Tag Archives: Elisabeth Moss

The Kitchen (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

 

The Kitchen Review

Director: Andrea Berloff
Writers: Ollie Masters (comic book series), Ming Doyle (comic book series)
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss 

Moviie Couple here!   We went out and watched The Kitchen this Friday!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not! Just a quick reminder of our rating system.   Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

The Kitchen adapts a 2015 DC/Vertigo comic book series written by Ollie Masters and Illustrated by Ming Doyle to the silver screen.  The film, like the comic before it, tells a tale of three mob wives in the 1970’s as they rise in power over Hell’s Kitchen Manhattan while their husbands are off serving time in prison.  Utilising some brains and old school chutzpah, the trio quickly fill a void left by an inept mafioso made-man left in charge.  The trio of enterprising 70’s ladies are played by Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss.  Directed by first time director, Andrea Belloff, we follow the growth of these three friends in a world not ready or willing to embrace female empowerment.  Growth, alliances, twists and of course violence ensue!  Can the women break the mob glass ceiling?  Are they prepared to take on a world they only knew from the periphery?  Are they prepared to pay the price a life in this world costs?  Well we don’t spoil here at Moviie Couple so why don’t we just let you know if it’s worth watching in order to find these answers for yourself or is it better to wait and watch on the couch?  So grab a pack of smokes, crank up your eight cylinder gas guzzler and hit play on your eight track while you turn up The Chain by Fleetwood Mac (Man is that song used in every 70 era picture or what?)it’s time to find out if The Kitchen is an offer we can’t refuse!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  The title of this movie, The Kitchen, refers to Hell’s Kitchen New York and probably serves as a double meaning, as most men in this film, and probably many of that era, still felt a woman’s place was in the kitchen and not much more, but it made me think of Mrs. Moviie Couple and myself.  You see, you can have the same perfect ingredients and have us both follow the same recipe, but inevitably, Mrs Moviie Couple will produce a masterpiece of a meal.  On the other hand, I would produce a nightmare of a meal, I simply can’t cook.  This film had a perfect set of ingredients, a fantastic trio of actors in McCarthy, Haddish and Moss all doing good work, but the end result was less than appetising.  To this end, I have to blame the cooks, or in this case Director Andrea Belloff, who not only directed but also wrote the adaptation for the screen.

This film wants to be a Goodmamas or a The Godmother but it never comes close.  The plot happens at a super fast pace  When the women put their plan in motion, everything happens with an ease and quickness that seems far fetched at best and unbelievable at worst.  Any attempt at challenge or suspense rising against our heroines is never really sustained.   When danger or consequences do come to light, they are addressed and handled just as quickly as they appeared.  There was no time for any dread or fear to build up at any point. These faults lie solely at the feet of the directing and screenwriting, which unfortunately belongs to the same person.  The one attempt at a twist comes out of nowhere and I’m willing to bet was developed with the right amount of time in the comic book version rather than the last minute explanation we get late in the third act here.  Sorry, again no spoilers!

So in conclusion I certainly admired the performances we get here. McCarthy shines as a mother running out of choices to help her family, but never running away.  Haddish also gives a subdued (for her) performance and shows a quiet intensity that she usually doesn’t require in her comedic offerings.  Both these women, known mostly for their popular comedian personas really step it up here in The Kitchen.  Moss shines the brightest as a mousey victim of domestic violence, that not only grows and fights back, but emerges from her cocoon of abuse as a butterfly to be feared by any and all.  It also must be said that Domhnall Gleeson, known mostly as General Hux, in the new Star Wars movies, gives us a surprising and outstanding show as the ladies enforcer and confidant Gabriel.  He is fantastic in a supporting role.

Despite some really great acting jobs, the movie is a bit of a let down.  Too short, too fast, it never gives itself enough time to simmer and soak in all the 1970’s atmosphere or to let us actually feel the fear that these women were facing each and every day.  Like a meal rushed rather than properly prepared, the Kitchen needed more time and care.  You can eat it and taste the possibilities, but you probably should have ordered take out.  I give the Kitchen 2.5 Bills.  Just barely above a waste of my time and money.  Without the stellar performances it would have been even less.

