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Comments that warrant a thread => TV/Film & Literature => Topic started by: Firmino of the 909 on December 31, 2018, 06:15:41 PM

Title: In Which I Review Movies Part II
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on December 31, 2018, 06:15:41 PM
Spanish, subtitles

(https://cdn1.thr.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/landscape_928x523/2016/04/left_to_right_inma_cuesta_as_ava_and_adriana_ugarte_as_young_julieta__el_deseo._photo_by_manolo_pavon_courtesy_of_sony_pictures_classics-h2016_.jp_.jpg)

Julieta (2016), directed by Pedro Almodovar

Most people who review films like this one from such a notable foreign director are those who have seen their entire filmography, knowing what kind of themes the director generally includes in their films. I am not one of these people and I may be unqualified to review this as a result of that. Regardless, I will push on because that's the point of my reviews, to explore things I otherwise may not have in past years. I was able to hit well over 300 films ranked and reviewed in 2018, I'm hoping to do the same this year even though it could prove difficult. It also may turn out that these reviews drastically change in size, which would mean I simply post my thoughts without talking about the story at all. For now, it's time for a long review about Julieta. I saw that this was nominated for a BAFTA award for best foreign language film, and it being nominated for a big award means I should give it a look. Julieta was also expiring on Starz. This is a film that was based on a collection of three short stories, and it was decided by the director that he should draw out a full narrative from three of the stories. Julieta is a film that could be described as overly dramatic, with a beginning that I thought was so ridiculous I nearly turned the damn thing off. However, as the film rolls on, the events become genuinely compelling, something which I wouldn't have expected with how things opened up.

The film starts with Julieta (Emma Suarez) about to move from Madrid to Portugal with her boyfriend Lorenzo (Dario Grandinetti), and she seems quite happy with herself. Nearly as soon as the film begins, she runs into Beatriz (Michelle Jenner), the childhood friend of her daughter Antia. We learn that Beatriz has run into Antia recently in Switzerland, and that Antia is completely estranged from Julieta. Antia has three children, and unbeknownst to all of us how all these things happened, Julieta decides that she should stay in Spain and lease an apartment in her former building. After she breaks it off with Lorenzo, she decides to fill a journal about her life, in the hopes that someday Antia will mail a letter to her former building so she can send the journal in reply.

The journal begins with an explanation of how Antia came to be. The much younger Julieta (Adriana Ugarte) is a teacher, one who is on a train. On the train, she encounters an older man who creeps her out so much that she flees to the front cabin, where she meets Xoan (Daniel Grao). Xoan is a fisherman from the northern coast, and Julieta is from Andalusia, which is as far from the north as one can get. Xoan's wife is in a coma and has been for some time, and at some point in the near future she'll probably pass away. The train leaves one of its stops after the conversation between the two and stops abruptly, after which we learn that the creepy older man has taken his life. Julieta feels extreme guilt over this, and Xoan comforts her. Afterwards, she goes back to her job and Xoan to his life. She receives a letter some time later and decides she should visit, and upon arriving, she learns that Xoan's wife has died and he had been sleeping with one of her friends in the meantime, an artist named Ava (Imma Cuesta). Once Julieta arrives, that breaks off, and Julieta begins a romance with Xoan that culminates in the birth of Antia (Priscilla Delgado). That's all I'm going to say about the journal other than that this goes down a road I didn't quite see coming.

Julieta is a good film, but some of the cinematography and early moments feels like a thing that I'd watch on Lifetime. That isn't ringing praise, but the way the story builds into something greater than that was quite nice. I must admit I have never felt a stronger urge to shut something off inside of five minutes, which will be reflected in my overall score. This was a film with good performances, but I think its greatest strength is in the presentation of how Julieta's life was when she was much younger. We're talking 25-30 years younger and I should have clarified that much better. There are additional story points I didn't want to mention, but these make for a strong drama. I do have some other gripes, though. One is that the ending cuts off before the story is entirely resolved, another is that some of the translations of the subtitles are plain out wrong. The lack of clarity on translations can be brutal for those with no concept of what is being said.

Overall, what this is, is a straight dramatic film about someone's grief and how they came to be separated from their daughter. For whatever reason, Julieta does not understand why her life has gone this way, but it is clear to me that she was too needy and pushed her daughter away. With the exception of the beginning, this is a well crafted film. I think there are some minor issues with a lack of focus on the details, and I think this is a film that ends too quickly considering that, but overall, I liked it. The mystery of both Antia and Julieta shines through the material, but this seems like a very restrained film, one that a director so many people seem to enjoy should not be making. I could be wrong, maybe I'm not, but without that kind of back history I don't know if there's a whole lot more I can say about the movie.

7/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 01, 2019, 12:15:44 PM
(https://www.out.com/sites/out.com/files/2018/09/11/the-favourite-750x.jpg)

The Favourite (2018), directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Having not yet seen The Killing of a Sacred Deer, I'm not sure if Yorgos Lanthimos had made any thematic evolution prior to The Favourite. I would rather not assume, but I thought this would be similar to The Lobster and yet it was not. The only similarity is the way the film ends without true resolution, but that's quite alright. This is a historical movie and yet it is not, with much editorializing and speculation as to the events. Truthfully, whether this is true or not is no big deal at all, and I don't really care to find out. This is another devilish attempt from Lanthimos, a film focusing on how power is such a corrupting force. It's also more than that, it's one of the best of the year for a reason, because the filmmaker who made this is so confident in their ability to tell this story that they are completely unrestrained and full of ideas. I hope very much that Lanthimos continues to churn films out at the rate of one every year, because there are few filmmakers who can tell stories on this level. These aren't easy roles to portray, but we have a director who knows how to get performances from their actors and actresses time and time again. I also liked that this was a larger film where Lanthimos was still able to tell his story without compromising his vision, and hopefully he'll be able to have such budgets for his films going forward. He will need a decent sized international box office and/or awards for that to happen.

The Favourite is a film that takes place in the early 1700s, with Britain at war with the French. This will be a catalyst for many of the events to follow. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) has gout and otherwise bad health, and she's a bit strange. Governing the country is not her favorite thing in the world, and with her mental state being what it is, perhaps that's good. Anne had seventeen children either miscarried, stillborn, or dead in childhood, with none remaining alive. She's quite sad. Her confidant is Sarah (Rachel Weisz), the Duchess of Marlborough and called throughout the film by the name of Lady Marlborough. Lady Marlborough serves as the whisperer to the Queen, speaking to her so much that she's the one who runs the country herself, as the Queen wishes to please Lady Marlborough. The Lady is in a difficult position herself, as she has her own enemies, one being Robert Harley (Nicholas Hoult), a very influential landowner and member of Parliament. The Lady's husband is off at war, so she's quite stranded at court as the Duke (Mark Gatiss) leads the charge off in France. The Prime Minister, Earl Godolphin (James Smith) and the Lady have the Queen's favor, but that may not last forever with such a costly war going on.

At the same time, Sarah has a cousin named Abigail (Emma Stone), whose father had gambled away his fortune and given away his daughter to settle his debts. Abigail's family also lost their positions, so she is now poor and a servant. She arrives at court hoping to find work, and through her cousin, she is able to secure a position doing very, very low menial work. Sarah sleeps on the floor with everyone else, and this is very difficult for her because this wasn't her life. However, Abigail does see an opportunity. As a matter of luck, she is called up to the Queen's chamber one night during a bad gout attack. Abigail takes the initiative to go out in the morning and find some herbs to make a pestle, the pestle doing quite well to solve the Queen's problem. After being saved from being whipped, Abigail has found herself a new post, and she's going to be around the Queen a lot more often. Let's not spoil anything else and go back a bit, to the thing that drives the story forward. One night, after a party, Sarah and the Queen wind up back in the Queen's chamber while Abigail is looking at books when she wasn't supposed to be. Abigail spots them in the midst of a tryst, and upon leaving, she is approached by Harley and threatened with what may happen to her because she wasn't supposed to be there. Does Abigail want to move back up in the world? If she does, she needs to win favor, and Harley wants to know what's going on so that he can do so as well.

The Favourite is a title that accurately describes this film more than any other, because the entire story revolves around who will become the Queen's favorite. The trio of actresses all do an amazing job telling this story, a story which received many more laughs than I thought it would from the other people in the theater. I did not think people were that into dark comedy. The role of Queen Anne, due to her frailties both in mind and body, require lots of different things from Colman. Surprisingly she was the standout among the three, with her role changing from scene to scene and all of those roles being given as authentically as could be expected from an actress. The story is full of twists and turns, full of surprise moments, with lots of backstabbing and wit that was what I was hoping for. There were a few belly laughs, but The Favourite is the kind of film with a lot of moments you don't want to laugh too hard at for fear of looking like an asshole. Of course, if you do laugh at them, so will a lot of other people. One notable example is the scene where Abigail is arriving at court as some guy sitting across from her is pulling his pud. I laughed and then a lot of other people did.

Abigail plotting her rise to the top is where the film really thrives, and knowing the director's material you can see it coming the whole way. The stuff that happens is fantastic, you know for a fact that Abigail is no victim regardless of what happens to her, and that she's a woman with a plan. The thing is, all three of the women in this story are at the least somewhat evil, all clutching onto whatever power they have. This makes for an excellent story, one of the best I've seen this year. All three of them will seemingly do anything in order to make themselves happy. They would play each other against one another in order to do so and not even care at all. This is a unique film in that these scenes are executed near to perfection. My only qualms with it are related to its absolutely ridiculous non-ending, one which seemed to leave me and everyone else rather dumbfounded. I can't think of anything else to compare it to, there are non-endings and then there's that one. I'm mostly referring to the way things fade out with the rabbits, for what it's worth.

This is also a great script and some recognition should be given to Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis for writing it. I'm sure they'll receive some as this was a fantastic concept that the director was able to execute very well. There are other characters I did not mention yet, most of whom either serve the needs of Sarah or Abigail in order to further themselves, all of whom are discarded as needed by our main characters. It is interesting to see a film with this dynamic from a female perspective, usually it's the men discarding women en route to power, but this is not the case. I have read that some of the costumes and set design doesn't fit the time, but I thought it felt like a royal castle should have felt. While this is a Lanthimos film and therefore it isn't accessible to everyone, I think it's a film that very appropriately deals with how horrible humans can be to one another. The jokes in this film are certainly mean-spirited as is the story as a whole, but if you aren't interested in what these characters may get up to, I don't know what your deal is. I haven't seen everything from this year yet, but for now The Favourite lands inside my top five. This will win awards.

9/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show
1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   The Sisters Brothers
10.   A Private War
11.   Green Book
12.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
13.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
14.   On My Skin
15.   Private Life
16.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
17.   Mid90s
18.   Eighth Grade
19.   Sorry to Bother You
20.   The Old Man & the Gun
21.   Suspiria
22.   Vox Lux
23.   Boy Erased
24.   Bad Times at the El Royale
25.   The Other Side of the Wind
26.   Searching
27.   A Simple Favor
28.   The Hate U Give
29.   Bumblebee
30.   Mary Poppins Returns
31.   Creed II
32.   Hold the Dark
33.   The Land of Steady Habits
34.   Halloween
35.   Mary Queen of Scots
36.   Aquaman
37.   Outlaw King
38.   Overlord
39.   Monsters and Men
40.   The Mule
41.   Bohemian Rhapsody
42.   White Boy Rick 
43.   Papillon
44.   Game Night
45.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
46.   Instant Family
47.   Alpha
48.   The Front Runner
49.   The Predator
50.   Apostle
51.   The Angel
52.   The Commuter
53.   Beautiful Boy
54.   The Nun
55.   Operation Finale
56.   The Equalizer 2
57.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
58.   Bird Box
59.   12 Strong
60.   Venom
61.   Skyscraper
62.   The Meg
63.   Assassination Nation
64.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
65.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
66.   22 July
67.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
68.   The Little Stranger
69.   Tomb Raider
70.   Night School
71.   The 15:17 To Paris
72.   Peppermint
73.   Mile 22
74.   The First Purge
75.   Hunter Killer
76.   Kin
77.   Hell Fest
78.   Proud Mary
79.   Robin Hood
80.   The Happytime Murders
81.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 01, 2019, 05:49:44 PM
(https://cdn3-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/1970/01/file_606936_bourne-supremacy-location-map.jpg)

The Bourne Supremacy (2004), directed by Paul Greengrass

I thought that the best way to ring in the new year would be by continuing one of the franchises I picked up on the first page of this topic. The Bourne Supremacy seemed like the easiest way to go about things from there. The Bourne franchise is hardly the only one that I've never finished, there are countless others at this point. I need to get on smashing through these, but I'm desperately trying to catch up on 2016-2018. So, such things are going go to go by the wayside for a few more months. I'm trying my best. In any case, I think I needed to watch a spy movie as there hasn't been any released in theaters lately. I was able to remember the events of The Bourne Identity, which was nice. No needing was required, but I thought The Bourne Supremacy was a worse film than the first one. The inevitability of franchising leads to this happening, but I think there's more to it than that. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a character who seems to be better off being chased rather than doing some of the chasing. The end of the film eventually circles back to this, but I thought the events struggled a bit when this wasn't the case. There were some cool car chases and all, but I thought the first film in this franchise had heart. If you haven't seen this, just like me, we both live (lived?) under a rock.

After the events of the first film, we move forward two years, with Jason Bourne and Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) off living in India, hiding from the CIA or anyone else who may come after them. Bourne still has flashbacks too. Over in Berlin, there's spy shit going on. Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) is a high ranking director in the CIA, she's paying a lot of money to a Russian for some files about a theft that happened many years before that. In the process of her agents procuring those files, they are shot by Kirill (Karl Urban), a man who works for an oligarch in Russia. Kirill sets things up in a way where it could plausibly be perceived to be Jason Bourne who committed these murders, steals the files, and bails the hell on out of Berlin. His next mission is to head to India to kill Jason Bourne. After a car chase, he takes his shot, and accidentally kills Marie instead of Bourne as they'd changed seats in the vehicle. Bourne swims away underwater, and afterwards it's time for him to leave India and head to Europe in search of Marie's killer.

There's much more to the story of course, it is a spy-action film after all. Of course, Landy is going to find Bourne's planted fingerprints, not that she knows they were placed there by someone else. It's then time to revisit some events from the first film, with lots of conversations about the team that Bourne and everyone he wound up killing were all on. Deputy Director Abbott (Brian Cox) was the director of Treadstone, which was made obsolete after Abbott had decided to have Chris Cooper's character killed in The Bourne Identity. Landy makes the mistake of telling Abbott what the files contained, but unbeknownst to her, he already knows. This is a poorly hidden twist considering that we already know Abbott had a CIA agent murdered. Seeing as Landy's operation was in Berlin and it went sour, she and Abbott head there to learn more. Simultaneously, Bourne arrives in Europe and begins to have his visions as in the first movie. Where do they send him? Berlin. Of course they do.

This is a good spy movie, but it's just a spy movie without much beyond the basics. It has only a few weaknesses too and is executed very well. What I can't handle are the rapid camera cuts that remind me of what Kevin Dunn does to Monday Night Raw. There's only so much of this I can take and after a point I felt like moving on from the scenes this was happening in. There's also no intrigue between Bourne and another character as was the case in The Bourne Identity. The human touch feels like it has been removed from the film, largely because...that's what happened when it was decided for Bourne's girlfriend to be killed. The Bourne Supremacy also has problems with how slowly the film begins, it feel like it could have been an issue if seeing this in the theater, which I did not. I also find the casting a bit strange and that it's odd to be seeing Joan Allen in this sort of role. There's really nothing to it performance wise, it simply exists and all lines feel like something read straight off the page. It's difficult for any actor to pull this off, and I don't particularly blame an actor for this. It's just weird.

The film isn't all bad, like I said, it's actually good. The stuff Bourne does in order to stay one step ahead of his adversaries is always interesting, and I got a good laugh out of how he decided to enter Europe in the first place. There's also the awesome car chase in Moscow, which I believe has played host to a few over the years in these kinds of movies. The stunts in this are excellent even though they're poorly filmed in one or two cases, but I am left wishing that they weren't so poorly edited. I would have rated this quite a bit higher otherwise. I also do understand that the story is supposed to be Jason Bourne righting one of the wrongs he made and in the process dealing with something that was done to him, and the film was effective in stating that case without ever going overboard with exposition or explanations from Bourne. Bourne being a man of few words is the way it should be. The massive amount of shaky camera does sink this to some extent, but overall I see why people usually watch this movie when it's on television. My mom and dad have seen it numerous times, but I had not. I do realize I'm giving out way too many 7 ratings recently, so I'm going to shake it up a bit tomorrow. Maybe it's just an issue with the fact that most films should be that good and I'm merely just discovering that now. I don't know.

7/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 04, 2019, 02:26:45 PM
(https://media1.fdncms.com/stranger/imager/u/original/37312752/1545426084-vice.jpg)

Vice (2018), directed by Adam McKay

i was supposed to watch Vice earlier last week, but some life matters got in the way of that, so I pushed back this oddly critically divisive film back a little bit. I am surprised that it is so divisive, even with flaws that I am well aware of. To some, these flaws clearly matter much more and that's okay, but I'm not in that camp. Of course, what I perceive to be flaws others may think are strengths, this is a film that can best be described as narratively bonkers. It's all over the place, it's skewering, not harsh enough at times, and quirky all at the same time. This is the kind of movie you'll either love or hate. What it also is, I hate to say, is true to the facts as they happened. I hate it because I wish those things wouldn't have happened at all, and I strongly believe that the Bush Administration has set us on our current course, but that's how things are. We have the government we deserve, the one people have chosen. We continue to make these mistakes because we as a society do not learn from them. Where Vice fails is because there's a distinct inability to explain what motivates people such as these, but that's also the nature of the world. Some of these things defy explanation, there is no way to know what makes someone this power hungry and evil, it's something only the subject can explain themselves. I believe Dick Cheney never has and therefore it isn't the fault of the film for not figuring it out, but they tried their best to put the events on the table and let the viewer make their own determinations.

Vice has one of the most strange narrative structures I've seen all year, with narration sometimes being given from Kurt (Jesse Plemons), a fictious soldier who was sent off to Iraq and Afghanistan. We don't know this until much later in the film, so sorry for my spoiling. Things start off with Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) in the White House, responding to 9/11 in a very heavy-handed way, showcasing his authority. After this scene, we are jolted back to the 1960s, with Cheney working on power lines in Wyoming. Cheney was an alcoholic and dropped out of Yale as a result of it, and eventually he gets busted driving drunk. After another incident where he's retrieved from jail by his wife Lynne (Amy Adams), she makes some serious demands of him to change his bum life. The way things are going just will not stand, and she doesn't want to live like her parents did. After this scene, we flash forward a bit, with Dick Cheney finding work as a White House intern. I have never, ever heard any explanation as to how this happened. If someone could explain this, that would be great, but this is a mystery like many of the other things about Cheney's life.

Everyone here knows a lot of shit about Dick Cheney, right? I suppose I should continue to flesh out the cast of characters, which in Vice is enormous. Cheney winds up attached to Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), who we know as the Secretary of Defense, but when Cheney met him, he was Nixon's economic advisor. In the case of everyone Cheney encountered, it is easy to figure out how they got in these positions, but not Cheney. The film does attempt to explain that Cheney was a dutiful student, and that he did everything that Rumsfeld would have wanted from a lackey. Unfortunately for Dick and fortunately for the country, he was not to be in government for his entire life. We learn some things about his daughters, Mary (Alison Pill) and Liz (Lily Rabe), about what he did once Carter took office, about how he accepted George W. Bush's (Sam Rockwell) vice presidential nomination. We learn about what happened on 9/11, how we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, about Colin Powell's (Tyler Perry) speech at the UN. Almost everything that you'd want to be covered in Vice is covered in detail, if you wanted to know about how the Bush Administration came to believe their usage of executive power was appropriate, that's here too.

While the movie is highly informative, I should detail the flaws immediately in an attempt to temper expectations. There are some outright bizarre scenes, two of them immediately come to mind. One I thought was funny and the other one was not. There are also montages of real footage throughout Vice, I thought all of them were quite appropriately placed, but some seem to have taken that as obnoxious and pretentious. I don't feel that any of these roles are really played for comedy other than Rumsfeld and Bush, but it's hard to see them as anything else. I see Michael Scott playing Donald Rumsfeld and I can't shake it. I can admit that this is a movie I very much enjoyed because I agree with almost all of it. The bizarre scenes I have referenced were an attempt to make something ambitious more than anything else, and the Shakespearean one is admittedly very, very bad. One of the worst scenes of the year. Vice does make a few inferences that I'm not sure are true as well. I don't know if Lynne Cheney is the reason Dick made something of himself, and I don't know if Cheney was corrupted by the power he received in his first job. He wasn't a good person to begin with so there's no way to know. Other incidents and events also aren't given enough time because it's impossible to make the film long enough.

With what I said about time in mind, this is as comprehensive a feature film about Dick Cheney ever could have been. The film could not be longer, and there are some short scenes I would have removed, but none of them are lengthy enough to properly address Halliburton as much as it deserved, or Cheney's legislative record for that matter. However, this is a movie that makes clear how poorly misguided our invasion of Iraq was, it is also one that shows how easily people were made to go along with it. Vice is also a film that addresses the Bush Administration's disappearance of e-mails, and for that matter exactly how they came to pull it off. I haven't see The Big Short, so I don't know how smug that is or how overrated it is, I just see things here how I see them. I do think there are some expert touches. A scene about Cheney's heart transplant lingers on him for a very long time without any heart in his chest at all. Most would call this quite truthful. Another with his two daughters shows that the only religion the Cheneys believed in was that of having power. There are also good lessons about how not being an ideologue in the first place can lead to someone acquiring power and unleashing their beliefs upon everyone else.

Vice is a film that will have numerous Oscar nominations for acting, all of which are seemingly deserved. There's much more to this film that simply Christian Bale's performance, and arguably his isn't even the best one. Amy Adams makes for a great Lynne Cheney, someone who doesn't play a passive role in the events as much as I thought, she was often willing to take the driver's seat and ensure power was taken. Her scene on the campaign trail in Wyoming was great. Tyler Perry only plays Colin Powell in a few scenes, but he too was excellent. I would like to see him in a serious movie playing a role like this one, he was given nothing resembling a comedic line. Steve Carell, though, I don't know what to say about that. I was seeing Michael Scott the whole time, and I thought the portrayal was truthful to things I've read about Rumsfeld before. He didn't give a shit about anyone other than himself and saw things the same way as his protege, but his protege knew that he needed to serve the needs of others in order to get ahead. That, more than anything else, is the real lesson of Vice. In politics, the winners are often those who don't hold strong positions until they have hard power. Playing the long game and being a good soldier is a necessity. This is a good film, and with one scene removed it would have been a great film. Of course, with this film being what it is, people may have different opinions on what that one scene even is!

7.5/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   The Sisters Brothers
10.   A Private War
11.   Green Book
12.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
13.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
14.   On My Skin
15.   Private Life
16.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
17.   Mid90s
18.   Eighth Grade
19.   Sorry to Bother You
20.   Vice
21.   The Old Man & the Gun
22.   Suspiria
23.   Vox Lux
24.   Boy Erased
25.   Bad Times at the El Royale
26.   The Other Side of the Wind
27.   Searching
28.   A Simple Favor
29.   The Hate U Give
30.   Bumblebee
31.   Mary Poppins Returns
32.   Creed II
33.   Hold the Dark
34.   The Land of Steady Habits
35.   Halloween
36.   Mary Queen of Scots
37.   Aquaman
38.   Outlaw King
39.   Overlord
40.   Monsters and Men
41.   The Mule
42.   Bohemian Rhapsody
43.   White Boy Rick 
44.   Papillon
45.   Game Night
46.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
47.   Instant Family
48.   Alpha
49.   The Front Runner
50.   The Predator
51.   Apostle
52.   The Angel
53.   The Commuter
54.   Beautiful Boy
55.   The Nun
56.   Operation Finale
57.   The Equalizer 2
58.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
59.   Bird Box
60.   12 Strong
61.   Venom
62.   Skyscraper
63.   The Meg
64.   Assassination Nation
65.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
66.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
67.   22 July
68.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
69.   The Little Stranger
70.   Tomb Raider
71.   Night School
72.   The 15:17 To Paris
73.   Peppermint
74.   Mile 22
75.   The First Purge
76.   Hunter Killer
77.   Kin
78.   Hell Fest
79.   Proud Mary
80.   Robin Hood
81.   The Happytime Murders
82.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Cool, Bad, & Handsome on January 04, 2019, 03:21:52 PM
I watched the Cheney Showtime documentary when it came out four or five years ago and even then I found it fascinating how there's parts that seemed skipped over like you mention in this review. From what I can remember he became a white house intern just thru his intense and tenacious nature since there were plenty of more qualified people at the time without any worries they might fall off the wagon and end up driving their vehicle thru someones living room... but those people cared about more normal things like spending a lot of time with their family or living what the politician he interned for considered a "normal life" while Cheney had much greater ambitions even though his academic records and other things didn't measure up in a traditional sense.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: The King of Trash on January 04, 2019, 10:33:31 PM
dick cheney sounds like an inspiration for those of us who took the less travelled path.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 05, 2019, 10:22:03 AM
(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/it/thumb/5/52/The_Wall_film_2017.jpg/1200px-The_Wall_film_2017.jpg)

The Wall (2017), directed by Doug Liman

I have two of Liman's movies on my list for this month, but the first one to watch is The Wall, which is not about our border with Mexico. I thought this would be a good companion piece for Vice, but it wasn't as these were completely different. There's no grand statement to be made about the Iraq War here, this is a very simple movie with a premise that I will struggle to fill out a whole review for, so I'm just not going to do that. I did see after watching this that it was decided to change the film's ending after test screenings, and without spoiling I think that's for the worse. I am also not surprised that this film didn't make good money, even though I remember it being advertised quite well. This is...well, I don't really know how to address this as literally anything I could say is a spoiler. THERE IS NOTHING ELSE TO THE MOVIE OTHER THAN SPOILERS.

Similar to Phone Booth, but even more so than Phone Booth, The Wall is a movie that takes place in an extremely confined space over the course of a few hours. This is set towards the end of the Iraq War, with some of our boys sent over to investigate a pipeline construction site. Our sniper is Staff Sgt. Shane Matthews (John Cena), and his spotter is Sgt. Allen Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). These guys spend a very long time in overwatch, which isn't just a video game. Overwatch is when units support other units, and in the case of this scenario, there was a distress call put out and everyone at the site is dead. Our two soldiers need to be sure that the site is clear, and they spend 22 hours there before deciding that they need to move on. Matthews decides that he wants to investigate the site while Isaac isn't so sure, and once Matthews walks down there, he's shot by an Iraqi sniper. No surprise there. Isaac follows and tries to rescue his dying body, but he gets shot as well.

Isaac is able to take cover behind a wall, but he has major problems. Matthews got shot in the stomach and is dying, Isaac was shot in the knee and is continuing to bleed out. Isaac's radio was also damaged, and his water bottle is destroyed, so he's without rescue and will be dehydrated. I said that Isaac is hiding behind a wall, but to call this a wall is an overstatement, this is a collection of rocks. The sniper (Laith Nakli) has recovered some equipment it seems, including a radio with which he can communicate with Isaac and Matthews. Matthews says nothing, but Isaac is duped and tells the sniper far more than he should, with the sniper having done a good job of masking his accent and knowing enough lingo to bullshit his way through a conversation. Once Isaac finds out, he knows he's fucked, and it's hot and night is coming. Will he bleed out before it gets dark? Watch the movie if you want to know.

This is an outdoor film, but it's also confined to a very small space, and the camera is focused on Aaron Taylor-Johnson for practically the entire movie. He talks to the sniper for the whole movie, we all know this, and it is what it is. There are no wonders of cinematography or pretty much anything. The film only examines base motivations why Isaac and the sniper are in these positions in the first place, and the director rightfully determines that any interest comes from whether or not the sniper can be found. I don't want to spoil the movie, but this is just an above-average film and I liked it enough. That being said, I didn't realize I would hardly be able to write a single thing about this. Obviously this wasn't filmed in Iraq, but they chose a good location as a stand-in and I thought this did feel authentic. That's all I've got.

6/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Logan Lucky
6.   The Beguiled
7.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
8.   The Lost City of Z
9.   First They Killed My Father
10.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
11.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
12.   Okja
13.   Kong: Skull Island
14.   Split
15.   Personal Shopper
16.   Atomic Blonde
17.   Megan Leavey
18.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
19.   Imperial Dreams
20.   Win It All
21.   The Wall
22.   Breathe
23.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
24.   Alone in Berlin
25.   Trespass Against Us
26.   War Machine
27.   Justice League
28.   To the Bone
29.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
30.   Sand Castle
31.   Death Note
32.   Fist Fight
33.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Hawk 34 on January 05, 2019, 12:48:26 PM
The ending was the best part, I’m glad it pissed people off.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 06, 2019, 05:18:44 AM
(https://crookedmarquee.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/05d9b28a-1b25-11e3-ac46-005056b70bb8.jpg)

3:10 to Yuma (2007), directed by James Mangold

I have had 3:10 to Yuma sitting on my shelf for around 10 years now, in such illustrious company as Apocalypse Now, Inglourious Basterds, Jackie Brown, Lincoln, and Full Metal Jacket. I am saying that I own these and haven't watched them yet, that's the truth and it's shameful. These are all films that I will be watching in 2019, and in the case of 3:10 to Yuma, I've now seen it. There are countless franchises I would like to wrap up as well, but I'm not so sure I'll be able to pull that off.3:10 to Yuma is a remake of a film that wasn't mega popular at the time, and we always need more Westerns. This was, of course, before Hollywood decided that they were no longer profitable. 3:10 to Yuma was one of those Westerns that proved Hollywood correct because it was not, it is part of the reason that they're no longer made, but that's crazy. I decided to watch 3:10 to Yuma now because I saw that it was leaving Amazon Prime, so I needed to get on it. I didn't exactly know what to expect because I'm unfamiliar with the story, but I have been playing Red Dead Redemption 2 and was hoping for something with a comparably interesting narrative. This Western certainly provided that, and there are so many more of these that I need to get around to watching. I don't think this is one of the absolute best films in the genre, but it was a really strong effort.

Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a rancher and Civil War veteran, and things in his life have not gone so well. His youngest son Mark has tuberculosis, and the family is impoverished as a result of this and a host of other reasons. He owes money to a local man, Glen Hollander, and the debt is such that he may lose his property entirely. Hollander has also ensured this will happen by damming up the local stream, preventing water from reaching Dan's land. He wants the land so that he can sell it to the railroad, and in their local town of Bisbee, the rail agent by the name of Butterfield (Dallas Roberts) has a pretty good handle on that stuff. One night, Evans has his barn set on fire by Hollander's men because of how much money he owes, and it's clear the next day that he's probably completely fucked. While Mark and his other son William (Logan Lerman) are out trying to find the herd that got free that night, they come across something bad. Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is a major outlaw in the area, he and his gang have decided to rob yet another stagecoach full of Pinkerton agents. As part of his plan, there's a great stroke of fortune in front of him, it's Dan's herd. He uses the herd to stop the coach, and that, as they say, is that for the stagecoach.

After stopping the coach, it's time to get inside. We learn that Wade has an excellent #2 in his gang, Charlie Prince (Ben Foster). Charlie gets shit done, that's his deal. He's able to blow things up, and in the process of that, Dan comes across the scene. He tries to get his sons to leave quietly, but they're spotted by Wade. Wade doesn't want to hurt them, but he also doesn't want to get caught, so he takes away their three horses and leaves the horses tied up on the road some ways away. After Dan tends to the lone surviving Pinkerton, a nasty sort named Byron (Peter Fonda), they make their way back to Bisbee. It so turns out that Wade has gone there as well, and after some stuff I'm going to cut way the hell off, he's captured. Now we have a situation. Charlie was in the town still and knows what happened, he decides that he's going to follow the situation seeing as he isn't wanted himself. The railroad agent I already mentioned needs some help transporting Wade to Yuma, and he's going to need a posse to go do it. Seeing as Dan is super poor and in debt, don't you think he'll join it? For $200 dollars, he'll leave his loving but wanting wife Alice (Gretchen Mol) behind, and make the journey with Butterfield and three other men to Yuma from his own ranch, where they're storing Wade for the night.

I wouldn't go so far as to call 3:10 to Yuma a triumph of anything, but I do think that this was almost a great film. For the most part, this was driven by Russell Crowe's performance, as lots of Westerns are. Most good Westerns need a great bad guy. There's Gene Hackman in Unforgiven, Josh Brolin in True Grit, and Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. These kinds of performances are needed, they all differ from one another, but this is the best bad guy performance I've seen in a Western besides Hackman's. I need to watch more of them in general before making more grand statements, so I won't go further. Crowe's role here takes all the attention away from everyone else, not that all of these characters are so great in the first place. Peter Fonda's is another excellent role, but our lead played by Christian Bale is a little bit of a passenger in the film up to a certain point. I also enjoyed the way the action just kept on coming. Unlike other films that play it slow and do it well, it was decided here to keep things coming, and all the action pieces were quite good. The big finale was nicely done, and I also enjoyed the way it was decided not to overly edit things.

This is a very male-centric Western, and I was thinking about how if I didn't force myself to watch movies of all kinds, I would probably wind up being like my forefathers in only viewing Westerns and war movies. This does feel like most of the other Westerns I've watched, but it has a little something more that separates it from films like Open Range and Appaloosa, both of which came out around the same time. This is a film that is nicely cynical, which disposes of characters faster than you'd expect. The ones that stick around for a while, right at the moment you wonder why they're still there, they go out of the film within just a few minutes of that. The way I see 3:10 to Yuma is, is that this is just another film on Mangold's resume that helps bolster the idea he's one of the best big budget filmmakers that Hollywood can use. There's some great violence here, numerous instances where the actors have an opportunity to perform, and it's definitely a crowd pleaser. Not quite as good as a film like The Sisters Brothers, which gave no fucks about pleasing the crowd, but a more pandering effort can have its own good qualities. Most of my negatives are related to how implausible the ending is, but hey. Can't have everything.

8/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 07, 2019, 05:22:00 AM
(https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2017/10/27/tra2016_comp_v005_008088.1111_wide-bc335cede10d086ba948db2d66f0093d36f0cc1e-s800-c85.jpg)

Thor: Ragnarok (2017), directed by Taika Waititi

With us getting nearer and nearer to a time where Captain Marvel is coming out, I need to pound through the remaining Marvel movies I have. Two a month sounds like it'll work from here on out, and I only have three more left now. Thor: Ragnarok was a movie that almost inspired me to get back to the theater, but I couldn't get over pricing issues. Now that I don't worry about price, I'm not very concerned with that. When it comes to Thor movies, I must admit that I didn't care for the other two. In fact I hated the second one, hated it so much I can't even discuss it without talking about how much I hate it. The acting in it is terrible, the story is fucking boring, and the side characters are annoying. Thor: Ragnarok is a film that removes these problems and replaces them with something so much different than the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this point. It's different, it's great, and I also thought it was the best film of the bunch until that point. I probably won't ever make a list ranking those movies, because I have to make lists at the time I'm watching things in order to be confident in them. Movies with this many special effects simply shouldn't be so good, but in the case of Thor: Ragnarok, there's a hell of a good reason why it is. They managed to do what the other films could not and made me interested in Thor. Who would've thought?

Everyone knows the story of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), but this is a film that puts its own spin on events. After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor is imprisoned by a fire demon who says that Thor's father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is no longer on Asgard. The demon also states that a prophecy will be fulfilled, it is called Ragnarok. He says that he'll unite his crown with a flame that burns in Odin's vault, but Thor's able to free himself, defeat Surtur, and put the crown in Odin's vault away from that flame. Thor returns to Asgard afterwards and finds that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is posing as Odin, which I believe is exactly where we left the Thor story off at. Thor forces Loki to find their father, and it turns out that he needs Dr. Strange's help in order to do so. Odin is off in Norway, says he's dying, and reveals that his passing will allow Hela (Cate Blanchett) to escape from prison. Hela is Thor's sister, and she is a bringer of death, who will do all kinds of bad shit. Of course, Odin has not entirely told the truth of her origins.

Once Hela appears, I want to do everything I can to not spoil things, so I won't. Through the events of the film, we are introduced to a giant wolf, and a new planet entirely. Sakaar is a world filled with garbage, and it turns out Loki has found his way there as well. Sakaar has lots of wormholes for some unbeknownst reason, but once Thor winds up there, he is enslaved by Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson), a mysterious individual who decides to sell him to the leader of this world. The ruler here is one of my favorite comic book characters, changed entirely for this film, the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). This version of the Grandmaster is very eccentric, like much of the film, and he also holds a Contest of Champions. This is something I very much was hoping for, comic elements that previously were not thought as something to be adapted into a film. At the Contest of Champions, the last piece of our puzzle is entered, THE HULK (Mark Ruffalo). Will Thor be able to get back to stop Hela? How will he do it?

The most obvious point of praise that comes to mind for Thor: Ragnarok is that the comedy actually lands while it doesn't in so many of these movies. The early parts of the film are full of jokes while in the rest it is nowhere near that extent, which is something I also preferred. Thor has been presented as being a bland character in the vast majority of these movies, but that wasn't the case here. Obviously, the choice of director in the first two movies, as well as in both Avengers movies, plays quite a huge part in that being the case. Another reason this works is because the use of other characters, meaning not Thor, is finally done right and is entertaining without exception. The environment is also changed for once, off our own planet into an entirely made up world the likes of which we haven't seen before. It's very funny. This movie is more of the same in a lot of ways, but not that way. Some of the sets for this planet looked inauthentic, but I thought that was a tradeoff I can accept. The movie is also interesting in the way that it never deals with Goldblum's character. So, he may be able to come back in something else at some point. I hope so.

The vibrant colors of the film are something similar to Guardians of the Galaxy, but this is a film that's much better than that, and when comparing the two it's easy to see that one succeeds much more on every level. The way the villains are used is simply better, the story is much more cohesive because Thor has a distinct set of goals, and there are tons of weird moments in this film. The casting of these characters was also excellent without exception, my favorite being that of Cate Blanchett. I didn't realize she was going to be in this movie looking like this. I'm also glad that after all these movies, and it took a very long time for this to happen, but they finally had a giant character appear and completely destroy the area the film inhabited. WHY THE HELL DID IT TAKE SO LONG? I mean, really, we needed something like this to happen that would actually change the dynamic of these movies, and destroying Asgard actually feels as important as it should.

I'm usually not a fan of these CGI fests, and I do find that I've often overrated Marvel films considering how I feel about them months after watching them, but Thor: Ragnarok is going to be an exception to that. The movie goes as far over the top as these need to go, and this all feels unique even though it certainly is not. This feeling of uniqueness is what makes movies like this feel special, and it's something that not all of these films have been able to pull off. The clash between Hulk and Thor feels like something that should have been in one of these movies far sooner, but it not being there any sooner is what made it feel so special now. It's too bad that there probably won't be another Thor standalone movie, because there were lots of building blocks placed in order to do so. If not, hopefully Waititi is given another Marvel group to put his own spin on. I'm sure he will be, too.

8.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
9.   The Lost City of Z
10.   First They Killed My Father
11.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
12.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
13.   Okja
14.   Kong: Skull Island
15.   Split
16.   Personal Shopper
17.   Atomic Blonde
18.   Megan Leavey
19.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
20.   Imperial Dreams
21.   Win It All
22.   The Wall
23.   Breathe
24.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
25.   Alone in Berlin
26.   Trespass Against Us
27.   War Machine
28.   Justice League
29.   To the Bone
30.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
31.   Sand Castle
32.   Death Note
33.   Fist Fight
34.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: cobainwasmurdered on January 07, 2019, 05:27:55 AM
The use of comedy in this was really perfect. Both in how they got it right and when they used it/and when they didn't. The understanding of the big characters Thor/Hulk/Loki was also dead on, which added a lot to the interactions.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Aero on January 07, 2019, 09:13:58 AM
I was blown away at how much I enjoyed this one. Probably a top 3 Marvel movie for me.

Agreed on Asgard getting destroyed feeling big, and on that note, the other part that I thought was particularly unique here is that Surtur carrying out Ragnarok is how Hela is (apparently) taken out. As enjoyable as the Immigrant song fight sequence at the end is, I'm glad Hela doesn't just fall victim to a by-the-books defeat, even after Thor's power awakens.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 07, 2019, 01:39:07 PM
(https://media1.fdncms.com/stranger/imager/u/large/37186099/if-beale-street-could-talk-3-2000.jpg)

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), directed by Barry Jenkins

Barry Jenkins' follow up to Moonlight was always going to garner a lot of interest, but in the case of If Beale Street Could Talk, surprisingly there is less interest than I expected. Finishing 14th on last weekend's box office chart is a major surprise to me, and there are no easily discernable reasons why this is the case. I simply do not understand. Perhaps the previews are not explanatory enough, but I don't understand. Now, with that in mind, If Beale Street Could Talk is a very serious film, so much so that it can be difficult to watch at times. It is more than a bit upsetting. It is inevitable that one would compare this to Moonlight, and I do think that Moonlight is a better film than If Beale Street Could Talk. However, they do share some similarities in terms of how the movies are filmed, in some of the themes they share, with how little dialogue there is at times, and in the creativity with which these films are brought to you. I understand that If Beale Street Could Talk is a book adaptation, but it's a story I did not know, one that I needed to know, and something very pertinent to this day.

If Beale Street Could Talk is a story told through two narratives, one being the on-running story and the other being told through flashbacks related to what is told in the story. I believe the film is set in the 1960's, although it could just as well be the 70's. The present narrative is only a few months to a year before the flashbacks, and it is about Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), a young black couple living in New York City. Fonny has been imprisoned, charged with doing something he clearly did not do, and the story is clear in showing that from jump. There are some issues with Fonny's imprisonment beyond the fact that he's imprisoned, and the most obvious one is that Tish is pregnant. That's the kind of hammer blow that let me know I was in for a potentially devastating movie, and if you don't want this spoiled for you, I recommend not reading this. Anything about the movie I could say beyond this point is a major spoiler of some kind. Fonny and Tish want to get married, but it turns out that Fonny was imprisoned because of a false rape accusation made by a Puerto Rican (this part does matter) woman. Now, he's locked up, and the key is basically thrown away. There is the potential of getting out, but he needs a lot of good things to happen for him. One of them is for the woman to recant her accusation, because all indications are that she has no idea who raped her and picked the first black guy she could find.

After Tish tells Fonny that she's pregnant, there's a host of other people who have to be told. She has no idea what anyone will think. There's her mother Sharon (Regina King), father Joseph (Colman Domingo), and sister Ernestine (Teyonah Parris). The one Tish is worried about is obviously her father. Surprisingly to her, Joseph is extremely accepting and wants to call over Fonny's folks. Fonny's folks, on the other hand, it's clear the first moment we see them that they may react in very different ways. Mrs. Hunt (Aunjanue Ellis) is a religious nut, and her daughters Sheila and Adrienne are super uptight. They hardly say anything so I didn't list who played them. Fonny's dad Frank (Michael Beach) is one of Joe's very best friends, and his reaction is assured to be positive. Once they're told, of course Mrs. Hunt goes absolutely insane and says all kinds of bad shit. After she leaves, it's time for us to finally get to some flashbacks, to understand how it is that Tish and Fonny came to love each other. It's also time for us to understand how they've struggled in life, what her family will do in order to get Fonny out of jail, and what may become of their unborn child.

Again, I must repeat that to say anything is a spoiler because of the nature of the film and how the story is told. The ending is the most major spoiler, it is devastating, accurate, and pertinent to our times. The film accurately portrays how the justice system is stacked against the unfairly accused, particularly when they're black. Barry Jenkins does a fantastic job of showing what New York City was really like in the 1970's. We've seen it in some films made recently, like A Most Violent Year, but lots of movies prefer to show us a sanitized version of a very dirty, very raw New York City. This is a film that does not sanitize things at all. The city was a grimy place, full of corruption and lots of strange people. The family interactions, on the other hand, are warm regardless of what surrounds them. These are great without exception, this is a filmmaker who knows what they're doing and how to execute it. It appears that Jenkins may be the kind of filmmaker who is only obstructed by the constraints of the stories he takes on. It seemed like it would be very difficult to adapt this material into a feature film, there are things in If Beale Street Could Talk that feel as if they were padded out in order to fill the film. This was expertly done, of course.

As with Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk is a very vibrant film despite its subject matter, full of great colors and scenery, played out in the way that Jenkins makes his films play. In addition, this seems to carry a similar theme of people needing to find themselves in times that aren't good for them. Personally, I'm a massive fan of Jenkins after seeing these two films. It feels like the lives of his characters are more important than in the majority of projects that get made these days. There's no other way to put it. I thought this was one of the best films of the year, and if more people don't go see this, that would be quite disappointing. Regina King did win a Golden Globe last night, but I didn't think hers was the best performance in the film or the Best Supporting Actress performance I've seen this year. Instead, I thought KiKi Layne carried this and showed vulnerability I haven't often seen on screen. It's her show, she does everything to make this film special.

There are no shortage of great performances and great scenes here, the only complaints I have are with regard to story constraints. I almost never feel that way about a film, and usually there's something, but not here. I thought the film brought humor when it needed an injection of it, and I thought the seriousness of the scenes involved was appropriately done and never overboard. There are a few short appearances from Brian Tyree Henry and Dave Franco that serve to balance the events out, giving the viewer what they need when they need it. Their roles serve to drive the flashbacks forward when otherwise it may not have worked, and the efforts to clear Fonny's name are all such good scenes without exception. I'm so pleased that films like these get made now, that they're put into theaters and that I have the ability to watch them. We are living in an era where new stories are explored, and I was going to say I was down on this year as a whole, but look at the top of my list. It's full of these unique stories, things that haven't been done. While it was lacking in science-fiction and Westerns, and I suppose in good comedy films, there's no shortage of great films. It's just that there weren't a lot of good ones. If Beale Street Could Talk is a great one because it was a film specifically about black love, the kind of film there aren't very many of.

