Posts tagged with "Bright"

“The Tax Collector”

by Justin Lyons

2020 sure has been an interesting year for movies. We’ve missed our fair share of big releases, but here we are in September with a new film from David Ayer, a director who has seemingly taken nothing but criticism over the past half decade. Maybe some of that has been warranted, maybe some of it hasn’t, but here he stands with a new movie available for rent.

Ayer is re-teaming with Shia LaBeouf, whom he directed in one of the best performances of his career in 2014’s “Fury.” LaBeouf is past the point of only being recognized for the “Transformers” series. He’s truly one of the most gifted actors working right now, and this nice, little roll he’s found himself on since exiting Michael Bay’s billion dollar franchise has solidified him as a top tier talent.

He’s coming off a fantastic 2019 with “Honey Boy” and “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” so it was no surprise seeing him marketed as a co-lead in “The Tax Collector.” It was, however, a shock to see him in a supporting role in the film itself, and that’s the movie’s biggest problem.

It might be better said that the movie’s biggest problem is that none of the characters, aside from LaBeouf’s character, called Creeper, are very interesting. Each and every one is built upon a foundation that we’re familiar with, including those in other David Ayer movies. Their principles and motivations never sincerely stand out.

David, the main character played by Bobby Soto, drives around Los Angeles collecting a percentage of gang profits for his boss, a man called Wizard. He does it to protect and provide for his non-gang-affiliated family, who are in fact good. When Wizard’s ex-rival returns to town, dead set on taking over Los Angeles, David’s allegiances and strength are put to the test.

Again, we’ve seen that before, so viewing it again, in a mostly predictable manner that doesn’t make “The Tax Collector” stand out among memories of other gang movies and stories, doesn’t let it resonate. It never pushes for that emotional connection to the characters or story that I was looking for. Possibly the most unfortunate part is that there’s evidence of potential here. There is potential in these characters and in this world that makes me think there’s a decent movie in here somewhere, but it needed more time to give the characters the life and development they deserved.

The story itself also feels disjointed in an effort to develop the relationships with characters, even though those relationships don’t benefit from the sacrificing of story. Most beats, particularly toward the end of the film, seem to just happen without express purpose. There is a guiding narrative pushing David against the rival gang leader, but most events in the story don’t have the build up that I had hoped for. Things just kind of occur without any rhyme or reason. We have a character whom we’re supposed to immediately latch onto and a character whom we’re supposed to immediately hate, and none of the story beats ever allow the characters to breathe and change.

Each scene is also played at the highest possible level. Subtlety isn’t always a synonym for high quality, but constant high octane sequences never helped David’s character. Despite being a lover of action sequences, I found myself more intrigued by David’s moments with his family. He shows the struggle of balancing his roles as a protector and as a “tax collector,” but it’s never enough to round out the character.

It feels like Ayer is going through the motions, which is disappointing from a director who has obvious talent. He didn’t fall into the screenplay for “Training Day,” and he surely didn’t accidentally direct “Fury” and “End of Watch” with the skill and charisma of those films. That filmmaking talent is in there, but in going back to a story reminiscent of his earlier work, it appears he is recycling his own techniques. Even the visual look of the movie, which Ayer typically excels with, feels bland. He does pull a couple of visual tricks from his repertoire in flashbacks and high-intensity action sequences, but the flashbacks feel played out, and one specific moment of slow motion was enough to pull me out of a movie that appeared to go for gritty reality.

There are positives to take away from “The Tax Collector.” Again, Shia LaBeouf is immensely talented, and that shows in this film. Every single time he’s on-screen, it’s tough to look away. He does take a supporting role in the movie, but he steals the show right out of Bobby Soto’s hands. Some of that is due to the writing as Creeper is a far more compellingly written character than David, but LaBeouf commits so hard to every single word, and he’s an absolute blast to watch.