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  Hi, everybody!!  The trailer really had me excited for this one!  The Godfather meets Charlie’s Angels!  I was all set!  Right up my alley, so did it live up to the hype?

The acting from the three main ladies was TOP NOTCH!  Melissa was excellent in exuding humble, sweet, loving Mom and Wife, but also capable of taking control whenever necessary!  Tiffany was fantastic as a no nonsense, tough cookie that was a consummate team player, but ready at a drop of a dime to handle things her own way!  Elisabeth played a girl with the kindest, sweetest disposition who due to her abusive past ultimately finds her “inner voice” and with that freedom finally becomes a force to be reckoned with!

Even though I enjoyed the idea of the women taking charge, I found the story to have many flaws.  It was very choppy and cut from scene to scene without warning or need.  It all seemed to get resolved instantly and with only minimal pain or suffering. Most of the characters that don’t make it, seemed to have it coming one way or another.  Very unrealistic.

Its a shame the story couldn’t live up to the strength of the three lead actors.  This seemed more like an old TV show from the 1970’s where everything works out in the end and all in under one hour!
For all those reasons, I will be giving the Kitchen 3 Bills.  The actresses and women movie-goers everywhere deserved a better film.  I definitely felt like it was a little better than wasting my money and much closer to Meh.  Sad because I was looking forward to this one so much!

On the way home, we talked about how disappointed we both were.  We both enjoyed the trailer so much and were expecting more than we got from the final product.  Mrs. Moviie Couple even told me we should have went to see Dora, WOW!    My 2.5 Bills and the Mrs. 3 Bills, gives us a solid 2.5 Bills for The Kitchen, not at all what we were expecting.  A confirmed waste of both time and money.

So until next time, remember trailers can be deceiving!  Not every film that looks good comes through on the promise!  Be sure to check out our Twitter or Facebook for a clue to our next movie review.  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

Us (2019) Movie Review By Justin Aylward

Us Review,

Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Stars: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss

Jordan Peele’s new film Us is one of the years most highly anticipated cinema releases of the year. After his debut film Get Out frightened audiences as much as it made them think, Peele has been touted as the next big thing in American cinema. Some cinemagoers on social media have even suggested that – wait for it – Peele scales at the heights only reached by the likes of Stanley Kubrick.

The film stars Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide, a wife and mother to two young children. Adelaide goes on a family vacation with her husband, Gabe, played by Winston Duke, and the children, Zora and Jason. The destination is Santa Cruz, which sounds nice, but not for Adelaide. It was in Santa Cruz as a child when she wandered off at a seaside fairground that she experienced a traumatic event. In a dark hall of mirrors, Adelaide was confronted by her doppelganger, and can’t forget the deadened face that stared right through her. Now after man years she returns to the scene.

Everyone just wants to have fun but Adelaide can’t shake her nerves. She is wary of the beach, won’t take her eyes off her children, and is standoffish towards Gabe. It appears there is something sinister lurking among the driveways and palm trees.

After some scares at the beach with their part-time, wealthy friends, Kitty and Josh, played by Elizabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker, the family tries to settle in for a quiet evening at home. But then they appear, another family just like Adelaide’s, standing silently in the dark driveway. As they move closer, we can see the figures are doppelgangers. They are bedecked in red jumpsuits and stolid, wide-eyed stares and wielding gold scissors.

As things transpire, it is apparent that the doppelgangers – or the tethered – have risen from the sewers to wreak havoc among the surface dwellers. Terror and dancing ensue in equal measure.There is nothing like hype to ignite cynicism and whether or not this new film can be regarded as anything worthy of classic status remains to be seen. For me, the film is admirable in its scope but fails to chime on any of the high notes it tries to hit. The scares just don’t work. When you are employing from your actors creepy stares and spooky voices you know there’s a creative struggle for solid material. This is kid’s stuff. The jokes are cheap and do nothing more than undercut the scant amount of tension Peele manages to conjure up. The film does nothing noteworthy in any of the familiar set-pieces. The home invasion sequences are quite tiresome in that the story seems to get stuck in its own porridge of ideas, none of which Peele can seem to settle on. Do we really need long passages of exposition from the main antagonist in a horror film? I can just imagine the ever-silent Michael Myers shaking his head.