9/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   If Beale Street Could Talk
10.   The Sisters Brothers
11.   A Private War
12.   Green Book
13.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
14.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
15.   On My Skin
16.   Private Life
17.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
18.   Mid90s
19.   Eighth Grade
20.   Sorry to Bother You
21.   Vice
22.   The Old Man & the Gun
23.   Suspiria
24.   Vox Lux
25.   Boy Erased
26.   Bad Times at the El Royale
27.   The Other Side of the Wind
28.   Searching
29.   A Simple Favor
30.   The Hate U Give
31.   Bumblebee
32.   Mary Poppins Returns
33.   Creed II
34.   Hold the Dark
35.   The Land of Steady Habits
36.   Halloween
37.   Mary Queen of Scots
38.   Aquaman
39.   Outlaw King
40.   Overlord
41.   Monsters and Men
42.   The Mule
43.   Bohemian Rhapsody
44.   White Boy Rick 
45.   Papillon
46.   Game Night
47.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
48.   Instant Family
49.   Alpha
50.   The Front Runner
51.   The Predator
52.   Apostle
53.   The Angel
54.   The Commuter
55.   Beautiful Boy
56.   The Nun
57.   Operation Finale
58.   The Equalizer 2
59.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
60.   Bird Box
61.   12 Strong
62.   Venom
63.   Skyscraper
64.   The Meg
65.   Assassination Nation
66.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
67.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
68.   22 July
69.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
70.   The Little Stranger
71.   Tomb Raider
72.   Night School
73.   The 15:17 To Paris
74.   Peppermint
75.   Mile 22
76.   The First Purge
77.   Hunter Killer
78.   Kin
79.   Hell Fest
80.   Proud Mary
81.   Robin Hood
82.   The Happytime Murders
83.   Slender Man

Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 08, 2019, 05:09:56 AM
(https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2016/08/damon/lead_720_405.jpg?mod=1533691838)

The Great Wall (2017), directed by Yimou Zhang

The Great Wall is a film that I knew was going to be stupid when I turned it on, and it definitely did not disappoint. I knew the marketing was dumb when I saw previews last year, with a white guy's face plastered all over Chinese stuff, so it was a given that this film would get some hatred from a lot of people. Sometimes, those kind of movies that receive a bad reaction for reasons such as this are unfairly judged by appearances, but this is a film that has very few merits in the first place. It is an easy target for claims of whitewashing because it definitely features that, but this was an attempt for China and Hollywood to make a fusion movie. I think that was literally the entire point, to whitewash a few of the roles in this movie for a Chinese audience. It seems to not have mattered at all in terms of getting people to go see this to the extent Chinese investors wanted, as while this did make quite a lot of money, it was nowhere enough for the studios to make any profit. Good! The film is steeped in things that should be unique to Chinese people, their culture and their history, but the film is shit even if they had cast a Chinese person in the lead role. That's just how it is.

The Great Wall begins with a chase on horseback through the desert, us not exactly understanding why this is happening. It turns out that these are mercenaries, William (Matt Damon) and Pero (Pedro Pascal). They are traveling around China in search of gunpowder, but it turns out they are not actually near a part of China where they can find it until the first few scenes are over. They're resting in a cave with some other mercenaries and are attacked, but they're able to cut the monster's leg off and bring it with them. After they reach the wall, they are taken prisoner by some Chinese soldiers, whom are led by General Shao (Zhang Hanyu) and Strategist Wang (Andy Lau). It turns out that there are a few different orders of soldiers in this, and I'm going to be completely honest, this was never made clear enough at any point for me to discern them. They had different costumes, but that isn't quite good enough. The two soldiers I mentioned were part of the Nameless Order, which apparently deals with a horde of alien monsters called the Tao Tieh.

The Tao Tieh came from space on a meteor that crashed into a nearby mountain, and they're these green things that attack once every sixty years. The thing is, when William and Pero took the monster's leg, apparently this was a week earlier than the monsters were expected to attack. Here comes a battle, and during the battle, William and Pero are sprung free by Ballard (Willem Dafoe), another mercenary who had once been sent to China in search of gunpowder. He got caught and now teaches the soldiers English, which explains their use of it throughout the film. The three Europeans subsequently decide that they're going to steal gunpowder and finally make their break, with no intention of staying in captivity any longer than they have to. Then we're introduced to another military leader and you know what I'm done explaining this stuff. Let's get to why this sucks.

A movie has to be really boring and bland for me to just give up like that, and that's exactly what I thought of The Great Wall. Boring, bland, nonsensical and lacking the ability to separate characters from one another. I need more than costumes, I need some explanations. I also think that the concept is totally ridiculous, I never explained it during my synopsis because I couldn't bring myself to do it. This is a bad film. Even though it's bad, there are some positives. I thought the set design and monster design was pretty good even though I could never get interested in the monsters themselves. The Great Wall certainly has the look, make no mistake about that. It's too bad that the look was wasted on something so banal and cliched, but even in using a fake Great Wall of China, things seem to work out well. There's another scene near the end of the film that looks nicer than most anything, yet the film still stinks even with that being the case.

I'm shocked that this would even be made considering both the inevitable backlash and the quality of the story itself, which is practically nonexistent. What quality? Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe put in some of their worst performances here. Damon seems to alternate back and forth between having an accent, I don't know what the deal was there. It wasn't a good accent in the first place. The reimagining of the Great Wall of China being used to combat alien invasions is absolutely ridiculous on every level, I don't know what the point of this story was, and I can't really decipher it. I did enjoy Pascal's performance in terms of him bringing something to the film when nobody else tried, but that's about all I can possibly think of to say about this. The film was a bad idea, an attempt to make an epic film that didn't quite work out. I've seen worse recently, but not much worse!

3.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
9.   The Lost City of Z
10.   First They Killed My Father
11.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
12.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
13.   Okja
14.   Kong: Skull Island
15.   Split
16.   Personal Shopper
17.   Atomic Blonde
18.   Megan Leavey
19.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
20.   Imperial Dreams
21.   Win It All
22.   The Wall
23.   Breathe
24.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
25.   Alone in Berlin
26.   Trespass Against Us
27.   War Machine
28.   Justice League
29.   To the Bone
30.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
31.   Sand Castle
32.   Death Note
33.   The Great Wall
34.   Fist Fight
35.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 09, 2019, 04:58:39 AM
(https://www.moviequotesandmore.com/wp-content/uploads/free-fire-3.jpg)

Free Fire (2017), directed by Ben Wheatley

I was initially hesitant to watch Free Fire because I know it had some horrendous reviews around the internet, but it was still quite tempting. A movie set in 1970's Boston? Sounds like it could be fun. Something obviously ripping off Quentin Tarrantino? That's usually not fun, but who knows. I thought I'd give this a chance even if it didn't deserve one. The catch as far as this goes is that this is a picture that started filming way back in 2015. The release date was an awfully long time away, almost two years. For a film not requiring a ton of post-production, this seems as if it could be a problem. Usually when a film isn't released for such a large amount of time after the fact, it takes forever for them to find a buyer because either nobody thinks the film is good or it can't be sold. I was hoping this was good enough. This is a film that seems to be made in the sense of a filmmaker not caring what anyone else would think about the dialogue or creative decisions, or for that matter whether or not the film is even considered to be good. This isn't a great film, but it's one that goes counter to expectations and gives the viewer something different. Sometimes that's okay, and sometimes expectations need to be thrown out the window.

Our setting is an arms deal, and the film begins with two guys, Stevo (Sam Riley) and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) driving to meet two IRA members. On the ride over, Stevo tells Bernie that he got beaten up the night before for doing bad shit. The group, including the IRA members, Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley), all meet in front of a warehouse in Boston. Now we have an intermediary, Justine (Brie Larson), and a representative, Ord (Armie Hammer). Let me be clear that the inclusion of these characters makes no real sense, because there should only be one of them. The group of IRA members (I guess the first four) wants to buy M-16's from an arms dealer, Vernon (Sharlto Copley). Vernon brings a lot of people himself, a big man named Martin (Babou Ceesay) who appears to be muscle, and I believe Harry (Jack Reynor) and Gordon (Noah Taylor) drive the weapons in. The trade is pretty simple, weapons for cash. At least it should be simple.

Now, with all these people in the room, it's never going to be simple. Case in point. There's arguments about the guns themselves, because they aren't M-16's. They're very good assault rifles, but not what the deal was supposed to be for. The money is good, but the IRA members get angry when Vernon decides that he's going to count it. Vernon had also placed ammunition in the back of the truck with the guns, but that wasn't part of the deal and he was going to include it to sweeten the deal, but that wasn't needed. Now, after the business with the guns and money, Chris wants all the boxes of guns opened to make sure that's what's there. As already stated, there's a box of ammunition there and the ammo was not supplied. Eventually, Harry notices that Stevo is the one he beat up the day before. The tensions are attempted to be defused, but Stevo winds up ruining that by bragging about what he did to Harry's cousin. In addition, I should mention that Stevo smoked crack on the way over to the deal, so he's erratic. So erratic in fact that he was swinging around a crowbar. Harry can't take this shit anymore, so he pulls out a gun and shoots Stevo in the shoulder. As you might expect, the groups split off and start shooting each other, and Martin is the first man to go down. Along with Martin, down goes the briefcase with the money in it, and of course Vernon wants the money, so we have an enormous shootout for the better part of an hour.

Is this film good? I don't know. There are many aspects of Free Fire that aren't, particularly the idea that people talk to each other during prolonged shootouts such as these. My conundrum is that I thought the lines in these discussions were sometimes quite amusing. Of course that isn't the case every single time, but sometimes. The entire situation is also implausible in the first place, in the sense that it doesn't take so long for people to die once they get shot. It's totally ridiculous, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a longer shootout in a film or TV show. The film only taking place in one scene does allow for the filmmaker to focus on the actors, but a few of them look and sound a bit too alike. I think Free Fire could have used more time than what it had, particularly as it relates to the conflict between Stevo and Harry. This is something that we should have seen the beginnings of rather than having been told about it, as the viewer would have been anticipating their conflict just a little bit more. It's also hard for a movie to sustain itself around one scene, and I'm surprised anyone would try to do that. The Wall was similar in this regard and I intend to give Free Fire the same rating, a film can only be so good when this is the case.

In terms of ensuring this film actually worked, I thought Sharlto Copley did the best job of keeping things entertaining. His South African accent and the lines he was given went together quite well, I was cracking up throughout. This being more of a comedy than anything else was a nice touch, but it leads Wheatley to keep some of these characters around for too long. I also thought that Wheatley should have done a better job laying out the warehouse prior to the shootout. There are some characters that get introduced as the story goes on, but they were weak bullet fodder, which I think cheapened the story to some extent. Overall, I liked Free Fire, but not too much. The film is overly talky like a Sorkin film, but the copious amount of dialogue works to its benefit. The film likely would have been boring otherwise. I'm not giving a ringing endorsement or anything, but I thought this was a lot funnier than it should have been.

6/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
9.   The Lost City of Z
10.   First They Killed My Father
11.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
12.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
13.   Okja
14.   Kong: Skull Island
15.   Split
16.   Personal Shopper
17.   Atomic Blonde
18.   Megan Leavey
19.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
20.   Imperial Dreams
21.   Free Fire
22.   Win It All
23.   The Wall
24.   Breathe
25.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
26.   Alone in Berlin
27.   Trespass Against Us
28.   War Machine
29.   Justice League
30.   To the Bone
31.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
32.   Sand Castle
33.   Death Note
34.   The Great Wall
35.   Fist Fight
36.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 10, 2019, 04:44:34 AM
(https://cdn.empireonline.com/jpg/80/0/0/1200/675/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/t/films/270303/images/7hlZ9WJQ3syUyJNSReZt7uch12X.jpg)

It Follows (2015), directed by David Robert Mitchell

I'm seeing Escape Room tomorrow, but before doing so I thought I needed to see a real horror movie. Enter It Follows, a film I wouldn't quite call a masterpiece, but something with a unique concept. This was awfully damn good. David Robert Mitchell has another movie coming out later this year that has gotten mixed reviews, I believe it's called Under the Silver Lake. If the mixed reviews are simply because he decided to push the envelope a lot more, that would be nice. I do think there's further that a director could go from this point, but I did appreciate that there were seemingly a few unique touches. One is the style of the film, both in terms of the color palette and choice of shots. The movie isn't completely different in this way, but it's different enough. There are also some interesting themes, but the most clear thing to see is that Mitchell's films are going to be a visual feast. It's sticking with me more than anything else, nothing showcases this more than the grand setpiece of the film. It Follows is even more about the director's ability to play around with things in order to create a look and feel. It is of course not solely visual, but that Mitchell fills this with 80's synth music like an admirer of John Carpenter. Is the film on that level?

It Follows begins with a scene featuring a girl running away from some kind of invisible figure. I don't exactly understand why or the reason, at least for about twenty minutes. The girl has obviously just had sex, and she stumbles out of a house near to hers. She runs around in circles for a while, and eventually she goes in her house, gets her shit, and decides to drive very far away. While she drives far, this is apparently not far enough. After stopping at a lake for the night, she falls asleep. We come around to the next morning, and she has been brutally murdered somehow, with a compound fracture of the leg. Big time dead. Afterwards, we switch over to our story. Jay (Maika Monroe) is going to go on a date with Hugh (Jake Weary), seeing a movie. Before doing so, we are introduced to her family, which consists of her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and an unseen mother. Her friend Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and another friend Paul (Keir Gilchrist) spend a lot of time at her house. Paul is very much the incel type and has a crush on Jay, it is certainly unrequited. Paul seems to be quite jealous about hearing Jay is going on a date with someone who isn't him.

Now, once Jay and Hugh to to the movies, they're waiting in line and all that stuff. They decide to play a game about switching lives, some bullshit. Don't care. When they get inside the theater it is Hugh's turn to ask Jay about the game. He goes around looking across the theater to see what's up, and he sees a woman in a yellow dress standing by the entrance. Jay can't see her, we don't see her, conceivably there's nothing there. There's something there. Hugh demands to leave the theater and they do, nothing seems to come of this. On their next date, Hugh and Jay go to a beach. Things go well. They drive some distance away to an abandoned auto plant and get down, after which Hugh gets in his trunk. He come back, it turns out he has a rag with chloroform on it, and out Jay goes. When Jay comes to, she's tied up in a wheelchair and Hugh takes it upon himself to give some instructions. Here's how it goes. He says that the curse can only be seen by the person with the curse or by the someone who has had it. The entity can take the form of any person and will consistently walk towards her. If It catches Jay, Jay will die and go after the previous person who has had the curse. Simple way of putting it? Jay needs to go sleep with someone else to get rid of this thing. Sounds like bullshit? It isn't bullshit.

The whole thing has a distinct Lynchian feeling to it, although of course there's never anything that does Lynchian like David Lynch. Some of the appearances of this spiritual entity are insane, I don't want to spoil them, but it's a horror movie and there has to be some expectation of seeing this thing. That's part of why I take a shit on some horror movies that decide not to show the enemy. There are instances when we need to see what people are afraid of, and there are times where we do not. It's largely dependent upon whether or not the filmmaker is skilled enough to make their film interesting in the scenes that don't feature the enemy. In this case, I thought It Follows was plenty interesting and that this wasn't a problem. It Follows is also about as long as it needs to be and doesn't feel like a film that overstays its welcome. I was going to say that as far as the film being Lynchian goes, you'll know if you've seen this. I also thought it was interesting how the film explored the idea of sexual intercourse potentially bringing a curse upon someone. There are so many ways in which this is true, but I'm not entirely interested in symbolism. I look at whether or not a film accomplishes its goals and pleases me. It Follows is the kind of film that is very likely to please me for many different reasons.

I should admit that I wound up pausing It Follows for 15 minutes because some nutjob was being chased by the police. It was insane. When I came back to the film, I didn't feel any letdown as if the events here weren't worth watching after seeing some guy plow into cars and traffic lights. I'm careful not to go overboard in praise, but I thought this was very effective in what it set out to do. It was often surprising to see where the film would be going, and it was odd to see a horror movie where the friends of the lead character actually believe what their friend is telling them. I'm not so used to that, and I thought this film was properly surrealistic. Most other directors are unable to pull that off even with far more money in their pocket, and they aren't able to prevent their films from becoming boring when they do attempt that. Obviously, I liked It Follows a lot, and I didn't mention too many negatives, but I think the film did have some. The attempts to obscure the time period the film was set in did not resonate too well with me, and for that matter I wasn't a big fan of the incel character. Still, this was good.

7.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 10, 2019, 06:25:58 PM
(https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2017/10/meyerowitz/lead_720_405.jpg?mod=1533691909)

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017), directed by Noah Baumbach

The Meyerowitz Stories is a film that came with no shortage of controversy and problems. The first was at Cannes, when it was a debate whether or not the film should be allowed to compete for awards due to its status as a streaming film. It was allowed to do so, but now Netflix films aren't allowed to be shown in theaters in France, so never again will that happen. The other, obviously, is related to Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman has either been blackballed or decided not to work after allegations were made against him. I had interest in The Meyerowitz Stories and was not going to skip the film because of something he'd done many years in the past. I did believe the allegation, by the way. I believe the second of those controversies led to a lot of people deciding that they were going to swerve this one. They're well within their rights to do so, but I said why I didn't. The film itself is a very strong portrayal of family dysfunction, I thought. There are some issues with this story, and I would have liked to see this more focused on one of the characters a bit more, but I thought this was a very amusing film.

The Meyerowitz Stories is something that sounds like it could be an anthology, but it is merely separated into chapters. Danny Meyerowitz (Adam Sandler, up in here looking like Vlade Divac) has separated from his wife, and his daughter Eliza (Grace Van Patten) came along with him to New York City before heading off to liberal arts school as a film student. The purpose of his visit is to move in with his father Harold (Dustin Hoffman), an art professor and sculptor at the school Eliza is headed off to. Harold has been married numerous times, his current wife Maureen (Emma Thompson) is an alcoholic. For some reason Harold believes she has quit drinking, obviously she has not. Danny has a sister, Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), and she's there at the house as well. They're going to have shark soup and it takes like shit. We cut forward a little while, and I'm going to skip over some stuff, but Danny and Harold are going to be spending some time alone in New York City. When Danny was a child, his father ignored him, so this should be some good time for them to catch up. Jean is in the same boat, but she lives somewhere else and will not be taking part in this father-son time.

As part of Danny and Harold's time together, Harold's friend and peer L.J. (Judd Hirsch) is having a showing at the Museum of Modern Art. It's a retrospective of some kind, and L.J. invited them during a phone call without advance warning. For some reason Danny and Harold show up overdressed, and Danny finds himself in a similar spot to some of the things I've had to do. He's lost with nobody to talk to and wonders around the place, while Harold catches up with L.J. and seems to have problems with it. When Danny finally finds someone to talk to in L.J.'s daughter Loretta (Rebecca Miller), Harold hurriedly rushes up to him and tells him he's leaving. This leaves Danny in a position where he has to chase after Harold, and after this he decides to go stay with Jean up in Rochester. In the meantime, the story continues to jump forward, where we are finally introduced to Harold's third child, Matthew (Ben Stiller). Matthew is a very successful financial advisor, he also seems to be having marital problems, and he seems to be impressing upon his father that he should sell his home in Manhattan and move to Maureen's house out in Western Massachusetts.

Here's what's up. All three of Harold's children have problems with him and believe that he neglected them to various extents, this is what the film is about. I don't want to say what happens because that's really lame and kills the enjoyment of the film, but I wanted to say that Adam Sandler has probably never been better. He can act, but he obviously doesn't want to and I don't understand this. The amount of trash he's been in is incredible, but when he wants to do something serious, he's pretty good at it. Some people were saying he should get Oscar buzz for The Meyerowitz Stories, which would be completely ludicrous, but he was really good. It isn't only that the film is serious but that his comedic instincts are restrained. I never thought I would laugh at a film where Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler trash someone's car. This sounds so ludicrous, so bad. It isn't bad. The sharp cuts are something I also found appropriate, even though it's a little jarring. While our characters are in the midst of meltdowns, perhaps it's better that we don't see the aftermath of their worst moments. These people have daddy issues and they are all explained quite well throughout the story, I thought. When Harold tells his stories twice, the reactions to them remain interesting. You never know exactly what's going to happen here, and that's great.

The film isn't without warts, and I think the most notable case of this is the lack of focus on Jean. She's not in the film enough despite being the second most interesting of Harold's children, and even though Elizabeth Marvel does well with the time she has on screen, it isn't enough. This is a huge flaw, and in my opinion, it's really one of the only ones. The end of the film also comes off as feeling really weird, lacking conclusion, life goes on. I don't know I like this or hate it, I can't decide. Numerous times throughout the film I was thinking of things that I found to be realistic and reflective of my own life experience, but a few of them, like the Meyerowitz clan hunting down a nurse who'd had to go deal with other patients, didn't quite feel right to me. The movie is also ridiculous even though that's quite alright. The way Harold bragged about a five second conversation with Sigourney Weaver, if you could even call it a conversation, was great. I didn't want to hear that two times though.

Ultimately, this is a film that thrives on its performances, but the driving force behind each individual event really works for me. There's also something with Harold that I have completely avoided referencing, but this helps bring the film together and converge all these stories into a cohesive narrative. The Meyerowitz family seemed to be quite a lonely sort, whether they had children or didn't, whether they were married or not, and even Maureen is no exception although she's married to the patriarch. This was the 1000th film I've watched, and I think it was quite the appropriate thing to place in this slot. I was going to watch something completely different, but I decided after seeing Escape Room earlier, I should go in a completely different direction. I should also give some extra credit to the cinematography in this film. This is the second time I've noticed Robbie Ryan's work like this, The Favourite was beautifully shot and this was very much the same. Judging from his filmography it appears this is someone moving up in the world over the last few years. Good for him.

8/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   Okja
15.   Kong: Skull Island
16.   Split
17.   Personal Shopper
18.   Atomic Blonde
19.   Megan Leavey
20.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
21.   Imperial Dreams
22.   Free Fire
23.   Win It All
24.   The Wall
25.   Breathe
26.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
27.   Alone in Berlin
28.   Trespass Against Us
29.   War Machine
30.   Justice League
31.   To the Bone
32.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
33.   Sand Castle
34.   Death Note
35.   The Great Wall
36.   Fist Fight
37.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 11, 2019, 01:54:44 PM
(https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/on-the-basis-of-sex-5.jpg?w=1000)

On the Basis of Sex (2018), directed by Mimi Leder

Very rarely have I left a film with such a strong feeling that something not happen. In this case, it was a hope that Ruth Bader Ginsburg not die before 2021. Perhaps a hope isn't the best way to put it. It's a request, I'm begging, can this please not happen? Time will tell on this one, I hope I get my wish, and there are a lot of people depending on it. Our country is nearly entirely dependent upon whether or not she will live. With that in mind, I expected On the Basis of Sex to be a propaganda film of sorts, one that served to bolster the legacy of Ginsburg, ensuring that younger people everywhere are more aware of her. She has become a legend and this is something a lot of people feel, it certainly isn't just me. Considering what I thought the film would be, it certainly lived up to my expectations. I wasn't aware of the cases involved and had no intention of looking them up prior to viewing the movie, nor will I do so now that I've given the film a look. I don't care enough to be bothered by the veracity of this film, and I don't think that was the point of this exercise in the first place. It was so that people could have a look at how Ginsburg was as a younger woman, to see things that helped craft her reputation.

Our film begins in the 1950s, with Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) entering Harvard as a first year law student. Her husband Martin (Armie Hammer) is in his second year, and they have a child at home. While at school, RBG is presented with the usual problems that confronted women in that era, particularly those entering the law prefession. The Dean of Harvard Law, a bristly sort named Erwin (Sam Waterston), gathers everyone for a dinner and decides to ask the prospective female lawyers a question. Why do they deserve to be in Harvard Law instead of a man? The film also chucks in another scene with a professor, Mr. Brown (Stephen Root). He's teaching a class, refuses to call on Ginsburg, and once he does, there are lots of jokes made by everyone involved. Do you see why I said this is a propaganda film? There are lots of instances of this and that's hardly surprising. During her first year, Martin gets testicular cancer, and we are shown how determined Ruth Bader Ginsburg really is, as she attended Martin's classes for him, took notes, and typed out his papers that he would dictate to her. Talk about dedicated. This must be true considering that the film has Ginsburg's endorsement and I can't imagine her lying about something like that.

Two years later, after Martin has graduated and with his cancer in remission against the odds, he is presented with a job offer in New York City. Ruth is not finished at Harvard, but she doesn't want to separate their family. Erwin is a dick, so it turns out that they're going to have to, and she transfers to Columbia University. Once she graduates, she encounters difficulties finding work, and unfortunately her dreams are squashed. After being rejected over and over again by prestigious law firms, with her degree seeming not to matter, she decides that she'll become a professor at Rutgers. Her class centers around sex discrimination, which almost immediately becomes a point or purpose. Rather than beat around the bush, I'll get right to it. Martin is a tax lawyer and comes across a case that seems to be something Ruth can handle a whole lot better than him, it's about a man in Denver, Charles Moritz. Moritz hired a nurse to help him care for his senile mother so he could work, and he tried to claim a deduction on his tax forms. He was an unmarried male, therefore he was not eligible for the deduction. Ruth sees the opportunity to bust through gender discrimination, and nothing's going to stop her. She goes to the ACLU and meets with a man, Mel Wulf (Justin Theroux), he joins her case. Her daughter Jane (Cailee Spaeny) has grown up and is now quite the inspiring figure, she will continue to push on however long this takes.

So, I've said this is a propaganda movie, right? It is, even though it's entirely rooted in fact. There's no other way to put matters, it's a fact that Ginsburg was tasked with running through a cadre of white men in order to make things happen, and some of them had to be left demolished in her wake. This aspect of the film seems to have made a lot of people angry, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg tends to do to some people. The thing is, white people of all stripes seem to have problems with this presentation because of how ridiculous it seems, but when it's true I don't care that much about presentation. The film doesn't delve into critical analysis of Ginsburg, because that isn't the point. Everyone's made mistakes, but this isn't the time for a takedown. I thought the film was effective in presenting its message, and I thought Felicity Jones had a great performance. I only see the slightest of resemblance between her and Ginsburg, but the point of the performance is to play Ginsburg, to be like Ginsburg. I think the filmmaker would want to make sure the audience knows how stubborn Ginsburg is and was, this was accomplished quite well.

Even though Ginsburg is a hero figure to a lot of people including myself, I am capable of being critical of the film. The events seem to play out like a TV movie at times, the musical compositions do not do much to counteract this feeling. I also thought the way the events were presented diminishes how Jewish the Ginsburgs were, there's zero representation of is. Ginsburg does have a cameo at the end that can be interpreted as a tacit endorsement so maybe I should keep my mouth shut on that part, but it's something I noticed. I also found that On the Basis of Sex could have desperately used a bridge scene at Columbia between Ginsburg's time at Harvard and searching for a job. The film is also intensely obsessed with subtly making sure the audience knows exactly how far we've come in these years. That isn't a negative like the other things in this paragraph, but I think it's something viewers should be aware of before turning this on or going to the theater. On the Basis of Sex also presents this as being Ginsburg's first courtroom performance and her first lawsuit, so with that information in mind, you damn well better know what the film brings to the table.

With all that in mind, On the Basis of Sex is certainly a hagiography, but there aren't many more figures worthy of having a hagiography made about their life. So, this is totally a mom movie, even if your mom voted for Trump. Maybe your dumbass Trump voting mom would finally understand some things if they watched this, and perhaps not. I would be lying if I said this didn't feel like a Law and Order episode at times, and the casting is certainly part of that. If you cast Jack McCoy in any legal drama, that's damn well what I'm going to think about. The film is about someone's work in the face of rampant sexism, it removes religious bigotry againts Jews for some reason, but I still liked this film as a whole. Of course a large reason why that's the case is because of the film's subject, so I can overlook some of the flaws. As I believe I've said before, list placement matters more here than the score I give the film. The ending of the film was nicely touching and left me feeling good about the movie.

6.5/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   If Beale Street Could Talk
10.   The Sisters Brothers
11.   A Private War
12.   Green Book
13.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
14.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
15.   On My Skin
16.   Private Life
17.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
18.   Mid90s
19.   Eighth Grade
20.   Sorry to Bother You
21.   Vice
22.   The Old Man & the Gun
23.   Suspiria
24.   Vox Lux
25.   Boy Erased
26.   Bad Times at the El Royale
27.   The Other Side of the Wind
28.   Searching
29.   A Simple Favor
30.   The Hate U Give
31.   Bumblebee
32.   Mary Poppins Returns
33.   Creed II
34.   Hold the Dark
35.   The Land of Steady Habits
36.   Halloween
37.   Mary Queen of Scots
38.   Aquaman
39.   Outlaw King
40.   Overlord
41.   Monsters and Men
42.   The Mule
43.   On the Basis of Sex
44.   Bohemian Rhapsody
45.   White Boy Rick 
46.   Papillon
47.   Game Night
48.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
49.   Instant Family
50.   Alpha
51.   The Front Runner
52.   The Predator
53.   Apostle
54.   The Angel
55.   The Commuter
56.   Beautiful Boy
57.   The Nun
58.   Operation Finale
59.   The Equalizer 2
60.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
61.   Bird Box
62.   12 Strong
63.   Venom
64.   Skyscraper
65.   The Meg
66.   Assassination Nation
67.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
68.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
69.   22 July
70.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
71.   The Little Stranger
72.   Tomb Raider
73.   Night School
74.   The 15:17 To Paris
75.   Peppermint
76.   Mile 22
77.   The First Purge
78.   Hunter Killer
79.   Kin
80.   Hell Fest
81.   Proud Mary
82.   Robin Hood
83.   The Happytime Murders
84.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 11, 2019, 06:28:20 PM
(https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/the-lego-movie.jpg?w=1000&h=563&crop=1)

The Lego Movie (2014), directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

I wasn't sure that I was ever going to watch The Lego Movie, but while seeing another film last month, I saw a trailer for the sequel to this. At that point, I decided that I might as well, so here we have it. I believe this is the first animated movie I've reviewed that wasn't comic related or as a result of losing a bet. I am fine with this, and I'm not going to go nuts on animated movies, but maybe I should watch a few more. Don't inundate me with ideas like a lot of dorks do to people when they say something like that, please. I still have to watch The Lego Batman Movie this month, and I could see these becoming repetitive in a hurry, but I didn't mind this at all. I am shocked that this film was able to be done at a cost of $60,000,000. That's obviously a lot of money, but lots of these animated films cost a ridiculously large amount. I know this was in large part created due to the Lego video games, of which I played just a few, but kids really like those games. Obviously, adults have a soft spot for Lego's and that's why this was so successful. I guess I'll say that at least this wasn't The Emoji Movie. I have no intention of ever watching that, but one of these days...who really knows.

Obviously, The Lego Movie is set in some kind of Lego universe with moving and talking Lego pieces. No shit, right? Our scenario is that there's an evil guy, Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell). He finds a super weapon called the Kragle, which we later learn is a tube of Krazy Glue. Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) is some kind of wizard, but Business blinds him with his robots. As Business leaves, Vitruvius has a prophecy, that someone called "The Special" will find a "Piece of Resistance", which is a brick that can stop the Kragle. Some years later, in a Lego city of Bricksburg, we meet an ordinary piece, a construction worker named Emmet (Chris Pratt). Emmet goes to work and does all his stuff like a good Lego should do, he's ordinary and not unique. There are many, many of similar pieces, and they build skyscrapers and things like that at the behest of Lord Business. I had a good laugh at the workers following the instructions, I can't explain why I wasn't expecting that, but I wasn't.

As Emmet's about to leave work, he sees a woman searching for something at his site. He walks over to investigate and falls into a hole, and once reaching the bottom of this seemingly endless hole, winds up next to...the Piece of Resistance. Emmet touches it and passes out, waking up in a police station with Bad Cop and Good Cop (Liam Neeson). All of a sudden, the woman shows up again and introduces herself as Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and rescues Emmet. She believes he is a special Lego who can do all kinds of cool stuff, and we know that's not true, but she takes him to meet Vitruvius in the Old West. Here's how this thing goes. The group absolutely must find a way to put the Piece of Resistance on the tube of Krazy Glue. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that it was the top for the tube. Along the way, we see some funny stuff that comes out of nowhere, and I laughed quite a lot at seeing a few of these pieces and ideas.

This being an animated movie, I will struggle very hard to complete a review. I thought that there were parts of The Lego Movie that were pieces of genius, but the live-action part destroyed my immersion. That's fair, right? I was a Lego player like everyone else as a kid, but I played with the kinds of Lego sets that other people probably didn't. I had the gas station, the space stuff, and a few other things that aren't coming to mind right at this moment. Upstairs right now, there's a bunch of stuff in this house that my brother built and left. He spent loads of money on that stuff while working at the Lego Store. He has the Kwik-E-Mart, countless Batman stuff, the Cinderella castle, Orthanc tower, the Simpsons house, and there has to be other things I can't remember. He is and was a Lego fanatic, but I don't know if he's seen this movie. I did think some of the takes at the end of the film were funny though. They were basically spreading out propaganda in terms of how it's okay to play with Lego toys. I could only laugh at this even though the messaging was sort of destroying how much I liked the film.

Overall, I still liked the film, but I don't think it was the greatest animated film ever or some shit like that. I did enjoy the numerous strange appearances from different characters in different franchises, I thought none of them were disappointing at all. The animation is fantastic on a level that it's incomprehensible how these things are even happening, and the choice of voice cast was excellent. I was sure not to look anything up beforehand, but Liam Neeson as a bad cop was a good laugh. This is the kind of film lots of people would be happy with their kids watching over and over, and the gags with things like Band-Aids were a joy. While I would have liked a complete paucity of live-action scenes, this was still enjoyable enough and the live-action scene wasn't completely horrendous. It was a good twist and something I wasn't expecting, but I must admit that without the scene, I don't see how this film could possibly have ended. I was trying not to spoil this in case anyone was on the fence, but I really didn't need to. I thought Batman's inclusion was the best part.

7.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 13, 2019, 06:16:20 PM
(https://pmcdeadline2.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/american-made.jpg?w=605)

American Made (2017), directed by Doug Liman

In American Made, we seem to have a film that claims to be based on a true story while stretching the limits of "true story" as much as humanly possible. I was reticent to watch the film around this time last year, knowing that this would probably be the case, but now it appears my format has changed and I don't have a choice. Besides, I think I was looking forward to it at this point. American Made is a film that deliberately intends to invoke thoughts of Narcos, Blow, Breaking Bad, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Goodfellas all at the same time. I think the quality of the film reflects that. I'm going to take some time to talk about how truthful this story is, but what I found most interesting was how cavalier this story treated the geopolitics of the time. We move through a lot of these things very quickly, and not everything that happened at the time seems to matter. The film also manipulates the plot in order to fit a narrative. I have said before that I'm okay with this, but in this instance I genuinely don't know what to think of it. On the other hand, considering how crazy the story is in the first place, is it really that bad? We're inundated with a lot of information outside of our title character's story and nearly all of it is true. Go figure.

Our story begins in 1978, with Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) flying planes for TWA. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife Lucy (Sarah Wright) and a very young child, just trying to provide for his family. The first instance of this we're shown is some video of him smuggling Cuban cigars from Vancouver and Montreal to the States. A CIA case officer called "Schafer" (Domhnall Gleeson) is apparently well aware of these activities, and with Barry bent over a barrel, he'll take advantage of it as these CIA types tend to do. Schafer's plan is for Barry to start a new company, or rather for the CIA to start one for him, and through the company they'll fund his activities. Activities? His new job is going to be to fly a plane over Central America doing reconnaissance with cameras attached to the bottom of the fuselage. Barry attempts to tell Lucy of these changes, but it isn't going to work out. She just won't listen and that means he won't tell her anything unless he has to. Narrator: eventually he has to.

We move forward into the 1980s from there, with the job progressing to a point where Schafter asks Barry to start bringing money to Manuel Noriega in exchange for intelligence. Barry does that, and on one of his missions, he's picked up by the Medellin Cartel. That does not sound good. He's asked to fly cocaine to the United States, exactly as you'd expect them to ask them, and he has no real choice in the matter. Remember that he smuggled cigars in the first place to start this whole thing off? He accepts. This is quite difficult to pull off, and for whatever reason the CIA decides to ignore the drug smuggling. After all, the rest of the operation works for them and it's difficult to replace assets, much less an ace pilot. The DEA, on the other hand, they don't really give a fuck about any of that. While Barry's in Medellin meeting with Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda) and Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Meija), he's captured by Colombian police. The Colombians get out, but Barry does not. Here's what he has to do now. He and Lucy have to leave Louisiana, and it's time for Barry to do something much more for the CIA. Something...Contra related. Right after this point, Tom Cruise tells you that shit gets crazy and it sure does.

This film plays loose with the facts, because it turns out that Barry didn't do anything for the CIA until he'd already encountered the Colombians and other drug smugglers south of our border. We don't see that the reason he left TWA was because he was asked to smuggle explosives to Mexico, was going to go through with it, and was arrested. He also moved to Arkansas himself and wasn't forced there by the CIA. The narrative of the film wouldn't make sense if they showed things like that, though. It's ridiculous and much too hard to believe. The film is flawed because it isn't authentic, and it's also flawed because this doesn't explain the results of Barry's actions. At times, American Made feels like a film where someone's bad decisions are excused because they did them for the CIA, but this didn't happen in reality. These things are hard to reconcile with one another. On the other hand, having been to the area of Arkansas shown in the film, I could definitely see how someone could have gotten away with having an army of planes smuggling cocaine out of there in the 1980s. To call this location a backwater does not do justice to the word. The accuracy of other things, such as Barry and other pilots smuggling drugs for the DEA and CIA, on the other hand, are completely accurate. I do appreciate a film spreading that message even though the story of the messenger is not accurately portrayed.

This is a film that I do think perfectly displays the ills of the Reagan era, but it's almost impossible for a filmmaker to not do that and get their film released. What mattered most then was green. Consequences were not something people considered. The country was prosperous and nobody cared how or why. The film is full of moments that show what someone would do to make that amount of money. The customary montage of what someone did with their money no longer interests me as a viewer, it's how they got it. In spicing that up a bit, I think American Made was a success. The scene with the overloaded plane was really nice, there are others with Barry's plane being chased by government agents, and if you need to see scumbag characters, look no further than JB (Caleb Landry Jones). Nobody plays scum better than Caleb Landry Jones and I don't ever want to see him in another role. I bet there are some and inevitably I'll get around to them, but let me have this. I also thought that Tom Cruise is...the absolute perfect person to play someone like Barry Seal. It's a natural role and he seems to revel in it. Cruise's performance is quite enjoyable. I also thought the intrigue regarding the possibility of Barry getting clipped nearly justifies the changes in the narrative. I mean, what if they changed that too?

Like Caleb Landry Jones, there's another role in this film that may have been chopped a bit, that belonging to Jesse Plemons. Plemons was playing a small town sheriff who didn't want to question the benevolent Barry Seal, but there are so few scenes with him in them and he's such a good actor that they had to have filmed things and cut them. It also seemed that Barry didn't care too much about his kids and wife, with scenes that consistently exhibit this. So, they aren't in the film too much. American Made is a movie that revolves around Tom Cruise a lot, and if you can't handle this, or the changes in Barry Seal's story, or the possibility that this may be glorifying a drug smuggler, I can't really recommend this to anyone. The only thing that I think really stinks and is indefensible is the way in which this story feels glorified. Who wouldn't want to bang their wife at zero gravity, fly planes all over the globe, make tons of money, go to insane parties, and have a whole fleet of people willing to do anything for you? Then you throw in the part of the story detailing that Barry basically got away with everything he did wrong due to what he knew about CIA programs, and yes. This is glorifying wrongdoing. It's also so blatantly far from the true story that the story needs to be judged on its own merits, which is what I'll do. I thought American Made was quite fun and I was looking to watch something like this. Sometimes I don't give a fuck about what someone did wrong, I just want to watch something where someone's doing bad things. I do think this is wrong on my part, but I can't help myself. Most people who can't admit that liking this stuff is wrong, they're the ones with a problem I think.

I've been trying to shorten my reviews as a whole, but this was easy to write and took no time.

6.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   Okja
15.   Kong: Skull Island
16.   Split
17.   Personal Shopper
18.   Atomic Blonde
19.   Megan Leavey
20.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
21.   American Made
22.   Imperial Dreams
23.   Free Fire
24.   Win It All
25.   The Wall
26.   Breathe
27.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
28.   Alone in Berlin
29.   Trespass Against Us
30.   War Machine
31.   Justice League
32.   To the Bone
33.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
34.   Sand Castle
35.   Death Note
36.   The Great Wall
37.   Fist Fight
38.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 16, 2019, 01:55:47 PM
(https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/12/07/arts/07benisback/07benisback-facebookJumbo.jpg)

Ben Is Back (2018), directed by Peter Hedges

I didn't realize until I walked in the door and looked at this just now, but Ben Is Back is a project where Peter Hedges directed his son. How strange is that? I know this has happened countless times, but I cannot immediately think of an example, nor do I find it very important to have an example. What I was thinking while watching Ben Is Back was that this was a very similar film to Beautiful Boy, told from the perspective of a caring mother. There are reasons why this story works better, I will have to explain them as I go, but functionally the film should be the same thing. Both films have older lead actors, here we have Julia Roberts and in Beautiful Boy we had Steve Carell. We have Lucas Hedges here and Timothee Chalamet there. We have observing spouses played by Courtney B. Vance and Maura Tierney. Kids are affected by the problems of their brother too. These movies are...basically the same goddamn thing. Then, at the same time, they aren't. I think one's enjoyment of the two films could be entirely tied to who plays the drug addicts in these respective movies. In addition to that, there seems to be some actual intrigue in Ben Is Back that is not at all present in Beautiful Boy. Let me explain.

Ben Is Back begins with Holly Burns (Julia Roberts) driving her kids home from church on Christmas Eve, it appears that they are going to have a recital. Ivy (Kathryn Newton) is the oldest, Ben's sister. Liam and Lacey are Ben and Ivy's half-siblings, which is only pertinent in the sense of explaining how similar this is to other films. While Holly's at the recital, Ben is trying to get inside their house for some reason. He cannot. Instead, Ben (Lucas Hedges) is standing in the driveway, and Holly is quite pleased to see him. Ivy, on the other hand, immediately decides to get on her phone for some reason. Obviously we will see why. After some time where Holly goes around hiding all the valuables and pills in her house, along comes Neal (Courtney B. Vance), Holly's husband and Ben's stepfather. Neal is alarmed that Ben is there as he's supposed to be in sober living, because some event happened that was pretty bad. We find out exactly what happened later on, but Ben claims that his sponsor said a trip home would be good for him. Holly and Neal subsequently come to the conclusion that Ben will be allowed to stay for one night as long as Holly's watching him, which is going to prove quite difficult.

As the day goes on, Ben decides to look for Christmas ornaments in the attic, do activities with the rest of his family, and so on and so forth. While Ben and Ivy are going to wrap Christmas presents, Ben comes to the conclusion that he should buy some presents from him to give to other people. Holly agrees, so they go out for the day and Ben has things to do. After shopping for a while, Ben encounters someone who triggers bad memories, and Holly has some bad memories of her own after meeting someone else, which leads to Ben going to a meeting. Now, after Ben tells his story at the meeting, none of this done during flashbacks, he is approached by a young girl (Alexandra Park). The girl tells him that he was her drug dealer, which he didn't remember, and she wants to get high with him as her last time before going to rehab. Now, how should I leave this paragraph off? With Ben's mom finding the drugs the girl gave to Ben and Ben claiming that she handed them to him so that she didn't take them? Or should I close it with a mention that Holly's house gets robbed after the children's recital? I decided to mention both of them because I didn't know what to do.

I should immediately address why Ben Is Back is a better film than Beautiful Boy even though there are so many similarities. First, there are no flashbacks in Ben Is Back, which serves to keep the story on the right track. There is no muddled narrative here, no grief porn like when Steve Carell is desperately trying to find his son from miles and miles away. None of that at all. The narrative is much more constrained in Ben Is Back. When Ben departs from Holly, we know why, and there's some intrigue and genuine mystery to it. Such is the benefit of this film not being a true story, but more than that, it seems as if the focus is appropriately weighted upon both lead characters in Ben Is Back. I also liked that Ben had done some truly scummy shit in order for his friends and family members to feel this way about him, it isn't only the drugs that were a problem here. Of course, the story is still very similar despite these things to a point where it cannot be ignored. I did think that Julia Roberts performed her role better than Steve Carell as well, which is odd coming from me because I like Steve a lot. I didn't think I cared much for Julia Roberts, but maybe I'm getting older. People change, after all.

Ben Is Back also does a good job in creating backstories for their characters without doing so in flashbacks, which allows us to understand the meanings of these events without having to spend endless time watching them play out. The older I get, I also wind up appreciating scenes such as these. This is simply a better script and a better story, but it also isn't entirely original and that presents some problems. I liked Hedges performance, and some inauthenticity was required of his role in order to carry it out, but it's quite difficult to believe at times. Of course, a mother loves her son and all that, but this is almost too inauthentic at times. There's also the simple matter that the police should have been called, and the fact that they weren't is simply too illogical for my tastes. This also feels like an anti-drug PSA at times, which I suppose is unavoidable in the end. Still, there are other good characters I did not mention, and this is quite a good film. I don't think it's a classic of the drug addiction-drama subgenre, but it works and carries some decent emotional weight.

