Tag Archives: Samuel L. Jackson

Unicorn Store

Unicorn Store (2017)

A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams.

Starring: Brie Larson • Samuel L. Jackson • Joan Cusack

*Minor spoilers*

A real quickie on Brie Larson‘s directorial debut, which appeared on Netflix this weekend. Reuniting Samuel. L with his Captain Marvel co-star, Unicorn Store is as whimsical and abstract as they come.

Kit (Larson) is a woman-child not doing so great. Failing at art school (at least in the eyes of her beloved professor), she finds herself back home, living in her parents’ basement. Her parents are well-meaning enough (played by blog favourite Joan Cusack, and Bradley Whitford) but are distracted by their new pet project and employee, Kevin (Karan Soni).

Adopt me please, Joan

Channel-hopping one day, Kit stumbles across an ad for a temp agency and decides to join the rat race as a new and improved version of herself. One who dresses appropriately for the office and drinks coffee.

Kit does pretty okay at her new assignment, particularly when her quirky nature catches the attention of her (creepy) boss – but her focus soon shifts onto more magical things when she receives a series of mysterious invitations to a secret location.

Someone didn’t get the memo about Wednesdays

At The Store, Kit meets The Salesman (Jackson) who puts her through a series of tasks to prove she’s ready for the ultimate challenge – to care for a real life unicorn. Yep, I told you it was whimsical.

Kit, you see, has been dreaming of this since she was a child and there’s practically nobody else more qualified for the role. Still she has to prove she can keep it fed and surrounded by all the love she can, which means making sure her relationship with her family is in tip top condition.

When she hires Virgil (Mamoudou Athie) to help her build a unicorn stable, it seems like she might be opening herself up for a different kind of connection but how’s he going to take news of the unicorn?

Virg(il)ing on the ridiculous

While this is sweet enough and I did appreciate it, it’s perhaps just a little bit too cutesy for me. I stan Brie Larson so I was on board with the character of Kit – and I do appreciate a surrealist indie. I really enjoyed Virgil too, a somewhat reluctant partner-in-crime who soon gives himself over to the concept of adventure.

Larson’s increasingly flamboyant wardrobe definitely deserves a mention as does Kit’s assistant Sabrina (Martha MacIsaac), who harbors her own dream – to open an Etsy store selling jewellery shaped like miniature food.

Will Kit get her unicorn – or is all an elaborate con?

US is abstract but really it’s about putting away childish things and accepting adulthood – while still keeping just a little bit of magic back. Which is a cool message and one I personally endorse.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel (2019)

Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

Starring: Brie Larson • Samuel L. Jackson • Jude Law

*Minor Spoilers*

Vers is a Starforce member on Hala, the Kree Empire’s capital planet. Under the tutelage of her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), she is learning how to become a fine warrior. Which is all well and good but she’s haunted by nightmares that she doesn’t understand and a past she can’t remember.

Bestowed with special powers given to her by the Kree, Carol is urged by the Supreme Intelligence to think less with her emotions and more with her head, something she very much struggles with because she’s a fucking woman and what are we? That’s right: too sensitive.

“We have to arm wrestle, it’s the Law.”

During her first mission with Starforce, shit hits the fan when the team stumble into a Skrull ambush and Vers is taken hostage by their kingpin, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). Skrulls FYI are alien shape-shifters and the Kree’s arch enemy.

Anyway, Vers manages to escape their evil clutches and plunges to Earth where she promptly meets a very familiar face, Shield agent Mr. Nick Fury. While he’s skeptical about Vers’ very honest account of what she’s doing on this planet, he soon sees enough evidence for himself that she might just be telling the truth.

Carol was a pro at staring

What follows is a cute road trip for two as Fury and Vers search for the mysterious Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) who seems to hold the key not only to what the Skrulls are after but who Vers might really be.

I really enjoyed The Carol Danvers story. It’s female-centric in a way none of the Marvel movies have been so far (although there have been moments) but its done really well, without hammering the point home. I buy Brie Larson completely as a pilot and I absolutely love her chemistry with Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Girls 4 eva

She’s a competent, likeable hero who can kick arse with or without her fiery fists – and she’s true to herself, learning that it’s okay to think with your heart and not your head if you damn well please. This is a battle I have constantly with myself so I really connect with that aspect of the narrative.

There are a few surprises along the way and it’s genuinely touching to follow Vers/Carol as she pieces together the life she had before she ended up on Hala. While I don’t want to give too much away to those who haven’t caught this movie yet, there is a ‘twist’ you can see coming a mile off. If I’m honest as soon as I saw Jude Law’s goddamn beautiful face, it was already planted in my mind. But I don’t think it ruins anything really.

