Constantine: City Of Demons

Director: Doug Murphy
Writers: J.M. DeMatteis, Steve Bissette, John Totleben, Jamie Delano, John Ridgeway, J.M. DeMatteis, Philip Tan, Jamie Delano
Staring: Matt Ryan, Laura Bailey, Robin Atkins, Downes
Streaming: HBO MAX
Release Date: October 4, 2018

I never try to expect much from these animated super hero movies. It is hit or miss, either really good like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2012), or really bad. Part of enjoying these movies is having an understanding of the lore around the characters to see what the movie is playin with. I readily admit that I don’t know John Constantine’s character that well; only from what I have seen in movies and TV shows.

  • The ending to Constantine: City Of Demons does hit you in the feels a bit. Not the final battle, but the last diner conversation.
  • Can’t really recommend much of anything else from this movie. If you like super hero movies and have an appreciation for them then you’ll find something in Constantine: City Of Demons. Otherwise it is just worth a skip.

Stanko Rating: D (1.5/5 Stars)

The Dark Knight

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer, Bob Kane
Staring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger
Streaming: HBO MAX
Release Date: July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight is a riveting watch, and a great retrospective viewing. I will be blunt, the second half of this movie is…dare I say…a bit of a drag? HOWEVER, that first half of The Dark Knight is just unbelievable. From the Joker (Heath Ledger) barging into Harvey Dent’s fundraising event till the explosion that kills Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), everything about The Dark Knight clicks at the highest level.

  • The truck sequence is amazing. It is goosebumps inducing. It is one of the best action set pieces I can remember. It is iconic.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal is excellent as Rachel. Everyone went into this movie wondering how the replacing Katie Holmes, and I think that clouded the fact she was spunky as hell.
  • I love some of the little things with the writing in The Dark Knight. whether it be The Joker commenting about how never to start with the head because it’ll make him woozy or his “wrong choice of words” when Batman says “Let her go.”
  • Stay tuned for my rankings of the Christopher Nolan movies when I finally get the time to sit down and watch Following (1998)

Stanko Rating: A- (4.5/5 Stars)


Doctor Sleep (Director’s Cut)

Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Stephen King
Staring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran
Streaming: HBO MAX
Release Date: November 8, 2019

When I heard on The Big Picture (great movie podcast) that there was a director’s cut of Doctor Sleep, I literally pumped my fist in the car. There are very few feelings as uniquely exciting when you discover an extended edition of the movie you “liked” but didn’t “love”. It gives the chance for the director to prove that there was more potential than the final commercial cut.

Mike Flanagan, you son of a bitch, you did it. This director’s cut of Doctor Sleep is better than its predecessor, and its not really up for debate?

Also, I just need type this here. The sound track to The Shining (1980) is haunting and that main theme is creepy-crawly. Béla Bartók, take a bow. Not sure why this wasn’t nominated for more when it came out.

  • REALLY love the extended stalking and hunting of Violet at the start of the directors cut. Also the extended torment of the baseball bot is just as hard to watch.
  • The chapter structure is really the most apparent change between Mike Flanagan’s original cut and his extended edition.
  • Reading the book and seeing the new scenes added in that were part of the book was awesome.
  • Kyliegh Curran is really great as the older version of Abra. She is menacing and confident; it adds to the idea that an overconfident teen is the most terrifying thing in the world.

Stanko Rating: B (3.5/5 Stars)


The Philadelphia Story

Director: George Cukor
Writers: Donald Ogden Stewart, Philip Barry, Waldo Salt
Staring: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
Streaming: HBO MAX
Release Date: January 17, 1941

Trying to be more cultured, trying to be more cultured.

The Philadelphia Story‘s best asset is that it is very self contained, literally taking place over two days. This is a story that that could easily be remade with modern times (This is a blog idea that a future date).

In quick summation, The Philadelphia Story is enjoyable, low stress and fun. The ending may not be my favorite thing in the world, but there is a strong foundation that can’t be cracked.

  • James Stewart steals the spotlight in this movie. He acts like he is in a slapstick comedy but somehow you still take him seriously.
  • I have said it once (many times), and I’ll say it again. Writing in older movies is just better. It’s just crisper.
  • I need to explore more movies with Cary Grant in them to see if he ever played a role where wasn’t the charismatic, good looking, suave, slightly-dangerous man.
  • This was on AFI’s top 100 movies of all time. It is good, it is not great. But would like for AFI to maybe come out with a more up to date list compared to their 2007 latest version?

Stanko Rating: B (3.5/5 Stars)


I’m Your Woman

Director: Julia Hart
Writers: Julia Hart, Jordan Horowitz
Staring: Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Arinzé Kene
Streaming: Amazon Prime
Release Date: December 11, 2020

I didn’t know much going into I’m Your Woman. All I had seen was the first 30 seconds of the trailer.

I am so glad I took that route.