7/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   If Beale Street Could Talk
10.   The Sisters Brothers
11.   A Private War
12.   Green Book
13.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
14.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
15.   On My Skin
16.   Private Life
17.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
18.   Mid90s
19.   Eighth Grade
20.   Sorry to Bother You
21.   Vice
22.   The Old Man & the Gun
23.   Suspiria
24.   Vox Lux
25.   Boy Erased
26.   Bad Times at the El Royale
27.   The Other Side of the Wind
28.   Searching
29.   A Simple Favor
30.   The Hate U Give
31.   Bumblebee
32.   Mary Poppins Returns
33.   Creed II
34.   Hold the Dark
35.   The Land of Steady Habits
36.   Halloween
37.   Mary Queen of Scots
38.   Aquaman
39.   Outlaw King
40.   Overlord
41.   Ben Is Back
42.   Monsters and Men
43.   The Mule
44.   On the Basis of Sex
45.   Bohemian Rhapsody
46.   White Boy Rick 
47.   Papillon
48.   Game Night
49.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
50.   Instant Family
51.   Alpha
52.   The Front Runner
53.   The Predator
54.   Apostle
55.   The Angel
56.   The Commuter
57.   Beautiful Boy
58.   The Nun
59.   Operation Finale
60.   The Equalizer 2
61.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
62.   Bird Box
63.   12 Strong
64.   Venom
65.   Skyscraper
66.   The Meg
67.   Assassination Nation
68.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
69.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
70.   22 July
71.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
72.   The Little Stranger
73.   Tomb Raider
74.   Night School
75.   The 15:17 To Paris
76.   Peppermint
77.   Mile 22
78.   The First Purge
79.   Hunter Killer
80.   Kin
81.   Hell Fest
82.   Proud Mary
83.   Robin Hood
84.   The Happytime Murders
85.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 16, 2019, 06:14:21 PM
(https://starwarsblog.starwars.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/rogue-one-cast-photo-d23-1536x864-863230540510.jpg)

Rogue One (2016), directed by Gareth Edwards

Ah, Star Wars. The ever frustrating, for some never satisfying, hardly ever great, yet beloved franchise that releases films that polarize fans like none other. I still haven't seen Solo and it bombed extremely hard, but I'll eventually get around to it. First, I had to watch Rogue One. This was a film that nearly got me out to the theater back in 2016, but as was customary for me at the time, I decided that I didn't really want to go. Times have changed, and while this is a film that I may have waited years to watch at some other time, that isn't the case anymore. Rogue One is a film with an inevitable result, that's something which impacts how good it can truly be. I find that this is an adage which was once again proven true, that the only way to move the Star Wars franchise forward is to create new characters or continue new stories. The Mandalorian is a case of something set in the past that has lots of creative freedom to be interesting, but a film is not likely to bring that to the table if set in the past of this universe. What I found was that Rogue One is the kind of film that brings so many things to the table that the viewer must decide what they like more. Do you like seeing your favorite actors in a Star Wars film or do you like character development? If none of these are amongst your favorite actors, then you very well may feel differently than I do. I thought Rogue One gave me what I wanted.

Rogue One begins with the creation of a new hero, as these films tend to do from time to time. Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) is a weapons researcher, hiding on a planet with his wife and child. All of a sudden, Imperial weapons developer Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) shows up with a proposition. He wants Galen to complete the Death Star, and everyone knows what the Death Star is. It needs to be done, he argues, and the Empire will bring Galen's family with him to complete the job. Galen does not accept this as he no longer wants to develop weapons, but he has no choice in the matter. Once his wife comes out of hiding with a blaster and shoots Krennic, she's shot and killed as well, and Galen is effectively taken prisoner. His daughter, on the other hand, she's able to escape. She runs and hides, and eventually is rescued by a rebel extremist, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). This is one of his best roles, I think.

Of course, we move well on from there. Fifteen years later, a pilot has deflected from the Empire. Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) has a transmission taken from Galen, he brings it to Gerrera himself on a desert moon. This place is quite interesting. Jedha is used for the Empire to remove kyber crystals, these allow them to power the Death Star. A rebel agent, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), discovers information about the Death Star and it is decided that something needs to happen. He encounters Galen's daughter, now a woman, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). After Cassian breaks Jyn free, he brings her to the rebels. The new mission is for Jyn to find a way to rescue Galen from the Empire so that the rebels can learn more about the Death Star. For Cassian, his mission is a little different. Once Galen is found, Cassian is to execute him as he's too dangerous to leave alive or something like that. Once they get to Jedha, we encounter the rest of our group. Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) is a blind warrior who believes in the Force, and his friend Baze (Jiang Wen) carries a very big gun. K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) is Cassian's droid, a necessary component of any good team. Then, as you may suspect, Bodhi is being held by Saw Gerrera, who is still on Jedha. The Death Star is also looming. What could come of all this?

As far as what I hoped for, the story has its limitations, yet it seemed to meet all of my expectations. A singular Star Wars film leaves little room to develop characters, considering that everyone has expectations of Star Wars. You need a big battle, this is set prior to the destruction of the Death Star, and that means there has to be some scenes with Darth Vader. I liked that the film also had real consequences, although of course this is something forced upon it by the nature of the story. I don't think this is a fantastic film, but it's suitable. The film has tons of action scenes in order to ensure that fans aren't bothered by new characters, and it's no surprise that Disney would create a prequel show so that people who wanted character development could get that from the story. I thought the droid was the best character in the film, for that matter. Even though many of the other characters are played by people I like a lot, the droid is different and quite morbid. We need more of this kind of thing. I'm sure that'll be a priority in the prequel series, there's no doubt about it. This strikes me as a character who will become a major fan favorite over time.

The story is one where a daughter knows her father has been forced to do something wrong, gathers a posse and goes to find her father, but surprisingly this film decides to take things in a different direction halfway through. Rogue One is somewhat disjointed as a result of that, but I think this decision is redeemed by having all these characters die. There is no illogical conclusion for these individuals, it is appreciated. I'm going to cut myself off before droning on, but I think Rogue One really lacks an impactful scene stealer. There isn't a great leading presence in the film, and the final scene was beyond long. Something I found interesting was the use of CGI to place Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing back in the series. I don't have the same reaction as most people, I guess. Neither moment took me out of the film, and I thought that the likeness of Cushing to...himself (?) was insane. I'm not a big fan of using CGI to bring actors back from the dead, but if it fits any series, using it here or inStar Trek is completely justifiable.

There were a few things I wanted to mention before I go, and the first was that I thought it was nice for the producers or whomever to decide to use some real, vibrant feeling locations in their film. The Death Star explosions are also excellent in this way, as it feels like these locations are folding over on top of themselves. It is a visual I never knew I needed this badly. I also wanted to mention the score, as I thought it was noticeable that John Williams didn't do the music for this film. While different, I found the score to be pretty damn good. I usually don't comment on music because it isn't that important to me, but in a film like this one, you notice it much more so than in others. Personally, I would have liked more character development myself, but we didn't get that and I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way. The film was plenty long enough and nearly too long without character development, so it wasn't possible to do anything else with the film's story.

7.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Spaceman Spiff 🚀 on January 17, 2019, 12:23:15 AM
Huge, huge fan of the space battle scenes during the climactic over Scarif.  The blackness of space really lets the greens & blues of the planet below pop.  Just some absolutely gorgeous shots with the camera set high looking down on the planet as the ships criss-cross the field of view and dive for the opening in the planetary shield before it closes.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: AA484 on January 17, 2019, 01:41:25 AM
This was my favorite out of all the post-Disney Star Wars films.  I saw it in iMax and the CGI still didn't look out of place, at least to me.  I thought it was extremely well done.

I may even like this better than ROTJ, although it's still far behind the other two in the original trilogy.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Kahran Ramsus on January 17, 2019, 12:00:30 PM
I thought Rogue One was far and away the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy.  It is a throwback to films like The Dirty Dozen, Where Eagles Dare, The Guns of Navarone, etc.  Except in space.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: cobainwasmurdered on January 17, 2019, 12:39:10 PM
yeah i thought Rogue One was probably the best and i see the Guns of Navarone comparison especially.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Kahran Ramsus on January 17, 2019, 12:57:13 PM
Regarding Peter Cushing, I know lots of people that aren't familiar with who Cushing was that thought Tarkin was the real thing until I told them.  You might complain about the ethics of it (although I personally don't have a problem with it, provided they get approval from the family/estate), but I thought the actual effects work was remarkable.

*In Fisher's case, they generally thought it was a younger lookalike.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: cobainwasmurdered on January 17, 2019, 12:58:52 PM
Yeah I didn't mind the cushing thing tbh. It looked great and it fit into the movie pretty well and I didn't think it felt exploitative. I don't want to see it done much more but if it's kept to something like that where it makes sense and is small I don't have a big issue with it.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Kahran Ramsus on January 17, 2019, 01:10:02 PM
Yeah I didn't mind the cushing thing tbh. It looked great and it fit into the movie pretty well and I didn't think it felt exploitative. I don't want to see it done much more but if it's kept to something like that where it makes sense and is small I don't have a big issue with it.

I wouldn't want it for a major character or one in an ongoing series.  No CGI Hugh Jackmans when Marvel gets around to rebooting Wolverine.  But for a handful of scenes in a one-off film based on a famous film like this one, I think it worked.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 17, 2019, 06:28:38 PM
(https://www.michigandaily.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/171010/mountain%20between%20us.jpg?itok=k8wENlKh)

The Mountain Between Us (2017), directed by Hany Abu-Assad

The Mountain Between Us is something I literally only watched because the Lakers win over the Thunder ran a bit longer than I'd expected, but in the end, it wasn't such a bad idea. I assumed from the poor reviews the film received that there would be nothing to this, I was wrong. It's actually quite rare that actors are given the opportunity to work in this sort of scenery, so I shouldn't have been so quick to rush to judgment. The movie is interesting, but it's not great. The cast carries this about as far as such a weak script could possibly go, and by cast, I should say a duo rather than a cast. It's really just two people here. When I saw the previews for The Mountain Between Us, I assumed this was going to be quite a bit different. I also thought it would be rated R, so imagine my surprise when at the end of those commercials, that PG-13 rating is blaring in my face. How does one make a survival film with no goddamn gore? This, as well as some other questions I had, were answered as time went on. There also aren't too many romantic dramas that I get around to watching these days, so I think I picked the perfect time to delve into this genre for a night. After all, the Lakers won, didn't they? I was in a good mood. I am surprised at who directed this, considering their past in foreign films, but that isn't a critical statement and merely one of interest. If interested, read on.

Trapped in Idaho at the airport, we have Ben (Idris Elba) and Alex (Kate Winslet). They both need to get to different parts of the East Coast, Alex to New York for her wedding, and Ben to Baltimore so that he can perform surgery on a child. Ben is a neurosurgeon from London working in the States, and Alex is a photographer working for the Guardian. She has had a photoshoot with some skinheads, not the most fulfilling of work to be certain. I do not remember what Ben was doing in Idaho, but I'm sure it was related to his profession. That I can't remember is not the best sign. After trying to get tickets at the airline counter, hoping they can get over to Denver and make their way to the East Coast somehow, it just isn't going to happen. They can't get a rental car as there are none, so it seems inevitable that they'll miss their chance to get home. Eventually, Alex gets the bright idea to head into an airplane hangar and hire a private pilot. Walter (Beau Bridges) is quite an old guy, and speaking honestly, I immediately knew where this was going. They get in his plane to head to Denver, along with Walter's dog, and it looks quite stormy ahead.

After a conversation in which we learn all that information I just told you guys, we encounter said stormy weather. Walter makes an attempt to divert the flight to Salt Lake City, but it's too late. Reason being? Surprisingly, the weather does not bring our flight down, it's Walter's health instead. He has a stroke and the plane begins to go down, clipping a mountaintop, which leads to the tail being removed from the rest of the fuselage. Of course, the plane is actually going to go down, and crashes very hard into some winter snow. Ben wakes up first, a bit shocked by the events but undaunted. He sees that the dog is alive, and that Walter is not. Alex is also badly injured, her leg maimed. Ben has some gouges in his side, but nothing too bad, he'll be able to push on. After using his medical skill to take care of Alex's wounds and injuries, and after burying Walter, he hunkers down and takes inventory of their food. Walter didn't bother to file a flight plan, he was weird and just got in his plane like a dumbass to fly these people over some mountains. So, there's very little chance of help coming along, unless the beacon on the tail of the plane is intact. Once Alex wakes up, she realizes what's going on, and can't believe that they'll be rescued. Ben feels otherwise, and the two will forge forward with that information left in your mind.

There are some good twists and turns, much of which are related to things that happen to the shockingly stable Ben. He's stable for a reason, he's a control freak and has his shit together because of that. Of course, no story with anyone stranded will leave people entirely unscathed, and while I knew that, the times at which these things happen are quite surprising. The script being as standard as it is, it's the direction that leads to these events being surprising. Rest assured that the narrative of the story remains the same, and that the ending of The Mountain Between Us is exactly what you would think it is. There are a few reasons I'm going to edge this film to the positive side, though. Despite being PG-13, there's much more nudity than I'd expected. How this got through? I don't know. Maybe someone at the MPAA got bored. If not for Elba, Winslet, and the director, this is certainly the quality of a TV movie in every way imaginable. The budget of this film being $35,000,000 seems to have no impact in my belief that this could have been a film headed straight to HBO. There's just not a lot to this, no hard questions about survival, and cerainly not any grand moral statement. Cannibalism or eating the dog are subjects never broached.

I'm not saying some shit like "I wish they'd talked about eating the dog," but I'm making the point that this film lacks grit. The film does seem to revolve a bit around the idea that Ben should leave Alex and her maimed leg on the mountain, but while Elba's character is certainly undaunted and a very stereotypical headstrong surgeon, this is something that would have been far beyond reasonable for his character. So, it did not happen. Knowing that there's no gore, no grit, or anything like that, this is a limited film that I think one's feelings of are entirely based upon whether or not they care for the two actors. Very rarely have I watched a two hour film with such little depth, but I do care quite a bit for these actors and was rooting for them to succeed. With all that in mind, there are many things I would have liked in this movie that I didn't get, and I'm a bit surprised that these actors would be in a film with such lack of depth. Or, for that matter, that the director who put together Paradise Now would sign up for this.

5.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   Okja
15.   Kong: Skull Island
16.   Split
17.   Personal Shopper
18.   Atomic Blonde
19.   Megan Leavey
20.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
21.   American Made
22.   Imperial Dreams
23.   Free Fire
24.   Win It All
25.   The Wall
26.   Breathe
27.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
28.   Alone in Berlin
29.   Trespass Against Us
30.   The Mountain Between Us
31.   War Machine
32.   Justice League
33.   To the Bone
34.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
35.   Sand Castle
36.   Death Note
37.   The Great Wall
38.   Fist Fight
39.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: OldSchoolWrestling on January 18, 2019, 08:52:18 AM
Good review. I am also a fan of both actors but really disliked the characters they played. I understand they were in a highly stressful situation, but they both came across as unlikeable. Kate would have been better suited playing it more like Titanic, instead she made me wish bad things on her in the movie. Idris was also kind of annoying in blaming her for talking him into taking the flight. I rooted only for the dog to survive by eating them.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 21, 2019, 04:54:58 AM
Spoilers.

(https://cdn3-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/2018/09/Buster.jpg)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), directed by the Coen brothers

I do not believe I've watched or reviewed an anthology film like this before. As a result, this feels quite foreign to me and I don't really know how to address the events of the film. I'm always interested in seeing what the Coens do, without exception. I need to go back through their catalogue and watch everything, which I suppose will happen over time, but it seems like a necessity. I'm actually very interested to see what the Coens do after making something like this. It's different, so much so that I don't know what to make of some of these stories. The film is really uneven as a result of this, with some stories needing more time and some less, so I think I'll score every story one by one. I did watch this last night, I didn't think it was possible to finish the review until today, so keep that in mind if I'm forgetting things. I thought this was a neat look into the West, both satirical and morbid from story to story, certainly inspired and not lacking fresh ideas. I thought one of the stories was absolute garbage, but I can't deny that it's different. It's also nice to see a film set in an older time period that isn't filmed as if it belongs in an older time period. This is shot like a modern film and that's something impossible to ignore throughout the events. Overall, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs brings a hell of a lot to the table. Is it great though?

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is an anthology, as I already said, with six distinct stories.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs centers around Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson). Buster is a singing outlaw, so his foes don't think he's an outlaw at all. I genuinely hated this story and don't really want to talk about it that much. The positives here are few and far between, and this is basically a musical. Take that for what it's worth.

The movie picks up during Near Algodones, the story of a young cowboy (James Franco). The cowboy intends to rob a bank, but the teller (Stephen Root) doesn't know that. The teller tells a story about when he was robbed, and inevitably Franco's character gets down to business. This story was extremely short and the result of it is pictured above, which isn't too surprising. Business picked up here.

Meal Ticket is a story about an older man (Liam Neeson) who has a wagon which he uses to put on shows. His subject is Harrison (Harry Melling), a man who has no limbs. They travel from town to town and Harrison talks about these things, and surprisingly some people pay them. This doesn't last very long, and the older man's money dwindles as they go from one mountain town to the next.

All Gold Canyon is by far my favorite story, nothing else comes close. A prospector (Tom Waits) arrives in a valley and decides to dig for gold. In these scenes, there is a lot of talking to himself. It's fantastic.

The Gal Who Got Rattled is about Alice Longabaugh (Zoe Kazan), a woman who is on her way to Oregon with a wagon train. Her brother claims that Alice will be able to marry someone in Oregon, the problem is, he dies of cholera not long after they set off. If you know anything about the West, you know the dangers of the wagon train. Another very good story.

Our last story is The Mortal Remains, which focuses on five people riding a stagecoach. We have a trapper (Chelcie Ross), a Frenchman named Rene (Saul Rubinek), an older wife (Tyne Daly), and two strange fucks opposite them (Brendan Gleeson and Jonjo O'Neill). Where are they going? Who knows.

This format of stories in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is something that should have been a TV series, with all episodes registering in at around 30-45 minutes. Instead that wasn't the case. I think I appreciate the Coens ability to present six stories, all of them feeling unique, but I couldn't stand the first one and it left me thrown off-guard for too much of the rest of the film. I did also think it was incredible how easily the Coens were able to create sympathetic characters. Through the wonder of casting they were able to do so practically instantly. The Coens have made better films, there's no question about that, but this is just as unique as the rest. I did find it strange that despite the numerous appearances of Native Americans throughout the film, they did not have their own story in the movie. However, despite that, this is a very violent film with no character remaining free from such issues.

I thought that despite how bad I thought The Ballad of Buster Scruggs story was, I was able to find solace in the performances across the rest of the film. There are no shortage of great ones, but the real standout is Tom Waits as a worn out prospector. I thought his was one of the best performances of the year in one of the most difficult roles to pull off. A lot of people, for what it's worth, seemed to not care for All Gold Canyon at all. I think they're wrong but I wanted to point that out, it's possible people here felt that way and in that case you're wrong too. There are some little touches I didn't care for though. The storybook thing is far too twee for my tastes, and some of the meaning of the stories, like with The Mortal Remains, just aren't strong enough for me to actually pay attention to them. I also was annoyed by one of the background shots in the first story, where it looked like Buster was riding his horse through a landscape with a poorly made representation of the sky crafted as a backdrop. I think people who've seen this may know what I mean.

I think the Coens wanted to make this project because of the short stories allowed them to do whatever they wanted with their film without having to worry about maintaining a plot for two hours, but I would have appreciated The Ballad of Buster Scruggs much more if some of these stories were longer. As things stand, I would call this a very good film, especially considering that the part I hated was only ten minutes long. It may have been even less. Ultimately, a lot of credit needs to be given to the cinematographer, Bruno Delbonnel. The way everything was framed, the choice in lens, and the decision to shoot this digitally, well, all of these things made the film look quite nice. I do believe some of these stories were based on other works, but I think the public at large doesn't really know any of those stories. Because of that, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is something that feels fresh, even though it's possible you may not have liked this at all.

8/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   If Beale Street Could Talk
10.   The Sisters Brothers
11.   A Private War
12.   Green Book
13.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
14.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
15.   The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
16.   On My Skin
17.   Private Life
18.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
19.   Mid90s
20.   Eighth Grade
21.   Sorry to Bother You
22.   Vice
23.   The Old Man & the Gun
24.   Suspiria
25.   Vox Lux
26.   Boy Erased
27.   Bad Times at the El Royale
28.   The Other Side of the Wind
29.   Searching
30.   A Simple Favor
31.   The Hate U Give
32.   Bumblebee
33.   Mary Poppins Returns
34.   Creed II
35.   Hold the Dark
36.   The Land of Steady Habits
37.   Halloween
38.   Mary Queen of Scots
39.   Aquaman
40.   Outlaw King
41.   Overlord
42.   Ben Is Back
43.   Monsters and Men
44.   The Mule
45.   On the Basis of Sex
46.   Bohemian Rhapsody
47.   White Boy Rick 
48.   Papillon
49.   Game Night
50.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
51.   Instant Family
52.   Alpha
53.   The Front Runner
54.   The Predator
55.   Apostle
56.   The Angel
57.   The Commuter
58.   Beautiful Boy
59.   The Nun
60.   Operation Finale
61.   The Equalizer 2
62.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
63.   Bird Box
64.   12 Strong
65.   Venom
66.   Skyscraper
67.   The Meg
68.   Assassination Nation
69.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
70.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
71.   22 July
72.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
73.   The Little Stranger
74.   Tomb Raider
75.   Night School
76.   The 15:17 To Paris
77.   Peppermint
78.   Mile 22
79.   The First Purge
80.   Hunter Killer
81.   Kin
82.   Hell Fest
83.   Proud Mary
84.   Robin Hood
85.   The Happytime Murders
86.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 21, 2019, 04:55:26 AM
Good review. I am also a fan of both actors but really disliked the characters they played. I understand they were in a highly stressful situation, but they both came across as unlikeable. Kate would have been better suited playing it more like Titanic, instead she made me wish bad things on her in the movie. Idris was also kind of annoying in blaming her for talking him into taking the flight. I rooted only for the dog to survive by eating them.

That's what I hoped for until Winslet showed the titties. Then I hoped for more titties.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 21, 2019, 06:32:47 PM
(https://cdn1us.denofgeek.com/sites/denofgeekus/files/styles/main_wide/public/2018/05/happy-death-day-jessica-rothe.jpg?itok=NcuNsmeB)

Happy Death Day (2017), directed by Christopher Landon

With Happy Death Day 2U coming out next month, I thought that I better get around to watching this as soon as possible. I didn't know what to expect in part because I've completely forgotten the trailer for the sequel. You know how sorry a trailer has to be for me to forget it like that? I've seen it tons of times by now. With that in mind, that should let everyone know, there's a very strong chance that I wouldn't care about this film whatsoever. That was, at least, until I bothered to turn this on. I have different feelings now than I did beforehand. While I don't think Happy Death Day was a great or even good film, it did bring something to the table. I thought that the concept was clever enough, but the ideas here also have some deep flaws. Fortunately, this isn't a movie that takes itself very seriously, and all one should expect from material like this are some good laughs. The problem is, at the same time, while one's expectations shouldn't be high, it goes without saying that I wanted something more. A film like this really needs to be rated R, needs some gore to make the killings matter, but that isn't here at all. This was a bit disappointing, but the question I wanted to have answered was whether or not this merited a sequel.

Our story begins with on a fictional college campus, the sort reminding me of films from a time long gone by. Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) has gotten drunk the night before, and she wakes up in the dorm room of a classmate, Carter (Israel Broussard). She ignores a phone call, treats Carter like shit, and makes her way out of the room. She gets to her sorority house and throws a birthday cupcake from Lori (Ruby Modine) into the trash, then she goes about her usual day on campus. Apparently she has an affair going with her married professor, Gregory (Charles Aitken). Gregory's wife walks in, so nothing happens, and Tree goes to a party later that night. On her way there, she winds up in a tunnel, and gets murdered by a figure wearing a baby mask, which is apparently the campus mascot. The Bayfield Babies? What kind of stupid shit is that? I guess it's supposed to be a satire.

Of course, this has to have some kind of twist, and it is...Tree wakes up in Carter's bed once again. She relives the day, but this time she decides not to go down the tunnel on the way to her party. Everything before that played out the same, including an encounter with another sorority member, Danielle (Rachel Matthews). Anyway, back to not going down the tunnel, it appears that everything is fine. She goes to her surprise party, encounters some guy, winds up in his room. The problem is, the masked killer has followed her. Down she goes again. This time when she wakes up, she stays in her own room. Doesn't matter, the killer hides there, and she's dead again. So, what's up with all this? I think it's obvious. Tree has to get rid of her killer to break this time loop, and once she does, she'll live on to another day.

Obviously, Happy Death Day is a weird film, but it's very similar to other teen horror movies from the 1990s. I'm not going to say that we need a return of that era, but it's so different that I couldn't help but have positive feelings of the movie for a large portion of it. Unfortunately, the positivity does wear off due to the nature of the repetitive plot. There's no way for a film like this one to not be repetitive, it's the nature of it. I also thought that the film was entirely carried by Jessica Rothe's performance. Nobody else does anything memorable at all, even though quite a few of these people are on screen for a decent amount of time. I didn't know that there was a younger actress out there who could play Kaitlin Olsen's roles. This is quite a good attribute, of course. Movies like these have to be carried by someone, or they're just terrible. This is an average film, but that's okay.

None of the deaths are too inventive as a result of the PG-13 rating, which prevents gore and other things that...would be interesting. Taking this film for what it was, I was glad with what I saw. I was having some major issues with video quality as this was continuing, to the point where I was considering shutting the film off after about ten minutes. I'm glad I didn't do that, but this wasn't as good as I thought it would be. I am interested to know how Tree wound up in the time loop in the first place, and hopefully it's something answered in the second film. However, I can almost guarantee that when it is answered in the second film, a lot of people will complain about it. Perhaps I'll be one of them! I think this was a film for younger viewers, and most of them probably haven't seen Groundhog Day, so in the end this was definitely a good concept for a different generation. What, you think young people are going to watch something as "old" as Groundhog Day? I doubt that shit. Does it offend you if they don't? Admittedly, that does bother me, but this film really needed a bit more character depth with the other roles for me to say it was a good show. In some ways this also feels like a missed opportunity.

5.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   Okja
15.   Kong: Skull Island
16.   Split
17.   Personal Shopper
18.   Atomic Blonde
19.   Megan Leavey
20.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
21.   American Made
22.   Imperial Dreams
23.   Free Fire
24.   Win It All
25.   The Wall
26.   Breathe
27.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
28.   Alone in Berlin
29.   Trespass Against Us
30.   The Mountain Between Us
31.   War Machine
32.   Happy Death Day
33.   Justice League
34.   To the Bone
35.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
36.   Sand Castle
37.   Death Note
38.   The Great Wall
39.   Fist Fight
40.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 22, 2019, 06:25:36 PM
(https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/benhur2016movie-wide.jpg?w=780)

Ben-Hur (2016), directed by Timur Bekmambetov

Hollywood's obsession with remakes is well known by now, but perhaps there is no more egregious example than the 2016 remake of Ben-Hur. I almost never say this, but did anyone really ask for this shit? The first sign this would be a bad idea should have been went Paramount went into casting for the film. When they couldn't attract any star leading man, they should have known it was a mistake to try to make this film. My understanding is that nobody else really wanted to do the film, and it appears to have taken ages to cast this thing. Bekmambetov was first tabbed to direct Ben-Hur back in 2013, it took until late 2014 to get casting going, andthey began filming Ben-Hur sometime in 2015. As I said, casting the film was difficult, they should have done that first and clearly they didn't. You shouldn't make a film like this without a leading man signed on before development. Unfortunately, Paramount and MGM don't care about those things, and they decided to make a remake that simply could never measure up to the original in the first place. What's more is that there were creative decisions made that effectively take focus away from the title character, pretty much the dumbest thing that anyone could do. Perhaps the worst part, is that in casting their lead hero, the producers cast someone who is best known in this country for a show where they had a mask covering one side of their face. Yikes.

Our film begins with Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and his adopted Roman brother Messala (Toby Kebbell) racing horses in a field. Judah cracks his head and Messala carries him back to their home, a scene that shows how strong the bond is between the two. Their paths, of course, must diverge. Messala has interest in Judah's sister Tirzah (Sofia Black-D'Elia), but this isn't going to amount to anything. Messala wants to travel the Earth fighting for the Roman Empire, and he's going to do exactly that. Judah is romantically interested in his family's slave Esther (Nazanin Boniadi), and when her father decides to marry her off to a wealthy Roman, Judah decides to state his case and woos her back to marry him. Such is life in Jerusalem under the Roman Empire, I guess. Meanwhile, Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro) makes very random appearances through this film, doing things that you would expect Jesus to do, and at the same time taking up too much focus in a story that isn't about Jesus remotely to that extent.

Some years later, Messala returns as a Roman officer. He's had a tough time of it in places like Persia and Egypt, but he's much acclaimed. While he's returning, the Zealots are taking root in Jerusalem. Historically, the Zealots were people who desired to incite a rebellion in the Roman Empire. You could call these terrorists or freedom fighters. They were violent, and the film does make that quite clear. Of course, they have good reason, Romans don't belong there and were oppressing their people. Judah, however, makes a very big mistake. He decides to help a Zealot, a kid named Dismas (Moises Arias) who has been wounded. This alone isn't the mistake, but it's one due to the things Judah has to deal with at the same time. Messala and Judah have their runion, and during it, Messala asks Judah for information about Zealots, should he have it. Judah refuses to do so, and in response Massala says that a new governor, Pontius Pilate (Pilou Asbaek), is going to be riding into Jerusalem. Massala has a request, but it's more like a demand, for Judah to ensure that Pilate arrives in Jerusalem without any hitch. There are hitches, you can probably figure out that Dismas did something Judah would not have wanted him to do. Massala is put to the test and Judah is blamed for the attack, which leads to Massala...killing Judah's whole family and sending Judah off to row a galley.

I know this sounds similar to the original, but I assure you it's not. The gamut of emotions Jack Huston is able to display in comparison to Charlton Heston, it's actually incredible these two played the same roles. The passion Judah displayed in the 1959 film is not shown here at all, and the relationship between he and Massala is also different in the two films. Someone in charge of this remake just could not bring themselves to treat Massala's character the way it deserved, and whoever did that was more interested in reconciling the brothers than giving the story the depth it deserves. There's only one thing I think is better in this film, it's the way the galley events were treated. Hell, it's the only reason I'm not giving this film a completely brutal rating. There's something wrong with you if you don't see it this way, too. Instead of go the route of the 1959 version, Bekambetov decides that he's going to make Judah Ben-Hur one of those figures that is actually treated like a slave instead of some hokey adoption shit. The boat is full of these sorts of characters, this scene has lots of crazy moments and gruesome deaths (especially for a PG-13 film). There's much value in this, I thought it was an effective presentation.

The effective presentation is limited to this scene, however. The chariot race borders on boring, we've seen things like it in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. So, to be honest, even with the update in special effects, I couldn't care less. The movie also could not be more stupid once the chariot elements are introduced. We have Morgan Freeman as a chariot owner who knows nothing of chariots and horses. He wants to enter the race but seems to have little concept of how a person could even raise a horse to get to that point. The Jesus storyline is also out of place here, considering what the film decided to become about halfway through. I find little value in Jesus having a continued relationship with Judah and Esther, I don't need any of these scenes. Mark Burnett had some influence as a producer on this film, and these scenes almost assuredly were there because of him. It's not Jesus being in the film I have a problem with, I have a problem with these scenes taking away time for our lead character to develop. This just isn't good, I mean, it's not. Jack Huston has absolutely nothing that Charlton Heston did, the things he says carry no weight, and at times the character feels like a pussy. There's no other way to put it, this casting ruins a film that was going to suck anyway. They picked people who've never won awards in Hollywood to direct a story like Ben-Hur, and they really should have known people would never take to that. The quality and attention to detail is lacking in the extreme here. In one of the first shots of the film I swear I saw modern housing in the background of it. That's all you need to know, isn't it? I will also leave you guys with this bit from Wikipedia.

Quote
Producer Mark Burnett stated that films like Ben-Hur, which are centered on faith and the messages of Jesus Christ, need to feel like epic summer blockbusters in order to attract younger and secular audiences.

Isn't this a film about fucking Ben-Hur? If you want to make a good Jesus movie, go do that, I'll probably watch it. Don't smash two stories together like this.

3.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Kahran Ramsus on January 23, 2019, 07:36:37 AM
I'm not sure what is so hokey about the adoption stuff in the original.  Judah saves Arrius' life and Arrius ends up being credited with a great victory and he adopts him out of gratitude.  That's a very Roman thing to do.

I never saw the new version.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 23, 2019, 06:04:07 PM
(https://media1.fdncms.com/stranger/imager/u/original/24533734/film-light-between-oceans.jpg)

The Light Between Oceans (2016), directed by Derek Cianfrance

After The Place Beyond the Pines, I'm sure a hell of a lot of people were looking forward to Derek Cianfrance's next effort. Did they expect that he would make something like this? The Light Between Oceans is a less ambitious film than his previous work, which isn't too surprising given that The Light Between Oceans is adapted from an Australian novel. I don't want to say I was disappointed because this was a good film, but it wasn't The Place Beyond the Pines. What could be, anyway? I shouldn't have high expectations like that. Those two films certainly have thematic similarities, that much was clear to me. It's nice to see something so different than the films I usually watch, but I was hoping for something with more intensity. While that was lacking from The Light Between Oceans, I thought this was solid melodrama. I also think that perhaps this is material best left in a book. Adapting a book with this many twists and turns has some problems, the largest of which relates to the end of the film. In the end, we are left with an ending I didn't want, one twist too many, something sad and still quite unsatisfying. The film was always going to end in sadness, but I was hoping for something else.

Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) is a man who has been through the grinder during World War I. He is clearly bothered by the things he's seen, unable to express his emotions. What Tom needs is a clean slate, something that will get him away from the world and allow him to tend to himself. The solution is to be hired as a temporary lighthouse keeper at Janus Rock, which is quite far off the coast of Western Australia. The previous keeper had been suffering from mental problems related to his isolation from the world. His wife had died two years before, yet he was seeing her attempt to flag down ships. He was taken away, and Tom takes his position. After some time at the lighthouse, he comes to town for a break and sees Isabel (Alicia Vikander) throwing food to seagulls. It turns out that he's going to dinner at the house of her father, and during dinner he learns about the previous lighthouse keeper's predicament. On another break sometime later, he is told that the permanent keeper decided to kill himself. Tom is subsequently offered a position as the permanent keeper for three years. He enjoys the work, so he accepts.

On his breaks into town over time, he becomes more acquainted with Isabel. She requests to be allowed to join him at Janus Rock, but he tells her that only the lighthouse keeper's wife and family can join him there. They are both desperately alone, Isabel in large part because he brothers died during the war. After the two send letters to each other, they decide to marry. They are very happy with each other and return to Janus Rock, continuing on with their life and having the intention of starting a family. Once Isabel becomes pregnant, they are both overjoyed. It's like a storybook. Unfortunately, things don't stay so nice for very long. Isabel has a miscarriage, they are forced to have a burial on the island. They decide to try once again, the same thing happens. Another marker, another burial. A couple days later, Isabel has clearly cracked and is entirely despondent, there is no escaping this depression. At least, that is, until Tom sees a rowboat in the distance. He shouts for Isabel and they come running to the boat. Inside, there's a dead man and a baby in the boat. I'll cut to the chase. In Tom's position, he is obligated to log the events pertinent to the lighthouse. His wife's miscarriage was not logged as it doesn't belong in the book. This, on the other hand, it has to be. Isabel is overjoyed as it seems her prayers have been answered by this child. What will Tom do though? Can they bear such a secret?

The answer to the last of my questions, at least in the case of Tom, is that he cannot. I was thinking about similar torment on someone's conscience as in The Place Beyond the Pines. I seem to remember Bradley Cooper's character being around when bad shit happens, and he couldn't handle it, but he used the events to get himself ahead. That's a film I think I need to revisit at some point in the next year or two, but that's just one of the similarities I noticed. Another was Cianfrance's willingness to let his stories play out over an unbelievably long period of time. The last coming to mind is his introduction of new characters well into the film, and the important placed upon them is similar to his prior movie. Unfortunately, the story he has to tell is one that works against him come the end. I thought the last few scenes were absolutely ridiculous nonsense, all of which happened far too fast over too long a span of time. We are essentially cheated out of seeing what happened to all of these characters, only seeing two of them. This part sucked.

I did like this movie, and I was wrapped up in the events, but I am very annoyed with how the film concluded. Regardless of that, I thought it was strong work. The story itself is quite tragic, although again, the finale does some work to undo that. The scenes on the island prior to the arrival of the child, when Tom's guilt consumes him, all of these scenes carry emotional weight. The introduction of Rachel Weisz's character into these events does the same thing, it's clear to see this is only going to end in painful fashion. The performances in this film from all three name actors are very strong, everyone's motivations laid out on the table. The ending, however, just absolutely kills me. I can't shake it, and I was going to rate the film higher, but as I'm typing these things out, it bothers me that much. The Light Between Oceans is a good film with a pernicious ending that serves to destroy all of the building blocks Cianfrance has created. This isn't his fault as it's an adaptation, but this alone shows that not all material merits being adapted into something else. If he couldn't do enough to make me forget about the ending, I'm sure that absolutely nobody could. I think Cianfrance is a great filmmaker and would like to see more work from him, and I think he has some projects in the pipeline. I think this would have been complete garbage without him and the performances he was able to draw from his cast.

5.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 23, 2019, 06:05:03 PM
I'm not sure what is so hokey about the adoption stuff in the original.  Judah saves Arrius' life and Arrius ends up being credited with a great victory and he adopts him out of gratitude.  That's a very Roman thing to do.

I never saw the new version.

In comparison to the way Judah escapes here, it is hokey. Do not bother to watch the new version though, it's terrible. Pretty bad that was the only thing I could think of to place above its predecessor.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 25, 2019, 06:19:49 AM
(https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170207111337-lego-batman-review-super-169.jpg)

The Lego Batman Movie (2017), directed by Chris McKay

When I saw that they'd made a Lego Batman film, that was the first time I was interested in an animated movie for a long time. Probably since Toy Story 3, so I'd decided that when this was expiring on HBO, I'd finally get around to watching it. That's the case now, and if you want to see this and haven't, and if you have HBO, you should get around to it. My recommendation for people to get around to it isn't a recommendation of the film itself, but I'm trying to say that there's an easy way to watch this if you can. I didn't know exactly what to expect of this, but I thought that with this being an animated movie and all, it was a certainty that this wouldn't only be about Batman. Obviously, it isn't. I am still surprised that the budget wasn't even larger considering the absolutely massive amount of voice actors in this film. There's an enormous list that I won't be posting. What's really important to the audience I'm writing this review for, is whether or not this is too much of a kid's movie? I don't think it is, but at the same time, some of the choices in voice actors and characters is extremely annoying. That's not too harsh a critique, is it? I do think it was a smart move to take the best character from The Lego Movie and make a movie about them, though.

Of course, after The Lego Movie, it's time to delve into other Lego universes. The first I have even the slightest interest in would be DC's, and as the title tells you, we'll start off with Batman (voiced by Will Arnett). Batman is the same here as he was in the other film, no real difference...at the beginning at least. Batman is on a mission to stop the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) from taking over Gotham City, as is always his remit. He does so, and in the process tells the Joker that he isn't as important to Batman as he seems to think he is. Of course, that means Joker is going to seek revenge in a way Batman has never seen before. The next day, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) is helping Bruce get ready for a gala celebrating the retirement of Commissioner Gordon. Gordon is slated to be replaced by his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson), something that I wish would happen in a real movie, but I'm sure it never will. Anyway, she has a plan for Gotham, and it includes getting rid of the need Batman. Such is the way these things go. Bruce, of course, is displeased. This is a cartoon movie, so imagine the kind of displeasure you'd get in that kind of thing.

While Bruce is voicing his displeasure, along comes the Joker, accompanied by every minor villain he could find. His goal? To surrender. Why would he do that, well, it's the Joker. Why else would he do something like that. The Joker drags every other minor or major Batman villain down with him, and they all wind up in Arkham Asylum. Again, this is what you'd expect. With that being the case, Batman doesn't know what to do with himself. While at the gala, Alfred and Bruce seem to have made the assumption that he's adopted a child. This doesn't make any sense at all, but that's how we get Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) into the mix. Dick is eager, wants to know more about Bruce, and Alfred invites him straight into the Batcave. Batman has a plan to actually get rid of the Joker, but the likelihood of completing it is quite slim. His intention? To put Dick in the Robin costume and enter Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Batman wants to send the Joker to the Phantom Zone, where all other villains from this Lego universe appear to have been sent. Who that brings into the movie? I guess you'll have to watch.

The Lego Batman Movie isn't as good as The Lego Movie, because it attempts to accomplish way too much and makes the mistake of throwing too many characters out there with no development other than that of Batman. Is that so bad though? Also take into account that the stupid stuff with Will Ferrell and his kid, or any other human beings for that matter, was completely removed from this story. I also think that the novelty of a movie with Lego characters is kind of destroyed by franchising things out like this, and I'm sure that this won't be the only one. I know they did the same thing with Lego video games too. As I already alluded to, the voice cast is too large, and the amount of characters in the film disallows for character development. Sans Batman, of course. I do think Batman's character development is good, and I also think that Will Arnett does a great job voicing him. It was an inspired decision, and I did laugh a fair bit, but not as much as I thought I would.

I'm actually left with not too many thoughts about this movie, because the animation style is basically the same and all that. There's not much to discuss here. I should point out that I really, really hated Robin here. I'm not a fan in general, but the voice and look of the character really bothered me here. I did, on the other hand, really enjoy the use of numerous other Warner properties in this film. I also thought the movie was geared towards those who already had knowledge of DC properties, yet at the same time, the film is a bit too childish to really cater to those like us. Or is it? I don't really know the answer to that. Lots of comic book fans love watching that cartoon shit. Overall, I think this movie moved at far too quickly a pace, but that's just my feeling, and truthfully it isn't much worse than The Lego Movie. As far as the appearances from other properties go, I probably liked Sauron (Jemaine Clement) the most. That was completely unexpected.

7/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   Okja
15.   Kong: Skull Island
16.   Split
17.   Personal Shopper
18.   Atomic Blonde
19.   The Lego Batman Movie
20.   Megan Leavey
21.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
22.   American Made
23.   Imperial Dreams
24.   Free Fire
25.   Win It All
26.   The Wall
27.   Breathe
28.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
29.   Alone in Berlin
30.   Trespass Against Us
31.   The Mountain Between Us
32.   War Machine
33.   Happy Death Day
34.   Justice League
35.   To the Bone
36.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
37.   Sand Castle
38.   Death Note
39.   The Great Wall
40.   Fist Fight
41.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 25, 2019, 06:21:42 PM
(http://artsfuse.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/hugh-grant-and-meryl-streep-in-FLORENCE-FOSTER-JENKINS.jpg)

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016), directed by Stephen Frears

I had some reticence to ever list Florence Foster Jenkins, but I decided to do so because Meryl Streep was nominated for an Oscar and I don't think I can not watch something that was nominated for an Oscar. That, I suppose, is the standard that I've set now. I also said at some point that I needed to go through Meryl Streep's list of films and start doing major damage on them, that not seeing her great performances is quite inexcusable. I do think this was a very strong performance, but probably not for the reasons anyone would expect. I don't think people really actually knew what this film is about. The commercial for Florence Foster Jenkins is actually very confusing and makes someone think this is a film about an eccentric singer. That is not what this is. Instead, Florence Foster Jenkins is a film about the way in which others will save their loved ones from embarrassment in an attempt to indulge their wishes. The commercial does not properly advertise this movie, and you'd really only understand it if you've seen the longer trailer. That strikes me as a major problem and because of that, it's no surprise the film bombed in the United States. On the other hand, shouldn't a studio have expected that? After all, we are talking about a period movie without violence...

Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) was a very rich New York socialite who'd inherited a lot of money from her land-owning family in Pennsylvania. Apparently this gave her the means to do whatever she wanted. As this film tells it, she founded the Verdi Club to celebrate her love of music, and her husband St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) managed her career as best he could. The gimmick of the film is unfortunately revealed far too soon, it's that Florence Foster Jenkins was a horrendous singer. We also learn that she has syphilis, and unbeknownst to her, the apartment she thinks Bayfield lives in alone is also inhabited by his mistress, Kathleen (Rebecca Ferguson). Kathleen is well aware of the situation with Florence and Bayfield, but Florence is not and this could present real problems. However, at the time anyway, it does not. Florence has not passed syphilis on to Bayfield as they have not entirely consummated their relationship, with them both being well aware of this. They love each other though.

Anyway, due to Florence having syphilis, she frequently becomes very fatigued and cannot handle much exertion. She decides that she wants to start singing again, though. Florence hires a talented pianist, Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg), and he's hardly able to tolerate her horrendous singing. He knows that this is a better way to live than working in a bar or restaurant, so he keeps on while stifling his laughter. Carlo Edwards (David Haig) is Florence's singing coach, he seems to have no such problems with laughter. He knows beyond doubt that Florence can't sing, but he's able to keep his composure, he's more professional and he's older. When you get older, you're willing to do pretty much everything for the money you can get. Bayfield arranges a recital and tries to fill it with Florence's friends, assuring that Florence will not receive criticism. The problem is that some others are invited in, McMoon can barely keep his mouth shut, and this seems like a situation that could turn out pretty badly. But, Bayfield seems to know his abilities quite well, and perhaps he's enough of a man to really protect his wife when he knows she needs it.

This isn't a great film, but I was very surprised by Streep's performance in projecting a complete inability to sing. You know how hard it is for someone to sound that bad? That takes some effort on her part, but the movie is just as much about Bayfield as it is her. I think to some extent Bayfield is the lead character here, and to that degree I think Hugh Grant's performance was a major surprise. This was his kind of character, though. He has faded quite a lot over the last few years, so I guess it's fitting that he would return with a big performance in something like this. It's right in his wheelhouse and there are rarely films like this one made these days. I think there are some major issues with the timing of this story, though. People are more likely to be interested when they have base knowledge of the subject, but Florence Foster Jenkins has been gone for an extremely long time. Nobody who went to see this, or almost nobody, could have actually experienced her singing as part of their childhood. That's the mistake in this film, it's something that should have been made many years ago even though it's too niche. I was also amazed at the ability of her husband to keep her shielded from criticism.

I did some reading and found that the performance shown at the end of this film was done when the actual Jenkins was 76 years old, but it makes an odd suggestion that Florence Foster Jenkins died because she saw criticism and couldn't handle it. I don't consider that a flaw of Florence Foster Jenkins, but the film is flawed for different reasons. I addressed one above when talking about how long ago these events were, but I also think that the film is quite thin as a whole and doesn't make the best use of its cast. A few of the roles, such as one played by Nina Arianda, steal the spotlight in the very little time they have. Others simply don't make any impact at all. Ultimately, this is a film that's carried by the performances of two people. I see why Meryl Streep was nominated for a Golden Globe in the Musical or Comedy category, and I thought that she was very funny here. I wasn't exactly expecting that, I thought her nomination was one of those cases where she was thrown into a category at the Globes just because they didn't have room in the Drama category. So, I was wrong. Florence Foster Jenkins does have good laughs, but I think it's too generic and doesn't take risks with the subject matter. It's a milquetoast presentation on someone's life, but if you're cool with that and if you want to laugh at bad singing, perhaps this is for you.

