Midsommar: Know Before You Go

Courtesy of A24.

Courtesy of A24.

Midsommar has recently opened with some deafening buzz. Even director Jordan Peele (Us, Get Out) says it features "some of the most atrociously disturbing imagery I’ve ever seen on film." It's safe to say Midsommar is the prestige horror movie event of this summer (see The Blair Witch Project, The Witch, It Follows, and even director Ari Aster's own Hereditary). If you plan on seeing it, here are some tips that might help increase your enjoyment of the film.

1) While it's billed as a horror film, don't expect major frights. This isn't a James Wan film full of jump scares. Instead, it's an artistic psychological horror film with a lot of tension. In other words, it's a slow burn.

2) Let it be an experience. The movie is less a conventional horror film and more of a spellbinding fever dream. Try to let it wash over you and enjoy the surreality.

3) It's two and a half hours long. Plan accordingly. I suggest using the RunPee app. (runpee.com)

4) Take in the rich imagery. It's unique for a horror film to create its own visual language like this one does.

5) There is a lot of full frontal nudity in the last third of the film, male and female. Some of it you may enjoy. Some of it you won't.

6) Try to be mature. If you're not digging the vibe of the film, don't ruin it for those who are by mocking it. Watch quietly or leave.

7) Have an aftercare plan. This is a film that's so dark, the cast sat in silence for about ten minutes after they screened it. Plan a happy activity for afterwards or have a friend on standby you can talk to.

Courtesy of A24.

Courtesy of A24.

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The Trailers I Love

Late Night

Late Night was one of the biggest comedies to come out of Sundance.  Mindy Kaling’s smart, fresh writing is definitely on display in this trailer.  This looks like The Devil Wears Prada set in the world of late night television and I’m totally here for it.  I can’t remember when I’ve been so excited to see an Emma Thompson film.  She looks amazing in this.  One of the things on my summer movie checklist every year is an indie comedy like Little Miss Sunshine or The Big Sick.  I get to check this one off my list early when it comes out on June 6.

Good Boys

On the other side of the spectrum and the other side of summer (August 16) is Good Boys.  This is goofy, raunchy, lowbrow comedy about bad behavior.  It’s basically the new Superbad and it makes me so happy.  I watched this trailer twice in a row when it came out.  The movie features Jacob Tremblay from Room and Wonder and Keith L. Williams from the TV show The Last Man on Earth.  This will be the perfect film to beat those end of summer blues I always get around mid-to-late August.  Please note:  this is a red band trailer and it is NSFW. 

There should be plenty of laughs this summer. Sundance favorites Brittany Runs a Marathon and dramedy The Farewell starring Awkwafina haven’t released trailers yet but should also be a lot of fun.

If you like trailers, be sure to follow my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/EtchedInGold/) where I share trailers and articles about upcoming films.

Trailer Watch: Kids Movies

There are several fun trailers out for upcoming kid flicks.  Let's take a closer look at them. 


Based on the popular stuffed animals, the trailer features some rather odd looking creatures that live in Uglyville and one day discover a place called The Institute of Perfection.  

I know, I know.  I've already gone on record complaining about animated movies that overwhelm you with their celebrity voice cast and a catchy pop tune (Smallfoot, Angry Birds, Rio 2).  But I really LIKE this voice cast and catchy pop tune.  How can you not be excited about a new Janelle Monáe performance?  Or Pitbull playing a pitbull named Pitbull?  Okay, technically his character is called Ugly Dog but still...When he belts out, "It doesn't get better than this!", you kind of wanna dance.  

The Secret Life of Pets 2  

The Secret Life of Pets had a trailer with more promise than the actual movie.  It was one of the best trailers of that year.  So it's no surprise the trailers for the sequel are a lot of fun, each one focusing on a different character. The best ones so far are the the Snowball trailer and the Daisy trailer. Both ads give us a glimpse at Snowball the rabbit’s reformed life as a tamed pet with his new owner Molly from the end of the first movie. No longer a villain, he has done a 180 and is now a self-proclaimed superhero. Daisy is a new character voiced by Tiffany Haddish who had good chemistry with Kevin Hart in Night School.

Sean the Sheep 2: Farmageddon

The first Sean the Sheep was hilarious.  My girlfriend and I laughed all the way through it.  In the teaser trailer for the sequel, the sheep play a prank on the farmer by creating crop circles before one of them is beamed up into an actual UFO.  Is Sean going where no Sheep has gone before?  No matter what the sequel has in store, it should be a good time.  

The Kid Who Would Be King

I've seen two different trailers for this movie and I think it has a lot of potential.  It's not going to be The Lord of the Rings.  But it looks like a truly enjoyable, well-made adventure for middle schoolers with plenty of humor.  I'm not sure Hollywood produces enough of that kind of film anymore. I'm hoping this is as much fun as The House with a Clock in Its Walls. Writer-director Joe Cornish was a writer on Ant-Man and wrote and directed Attack the Block. These trailers makes me nostalgic for some of the movies I watched in middle school like The Mighty Ducks or the 1980s classic Explorers.