I’m Your Woman is a crime drama focused on the characters and not the crime. It is indie movie in all senses because of that, and it makes all the difference. Often the violence is off screen, but the reactions and realizations of consequences are on screen.

I’m Your Woman is not for everyone, but it is for anyone who wants to watch Rachel Brosnahan act very well, and Marsha Stephanie Blake swallow the screen whole.

  • Man, the 1970s was a crazy time for fashion and home décor. Bonkers at the amount of yellow!
  • Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) not knowing anything about her husband is a great surrogate for the audience not knowing any reason why she is running. I have not seen very much of Brosnahan, but this will make me more inclined to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
  • I would HATE the neighbor Evelyn (Marceline Hugot). Way to friendly! Give me my space!
  • The best visual moment in I’m Your Woman comes when Jean and Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake) go to the disco and a shootout occurs. When Teri places Jean in the phone booth and the shot is just over her head as she is ducking in terror is worth a second watch. Terror going back and forth in front of Jean, and she is literally next to a phone but has no one to call (not that she would have the wherewithal in that moment but symbolically) but she has no idea who to trust or what is going on.

Stanko Rating: B (3.5/5 Stars)


Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Michael Bacali, Edgar Wright, Bryan Lee O’Malley
Staring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Streaming: Netflix
Release Date: August 13, 2010

Looking back now, there was no shot Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World would NOT be a cult classic. It is quirky, funny, cringy and unforgettable. But the part of this movie that is the best is how confident it is. I think all credit has to go to director Edgar Wright for having a vision in mind and sticking to it.

Watching it now, years after I saw it for the first time, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World has a bit more depth to it than I ever remembered. It is by no means gonna make you rethink your entire life and existence, but it may make you do a quick, guilty, double-look in the mirror.

  • The best ex fight is by far the one involving Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh), AKA the vegan. It has the funniest lines from any of the fights, and the prologue to it being Brie Larson acting the hell out of Envy Adams.
  • Sound track in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World slaps, and everyone who has seen it gets it.
  • I really disliked Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) for the first hour of this movie. God, he was such a dick.
  • I never put it together that Ramona is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the same actor who appears in Death Proof (2007) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016).

Stanko Rating: A- (4.0/5 Stars)


Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Hero: Dave Filoni
Saving Grace: Dave Filoni
Staring: Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor, Ashley Eckstein
Streaming: Disney+
Aired: 2008-2020

God, I love Star Wars. I love good Star Wars.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars took a few seasons to find its footing, but come season three, the show hit a very high clip. Then season six and seven come along and BOW POW WHAM.

I wish I had seen Star Wars: The Clone Wars before The Mandalorian because I for sure would have liked it more, but now when I rewatch it, I can not wait to pick up on the little things.

  • 133 episodes flew by a lot faster than I thought…like seriously I finished everything in less than a month.
  • I now totally understand the infatuation with Ahsoka Tano…and I haven’t even seen Star Wars: Rebels yet! As I am writing this, I am watching the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie that acme out in 2008 when we first meet her. She is just so young.
  • What Dave Filoni did in the final season of The Clone Wars is remarkable. The seamless integration with The Revenge Of The Sith events made me want to go watch that movie again and see it from that perspective.
  • I feel much smarter now that I know more Star Wars cannon for the bombardment of Star Wars content we will be getting over the next two years. Next stop is Star Wars: Rebels.

X-Men

Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Tom DeSanto, Bryan Singer, David Hayter
Staring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen
Streaming: Disney+
Release Date: July 14, 2000

Ohhhhhh this is so 2000 it hurts…but in the best way possible.

X-Men is a tone-setter for Hollywood. It proved that you could get recognizable stars in a movie and make an ensemble action blockbuster. The casting agents in X-Men deserve a TON of credit because it set the groundwork for a two decade franchise.

Now, let it be clear, X-Men is not the best movie in the world, and it is arguably not classically “good.” The writing is very cheesy in moments, and the crossfades between various scenarios are rough. HOWEVER, there are many moments that just make you smile as an audience. When Magneto (Ian McKellen) comes through smoke onto the train is hilariously over the top. When Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) spins around on the Statue of Liberty or when Storm (Halle Berry) comes up through the elevator; those are scenes etched into memories of fans of this genre.

  • I can not wait till Disney reboots the X-Men franchise. The fact everything is under Disney’s wing terrifies me, but I am rooting for that evil empire to create an Avengers universe but with the X-Men.
  • Totally forgot that Rogue is played by Anna Paquin. Only ever knew her from True Blood. While adding to it…who knew James Marsden played Cyclops?!
  • Mystique looked awesome in this movie. It makes the disgrace of Jennifer Lawrence’s later renditions of Mystique even more disgraceful.
  • I am playing through X-Men: Legends on Gamecube, and watching this movie made me fire it up SO fast.

Stanko Rating: B- (3.0/5 Stars)


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