6.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 26, 2019, 06:42:26 PM
(https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/M8jlbZuEym_iMdUfY-NwefqLKrw=/0x0:1440x605/1200x800/filters:focal(605x188:835x418)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/56544987/Screen_Shot_2017_05_08_at_11.17.56_AM.0.png)

It (2017), directed by Andy Muschietti

When you read books as a kid, you hope that somehow, someday, you'll be able to see these things as movies. At least that was what I thought when I was a kid. The ABC miniseries did not quite do It justice, so it was time to keep on dreaming. Sometimes, when you actually get what you want, it's even better than you thought it would be. That's where I'm at with It, a story that isn't yet completed, but one that I need to see out. I feel like I'm inherently biased in favor of this story, that I can't look at it objectively, and with that in mind my review should be taken for what it is. I was hoping that the film was able to capture moments from the book, although I didn't quite expect the movie to do much in maintaining its themes. One of the issues with the film is how much we've seen this kind of story done, but the source material is...the original version of the story. One of the best versions of the story. I think I've made clear that I've made up my mind. I do think there's another issue with how many times we see Pennywise, but besides that, this is one of the most faithful Stephen King adaptations that exists. This also feels like a time capsule, like another 80's movie, which there aren't enough of.

Our film begins exactly the way it should, with Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) giving his very young brother Georgie a paper sailboat. These events take place in 1988. Georgie sails the boat down a rainy street, and it goes into the storm drain. Once he goes to get it out, he encounters a timeless villain, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). Pennywise is a clown who inhabits the sewers, he's friendly to kids, or at least you'd think so for a little bit. Once Georgie comes closer to get his sailboat, Pennywise does the kind of thing that it turns out Pennywise does. He bites Georgie's arm off, then when Georgie is crawling away, shows incredible reach in dragging Georgie down into the sewers, killing him. The film continues the following summer, with Georgie long gone. Bill and his friends Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Stan (Wyatt Oleff), and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) spend their time heavily avoiding bullies which are led by Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). Henry is absolutely insane and it's clear to see that bad shit's going to happen when he comes around. I should describe the other characters too. Richie talks a lot, Stan is a Jewish kid who doesn't care as much about his religion as his family thinks he should, and Eddie is a hypochondriac who is encouraged by his mother to be this way.

When these four kids run afoul of bullies, it isn't very good. Bill finds out that his brother's body may have washed up in a wasteland called the Barrens, and he wants his friends to investigate. At the same time, a fat kid named Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) discovers that their town in Maine has a history of strange disappearances and mishaps. They occur at a far higher rate there than anywhere else in the country. Ben, of course, is also targeted by bullies. After something that happens in the Barrens, our group nears completion. They encounter Beverly (Sophia Lillis) at a pharmacy, when in need of supplies to stop Ben from bleeding out. She's able to easily distract the perverted pharmacist, she's also been torn apart by awful bullying due to rumors about her sleeping with all her classmates. Lastly, in perhaps that character whose story gets cut the most, we have Mike (Chosen Jacobs). Mike is the lone black kid both in the group and for that matter in the whole movie. Obviously, that puts a large target on him, and it's the 1980s, and the bullies in Derry are demented. Here's how things go from here. They are terrorized and need to find out what Pennywise is, what they can actually do about it, and how to stop Pennywise from killing anymore kids. But the things that happen to them before that are all pretty bad, and in some ways this becomes a movie that sees how long you can last before wanting to shit your pants.

I think on some level, It is supposed to be the kind of horror movie you would want to bring a 10 year old to so that you can scare the shit out of them. Considering that's around the age I read the book, I think I would have let a kid watch this. I don't have any kids so nobody needs to call Child Services on me. Anyway, the film does have a hard break in the middle of it, which is another one of the flaws I mentioned here. The break comes and everything rapidly comes back together, which is a problem I suppose. Another are the scenes with children in their underwear. I don't care for these, I never will, and that's why I said this was a movie I think you were supposed to be able to bring your kids to. The box office reflects the possibility that a lot of people did bring their children to watch something they knew about when they were younger. I think the movie is properly scary to this end, there are numerous good jump scares. The scene where Pennywise pops out of the projector would have made me shart if I was younger. I also thought that the director did a good job of presenting the things that scared each child, this was also a difficult task. These things happen without any scenes in between to break them up, so someone may like this or they may not. I liked the change of pace and how quickly things came about.

Because of my attachment to the story, I can't really give this a fair analysis. I did hate the score as well, but all these things are overriden by the atmosphere of It. There are numerous scenes that are going to stick with me, it's a timeless story. I didn't just read the book once, I read it two or three times. So many of these presentations are very unsettling, particularly the one with Pennywise dancing in his lair. The performances of the kids vary in quality, but Beverly, Eddie, and Henry Bowers seemed to stick the strongest. In the end, it's all about Pennywise. The film nearly entirely rests on someone's ability to portray Pennywise, to carry off the feeling that Pennywise could be many things. We know that the being kills kids, but whether or not it's a pedophile, or how much it toys with the children before finishing them off, that's something we aren't going to find out. When you see that face, you wonder. I also think it takes some balls to actually go through with a film opening where the villain has to kill a child in gruesome fashion. This one did not disappoint in any way. Despite my critiques, most of them are small, but I have a feeling I could feel differently if I gave this a repeat viewing. So, I won't do that for a few years. It is something I'm going to have to keep in mind going forward, there are no real shortage of memorable scenes.

The Lois Lane line, by the way, is properly disgusting. I think one of the goals in the film is to make human villains seem as bad as the supernatural. Mission accomplished with that scene, or with the things Henry was doing. Yikes.

7.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   It
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   Okja
16.   Kong: Skull Island
17.   Split
18.   Personal Shopper
19.   Atomic Blonde
20.   The Lego Batman Movie
21.   Megan Leavey
22.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
23.   American Made
24.   Imperial Dreams
25.   Free Fire
26.   Win It All
27.   The Wall
28.   Breathe
29.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
30.   Alone in Berlin
31.   Trespass Against Us
32.   The Mountain Between Us
33.   War Machine
34.   Happy Death Day
35.   Justice League
36.   To the Bone
37.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
38.   Sand Castle
39.   Death Note
40.   The Great Wall
41.   Fist Fight
42.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Avid Warehouse Enthusiast on January 27, 2019, 06:03:02 AM
I'm in the minority with Buster Scruggs, I guess, because I loved all of it. It may actually be among my favorite Coen Brothers works, actually. The titular short was like a gritty mockery of Tex Avery cartoons with some love toward 50s westerns, and anything featuring Tim Blake Nelson deserves love.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 27, 2019, 03:13:15 PM
(https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/stan-and-ollie.jpg?w=1000&h=563&crop=1)

Stan & Ollie (2018), directed by Jon S. Baird

Perhaps more than any year in terms of awards recognition, 2018 was one where biography movies reigned supreme. One just needs to look at the lack of award nominations for original acting performances to know I'm telling the truth here. In fact, none of the Best Actor nominees performed in an entirely original film. With that in mind, I am very surprised that Steve Coogan was not nominated for his performance in Stan & Ollie. I think his was a performance much better than some of the other nominees, and he would have been totally deserving of winning an award for it. But, such is life, and that's not my grand takeaway from the film. I should admit that I don't really know anything about Laurel and Hardy, or at least I didn't before I saw the film today. The film is very effective in educating its audience while ensuring that people who already know the story are entertained. Stan & Ollie also walks the line between being too sad or too pleasing in a very effective way, and considering what the story entails, it's certainly difficult to do that. While some of Laurel and Hardy's comedy is massively outdated by modern standards, that seemed to not matter as the film went on, and these characters are about as sympathetic as in any in a film all year.

The beginning of our film takes place in 1937, but we'll revisit this scenario at various points in the film. Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) are the famous comedy duo that everyone at least has name recognition of. In those days, they were some of the most famous people in the country. While making Way Out West, Stan has a blowout argument with studio head Hal Roach (Danny Huston). Stan correctly believes that Roach is not maximizing the global appeal of Laurel and Hardy, not giving them the financial awards they really deserve. Stan and Ollie have separate contracts, though. Ollie is still attached to Roach, while Stan wants to go with Fox and do their own thing. He's quite convinced they can make a lot more money and take care of their respective problems. Ollie is supposed to meet with Fox and sign a contract, but he does not, and this leads to Stan feeling betrayed and bitter. After all, he thought Ollie was going to stay his friend for good, that they'd continue to make movies for years and years. That doesn't happen. Instead, Ollie continues to make movies for Roach and does so with a new comedy partner.

Those scenes happen at various points of the film, but I thought it was essential to lay out the situation prior to the following events. One of the only problems I have with the film is that they didn't do this. Many years later, Stan and Ollie are headed on a trip to revitalize their career, with the intention of gathering funding for a Robin Hood film that Stan is desperate to make for them both. Their trip? They're going to head around Great Britain on a theater tour put together by Bernard Delfont (Rufus Jones), a very shady seeming promoter. I kept waiting for him to screw people over, but that didn't happen. The tour is very grueling, and at the start of it anyway, the audiences aren't so big. Their lodgings are also not the best. Delfont is far more interested in his up and coming British star, he didn't really put much effort into this tour. One example of that is how people in Glasgow thought this was a tour where people were playing Laurel and Hardy, not those two doing so themselves. So, what's the deal and what's the drama with all this? Ida (Nina Arianda) is Stan's wife and Lucille (Shirley Henderson) is Ollie's, they are to join their husbands when the tour gets to London. This creates problem as tensions the two men have with each other comes to the surface, and they still haven't heard back from the producer of their proposed film.

The performances in this film, I think they speak for themselves. They are both very accurate representations of the subjects in terms of their looks, with John C. Reilly wearing a fat suit you have to see to believe. There's a scene where Ollie is in bed with his wife, and he takes up nearly the entire bed. The way this is filmed is fantastic in illustrating this and it's obviously the point. I thought Stan & Ollie was a film that accurately describes the struggle comedians and other entertainers go through when their career is on a downward slide to nothingness. We also are given a presentation of how money is often a deciding factor in these kinds of splits, they just happen due to finances and nothing can be done about it. Both pairings of actors have chemistry here, and if you haven't already figured it out, there are multiple scenes with Ida and Lucille together on their own. This is a strong comedy duo in and of itself. The confrontation between Stan and Ollie is also deeply cutting without being vulgar, an argument befitting of such a good film. The characters are both so good and so interesting.

I said that the scenes of Stan and Ollie in the 1930's are ill-placed, this is not an understatement on my part. I think the underlying tension between the two may have been better if the audience was aware of the entire story before the film got well and truly underway. However, these things are completely overshadowed by the costumes and appearance of John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy. The makeup job, fat suit, all of that stuff looks incredibly realistic. I also thought the ability of the actors to perform Laurel and Hardy's shtick is quite incredible to me, that isn't exactly an easy thing to do. This could easily have looked very bad and awful, it did not. Also, it should be pointed out that there were lots of scenes of this, in fact nearly the whole movie is full of this stuff. Overall, Stan & Ollie is a film that makes me happy, it seemed to make everyone else happy too. It was touching at the conclusion of it, and if you didn't like this, I don't really know what you're thinking. One may vary on whether or not they think this is a good or great film, but I unapologetically loved this. Not much else to be said.

8.5/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   If Beale Street Could Talk
10.   The Sisters Brothers
11.   A Private War
12.   Stan & Ollie
13.   Green Book
14.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
15.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
16.   The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
17.   On My Skin
18.   Private Life
19.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
20.   Mid90s
21.   Eighth Grade
22.   Sorry to Bother You
23.   Vice
24.   The Old Man & the Gun
25.   Suspiria
26.   Vox Lux
27.   Boy Erased
28.   Bad Times at the El Royale
29.   The Other Side of the Wind
30.   Searching
31.   A Simple Favor
32.   The Hate U Give
33.   Bumblebee
34.   Mary Poppins Returns
35.   Creed II
36.   Hold the Dark
37.   The Land of Steady Habits
38.   Halloween
39.   Mary Queen of Scots
40.   Aquaman
41.   Outlaw King
42.   Overlord
43.   Ben Is Back
44.   Monsters and Men
45.   The Mule
46.   On the Basis of Sex
47.   Bohemian Rhapsody
48.   White Boy Rick 
49.   Papillon
50.   Game Night
51.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
52.   Instant Family
53.   Alpha
54.   The Front Runner
55.   The Predator
56.   Apostle
57.   The Angel
58.   The Commuter
59.   Beautiful Boy
60.   The Nun
61.   Operation Finale
62.   The Equalizer 2
63.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
64.   Bird Box
65.   12 Strong
66.   Venom
67.   Skyscraper
68.   The Meg
69.   Assassination Nation
70.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
71.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
72.   22 July
73.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
74.   The Little Stranger
75.   Tomb Raider
76.   Night School
77.   The 15:17 To Paris
78.   Peppermint
79.   Mile 22
80.   The First Purge
81.   Hunter Killer
82.   Kin
83.   Hell Fest
84.   Proud Mary
85.   Robin Hood
86.   The Happytime Murders
87.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Kahran Ramsus on January 28, 2019, 10:53:29 AM
I need to see that movie.  I grew up watching old Laurel & Hardy films. 
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 28, 2019, 06:43:33 PM
I need to see that movie.  I grew up watching old Laurel & Hardy films. 

You'll be stunned by their ability to pull these scenes off then. Doesn't feel inauthentic in the least.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 28, 2019, 06:43:45 PM
(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/R3UxIrMmgZo/maxresdefault.jpg)

A United Kingdom (2017), directed by Amma Asante

I'm actually left at a loss for words after watching a A United Kingdom, an overly sentimental look at what became an independent Botswana's first ruling couple. I was hoping for more from this film, but I really should have known better beforehand. I took it upon myself not to look at any reviews, simply went by the expiration date and description, and gave this a shot. This wasn't a bad film, but I'm not sure I should have done this. It feels like I've seen this exact kind of historical film so many times before, and I have more on my list for next month in fact. I may change things up though. It isn't that I can't handle watching these kinds of movies because I could watch them all day. What I need is for a film to bring something extra to the table, and A United Kingdom simply doesn't have that. It's one of those things you know when you're watching something, but the most glaring example of this is that the film has the cinematic sheen of a television show. This is the kind of thing that even when a film is much better than this one, I have a hard time getting over. The other thing that I thought about this story was that it desperately needs the South African boogeyman to present itself in a form of a real character, simply mentioning it or using a British government official didn't effectively pull that off. Want to see how? Read on.

Obviously, A United Kingdom is based on a true story, one regarding the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland (pre-Botswana), Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and Ruth Williams Khama (Rosamund Pike), the woman who would go on to marry him. Seretse is in London after World War II, where he meets Ruth for the first time. He goes on to marry her, but the beginning of this film is extremely focused on the problems that come with such a marriage. Obviously, Seretse is black and Ruth is white, but there's more than that, the British government is very concerned about how this will impact their relationship with South Africa. Despite what you might believe, apartheid South Africa still had gold reserves, and ultimately that ruled over human rights concerns. Alistair Canning (Jack Davenport) presents this picture throughout the film, he's the British representative in Southern Africa. South Africa itself is terrified about the prospect of a black king marrying a white woman and how this will inspire their system to be overthrown/prevented. Ruth has her own problems though, those with her father George (Nicholas Lyndhurst), who hates blacks. He threatens to disown her after Seretse's proposal, but she goes through with it anyway.

After Seretse and Ruth marry each other, there are other problems brought into the equation. As you may suspect, the King of Bechuanaland would not actually have absolute power in the country, that role was done by white overseers. Seretse's uncle Tshekedi (Vusi Kunene) is the Regent, handling the duties of the thrown until Seretse is prepared. That day had come. Problem is, Tshekedi is demanding that Seretse divorce Ruth and marry a Bamangwato princess. As you might suspect, Seretse rejects this, but this leads to enormous problems as the British use the situation to drive a wedge between the two men. The British subsequently argue that the marriage is causing unrest in Bechuanaland, and make moves against Seretse to heavily restrict his power. When Seretse discovers that the British are looking into mining the country, he wants to ensure that the resources of the country go into the hands of his people, not into those of the British. The situation, of course, must come to a head. Ruth is called to London at a time when she's finally become close to Seretse's sister Naledi (Terry Pheto). The three of them realize that Seretse needs to go instead of Ruth. Problem is, what happens when the British decide to banish a king from his own country?

I've addressed most of the flaws I found in this film, but the one I didn't say anything about was the way in which the story was told. It's told in a way that, well, is highly simplistic and almost entirely through dialogue and not actions. We also see that people have problems with the ruling situation, but their concerns are entirely sanitized. People died in rioting over Seretse's exile, there is no scene of this in the film at all. The opening of the film that relates to Ruth and Seretse's courtship is also quite bland and cliched. I do think that the film is effective in presenting many aspects of the political situation, but it doesn't do as strong a job in pointing out that the marriage wasn't the sole reason the British were against Seretse's return to the country. Bechuanaland was an important location for the British, another bulwark against potential Communist thought on the continent. It was also rich in resources as this film makes one clear of. I believe Botswana now ranks 30th on the democracy index, it is a prosperous economy by most standards, and isn't a corrupt nation at all. The British wanted to keep some kind of hold on these resources and keep the region close to their vest.

I was more interested in the political aspects of the film than anything else, but I think it's really quite a standard film as a whole. I think it's effective in ensuring that people do understand the problems with colonialism, but I think the film could have gone further in doing so. There are some good scenes showcasing how Clement Attlee (Anton Lesser) got in bed with the South Africans over their gold resources, and another that shows Winston Churchill was a piece of shit like the rest, but I would have liked there to be more to this. I think the film lacked the anguish that happens when couples are separated like this, and I also think there was a great story to be told here if it was done properly. However, obviously I don't think this was done properly, and while there are strong contrasts shown between like in Africa and life in Britain, the film needs a little bit more driving force. Some explanation is required to explain why Churchill would campaign on ending Seretse's exile and change his mind after the election. There's none here. I would have liked something a bit more raw than this turned out to be, I thought A United Kingdom was lacking heart and passion. I hate to say that about a romantic film because of how bad it sounds, but it is what it is.

5.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   It
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   Okja
16.   Kong: Skull Island
17.   Split
18.   Personal Shopper
19.   Atomic Blonde
20.   The Lego Batman Movie
21.   Megan Leavey
22.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
23.   American Made
24.   Imperial Dreams
25.   Free Fire
26.   Win It All
27.   The Wall
28.   Breathe
29.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
30.   Alone in Berlin
31.   A United Kingdom
32.   Trespass Against Us
33.   The Mountain Between Us
34.   War Machine
35.   Happy Death Day
36.   Justice League
37.   To the Bone
38.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
39.   Sand Castle
40.   Death Note
41.   The Great Wall
42.   Fist Fight
43.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on January 31, 2019, 05:23:26 AM
(https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2017/05/wakefield/lead_720_405.jpg?mod=1533691884)

Wakefield (2017), directed by Robin Swicord

Does a thought provoking film always have to be good? Wakefield is something that really tests whether or not that's the case, it's a movie that I actually have a strong feeling of distaste for. I know that's also the point. I don't think it's necessary to have a likable character as the lead in a film, but in this particular case it's very frustrating the way things turned out. I think at some point, a lot of people have felt like the lead subject in Wakefield. They've wanted to retreat from the world, but actually doing it is unconscionable, something most people do not want to inflict on their loved ones. Others have good reasons for retreating and decide to cut their family out for good, which is totally reasonable. Some kill themselves to get out of a bad situation, but that isn't what the deal is here. What we have here is someone who wants to remain involved at the periphery of the lives of their family members, but doesn't want to have real relationships with them and would rather they not know he even still exists. This character is so odious, so far beyond the pale, that I can't in good conscience say that this is a good film. I almost hate it and may have derived the incorrect emotions from watching this.

Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston) is a successful attorney in New York City, married to Diana (Jennifer Garner) and living with her and their twin daughters Giselle (Ellery Sprayberry) and Taylor (Victoria Bruno) out in the suburbs. On his way home from work, there's a power outage, so he returns home very late at night. A raccoon heads into his detached garage and winds up in the attic, but Howard's able to get that thing the hell out of there. He subsequently decides to look through the window and is able to see perfectly inside the house, where his family is eating dinner. For whatever reason, he decides to ignore calls from his wife and starts getting happy about her distress, but Howard really gets mad when she walks outside and throws his dinner plate into the garbage. In order to avoid fighting, he sits down with the intention of going into the house later, but he falls asleep. The next morning, Howard decides to narrate some of the details of his life. Diana and Howard decided to start flirting with other people in order to add spice to their sex life, but Diana hates it and can't stand Howard's persistent jealousy. Who could? After all, that's what he wanted and now he's whining like a fucking bitch.

This, unfortunately, is not the first time Howard whines like a bitch. When he wakes up that next morning, he believes that Diana will accuse him of having an affair, so he decides to wait for her to leave for work before heading into the house. The problem with that is, she's not going to leave for work for quite a while. When she sees that his car is in the garage, she realizes that Howard didn't leave her, and it's time to call the police to report him missing. Howard feels terrible about this and decides to go inside, but Diana's mom Babs (Beverly D'Angelo) shows up at their house. Howard hates Babs with every part of his soul, he will absolutely not go in that house while she's there. Eventually, everyone leaves and he goes inside, but this is when he has a major breakdown. After he goes inside, he realizes that Diana is carrying on with her routine without him, and he just can't have that. He thinks that his disappearance is a blessing in disguise for her, or that she's relieved, because she probably thinks she married the wrong guy. So Howard, in his infinite wisdom and consistently laughing at his wife's difficulties, decides to head back into the attic, with no intention of ever leaving, while spying on Diana the entire time.

The main flaw in this film is something a good director never would have revealed, and it was so easy not to do it. She just couldn't help herself. There is a scene where one can see that it's possible for any of to have seen Howard if they'd looked at the attic window while walking out of the house, and I think that's completely inexcusable. We are talking about Howard being in that attic for around 9 or 10 months without getting busted by any family members, that doesn't hold up under any level of scrutiny. I said something earlier about how I got the incorrect emotions from this film, and what I meant was that I found some glee in seeing Howard push the self-destruct button on his own life and effectively turn himself into a loser bum. There's also some joy in everyone being able to move on the longer that Howard stays gone, but this is something I also think is unrealistic unless it really was the case that Howard was a black cloud on their life as he seems to believe. This could also be considered a portrait of someone having a nervous breakdown, which he clearly was. I just find some deep disconnect with the reality of what would happen and what did happen in this film.

There's certainly some artistic merit to the film, I would never argue otherwise. In fact, it's the only thing keeping me from saying this was outright bad. I did have a ton of interest in seeing a story about someone who withdrew from life to this extent, but I think the story is ultimately too much and that anyone besides Cranston would not have been able to pull off the weight of this role. The problem is that his character is scum to the degree that only murdering or raping characters have been able to feel as low as, I had no sympathy for him at all. The character also has thoughts that are frankly insane, and all of these are narrated to the audience. There's a scene where Jennifer Garner has pretty much no clothes on and all he can manage to do is complain about her outfit. What the fuck? I just can't get behind this kind of character at all, this is super bizarre and I hated this character beyond all rationality. Towards the end of the film, once he decided to snap out of it, I did feel a bit bad for him. Problem is, I remembered that he abandoned his children and had only had thoughts about them a grand total of one time, and he enjoyed seeing them go through pain at the beginning of his disappearance. Fuck this guy.

5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   It
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   Okja
16.   Kong: Skull Island
17.   Split
18.   Personal Shopper
19.   Atomic Blonde
20.   The Lego Batman Movie
21.   Megan Leavey
22.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
23.   American Made
24.   Imperial Dreams
25.   Free Fire
26.   Win It All
27.   The Wall
28.   Breathe
29.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
30.   Alone in Berlin
31.   A United Kingdom
32.   Trespass Against Us
33.   The Mountain Between Us
34.   War Machine
35.   Happy Death Day
36.   Justice League
37.   To the Bone
38.   Wakefield
39.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
40.   Sand Castle
41.   Death Note
42.   The Great Wall
43.   Fist Fight
44.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 02, 2019, 06:07:55 PM
(https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/chips-movie-trailer.jpg?w=720)

CHiPs (2017), directed by Dax Shepard

I think there are two things I should get out of the way as it relates to CHiPs, a reboot movie clearly intending to launch a franchise. The first of those things is a question rather than anything else. Is it terrible to relaunch something that was never that good in the first place? I don't understand the outrage from those who thought this shit on a horrible television series, and that's truly what it was. Maybe it's that this continued the CHiPs tradition when people were hoping for something more? I don't know. One of the reasons I watched CHiPs tonight was because I heard someone the other day say that they ran into Erik Estrada, and that sounded like a good enough reason to me. The other problem with the film is that I can't stand Dax Shepard. This is probably related to the fact that my dad watched Let's Go to Prison no less than ten times and would regularly rewind the movie to go back and laugh at his favorite parts. So, yeah. That's where I'm at here. I also have absolutely no idea how he was able to land a gig directing a studio comedy like this one. I'm not alone in thinking he's done nothing to deserve that, right? It turned out that in the end, Warner Bros. got exactly what they deserved.

Shepard's film has a very different story than what CHiPs was in the first place, which could be part of the problem to begin with. FBI Agent Castillo (Michael Pena) is undercover with a crew of bank robbers as their getaway driver, helping to evade police in Miami. He changes vehicles and torches the car they were in to begin with, then he reveals that he's an undercover agent and helps the FBI arrest these guys. While that's going on, a former X-Games motorcycle guy named Jon Baker (Dax Shepard) has joined the CHP Academy. He really wants to be in our highway patrol because his marriage to Karen (Kristen Bell) has all but dissolved, with his glory days long gone it has been very difficult to keep his wife's interest. Jon fails nearly all the tests, but he can ride a motorcycle better than everyone else, and that leads to him being graduated on probation. He has to be a good officer in order to keep his job, or he's going to get canned. These scenes happen in around the same amount of time that it would have taken anyone to read the first two paragraphs, which sets the tone for a movie that is paced too quickly. I should also mention that Castillo is a sex addict and Baker is a pill popper.

Now, our impetus for the two officers coming together is that there's dirty shit going on in the California Highway Patrol. An armored van has been attacked by motorcycle riders, and their leader goes by the call name of "LT" (Vincent D'Onofrio, and if you can't instantly tell you're an idiot). Anyway, LT accuses the armored guard and a helicopter pilot named TJ of stealing from him, and they're boyfriends. TJ decides that given the choice of LT killing his boyfriend or TJ killing himself, TJ will do the deed. So, TJ jumps from his helicopter to his death. Now, Castillo is informed by his boss Peterson (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) that he's going to go into a new job, working as a CHP officer with a cover name of Francis Llewellyn Poncherello, or as everyone knows that name, Ponch. Ponch is supposed to go in and claim that he was transferred from Redding, and his new partner is going to be the village idiot, you guessed it (if you even care), the new guy Baker. We are subsequently introduced to numerous characters, including officers Lindsey Taylor (Jessica McNamee), Ava Perez (Rosa Salazar), Lt. Raymond Kurtz (Vincent D'Onofrio), the CHP Captain Jane Lindel (Jane Kaczmarek), and Castillo's supervising FBI officer, Clay Allen (Adam Brody). Castillo and Clay have some history, at the beginning of the film Castillo shot Clay on accident.

Movies that rely on gay panic to this extent can very rarely be good, but the moment I knew this wasn't going to be an exception to the rule was when I looked at my notepad and remembered that the scenes that were filmed in "Miami" were really filmed here at the port. I could tell instantly and I don't know why anyone would attempt to pass that off as the bridges are too obviously an LA landmark. More to the point of why this doesn't work, even though I enjoyed how much the film traversed across Los Angeles, very few of the gags in CHiPs land. The ones that do are more of the variety that is hard to even believe those things are being filmed, the bathtub gag being the worst of those. I'll save you guys the details on that one, and if you aren't interested in seeing how bad a movie can really be, you shouldn't watch this. One of the series of jokes that did land was a fight through the house of the widow whose husband killed himself. I was waiting for that to happen because Shepard took the creative decision of ensuring the audience would know that would happen, and even though I hated that part, the fight was very good. There's also a few funny things with Baker being a willfully blind cuck, and I can't help myself when it comes to that stuff. I think it's amusing. The film is also horrendously cast with multiple actresses given roles beneath their talents. One example of this is the way Rosa Salazar moved on to a big tentpole film like Alita: Battle Angel. That one may not be so good either, but surely it's better than this?

Unfortunately, or perhaps rather fortunately as I would rather there not be a series of these movies, this was quite terrible. Terrible enough in fact that there's no way there could ever be a sequel. The changes from the television show are all unanimously not good. I didn't understand why it was decided for Ponch to become an FBI agent, or why he'd tell Baker almost instantly about his real job, but anyway, that doesn't really matter to me. None of this did. I wanted to get this bad movie out of the way because I had a few more this month, but I do think CHiPs achieved its goals. I assume everyone in it got paid somewhat nicely, and this was a motorcycle chase movie. Motorcycle chase movies can really only be so bad, and a lot of these chases were quite good even though the end results of them were completely predictable. This is way too goofy, and I didn't think there would be such prolonged discussion of analingus in this film, but I guess I should have known better. There were many reasons this had bad reviews, but I feel an incessant need to find these things out for myself. I think there's an increasingly smaller market for films like this one, though. Nothing in it is truly unique, and even though I'm always down for motorcycle chases, I don't know what to think of this. It's a movie directed with no flair or anything at all. The comedy genre is basically dead and CHiPs is just another example of that.

If anyone cares about the list placement of this, I'll justify it. Recoiling at bad jokes and laughing a few times is a hell of a lot better than being unable to pay attention due to how boring a film is, or having a lead character who I hated so badly I wanted to see them die for the entirety of the story.

3.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   It
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   Okja
16.   Kong: Skull Island
17.   Split
18.   Personal Shopper
19.   Atomic Blonde
20.   The Lego Batman Movie
21.   Megan Leavey
22.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
23.   American Made
24.   Imperial Dreams
25.   Free Fire
26.   Win It All
27.   The Wall
28.   Breathe
29.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
30.   Alone in Berlin
31.   A United Kingdom
32.   Trespass Against Us
33.   The Mountain Between Us
34.   War Machine
35.   Happy Death Day
36.   Justice League
37.   To the Bone
38.   Wakefield
39.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
40.   Sand Castle
41.   CHiPs
42.   Death Note
43.   The Great Wall
44.   Fist Fight
45.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 03, 2019, 06:31:08 PM
(http://moviefreak.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Chuck-movie-6.jpg)

Chuck (2017), directed by Philippe Falardeau

I think almost everyone in this country is at the least somewhat aware of Chuck Wepner, right? Chuck should have done a lot more to capitalize on this, but instead it appears that not very many people were aware of this film at all. You could barely call this film's release in theaters a real release. I didn't even know this existed until a few months ago, even though Chuck boasts some actors and actresses that I really enjoy. That's just a bad promotional strategy. Part of the other problem is that the film is only merely quite good. This is one of my favorite stories, though, and it's one that refuses to sanitize its content for anyone. Chuck Wepner had a hard life, he fucked up, and his local celebrity status did absolutely nothing to help him at all. The cast of Chuck is slightly too large, and there's some inconsistency with the story in terms of how characters fade in and out, but perhaps this is all quite truthful. I am getting a little tired of these kinds of biographies, which is a problem considering how much of the film landscape is littered with them, but I did enjoy this one. Of course, a biography about Chuck Wepner is a hell of a lot different than one of someone whose life we know more about. In the case of Wepner, we only know about 15 rounds against Muhammad Ali, and the rest is somewhat of a secret. At least until now.

Chuck is the story of Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber), a boxer best known for fighting Muhammad Ali (Pooch Hall) in Cleveland. Chuck was never a world champion, but he was tough as fuck. You don't get a nickname like the "Bayonne Bleeder" unless you can take some huge punishment and brawl. However, this story is about before and after the fight, with some huge emphasis placed on afterwards. Chuck is married to Phyllis (Elisabeth Moss), and they have a daughter. The problem is that Chuck can't keep it in his pants, and this gets a lot worse the more famous he becomes. Chuck's day job is one as an alcohol salesman, which puts him in contact with some strange people, and he likes to have fun. Unfortunately, one of the times he's having fun, Phyllis sees what's going on and decides to move out of the house with their daughter. Chuck is seemingly undeterred in his hustle, and it turns out that he's top ten in the world after years of club fighting. His manager Al (Ron Perlman) has a proposal from Don King, who wants a racial war kind of fight as Don King always really wanted. After the Rumble in the Jungle, Chuck will get a shot at the winner. Sounds great, right?

Chuck subsequently heads off to a training camp in the Catskills, the first time he's ever done that and the first time he says he's done anything like a real professional. Chuck narrates this film of course, because otherwise a lot of the events in it wouldn't make sense. I was reminded of Liev Schreiber's time on HBO boxing, narrating their 24/7 programs, it's a pleasant memory. Anyway, Chuck and Ali finally have their press conference showdown, this turns into a race thing, and what's done is done. However, the point of this film isn't the Ali fight, it's the downfall that came afterward. Chuck found some real positives in his fight with Ali, even though he came away battered and bruised. He was a real celebrity in New Jersey now. Of course, as you might suspect, overnight celebrities always do bad shit. There's drugs, and oh yeah, there's women too. It turns out that he'd entirely forgotten about his brother Donny (Michael Rapaport) for years, his best friend John (Jim Gaffigan) starts hanging around again too, and that he's interested in a bartender named Linda (Naomi Watts). Marriage will certainly not deter this man in his quest to destroy his life.

This is a slightly unique story in that I didn't find any redemption in the presentation of Wepner's life, and perhaps that's what I appreciated most here. Instead, there's an evaluation of the things that lead someone to ruin themselves after one moment of fame. There's not much to say about someone going on cocaine binges, womanizing, or thinking they're too big to be around other people. All of this applied to Chuck Wepner as the film presents it. I think to this end, Liev Schreiber was great casting. I would also like to see him play Jake Roberts at some point, not that I think that's going to happen, but the likeness when he grows out a handlebar mustache is uncanny. I think Chuck does make some mistakes in covering too long a time span in too short a film, but there are good performances from everyone throughout the film. Elisabeth Moss has one good series of lines when she catches Chuck about to start cheating on her, I thought this was one of the best parts of the film. Another is a scene where Wepner is watching the Academy Awards all by himself in hopes that his story portrayed in Rocky would win, and even though he celebrates he finds out that nobody cared.

There aren't enough stories about what happens to those who are unable to handle even the most minor of fame, and trust me, this certainly was minor fame. Getting destroyed by Ali shouldn't have made anyone super famous, but Chuck seemed to think that it did and that everyone should have cared about him. He was wrong. I think the weaknesses of the film lie in the fact that the plot does meander, if you can even call it a plot. Wepner is also a relatively minor subject, and if you don't care about prizefighting, you may not care whatsoever about this film. Ultimately, this is a film that I would consider to be a good ride at best, possibly boring if you don't care about the subject, but I think everyone can say there are strong performances here. Of course, this is yet another modern boxing film without much boxing in it. That presents some problems as well, I don't really care for that. The point of Chuck was that Chuck had some charisma and he ruined his life. The director does fall a bit in love with his subject, but I thought this film was similar to The Wrestler. When someone's past their prime, thinks they're famous, and there's nobody to go home to, some bad shit is going to happen. There are very few exceptions to this in reality, and I was glad that the film didn't pull any punches. Falardeau was clear to show that Chuck Wepner wound up in prison, many films would not, and I appreciated that.

7/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   It
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   Okja
16.   Kong: Skull Island
17.   Split
18.   Personal Shopper
19.   Chuck
20.   Atomic Blonde
21.   The Lego Batman Movie
22.   Megan Leavey
23.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
24.   American Made
25.   Imperial Dreams
26.   Free Fire
27.   Win It All
28.   The Wall
29.   Breathe
30.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
31.   Alone in Berlin
32.   A United Kingdom
33.   Trespass Against Us
34.   The Mountain Between Us
35.   War Machine
36.   Happy Death Day
37.   Justice League
38.   To the Bone
39.   Wakefield
40.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
41.   Sand Castle
42.   CHiPs
43.   Death Note
44.   The Great Wall
45.   Fist Fight
46.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 05, 2019, 06:23:19 PM
(http://cdn.collider.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/wilson-movie-trailer-image.png)

Wilson (2017), directed by Craig Johnson

I didn't initially know what to make of Wilson, because when I first ran a search to see if this got positive reviews, there were a fair amount of positive and negative ones. I also looked at the cast, and I saw a fair amount of interesting actors who could make for a good film. I don't want to write a long list or anything like that, but there's quite a few. I did see that Wilson was an adaptation of a graphic novel, one which I actually won't look into to see if it was faithful or not. I don't think it cares. My take on the film is that it whiffs massively, I didn't laugh hard for about 38 minutes. This was a film that I'm surprised was ever made, and even though the roles were perfectly cast, it didn't resonate with me at all. How am I going to fill out a review for a short, not good movie that left me without too many thoughts? I haven't quite figured that out yet. I think Wilson was desperate to play on Woody Harrelson's celebrity and likability to create an asshole character...and it just didn't work at all. There are things about Wilson that I liked, and in some ways this is a good concept, but I didn't like it. It's fair to say Woody Harrelson should not be doing the same kinds of comedy gags that Clint Eastwood does about our culture.

Wilson (Woody Harrelson), as I already alluded to, is a man that seems to think there are lots of things wrong with what the world has become and none of them are his fault. He hates comptuers and all that stuff, like you'd expect from one of those kinds of characters. The anti-millennial shit comments are endless from this man and none of the gags are amusing, so it's fair to say that I never would have had a fondness for this character like I did Clint Eastwood's in The Mule. Wilson is an older white guy who thinks everything's wrong with the country, and that's how we got Trump, so yeah. There's not a hell of a lot I can say about this. We're introduced to him at a point where lots of things are leaving his life, and his friends are moving off to Missouri for whatever reason. He also routinely drops his dog off with a sitter, Shelly (Judy Greer). Surprisingly he doesn't try to hit on her, and instead he shoots his sights far lower. Ugly lady coming out of the pet store? Of course, that's Wilson's kind of thing. His way of getting her phone number is to try to rear end her, so this is the kind of guy that isn't exactly mentally balanced on any wavelength at all.

One day, after immense life failures, Wilson decides that he wants to contact his ex-wife who he hasn't seen in a very long time. Her name is Pippi (Laura Dern), and Wilson thinks all kinds of disgusting bad shit about her. I don't know if it's true and that isn't the point of the film. It turns out that they take a liking to each other again, and Wilson talks about an abortion that Pippi once had. She didn't really have it. Instead, their daughter was put up for adoption and is now 17 years old, she's named Claire (Isabella Amara). I don't see a good way to cut to the chase from here, but I'll do my best. Wilson essentially forces Pippi to go with him to the Mall of America to surprise Claire, and after many conversations, it turns out that Claire is not living her best life. She's bullied constantly, thinks that nobody cares about her, and she doesn't have any friends. Are Wilson and Pippi good enough influences to become her friends? The answer is obvious, of course they aren't.

The humor is hit or miss, but I could see someone really enjoying how dark Woody's material is here. It's the kind of movie that I can't ever recommend, but who knows? The thing is, speaking only for myself, I thought this was terrible and painful. It wasn't only the sketches, but the entire concept of the movie grated on me so badly. I'm usually not hyper critical of comedies, I just want to laugh. I didn't laugh at all though! This is supposed to be an examination of Wilson's life, but there's no explanation of his job situation or how he can afford to do anything at all. Even the scenes with Cheryl Hines and Margo Martindale don't bring anything to the table. This turns into a family comedy at some point, then it's a prison movie, and I just hated this shit, I really did. The prison movie line isn't a joke either, but I don't want to say how that happens. Wilson is a complete mess, I'm considering cutting things short here before typing another paragraph. It is genuinely that bad, but some people loved it. I am quite convinced that nothing could have made me like this, I hated it almost immediately. Wilson is the kind of guy who would walk up to you at a urinal and start talking to you, then the film actually shows him doing that, and I just couldn't handle it at all.

It isn't that Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern give bad performances, the problem is that they are unable to transform the material into something cohesive. The director was also working against them in this way, there's nothing tying most of these scenes together. It's presented like an episode of Always Sunny with none of the same charm? I don't really know how to describe a movie where it seems to me that everything falls apart. I found no value in Wilson's redemption as he was such an enormous piece of trash before that point, and I'm kind of over those redemption stories to begin with. The movie is goofy, but that's really all it is. What it should be is an examination of why people with that kind of attitude fail in life, but we didn't get that. As a whole, I'm giving this one a full burial job, I have never seen anything with a cast I liked so much that I hated as much as this. This is comedy gone bad, the director should be banished too. I didn't like A SINGLE SCENE and hated this more than Fist Fight, that says it all.

3/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   It
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   Okja
16.   Kong: Skull Island
17.   Split
18.   Personal Shopper
19.   Chuck
20.   Atomic Blonde
21.   The Lego Batman Movie
22.   Megan Leavey
23.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
24.   American Made
25.   Imperial Dreams
26.   Free Fire
27.   Win It All
28.   The Wall
29.   Breathe
30.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
31.   Alone in Berlin
32.   A United Kingdom
33.   Trespass Against Us
34.   The Mountain Between Us
35.   War Machine
36.   Happy Death Day
37.   Justice League
38.   To the Bone
39.   Wakefield
40.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
41.   Sand Castle
42.   CHiPs
43.   Death Note
44.   The Great Wall
45.   Fist Fight
46.   Wilson
47.   Sleepless

Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 06, 2019, 12:08:50 PM
(https://imgix.bustle.com/uploads/image/2018/2/2/7e35a0bc-f24c-48d7-b16c-f2f5492a41eb-director-barry-sonnenfeld-didn-work-tommy-lee-jones.jpg?w=970&h=546&fit=crop&crop=faces&auto=format&q=70)

Men in Black (1997), directed by Barry Sonnenfeld

I am fully aware that it makes zero sense for me to never have seen Men in Black, and after watching the film I understood this even less. There's no real excuse as this was a movie that was regularly on television in my house for years, but I never bothered to watch it for myself. So, with that in mind, I guess today was the time. I was thinking throughout Men in Black that this was a film made in an era long past, one when Hollywood was still very focused on creating movie stars. Of course, Will Smith was supposed to be that guy for a very long time. I suppose that he was, but those days are now over. There should be an examination into what created the end of the Hollywood movie star system, but I'm not the person to write about that. After all, how could I? Look at the amount of things I haven't seen before. While it's a shame that I've never seen Men in Black prior to today, and I probably would have liked it more when I was a kid, I thought this movie still held up to a greater extent than I'd expected. I also still have two more of these to go. Overall, this was what I hoped it would be, and featured one acting performance that I found quite surprising.

Our film begins with a scene out in the desert, with a man driving immigrants across the border. Of course, he's paid for that, but he has no idea what's coming. He's stopped by Border Patrol, but along come some men in suits. Agents K (Tommy Lee Jones) and D (Richard Hamilton) decide to interfere with the stop and test some of these people being transported, with the intention of learning things about them. They find that one of them doesn't speak Spanish, and doesn't really say anything at all, so they take the man out into the desert. The rest are ordered to get back in the van and continue into the US. Over in the desert, there's a rather amusing problem. The illegal alien is an actual...alien? K and D take care of the problem, but in the process of doing so, D decides that he's too old to keep doing this job. It turns out that K has just the solution for that, he has a metal stick he can take out of his pocket and use to remove someone's memories. It's called a neuralyzer, on it goes, and away goes D's memories. Afterwards, K starts looking for a new partner.

Enter the next sequence, focusing on James Edwards (Will Smith). James is an officer with NYPD who gets in a foot chase with a very athletic suspect, too athletic in fact to be a human. Now that we already know about the alien problem, there's no real suspense with this, but after some cryptic comments, the alien leaps to his death. Afterwards, James is at the station, and all of a sudden in comes Agent K once again, interviewing James this time. After their conversation, and after another funny alien scene, James is neuralyzed and left with a business card that has an address on it. The reason? Agent K wants to find someone to join Men in Black, a secret organization that answers to no part of our government. They protect Earth from alien threats, monitor the existing alien population on Earth, and use those neuralyzers to ensure that alien activity is kept secret. Men in Black was established in 1961 when an alien ship landed in New York City, it was subsequently converted into a World's Fair exhibit, but an organization was needed to handle alien refugees. Enter MiB. The poster straight out gives away that James joins the organization, he is assigned the name of J. Meanwhile, in upstate New York, an alien crashlands on Earth and kills Edgar (Vincent D'Onofrio), a verbally abusive farmer. This alien is a violent one, and covers its body with Edgar's skin. His goal? Watch the movie I guess.

The performance I was referring to when saying someone had a great performance was that of D'Onofrio. I was impressed with the prosthetics, but even more than that, his ability to carry out the role was incredible. I haven't watched an alien related science-fiction movie set on Earth in a hell of a long time, I guess since Venom? I don't think that should even count, but it probably does. I'm naturally forced to compare the two films on some level, but there isn't much of a comparison. This was more of a comedy than anything else, and it was a funny movie overall. I still don't know why I never watched it before, and this is the kind of thing I'm going to keep thinking about for a while. I wouldn't say Men in Black was obviously a film intended to launch a film franchise, but you can tell that this was supposed to be rolled out in a way that would allow Sony to make a pile of money from this. Obviously, that worked out well for them and that's why this is continuing, but the film succeeds because it's a self contained story. Unlike, for example, Venom. See the need for me to draw a comparison?

I think the thing that may not stand up under scrutiny are the CGI special effects, but I thought they weren't anywhere near as bad as I expected. There's some other things related to computer technology, but you know, you should expect that from an older film. By the standards of the time, the effects were great. I don't know how modern audiences would react to them if they were seeing the film for the first time, though. The partnership between Smith and Jones makes this a winner, but I'm not going to be overly effusive in praise. It would be very difficult to mess this up, but I see that the second entry in the series has some bad ratings, so I'll get to see how. Some of the in jokes and references to this kind of science-fiction are lost on me, but this was fun and I laughed a lot. If I do have any complaints, it's that Men in Black is almost completely lacking in character development, I felt like I knew nothing about these two guys after watching them for 90 minutes. That's acceptable I suppose, but I didn't really appreciate it, and the end of the film didn't do too much to redeem that. I'll watch the second movie sometime next month, I'm interested in seeing how badly that went wrong.