Green with envy over that big gun

Comic relief in the form of Goose the cat (played by no less than three stunt kitties) is fun and there are moments it veers into Guardians of the Galaxy territory with its humour (which could never be a bad thing). I really like both Maria Rambeau and her daughter Monica (played respectively by Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar).

There’s such sadness in Maria, who believed her best friend to be dead and now has to come to terms with the fact that she’s alive and doesn’t remember their former life and adventures together. But there’s hope too, of course and yey for that.

Flame emoji forever

Okay so this might not be the very best Marvel film ever made and sometimes it’s just little too spacey for my personal taste – I much prefer the fish out of water on earth aspect of the story – but it’s a strong start and a pleasing introduction to a character I knew little about (DC Girl, innit).

Carol’s presence in End Game is going to be very welcome and I’m extremely excited for next month.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Update: I can’t believe I hit Publish on this post without gushing about the soundtrack. It’s 90’s perfection and every tune is a bop. Special mention to the mighty Just a Girl by No Doubt which was my teen anthem.

Goose: the best Avenger?

Glass

Glass (2019)

*Minor spoilers*

I suspect one of the reasons I’m not that great at reviewing films is that I sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees. Rather than veering toward the difficult to please stance of most purists, I usually lap up most of what I’m given because I have such a bias towards the characters I love. It’s hard for me to be critical sometimes.

I loved Unbreakable (2000) so much. It’s part of my regular catalog of movies that never fail to make me feel something. Often I hear the criticism that it doesn’t have enough oomph but that to me is what makes it perfect. It takes the concept of heroes and villains, and humanises it. It’s my favourite of M. Night‘s canon without question.

Split (2016) was enjoyable, particularly when you consider James McAvoy‘s mind boggling performance(s) but where UB was low-key and moody, Split was turned all the way up to bonkers and seldom lets up. Glass is more of the same and honestly, it’s messy but I liked it.

I may be in the minority. I thought what they did was interesting, threw us more than one curve ball and satisfied me. I didn’t buy all of it and found myself a little irritated by some of the bits that seemed clumsily tacked on but you can’t win ’em all. I’m trying hard not to drop major spoiler here – one of the girls at work dropped a massive clanger in front of my colleague after she’d seen it and I’m still giggling/traumatised by the experience.

Let’s talk about what I did like. I loved coming back to David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and his now grown up son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). Now co-running their own security company with David moonlighting as The Overseer (to name but a few of his publicly considered nicknames), the two stalk the police radio airwaves for potential trouble.

All this has lead to multiple newspaper articles about the mysterious rain slicker-wearing hero and the feds getting antsy about vigilante justice. Joseph warns his father to keep a low profile for a while but where’s the fun in that?

When he sniffs out a new ‘case’ – a quartet of missing cheerleaders at the hands of a very familiar character – he bites off way more than he can chew.

The trailer is very clear about what happens next so no surprises. Dennis (and friends) join David Dunn and one other blast from the past, the titular “First name: Mister. Last name: Glass” (Samuel L. Jackson) in some sort of institution, where Sarah Paulson‘s Dr. Ellie Staple is on hand to talk each of them out of their superhero delusions.

But nothing’s ever that simple and the result is… well, the more I think about it the more I like it. There’s action, there’s Mr Glass and there are conclusions drawn and connections made.

Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey Cook, the sympathetic protagonist from Split and she’s lovely. A somehow calming influence over The Beast and his twenty-plus disciples, she fights his corner and humanises him too. I must say James McEvoy seems to have refined his performance since Split and is the strongest character here. I expected to be blown away at the return of Glass and Dunn, but it’s Dennis & Co who kept me in.

From the sidelines there is strong support too from Joseph and from Mrs. Price (Mister Glass’ ma played by Charlayne Woodard), the trio of secondary characters who actually care about the outcome of our central trio. Which is more than can be said about the crew apparently taking care of them from here. Paulson doesn’t shine quite as much as she usually does and I’m guessing this is because her particular strand is my least favourite (and the flimsiest). I wonder what it might have been like had they been left to their own devices.

I’ve already said too much but I did enjoy the look, the performances and the way it all clicks into place. The institution setting is one of my favourites and the use of colour is eye-catching and effective.

Will there ever be more? Well, it is suggested that this could all go off on a tangent in years to come – I’m not sure I want to be part of it though. (Who the hell am I trying to kid?!).

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?