Keep your eye out for these upcoming films. Stay tuned for future editions of Trailer Watch. Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page for more trailers. And sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date on all the latest articles.

The Trailer I Hate: Spies in Disguise

I really liked this trailer...until the true concept of the movie kicked in. The trailer opens with a smooth black spy. My first thought was that someone had done something genius. Since the studio won't make a James Bond movie with Idris Elba, another studio has made an animated spy film starting a badass Elba lookalike. It blew my mind. It looked fun. And I love the idea that Hollywood is taking a cue from Black Panther's success and making more movies with black heroes.

Then the spy gets turned into a bird. Which is how he'll spend most of the movie. Just like Tiana, the only Disney princess who has to spend most of her movie as a frog instead of as a beautiful human woman. What is wrong with Hollywood?! What was wrong with the idea of an animated spy film? Why did it need a “twist”?

We are having a year with an amazing crop of movies by black filmmakers. I hope it's not a fluke. I'd rather see the screens at my local cineplex populated with movies like Sorry to Bother You, BlacKkKlansman, The Hate U Give, If Beale Street Could Talk, Black Panther, and Creed II than Spies in Disguise.

All MY Questions Answered About the New Godzilla Movie

The trailers for the new Godzilla: King of the Monsters look amazing. But is this related to the last Godzilla movie? Or is this a standalone Godzilla film like how there have been two Jungle Book movies in the past several years? And is this the sequel hinted at in the post-credit scene of Kong: Skull Island? The ad campaign has made this all as clear as mud. so I did some research on the new movie to get some answers.

Is it a sequel to Godzilla (2014)?  Yes.  Even though the ads don’t hint at this AT ALL, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is indeed a sequel to the box office hit Godzilla from four years ago.  My biggest clue in sussing this out was that Ken Watanabe plays the same character in both movies according to IMDB.  While director Gareth Edwards had warned audiences at the time that it would take him years to make a sequel, I’m not sure anyone expected to wait four years.  Or for Edwards to drop out from the series. He stepped down when he get the offer to direct Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the production for the Godzilla sequel needed to proceed without him.

Who’s directing this one? Michael Dougherty who directed Krampus and Trick ‘r Treat.

Why didn’t they call it Godzilla 2? They did. For a while. But they ultimately changed the name to the much cooler King of the Monsters. I have not been able to find an explanation why. Perhaps they did not want the baggage associated with sequels. For instance, occasionally they make less than the original. Perhaps they feel the storyline did not necessitate needing to be familiar with the first film. If I were a studio exec, I would want people to go out and buy, rent, stream the first movie. I would want that extra money coming in. But maybe they figure people will do that anyway with or without a number 2 attached to the title. With multiple monsters and a Stranger Things cast member, who needs to bank on nostalgia for the first film?

Which monsters are in this movie? Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah.

Is it a sequel to Kong: Skull Island?  Yes.  Sort of.  It’s in the same universe.  It has characters that were hinted at in a cut scene at the end of the credits for Kong: Skull Island in the style of Marvel movies. It reintroduces the Monarch organization. The main characters are told Kong is not the only monster and then shown archival footage of ancient cave drawings of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and a battle between King Ghidorah and Godzilla .  According to Wikipedia, Legendary Pictures production company and Warner Brothers have created what they are calling the Monsterverse.  Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island were the first two movies in the series.  Godzilla: King of the Monsters will be the third.  A fourth one has been announced for 2020. 

Are Godzilla and King Kong going to be in a movie together?  Yes.  Godzilla vs. Kong has been announced for spring of 2020.  Millie Bobby Brown is returning for this movie according to IMDB. 

Can it be 2020 yet? Not unless you’re a time lord.  But don’t worry.  There’s plenty of movie goodness to keep you occupied until then including Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, Spiderman: Far From Home, Frozen 2, Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, and Bond 25. And we’ll keep you updated on all the upcoming movie awesomeness here at Meanwhile at the Multiplex!   

Thanksgiving Movies That Aren’t Turkeys

Let’s face it.  When it comes to holidays, Christmas gets all the love.  There are more movies about Christmas than any other holiday.  This year alone, Hallmark is set to release an unprecedented 37 Christmas movies and they began airing them before Halloween.  Meanwhile, the only movie about Purim that I know of is Home For Purim, the movie within a movie in For Your Consideration.  Even though some of the best movies of the year often come out on or around Thanksgiving (Toy Story, Home Alone, Frozen, The Muppets reboot, An American Tail), there are few movies dedicated to this annual American holiday.  I present you with three Thanksgiving movies well worth your time.

First up is the most well-known of the three, 1987’s Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  In a departure from his usual teen fare, John Hughes wrote and directed this dark comedy about the frustrations of traveling during a holiday weekend.  I feel lucky to have been a kid when John Candy was alive and making movies.  Seeing this in the theater with my Dad is one of my favorite movie memories.  Steve Martin and John Candy are both at the top of their game here and it’s a shame they never partnered up for another film like this.  If you like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, you’ll probably enjoy this less celebrated gem as well.