7/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 06, 2019, 06:04:40 PM
(https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-02Z6DmSfzbY/WJdYvnsm3OI/AAAAAAAARQY/mevx53NDksAo3dm_18F9izj6etSFuaf-QCLcB/s1600/Gold%2B1.jpg)

Gold (2016), directed by Stephen Gaghan

As I believe I've said before, I don't have too many more of these recent Matthew McConaughey performances left to watch, but it seems like he's going to keep churning them out as often as he can. The one after this is going to be The Beach Bum, which I have no idea what to think of, but the last one I saw was a horrible film in Serenity. As I said when I reviewed it, there are no words. I think McConaughey's ability to pick bad projects is unmatched, every performance he gives is far above the quality of the actual films. I think Gold is perhaps another example of that, which him hitting a few notes here that I don't think I've ever seen him do before. Oddly enough, I actually bought a ticket to see Gold once before and got a refund before showtime. Keep in mind that I didn't go to the theater at that time. The concept was interesting enough to me, and the trailer did a hell of a job getting this over. This looked like yet another adventure movie through the jungle. Of course, it wasn't exactly that, but I think the film may have been about the wrong character. I felt myself far more interested in how these things were pulled off, and how a character was able to pull the wool over the eyes of his partner, but that wasn't examined here at all. That's a mistake and one that ultimately dooms this film.

Gold starts in 1981, with Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) running a prospecting company with his father, who dies on the same day that we meet him. Times were good at Washoe while Kenny's father ran the company, not so much while Kenny was doing it. We fast forward seven years, with his father long gone and with it their nice office building. Kenny is broke, their business is broke, and his employees work out of a bar to keep expenses down and in part because they have no other job to go to. Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard) is quite the dutiful girlfriend to someone who doesn't really deserve her, and once Kenny lost his house, he moves in with her. Kenny is a huckster, there's no other way to put it. This is something one can see from a mile away, but he had a dream. In this dream, he was led to Indonesia to meet up with a geologist, Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez). Mike had previously had a copper strike there, so Kenny makes his dream a reality and flies out to Jakarta. Kenny is able to convince Mike to go into business with him, and he's able to raise some of the money he promised to finance their mining operation. About one-third of it or so.

Mike and Kenny are the embodiment of true believers, they're convinced that their mine is going to get them both rich. The film is based on a true story though, of a mining company called Bre-X. Once you know that, some of the intrigue dissipates, and that's why I said the film should have followed a different character. Anyway, the mine is a bust, it doesn't work out at all. The mine fails to show any gold and the workers know this, so they bounce back to their villages in the jungle. Working for free is not in their life plan. Mike, on the other hand, he has a plan to get them back out there. He promises fresh water so that people won't get sick, but Kenny gets a bad case of malaria and goes down for the count. So, while Mike's getting water filters and while Kenny's sick, the workers come back to the mine. Once Kenny finally comes out of it, Mike tells him that they've struck gold and have a real gold mine. The reports are extraordinary, so Kenny opens the office building back up in Reno and they are approached by Wall Street with some plans. Mike comes up with a proposal of his own, to bring some bankers out to Indonesia to show them the mine for themselves. The goal? If the bankers are convinced of the viability of the mine, that it goes hand in hand with the reports they've read, they're willing to fork over millions in investment dollars. Kenny and Mike could be rich.

Of course, this is based on a mining scandal as I've already said, and therefore I would have liked the film to focus on the individual accused of duping investors out of millions of dollars. In this case, that would be Mike. Mike was the man with the plan, he wasn't going to fail at striking gold, he was convinced it was there. Once it wasn't, he would do whatever it takes, they were going to make money off some fucking gold. The film should have been focused on him, and I'm called to think of War Dogs, which had a similar focus and came out the same year. At least in that film, which I thought was a fair bit better, the two characters were on screen together doing bad shit for a hell of a lot of the running time. In this case, the story is focused on Kenny, and even though this was a great performance I think that was a mistake. I also don't care for the twist in these kinds of movies where characters often get out with some amount of the illegal profits, but it's becoming so common that I better just get used to it and score films accordingly rather than whine about it.

I don't understand how someone could make Syriana and follow it up with Gold, because these two films are in such distinct contrast to one another. I think that Bryce Dallas Howard and Edgar Ramirez are extremely underused, and I have left out some details of the story but there are a few surprise appearances I felt the same way about. There are some good cases of storytelling here, particularly when it comes to Kenny being a narrator. McConaughey's transformation and performance are great, but ultimately they don't fit into a film that doesn't deserve them. Any attempt to make a moral turn with a story like this can't have the character walk away with millions of dollars at the end, I know I've already said this but I need to reiterate it. Kenny becoming rich is not a story told with any kind of meaning beyond the superficial, but I thought this is a story that could have gone much further. After all, a ton of the details were changed and that should have given Gaghan the license to do whatever the hell he wanted. Instead, this is another Reagan era tale where people attempt to get rich off the backs of others, this time in a foreign country where they practically use slave labor, but this is a poorly told variation of that story. After all, unlike American Made, nobody's banging it out while flying jet planes.

I should point out that this was merely a slight whiff. I did find the events quite entertaining on their face, but a film like this needs to be taken for what it is even when it looks nice. Let me clarify. Even when it looks nice while featuring one of the ugliest character transformations I've seen in a while. Hopefully I won't ever have to see McConaughey play a fat ass again and have a nude scene. That was brutal, I wasn't expecting that. With a better focus and a different touch, this could have been a hell of a hard hitting film, but instead we didn't get that. Gold just doesn't go far enough.

5.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 07, 2019, 11:12:02 AM
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They Shall Not Grow Old (2018), directed by Peter Jackson

This was the first time I've ever went to the theater to watch a documentary, and They Shall Not Grow Old seemed like the perfect time to actually go do this. I wasn't sure exactly what the focus of this documentary was, but the trailer looked good! I think most people were in the same boat as the trailer doesn't really elaborate on the focus of the documentary, but I did find the subject matter quite welcome. Comparatively there is a dearth of footage for World War I, a fact Peter Jackson is clear to make people well aware of at the end of the film. Perhaps the best part of this documentary is the half hour Jackson spends after the credits explaining how this project came together. He was sure to point out that he wasn't trying to offend anyone by colorizing the footage, and certainly this isn't a case of a sanitized product. Some of the footage here is very gruesome, this is a raw experience. It's also not quite what I expected, but that's great. Did I want to see something else explaining the origins of World War I? No, I did not. That territory has been covered too many times, so instead Jackson gives us something different.

Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old focuses on the lives of infantry soldiers during World War I, supplemented with some footage and photographs of their experiences. These pictures are mostly colorized, there was sound added to the film, and some lip readers were used to give re-enacted voices for the soldiers. If you didn't know they used voice actors, you genuinely couldn't tell. The documentary is ridiculously spot-on in this way. As I already stated, some of the footage is super gruesome, and there are numerous pieces of footage taken before entire units would have died. The film is also narrated by soldiers who took part in the war, but I'm not sure if any of the soldiers on camera had also provided audio commentary all those years ago. Jackson got his footage and narration from the Imperial War Museums, there was plenty of it. He said there was 100 hours of video footage and even more audio commentary (600 hours), the latter of which his team had to go through entirely in order to decide what video footage to include.

Choosing what to include had to be an extremely hard task, but Jackson's crew decided to visually restore all the footage they received, so in theory there could be more documentaries like this one. I do not know if they colorized all this footage though. I thought this wasn't the most interesting documentary in the world in part because this is subject matter routinely covered in books, but there are lots of important facts people may not have been aware of. This is, however, one of the most incredible documentaries ever made. World War I isn't something I had any real picture of in my brain other than black and white ones, but these pictures have been completely usurped by the ones in this film. I did also laugh at learning that part of the colorization process required Peter Jackson to reveal that he had a ton of World War I memorabilia. He never answered the question of why he had it, but that was something nice to learn as well.

They Shall Not Grow Old is an amazing technical achievement on every level, enough so that in many ways I'm lacking the words I need to describe it. Jackson wanted this to be an understanding of what it would be like to be a British soldier on the Western Front, and this succeeded in so many ways. There is numerous commentary one would laugh at, some that are absolutely horrifying, and the images on screen fit in both categories as well. There were so many dead bodies and faces of soldiers Jackson said went on to die in the immediate moments afterward that these images are going to be burned into my brain. I was thinking that this felt like a project Peter Jackson really wanted to make, regardless of whether or not there was any money in it for him and it turned out that there wasn't. I also think They Shall Not Grow Old is a film that needs to be viewed, so I decided not to say too much about the details and the order in which they occur. You can probably figure it out for yourself. I decided never to put documentaries in my lists, but if this had been eligible for awards it would have won a lot of them.

9/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 08, 2019, 10:59:16 AM
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Black Panther (2018), directed by Ryan Coogler

With my viewing of Black Panther tonight, that concludes my time watching 2018's Best Picture nominations. I do not believe I will go back to revisit these anytime soon, so my opinion on this and those other films shall stand for a long time. I think with that in mind, that in something that is a little surprising to me, I found Black Panther to be a worthy Best Picture nominee. But it's Marvel capeshit? Yeah, it's capeshit of the best kind since Nolan's Batman movies, and the reason why is because Ryan Coogler is a director who knows the appeal of a Marvel film is in how a director can utilize their ensemble cast. Numerous directors have failed to accomplish something like this. This film is bold on so many levels and feels like something unique, something that could launch these films forward. Of course, the latter of those things is because the technology used by the characters in this film will launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe forward in allowing other characters to use those ideas. Whether or not they will is something that remains to be seen, but I think you'd have to be a goof to not have enjoyed this. Black Panther was a success in part because this is a formula we haven't seen before, executed better than almost every other way in which we've seen it.

Our film begins with a short origin story to Wakanda, with an explanation of the scenario that leads to one having Black Panther's superhuman abilities. I won't lean into the details because this is a film that requires far too much explanation for that. The point is, the things that happened when the meteor struck Africa led to tribes uniting to form the nation of Wakanda. Wakanda uses the vibranium from the meteor in order to develop advanced technology and hide themselves from the world. The film outside of this story starts in 1992, with Wakanda's king T'Chaka (John Kani) visiting his brother N'Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) in Oakland. N'Jobu is in Oakland on an operation, but T'Chaka accuses him of assisting arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) with stealing vibranium. It turns out this is true, and that N'Jobu has been spied upon. We move forward a little bit to T'Chaka's death, with T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) becoming the King of Wakanda. His first job prior to being crowned is for he and a special forces agent named Okoye (Danai Gurira) to extract his ex Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o for her to join T'Challa's family members at his coronation. Ramonda (Angela Bassett) serves as Wakanda's Queen Mother, and Shuri (Letitia Wright) is T'Challa's sister. Let's continue.

T'Challa is challenged for the throne by M'Baku (Winston Duke), leader of the one tribe that never unified when Wakanda was created. The rules are that one is allowed to do that and the throne is no certainty for anyone. Unsurprisingly, Black Panther wins and we continue on with our story. It turns out that Klaue now has an accomplice, a younger guy named Erik Stevens (Michael B. Jordan). Erik and Klaue had a plan to steal a Wakandan artifact from a museum, and what do you know, they pull it off. Of course, T'Challa finds out about this, and his friend W'Kabi (Daniel Kaaluya) wants him to bring Klaue back alive so they can kill him. Did I mention that W'Kabi and Okoye are lovers? I guess I did now. I should also mention that Zuri (Forest Whitaker) is T'Challa's uncle and had crowned him after the combat challenge, and that Erik...is really named N'Jadaka. He's also N'Jobu's son, and he has plans of his own. This man has been trained to make things happen. In addition, while our favorite Wakandans are off in Korea, there's the introduction of a CIA Agent, Everett Ross (Martin Freeman). Who knows what this guy's really up to, and I was hoping that the Red Hulk would make an appearance, but we aren't ready for that it seems.

I don't want to say a lot of the shit (very truthful shit, I should add) that people have already said about Black Panther, so my focus is going to be on Marvel's inability to create other films like this one. I should also add that this is one of the most reviewed films I've ever seen and so I think I should avoid the beaten path. Everyone knows I agree with the beaten path anyway. I don't understand how with their resources that they weren't able to woo directors like Taika Waititi and Ryan Coogler far sooner, instead using uninspiring Hollywood plug-and-shoot type directors that had no unique outlook on these properties. I think on some levels this policy was an incredible policy and that it shouldn't have taken so long for Marvel to create films on this level. It shouldn't have happened like that. I would also say that this film worked for me because the villain actually got to kill some characters who seemed like they were going to be important. Who would've thought? In addition, the visual effects were spectacular, and using an Asian city for a car chase was an inspired decision. The lighting factored into that decision, of course. The car chase was incredible, and while I'd seen a very short clip of part of it before, I wasn't expecting that.

The ideas used here were spectacular across the board, none moreso than the use of costumes and the atmosphere in Africa to create things like...WAR RHINOS! The goddamn war rhinos would have been my favorite thing in practically every other movie, but not this one. Winston Duke had a great performance as M'Baku, his was another that would have been my favorite part of practically every other movie. Not this one though. Instead, my favorite parts were the complete usage of the ensemble, of the ancestral plane, of Rachel Morrison's cinematography, and Ryan Coogler's vision to compose all of these things together. It's one thing after the next that created a project that went far beyond what anyone's expectations should have been. I am resistant to talking about things other people covered better than myself, but I thought this was a great example of presenting a futuristic city in a way that felt realistic and genuinely plausible. The people in that city kept their humanity, it was just that some of the things in that city changed. This was what I was hoping for.

When wrapping this up, now I should focus on a few of the actors. Obviously Michael B. Jordan has received a lot of credit, but I also think that to some extent his performance is a bit overblown considering what was out there last year. The role was far more crucial than his performance, it was perfectly written and no good actor would have messed it up. I also thought that it was nice to see Andy Serkis get an opportunity to act without having to wear a motion capture suit. His ability with those suits has led to him wearing them for pretty much the entirety of his career, and I don't know if that would suck or not. I think it would. Ultimately, this is a movie that feels fresh even though it really isn't, that introduces so many interesting characters in a ridiculously short period of time, and one that makes quite a few good political statements. That's more than I hoped for and I think this was one of the best films of 2018 in the end. Granted, I'm still not all the way caught up, but this should land in my top 15 no matter what.

9/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   Black Panther
10.   If Beale Street Could Talk
11.   The Sisters Brothers
12.   A Private War
13.   Stan & Ollie
14.   Green Book
15.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
16.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
17.   The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
18.   On My Skin
19.   Private Life
20.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
21.   Mid90s
22.   Eighth Grade
23.   Sorry to Bother You
24.   Vice
25.   The Old Man & the Gun
26.   Suspiria
27.   Vox Lux
28.   Boy Erased
29.   Bad Times at the El Royale
30.   The Other Side of the Wind
31.   Searching
32.   A Simple Favor
33.   The Hate U Give
34.   Bumblebee
35.   Mary Poppins Returns
36.   Creed II
37.   Hold the Dark
38.   The Land of Steady Habits
39.   Halloween
40.   Mary Queen of Scots
41.   Aquaman
42.   Outlaw King
43.   Overlord
44.   Ben Is Back
45.   Monsters and Men
46.   The Mule
47.   On the Basis of Sex
48.   Bohemian Rhapsody
49.   White Boy Rick 
50.   Papillon
51.   Game Night
52.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
53.   Instant Family
54.   Alpha
55.   The Front Runner
56.   The Predator
57.   Apostle
58.   The Angel
59.   The Commuter
60.   Beautiful Boy
61.   The Nun
62.   Operation Finale
63.   The Equalizer 2
64.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
65.   Bird Box
66.   12 Strong
67.   Venom
68.   Skyscraper
69.   The Meg
70.   Assassination Nation
71.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
72.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
73.   22 July
74.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
75.   The Little Stranger
76.   Tomb Raider
77.   Night School
78.   The 15:17 To Paris
79.   Peppermint
80.   Mile 22
81.   The First Purge
82.   Hunter Killer
83.   Kin
84.   Hell Fest
85.   Proud Mary
86.   Robin Hood
87.   The Happytime Murders
88.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 08, 2019, 06:32:33 PM
(https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2017/01/i_daniel_blake/lead_720_405.jpg)

I, Daniel Blake (2016), directed by Ken Loach

One night I was looking around on Showtime, and I saw that there was a very highly reviewed movie on with interesting subject matter. Obviously, it was I, Daniel Blake or I wouldn't be writing this at all.  The subject matter is very unabashedly leftist, which is to say that it's the goddamn truth. I, Daniel Blake is also a great story besides that, and I've read that Loach makes a lot of films similar in theme to these. I will have to check out more of them. I think there's definitely a gap in terms of public awareness of material relating to the less fortunate, but that's mostly because people don't want to know about things they believe they cannot do anything to stop. The problem with that is that the public can actually put a stop to these things, they simply have to choose to do it. As a society, we have failed. It's really as simple as that. People like to tell each other platitudes while not doing anything about these problems. I have volunteered at a food bank before, but I don't have the means to donate. It should be the job of government to do that, but...we don't elect governments that would. I'm not sure what's to be done about this when the general public is so eager to place their heads in the sand and pretend that we don't have these sorts of problems.

Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a widower who lives in Newcastle and works in construction, he happens to have a heart attack. His cardiologist has not allowed him to return to work, but the film begins with a work assessment given by a company contracted by the British government. At the work assessment, he's treated like shit by someone who isn't a doctor and has no genuine knowledge of his condition. The government idiot doesn't even bother to contact the doctor, and decides to deem Daniel fit for work. There is no reasonable way in which he could ever really work a full time job again, it's too stressful and it's asking for trouble. The bureaucracy in Daniel's way is absolutely incredible, I don't know how one could bother to cope with this. He needs to apply for an appeal, but that requires him to be called about the decision which he has already received a letter about. To call this absurd is an injustice, that's a word nowhere near strong enough for this situation. Of course, there's also the massive amount of time spent off the phone in order to be told that he needs to be called by someone else.

Eventually Daniel heads back down to the Jobcentre because he's asked to do something he cannot, he has to apply for benefits on a website. Daniel has no knowledge of computers whatsoever, this is something he just can't do. While at the office, there's an issue with someone else, a single mother named Katie (Hayley Squires). Katie arrived late for an appointment because she'd just arrived in Newcastle from London a few weeks previous and had no real idea where she was supposed to be going. Her son Dylan is a bit of a terror, and I just don't see how this situation is fair to anyone. Daniel decides to tear into the employees at that place, because they're doing wrong by their fellow man after all, and they don't seem to have compassion for anyone. Katie and Daniel become friends after this, and we learn that when Katie was in London, she lived in a homeless shelter with her children. The hook for the rest of the film is that Daniel is forced to apply for jobs that he can't take because they'll kill him, and it's clear to see that the welfare state in pretty much every civilized nation is absolute trash.

This is a film that resonates across borders, and I was telling someone the other day that it's hard to present good political material on film or television. This is clearly an exception to that, it's one of the best presentations of poverty there is. I think the film is a little too short as a whole, and I do think the film isn't really groundbreaking in terms of its presentation of poverty, but those are the only flaws I can think of. The performances of our two actors are excellent, they bring real urgency. More than that, it's the presentation of the welfare bureaucracy that really lands. I do now people who have gone through a similar situation and I don't envy them at all, it's simply not right. There were things Daniel did that I thought were great, that I really needed to see for cathartic purposes. Inevitably an old person ashamed to be on the dole has a high chance of lashing out, and I was pleased that this is the way in which he did so. Sometimes I feel like I need films like this one. The realism here is off the charts, there's no cartoon villain at the welfare office, these things are presented with the reality and coldness that such situations really have.

The film feeling so realistic is its real drawing card, but this is also a hard hitting and truthful presentation on society. Perhaps it's one on the future of society as jobs continue to disappear? This is something that everyone really needs to consider. I do think this is a depressing film, but at the same time it's one that brings the hope that other people out there know about these situations and intend to force changes in them. Whether or not they'll be able to do that is something there's no way to know at this point. Some of these scenes really hurt and bring pain, especially when you stop to think that multitudes of people are going through this or worse on a daily basis. I probably will not forget this, and I know that's a horrible platitude, but the film fully leans into the reality of being poor. The horrible shit that happens to someone in that situation never stops, it stacks upon someone until they simply can't breathe or take anymore. The ending of the film encapsulates this feeling completely. Society, unfortunately, is fucked.

8.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 10, 2019, 06:45:40 PM
(https://static.rogerebert.com/uploads/review/primary_image/reviews/battle-of-the-sexes-2017/hero_Battle-of-the-Sexes-TIFF-2017.jpg)

Battle of the Sexes (2017), directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

It appears that tonight was time to watch another film that nearly got me out to the theater in 2017, that one was Battle of the Sexes. Why that? First of all, it's just a damn good story. Secondly, the cast for a film with this budget is quite good, particularly in terms of the film's leads. I wouldn't begrudge anyone for not wanting to see Battle of the Sexes as the story is part of America's sporting lexicon and most people are certainly aware of it. That being said, it's a story that also needs to be told on film. I have heard before that this is a movie that was made with the intention of showing a case of breaking the glass ceiling when dealing with a scumbag, and as that pertains to the 2016 election, I suppose this is a true way of looking at it. I should also point out that I did not consider this at all until I finished the movie and there was a scene where someone was holding a "Billie Jean for President" sign. Of course, if politics are on your mind all the time, you'll think about it a lot more. I do not. So, with that in mind, let's move on from this. This is a story far more about Billie Jean King than Bobby Riggs, and that was a good decision. The less we see about Bobby Riggs, the more interesting the film becomes when he appears, and this makes for a mixture of the two people that leads to a very interesting film.

Everyone at least has superficial knowledge of Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), right? If you don't, pick up a book because this isn't the place for that. Biopics are a touchy subject in this way, but as it comes to Billie Jean King, I didn't know enough that this story would have become rote. Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman) was a female tennis promoter, and along with Billie Jean King they both worked to create the Women's Tennis Association, the first women's tour. The movie spins a yarn that Billie had a dispute with Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman), who effectively served as a stand-in for male tennis promoters around the world. The dispute was over pay, and the women threatened to start their own tour, but Kramer didn't listen. So, instead, Billie Jean and eight other women sign up to play on the Virginia Slims Circuit, leading to their banning from tournaments organized by the USTA. None of the other women really feature throughout the film, with the exception of Rosie Casals (Natalie Morales). As the tour picks up, Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) joins up, and for those who don't know, she was an even more accomplished player than King. Not even close.

Meanwhile, there's Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), a huckster extraordinaire. Riggs was a famous player in his time, but at the point of the events of this film he was in his mid-50's. Bobby was more than famous, he was also accomplished, but these things all happened in the 1940s, around thirty years before the aforementioned Battle of the Sexes. Everyone knows that he played Billie Jean King in the Astrodome, but how did he get there? Bobby is married to Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue), who simply can't tolerate any of his gambling addiction. This addiction will not stand in her house, he gets the boot. After being thrown out, he decides to bring his carnival barker act into play, and challenges whoever the #1 women's tennis player shall be at the end of 1970. He'd already challenged King and had been told no. King is having some issues that the film presents as a postulation that led to the loss of her #1 ranking. She starts an affair with a hairdresser, Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), and her husband finds out before a match against Margaret. It also turns out that Margaret is a homophobe, something which has been proven to be true in recent years.

There's no real hook here other than to see the events as they played out, with the added joy of Steve Carell once again portraying a more competent version of Michael Scott. He is completely typecast in my mind and nothing he can do will ever change this. That doesn't matter when he's in good material and this is good material. I want to see more of Steve Carell acting goofy, he's done a whole lot already but that's his thing. I also thought there was an interesting portrait of Billie Jean King here. It is very explicitly stated that nobody is able to find out about her sexuality because of the potential ramifications on the women's tour and the sponsorships they would lose. These scenes are played quite well, and this is never expressed as a motivating factor in King's play, but on some level you'd have to expect that it was. A flaw in this storyline is that Larry King (Austin Stowell) is presented as a passive observer of this and does nothing beyond a threat. I should note that this is not THE Larry King. I thought Battle of the Sexes also did a good job ensuring that people took Riggs bluster for what it was, merely bluster and an attempt to sell something. The distinction between that and of the sexism of the male promoter who feels like a true believer was also quite welcome. Movies do not often make such distinction.

It turned out in the end that King and Riggs remained friends for life, because of course they did. Really, they did. It's funny the way those things work out, because in that way it feels like both of them were in on the Riggs act and the whole thing wasn't really about that at all. The film presents the picture that it wasn't, and Billie Jean King is still alive to dispute things if that was the case, and she did not. I thought this was a great portrayal and representation by Emma Stone, and I will be the one to point out that during the real broadcast of this event, all Howard Cosell did was talk about Billie Jean King's looks. Have we come far enough where that doesn't matter in a sporting context? Amanda Nunes vs. Cris Cyborg tells me to some extent we have come that far, but I read some odious tweets from mainstream media after the fight that would dispute that notion. I don't know how far we've come when I think about things like this. Pay has certainly come a long way in terms of the differences between what women and men are paid for the same product, with the same attention on each product as is the case with MMA and tennis. It's also very difficult to watch the female athlete being treated like shit in this movie.

I think Billie Jean King said it best when discussing this film, that the film doesn't have to be entirely accurate. I've said that a lot about biographies because it's true, it's about capturing the feeling of the time and the people involved. This does that about as well as a film can possibly do. The promotion of the titular event, of the way they used old footage of athletes thoughts at the time, of the usage of Howard Cosell and his commentary, and of the ludicrous jacket Bobby Riggs wore into the Astrodome that day all made me laugh really hard. It captured the moment brilliantly. My score for the film is going to be almost entirely due to the limitations of the script, and due to this being an event a lot of people knew so much about in the first place. I am also quite partial to sports biographies. The Battle of the Sexes is something that has the issue of being too well known and not of something a lot of people would find so important that they'd have to see a movie about it, and the box office reflects that notion. However, I do think this is the kind of movie that has some rewatch value. Steve Carell and Emma Stone are great here, it's a duo I never knew that I wanted to watch together, but there is a bit of wanting them to be together more than happened in reality.

If anyone cares I did some housekeeping on this list after having time to reflect.

7.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   It
15.   Battle of the Sexes
16.   Okja
17.   Kong: Skull Island
18.   Split
19.   Personal Shopper
20.   Chuck
21.   Atomic Blonde
22.   The Lego Batman Movie
23.   Megan Leavey
24.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
25.   American Made
26.   Imperial Dreams
27.   Free Fire
28.   Win It All
29.   The Wall
30.   Breathe
31.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
32.   Alone in Berlin
33.   A United Kingdom
34.   Trespass Against Us
35.   The Mountain Between Us
36.   War Machine
37.   Happy Death Day
38.   Justice League
39.   To the Bone
40.   Wakefield
41.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
42.   Sand Castle
43.   CHiPs
44.   Death Note
45.   The Great Wall
46.   Fist Fight
47.   Wilson
48.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 11, 2019, 06:22:42 PM
(http://media.comicbook.com/2017/03/belko-experiment-featured-237946.jpg)

The Belko Experiment (2017), directed by Greg McLean

I assume that quite a few people were initially interested in The Belko Experiment because of James Gunn's script, but what I've learned over the last little while is that films don't succeed on the merit of the script, but rather the direction. That isn't to say James Gunn's script for this film was any good, because it wasn't. What we have in The Belko Experiment is a film that never could have worked for many different reasons, but the direction of the film took any potential for whimsy out of the equation. As a substitute we received a brutalist version of something that could have at the least been somewhat adequate. There are numerous scenes that feel like they've gone too far in the context of America's mass shooting problem. Maybe that was the point, but I don't really accept that. I have a taste for horror that actually works, this is something I've seen numerous other times. There are ways to do this and there are ways not to do it. One example of the good way is Battle Royale, which I think most have seen by this point. This is one of the bad examples! Sometimes with bad films I'm not able to put into words why I didn't like something, but in the case of The Belko Experiment, I damn well know why I didn't like it. That isn't a good sign for a movie like this one.

Our film has a triple start of sorts, with Mike Milch (John Gallagher Jr.) driving to work at Belko Industries in Bogota. On the way, he buys something from a street vendor. Barry Norris (Tony Goldwyn) is his and everyone else's boss, and he arrives the same day to find that the Colombian workers at the company are being turned away by security guards he doesn't know. Meanwhile, there's a new employee who I swear wasn't named, but her name is Dany (Melonie Diaz) and she arrives around the same time. She is told that tracking devices are implanted in the head of she and her fellow employees to ensure that they aren't kidnapped, which is quite common in Colombia. There are other characters as well, including Leandra (Adria Arjona), Mike's girlfriend; Wendell (John C. McGinley), a creepy fuck who has a crush on Leandra; their boss Terry (Owain Yeoman), a family man not from America like the rest of these people; Bud (Michael Rooker) and Lonny (David Dastmalchian), two maintenance workers; and lastly Evan (James Earl), the building's only security guard. The last of those things is genuinely dumb as fuck for a building with 80 foreign employees in a country with a high crime rate, but anyway, once the 80th employee shows up, there's a big problem.

A voice (Gregg Henry) comes over the intercom, and we see that nobody's in the room with the intercom, so this is not good. The voice instructs the employees to kill two of their co-workers or some bad shit is going to happen. People try to run outside, but this isn't going to work out because steel shutters have sealed off the windows and doors. They are all locked in. Everyone ignores the announcement, thinking that it's a prank, or not finding the courage to go out there and doing this, but this leads to the aforementioned bad consequences. There were people on the roof, the most important of them being Marty Espenscheid (Sean Gunn), an admittedly amusing conspiracy theorist who has a hard time believing any of this shit is happening. This shit is happening. The woman he's standing next to appears to be mowed down by gunfire, and so do a few other people throughout the building, leading to four dead. This shit is getting way more serious though. The film mostly follows Mike, who attempts to remove the tracker from his head once he and everyone else realizes the tracker exploded and killed those four people. Mike is subsequently warned that he will be killed if he continues, so he does not. After that, the group is told that thirty of them must be murdered inside of two hours, and if they aren't, sixty will die. This leads to a faction led by Mike (John Gallagher Jr.), who believes they should sit there and die. The other faction is led by Barry, who is ex-Special Forces and wants to get home to see his kids, regardless of whatever it is he must do.

There are numerous large problems with the film, but I think the worst one is that Mike is one of the most dislikable characters I've ever seen in a movie like this one. The concept is tired and played out as it is, but he's an annoying fuck. I will admit that I was hoping for someone to kill him so that I didn't have to tolerate someone who was acting like this. That's merely one of this film's problems, and I can't say more about Mike without spoiling everything. Another is that the concept is tired as fuck and beyond played out. Does anyone want to continue to watch movies based on the Battle Royale concept? I can think of some ways that I would, like for example if everyone was to die or for there to not be any protagonist at all. I can't believe Mike was the protagonist and I didn't see it that way, but he was! This was terrible. The last thing I feel obligated to complain about beyond how uninventive this is, is the way that the massacre scene played out. I've never said this before as it pertains to any other film, I think this was too far. It felt like a classic case of shock value just for the sake of it, but I didn't think this was acceptable at all. These were just random characters I don't think I'd even seen prior to this point in the film, so the scene holds no weight and is entirely unnecessary.

I know full well how morbid this would be, but one of these films really needs to have the characters follow the instructions to the letter. I'm sure one of them's out there, but hell if I know what it is as I'm not a horror expert. I wanted to see what would happen enxt once they followed instructions, we were robbed of this in a very predictable manner. The characters also bring absolutely nothing to the table on any level at all, there's no background for any of them. At least something like Escape Room that works upon a similar idea of survival (I won't say concept because that's not true) provides some background for its characters. One could lazily argue that there are too many for The Belko Experiment to properly do that, but that's when it's time to pick and choose. If they can bother to focus on some characters, which they did, we need some background. When a film doesn't provide that, why should I care? You have to get to know the characters to care about when they die, this didn't do that, and it's a shitty movie because of that and for countless other reasons. The massacre scene is something I need to have bleached out of my brain, I found absolutely nothing interesting about that scene at all.

I have a long way to go for 2017, I mean a really long way. There will certainly be a lot of bad movies along the way, but I'm not sure how many of them will feel more brazenly ridiculous than this one. I got no enjoyment out of this and I found that the film failed to pose the kinds of questions that a movie like Battle Royale did. It also frankly didn't have any kills anywhere near as interesting as the ones in Battle Royale. While the film would have the same problems, at least I would have been entertained by the ridiculous scenarios in which people's lives came to an end?

3.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   It
15.   Battle of the Sexes
16.   Okja
17.   Kong: Skull Island
18.   Split
19.   Personal Shopper
20.   Chuck
21.   Atomic Blonde
22.   The Lego Batman Movie
23.   Megan Leavey
24.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
25.   American Made
26.   Imperial Dreams
27.   Free Fire
28.   Win It All
29.   The Wall
30.   Breathe
31.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
32.   Alone in Berlin
33.   A United Kingdom
34.   Trespass Against Us
35.   The Mountain Between Us
36.   War Machine
37.   Happy Death Day
38.   Justice League
39.   To the Bone
40.   Wakefield
41.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
42.   Sand Castle
43.   CHiPs
44.   Death Note
45.   The Belko Experiment
46.   The Great Wall
47.   Fist Fight
48.   Wilson
49.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 12, 2019, 06:02:12 PM
(https://media.vanityfair.com/photos/57f6a316c666a0c056e7d0da/master/w_768,c_limit/Emily-Blunt-The-Girl-On-The-Train.jpg)

The Girl on the Train (2016), directed by Tate Taylor

My brother told me quite recently to watch The Girl on the Train, and he'd said he read the book and that was good as well. What he did not tell me was that the book and film are supposedly in such large contrast to one another. I didn't bother to find out myself, I don't want to read. I was figuring that the reason my brother recommended this to me was because it was at least somewhat similar to Gone Girl, which I suppose the film was on a superficial level, but I just don't see the similarities at all. It's only similar in the way that both are mysteries, but I don't think every mystery is similar just because someone is searching for something. That just doesn't wash with me. So, with that tangent out of the way, how about the movie? The Girl on the Train is a mystery, and yes, it is a murder mystery, but this is one from an unusual perspective. This is also based on a novel that sold very well, it was set in London and the setting was moved for American audiences. Fortunately there are no bad accents here and it seems to have been decided for a few of the actors to not even try to fake an accent, and while that isn't a priority, it's best to not be distracted during a mystery like this one. The real mystery for me is how the film made so much money. What we have here is a very average movie, with slightly more positives than negatives, but I don't see how this could have been a best-selling novel. Perhaps the changes in the story were too much.

Rachel (Emily Blunt) is an alcoholic, and she's going to tell her life story throughout the film. Or, at least, her recent story. She says that her husband said she had an incredible imagination, and she explains why she rides the train. Her spiel sounds absolutely insane, and it's clear that she has a tenuous grip on reality. She says she always sits in the same seat, has ridden this train for years, and she views a neighborhood every time imagining the lives of people she passes on the train. She also wonders if the people in the neighborhood ever pay attention to said train. Numerous times we see her watching a blonde woman, who we later learn is named Megan (Haley Bennett); along with her husband Scott (Luke Evans). Megan and Scott seem to have a great marriage and Rachel tells us that they have the perfect marriage, one she believes she could have had herself. We also learn that Rachel is a heavy alcoholic and drinks bottles every day, and she's also very fascinated with the blonde woman to the point of sketching her on a pad. How strange. Rachel also says that she used to live a few doors down, which explains her interest in the neighborhood.

Now we should address the blonde woman. We go back six months, with Megan speaking to her therapist, Dr. Abdic (Edgar Ramirez). She tells Dr. Abdic that she has had to become a nanny when she doesn't want to be, and that Scott wants her to become a mother, which she also doesn't want to be. Dr. Abdic asks her if this job helped, but no, it fucking sucked and Megan doesn't want to do it. Subsequently, we are introduced to Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), who is washing her baby Evie while the nanny is there. Guess who the Nanny is? It's Megan. There have been more and more phone calls on the telephone that aren't answered, and they speculate that...Rachel has been calling Anna's house. The reason? Rachel used to be married to Tom (Justin Theroux), who is now Anna's husband. Easy to see how all this comes together, and we are given a flashback to Rachel taking Evie at some point and running outside, Anna getting the baby back unharmed. Rachel's life is such a mess at this point that she lives with her friend Cathy (Laura Prepon), who does somewhat enable her destructive behavior. At least, that is, until one day when Rachel sees Megan and Dr. Abdic sucking face. At least, that is, until the same night when Rachel gets super drunk and decides to tell Scott about this. At least, that is, until Rachel passes out in a tunnel and wakes up with blood all over herself. The next day, it turns out Megan is missing, and she is now being investigated by the police. Detective Riley (Allison Janney) does not believe a single thing she says. What could have happened that night?

The Girl on the Train's story was moved from London to the Hudson Valley, which I suppose was a good decision in order to maintain interest from American audiences. The film made good money, but most of that came from foreign audiences, so I'm not sure it even mattered! A lot of my complaints are related to things I don't really want to spoil, and some of the positives are as well. I have read complaints that this feels like a Lifetime movie, but I would never go that far. Emily Blunt's performance here, particularly in a scene where she's drunk and saying she would attack Anna (yes, I left that out), is quite strong. Stronger than this material deserves I'd argue. I would also say that her performance does enough to keep me hanging on for the duration of the film, even when there are points where I feel like I couldn't give a shit less about any of the other characters. It's not that they're bad characters, but they are distinctly in a supporting role here compared to Blunt's portrayal of Rachel. The film revolves around her almost entirely, with the Megan scenes not really resonating with me until the last one. Oddly enough the last big one is the point at which someone should care about her, but I think that revelation belongs nearer to the beginning of the story.

The film does make mistakes similar to the thing I put down in the last paragraph, where all the pieces come together in a deluge of scenes lacking breathing room whereas the beginning of the film does not have any of this sort of action. The Girl on the Train feels imbalanced because of that. Emily Blunt is able to carry this material, but it's only so far that one can carry it. I don't know if the book was better, don't care either. The Girl on the Train is a film for women in the end, I don't think there's anything wrong with being able to point that out. There's also nothing wrong with that, but the reveal of each lurid detail, and of the numerous red herrings thrown out there, that stuff is like bait for an audience who desperately wants to see stories like this one. That's cool too. I did find all of the characters very dislikable though, and it was only my (and probably many other people's) crush on Emily Blunt that really kept this one going for me. It was interesting to see her play this role, but really, that's just about it. The material is schlock, I thought it was okay due to some performances, take that for what it's worth. I don't want to say anything else because it would spoil the film.

6/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 13, 2019, 06:18:35 PM
(https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/the-zookeepers-wife.jpg?w=1000&h=563&crop=1)

The Zookeeper's Wife (2017), directed by Niki Caro

At this point, I feel like some of my 2017 watching is list padding, but I'm not sure that entirely applied to The Zookeeper's Wife. I was interested to say how a Holocaust film could possibly tie into one about the fates of animals, and it turned out that the fate of the animals went by the wayside. I thought that was quite strange, and this wasn't what I'd expected. However, is it bad that this wasn't what I expected? That's something I intend to examine, but I have to address the proverbial elephant in the room (no pun intended). The question is whether or not a Holocaust film has to be great in order to have artistic merits, or if they are all great by default? If one isn't great, is it offensive? I'm not entirely sure how to answer any of the questions I've posed, but I think that a movie about this subject, particularly this one, does have artistic merits without being great. I still believe there are some issues with the film and I will address them all if anyone cares, but I also think that people who find such films offensive may be going a bit overboard. Yes, to some extent this does sanitize the events due to the producers seemingly wanting to get a PG-13 rating. There's a nude scene here where I don't understand how they got said rating, but anyway, I've once heard people complain about weak movies in this subgenre being offensive. I wanted to say I don't think that applies here.

Our film begins prior to the invasion of Warsaw, with Antonina (Jessica Chastain) aiding her husband Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldenbergh) in directing the Warsaw Zoo. This appears to be a very fulfilling job to say the least, and everyone seems to be having quite a good time in their roles at the zoo. Their largest help as a zookeeper appears to be Jerzyk (Michael McElhatton), who is fiercely loyal. One day, they are visited by Dr. Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), the head of the Berlin Zoo, and from that point on you can see what's coming. From the trailer I don't know how you wouldn't anyway. Once the film moves to September 1939, the bombardment of Warsaw begins. Bombs kill many animals, these scenes make for tough viewing. Antonina bunkers down with her son Ryszard, they're able to live, but the zoo is thrashed. The Polish Army arrives and shoots many of these animals because they're running out into the streets, this scene is horrible. If not for the PG-13 rating, if a director had really leaned into this gruesome aspect, I don't know if I could have pushed on through this scene. Once the dust settles and the Nazis arrive, Dr. Lutz arrives to have soldiers shoot the rest of the animals, and they'll take over the zoo to use as an armory.

Jan and Antonina have basically no choice in these matters, they also have friends who have impending problems beyond human comprehension. As happened in Warsaw, Jews were going to be sent to the Ghetto, and two of their friends Magda (Efrat Dor) and Dr. Fraenkel (Iddo Goldberg) are trying to find a place for their friend's insect collection. While there, Antonina makes an offer to shelter Magda in a closet, full well knowing she and Jan may be killed because of this. After this, as you may expect, Jan and Antonina decide to use the zoo to save Jews. In order to really pull that off, they're going to need some help. They decide to speak to Lutz at his headquarters in Warsaw, at which point a trade is made. The Zabinski's want to turn their zoo into a pig farm that will feed the German occupiers, which will allow them to make trips into the Warsaw Ghetto to find garbage to feed the pigs with. At the same time, Lutz has his own wishes. He has a crush on Antonina, but what he wants to do is recreate the Aurochs as a symbol of the Third Reich and their capabilities. Jan really intends to use these trips into the Ghetto to bring Jews out in his feed trucks after pouring the pig feed all over them and concealing their bodies, but Lutz doesn't need to know that. It appears they have a deal, and the movie played out from there.

The reason The Zookeeper's Wife isn't a great film is largely down to the fact that it appears that the main character never had any arc. She was resolute throughout. It's different, but this is a little difficult because the main obstacle in the path of the Zabinski's is initially presented as quite a nice person and a man of science. This facade evaporates quickly, and Jan's character arc happens so fast that it jumps over numerous steps. The animals also disappear from the film as a necessity and are replaced with humans inside of cages that reside in the Zabinski's house, this is quite a reminder of the way in which certain human beings are treated based on small differences with one another. I also thought the film's director made a bad mistake in allowing every actor to present whichever accent they wished to do. I liked Chastain's Polish accent well enough, but this clashes strongly with Bruhl's perfect English as a Nazi occupier. I also believe this is sanitized for children, then you have Jessica Chastain's nipple in here and I don't know what to think at all. That seems to conflict with how American parents treat their children.

While not a great film, I do think this was a good film. Or rather, good enough. The scenes with the animals being bombed are absolutely horrifying, if you don't feel anything when you see that you don't have a heart. There's also the fact that this is told from a female perspective, a rarity in a Holocaust movie, but one I'm sure there will be many more of in the future. I won't say this is the first because it isn't, but these films are simply not told from this perspective. I know this was supposed to be a starring vehicle for our lead actress, but I thought the role of her husband really stood out. Jan's scenes seem to hit the hardest, but they don't hit as hard as they should, and that's the thing I keep circling back around to. The scenes in this film could have been great in the hands of someone else, this could be a great film. It isn't a great film though, and because of that, The Zookeeper's Wife feels like many other movies that we've seen before, which is too bad. One thing I was surprised by was that Daniel Bruhl once again played a Nazi, this being the second time he did so in a film that was released in 2017. I know he also played Baron Zemo, but that character was altered so that he wasn't a Nazi. There are others too. Still though, man. Don't typecast him!

6.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   It
15.   Battle of the Sexes
16.   Okja
17.   Kong: Skull Island
18.   Split
19.   Personal Shopper
20.   Chuck
21.   Atomic Blonde
22.   The Lego Batman Movie
23.   Megan Leavey
24.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
25.   American Made
26.   Imperial Dreams
27.   The Zookeeper's Wife
28.   Free Fire
29.   Win It All
30.   The Wall
31.   Breathe
32.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
33.   Alone in Berlin
34.   A United Kingdom
35.   Trespass Against Us
36.   The Mountain Between Us
37.   War Machine
38.   Happy Death Day
39.   Justice League
40.   To the Bone
41.   Wakefield
42.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
43.   Sand Castle
44.   CHiPs
45.   Death Note
46.   The Belko Experiment
47.   The Great Wall
48.   Fist Fight
49.   Wilson
50.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 17, 2019, 06:24:39 PM
(https://t4z5n2e5.stackpathcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/1922-1.jpg)

1922 (2017), directed by Zak Hilditch

In 2017, there were a lot of Stephen King adaptations. Some were for the theater, others were streaming, and there were some that were aired on television. I've only reviewed It, but there will be quite a few more coming. I think I have one more this month, but for now, it was time to watch 1922. I was hardly able to concentrate after seeing tonight's Elimination Chamber match, but in the end this film hooked me more quickly than I'd expected. A lot of Stephen King adaptations are very difficult to bring to the screen, but that's because they attempt to cover too much ground when it's difficult to do so. 1922, on the other hand, is a much more simple story. It is filmed in a way where only an idiot would struggle with the concept or with how things work, and if you are that idiot you shouldn't out yourself. I'm not familiar with the source material, so I must admit that I was unnerved when there were all these rats over the place. I wish I'd known! The subject matter, as you might expect, is quite morbid. There are rats that are supposed to make you feel sick. 1922 also features a great performance that makes a slow burner like this one work. It seems as if the source material needed to be padded by such a performance, and that's what we got. Bad shit was going to happen, and it's a lesson about unforeseen consequences.

1922 starts with a flash-forward featuring Wilf (Thomas Jane), a farmer in Nebraska who has went to a hotel to write a confessional letter. What has the man done? We take no time to head back to 1922, where Wilf lives on a farm with his wife Arlette (Molly Parker) and son Henry (Dylan Schmid). Henry is 14 years old and becoming a man, and with life expectancies what they were, Wilf is worried about what his son will inherit in the future. Arlette and Wilf are having some serious marital problems because Arlette did not take to life out on a farm, away from a city and away from all those people. Arlette wants to sell an adjacent 100 acres of land that she inherited from her father, with Wilf owning the other 80 acres and farming them both. Wilf has no interest in this plan whatsoever, the thought of it makes him sick. He hates city life and hates the people there even more, his land is the source of his pride. The problem is that Arlette wants to open a dress shop and will divorce Wilf. She does not care to live at their farm any longer and has been seeking a lawyer to sell the land to a pig farm and slaughterhouse, which would render Wilf's land unable to be farmed as blood would flow down the stream and ruin crops. This cannot happen.