There is one outstanding moment of invention when Adelaide faces off against Red, her doppelganger; needless to say I have never seen ballet movements used in such a combative way. It is a scene that sizzles and sparkles as the duel is intercut with flashbacks of Adelaide on stage, under lights. I also admire the soundtrack that helps to enliven the film in moments when it threatens to flatline. Peele also shows his potent visualistic skills. He certainly knows how to direct a scene and use the camera to great effect.

Alas, the problems exist in the script. Peele has a lot to say but doesn’t know how to disentangle his ideas in a coherent manner. There are a few unforgivable horror tropes such as the creepy child paintings and the night-time home invasion, which has been done better in more modest film such as The Strangers and The Invitation. There are themes of class struggle, privilege, anti-capitalism, and poverty among others. There are also loosely attached Jungian themes of the dark shadow and the underworld when Adelaide plumbs the depths to face her biggest fear.I also get the feeling that some of these ideas are dropped into the film as a dead-end with no route to a solution. In the future I can imagine film fans puzzling through this film in the way horror fans have done with Kubrick’s The Shining. And I think that is just how Jordan Peele would like it. The film threatens to come to life in the final act but falters again with more needless exposition. 

The twist ending – which feels attached as an obligation after Get Out – does not illuminate everything that precedes it, as the best twists do, but instead it just creates more contradictions in the story. In end the film adds up to nothing more than a hollow exercise; an underwhelming story with few genuine thrills and a complicated palette of ideas that submit the viewer into antipathy.

Us (2019) Movie Review By Gianni Damai

Us Review,

Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Stars: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss

Jordan Peele has cemented his legacy as a horror icon. With one stroke, Get Out proved to be not only a blockbuster phenomenon, but a rare cure for the Academy’s allergy to genre films (joining the ranks of Mad Max, and paving the way for Black Panther). Hardly two years removed from Get Out, Peele’s follow up has been one of the most anticipated films of 2019. Us is a film drenched in allegory and prophetic filmmaking with an exceptional dose of horror/comedy to boot. But has it lived up to the hype?

For those of you unfamiliar, Us is an entirely original story involving the Wilson family as they’re antagonised by entities that bare an unspeakable likeness to themselves. As the film bares on, the stakes evolve and the Wilson’s are forced to endure a relentless amount of chaos and terror. By Peele’s own admission, the main theme at work here is that we, perhaps, are the danger to ourselves rather than external forces out of our control. But Us is filled with layer after layer of symbolism and allegory for larger pictures at work. Peele’s mind feels as though it’s stuffing the screen with metaphors that ultimately detract from the superb filmmaking at work.

To break it down more precisely, let me first discuss the exceptional things about Us. In certain regards, this feels like a direct response to criticism that Peele’s penmanship outshines his directorial vision. Us is a visually stunning film, not only in the flawless lighting techniques and camera placement, but also the editing style that brings the picture together. Silhouettes feel effortlessly ominous in the hands of a clever filmmaker, but what Peele seems to perfectly understand is how effective the unseen can be. Simple moments like a character being stalked around a car are elevated by the camera’s point of view lingering on the hunted and never the hunter. Even early moments of the antagonists eerily positioned in front of the Wilson residence strike a cord of discomfort that viewers don’t often experience. And each sudden movement feels like an immediate threat regardless of direct violence. Credit should also be given to Mike Gioulakis who continues to prove himself as one of the greatest working cinematographers today (even just this year, Glass is masterfully shot, if nothing else). Peele’s editor on Us, Nicholas Monsour, also deserves a fair amount of credit. A standout moment in the film’s final act (one I’m very critical of for narrative reasons – more on that later) allows Monsour to flex his talents by juxtaposing an eloquent fight sequence with a significant event from the film’s past. Where Peele falls back on his comedic roots to subdue tension, Monsour wisely keeps the pace consistent enough to keep the audience at a level of unease. Danger is always lurking once the film ignites, and no matter how many times you may laugh, you will never forget it.