The scenes in which David and Creeper drive around Los Angeles, spewing mostly throwaway dialogue, are easily the most fun in the film. Creeper is the muscle of the duo, but I enjoyed his humanity. I have to credit LaBeouf because when Creeper is thinking, it’s easy to watch the wheels in his brain spin. He has these survival instincts, and he’s skilled with weapons and intimidation tactics, but he’s not a robot. He diets, meditates and wants to be included in David’s personal life.

“The Tax Collector” isn’t memorably bad. It’s just not memorable at all, and that is the most frustrating thing about the film. There is potential in the story, the characters and the story world, but it’s so easy to think of scenes that should have been cut in favor of scenes that should have been added. There’s also so much inspiration behind Creeper, but he’s not the focus of the film, which I think would have made the movie much more engaging.

There comes a certain point in the film where nothing is left to care about, and the story revisits a relationship that doesn’t feel earned. Had it spent more time developing that relationship, I might have been invested in the final act, but one short sequence and one small show of good faith wasn’t enough to make me believe that some of these characters would show the support they’re asked to show. Nevertheless, I’m happy to discuss Shia LaBeouf in a positive way. Maybe with that tattoo on his chest forever he’d be better suited in a similar role as a lead performer.

“The Tax Collector” is streaming now on Amazon.

12th Annual VIZIO Top Value Performer Award

Today, VIZIO announced the finalists for the 12th Annual VIZIO Top Value Performer Trophy, an award given to the NFL player who’s on-field performance most-exceeds the value of their contract. This year’s program features 5 strong candidates who have all had incredible performances on the field this year. From an undrafted rookie running back who lives in his parents’ basement to a young defensive stalwart helping turnaround the defensive of one of the league’s most popular teams, each of these players provided a tremendous amount of value and not only contributed to their teams’ success in 2018, but showed that the future is bright for each of them and teams they play for.

Here is the full lists of nominees for this year’s award:

  • Tyler Boyd, Bengals
  • Chris Carson, Seahawks
  • Kenny Golladay, Lions
  • Phillip Lindsay, Broncos
  • Blake Martinez, Packers

The Top Value Performer is completely decided by fan votes, allowing fans to really rally behind their favorite candidate and vote as often as they’d like at VIZIO.com/TVP.  Voting is open now, until Sunday, Jan 20 at 11:59 PM PT.

Previous Winners:

2017 – Alvin Kamara

2016 – Spencer Ware

2015 – Allen Robinson

2014 – Kenny Stills

2013 – Russell Wilson

2012 – Russell Wilson

2011 – Victor Cruz

2010 – Stevie Johnson

2009 – Steve Smith

2008 – Matt Cassel

2007 – David Garrard

MORE ABOUT THE 2018 FINALISTS

Tyler Boyd, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati #83

Now in his third season, Tyler Boyd has emerged as one of the focal points of this year’s passing attack in Cincinnati. After missing games last year due to injury, Boyd has bounced back in 2018 and is showcasing why he is one of the league’s top young wideouts. This season, Boyd was the most targeted receiver in Cincinnati and produced a career-high in receptions, yards and touchdowns. A second-round pick in the 2016 Draft and with a salary of $787,179, Boyd is a TVP candidate to keep on your radar. 

Chris Carson, Running Back, Seattle #32

In his second season, Chris Carson has quickly developed into a star for Seattle. After playing in just four games as a rookie, Carson burst on to the scene this year and established himself among the league’s top running backs. With multiple games this season over 100 rushing yards, Carson has been an integral part of Seattle’s offense and ranks among league leaders in total rushing yards. As a seventh-round draft pick in 2017 with a base salary of $550,000, Carson is very strong candidate for this year’s TVP award.

Kenny Golladay, Wide Receiver, Detroit #19

In just his second season, Kenny Golladay has proven that he is one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the league. A major part of Detroit’s passing attack, Golladay posted impressive numbers and set career-highs in nearly every receiving category. With multiple games of at least 100 receiving yards, the gifted receiver is on track to record his first career 1,000-yard season. A third-round pick in the 2017 draft and with a base salary of $586,000, Golladay is a candidate to keep an eye on for this year’s TVP award.

