Movie reviews: Jersey Boys, Coherence, Frank and Oculus.

Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys is a biopic by Clint Eastwood about the four New Jersey natives who became The Four Seasons. The movie details their lives just before they joined together as a band, their rise to fame, and the trials and tribulations they experienced as a group amid their Jersey Boys success.

It’s Eastwood’s first movie in three years, after J. Edgar did not fare so well (he has another one coming in January, called American Sniper starring Bradley Cooper). Jersey Boys is an upgrade from that last work, but not by much.

People who go to see Jersey Boys do it because they want to hear the band’s famous songs. And that’s when the movie shines. It’s no surprise Eastwood used John Lloyd Young, who portrays Frankie Valli in the Broadway version of the story. Young sounds incredible as Valli, bringing the old classics back to life with his powerful falsetto.

The rest of the Seasons are quite forgettable. The movie focuses way too much on the petty arguments between band members, and should have spent more time showing them perform. That’s all we wanted to see.

For every moment that soars, there’s too many scenes where everyone is unhappy, and people are yelling at one another.

There was also a very weird use of the “breaking of the fourth wall.” Typically, one character does it. In this case, all four Seasons do it, and it’s just awkward. It happens spontaneously, sometimes in the middle of the performances, and it didn’t sit well with me.

I’ve never seen the Broadway play – which I hear is pretty damn good – so I don’t know how much of the film was adapted from it.

But I think it’s fair to suggest that if you want to see the story of the Jersey Boys … head to Manhattan.

 

Coherence

If you like to stretch your imagination, to challenge yourself to think beyond the realms of scientific reason, then you’ll love CoherenceCoherence

The film is about a group of friends who join together for a dinner party. That evening, a comet happens to be visible in the night sky as it passes over Earth. But it’s proximity causes very odd happenings to occur, and next thing you know, the dinner party turns into a nightmare.

But it’s not a horror film. More like a sci-fi suspense/thriller.

The happenings of the film are a loose interpretation of the thought experiment called Schrodinger’s Box, which involves alternate universes collapsing on one another. I’ll leave it at that.

It almost becomes a contemporary science fiction version of Clue, a whodunit of sorts, where you’re trying to figure out how much you trust each character. But then it goes in a direction you’ll never see coming.

The movie was a pleasant surprise for me, since I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s written and directed by James Ward Bykrvit, who also co-wrote the Academy Award-winning Rango. The cast is bunch of people you’ve never heard of, led by the lovely Emily Baldoni, who I expect we’ll be seeing more of in the future.

I highly recommend giving Coherence a shot. It’ll make you think about things a little differently, and the lack of familiar faces involved offers a refreshing perspective.

 

Frank

Pros of being a Michael Fassbender fan who goes to see Frank:

  • Michael Fassbender co-stars in the movie.

Cons of being a Michael Fassbender fan who goes to see Frank:

  • Michael Fassbender is wearing a papier-mache head basically throughout the entire movie, and is barely recognizable.

FrankTo say that Frank is a quirky movie would be an understatement. Domhnall Gleeson plays a singer-songwriter named Jon who is lacking inspiration until he lucks himself into a band led by the mysterious Frank, who is a great singer-songwriter, but, wears a mask. All of the time.

The band then isolates themselves in a secluded cabin in Ireland and refuse to leave until they find the “perfect sound” for their new album. Jon, meanwhile, utilizes social media, namely Twitter and YouTube, without the band’s knowledge to gain them a cult following.

Naturally, the band members all have their own personal issues that come to light throughout the film, causing some wrinkles in the group’s overall mission. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Scoot McNairy do a nice job In supporting roles, but it’s Fassbender – even behind the mask – who shines.

He offers humor, surprisingly good singing, and injects charisma into otherwise melancholy affair.

Of course, Jon does question why Frank wears a mask, and the response is pretty unsatisfying. But it doesn’t really matter. Within minutes, you accept that Frank is just a masked man. Naturally, that provides a lot of humor in itself. No dialogue needed.

I think Frank has a lot of nice elements to it, including some interesting music, funny lines and poignant moments, but it didn’t really all come together for me. The sum did not the equal the parts.

But it was certainly a different viewing experience than what I’m accustomed to. I’ll give it credit for that.

 

Oculus

American Horror Story comes to the big screen.

The plot of Oculus could not be less original. It’s about a haunted mirror that brings misery and tragedy to anybody who owns it. In this case, it’s a family of four, whose fate does not differ from the mirror’s previous owners.

But that’s not a spoiler, because the movie is told in two concurrent narratives: one being the family with two young kids, and the second being Oculusabout 10 years later, when the kids are 21 and 23, respectively, and return to their childhood home to prove that it was the mirror that brought about their family’s ill fortune.

The children in their youth are played by Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan, and then by Karen Gillan and Brenthon Thwaites 10 years later, who get the majority of the screen time.

The concurrent narrative is probably the only somewhat creative aspect of the film. Otherwise, you get pretty uninspired acting, overdone horror tropes, and “scary moments” that aren’t really all that scary.

Karen Gillan presents some pretty good eye candy, but aside from that, I thought her acting was pretty mechanical.

Upon returning to their home with the mirror, the older kids try to capture on film its supernatural effects as proof. Meanwhile, said effects begin to take their toll, and as the story jumps back and forth between past present, the two begin to blend together as the characters relive their horror from their youth.

It’s a little confusing, and all the while you’re waiting for it to come together. Whether the ending is actually satisfying is up to you, but it certainly leaves open the possibility for it to become the next horror movie franchise a la Paranormal Activity.

Like we needed more of those.

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