Performances are also a major highlight of Us, with chief credit being given to Lupita Nyong’o for establishing convincing anxiety while also presenting what I imagine will be hailed as one of the most iconic villains of the 2010’s. The duality of Us inherently allows Nyong’o to shine, but the creation of the character certainly feels like a risk that pays off. Rather than bottling her rich emotional life in favour of a stoic, intimidating villain, Nyong’o gives both characters complete freedom to feel the height of their emotions while letting the script speak for itself. As a result, Red, the main antagonist of the film, is easily the most compelling character. Even with a spare number of scenes, Red is chilling and emotionally rich to the point of both relatability and unrest. Revelations of Red may convolute the narrative, but the pristine strides in her physical movements and the bone chilling dryness of her voice are enough to hook the audience from the moment she appears. The rest of the cast carries the film well, each nailing the relatable anxiety and comedy within the eccentric circumstances whilst relishing the creepy characteristics of their doppelgängers. But shadow characters are generally resigned to caricatures, whereas Red has a lot more to work with. Which brings me to the major pitfalls of Us.

I should warn readers in advance, Us is a difficult film to discuss critically without devolving into spoiler territory. I will do my very best to explain my issues without diving deep into specifics, but my recommendation is to revisit this section of the review after viewing so you can better understand my points.

With that, I can admit that a large majority of my complaints with Us are in the narrative itself. The first act is a gradual build of tension, whereas the second act is a tense action thriller with a slew of entertaining moments that raise a tremendous amount of questions. The third act is the most problematic because it completely disregards those questions and adds puzzling additions to them. The film’s final twist is so inefficiently expanded on that it actually acts more as a detriment than anything. You’ll find yourself revisiting elements of the film and scratching your head rather than feeling the paramount reveal in the way that it is intended. And what’s worse is Peele’s dedication to allegory within it. Us is a film so swamped in perceived metaphors that it actually ends up drowning in them. The shadow world, if taken at face value, is completely unspecific. Under any scrutiny, the world building suffers from crumbling under the sheer amount of questions it forces the audience to ask. But if taken metaphorically, the various specifics of Peele’s underworld are so vast and nondescript that they completely distract from the narrative. And even worse, if Peele intends for the allegories to be the purpose of his film, then he loses all tension and suspense as a consequence. If I was never meant to care for the character’s of Us, then they’re entirely inconsequential. This leads me to believe that the answer lies somewhere in between symbolism and sincerity. A hodgepodge of ideas struggling to breakthrough the befuddling world building. The problem is not that Us forces the audience to ask questions. The problem is that it forces those questions too soon and ends up distracting the audience from experiencing the film first. And the final twist seems to spit in the face of everything that came before it, only leaving bigger holes in the world building than before.

The only other glaring problem I have with Us is a pet peeve I have in all horror. Sort of in line with the aforementioned issues, several characters narrowly escape death through sheer fortune of writing. Now, I don’t mean that in the sense of, “the car came *this close* to hitting them,” or something. I mean villains specifically give the heroes far too many opportunities to survive and save each other than is altogether necessary. Some of these scenarios are explained through logical conclusions and an understanding of the plan at work. But these entirely deflate tension with the understanding being that certain characters are not permitted to kill others, therefore there is no real threat. Other scenarios are never explained, and leave me frustrated at the convenient fortune of the heroes in spite of logic.