Phillip Lindsay, Running Back, Denver #30

Born and raised in Denver, Phillip Lindsay is not just an amazing story playing for his hometown team, but one of the league’s most dangerous running backs in 2018. With incredible speed and quickness, Lindsay continues to lead Denver’s rushing attack as he is on pace to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in just his first season. An undrafted rookie, Lindsay is also a major threat in Denver’s passing attack. With a base salary of just $480,000, Lindsay is a definitely a TVP candidate worth consideration.

Blake Martinez, Linebacker, Green Bay #50

In his third season, Blake Martinez is already making his case as one of the best linebackers in the league. With a knack for being around the ball and making plays, Martinez continues to lead the much-improved Green Bay defense. With multiple games of having 10 or more tackles, Martinez has easily eclipsed 100 total tackles this year and is on pace to finish among the league leaders in that category. With a base salary of just $630,000, the 2016 fourth-round pick is a worthy candidate to capture this year’s TVP award.

Klondike Blonde Releases “No Smoke”

Buzzing rapper and singer Klondike Blonde shares her new singleNo Smoke after its world premiere on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1radio show. The single is now available at all digital retailers and the music video was released today via Complex. Click HERE to view!

STREAM NO SMOKE

Klondike says of the song, “In a weird way, “No Smoke” is all about becoming the better version of yourself. I am the ex-girlfriend, and I am better than her.

Bright, bold, and brilliant colors practically pop off the screen in the visual, which reflects her vibrant and vivacious personality seamlessly. The technicolor dream also perfectly complements her half-blonde, half-pink hairstyle (highlighted by a dyed heart). Between charismatic and cocky bars, the artist’s attitude takes center stage with the intoxicating hookShe don’t want no smoke.However, Klondike is about to light up the game, deftly angling herself as an artist to watch in 2018 and beyond.

No Smokepaves the way for Klondike’s anxiously awaited debut EP, arriving very soon via L.A. Reid’s HITCO Entertainment. The single is the follow up to her track Dripwhich garnered over 2 million views on YouTube in under a month’s time.

ABOUT KLONDIKE BLONDE
Born in Raleigh and raised in the Bay Area, Klondike Blondes perspective has the power to reach listeners everywhere. Breaking boundaries with her sound, innovative sense of style, and Big Gang movement, she brings a much needed energy to hip-hop and pop culture. She began her musical career in high school as a way to escape a not-so positive experience she endured verbal bullying regularly. Shortly after graduating high school in 2017, Klondike relocated to Atlanta where she released her first two songs on Soundcloud, entitled “Big Gang Glocks” and “Love Letter.” The arrival of these two tracks built her a nice buzz and solid social following on Instagram. In 2018, she unveiled her first music video for “Drip,” which garnered 2 million views on YouTube in a month’s time. This caught the attention of established artist and producer Jazze Pha who quickly took her under his wing. Shortly after, she inked a deal with HITCOEntertainment, which she claims, felt like family. Now, she amps up the energy even more withNo Smoke.

FOLLOW KLONDIKE BLONDE:

Leila Jeffreys’ Feathers Pair with Fashion at Bergdorf Goodman

Olsen Gruin congratulates artist Leila Jeffreys on her magnificent window display at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

Leila Jeffreys was raised in Perth, Australia, however thanks to her very adventurous parents, spent much of her childhood travelling. Jeffreys grew up surrounded by wildlife and forest both in Australia and abroad, sparking her interest in the natural world. Jeffreys began documenting birds by way of photographic portraiture in 2008, when she realised that it was because of their small size that the beauty in the commonplace was being missed.

Catch the works on view through June 5th!

Artworks are available at Olsen Gruin