Wilf decides to plot against Arlette, using some of the scummiest things I could imagine, and I'm going to spoil them. Wilf believes that he needs to convince Henry to help him murder Arlette so that he does not lose his land or his son. His plot is quite devious, he knows that Henry has interest in their neighbor's daughter, a girl named Shannon (Kaitlyn Bernard). Arlette wants to take Henry with her to Omaha to open that dress shop, Henry doesn't want to go. Wilf consistently plants thoughts in Henry's head to get him on his side. When Henry isn't paying attention, it's time to fill Arlette's head with thoughts of Wilf actually appeasing her and moving to Omaha with the family. This makes Arlette very happy. Once Henry sees his mom happy, drunk, and talking shit, that's going to be it for him. He can't handle it. Wilf and Henry summarily do the deed, but there are lots of unforeseen consequences. I really mean there are lots. There are also lots of rats, and I also mean there are lots. Wilf and Henry must figure out how to adjust to their new life without Arlette, work the farm, and they also must ensure they are not caught.

Deciding how many details to reveal for a film like 1922 is one of my favorite aspects of these reviews, and I think I cut myself off at the right time. This is one of those films that takes a great approach of building up minor transgressions until something really fucking bad happens, and when it does happen, I found those scenes to be enthralling. Of course, the scope of the film is extremely limited, but the director does a great job of turning Wilf into a complete character. We see and hear all his motivations, his actions, understsand what makes him tick. He has an accent that makes him sound like a complete idiot, but he reads all the time and is a true deceiver. That's his deal. People like this guy always find the faults in others, and they usually use that information to tear someone down and make them into what they want them to be. They also don't always realize the consequences of their actions. Wilf, for example, didn't think that his son would become so rebellious without a motherly influence. He thought wrong. Maybe the things with him would have happened anyway? There's no way to know, but he did something wrong and there was no coming back from it.

The supernatural aspect of a film like 1922 isn't my absolute favorite thing in the world, but I thought there was enough room for interpretation that one could come to a conclusion that Wilf went insane and his insanity kicked into overdrive the longer he lived after killing his wife. That sounds right to me. People are often unable to shake what they've done. I also thought it was interesting how much of the film centered around Wilf being by himself, and I thought Thomas Jane did such a good job with this scenario. It's very difficult to act alone, as many actors have said before, but good actors do it in a way where you can't see their difficulty through the lens. I'm going to watch something a little longer tomorrow as these stories I've been watching lately don't always have a large scope, with a few exceptions. That isn't a negative, but it's a factor that serves to make these reviews a bit shorter. You could tell this was done on a small budget as it seemed the editor decided to use the same piece of music, but I'm not a particularly musical person and I could be way off on this one. In any case it was strange and I thought that was another weakness of the film, but otherwise this was very good. I was trying to explain my rating a little bit here, but make no mistake, this is worth watching.

7/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   It
15.   Battle of the Sexes
16.   Okja
17.   Kong: Skull Island
18.   Split
19.   1922
20.   Personal Shopper
21.   Chuck
22.   Atomic Blonde
23.   The Lego Batman Movie
24.   Megan Leavey
25.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
26.   American Made
27.   Imperial Dreams
28.   The Zookeeper's Wife
29.   Free Fire
30.   Win It All
31.   The Wall
32.   Breathe
33.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
34.   Alone in Berlin
35.   A United Kingdom
36.   Trespass Against Us
37.   The Mountain Between Us
38.   War Machine
39.   Happy Death Day
40.   Justice League
41.   To the Bone
42.   Wakefield
43.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
44.   Sand Castle
45.   CHiPs
46.   Death Note
47.   The Belko Experiment
48.   The Great Wall
49.   Fist Fight
50.   Wilson
51.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 19, 2019, 06:19:29 PM
(https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/08/01/arts/04icarus1/04icarus1-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale)

Icarus (2017), directed by Bryan Fogel

It often turns out that with good documentaries, the intent is to make a film that winds up entirely different from the finished product. This is the case with Icarus, which I'm certain was not supposed to be a movie about the Russian doping program during the Sochi Olympics. Both subject matters are patently absurd, the documentary is completely ridiculous, and yet it's all true. Could Bryan Fogel ever have imagined his subject would take him to Vladimir Putin. The answer to that question is obvious. There are so many ways to feel about Icarus, but the one that I'm left with is Vladimir Putin's willingness and capability at engaging in numerous international conspiracies. This is a man with a vision so far beyond anything I'd expect from another human being, and the most hilarious thing about these conspiracies is that all of them have been found out. Or have they? There's an endless amount and there's probably even more, but he's not particularly good at managing the after-effects of his machinations. The subject matter is no exception to this. The funniest part about Icarus is that the initial story would have likely never seen the light of day, so this is a case of great fortune. It's also a case of Bryan Fogel doing a great job of piecing together the events and ensuring that they're easy for the viewers to understand.

Bryan Fogel seemed to be fascinated with Lance Armstrong and with amateur cycling, and had the intention of documenting his progress in an amateur cycling competition over in Europe. I'm also fascinated with Armstrong and that's why I've reviewed two films about him, but Fogel was far more obsessed. He did very well in his first time running the Haute Route, which is a very difficult race in the French Alps. Fogel finished 14th out of 440 without using drugs. His goal for the documentary? It's time for him to win the race. If he can cheat and get away with it, anyone could do it and compete. His findings are shockingly not so great. After a very long doping program, one where he wasn't caught, he gets to the race and has a mechanical issue on one of the first stages. Fogel is never able to recover from this, which shows there's also a psychological aspect to winning said races, as well as the possibility other people are cheating too. Plus, the race is pretty damn hard, and even though he'd made huge gains in his capabilities, there's just so much more to competing than that. Or is there? Maybe it's just that the mechanical problem put him too far behind to recover. There's no way to really know.

While preparing for the Haute Route, Fogel is rejected by another doctor who doesn't want to ruin his reputation, even though this is supposed to be a documentary exhibiting how doping controls can be defeated. Instead, Vogel is passed on to Russia, to someone who runs a goddamn anti-doping lab. There's no real way to know this person's motivations in helping Fogel, particularly with what comes after the race, maybe this was his intention the whole time? I genuinely don't know. Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov was the director of Russia's national anti-doping laboratory, but he's telling Fogel exactly how he can beat the system and possibly even win the race. My suspicion is that Rodchenkov did this with the intention of cultivating a relationship with an American who could bring him here, which would allow him to reveal everything he knew and not die in Russia as tends to happen to people who do those things. Eventually, Rodchenkov becomes good friends with Fogel, and he decides to tell Fogel that Russia has a state-sponsored Olympic doping program which he oversees. Most people at least know some of the details of this, but you can't possibly understand how a state-sponsored program could work and be successful without watching this documentary.

It's difficult to understand how this actually works until you realize that WADA has decided to clear Russia in the wake of this. It's a matter both of not wanting to know and not wanting to do anything about a problem once someone knows about. I am left with the idea that the concept of anti-doping in sports is completely bogus and that someone could beat tests if they had a doctor who knew what they were doing. Make absolutely no mistake, these doping conspiracies are not unique to Russia, this is merely one that we know about. There have been more of these kinds of scandals than I can count. The fact is that people don't really want to know. Cycling has been forced into exposing these because the French are infamously anti-corruption, but that is the only sport with fans who really do want to know. It's a fact that we accept these miraculous recoveries from injury, the long careers of certain athletes, and their wonderful athletic abilities simply because we want to believe they are naturally possible when most evidence shows us that it is not. It is conceivable that many athletes could have a doping program if this regular guy could have just a little assistance in pulling it off.

The Olympics were supposed to be pure sport, but the wool has been removed from the eyes there, the lipstick off the pig. The IOC appears to be an incredibly corrupt institution itself, as Icarus shows us. A lot of their executives did not want to believe and in the end they allowed Russian athletes to compete, claiming that politics was getting in the way of sports. This is one of the most brazen and easily disproven lies I've heard. What I liked was the way that this film laid all the cards on the table and was willing to tell the truth about how athletes are a pawn in these political games, which is what international sport really is at times. The Olympics is one of the most political events going and everyone should be able to acknowledge that these days. The lone flaw with the film is that Fogel takes a bit too much of a central role in the documentary when Rodchenkov should have been given the complete focus of the events, but in some respects this is unavoidable. Rodchenkov was left unable to travel and could not participate in all of these meetings, nor did he want his voice on the phone because he was paranoid. The reasons for his paranoia are all laid out here, with the most obvious one being that Rodchenkov's friend who participated in the doping program mysteriously died after Rodchenkov's disappearance.

8/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Harley Quinn on February 19, 2019, 09:54:41 PM
Been waiting a while for you to tackle Icarus so glad you finally got around to it :)
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 22, 2019, 05:59:05 AM
(https://cdn.pastemagazine.com/www/articles/it-comes-at-night-633x356.jpg)

It Comes at Night (2017), directed by Trey Edward Shults

I remember a lot of people being angry that It Comes at Night wasn't a real horror movie, whatever the hell that means. After watching this, I do see how it isn't much of a horror movie, but I thought this was a psychological treat just the same. The low IMDB rating tells me that a lot of people feel differently and that's fine, people shouldn't agree on everything. After seeing Krisha a little while ago, I was looking forward to finally getting around to Shults' next effort. This movie is in some ways similar to Krisha. The drama with that film comes all at the end, when you know something bad is going to happen, and that's the case with It Comes at Night. These films are still radically different, obviously. Krisha is about someone's own demise, It Comes at Night is about what could happen in a post-apocalyptic scenario, about trust, and obviously about family and what it actually means. Obviously we are going to see a lot more going forward from this director, but I hope that his future works are of the quality of his first two. For me, the science-fiction aspect of It Comes at Night is what makes the film.

Our film begins with Bud (David Pendelton) dying of a mysterious sickness, the sort which lets everyone know that this is yet another post-apocalyptic work. This disease is very highly contagious, so after our characters kill Bud out of mercy, they burn his body. Paul (Joel Edgerton) lives with his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), and Bud was her father. Paul and Sarah have a son, Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), and he's plagued with horrendous nightmares. It is very difficult for Travis to sleep, but I'm sure it's even more difficult considering that he was there when his grandfather was put down. The family home is fortunately very deep in the woods, but they're isolated and some element of paranoia has crept into their activities and thought process. It is made very clear they are correct. The next night, there's an intruder attempting to break into their house. Who knows the reason why, one can only guess as to the real reason. There's a shortage of supplies and of potable water, and Paul's house is also really nice and easy to defend. Paul captures the potential robber and ties him to a tree to see if he's suffering from the disease, which fortunately it turns out that he is not. The stranger is Will (Christopher Abbott), a man with a wife Kim (Riley Keough) and a son Andrew, who says he was trying to find fresh water.

After much interrogation, and after Will sits there for a day or so, it is decided that Will is not sick. Will also says that he didn't know the house was occupied, and that he has things to trade for water. He has some goats and chickens, and says that he was staying at his brother's house after his brother died. Sarah suggests that Paul bring everyone back to their house as it would be easier to defend themselves. Paul doesn't love this idea, but he does think it works for them. We come to learn that Paul is a deeply distrustful person and with good reason, people in this version of the world are very fucked up. Travis continues to have worse and worse nightmares as well, including one of his father spilling black bile out of his mouth. So, Paul decides to take his truck out of the garage and go with Will to find Will's family, but there's a problem. On the way there, they are ambushed by two guys with guns, a very big surprise indeed. Paul's distrust is such that he believes Will set the attack up, which serves as a reminder that this film could really turn out all sorts of different ways. I forgot to mention that Paul is so careful that his family has to wear gas masks and gloves whenever they may come in contact with another human being, which it turns out is quite a smart decisino.

I think most of the people here have seen It Comes at Night, right? This is a simple story featuring the themes I pointed out at the end of my first paragraph, the point is that nobody in the family wants to get sick. This is a thought that consumes their being, they will not have this happen to them no matter what it is they have to do. It's a life or death situation, one which leads people to have to make horrendous decisions. The viewer is naturally meant to question whether or not they'd do these things in order to keep their own family alive, and I think in this situation I'm on the side of Paul. I know Paul is a dick to his kid and I wouldn't go that far, but the way he approaches the situation makes the most sense to me. I'm all about the common sense of the situation and don't have much thought for idealism and waiting to see what happens. You have to do something in scenarios where you very well could die. I thought the ultimate resolution to the story was brilliant and I'd also add unexpected. Didn't see that coming at all. The details of the story, as well as the nightmares, are also very well placed throughout the film.

I do think there are burgeoning problems with how many films are deciding to inhabit this genre, and at this point there are far too many post-apocalyptic or post-breakout films. It was ridiculous quite a long time ago. That being said, It Comes at Night is one of the better films in this genre because its story is so intimate and doesn't attempt to haphazardly explain how this all came to happen in the first place. We also don't have any characters deciding that they want to go live inside of trees, or deciding to kill their whole family out of paranoia. Sorry if I've spoiled. My interpretation of the ending was not one of paranoia but rather of common sense, although there is a goof in terms of my inability to understand how the door was opened. I also thought It Comes at Night was a little too slow in building its story, and that the slowness was too apparent throughout the movie. This was only around 90 minutes long, so being a slow builder is a bit strange to me. There are some unanswered questions, but ultimately there aren't too many of them, and this was a good film.

7/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   It
15.   Battle of the Sexes
16.   Okja
17.   Kong: Skull Island
18.   It Comes at Night
19.   Split
20.   1922
21.   Personal Shopper
22.   Chuck
23.   Atomic Blonde
24.   The Lego Batman Movie
25.   Megan Leavey
26.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
27.   American Made
28.   Imperial Dreams
29.   The Zookeeper's Wife
30.   Free Fire
31.   Win It All
32.   The Wall
33.   Breathe
34.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
35.   Alone in Berlin
36.   A United Kingdom
37.   Trespass Against Us
38.   The Mountain Between Us
39.   War Machine
40.   Happy Death Day
41.   Justice League
42.   To the Bone
43.   Wakefield
44.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
45.   Sand Castle
46.   CHiPs
47.   Death Note
48.   The Belko Experiment
49.   The Great Wall
50.   Fist Fight
51.   Wilson
52.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 22, 2019, 06:07:44 PM
(https://cf-images.us-east-1.prod.boltdns.net/v1/static/769341148/ad06a631-fe5f-4c66-91fe-f21bd0d2bb67/d079ec0c-d54e-4b61-8d19-505224cd2aae/1280x720/match/image.jpg)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014), directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi

There were many reasons I decided to watch What We Do in the Shadows, and it's tough to narrow things down to one. Some of the more obvious ones are related to the fact that there's going to be a television show based on this film, which I thought I was going to watch. I still am. Another reason was that I wanted to know how Taika Waititi made the jump from filming movies in New Zealand to doing something for Marvel. This film did go a long way towards answering that as this kind of movie is completely different than almost everything I've seen before. Another of these many reasons was an intrigue as to what a New Zealand movie would feel like. I don't think I've seen one before that wasn't obviously produced for worldwide audiences. Local humor is the kind of thing I'm always interested in, but I'm not certain that this was really local humor. There's also the fact that I rarely watch things that really make me crack up, and that it's interesting to see vampire life in combination with a modern society. I also thought it was funny how What We Do in the Shadows was co-directed, but more than anything else, I think I watched the film because it was leaving Amazon Prime.

I do not often watch mockumentaries, but What We Do in the Shadows is one of the best of these kinds of films. The last one I checked out was Borat. A documentary crew who are wearing crucifixes is following four vampire roommates who live in Wellington. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) used to be a tyrant and has amazing powers, but as he has gotten older (862 years old), these powers have begun to wane. Viago (Taika Waititi) is 379 years old and fashions himself as the leader of the household who assigns chores to everyone and keeps things in line. This guy is a dork. In Viago's previous life, he was a noble of some sort and those characteristics have sustained for all those years. Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) is the youngest, he is 183 years old. He's rebellious because of that status and enjoys some really weird shit. Most of all he wants to be cool. The oldest is over 8,000 year old, he is Petyr (Ben Fransham) and he is very much like Nosferatu. This guy is creepy and has a great makeup job and cool set of hands. He really doesn't like to talk to the other vampires and prefers to keep to himself, sleeping in a tomb in the basement. We don't see much of him.

Alright, so with all that in mind, everyone's completely aware of the general vampire rules, right? We get to see a lot of that stuff here, and I thought it was highly amusing to see how the quartet has not adapted to the way life is now. Petyr in particular will not go outside at all, and when you see how he looks, obviously that's for the best. Deacon is lucky enough to have a familiar, which is a nice way of saying he has a slave, Jackie (Jackie Van Beek). Jackie does the vampires work that they don't want to or don't know how to do, but she hates that Deacon won't turn her into a vampire when she'd asked for it. One day, Jackie is tasked with bringing some virgins to the flat for the trio of vampires (meaning not Petyr), one man and one woman. She brings Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) and an unimportant random woman, but Nick isn't too receptive to the plans and really wants to leave. They also weren't virgins. I should point out that the plans are to drain him of his blood and kill him, which he seems to catch onto once the vampires begin to do weird things to him. When Nick tries to leave, the vampires chase him down and attempt to kill him. All of a sudden, Petyr shows up and attacks Nick, and at a later point it is revealed that Nick has been made a vampire. Nick prefers to keep his friend Stu (Stu Rutherford) around, but from that point on, the film takes on the extra focus of a young vampire learning how to live that way.

What We Do in the Shadows is a bit of a corny movie, but it is also very funny and I laughed quite a lot. I also thought the film was as weird as it needed to be, with every character fitting into the plot perfectly and some of the others not overstaying their welcome. There are some obvious logical issues, but this is also the point, and one shouldn't be stupid about it. Who expected a vampire comedy? Certainly not me, didn't even know that one existed until a little while ago. I only wish I'd seen the film much sooner. I was also left with the thought that we desperately need another Nosferatu movie as people have become enthralled with the concept of the beautiful vampire, which isn't something I think should continue on forever. We need more weird, as campy as the character may look. I think the goal of a movie like this one is to bring consistent laughs, and I thought this was ridiculously successful in doing so. The way every scene is played with a deadpan face is incredible and I'm sure the actors had to do tons of takes, the things in this are too ridiculous and I'd go so far as to say someone should be careful not to have a drink in their mouth at any point here. My lone complaint is that Petyr eats it, but to achieve this on a budget less than $2 million is incredible.

The comedy scene is so unbelievably dogshit that anything good is prone to being overrated, but I don't think it's possible to overstate how successful the humor in What We Do in the Shadows really was. I was assuming that the introduction of Nick's character would ruin the movie, or that the werewolves would do the same, but neither of those things happened. I also thought it was ridiculous the way Viago would feed on people and mess up every time, and you know what, this is just too much. I simply can't see how the television show won't be an enormous success. I must assume that a lot of people don't know that this even exists, but they better figure it out soon! To miss out on watching What We Do in the Shadows is actually pretty bad, I needed to stay current on film for far too long, and once I smash through some recent years it will be even easier to do it the way I am currently attemping to. One thing's for sure though, I can't believe that a film like this actually exists. It's not because the material is overly provocative or anything like that, but the creativity here is off the charts. Very rarely is anyone able to pull something like this off, and I thought having two directors didn't make any sense, but that doesn't seem to matter. The filmmakers also said they shot enough footage for three different cuts, and I'd like to see the other two at some point.

I don't think they'll make a sequel now that they're making a TV show, but this material desperately cries out for an update on the original trio of vampires. I demand one.

8.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 23, 2019, 06:40:20 PM
(https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/avengers-infinity-war-19.jpg?w=1000)

Avengers: Infinity War (2018), directed by the Russo Brothers

I must immediately point out that sometimes there are films so big that you can't possibly review them. Or, at least, it seems like there are going to be movies that big. I can't think of one quite as big as this movie, but maybe there are going to be movies like that going forward. I did not expect I would ever really catch up on these Marvel movies until I forced myself to do it. I have been a procrastinator forever in this way, that's just how I am. Anyway, I got around to this as fast as I could. I have been waiting for some time to see them do an Avengers film correctly. I hated the second one and thought the first was just okay, but this was some distance beyond that. That being said, I do not think this was better than Black Panther, which is a sentiment I've heard expressed so many times in the lead up to this year's Oscars. People should quit with that. I'll explain why I feel this way, I always try to do that, but with something like this you never know how to describe things. Anyway, with a cast like this one, I'm going to eschew my usual summing up of the event and I'm going to summarize them my own way. With the box office being what it is, I'm sure everyone's seen the movie to begin with. So doesn't everyone know that shit anyway?

There's Thanos (Josh Brolin), the character attempting to accumulate the Infinity Stones we've all come to know from the universe. His lieutenants all play their part here, but this is a film with at least fifty characters. That isn't an exaggeration either. Every Avenger you'd want to see is here besides Hawkeye and Ant-Man, and we're at a point where it's super hard to actually address the events. The Infinity Stones are all increasingly more difficult for Thanos to acquire. The most difficult are going to be the Time Stone, Soul Stone, and Mind Stone. The Time Stone is in the possession of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and he is able to deduce that there's only one way this can actually end positively for the universe as a whole. We'll see exactly how that works. The Soul Stone, Thanos is not exactly aware of who has it or where it is, but he seems to be drawn to Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Gamora asks Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) to kill her if Thanos should encounter her, as she knows she will be forced into revealing the location of the Soul Stone. This is not good. The easiest one of these three to acquire is in theory the one on Vision's (Paul Bettany) head. Vision and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) have been off in Scotland, seeing as they're on the run with the other Avengers who didn't have things go their way during Captain America: Civil War.

Thanos actually acquiring these stones, on the other hand, is going to be a very difficult task. As you may have figured out, the Avengers and the other superheroes that haven't officially joined the Avengers are extremely resourceful. They know what the hell they're doing. There's also the other Guardians of the Galaxy, and yes, all of them factor into the film. But there's also so many other characters from the other movies, and with not all of them having died, you can never really know when anyone will show up at any given point. When it comes to Avengers: Infinity War? I mean ANYONE. The action never lets up, and you should expect the worst as the worst is going to happen.

As far as the worst goes, I was genuinely not expecting Dr. Strange to have envisioned that scenario and decided it was the only way things would actually work out. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It's very difficult to juggle all of these characters and give them what someone would consider to be fair screen time, so the only way to get around that is to inundate the film with action and prevent slowing down. Avengers: Infinity War does that as well as I've ever seen a film do so, but nothing else has had such a critical mass of talent on the chess board. Juggling these things is even more impressive than the story itself, the balancing act allows the director to do things that may not make sense that are easy not to think about. The visual effects also work to this end, and so does the ending. Making half the cast disappear like this seemed to be perfectly planned in order to get maximum crowd impact. Star-Lord is a love or hate him character, and for some Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is too. Then, you have characters that everyone really likes and they all just disappear. This was chosen perfectly, I couldn't believe that shit. Obviously, a lot of it will be reversed. But what?

The problems with Avengers: Infinity War are few and far between, the most obvious one being that there are some major instances of poorly timed humor. This is prevalent for far too much of the film, but not for the final battle when it feels like things really matter. I think everything should matter to that extent though. The humor is the main reason I think Black Panther was a better film. I also have to say that I love Peter Dinklage, but his casting as the giant Eitri was not a good decision. I was extremely distracted during all these scenes and had a very hard time paying attention, which was a problem because those scenes had an incredible payoff that I did not initially understand. In the end, to be honest, I don't really know what to say about any of this stuff without being questioned. There's so much in this movie, so much to the story, and so many crazy character interactions that I'm a bit overwhelmed. The stakes matter, people die and you think some of them are definitely going to stay dead, but who knows? I'm eagerly anticipating the next film, as well as what comes next in the Marvel saga. There's absolutely no way to know what could be next.

8.5/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   Black Panther
10.   If Beale Street Could Talk
11.   The Sisters Brothers
12.   A Private War
13.   Avengers: Infinity War
14.   Stan & Ollie
15.   Green Book
16.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
17.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
18.   The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
19.   On My Skin
20.   Private Life
21.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
22.   Mid90s
23.   Eighth Grade
24.   Sorry to Bother You
25.   Vice
26.   The Old Man & the Gun
27.   Suspiria
28.   Vox Lux
29.   Boy Erased
30.   Bad Times at the El Royale
31.   The Other Side of the Wind
32.   Searching
33.   A Simple Favor
34.   The Hate U Give
35.   Bumblebee
36.   Mary Poppins Returns
37.   Creed II
38.   Hold the Dark
39.   The Land of Steady Habits
40.   Halloween
41.   Mary Queen of Scots
42.   Aquaman
43.   Outlaw King
44.   Overlord
45.   Ben Is Back
46.   Monsters and Men
47.   The Mule
48.   On the Basis of Sex
49.   Bohemian Rhapsody
50.   White Boy Rick 
51.   Papillon
52.   Game Night
53.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
54.   Instant Family
55.   Alpha
56.   The Front Runner
57.   The Predator
58.   Apostle
59.   The Angel
60.   The Commuter
61.   Beautiful Boy
62.   The Nun
63.   Operation Finale
64.   The Equalizer 2
65.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
66.   Bird Box
67.   12 Strong
68.   Venom
69.   Skyscraper
70.   The Meg
71.   Assassination Nation
72.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
73.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
74.   22 July
75.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
76.   The Little Stranger
77.   Tomb Raider
78.   Night School
79.   The 15:17 To Paris
80.   Peppermint
81.   Mile 22
82.   The First Purge
83.   Hunter Killer
84.   Kin
85.   Hell Fest
86.   Proud Mary
87.   Robin Hood
88.   The Happytime Murders
89.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 24, 2019, 06:50:28 PM
(https://www.thetimes.co.uk/imageserver/image/methode%2Fsundaytimes%2Fprod%2Fweb%2Fbin%2Fd14a4860-b0a7-11e6-a484-48e510ab58d4.jpg?crop=2667%2C1500%2C0%2C0&resize=685)

Allied (2016), directed by Robert Zemeckis

It appears that as it relates to Allied, I'm in the minority with my opinion of the film. I believe that I liked this much more than the majority of people who watched it. I will do my best to explain why, but it seems that I'm going to have a difficult time as I'm already running into writer's block. One thing that was coming to mind as I first turned on Allied were the rumors that Marion Cotillard had an affair with Brad Pitt. These weren't true and have been denied by all parties, but they're the kind of thing that comes to mind repeatedly when those stories were so prevalent. I am of the belief that these kinds of things play on the minds of people when they analyze the work related to said rumors. At least that's how I felt about it. I could be wrong on this one. Perhaps my favorite thing about Allied was that the story turned on a dime from one thing to the next, but this is the kind of thing that seems to bother a lot of people. But what about that not bothering me? Everyone has their own tastes, I have mine, and that's how it is. I should point out though, that I do prefer movies that have lasting consequences as a result of the actions of the characters, and it seems that Allied is one of those films. Who would've thought? Robert Zemeckis has went completely off the rails the last few years, some think this is one of those movies, but I don't agree.

Allied starts in 1942, obviously during World War II. Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is a Wing Commander who serves in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which serves as a point to explain away Vatan's lack of accent. Vatan is serving out intelligence duties, and he has traveled to Casablanca in order to assassinate a German ambassador. His mission leads to a partnership with a French Resistance fighter, Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), and they present themselves as a married couple to the locals in order to further their cover. Marianne has escaped from France after her resistance group was compromised, so her path to Morocco was not exactly great. The two agree that becoming close is a problem and that in their line of work, it could very well lead to their death. Marianne has worked herself into being trusted by the Germans, and through that she has secured an invitation for Vatan to go through with conducting the assassination. When they calculate their odds of survival, they decide to have sex in a car out in the desert, because that's just how likely it is they die. They can't help themselves. Without spoiling what exactly it is that happens, both Marianne and Vatan survive and escape to England.

I don't really want to spoil the thing that turns the movie on its head, so let me bring things back a little bit. In order for Marianne and Vatan to pull this off, they have to deal with a lot of factors that nobody could possibly be aware of. There's the fact that German intelligence officers could easily see them both prior to the attempted assassination, the fact that Marianne needs training with the weapons Vatan has brought to Morocco, and the whole thing about their life inside of a city full of spies. Now, once things return to England, we fast-forward quite a long time. Vatan decides to bring Marianne to England as his wife, and the two do get married. We learn that Max has a sister, Bridget (Lizzy Caplan), and she's in the military too. Max and Marianne have had a baby girl, born during a bombing raid, and this is done in typical Zemeckis fashion with all kinds of ridiculous effects. I didn't think anything was special about that part to be fair. Max also now works from home, and his Col. Frank Heslop (Jared Harris) is a non-descript character. I thought his appearance here played on viewers knowledge of Mad Men due to the lack of details given to his character. Anyway, the war isn't over, the Germans still have bombing raids, and that's all I want to say!

The point about actions having consequences is what sticks with me, and this film definitely has that. I do think, on the other hand, that it's very difficult to create a film like this one that has two stories. Both stories are good from my perspective, but many people disagree with me. That's cool. I thought Marion Cotillard was excellent here, Brad Pitt a bit less so, but he was solid. I think I might be a bit of a sucker for romance stories when they don't have some corny ass ending. There you have it. I thought the film was successful in the way that Zemeckis decided not to use music to ratchet up tension in scenes that don't need pointless sound. I do think that there needed to be more romance scenes, though. Those scenes were required in the last half of the movie and they simply aren't there as often as they needed to be, but the first half is loaded with them. I think the hook they use to twist the story inside out is quite a good one, and I think it's one we've all seen many times before, but the large budget of the film allows for extra tricks. I'm a little surprised Brad Pitt made so many movies where he played a soldier, though. Seems to go against his politics in basically every way, but he is playing someone younger than his actual self. I suppose that's the appeal.

One thing that I did find strange was how narrow in scope the story was when the budget for the film was so large, but I actually don't mind this. For the most part I am getting sick of films with enormous casts. Sometimes there's a need to trim things down, and I think that's yet another one of the hooks for me. I don't think this is a great film, that's going too far. It is, however, quite good in my opinion. The romantic scenes are believable to me (which makes one wonder about rumors), and there's some decent war action as well. Any movie where Nazis get shot up is going to make me feel something, but I did think there should have been just a bit more of this. When I'm thinking of war films shot by directors in the same generation, one that comes to mind is Bridge of Spies. Bridge of Spies is a slightly better film, but I think that it's one that seems to give the easy way out when playing with the emotions of the audience. Allied does not do that, and that kind of commitment to the story is something I found welcome. I wanted to watch something tonight that was nominated for an Oscar in the past, and even though Allied was merely nominated for Costume Design, it fit the bill.

7/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Kahran Ramsus on February 25, 2019, 02:02:59 PM
The interesting thing about Infinity War is that Thanos is very much the main character of the film.  It is all about his quest, and he's the one with the greatest character development.

I'm not sure that has been true for a superhero movie since the Tim Burton Batman films, so it was certainly something different and fresh.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 25, 2019, 06:02:34 PM
(https://www.pennyblackmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/QUEEN-DESERT-Website-Artwork-Still.jpg)

Queen of the Desert (2017), directed by Werner Herzog

Deciding that my first Werner Herzog narrative feature would be this one was probably not a good decision, with hindsight being what it is. Foresight also should have told me this wasn't a good decision as Queen of the Desert was slaughtered by reviewers, that only happens for a reason. When a film starts filming in 2013 and is released in the USA in 2017, that's a very bad sign. Queen of the Desert is simply a very dull and boring film that gets the focus on its subject all wrong. Did anyone need a movie about Gertrude Bell where her focus was almost entirely on other men rather than what she was hoping to achieve? When I phrase it that way, I realize exactly how bad this film is. It is one I am surprised anyone would give $36 million in funding for. That is truly incredible, and the gross was just $2 million, which means this was a truly horrendous bomb. How does this happen? Is it that nobody would dare tell a filmmaker like Herzog that they don't have the ability to make exactly what they want to make? I believe the last question is also the answer, and it is also the only explanation as nothing else makes any sense. I think Herzog should just stick to documentaries.

Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman) is the kind of subject one would make a film about if they had the carte-blanche to make anything regardless of potential financial gain, or if one was hellbent on making a female centered epic biography. This, unfortunately, does not feel epic at all. Queen of the Desert begins with a scene where men are whining about the possibility of Gertrude being a kingmaker in Iraq after World War I, which I'm sure is something that actually happened. It is still weird. We then flashback to the things leading up to that, the first of those being Gertrude at home in England. She graduated from Oxford and really hates being at home trying to find a suitor as her parents would want her to do. As a result, she is allowed by her parents to travel to Persia, taking residence at the British Embassy in Tehran. Her uncle Frank (Mark Lewis Jones) is the Ambassador to Persia, he's also quite the dickhead. I have no idea why the film would focus on this, but we are subsequently introduced to Henry Cadogan (James Franco), the apparent love of Gertrude's life until she found another one. Their romance is less than inspiring to put it nicely and there's no chemistry between the two, but regardless of that, things continue on their path.

Henry is interested in Farsi poetry and as this film tells this, he is a motivating factor in Gertrude's fascination with Bedouins. This is an incredible pile of piss. Anyway, Henry eventually proposes to Gertrude in the lamest fashion, and she says yes. With it being the custom of the day, Henry must ask Gertrude's father Hugh (David Calder) for Gertrude's hand in marriage. Not only does Hugh refuse due to Henry's station and heavy rumors of gambling debts, but he calls Gertrude back to England and she has to come. While there, Henry simply cannot take that and kills himself. I must point out that Kidman has aged very well and I genuinely couldn't spot the age difference even though I knew it existed. With Henry out of the way, we are still not spared from a portrayal of a truly trailblazing woman reduced to a fascination with men as the driving of her spirit. For the rest of Gertrude's life, she is dedicated to exploring the Middle East. Along the way, with her guide Fattouh (Jay Abdo), they encounter some notable individuals from the era. T.E. Lawrence (Robert Pattinson) makes an appearance, so does Winston Churchill (Christopher Fulford), and Charles Doughty-Wylie (Damien Lewis). Even though Charles is a married man, he continues on an unconsummated affair with Gertrude through love letters. Said love letters are prominent in the film even though she goes to Arabia, Syria, and Jordan.

When I critique a film for the focus being unfairly placed on men, you should know that it's pretty bad. I don't think I've ever done that before. This film is an absolute mess. There's no drama, no impetus behind the story, and the romance is garbage. This is one of the worst screenplays imaginable, I think. I'm genuinely at a loss for words and even though I don't know that much about Gertrude Bell, I know that this is the definition of bad history. There are historical things jammed together and out of place, a book would deal with this subject much better. The important things Bell did were not shown here at all and I do not think this is remotely comprehensive. I did laugh very hard at how King Abdullah and King Faisal have a tiny role in the film at the very end. Like, are you serious? This is totally ridiculous on every level. Imagination is out of the equation and Queen of the Desert is beyond boring, I cannot believe I made it through the movie. I was struggling badly at points.

Unfortunately, any historical examination of her actions is gone, and one has to consider that she is responsible for the Middle East being what it is today, both good and bad. Mostly bad. This movie is sad, and when Herzog decides to place so many names and details in the film, he should actually be sure to get all of them right. Werner Herzog of all people should know better than that. Queen of the Desert is also a plodding, very standard Hollywood film, but one where the actors other than Kidman do not have true belief in their own material. One of the standards by which I judge biography movies is if the subject would be angered by it and for what reason. Sometimes, the subject being angered would be a good thing. That is not the case here. This is absolutely nothing like any description of Gertrude Bell that I've ever heard. My favorite part was the way James Franco's accent faded in and out and it seemed that nobody noticed this, so they have scenes full of this wavering accent. Yikes. That's damning enough, but I think the worst thing I could say is that nobody should watch this. There are zero redeeming qualities, the only reason I'm not giving the film a lower score is that I was not reduced to laughter at any point. My list ranking supports the idea I can handle bad comedy much easier than bad drama...or whatever the hell this was. There was no drama in this film and no story beyond showing that Gertrude Bell explored some stuff.

3/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   It
15.   Battle of the Sexes
16.   Okja
17.   Kong: Skull Island
18.   It Comes at Night
19.   Split
20.   1922
21.   Personal Shopper
22.   Chuck
23.   Atomic Blonde
24.   The Lego Batman Movie
25.   Megan Leavey
26.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
27.   American Made
28.   Imperial Dreams
29.   The Zookeeper's Wife
30.   Free Fire
31.   Win It All
32.   The Wall
33.   Breathe
34.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
35.   Alone in Berlin
36.   A United Kingdom
37.   Trespass Against Us
38.   The Mountain Between Us
39.   War Machine
40.   Happy Death Day
41.   Justice League
42.   To the Bone
43.   Wakefield
44.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
45.   Sand Castle
46.   CHiPs
47.   Death Note
48.   The Belko Experiment
49.   The Great Wall
50.   Fist Fight
51.   Wilson
52.   Queen of the Desert
53.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 25, 2019, 06:08:45 PM
The interesting thing about Infinity War is that Thanos is very much the main character of the film.  It is all about his quest, and he's the one with the greatest character development.

I'm not sure that has been true for a superhero movie since the Tim Burton Batman films, so it was certainly something different and fresh.

I think it had to be that way. Post-credit scenes simply aren't enough to establish a character, no matter how many of those scenes there are. Another weakness in the movie I neglected to mention, even though it shouldn't matter, is that I believe movies need to have some kind of resolution. As much as I loved Infinity War, and I really did, there was no resolution.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Kahran Ramsus on February 26, 2019, 08:09:38 AM
The interesting thing about Infinity War is that Thanos is very much the main character of the film.  It is all about his quest, and he's the one with the greatest character development.

I'm not sure that has been true for a superhero movie since the Tim Burton Batman films, so it was certainly something different and fresh.

I think it had to be that way. Post-credit scenes simply aren't enough to establish a character, no matter how many of those scenes there are. Another weakness in the movie I neglected to mention, even though it shouldn't matter, is that I believe movies need to have some kind of resolution. As much as I loved Infinity War, and I really did, there was no resolution.

I actually do think it has a resolution, just not one you would normally expect.  Now granted we all know there is going to be a sequel, but as far as the story being told in Infinity War it has an ending.  The only thing really hinting that it isn't over besides what we know from how these franchises work is that one line from Dr. Strange.  Where I have more of a problem is the other side of the film, the beginning.  This is a film that doesn't stand on its own in that respect.  It completely requires you to know not just these characters, but what exactly happened in the previous films.  I don't know how to get around that given that this movie is long as it is and they have to squeeze everything in, but you basically have to watch 10 other movies for this one to make any sense.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on February 26, 2019, 06:32:59 PM
(https://media.vanityfair.com/photos/58a0c4661fce8b83738d9d08/master/w_690,c_limit/arrival-4.jpg)

Arrival (2016), directed by Denis Villeneuve

I have often complained to many of the people who I know about a lack of quality science-fiction. With such complaints, it seemed to be time to finally tackle Arrival. I should have done so much sooner, but I didn't and that's fine. Quality science-fiction should leave the viewer a bit stumped by the results. There is no need to understand everything, as much as some people complain that they don't. One thing I was thinking as I reached the end of the film was that I wasn't sure if this was even Villeneuve's best film, which is an incredible thing to be thinking about something as good as this was. I am also a little bit pissed off with myself that I never made a rankings list for 2016, but it's way too late to do that now. Arrival is the kind of film that leaves me without words, I was floored to that extent. I was going to do a list of bulletpoints explaining what I thought made a quality science-fiction film, but that's too much. Here's the deal. If you want a film that presents the idea of what I find to be the most likely scenario should aliens make contact with humans, that's what Arrival is. I used to think that we needed a film like this one that dealt with first contact in a more realistic sense, but now that we have it, I'm left with a need for even more. It strikes me as being very difficult for a screenplay that presents these ideas to actually tie them together.

Our film begins with a glimpse at Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a woman who had a daughter that died of an incurable illness. It would seem to me that Louise is driven by these events. She is a linguist and language professor with a very small class, which we should have expected when she was walking to the room and people were freaking out. Louise begins to give her lecture, but everyone's phone is going off. She is asked to turn on the television and does so, at which point we learn that at 12 sites around the world, there are huge spaceships touching down to make contact with us. These ships hover above the grass and emit nothing whatsoever, the ship looking like an obelisk is an excellent creation. The next day when nobody's at class, Louise is visited in her office by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). They have worked together once on a Farsi project, so Louise has top-secret clearance still to this point. Weber presents an audio tape, obviously recorded from contact with the aliens, where they make some guttural sounds that cannot be understood. She refuses to discuss the matter without being flown to the site in Montana, which leads to her telling Weber to go deal with one of her colleagues who isn't as good a linguist. Whether he does meet with the man or doesn't is irrelevant, because Weber shows up that night and wants to bring Louise to Montana. She complies.

Aboard the helicopter, Louise is greeted by a theoretical physicist, Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). The point of the mission is simple, the Americans want to know what the purpose of the aliens on Earth is. Once the helicopter arrives at the base in Montana, it is clear that some experiments are going on. There is also coordination between the 12 sites, all of which are in different countries. The reason the aliens chose these 12 sites is incomprehensible, but you should understand as the film goes on. Louise, Ian, and a team of soldiers/equipment operators all need to go on board the spaceship. When they do, let's put it this way, the things required for them to actually get to speak to the aliens are crazy as fuck. Louise is met with resistance from Weber and a CIA Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg), they don't really care for her proposed method. The method is as such. She wants to write down our words, the first of them being "human" so that the aliens can understand at some point what she's writing down, and what we are. Similarly, the aliens are impossible to understand, so things need to get to a point where they do the same thing. These aliens are called heptapods because they have seven limbs, and it turns out they do have a written language. They communicate in circular symbols and contain a lot of intricacies that could mean many different words. It is Louise and Ian's job to figure out what those are.

I didn't know how to describe the premise of the film, so I did my best. Has everyone seen this yet? I would hope I'm the only one far behind the times. I was so glad that I wasn't watching a movie where aliens blow up shit and humans blow them up too. That isn't to say that all of those films are bad, but I was pleased beyond words with the way this turned out. There are so many little moments that help to bolster the story, and the revelations, once they come anyway, are all quite spectacular. The film is deep, I immediately searched for numerous things that I was wondering the resolutions of only to find that I would have already known them. The last one, about what the aliens themselves want, is actually a very common sense solution that is answered by their purpose. One needs to consider the possibility that Arrival is a film that places humanity in a different context, in the context that if we actually want to do something, we really can. It is possible for us to succeed when we already know something, this film is a firm believer in the idea that humanity can handle the obvious and be prepared for it. Climate change would seem to work against this idea, but I've tried to ignore that. The emotional weight of the scenes throughout the film is quite brilliant in that way and in others.

Arrival is also a triumph of technical aspects, of how the heptapods were formed with visual effects, of the cinematography, and of the overall atmosphere at. The obelisk-like spacecraft is an incredible choice, it is quite ominous and gives real intrigue to the scenes when our characters first walk inside it. The creation of the language, however, is totally ridiculous. It's too bad there aren't awards given out for those kinds of things. I was awed by it in ways that can't be expressed, because this is completely innovative and I've never seen anything like this before. The way the heptapods created black air, that was great too. Unfortunately, I'm also left with sadness that Johann Johannsson won't be able to create another score like this one. I just don't understand how some awards are given out and that's one of them too. I really wish that I'd seen Arrival in a theater as this is a film which seemed to massively benefit from that, and it's lost on me because I didn't. Coke and medication don't go together and that's something I'm going to remember, let me assure you. The sound in general is spectacular, not just his part in it. I am also very confused as to why Amy Adams was not given an Oscar nomination for this movie.

I was deliberately vague with a lot of the things related to the film, because I don't know what more I can say. Great science-fiction leads the viewer on a journey of discovery as the film passes, and from one scene to the next this delivered in spades. Arrival is a little bit slow, but there's a purpose to all of this. A few months ago, my dad tried to sit down and watch this and he just couldn't. It wasn't for him. I feel like that could be the case for quite a few people, but this is a film with intellectual depth even though I haven't gotten far into commenting on the questions the film asks and answers. If people comment on this review and have things they want to say, that would be great as I'd like to have a discussion about this. Arrival was a hell of a surprise for me. I suppose I was expecting something come the end of the film, but not that. The events seemed to pile up leading to something big, but I wouldn't have guessed that's exactly what it was. I thought the aliens were there for good purposes, but I expected the film to go down the road of an attack taking place before a real breakthrough. Sometimes you get what you expect and sometimes you don't, and even more often you get some of what you expect. The best films are those that go beyond your expectations to deliver something that only a visual medium can bring to you.

9/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 01, 2019, 06:41:00 PM
(https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59e512ddf43b55c29c71b996/t/5a2050ac53450a77d2dd6315/1512067249282/wheelman.jpg)

Wheelman (2017), directed by Jeremy Rush

If anyone had ever told me I'd enjoy a Netflix B movie more than the second Guardians of the Galaxy, I'd have laughed right in their face. I should also note that in early 2017 I never imagined I'd be watching Netflix B movies, if someone told me that I'd also have laughed at them. It's always time to try something new I suppose. Wheelman is pretty much exactly what Netflix should be doing when they aren't giving auteurs the opportunity to make weird shit that no studio would ever give funding to. This is pretty much the definition of weird shit. Wheelman isn't for everyone, that's for sure. The film is extremely constrained, this is something that could bother a lot of people, but I enjoyed the events more than I thought. There are other problems too, but again...did I ever think I would enjoy this more than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Nope. It's always nice when you sit down to watch something, it's really short, and the story is really cohesive. The downside is that the film is very short, the story is constrained to that specific thing, and it turns out you don't like any of the characters all that much. Is that okay?

Wheelman is the story of an unnamed wheelman (Frank Grillo), who will be referred to by his real name. Frank is a man who has just gotten out of prison and is getting a divorce from his wife Jessica (Wendy Moniz), which leaves his daughter Katie (Caitlin Carmichael) caught in the middle of that whole thing. Frank has a job to do on a random night in Boston, and the film starts off with him picking up what is supposed to be an inconspicuous car. Instead, this car has a red trunk and the rest is painted black, which is an ominous sign. That car is very easy to find. The background information with Katie happens on the way to his pickup, and I've already explained all of that, but Frank is trying to call Clay (Garret Dillahunt) about the details of this job. That isn't working, Clay doesn't answer because he's an idiot. So, Frank goes to pick up a guy with a mohawk (Shea Whigham) and Ben Okri (Jeffrey Samai). The ensuing conversation tells us that the mohawk man and Ben are completely insane, or maybe they just want Frank to think that. We subsequently learn that their intention is to rob a bank, and Frank is their driver. Once they get to the bank, it's on.

