb’s striking food documentary series Chef’s Table on Netflix. It is a world full of beautiful food, fascinating stories, and a deep exploration into a world that I don’t really get to visit. Well today the fifth volume (six if you add in France which we do) has dropped and I wanted to take a moment to combine my love of both food and cartography and thus chart out every restaurant visited throughout the series so far (and even into the next volume since the names of the chefs have already been announced). With the maps, if a chef had more than one location featured, we picked the central place explored in the episode.

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TV Review – Ugly Delicious: Season One

TL;DR – A fascinating documentary dissecting every facet of food, from its history, its traditions, and the future.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Ugly Delicious banner

 

Review

As a food culture, we have really started to focus on tradition, authenticity, style and presentation, but have we lost something in the process? This is something that chef David Chang is trying to get to the heart off in his new series Ugly Delicious which he hosts with food writer Peter Meehan. Chang who is known from his Momofuku restaurants is pulling apart what makes food the way it is, what makes something traditional and something rebellious, and what is the soul of the food we may eat on a daily basis.

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