Us is the type of movie I hate to grade. In certain regards, it’s a technical masterpiece that demonstrates exactly why Jordan Peele is hailed as a modern cinematic genius. In other regards, it showcases one of the most frustrating narratives of the year thus far. Regardless, it makes me feel guilty as a critic to prod a filmmaker that consistently makes audiences applaud mid-viewing. Peele’s films are so infectious and exhilarating that it feels almost wrong to judge. But at the same time, those praises of his ability to captivate are exactly why he must be held to a high standard. I have no doubt that Peele is a filmmaker to watch as he continues this journey in his career. And even if Us is not my most critically adored film, I still recommend experiencing it with an audience solely so you can feel the same mesmerising quality that Peele makes look so effortless. 

7.5/10

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

Green Lantern Emerald Knights

Directors: Christopher Berkeley, Lauren Montgomery
Writers: Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim 
Stars: Nathan Fillion, Jason Isaacs, Elisabeth Moss

I’m assuming that this was DC and WB preparing the world for the then upcoming live action version of The Green Lantern and ironically in my opinion this is way better than the Ryan Reynolds big budget movie. That’s not to say that Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is a great movie, nor is it a bad movie. My feelings are that this was made for the fans that perhaps may have felt the previous Green Lantern Animated Film “Green Lantern: First Flight” was made for a more widespread audience. Personally I really liked First Flight.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is really a well told story that is constructed into the pending threat as the home planet of the Green Lantern Corps faces a battle with an ancient enemy and Hal Jordan (Nathan Fillion) must prepare new recruit Arisia (Elisabeth Moss) for the coming conflict by relating stories of the first Green Lantern and several of Hal’s comrades. It’s a great method in embedding previous adventures from the comic books that casual fans may not have read or heard of and that applies to the characters too. If like me, a casual fan I am listening to Jordan’s tales in the same vain as Arisia. So I thought that was a neat way of storytelling. The sub stories are actually really good and remain interesting throughout the films duration. Yes some of the alien characters and the animation in these characters looks and voices could be silly at times but the storytelling remained consistent and made me understand this universe a little more. 

The cast again like most of these DC animated films are strong and Nathan Fillion is back (Last time as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman from 2009) Jason Isaacs as Sinestro (last played Ra’s al Ghul in 2010’s Batman: Under the Red Hood) Elisabeth Moss as Arisia (I think this was his first and only time in the DC Animated Universe) Arnold Vosloo of Mummy fame playing Abin Sur (previously Bar-El in All-Star Superman from 2011) and Henry Rollins as Kilowog (Rollins has a long list of animated features including Batman: The Brave and the Bold Television Series. The majority of the cast have a history in comic book animations or live action and I feel this is important on how they come across in their voice acting. Here  the likes of Fillion and co get it and what they have to bring to the table. In all of the DC Animated Universe Films I commend the voice actors as they have all done a sterling job in their roles and once more show us that even in voice they must perform to the peak of their game.

The action sequences are fast and furious. The opening scenes are quite graphic and sets the tone to the movie which worked well as the movies colours where bright throughout and I think with Christopher Berkeley (The Batman (TV Series) and Lauren Montgomery (Superman/Doomsday, Wonder Woman,Green Lantern: First Flight, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse) in the Directorial chair I knew we were in safe hands on where we were going with this movie. It might have been my mind playing tricks on me but I am pretty sure all the flashbacks had a different animation style to differentiate the storytelling. Some of the animation at times made the alien creatures silly looking at not at all menacing or superior and thankfully this is just nitpicking because as I said the storytelling was dominant here anyway. The Hal / Arisia animation interactions in between the stories was more traditional comic book look and both characters came across as teacher and student as it was intended.

Overall, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights may have been created with the core fanbase in mind but newbies like myself will be able to pickup and understand the plot easily enough and be taught some of the backstory to the other characters within the Green Lantern Core and it’s universe.

Personally I enjoyed the First Flight film as an overall experience but storytelling wise Emerald Knights is one of the best in the DC Animated Universe out there. My advice would be not to start your DC adventures here. Go back and watch them chronologically and embrace the build up to this cracking film from Christopher Berkeley and Lauren Montgomery. Highly Recommended.