After they get to the bank, while Mohawk and Ben are in there doing their stuff, Frank receives a call from a mysterious voice. It is absolutely irrelevant who voices these characters over the phone, by the way. Nobody you'd know. Anyway, the voice tells Frank that once Mohawk and Ben get back in the car, they're going to ride to the drop point for the money and kill Frank once he gets out at the drop. This isn't good for Frank, so the voice tells Frank that he needs to leave those guys when they put the money in the trunk. Surprisingly, Frank listens to this guy he's never heard of before, because he really doesn't want to die. Eventually, Frank is able to get a hold of Clay, but there's a problem. Clay doesn't want to tell Frank anything about the handler who called Frank at the bank, and it turns out that Frank owes people some money from when he was in prison. Clay and the handler both want Frank to go to the drop and make an exchange. He does, and it's a drug deal. Will Frank do what he's told? No. Will he continue to be jerked around? Yes. Is there going to be ramifications for him not doing the bank job like he was supposed to? Also yes.

I accidentally buried the lede to a massive extent here, but I should have pointed out that all of these events take place from the constricting viewpoint of Frank's car. The only one that doesn't is at a point when he's switching cars. That's it! So, if he has a conversation with someone outside of a car, or if he's in a car chase, of which there are many, these things take place with cameras mounted on or inside of his car. Given those constraints, I thought everyone involved did a hell of a job. I don't know why the director wanted to do this, but it's a gimmick that should certainly have gotten the attention of a lot of people. It seems that it did not as this Netflix film has less reviews than most of the ones I've seen before. I think this is quite a simple film and there isn't much beating around the bush. The screenplay isn't fantastic because of the phone call concept, we don't ever see the faces of a lot of the people that Frank speaks to. To that end, the voice work ranges from okay to good.

What really matters here is whether or not the car chases actually work, and they really did. I found Wheelman to be quite exciting, which is really what matters most. Frank Grillo did a pretty good job carrying the film as well, which considering how much we see of his face, the entire thing really rests on his shoulders. There is a little thing here in the middle that throws a wrench in the script and makes things a bit difficult to follow, but I thought it was easy enough to pay attention and figure things out. Everyone's noticed the common theme in these reviews, right? If you pay attention, things should be easy to understand. I was thrown off a little bit by the practical car chase scenes, there is a decided lack of CGI and it is replaced by real crashes. There is one of these scenes that is pretty damn cool, and overall, I do think this is somewhat of an achievement in filmmaking. I've seen complaints about these kinds of movies before, like Locke or Phone Booth, but I think Wheelman is definitely better than Phone Booth and I haven't seen the other. When there's a lack of violence to this extent in a film like this one, when it happens, it seems to mean a lot more. This was good and as everyone knows I love car chases movies, so I recommend this for those who also do.

7/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   Thor: Ragnarok
6.   Logan Lucky
7.   The Beguiled
8.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
9.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10.   The Lost City of Z
11.   First They Killed My Father
12.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
13.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
14.   It
15.   Battle of the Sexes
16.   Okja
17.   Kong: Skull Island
18.   It Comes at Night
19.   Split
20.   1922
21.   Personal Shopper
22.   Chuck
23.   Atomic Blonde
24.   Wheelman
25.   The Lego Batman Movie
26.   Megan Leavey
27.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
28.   American Made
29.   Imperial Dreams
30.   The Zookeeper's Wife
31.   Free Fire
32.   Win It All
33.   The Wall
34.   Breathe
35.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
36.   Alone in Berlin
37.   A United Kingdom
38.   Trespass Against Us
39.   The Mountain Between Us
40.   War Machine
41.   Happy Death Day
42.   Justice League
43.   To the Bone
44.   Wakefield
45.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
46.   Sand Castle
47.   CHiPs
48.   Death Note
49.   The Belko Experiment
50.   The Great Wall
51.   Fist Fight
52.   Wilson
53.   Queen of the Desert
54.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 03, 2019, 05:54:21 PM
(https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2018/07/ant_man/lead_720_405.jpg?mod=1533691456)

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), directed by Peyton Reed

After watching Ant-Man and the Wasp, I am FINALLY caught up on the MCU. Such happiness ordinarily means I would not be able to write my review until the next day, but in this case it should prove quite easy. When Ant-Man and the Wasp was released, I read quite a few major complaints about it. One was in regards to the tone of the film, which people should have known would be the case beforehand, but I found that the film did a nice job of lightening things up after Avengers: Infinity War. The thing is, that isn't for everyone and that's fair. As far as I'm concerned, this was merely a good film, if we can say that a film is merely good these days. Nothing went above and beyond my expectations, but nothing was beneath them either. After the events of the last MCU film, I think this was exactly what it needed to be. Besides, did anyone expect any real resolution to the Marvel saga in this film? It seems that some did, which is pretty funny. Anyway, Ant-Man is supposed to be a goofy character and there's no way to change that because the film would not even exist otherwise. I do realize that I massively overrated the first movie though. There's no correcting that now, but that will explain the difference in scores. These films are near equal.

We jump forward two years after Captain America: Civil War, with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) on house arrest due to violation of the Sokovia Accords. Clearly he should not have taken Captain America's side. Due to this, the feds believe that Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) were cooperating with Scott and they've had to go on the run. As far as the last Ant-Man film goes, we pick up basically where we left off. Hank and Hope believe that Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) is trapped in the quantum realm and has been for thirty years. Hank wants his wife back and Hope wants her mom, so they've been busy. When Scott visited the quantum realm during the last film, he had entered into a quantum entanglement with Janet, and that leads to him receiving a message from her. I have decided to omit some events leading to this. The message is a vision of Hope's childhood, with her and Janet playing hide and seek. Scott calls Hank for the first time since Scott's been on house arrest, and he decides to tell him about the dream. This leads to Scott being knocked unconscious by a bug flying through his living room. Now let's rewind a bit.

Still leaving out some of these events, I should update on what Scott is doing. He's with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), who has been visiting. Luis (Michael Pena) is there and they've been working on a project trying to save their business, this is not a spectacular situation. While Scott's playing with Cassie, he trips an alarm on his ankle bracelet, which leads to him receiving a visit from FBI Agent Woo (Randall Park). So we know that he will immediately be arrested if he does leave his house. Now let's bring it back. When Scott was knocked out, it was by Hope, who has taken off his ankle bracelet and placed it on a giant ant. After a ride in a miniature SUV that can change its size, they arrive at Hank Pym's lab, a building which can also change in size. Hank and Hope have been building a tunnel to reach the Quantum Realm so they can bring Janet back, they say there's no other way to do so. When Scott describes his vision, they're even more sure of what they must do. Hope has the intention of buying a piece of equipment from a black market dealer, Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins). Burch knows the deal and the gig is up, and he tells Hope that he knows she's a fugitive and could have her gotten rid of. There's a problem though. It turns out that Hope has been followed by Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a person with incredible phasing powers who can move in and out of anything. There's more to the story, but she wants this quantum equipment and she wants the damn lab.

This movie has more of what's good about Ant-Man, but the expansion of the story leads to a lack of intimacy in the events. Of course, this also means that Scott's family life does fade heavily into the backburner, which isn't the best thing. Still, it's good enough. I also very much enjoyed the Laurence Fishburne scenes, I'd forgotten that he was advertised here. I have a feeling he'll return. Where Ant-Man and the Wasp gets a big boost is in the scenes with shrinking cars and Scott's new ability to grow massively in size. The fight scenes are quite good, but I don't much care for Ghost. This was yet another weak Marvel villain offering, but I don't think it was the point for this to have a strong villain. The villain in an Ant-Man film exists to have Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne do cool shit, that's what happened here. I am a bit confused by some of the things in the film, but I'm not too sure everyone's checked this out yet. There are unfortunately less scenes where Michael Pena rambles on and on, and that was my favorite aspect of the first film, so you can pretty much see where I stand here. The mid-credits segment is also a bit of a problem for me and things would have been more fresh if the roles there were reversed. Anyway, it is what it is.

One's expectations for a solo Marvel offering shouldn't be too high, and in the case of an Ant-Man film, I believe that's double the case. This is the MCU's version of an action-comedy, with emphasis on the comedy aspect. That's fine, and I will give some credit here. It has become very difficult to make a good comedy movie these days. This one works not just because of the humor, but because of how ridiculous the scenarios are with characters that can shrink and grow at the push of a button. I actually think I enjoyed the Wasp's involvement in the action scenes more than Ant-Man. Didn't expect to be saying that. In any case, I would be surprised if they didn't make a third Ant-Man movie, but I should point out that the last time they made one of these, they announced a sequel quite quickly. This time, Marvel has absolutely nothing with a release date for 2020, and they haven't announced a sequel for a movie featuring actors that have signed contracts. It's a bit strange, and they better get a move on with some Phase Four announcements. Other than that we know they're making an Eternals movie and a Black Widow film, there hasn't been any, and we don't know when those are going to be released. Time to get a move on, but at this stage I think it's very unlikely anything will be released next year. It takes too long to make a movie. Not impossible, but unlikely.

7/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   Black Panther
10.   If Beale Street Could Talk
11.   The Sisters Brothers
12.   A Private War
13.   Avengers: Infinity War
14.   Stan & Ollie
15.   Green Book
16.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
17.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
18.   The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
19.   On My Skin
20.   Private Life
21.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
22.   Mid90s
23.   Eighth Grade
24.   Sorry to Bother You
25.   Vice
26.   The Old Man & the Gun
27.   Suspiria
28.   Vox Lux
29.   Boy Erased
30.   Bad Times at the El Royale
31.   The Other Side of the Wind
32.   Searching
33.   A Simple Favor
34.   The Hate U Give
35.   Bumblebee
36.   Mary Poppins Returns
37.   Creed II
38.   Hold the Dark
39.   The Land of Steady Habits
40.   Halloween
41.   Ant-Man and the Wasp
42.   Mary Queen of Scots
43.   Aquaman
44.   Outlaw King
45.   Overlord
46.   Ben Is Back
47.   Monsters and Men
48.   The Mule
49.   On the Basis of Sex
50.   Bohemian Rhapsody
51.   White Boy Rick 
52.   Papillon
53.   Game Night
54.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
55.   Instant Family
56.   Alpha
57.   The Front Runner
58.   The Predator
59.   Apostle
60.   The Angel
61.   The Commuter
62.   Beautiful Boy
63.   The Nun
64.   Operation Finale
65.   The Equalizer 2
66.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
67.   Bird Box
68.   12 Strong
69.   Venom
70.   Skyscraper
71.   The Meg
72.   Assassination Nation
73.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
74.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
75.   22 July
76.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
77.   The Little Stranger
78.   Tomb Raider
79.   Night School
80.   The 15:17 To Paris
81.   Peppermint
82.   Mile 22
83.   The First Purge
84.   Hunter Killer
85.   Kin
86.   Hell Fest
87.   Proud Mary
88.   Robin Hood
89.   The Happytime Murders
90.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: cobainwasmurdered on March 03, 2019, 06:43:43 PM
Yeah I enjoyed this movie and I don't know how anyone expected any big reveals in it. It's intended as lighter fare with less "big" plot advances that you can enjoy with your kids or take a date to and I think it did well at that.

Marvel is being very cagey about anything that might reveal plot details about Endgame which is why I think they haven't revealed anything of phase 4, beyond the obvious contract stuff that still is lingering. They have it all mapped out as far as I know but they're keeping it tightly wrapped.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 05, 2019, 06:36:05 PM
(https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/screen-shot-2017-05-02-at-1-30-01-pm.png?w=780)

The Big Sick (2017), directed by Michael Showalter

I'm definitely going to eliminate a lot of 2017's most talked about films this month, and I suppose some of the best too. The Big Sick is first up on that list, and I have to say that I'm glad I finally got around to this. I was told at the time of the film's release that I should watch it as soon as possible, but I never did that shit back then. Obviously I should have, and this isn't going to be a problem anymore. For now, I'm focused on ensuring that doesn't happen again. Anyway, yeah, the film. I did not realize it would be possible to make a funny movie about someone being sick to this extent, but that's what we have here. As everyone knows, Emily Gordon wrote her own story into a film, and there are some things used in different light than how they happened, that's cool. After all, it's someone's own story. The thing is, I thought this was the kind of movie some people need to watch, but it's also one that follows the age old trope. It won't reach the audience it needs to reach because those people won't want to watch something like this. That's just a fact. With all that in mind, I'm glad someone found an avenue to tell their own story in a way that is heart-felt, and I thought the film was very pleasing overall.

Some time frames are fudged here to make things work, as this is set in modern times. Anyway, Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is an Uber driver in Chicago who does standup comedy, he's trying hard to make his big break and it isn't really working out. Kumail also has a one-man show about his Pakistani background, but it's very dry and doesn't really work for the audience. His parents Azmat (Anupam Kher) and Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) are dead set on arranging a marriage for Kumail, and they want him to do things that he's not very interested in doing. One example is that they don't like his standup comedy and they want him to become a lawyer. Another is that they think he's a practicing Muslim when he isn't, he goes down into their basement when it's time to pray near dinner and plays video games for five minutes. Why Kumail plays along with this is something I think someone from my background is not capable of entirely understanding, but I think at the same time, nobody wants to lose their family. That's probably the best way to explain it. Playing along with the lawyer part seemed overboard, but anyway, that's none of my business and it's there to make a point. His brother Naveed (Adeel Akhtar) has played along and has a wife named Fatima (Shenaz Treasury), they are very happy together.

One night during a standup show, Kumail is heckled by Emily (Zoe Kazan), who was doing so in a positive way during his set. Kumail decides to approach her, which leads to a one-night stand. Good job on his part. The thing is, she wants to get an Uber home, and in one of the better laughs of the film, his phone starts going off. Kumail takes Emily home, and these run-ins continue to add up, which leads to a nice relationship. There are problems though. Kumail is very worried about being disowned because that happened to his cousin for marrying a white woman, and he has this consistent issue with his mother trying to arrange a marriage for him. This does not stop Kumail from telling his brother about his current dating situation, but Naveed tells him he should stop. Kumail does not want to stop. After some time, Emily goes into Kumail's things and finally sees a box full of pictures of Pakistani women that he's tossed into it. Kumail has no interest in them, but there's deeper problems. Like, for example, can he marry her? He doesn't think so, and that's it. A few days later though, there's a problem. Emily has fallen ill and must be placed into a coma. Kumail must call Emily's parents, Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter). And while he may not have told his own parents about his girlfriend, Emily's parents know everything about him.

Nothing I've said should be this funny, but it is, and I thought beyond that this also featured a great performance from Kumail Nanjiani. His acting felt authentic, and I've said before that I prefer these performances to anything where you put on makeup or fat suits. It's true, and this is another film that bolsters my thought process. I do, however, think it is very weird for Kumail's now wife to be played by someone else. I don't want to harp on that though. Anyway, I do think these kinds of films feel very fresh at this moment. There's some material out there that addresses what it's like to be an immigrant trapped between the old ways and the ways of the country one now lives in, but there isn't enough of it. We need more of this, not only because some of the set pieces are funny, but so that people like myself are more capable of understanding the experiences of other people. The Big Sick is very effective in this way, and I thought that was the case throughout the events of the plot. The dynamic between Terry, Kumail, and Beth is also extremely awkward, and apparently Terry and Beth are creations of Emily Gordon. Those weren't based on her real parents.

I also thought The Big Sick was good at portraying the life of a struggling comic, which also doesn't happen often in film. I know it does on television but I don't often watch those things. I also thought the portrayal of what happens in a moment of crisis when three people who don't know each other are effectively forced to come together in support, that was also spot on. I had this experience when my grandfather died last year and I met a lot of family members I had never seen before. This was obviously written and directed by people who had experience in this matter. This is how real people act. I must admit that I found a lot of the closing scenes to be quite sad, and I didn't know how to balance them with the events that took place before that, so I was left with a strange feeling when the film ended. That said, this is a great story, and despite the sadness of it, I thought it was a very enjoyable and pleasing film. It's hard to spoil something like this because it's based on a true story, but I thought the reveal when Kumail told his parents he was in love with a white woman was a very poignant piece of cinema, and I felt a lump in my throat while he was telling them this. Films don't often resonate like this.

8.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   The Big Sick
6.   Thor: Ragnarok
7.   Logan Lucky
8.   The Beguiled
9.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
10.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
11.   The Lost City of Z
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   It
16.   Battle of the Sexes
17.   Okja
18.   Kong: Skull Island
19.   It Comes at Night
20.   Split
21.   1922
22.   Personal Shopper
23.   Chuck
24.   Atomic Blonde
25.   Wheelman
26.   The Lego Batman Movie
27.   Megan Leavey
28.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
29.   American Made
30.   Imperial Dreams
31.   The Zookeeper's Wife
32.   Free Fire
33.   Win It All
34.   The Wall
35.   Breathe
36.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
37.   Alone in Berlin
38.   A United Kingdom
39.   Trespass Against Us
40.   The Mountain Between Us
41.   War Machine
42.   Happy Death Day
43.   Justice League
44.   To the Bone
45.   Wakefield
46.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
47.   Sand Castle
48.   CHiPs
49.   Death Note
50.   The Belko Experiment
51.   The Great Wall
52.   Fist Fight
53.   Wilson
54.   Queen of the Desert
55.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 07, 2019, 05:39:11 PM
(http://www.kochevarendo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/beast.jpg)

Beauty and the Beast (2017), directed by Bill Condon

I remember some time ago that there were talks of remaking the cartoon film everyone knows and most people love, but that the idea of remaking it was to reimagine the story and make it something a little different. Having this knowledge in mind was not the best thing to know when I decided to turn on this version of Beauty and the Beast. I kept finding myself thinking that I would like a greater difference in scenes and songs than existed here. I also think that having watched the animated version as many times as I have was probably not the best thing for my opinion of this film either. When I was a kid, my brother and I watched every Disney movie religiously until the point where our VHS tapes wore out. To this point, I have only ever seen two (now three) of these Disney live-action remakes, one being Alice in Wonderland and the other being Jungle Book. I will see the others but I've never bothered to do so before now. There's no particular reason for that, it just is what it is. Disney is leaning heavily into making more of these, so it stands to reason that I'll continue on and on until I die. What I was thinking at the end of this film, once I saw the box office, is that I was surprised Disney hasn't contrived a way to make a sequel or prequel out of this story. Even still, I'm also surprised that this was a complete remake, one with imagination and creativity but lacking in originality. This kind of thing often hurts films badly in my eyes and Beauty and the Beast is no exception to the rule. Does that mean I think it's bad? No.

I think if you haven't seen the animated film before, that's really fucking strange. However, the casting of this version is superb, so I'll roll on with my usual recap. The film begins as does the original, with an old beggar woman arriving at a castle seeking refuge from a storm. When the prince refuses, she reveals herself as a sorceress and curses the prince and his service, turning them into a beast and household objects respectively. The castle and everything related to it are subsequently erased from the memory of surrounding villagers, and the sorceress leaves a rose. She tells the prince the curse will only be broken if he falls in love with someone and she with him, and if he cannot do so before the flower wilts, they'll be doomed to be these things forever. I hate to say it but I genuinely was hoping for more there. Many years later in small town France, Belle (Emma Watson) lives with her music box making father Maurice (Kevin Kline), with Belle hoping for a life better than in said small town. Gaston (Luke Evans) is a piece of shit who wants to marry here, and you know how this story goes. I've always thought that Gaston was one of the best Disney villains, one which is very educational for children. The man is the embodiment of toxic masculinity, and he wants to marry Belle because she's the bet girl in town. Obviously.

After this introduction, which is accompanied by songs from the original animated film, Maurice is headed off to a convention of some kind. He gets lost in the forest and seeks refuge in the Beast's (Dan Stevens) castle, but he's caught stealing a rose and imprisoned for life. Maurice's horse runs into town to Belle, who subsequently heads out into the forest and finds her father locked in the castle dungeon. Then, as things work out, Belle takes her father's place, which sends Maurice back into town to warn people of the Beast's castle. Nobody believes him. As we all know, the household objects sing and all that stuff. I was surprised by some of the casting. Ian McKellen voices Cogsworth, the mantel clock; Ewan McGregor voices Lumiere, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci voices the hapsichord; Audra McDonald is the flamboyant wardrobe; Gugu Mbatha-Raw is now a feather duster after being transformed from a maid; and Emma Thompson voices Mrs. Potts, the housekeeper who has been transformed into a teapot. These were all good casting choices. Eventually, someone does listen to Maurice's tale about the castle, and it's Gaston. Along with Gaston's sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad), they will head out into the forest to find this castle, prove that there really is a beast, and Gaston can win Belle's hand in marriage! Or so he thinks.

The largest complaint I had throughout the film was something I've already addressed, it is the lack of originality. I find it quite amusing that this is the way Bill Condon wanted it. He has said that it was Disney's idea to make a different story out of things, but he said no, and I think that wasn't the best decision in the world for my entertainment value. At the box office though, there's no denying this was the correct decision and what people really wanted. I've harped on the subject of originality many times before, but that's what I'm most interested in when it comes to a film, even one like this. I gave Mary Poppins Returns a higher score than I'll give this because of that originality, but to say it is lacking here would be an understatement. There is nothing original about this at all. The visuals are great, yes, but I didn't find anything original about them either. If I will give praise to one aspect of the film, it's that the performances of "Be Our Guest" and "The Mob Song" are quite a bit better. The latter was my favorite part when I was a kid, and I think saying that a song about killing the Beast was my favorite part is very morbid. It's true though.

Of course, a film like this one falls apart if Belle isn't perfectly cast, and yes, Emma Watson is very well cast here. There are deeper issues though. Luke Evans doesn't make a good Gaston because he isn't burly enough, that's something more suited to a muscle man like Dave Bautista. Seriously, it is. No idea if the guy can sing though. I felt myself tuning out a little bit due to the lack of originality in each scene, which is bothersome. I would be remiss if I never brought up the LeFou being gay subplot, but I think that's totally stupid as well. There's nothing to that, and for the director to play on that as a selling point for the film is totally lazy. There's nothing there and that's not what the story is about. In any case, I think being faithful to the source material is a problem for my tastes, but everyone's different. Another final issue worth mentioning, is that the animated version of this story is very dark for a kid's movie. That's not the case here either, so I genuinely think the director missed the point entirely. There are a ton of people who disagree with me, but I'm not one to follow the pack. Even though this is a decent film, there's something about it that just doesn't sit right with me. It's all the things I already mentioned, but there's also something I can't quite put my finger on. I'm not sure if it's a lack of true inspiration or that so many of the things in Beauty and the Beast just don't feel like authentic storytelling. The film very heavily leans on the idea the viewer has seen this story before.

I realized just before posting this that there's something else I wanted to say, about this year's Aladdin remake. My expectations are very low, but I should point out from the trailer that there is a distinct feeling of originality that Beauty and the Beast is lacking. That doesn't mean the former film is going to be good, and I actually expect that it won't. But I daresay I may be more interested in it anyway because of the differences that seem more apparent in the marketing material. Of course, if tAladdin is just the same damn thing as the animated movie, I'm probably going to shit on it. The degree to which I'll shit on it, I don't really know, because I loved the original a lot more than I loved Beauty and the Beast. Time will tell.

6.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   The Big Sick
6.   Thor: Ragnarok
7.   Logan Lucky
8.   The Beguiled
9.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
10.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
11.   The Lost City of Z
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   It
16.   Battle of the Sexes
17.   Okja
18.   Kong: Skull Island
19.   It Comes at Night
20.   Split
21.   1922
22.   Personal Shopper
23.   Chuck
24.   Atomic Blonde
25.   Wheelman
26.   The Lego Batman Movie
27.   Megan Leavey
28.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
29.   American Made
30.   Beauty and the Beast
31.   Imperial Dreams
32.   The Zookeeper's Wife
33.   Free Fire
34.   Win It All
35.   The Wall
36.   Breathe
37.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
38.   Alone in Berlin
39.   A United Kingdom
40.   Trespass Against Us
41.   The Mountain Between Us
42.   War Machine
43.   Happy Death Day
44.   Justice League
45.   To the Bone
46.   Wakefield
47.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
48.   Sand Castle
49.   CHiPs
50.   Death Note
51.   The Belko Experiment
52.   The Great Wall
53.   Fist Fight
54.   Wilson
55.   Queen of the Desert
56.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 09, 2019, 07:07:24 PM
(https://parade.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/MOTOE-Cast-FTR.jpg)

Murder on the Orient Express (2017), directed by Kenneth Branagh

So, remakes of extremely famous adaptations of great novels. I don't really know what to think of that, but I think that in the case of Murder on the Orient Express, it was a wise decision to produce this film. That way, the producers would know if there was a greater appetite for Agatha Christie adaptations. As we now know, there is, and as a result there are probably going to be many more of these. Even though Murder on the Orient Express is not a particularly great film, said adaptations are quite welcome. There are very few murder mysteries made these days, even less of them set in a different period, and the setting for Death on the Nile is obviously a bit unique to Hollywood. I'm very happy with this. Now, that all being said, I think the quality of the films is going to have to improve at some point. This was simply the story everyone knew, but could the actors really add anything to the version everyone's aware of? Look at the difference in casts, and while this was a very strong cast, there's no comparison at all. The more familiar film featured Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Albert Finney, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York, Jacqueline Bisset, and Anthony Perkins. That's major star power, and that's a cast. Hollywood can no longer truly do such a thing. So, with everything in mind, is it surprising that Kenneth Branagh was unable to create a film that was different from an adaptation that has already been remade many times? I should note that if you don't know the story, it's actually quite alright.

This is a film set in 1934, with Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) solving a theft in Jerusalem. I will leave out some of the details. After solving the case, he's given a message that tells him he needs to return to London for another case. In order to do so, he must travel to Istanbul and take a ride on the Orient Express, even though that isn't what he wants to do. His original intention is to travel to Istanbul for leisure, but his friend Bouc (Tom Bateman) is related to someone affiliated with the Orient Express line, and as such he can get a ticket on short notice. In the station in Istanbul, we are introduced to numerous characters. I will wait a while to get to that, but I'm stunned this film had a $55 million budget. It simply doesn't stand to reason. Once Poirot gets on the train, it's quite a long trip through snow all the way to London, a look at a map will tell you that. Another thing is that some of the passengers naturally take interest in Poirot because he's very noted around the world for solving these cases, something which Poirot finds to be a problem and a bit difficult to handle. His services are consistently in demand and it's hard to balance his life properly.

Now, the passengers. There are many of them, including Gerhard (Willem Dafoe), a Nazi who says a lot of bad shit; Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench), old European royalty who travels with her second, Hildegarde (Olivia Colman); Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley) and her partner Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jr.), the latter of whom is the only black man on board; Pilar (Penelope Cruz), a newly religious individual; Marquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a man just passing on through; Caroline (Michelle Pfeiffer), an older woman who seems to be interested in Poirot; and two members of royalty we hardly see, Count Rudolph Andrenyi (Sergei Polunin) and Countess Helena (Lucy Boynton). But, those are not the most nefarious people on this train. Those honors reside with Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp) and Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad). They're accompanied by a man called Edward (Derek Jacobi), but his role here is not large. Hector is Ratchett's assistant, but Ratchett himself is messed up. Our first encounter with him is one where he attempts to hire Poirot as a bodyguard, pulling a gun on him because he's received threatening letters he doesn't know the origin of. That's not going to happen. The thing is, after some events that occur, an avalanche derails the train. Ratchett has already been a piece of shit to many people on board, and when everyone wakes up the next morning...he's dead. Now watch the movie or read the book.

It's hard to talk about something like this if you don't know the story, because it's the kind of thing that's easily spoiled, but the fact remains that this is a great story. This is also not an original presentation of the story, and there are ways which one could tell the story in a different fashion. You could, for example, update things to modern times and change stuff. Or tell the story in a different setting entire. But that seems to defeat the purpose of adapting something and it's a weird criticism. No, the film is not like the original, that much is clear. How could it be? This is a great cast but the talent level is lacking particularly among the male actors, there's no Sean Connery here. I don't have anything against anyone who participated in this production, but that is what it is. I also thought there was an instance of this film trading on your knowledge of these actors rather than creating cohesive characters for all of them. Some do and some don't, but the original film was 131 minutes and did not have the Jerusalem scene. I should also point out that I won't hold too much against the film because this is obviously a gateway production to something greater. Murder on the Orient Express is also ridiculously focused on Poirot to its detriment, but directors always do that when they feature in their own film.

The juice though, it's in the story and the mystery, and as long as the film has that, it's going to be alright. I think I would say it's alright, wouldn't go further than that. The cast needed to be utilized better, but I did appreciate the introductory scenes in Istanbul. If one pays attention, they can see some of the early building relationships, but I must admit that I did not see the conclusion coming. I will watch the original film at some point, but that probably won't be for a while. The real intrigue is in whether or not Death on the Nile is any good. If it isn't, then Branagh should step aside as the director and let someone else have a crack, because there really is a lot of potential here for a long running franchise. People miss stories like this, or even like Gone Girl, so when they're made, the general public is going to get hyped for them. I would ordinarily comment on the performances of the cast, but I found that there were too many characters in general and as a result too many people to mention. This is probably why the cast was attracted to the project, there weren't too many scenes each individual person would have to participate in. I did, however, really appreciate learning that Daisy Ridley could act. All I've seen her in is Star Wars, of course, but this was nice to see from her.

As always, if there are inconsistencies in my list relative to the scores I gave those movies, it's because I had time to think.

6/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   The Big Sick
6.   Thor: Ragnarok
7.   Logan Lucky
8.   The Beguiled
9.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
10.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
11.   The Lost City of Z
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   It
16.   Battle of the Sexes
17.   Okja
18.   Kong: Skull Island
19.   It Comes at Night
20.   Split
21.   1922
22.   Personal Shopper
23.   Chuck
24.   Atomic Blonde
25.   Wheelman
26.   The Lego Batman Movie
27.   Megan Leavey
28.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
29.   American Made
30.   Beauty and the Beast
31.   Imperial Dreams
32.   Murder on the Orient Express
33.   The Zookeeper's Wife
34.   Free Fire
35.   Win It All
36.   The Wall
37.   Breathe
38.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
39.   Alone in Berlin
40.   A United Kingdom
41.   Trespass Against Us
42.   The Mountain Between Us
43.   War Machine
44.   Happy Death Day
45.   Justice League
46.   To the Bone
47.   Wakefield
48.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
49.   Sand Castle
50.   CHiPs
51.   Death Note
52.   The Belko Experiment
53.   The Great Wall
54.   Fist Fight
55.   Wilson
56.   Queen of the Desert
57.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 10, 2019, 06:27:50 PM
Hindi for half the film, subtitles

(http://straightfromamovie.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Lion-Movie-Saroo.jpg)

Lion (2016), directed by Garth Davis

Things have turned out so that I have numerous Best Picture nominees from the last few years to watch this month, and I had not yet made a dent in that list. I thought I should start off with the one that there was somewhat of a campaign against, so it was time to finally watch Lion. I also haven't watched a real feel good movie for some time, a lot of I've watched lately has been somewhat devastating. That is also somewhat the case with Lion, but doesn't last throughout the film. I must admit that I also felt a little dirty when I saw that Weinstein Company logo come on the screen when this began. That's something which really needs to be removed from these films, I don't care that his company made them, just get rid of it. It's a bad reminder. The story in Lion seems to ridiculous to be real, but it is real even though there's been some heavy detail editing in order to bring the story to screen. I am sure nobody wanted to make a film featuring Saroo eating out of a garbage can and going through severe struggle on a daily basis. Now, before I get into the meat of the film, and even though I thought this was a very good film, I must address the other elephant in the room. There is absolutely no way Lion should have been nominated for Best Picture. That was the reason I decided to watch this before the rest, because I was aware that was probably the case. I should have made a list for 2016, but it's way too late for that now. I'm not certain this would be in my top 25 and I'm still not done.

Lion is a tale of two stories about the same person, both of which are radically different stories with different casts. I will try not to spoil either one too much. Set in 1986, Saroo (Sunny Pawar) is a five year old who lives with his brother Guddu (Abishek Bharate), mom (Priyanka Bose), and much younger sister in Khandwa, India. Guddu and Saroo both get up to no good during the day, because that's what life in a third world country really is. They steal coal from freight trains so they can trade it for milk and food, this is not a good life at all. One day, Saroo insists on accompanying Guddu to the train station for a job that takes place at night, but Saroo is too tired to continue once they arrive. Guddu does not return, so Saroo gets on a train thinking that Guddu is there. Five year olds would do that. Saroo subsequently falls asleep, wakes up on it, and is trapped on the train for many days. Saroo then arrives in Kolkata, 1600 km away from his home, unable to speak Bengali. This sounds like the worst thing that could happen to a child. I will skip over some of the details to bring up that Saroo is entirely unable to find his family, nor is anyone able to find his family for him, and this leads to Saroo being sent to Australia to be adopted.

Upon arriving in Australia, Tasmania to be specific, Saroo meets his adoptive parents, John (David Wenham) and Sue (Nicole Kidman). We then flash forward 25 years, to Saroo (Dev Patel) as an adult, with his adoptive brother Mantosh (Divian Ladwa) having had major psychological problems after his adoption many years before. Saroo is moving to Melbourne to study hotel management, but Mantosh is absent at the going away dinner. Mantosh's problems have also given Sue health problems over the years, she is very worried about him. Upon arriving in Melbourne, Saroo starts a relationship with Lucy (Rooney Mara), a fellow student at his school. They are invited to a dinner at their Indian friend's house, which leads to a triggering emotion. After Saroo is clearly unable to eat with his hands and not used to the cuisine, he sees jalebi in their kitchen, a delicacy from his childhood in India. This brings back a flood of memories, which he tells his friends about. Their suggestion is to try this new thing people may be aware of, called Google Earth. See, Saroo had a tenuous grasp on Hindi when he was 5, no ability to read, didn't know where he came from in the first place, but he knew which train station he wound up in once he arrived in Kolkata. From there, he could find out where he came from, but what about the things he doesn't know, what he doesn't remember?

I tried hard not to reveal too much about either part of the film, but the stories are very different. They're different to the point where one is clearly much better than the other as well, and it doesn't take a genius to realize which one of those two stories it is. The first, with newcomer actors, and faces I'm not familiar with, in a foreign language, focusing on a kid getting separated from his family...nothing is really going to match that part of the film. Danny Boyle was able to weave three narratives together in Slumdog Millionaire, but there's nothing woven in here, instead they are entirely separated from each other, which leads to a natural comparison. Not everyone has the skill Danny Boyle has though. The films are also very similar and not just because they're about India and feature Dev Patel. I don't think everyone's seen Slumdog Millionaire, but the main character's mother is killed in a pogrom, which leads to the child being abandoned. So those are similarities, and I think the fact is that those stories of child abandonment do often feel very hard hitting. It seems that only good filmmakers have the balls to take those on. I would say that both aspects of the two films are equal, but Lion fails in that the story of Saroo attempting to find his family just doesn't match up.

I thought the performances in the film were strong, particularly that of Dev Patel, but back to the point of Saroo attempting his family, there are scenes there that aren't so good. I dare say the reunion scene with Saroo and his mother doesn't feel authentic. I'm sure a lot of people cried over it, but that was how I saw things. I thought it was more interesting when Saroo was trying to find himself during the process of these Google Earth searches. I don't think I'm a negative twat or anything like that, but I think a lot of people feel the same about the two stories feeling disjointed. Nicole Kidman's performance was similarly strong, I think a lot of people don't understand what it's like to be an adoptive mother. Even when the kids are horrible, a lot of adoptive mothers still feel the same ties as a biological mother. They chose to have the child after all, for most normal thinking people that is how it is. They are tied to the child for life. Even though the second half of the film isn't fantastic, her performance is. I also thought that there would have to be something wrong with you if you didn't feel anything during the first half of Lion, this is exactly what I watch films to see. The emotion derived from such stories is what it's all about.

Technically, I thought this was excellent, featuring great cinematography and a very strong score. The pictures of India are simultaneously beautiful and haunting, it's a country that we all know should be something more, but haunted by its past. Sometimes the things we see in these kinds of films bother me very deeply, this is no exception. This feeling, like it or not, also does make the second half of a disjointed story difficult to pay attention to. There's a large gap between great and good here, it's a tale of two halves. The finale, as already alluded to, not only didn't feel authentic but felt like hokum. I already said this shouldn't have been nominated for Best Picture and that's true, but I think the finale is also the reason it was nominated for Best Picture. Just look at how Green Book won this year. Awards voters love that stuff, bottom line. Still, the things that open the story, even though this doesn't go to the depths that Slumdog Millionaire does in showing how bad life is for impoverished children, those moments are very heavy and I think the film should have been more focused on them. The journey is a greater story than that of someone who learns something and feels like they no longer belong, in my opinion.

7.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 11, 2019, 06:27:20 PM
Danish and German, subtitles

(https://cdn1.thr.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/landscape_928x523/2016/12/1-h_2016_0.jpg)

Land of Mine (2016), directed by Martin Zandvliet

As I've said before, I need to watch one foreign film a month. Land of Mine makes two, and I have another that makes three. Some claim that this is a film that has gross historical inaccuracy in that supposedly Danish officers did not command German soldiers to remove landmines in the way it is done so in this film. A lot of Danish historians were angry about this because German sergeants led the work of clearing these land mines, but I must be honest, I do not really see the difference. Anyway, now you know what this is about. Land of Mine was submitted to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Oscars, and it was nominated for the award as well. The film ultimately lost out to The Salesman, and although by no means will I ever watch all these submissions, there are some I do very much want to watch. Land of Mine is not quite as strong an offering as The Salesman, but it's pretty good anyway. I'll stay out of the part related to whether or not these kinds of things happened exactly as stated, I just don't know. What I will say is that the director made this film to point out that there were mistakes made in the past by all countries, and he makes a good point. I also believe the same as him that we have not learned from these things. Another thing I would like to say before I started is that I'm glad Sony Pictures Classics picks up films like this. I'd never watch it otherwise.

After Denmark was liberated from German occupation in May 1945, the Wehrmacht was to evacuate the country. They were defeated. The film begins with a Danish sergeant, Carl Leopold Rasmussen (Ronald Moller), coming across a German POW who he believes looks at him funny. Not good for that POW. He punches that guy in the face over and over, and when another German asks him to stop, that guy gets messed up too. Afterwards, a group of young Germans are handed over to the Danish army and trained in the art of defusing land mines, not something that anyone wants to do. Danish Captain Jensen (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) is responsible for training these kids, and he decides to do it the very harsh way. He smacks them on the hands with a stick when he thinks they'd kill themselves, this is a harsh training. Once, when they're defusing live land mines, they are sent into a room. Jensen believes many of them will kill themselves, but in fact it's the one he least expects that blows himself up. I should mention in this paragraph that the reason Germans were removing these land mines was because they were placed on the west coast of Denmark, facing the North Sea. It was believed that there could be a British invasion, so it was decided to make sure. Thousands of land mines were placed on the beaches, and nobody wanted good Danish boys to remove them. So, German slave labor.

In case you didn't understand the point, the Danish really fucking hate the Germans. We learn after the explosion scene that Rasmussen is in fact going to be in charge of these land mine removals. The neighboring farm hates Germans, but nowhere near as much as him. These kids are told that nobody will feel sorry for them, certainly not Rasmussen. Some of them become prominent enough to recognize by face, and all of them are stripped of rank. Sebastian Schumann (Louis Hofmann) effectively becomes their leader, and he's the only one that Rasmussen seems to want to talk to at the start of this work. Helmut (Joel Basman) was seemingly the highest ranking of these individuals, but that doesn't matter anymore. I'm also just guessing. Ludvig (Oskar Bokelmann) seems to be the oldest, and some of the others are practically children. Ernst (Emil Belton) and Werner (Oskar Belton) are twins, they probably haven't even shaved yet. Sebastian tries to discuss plans for when they finish their work, but Helmut doesn't want to hear any of that shit because he thinks they'll die. There are a few major issues as it relates to this work. The POWs are not given food because there isn't enough to go around, so they must starve. The most major issue though, is that the work is very dangerous. Wilhelm (Leon Seidel) is starving like the rest, to the point of vomiting repeatedly while out in the field. One of the times he does, his arms are blown off. This will not be the only time someone explodes, but time will tell if Rasmussen can keep his mettle in a country that is very fervently anti-German. His superiors even more than him.

Land of Mine is effective in that it doesn't tell us what these young men did before defusing the land mines, so we don't know what they did in Denmark prior to their capture. This is the wise choice, there is no reason to automatically feel sorry for them or to prejudge them based on actions that took place in war. War is bad. You could conversely say that their participation in war is bad enough and that's your right. The fact remains that some of the people shown here probably barely grew hair on their balls. This is not a true story based on someone's recollection of matters, but a dramatization of what happened on the west coast of Denmark. Half of the POWs who performed this task died, it was extremely dangerous work. I don't think I need to describe it, but if you want to know, just check out the film. The point is that war is fucking bad, and the act of dropping those land mines is going to have victims regardless of whether or not there's an invading force. I don't believe in war in general, but these are tools that should be banned. The Ottawa treaty has not done so becasue countries like ours do not participate.

Land of Mine itself, well, it's almost a great film. There are limitations with the story, but the tense moments here are very tense. Given the framing of these German soldiers, it is hard not to feel something when they're going to defuse these mines. One of the film's weaknesses is that some of the German POWs are difficult to differentiate from one another and simply blend in with the pack. Nothing here feels like an attempt to mine (no pun intended, I swear) for sympathy, the events feel authentic and this story is told very well. The ending is also very goddamn effective, and for that matter so is the rest. The characters are naturally sympathetic though. Rasmussen's anger is borne from things that happened during the war, the POWs are kids who were effectively drafted in at the end of the war. It is also easy to understand why Rasmussen wouldn't give a shit about them. Land of Mine is nicely short, it tells its story in a rather quick manner, towards the end I'd lost track of time and was surprised the film was concluding. That rarely happens with me. Some of the explosions are also very gory, this is not a film for the faint hearted. Neither is war. I think I shouldn't judge whether or not this is a film that merited Oscar nomination, because I'm not going to ever get to that point of watching all its competition, but this is a very strong, raw film. What I would say is that I can see why this got picked up for distribution in this country, and that any film which makes me audibly gasp "NO", those are the films worth watching.

8/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 12, 2019, 06:15:36 PM
(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BNjk4NTM3NTU5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDcxNDczMTI@._V1_.jpg)

Life (2017), directed by Daniel Espinosa

When watching a film like 2017's Life, I have the grand total of one hope heading into it. It's that the derivative nature of such a film is kept to a minimum, replaced with some element of originality or something that derives material from lesser known works. That's something Life does not do, sad to say. When this film was released, I was thinking about how it's impossible for a film with these actors to deserve such mixed reviews, but a lot of time has passed since then. I now know exactly how that happens. When a film does have mixed reviews, oftentimes some people thought it was really good or really bad. In this case, the reviews are similar to my thoughts. This is a very average film. The question I was pondering at the end of Life was which side of average I thought the film landed on. A film so similar to Alien needs to do a lot of work to land above that positive side of average, but I thought this was merely alright. These kinds of films rely entirely on the characters being stupid as fuck, but I would like to know about one of these stories where they weren't. I'm sure one exists somewhere, I must find it, but in any case I thought Life was a film that could have been better, but featured some strong visual effects and a nice ending.

Set sometime in the future, an unmanned space probe returns from Mars to Earth orbit with samples of soil that potential contain evidence of life on Mars. This probe has run into space debris at some point, which leads to it very slightly going off course. In one neat scene, we're shown the crew on the International Space Station capturing the probe with a robotic arm. The crew itself consists of the commander, Ekaterina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya); the exobiologist responsible for dealing with the Martian life form, Dr. Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare); systems engineer, Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada); the engineer and repairman responsible for capturing the space probe returning from Mars, Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds); the quarantine officer, Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson); and lastly the medical officer, Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal). Among this group, two are American, two are British, one is Japanese, and one is Russian. They all get along quite well. Dr. Hugh is paralyzed from the waist down, but this is not relevant in space. He takes a cell from the sample that came from Mars, and learns that it very quickly grows into a multicellular organism. On a video conference with Earth, a school is chosen to name this thing, and the name of Calvin is chosen.

Calvin is a strange creature, and this is an experiment, nobody knows how the organism will react to anything. One day, there's an accident in the lab that leads to Calvin becoming dormant, not moving at all. Everyone onboard is displeased by this, Hugh of course being bothered the most, but eventually everyone gets the heart to push on. They have no idea what the accident will have done to Calvin. It turns out that Calvin is now very hostile. Hugh attempts to revive the creature with electric shocks, but it attacks Hugh and crushes his right hands into bits. Calvin is also much more intelligent than it would seem. Hugh had placed the sharp electric shock tool in the enclosure, this was not a good idea. Calvin subsequently stabs through the gloves and is able to escape his glass cage, which leads to the creature also devouring a lab rat. This event leads to Calvin growing massively in size, eventually resembling an octopod or something similar. Rory decides that he needs to get into the lab, even though that breaks quarantine. If he doesn't, this thing will kill Hugh. He does not expect that David will lock him in the lab, but of course he will. They can't break quarantine. I will not spoil what happens specifically, but during this lab encounter, someone fucking dies. Badly. And Calvin gets out, growing in size by the minute, devouring any liquid it can.

This is, of course, very similar to Alien. You just need to watch Life to realize that, and once I did, which was about thirty minutes into the film, that was pretty much that. At that point, I was hoping for big effects shots and crazy deaths, and that's what I got. Make no mistake, this film does fail to make any grand statement of any sort. Even though there's an obvious case of "this is what could happen if we found sentient life," nothing is really made of this at all. There are also some weird scenes at the beginning of the events that don't serve any purpose. Yes, Jake Gyllenhaal's character prefers being in space to being on the planet, but I don't think that really matters. I did think some of these scenes were effective though. The kills all work. The one with people on Earth rushing to give this crazy creature a name, that was perfect. Nobody even know what it was or what it could do, but we must relate to it somehow and the way to do so is by having children name it. The spacewalking is always nice. Unfortunately, the plot here just does not have any depth whatsoever. You probably know this instantly, it doesn't take a genius to figure that out. The way that Hugh is able to activate a hibernating piece of Martian life after discovering it is laughable. That seems like something which would take an extremely long time.