Our second movie is Home for the Holidays starring Holly Hunter and directed by Jodie Foster.  Hunter’s character flies home for Thanksgiving after a series of unfortunate events and braces herself for a dysfunctional family holiday.  Anne Bancroft plays the critical mother.  Charles Durning, a Christmas movie MVP, plays the lovable bumbling dad.  Robert Downey Jr plays the gay brother in one of his most underrated roles with his usual mix of charm and snark.  If you want to feel better about your family’s Thanksgiving, put this one on.   

Finally, we have Pieces of April.  This independent film used to be required viewing for me every November.  I still try to watch at least part of it around Thanksgiving every year.  Katie Holmes plays black sheep April who is hosting her family for Thanksgiving at her apartment.  She desperately wants everything to go off without a hitch.  It isn’t going to.  This bittersweet movie about community and family always touches me and the message of hope and reconciliation always gets to me.  I always tear up at the end.  Plus the soundtrack by the Magnetic Fields is amazing.  The way the characters love each other is deeply moving. 

There you have it.  Three quality films that Christmas doesn’t own.  I hope you’ll check them out and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do

The Trailers I Hate

The Sisters Brothers

 While I’m very much looking forward to this movie, the trailer for it is tone deaf.  It has the rhythms of a comedy trailer and even seems to pause for laughs (like when Phoenix falls off his horse) but doesn’t seem to understand what a joke is.  I’ve watched this trailer several times in theaters and it never gets a laugh.  The moment when John C. Reilly punches Joaquin Phoenix instead of slapping him should get a big laugh and instead it always gets silence.  The damn thing opens with them terrorizing a woman who we sympathize with more than them then triumphant music plays as they burn her house down.  How are we supposed to side with them?  This doesn’t make them fun bad boys in the way the trailer thinks it does.  There is a fun, off-beat western somewhere buried underneath all this.  This particular ad does a poor job of explaining or selling it however.



At least this trailer nails its concept.  A yeti goes in search of the mystical “Smallfoot.”  Unfunny jokes and a saccharine song about freedom make this one hard to sit through repeatedly.  At least there is original music in this movie and not just the rehashed jukebox of oldies the constantly get repackaged and sold to kids in so many movies (Sing, Ella Enchanted, Strange Magic).  This is another movie where the trailer overwhelms you with the voice cast as if the sheer number of celebrities will somehow cover up a substandard plot.  If you want a cast of thousands, rent It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

The Trailer I Love: The Old Man and the Gun

This feels like an old ‘70s movie that already exists.  If you didn’t know Robert Redford was a dashing young man in the 1970s, you’d swear that it was.  There’s a comforting sense of déjà vu at the end of the trailer with that great piece of dialogue (“…I’m just talking about living.”) and the easy listening song playing.  Every time this trailer starts up at the art house, I groan inside a little because I’ve seen it so many times but then I easily get swept up in its spell.  The montage of bank robberies.  Watching Redford sweet talk Sissy Spacek.  He’s still so damn charming.  She’s so radiant. It’s easy to get excited about this movie even when the trailer is wearing a little thin. 

The Guilty Pleasure of A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born has some of the biggest buzz so far this Oscar season. Lady Gaga has a strong shot at a Best Actress nomination and Bradley Cooper may get a Best Director nod his first time out of the gate. However, let's not lose sight of the fact that this movie is a good old-fashioned guilty pleasure.  

Let's count the ways. (SPOILERS AHEAD)

1) Bradley Cooper in a gay bar 
It's just as fun for us the audience to see Bradley Cooper drinking in a gay bar as it is for the patrons in the movie to see Jackson Maine drinking there. Talk about meta! It's a humorous, surreal moment. 

2) Gaga getting in a fist fight. 
Is this maybe your second favorite fight scene this year? (#1 being the one where every Marvel hero fights Thanos) Who else can turn a bar brawl into a romantic gesture? 

3) Gaga pretending she's never sung live before. It's amazing that she can look so vulnerable onstage and stay in character when you know in real life she has done this a million times. The vulnerability she displays in this scene feels so authentic. 

4) Getting to fall in love with Gaga 
The movie nails that first 24 hours. The parking lot scene, her first time onstage, that exhilaration of new love. We fall in love with her as Bradley Cooper does.  

5) The "bromance" between Sam and Bradley
Sam Elliott has quietly been doing amazing work in movies like Grandma, The Last Dinosaur, and I'll See You In My Dreams over the past several years. Now that he's in a movie getting a lot of buzz, maybe he'll get his Best Supporting Actor nomination. He's the tough love brother who never got to be in the spotlight. He's perfect in every scene. Try not to tear up during their last scene together.  

6) All the sappy songs 
I have had "Maybe it's time to let the old ways die x 2/It takes a lot to change a man/ Hell, it takes a lot to try..." stuck in my head since before the damn movie opened.  

7) It's a tear jerker.  
The movie isn't afraid to pull on your heartstrings and have you reaching for the tissues. Alcoholism, sibling rivalry, love gone bad, and suicide are all part of the feel-bad mix that feels a little bit good.