The film is unrealistic, but I think I've already said all I need to stay about that. I thought Life did have a pretty good score, it was one of the things keeping me fully engaged in the events. The cinematography and visual effects are very good, even though they aren't as good as in Gravity. The natural similarity between those films is that they feature scenes where elements of space stations are torn to pieces. Gravity is a much better technical achievement though, the effects are better and although the story is limited, it is also better. Even having an alien with tentacles killing people is not going to make Life a much better film, and in the end I'm left to think about everything that it wasn't. Being derivative is a huge sin, but I do think this is somewhat redeemed by how good the ending is. Ultimately, this is just a workmanlike film. I don't want to give it a bad score because in my book, anything under a 6/60 would be a failing grade. This isn't a bad film, it's just too similar to ones that I've already seen, and there are so many more like it. I also have my own baseline film for the margin something like this would have to clear. It did. There are too many good scenes for me to give Life a failing grade.

6/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   The Big Sick
6.   Thor: Ragnarok
7.   Logan Lucky
8.   The Beguiled
9.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
10.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
11.   The Lost City of Z
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   It
16.   Battle of the Sexes
17.   Okja
18.   Kong: Skull Island
19.   It Comes at Night
20.   Split
21.   1922
22.   Personal Shopper
23.   Chuck
24.   Atomic Blonde
25.   Wheelman
26.   The Lego Batman Movie
27.   Megan Leavey
28.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
29.   American Made
30.   Beauty and the Beast
31.   Imperial Dreams
32.   Murder on the Orient Express
33.   The Zookeeper's Wife
34.   Free Fire
35.   Win It All
36.   The Wall
37.   Life
38.   Breathe
39.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
40.   Alone in Berlin
41.   A United Kingdom
42.   Trespass Against Us
43.   The Mountain Between Us
44.   War Machine
45.   Happy Death Day
46.   Justice League
47.   To the Bone
48.   Wakefield
49.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
50.   Sand Castle
51.   CHiPs
52.   Death Note
53.   The Belko Experiment
54.   The Great Wall
55.   Fist Fight
56.   Wilson
57.   Queen of the Desert
58.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 14, 2019, 05:52:12 PM
(http://www.montepaschi.be/media/1298/cityofghosts.png)

City of Ghosts (2017), directed by Matthew Heineman

After 2018's A Private War, I felt the need to understand why the director would want to make a movie about Marie Colvin so badly. It's also not just that as the reason I watched City of Ghosts, I needed to watch a documentary this month and inch forward with things I've seen from 2017. The question of why he would make a movie about Marie Colvin was answered, it was something we needed. I know that by every real standard, A Private War bombed very hard at the box office, but it was one of the best films from 2018. It ranks high on my list and nothing will really change that, but the subject matter is too heavy for a general audience. That's also the case with City of Ghosts, a documentary which ranks among the best I've seen. That's high praise, but bear in mind I haven't seen all that many. I think City of Ghosts is a comprehensive documentary about reporting in Syria and what happens when people have to flee, the kind which we really needed two years ago when this was released. The situation on the ground has changed since then. Assad has taken back control, ISIS is nearly defeated, but as City of Ghosts points out, ISIS is merely an idea. The group may die but the idea will not, this is something that is going to continue on for some time. What I also thought as this documentary was coming to a conclusion was that I was really glad to have been born here, it is things such as this that make me appreciate my life a lot more.

City of Ghosts is about Raqqa, and specifically the activist group, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently. The group was founded with the intention of publicizing atrocities committed by ISIS in Raqqa, after ISIS had attempted to cover some of these things up. Inevitably ISIS started creating their own videos, but there are many things those videos do not talk about. RBSS was started to ensure that the West is aware of these things. RBSS was founded by 17 Syrians, and when ISIS moved into Raqqa, the group started secretly posting information about ISIS. According to an RBSS member, they posted a lot of videos of crucifixions and executions, which is what really got things moving along. ISIS did not like this, and they started a campaign to assassinate the individuals who were feeding RBSS their information, as well as kill RBSS members who lived outside of the country. It turns out that ISIS was moderately successful in killing some members, doing so in broad daylight over in Turkey. However, the organization will push on, and nothing will stop them, not even threat of death or in some cases actual death. There are two brothers here who saw a video of their father and older brother being executed by ISIS as a consequence of their reporting on these atrocities. As far as a documentary carrying weight goes, I don't even know what to say about that. That's so sad.

Of course, a documentary featuring so much ISIS related material is going to have some real gory things in it, so you're well warned of that should you choose to turn this on after reading my review. I thought that Matthew Heineman was very adept in ensuring none of these things felt like they were being drawn out for shock effect, but more than that, it's the story of the group that really wins out. Whether they go from Raqqa to Turkey, to Germany, to New York City, back to Germany, you really feel their plight. There's an intelligent inclusion of an anti-refugee rally in Berlin, so if you think the Germans really banned Nazi shit, you can just think again with that. That trope should be dead to anyone if they've seen this. I think City of Ghosts is so incredibly effective in telling its story, and if you haven't seen any of those Islamic State propaganda films, they are in this. I found them to be upsetting and I know that was the purpose, sometimes it hits too hard, but again, that's the point. There are enough talking points where I could go through this for a very, very long time, but I think I should describe the film instead of doing that. I honestly don't know why anyone here wouldn't watch this, I know some of you care about this subject.

I thought it was important to watch this film after what happened in Christchurch today. I can't really explain my logic, but I thought there was a parallel between what ISIS did to people and what shooters do when they randomly walk into a place of worship and kill a lot of people. What films like this do, for me anyway, is paint the correct picture in showing that people are all the same. Some have been brainwashed, yes, that is true, but at a base human level, we are all the same. I do not understand why things have to be this way, and truly I'll never understand, but I have immense appreciation for those who break stories about conflict zones. It's an unbelievably difficult and ultimately underappreciated job, but the impact of this job on our subjects is shown at multiple times in a movie. There is nothing more a documentary can give than to show you a clip of a son watching an ISIS propaganda film where his father is shot in the head. For what it's worth, this wasn't grief exploitation, in fact the son said that he watched this all the time for motivation and because he couldn't not watch it. That's the kind of thing I can't really understand, something foreign to me, and I have great appreciation for people who tell these stories knowing that something like this could happen to them. The fact is that we need those stories, so I perfectly understand now why Matthew Heineman would go on to direct A Private War.

9/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 16, 2019, 05:27:22 AM
(https://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/36/750x445/765721.jpg)

Fences (2016), directed by Denzel Washington

So, adaptations of plays. I'm not a play person and I have never went to see one, much less one that was made for Broadway as Fences. It seems that people have what I'd consider to be a surprisingly mixed reaction to this story. It seems that I'm on the extreme end of positivity, but the Academy did nominate Fences for Best Picture, so I'm going to stick with what I think. Fences is obviously an adaptation of a play, directed by one of the best actors ever, also featuring that same actor putting on arguably the best performance of his career. If you care about this sort of thing, yes, he has had practice and time to refine his performance in this role, but I don't think that really matters. What transfers over to the screen is spectacular, even though there's a third act that really tapers off. I haven't watched a Denzel Washington film in a while, I thought this was the right time to do so. Once I watch Silence, I believe that's everything most people thought should be nominated for Best Picture. If that isn't, then I have more work to go, but I'm going to move on to 2017 in full. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but anyway, I just wanted to explain myself. In any case, I can think of only a few films from 2016 that I liked more than this one, Moonlight chiefly among them. This was a great cast doing their thing.

Fences is set in 1950s Pittsburgh, where Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) lives with his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and their son Cory (Jovan Adepo), with Troy working as a trash collector riding on the back of a truck. Troy rides the truck with his best friend, Mr. Bono (Stephen McKinley Henderson), and they've apparently been friends for a very long time. You learn how and why they became friends at some point in the film, I will not reveal how. Troy has a younger brother, Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson), and Gabriel suffered a head injury during World War II that left him very mentally impaired. He received a $3,000 government payout, but he was unable to use it, and Troy used the payout to purchase a home for his family. Gabriel was living with him and instead decided to move out. Due to Gabriel's problems, in addition to Gabriel being black, this leads to him getting in trouble with the police. Troy is unable to keep Gabe at his house, and I'm not sure he wanted to anyway, so this situation is what it is. He wanted Gabe to keep his freedom, and that happened, but that cost Troy a lot of his money.

I'm not going to explain what the deal is exactly with Troy, it's better to not know and watch the film to find out. However, some of this needs to be mentioned. Troy was a baseball player in the Negro Leagues, he was never able to make it to Major League Baseball. He was too old by the point at which Jackie Robinson came along. Troy also claims to have faced the Grim Reaper in his youth, this allowed him to survive pnuemonia. The thing you have to understand about Troy is, he's a classic bullshitter. Troy also has a son from a previous relationship, his name is Lyons (Russell Hornsby), and he visits Troy every payday to borrow money from him. This makes Troy very upset because Troy believes a real man takes responsibility for himself and provides for his own family. There's another issue as well, this one with Cory, and Cory is trying to play college football. Troy's not okay with this, he believes that black people are only on these teams to get screwed over, and that Cory will not get a real chance. He also obviously does not want Cory to fail and will not allow him to see a recruiter that would allow him to play college football unless Cory completes some very specific tasks. The long and short of it is, he wants his two sons to be what he thinks a real man is, he wants to have things going on right at home, and he wants everything to be his way. You know how it works with control freaks like that? It's never always their way.

Denzel Washington's electric performance carries this film very far, but this is also an achievement in script writing. The two in combination with each other make for something great, but Fences is a film that repeatedly features actors stealing scenes and making the most of the work they're given. This isn't an achievement of cinematography or of set design or anything like that, this seemed to have been done in a very minimalist way. I thought the story was enthralling as a whole, but the third act simply wasn't as good as the rest. There's a reason for that and I don't want to say why, you'd have to watch the film. I could not more strongly recommend that you watch this film. There's lots of commentary on the time, but the story does an excellent job of wrapping everyone up into it. I was thinking about so many things when I went to write this review, but I'm left without an ability to actually paint a picture of the film to my liking. There are the usual classic scenes where Denzel Washington decides to go full bore into ranting at an invisible object, and these do seem a little out of place at times, but they're also scenes made for him to show the full capabilities of his acting prowess. I thought Viola Davis was nearly as good, but her role is more limited. Regardless of that, this is a film where these two effectively spend their entire time acting in and around one little house.

This is a great drama, even if it doesn't bring anything truly unique to the table. The monologues Denzel Washington gives as Troy, particularly the ones targeting his son, those are too good. Viola Davis has a few that are just as good, one of which made me actually clap like a fool. I watched Fences last night, but I still feel 12 hours later that the film is just as good as I thought once it ended, and that's also a big achievement. Many times I do not feel that way, but I write my reviews so quickly after viewing a film to ensure that I do not forget the events in it. Registering at 134 minutes before the credit, Fences is quite a long movie, but it's one with some good moral lessons. Troy Maxson is a picture of someone who had a bad father, so many people who had bad fathers turn out like this, particularly in that era when it was a more commonly held practice to treat your sons this way. Of course, if someone is familiar with the play, this could be a huge nothing to them and they may find nothing great about this at all. On the other hand, I find that cinema really lacks in telling these kinds of stories about black people, even to this day. This seems to be getting better and better, but it's something that always sticks in my mind. Hollywood has to get better than offering one or two strong films featuring black people in one given year. Even more than that, people need to watch movies that don't feature guns and ridiculous special effects. Good luck with that.

9/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 16, 2019, 05:12:43 PM
(https://i2.wp.com/teaser-trailer.com/wp-content/uploads/Sleight-Movie-3.jpg?ssl=1)

Sleight (2017), directed by J.D. Dillard

It's back to the first time feature film well once again, something that is becoming a staple in these reviews. First time films have fresh ideas and Sleight is no exception to that, and this featured a lot of things I wasn't quite expecting. However, at the same time, this does have a lot of the same things I've watched in other movies. Kid living in Los Angeles with parents who are gone, and he's left to take care of his younger sibling. I've seen this story a lot, but I watch a lot of material and this is merely a case of me becoming fatigued due to seeing it so much. With that in mind, I think this is an interesting concept, but we really needed more scenes of the lead character doing magic. Due to how short this film was, my review will also be short, and I must reiterate that this is a movie that needs more magic. Have I made that clear yet? There's some quality here, but ultimately I'm left thinking about the things this film could have had and didn't have. It's still an achievement though, you try making a film with $250,000. That shit is hard.

Bo (Jacob Latimore) is a young street magician who has been fucked over after his parents died, of course none of that is anyone's fault. Bad things happen to people. Bo has turned to selling drugs in order to keep a roof over his and his sister Tina's (Storm Reid) heads. He doesn't have a choice, there's no other way for him to make money and put food on the table. He does have a neighbor who helps him out, her name is Georgi (Sasheer Zamata), and without her, I'm not sure what this kid would be doing. In the day, Bo performs magic tricks, he is able to somehow control metal things and keep them floating in the air. He has done this because he has an electromagnet implanted in his arm, I don't understand how this happened or even if it's actually possible. There's some backstory to this, but it appears that he controls this device with his fingers and thumb, with the battery running to his thumb. Again, I don't know how this is possible. In the process of doing these magic tricks, he eventually meets Holly (Seychelle Gabriel), who becomes his girlfriend. Holly has her own problems, it appears that she is abused by one of her parents, whom she lives with.

At night, Bo does a lot of other, very illegal shit that I have already alluded to. He sells cocaine and ecstasy, and Angelo (Dule Hill) is his supplier. I don't know why Angelo became his supplier or how, there's not a lot of character depth as far as that goes. Unfortunately, at the time in which the events of this movie occur, someone new has came on the scene and started selling drugs in Bo's spot. Angelo isn't going to tolerate this, he wants Bo to find this guy. So, Bo uses his ability to do magic tricks to find out who the supplier is. Going to leave it at that. Angelo also has Bo do worse things than sell drugs, I will also not divulge what those are. Eventually, this leads to Bo doing something very dumb. He doesn't want to sell drugs anymore, in fact he wants to leave Los Angeles behind and take his sister with him. His idea is to cut a kilo of coke into two, this is not a wise decision. The possibility this gets back to Angelo is strong, and keep in mind that Bo is just a kid. He's incapable of doing anything should he get in trouble, and that thing in his arm is infected.

I think this is simply a solid film, and I'm appreciative of the effort to the point where I don't want to critique. This is a neat take on superhero stuff, with our lead character having the ability to do that and nobody knowing about the magnet inside of his arm. I don't know if this is realistic or not, I assume that it isn't and I don't understand how that could ever work. The conclusion of the film is nice though, and it's weird to see Dule Hill playing a bad guy and cursing up a storm. That's weird casting. The script and the ingenuity has kept the film from being merely ordinary, and there are some good ideas here. Realism is not something we always need, but I'm a bit shocked by the level of special effects considering this film was nearly budgetless. As I said, this would be short, but I think there's also some good commentary on what happens to people who lose their parents. Society does not account for when that happens to young people.

6/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   The Big Sick
6.   Thor: Ragnarok
7.   Logan Lucky
8.   The Beguiled
9.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
10.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
11.   The Lost City of Z
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   It
16.   Battle of the Sexes
17.   Okja
18.   Kong: Skull Island
19.   It Comes at Night
20.   Split
21.   1922
22.   Personal Shopper
23.   Chuck
24.   Atomic Blonde
25.   Wheelman
26.   The Lego Batman Movie
27.   Megan Leavey
28.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
29.   American Made
30.   Beauty and the Beast
31.   Imperial Dreams
32.   Murder on the Orient Express
33.   The Zookeeper's Wife
34.   Free Fire
35.   Win It All
36.   The Wall
37.   Life
38.   Breathe
39.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
40.   Sleight
41.   Alone in Berlin
42.   A United Kingdom
43.   Trespass Against Us
44.   The Mountain Between Us
45.   War Machine
46.   Happy Death Day
47.   Justice League
48.   To the Bone
49.   Wakefield
50.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
51.   Sand Castle
52.   CHiPs
53.   Death Note
54.   The Belko Experiment
55.   The Great Wall
56.   Fist Fight
57.   Wilson
58.   Queen of the Desert
59.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 17, 2019, 06:34:14 PM
(https://expresselevatortohell.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/silence-02045-e1482338630458.jpg)

Silence (2016), directed by Martin Scorsese

Many times recently I have had very long films listed to watch, but it nearly always turns out that I don't have the time or willpower to actually go through with doing so. It turns out Silence is a big exception to that, but I always knew it was going to be. I simply could not go without ever watching Martin Scorsese's passion project, what kind of person would I be? This is an adaptation of a novel, and it has already been adapted before, but I'm not sure if the Japanese adaptation was any good. The novel must be really damn good or it wouldn't be adapted twice, that's the way I look at it. Martin Scorsese is seemingly obsessed with the idea of people struggling with their faith, and this has to be because he has done so himself. How wouldn't that be the case? Anyway, I have read that the budget was tight enough that many people were forced to work for scale, and I can see how that was. The locations in Silence are numerous, there's a large cast, a massive amount of extras, and there's amazing cinematography that required some incredible capabilities. I wish I'd seen this in theaters, but I'm not surprised that a film with this subject matter and length bombed at the box office. What really gets me is that this wasn't nominated for any Academy Awards. The fuck? This is so much more worthy of nominations than many different productions, I do not understand. I also realize that with this, I've watched nearly everything that got an Oscar nomination for the 2017 show in an important category. Wow! I should say that the foreign language and documentary categories are important, because they are, but there's just a few entries in both of those that I haven't seen. Still though. Wow!

Silence begins in similar fashion to many of Scorsese's works, with a scene establishing the following events. This one is a prologue where we see a Portuguese priest named Cristovao Ferreira (Liam Neeson) witnessing the torture and death of five missionaries in Japan. Ferreira is helpless to stop this, and Japanese authorities are eager to partake. A minor history lesson is needed, this was a response to the Shimabara Rebellion. Some local Japanese Catholics had decided to rebel against the shogunate, and it was decided by Japan to drive out Catholicism because they thought Europeans had spread the fires of rebellion. A few years later in Macau, an Italian priest named Valignano (Ciaran Hinds) has received word that Ferreira has committed apostasy over in Japan after being tortured himself. Ferreira had tutored two priests, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garupe (Adam Driver). The two Portuguese absolutely refuse to believe that this is true, they know their mentor would never have apostatized. These Jesuits believe they need to make their way to Japan and find news of him or find him, and Valignano agrees to their request. First, they need to find someone in Macau who is from Japan so they can do a moderate translation as the priests do not know the language, Their man is Kichijiro (Yosuke Kubozuka), a drunk who the priests cannot trust, but ultimately they are powerless to do anything else.

When Rodrigues and Garupe arrive in Japan, it is at a village called Tomogi. Christians are no longer allowed into Japan nor are people allowed to practice Christianity, with everyone living in fear of the Inquisitor (Issei Ogata). Kichijiro takes it upon himself to go find Christians in the village, and in the end he finds a group of them who subsequently lead the priests to a safe house up in the mountains. The priests are told to stay hidden during the day, but at night they come down and minister to the people in the village. The village leader is a man named Ichizo (Yoshi Oida), and Mokichi (Shinya Tsukamoto) is another who are very, deeply Christian. They tell the priests that they've needed a priest for so long, and eventually the Jesuits become a necessary part of the village. Persecution, however, has run rampant. It is pictured above. The villagers are not able to keep any relics, nor a Bible, and we get to see what happens if someone does. Kichijiro has his own story, but you should watch the movie. Eventually, as you might suspect, the Inquisitor does come to Tomogi. It was going to come out that there were priests in the village, that was inevitable. Here is what the Inquisitor wants. He will give out silver to anyone who has information on Christians, because he was told there were Christians in the village. He also wants four hostages, and they must pass a trial in order for him to believe that these four villagers are not Christians. They must spit on a Cross, say that the Virgin Mary is a whore, and only then will he really believe them. If they don't do it? See above.

There are very few films of this length that are consistently intriguing throughout, but even less of them seem to carry real emotional weight. There are some questions I have about Silence, particularly related to Kichijiro, because I don't understand how he lives for so long. I'm not surprised that people didn't want to watch this. It's a story that critiques religion and at the same time leans into it, this is an incredible film. There's no other way to put it and in some ways I'm left without words. The harshness of the atmosphere was truly amazing, the priests invading a very cruel and tough land. Taiwan was a great stand-in for coastal Japan, finding these locales was an excellent piece of filmmaking. These backgrounds serve to establish the priests as entering hostile ground, with some yearning for hope but others unaccepting of their ideas. The start of the film does get a little bogged down, but these scenes only serve to give the film more power as it continues, one builds to the next and the conclusion of the film is everything I wanted it to be. If you don't have any feelings while watching this, I really don't know what to say. The scenes where people are persecuted are very difficult to watch, and there are a lot of them, Silence is not a film for the faint-hearted.

I thought Silence was a film with a strange existential dilemma, with our priests being Portuguese yet them not speaking the language. Sometimes Portuguese comes up and sometimes it doesn't, but this is weird and probably the only reason I'm not giving this a perfect score. The language thing is merely a distraction though, I thought Garfield and Driver gave spectacular performances. So did the Inquisitor for that matter, but I have seen some complaining about the "villains" in this film being Japanese. Villain is of course a very relative term, and in any case you can't change history. Stories about whether or not someone is going to doom other people to death as a result of their own beliefs, there just aren't very many of those. Of course, there is also always the lurking question of what will happen if or when they find Ferreira. Did Ferreira truly apostatize, or is he dead? This is something else one must watch the film to find out. These scenes carry so much wait, but I can see that if someone is disengaged from the story after about 20 minutes, there is no reason on Earth to continue watching this. I imagine that it would only get worse if that's how one felt.

I'm not familiar with other films like this one, including Scorsese's other efforts, as I just haven't watched them before. Silence is a truly great film though. I know why people have a hesitancy to watch long films, but when they're this good, there's something to be lost if you don't watch it. One thing that was coming to mind, is what someone would think if they believe negative things about the Catholic Church in the first place? This kind of thing, it's answered in the film. I assure you of that. There's one thing I know, I have to keep going to the theater this often because I cannot wind up missing out on something else like this. Considering I'm basically done with 2016 other than some random tracking back in the future, I'm left stunned that this film was not given any amount of true recognition. It just doesn't make sense to me, and this is better than so many other films. I repeat, so many other films. I was left with some questions abuot my own place in the universe after watching this, I don't have the answers to them and I will probably be thinking of them for a long time. I was surprised that this film actually bothered to explain the Japanese point of view, but that's probably why it was so long in the first place. I really appreciate that it was.

9.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 18, 2019, 05:50:36 PM
(https://cdn1.thr.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/landscape_928x523/2017/03/snatch_0.png)

Snatched (2017), directed by Jonathan Levine

I had a pretty shitty day, so I thought that the best way to deal with that was by throwing on some trash tonight. Snatched is certainly trash, but it's also the first Amy Schumer movie or television program that I've watched. How is this possible? That's simple, you just be like me and don't pay attention to shit. Eventually, I'll probably watch a lot more even though I know this is trash, but make no mistake my hopes were not high. I wanted to laugh at some stupid things, and for the most part that's what happened, although said laughs were few and far between. My expectation was that having Goldie Hawn in this would level things out a little bit, but I'm not cool with the kind of brownphobia that exists in Snatched. There's so much of it, it's prevalent throughout the opening of the film as well as the parts that are actually important, I'm just not cool with that. That being said, if you want to see Amy Schumer's nips, this just might be the film for you! In reality though, you should steer clear. Steer very, very clear of this mess.

Snatched focuses on Emily, a woman who works in a clothing store at the start of the film, but is fired for vapid, poor behavior. She is also dumped by her boyfriend not long after that, but she has a trip for two to Ecuador that she's unable to get a refund for. Nothing's going to stop Emily from going on her vacation, so inevitably, she turns to her mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn). Linda does not want to go to Ecuador, she just wants Emily to move on from her failed relationship. Emily has a brother, Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz), and he stays inside all the time so he definitely isn't going on a trip. In the end, it turns out that nobody else will go, and that Linda is very afraid of foreign countries. All I could think about this shit, was fucking hell. It's coastal Ecuador, who wouldn't want to go there? What's wrong with you? Anyway, with that out of the way, Linda does agree to come along and off they go.

There's no padding in any of these scenes, they come very quickly and the film is quite short as a result of this. Upon arriving at their hotel in Ecuador, Emily meets a man named James (Tom Bateman) at the bar, and they get their drink on. At the same time, Linda and Emily also meet Ruth (Wanda Sykes) and Barb (Joan Cusack), some weird people traveling to Ecuador as well. I don't know how to describe this shit. Anyway, Emily embarrasses herself repeatedly, but none of that matters. The reason? James takes Linda and Emily on a sightseeing trip, and during their trip, a white fan rams into James' car. This leads to Emily and Linda being abducted, and Linda is very certain that James was in on this the whole time. Anyway, the leader of these kidnappers is a generic villain called Hector Morgado (Oscar Jaenada), and he calls Jeffrey to demand $100,000 in ransom money. Jeffrey subsequently calls the State Department, coming in contact with Morgan Russell (Bashir Salahuddin), and it turns out that Morgan hates this guy's fucking guts. Anyway, the women are to be transported to Colombia, and who knows for what reason, but they are. That's that, they're kidnapped.

It's dififcult to know what to say about something like this, but the rampant anti-Latinx racism and the way this presented a picture of Ecuador being inherently unsafe, I felt like that was negative propaganda. Usually these kinds of films receive a fake country name or something like that, this one does not. I thought everything about this was so easy to dislike, bar the appearance of Christopher Meloni. I kept hoping for him to reappear and he didn't, so that was too bad. Amy Schumer's character is so easy to dislike, I find this incredible with all the backlash she's received over the last few years. It doesn't make any sense that she would play this role. She's a complete idiot, a typical basic bitch. That stuff is not funny. Goldie Hawn does have some good jokes, but there aren't all that many of them. I can't believe how short this film is and that it features absolutely nothing that sticks with me other than Meloni's character. I can't believe that. The caricature of Jeffrey, I did think that was a little funny too I must admit. With incels being what they are now, to see one on screen, it always gets some amusement out of me.

This film is also a mess, with things taking around 35 minutes to actually get to the point where Schumer and Hawn are kidnapped. I could not tell you why it took so long, but before I looked back up what felt like a few minutes later and matters were already coming to a conclusion. If that sounds like shit, that's because it is shit. Unfortunately, this is just missing absolutely everything that a film like this needs to have. The side characters have to be memorable and really need a chance to ham it up. The main characters have to be engaging in some way and one of them is not. The racism that seems to loom around this kind of film, particularly when it was made in 2017 when people were all well aware of these things, that's something that isn't good. The action scenes a film like this requires are also non-existent, so overall I am very confused by what I just watched. I really don't know how someone could become famous like Amy Schumer if this is what their material is like.

3.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   The Big Sick
6.   Thor: Ragnarok
7.   Logan Lucky
8.   The Beguiled
9.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
10.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
11.   The Lost City of Z
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   It
16.   Battle of the Sexes
17.   Okja
18.   Kong: Skull Island
19.   It Comes at Night
20.   Split
21.   1922
22.   Personal Shopper
23.   Chuck
24.   Atomic Blonde
25.   Wheelman
26.   The Lego Batman Movie
27.   Megan Leavey
28.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
29.   American Made
30.   Beauty and the Beast
31.   Imperial Dreams
32.   Murder on the Orient Express
33.   The Zookeeper's Wife
34.   Free Fire
35.   Win It All
36.   The Wall
37.   Life
38.   Breathe
39.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
40.   Sleight
41.   Alone in Berlin
42.   A United Kingdom
43.   Trespass Against Us
44.   The Mountain Between Us
45.   War Machine
46.   Happy Death Day
47.   Justice League
48.   To the Bone
49.   Wakefield
50.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
51.   Sand Castle
52.   CHiPs
53.   Death Note
54.   The Belko Experiment
55.   The Great Wall
56.   Fist Fight
57.   Snatched
58.   Wilson
59.   Queen of the Desert
60.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 19, 2019, 06:28:10 PM
(https://media.vanityfair.com/photos/59134d8d42de4923a014acbb/master/w_768,c_limit/King-Arthur-Charlie-Hunnam.jpg)

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), directed by Guy Ritchie

When King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was released, my initial reaction was one of surprise, similar to when Robin Hood was released last year. I could not believe that a studio would decide to make either of those stories again, but this is said with the benefit of hindsight. It is now clear to everyone that these stories can no longer make money, and that they are probably buried for good. I do not think it's a matter of execution, that a studio can make money if they do them right. That's total crap. Also, those two movies are very identical, although both have differing aspects. I just don't understand how both Warner Bros. and Lionsgate could believe those two movies would launch a cinematic universe for them. That's putting their heads in the sand. Oddly enough, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has much less sequel-bait than Robin Hood. They both shouldn't have any of it at all. Someone thought they could make six movies about King Arthur. What? I don't get it. Anyway, with that in mind, this isn't exactly like any other King Arthur. Guy Ritchie directed it, so there's going to be his touches. Unfortunately, that also means he wrote it, and this isn't the kind of movie he's used to writing. The odds that this would be bad are quite high, and I wasn't remotely surprised by how things turned out. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I also have no idea why anyone would let him direct Aladdin, but by that point it was too late. What we have if that stinks, is a case of someone being given the keys to make their career and that person subsequently destroying it.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword begins in Camelot, as it should, but this situation is a little different from what I understand. Mordred is a warlock whom we never see again, who decided that he wanted to ignite a war between mages and humans. Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) is the British King, and he is leading the humans. He saves Camelot by beheading Mordred after a scene where we see some gigantic elephants, everything seems to be fine. Instead it is not. Vortigern (Jude Law) is Uther's brother, and he's a traitor. In order for him to become King, he sacrificies his wife to some bitches who live in the moat (yes, this is definitely a fantasy movie), which leads to Vortigern becoming a demon knight. Vortigern subsequently kills Uther's wife, Uther himself, and Arthur escapes on a boat to Londinium. Upon arrival in Londinium, Arthur is raised by prostitutes. We are given a very long montage of how he grew up, something I thought was awful storytelling, but it turns out this is decent direction covering up for Ritchie's own bad script. Anyway, we move forward through the years to Arthur as an adult, where he has shockingly become a skilled fighter and a street urchin of some kind. He confronts a group of Vikings who treated a prostitute like garbage, and forces them to pay restitution. This works out in Guy Ritchie fashion as well, with someone telling the story as the action goes on. You should be familiar with this if you've seen his movies.

While Arthur was telling this story to Jack's Eye (Michael McElhatton), all I could think was "here we go again with the goofy names," but at least it fit in this context. Jack's Eye breaks some unfortunate news to Arthur, that these vikings were under the protection of King Vortigern, so now Arthur's in some trouble. He attempts to escape the city, but he's captured and spotted for not having a brand on his arm. This leads to him being put on a ship with many other men, and it turns out that some water has vacated an area near Camelot to reveal a sword in a stone. Laugh all you want. Anyway, Arthur's able to pull the sword out as you know, and his true lineage is revealed. King Vortigern wants to kill him, but he cannot. Arthur escapes, and subsequently he joins a resistance movement against Vortigern, even though he may not want to. Notable members are the mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), a woman working for Merlin, who has turned into an eagle. There's also two former knights of Uther's, Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), the leader of the resistance, and Goosefat Bill (Aidan Gillen), a great archer. Then there's Arthur's friends from London, a guy called Wet Stick (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Percival (Craig McGinlay), Back Lack (Neil Maskell), and Back Lack's son, Blue (Bleu Landau). What more can you say about this?

There are obviously far too many characters, and I left out some wives and a few other members of the resistance, or of Arthur's mother, the Lady of the Lake, of David Beckham's cameo, of Vikings, do you get the point yet? There are too many people you have to recognize on face alone, and due to the nature of a film with a lot of white looking people from the British Isles, some of them do look very much alike. That's probably the point of some of the ridiculous names, but I know that some of them are also part of the story. I feel like this is a film both enhanced and ruined by Ritchie at the same time. Ritchie's skill with scenes similar to what I mentioned with Jack's Eye, this is one of the only things actually holding this mess together. His script is completely uninspired, and by the middle of the film I was getting fucking bored. I really was, and no amount of giant elephants and fantasy CGI is really going to change that. I also must admit that I don't care about the story of King Arthur whatsoever. I could never give a fuck about something like this, it isn't for me. The kind of fantasy story I want to see is something that hasn't been done before, like Game of Thrones. I do not need this. I also thought the film was more interesting when Arthur was tramping around Londinium and telling those stories, but such joys were short-lived.

I believe I've said before that I think Charlie Hunnam is an underrated actor, and I do, but he's given nothing of quality to work with here at all. He's also absolutely terrible at picking his roles, this year's Triple Frontier was no exception to that. The Lost City of Z, on the other hand, now that was quality work. That second film and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword came out in the same year, I am loathe to compare them because one is quality cinema and the other is not, but it's something that regularly came to mind. Jude Law is also well cast and so is Aidan Gillen, but it's strange to see Gillen playing a bad guy. Law is more naturally suited to it, he does his best with the material, but the material is not good. The film is just boring, I don't know how else to describe it. There are so many things here that shouldn't be boring, but it is. There's a deluge of this kind of material and a lack of original fantasy stories being released as films these days, so when a film is as trite as this, you really notice. This is also two hours, which isn't surprising considering the amount of characters, but there is no depth given to any of these. Part of that is because there were supposed to be six of these movies, but I guess I just don't care. Guy Ritchie is a lot better than this, he obviously got up in his own ass when he wrote this, and it's best that this bombed so everyone could move on. I have no idea who Warner Bros. thought was the audience for this, I could never imagine an American audience going to see this film regardless of who made it or the quality of it. I could drone on and on, but I've already said more than this deserves. At least The Man from U.N.C.L.E was fun.

4.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   The Big Sick
6.   Thor: Ragnarok
7.   Logan Lucky
8.   The Beguiled
9.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
10.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
11.   The Lost City of Z
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
14.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
15.   It
16.   Battle of the Sexes
17.   Okja
18.   Kong: Skull Island
19.   It Comes at Night
20.   Split
21.   1922
22.   Personal Shopper
23.   Chuck
24.   Atomic Blonde
25.   Wheelman
26.   The Lego Batman Movie
27.   Megan Leavey
28.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
29.   American Made
30.   Beauty and the Beast
31.   Imperial Dreams
32.   Murder on the Orient Express
33.   The Zookeeper's Wife
34.   Free Fire
35.   Win It All
36.   The Wall
37.   Life
38.   Breathe
39.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
40.   Sleight
41.   Alone in Berlin
42.   A United Kingdom
43.   Trespass Against Us
44.   The Mountain Between Us
45.   War Machine
46.   Happy Death Day
47.   Justice League
48.   To the Bone
49.   Wakefield
50.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
51.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
52.   Sand Castle
53.   CHiPs
54.   Death Note
55.   The Belko Experiment
56.   The Great Wall
57.   Fist Fight
58.   Snatched
59.   Wilson
60.   Queen of the Desert
61.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 20, 2019, 06:16:37 PM
(https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/fcpEjoib07kXehtfdIIh1kzXVQg=/0x0:2700x1800/1200x800/filters:focal(1134x684:1566x1116)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/52386985/patriotsdaycover.0.jpeg)

Patriots Day (2016), directed by Peter Berg

For once it appears I have a lot of things I was thinking about prior to starting this review. First is that I can't believe how many movies Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have done together. It is very ridiculous and the movies are progressively getting worse as shown by Mile 22. Another thing coming to mind was that I apparently lied about being done with 2016 for a while. I really thought I was, but I forgot I had this listed. Then, there's the more obvious thing, that making a film about the Boston Bombing less than four years after the bombing itself, that's really strange. I should also point out that filming started not even three whole years after the bombing, and production started not even two whole years after the bombing, which I think is insanity. Yes, a film like this does feel like exploitation, particularly when everyone is so aware of the events surrounding it. Deepwater Horizon was another film produced after a disaster, but in that case the film is a message against corporate greed. In the case of Patriots Day, the film is very much about what the terrorists actually did, but there's major appreciation towards first responders so that people understand how much of a toll it takes. There are also scenes related to those who survived and lost their limbs, and the struggles they endured.

I'm going to toss my usual format because I need to talk about the idea of exploitation. Hotel Mumbai is coming out very soon, I'm going to review that too, but I'm left to wonder if that film also falls in the same category. More to the point, how much it does because they all do? The Mumbai attacks took place over ten years ago now, but living in the West, I don't remember a lot of the details of the attack itself. I think that's the case for a lot of people and that the attack as a whole was much less publicized in the United States. What I'm wondering is whether or not it's okay for me to have more interest in seeing Hotel Mumbai because I don't know the details? That's something I don't know how to answer so I'm sure a lot of people also don't. The fact is that there is a market for these films, but more to the point, a lot of the people who had these things happen to them also want to have their stories told. Some don't, obviously. Should the victims be deprived of telling their story because it doesn't feel good to see? The marketplace ultimately decides that. Also coming to mind is the way that people were just slaughtered in a terrorist attack in Christchurch. I don't think there's any story to be told there at all, that may not stop someone from trying. That's where exploitation kicks in. In this case, I'm sure some people wanted to know how Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was caught, and I guess that's a fair justification for making the film. I do think that ultimately these kinds of films do not serve to unite the community and the reaction shows that, so you can take it for what it's worth. I would suggest that we need more time than four years to realize whether or not there's any moral lesson or perspective to be garnered from these kinds of terrorist attacks.

With all that in mind, I suppose I have to set this up and explain who plays these parts. Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is a composite character who serves as a sergeant in the Boston Police Department. I am very surprised that Peter Berg had the caution to ensure that this character was not someone who solved anything, but was rather there for the events to witness them from on the ground. More directors should take note of that. Tommy has a really bad knee and he's also been suspended, and in an awkward scene to kick things off, he is ordered by the Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman) to patrol the line at the Boston Marathon in order to kick his suspension. The subject of the suspension never comes up again, which is also good. In the following scenes, we are introduced to a few people who play a part in the events to come. Jeffrey Pugilese (J.K. Simmons) is a sergeant with the Watertown Police Department, Sean Collier (Jake Picking) is an officer at MIT, Jessica (Rachel Brosnahan) and Patrick (Christopher O'Shea) are a married couple going to the marathon, and Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang) is a Chinese student with a nice car. The Tsarnaev brothers, nefarious as they are, have also made plans. Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) is obviously the leader of the two, and Dzhkohar (Alex Wolff) is the follower, both of them were fucking idiots. They lived with Tamerlan's wife Katherine (Melissa Benoist) and their daughter, doing all of this shit in the living room. Somehow, as you may know, Katherine has entirely evaded punishment on all of this shit. It doesn't make any sense.

Composite characters like Tommy being what they are, they are also given wives, and in this case he is given a nurse named Carol (Michelle Monaghan). Before the bombing, he is having some knee problems and Carol brings down a knee brace, but she escapes unscathed from the pressure cookers that the Tsarnaev brothers detonated. Everything else plays out about exactly how you'd expect. In comes Deval Patrick (Michael Beach), and along with him is Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), a Special Agent in charge of the Boston field office. As I have already alluded to, while Tommy is the film's lead character, there is a great focus on what the Tsarnaev's were doing, and Tommy is merely there to see what happens rather than being a fictional participant in the events. I think the only real contributions he makes are to respond to the 9-1-1 call for the carjacking that happened to Dun Meng, and to point out the order of some buildings on the street so that the agents could follow a trail of surveillance cameras. Again, I am surprised by this, but that was hardly a big deal. I think everyone knows how this went down, but at the end of the film, there are some comments from survivors of the bombing, as well as officials who played a part in the manhunt for both brothers.

I have some critiques because obviously I do, but the one sticking with me to a point where I need to immediately mention it is that there is a paucity of material related to how the Tsarnaev's became radicalized. We are given one sentence from Katherine, but that's it, and that's just a really thin way of looking at things. On the other hand, that's not the worst thing either. The less time given to a bad ideology, the better. Patriots Day is intensely focused on the Tsarnaev's actions, the first responders, and the regularity of the lives of some of the people who were harmed by the Tsarnaev's. I think to that point, this film is just about as good as Deepwater Horizon, which I think I gave a 7. The message of corporate greed does land hard with me, but ultimately I'm left with thoughts about the depiction of what the Tsarnaev's did. Some of that stuff is a little vague now that I don't remember every little detail, but I remembered a whole lot of it before I turned this on. I thought this was an effective presentation of the events, and I do think this film has some merit. I think there's also disturbing lessons to be learned from what can happen when two idiots get a lot of weapons, but this is something I think we already know.

Perhaps the best way to judge these kinds of films is on a case by case basis. Who would've thought? The performances of the brothers, I hate to say, were quite good and extremely effective. The entitlement of Dzohkhar really made things even more difficult to understand, the attacks themselves seemed to reside in a strange place in his mind. But, one must keep in mind that the film eschew any thoughts of exploring their jihadist ideology, so one shouldn't take that aspect too seriously. The movie is very focused on the effects on the communities in Boston, and how they pulled together, all that Boston Strong kind of stuff. So, with that in mind, and because I thought the end of the film addressed matters very nicely, I think this film was exactly as good as Deepwater Horizon was. Judging on a case by case basis, Patriots Day was worth the time it took to make it. The performance by Jimmy O. Yang also really stands out when you consider his role in the events was the most heroic civilian role of them all, that he ran away from a gas station to call the police when those dopes had him kidnapped. Those scenes were extremely effective.

7/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 21, 2019, 06:31:37 PM
(https://www.bfi.org.uk/sites/bfi.org.uk/files/styles/full/public/image/darkest-hour-2017-001-gary-oldman-winston-churchill.jpg)

Darkest Hour (2017), directed by Joe Wright

Arguably never before has there been a more easy comparison between two films nominated for awards, with Dunkirk and Darkest Hour coming out in the same year. I am unable to resist doing so myself. Let's face it, how can one not compare the two? They're both about the same event from two different perspectives, one on the ground and the other back at home in London. These are two radically different films in scope, one takes place nearly entirely on set and the other outside, but again, they are about the same event. Comparing the two also very easily exposes the shortcomings of Darkest Hour. I know there are many Churchill fetishists out there, I have a family member who is one of them. I was told by him a while ago that I should watch Darkest Hour and Dunkirk as a double feature, but if I'd done so, this difference would have been even more pronounced. I may even feel negatively about Darkest Hour if I'd done that. What I thought about Dunkirk was that Christopher Nolan's direction really busted down the door to make an absolutely classic film, and in the case of Darkest Hour, the entertainment value is derived from one performance. That is one performance alone in a film with a large ensemble cast, I should note. With that knowledge, I am absolutely mystified as to how this was nominated for awards. However, as this year's Oscars may show, the people who vote for these things may have a huge anglophilia problem. Bohemian Rhapsody is all the real evidence you need to show it's the case.

If you don't know what Darkest Hour is about, I don't know what the fuck's wrong with you. The film begins in 1940 with the Labour Party demanding the resignation of Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) for reasons that most everyone is aware of. He was weak and he was a coward. Chamberlain wanted to handpick his successor, but for whatever reason Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane) has decided the time is not right for him to become Prime Minister of Britain. Chamberlain was also still the leader of the ruling Conservative Party, and in talks with King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn), it is clear that the King does not want this, but everyone has been left with no choice. If you have not realized, Darkest Hour takes some extreme creative liberties with how things worked out. Enter Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman). We pan over to his abode, where he gets angry at his new secretary, Elizabeth Layton (Lily James), because she did not hear him properly. Winston's wife Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas) does not like this, so in the end Miss Layton returns with a telegram. The King has invited Churchill to Buckingham Palace to form a government, which as anyone could tell, is exactly what happens. Churchill is a smart man, so he includes Chamberlain and Halifax in his war cabinet as they receive news that Hitler has invaded Belgium and the Netherlands.

Churchill has a poor reputation in Parliament due to prior conduct, but the three parties thought he would be the best Prime Minister. He was the right man at the right job at the right time as it has been said. Churchill is instantly met with major problems, of course. He travels to France and the French PM finds him to be delusional, because what Churchill says is completely deluded. Inevitably, we come to the matter of Dunkirk. The British Army was trapped at Dunkirk, and Churchill gives an order to lead a rear-guard action so that the British can buy time to evacuate forces from Dunkirk. We then get to the real heart of the film, the War Cabinet Crisis. Churchill has an outburst at Chamberlain over his prior appeasement strategy, and eventually Chamberlain and Halifax decide to force Churchill's hand. They want him to negotiate for peace, and if he does not they will resign and force a vote of no confidence, to lead to someone challenging Churchill's position. In Halifax's diary, he had written that succeeding Chamberlain would be impossible, this aspect is not really covered in the film. These battles between Halifax and Churchill inevitably spiral, such as you'd expect, but Churchill is forced to consider the idea of suing for peace. And there's your film.

Obviously I left out some major details that happen after Churchill is forced to play his hand, but I think everyone knows what happens from there. Due to Dunkirk using fictional characters, as well as that film's willingness to discard of them, the difference in tension between the two films is quite incredible. This is where we get into the difference between biographies and original films. Gary Oldman's performance is fantastic, I think I'll wind up being in agreement with those who awarded him for that performance. Darkest Hour, however, is entirely reliant upon that performance. The inherent issue with biographies, and if you've noticed the reason why I rarely rate them as highly as other kinds of films, is because a biography really needs to bring some kind of technical innovation or events I don't know about in order to liven things up. The problem here is that I already knew about all this stuff. Most adults should know about this subject as well, and the evacuation of Dunkirk is something that was addressed in a film that arrived earlier in the same year. The release of Dunkirk undoubtedly works against Darkest Hour, but I think there are so many other good films from 2017 that do as well. I haven't watched them all yet either!

Where Darkest Hour really succeeds beyond Oldman's spectacular performance, is technically. Didn't I just say that thing about technical innovation? Space launches, unfortunately for this film and my view towards it, massively surpass those innovations with makeup and fat suits. Plaudits for those things were deserved, I'm not saying that. I also thought the room they used as a stand-in for Buckingham Palace was spectacularly decorated and adorned. This was something I thought every single time the room was on screen, so I thought I would mention it. I rarely mention set design, so that tells you just how much I thought it stood out. The state of the buildings was excellent too, and so was the cinematography. I can't compare it to the some of the other films as I haven't watched them, but there are countless very good shots of Churchill. So, technically, this is brilliant. Some of the other characters, like that of Viscount Halifax, are very well developed and nicely performed. I also never thought Ben Mendelsohn would make a good British king, but here we are. It also feels like this guy is in everything, even though he isn't. That's a good thing in his case.

Ultimately, with all those positives, I think Darkest Hour does have some complete failures to balance them out. The historical accuracy of these events is sometimes incorrect to a point where I could only wonder how the events could have been untangled in a way that everyone could understand. Truthfully, I could not come up with one. There's also some complete fabrications, like with Churchill riding on the London Underground. That scene is totally ludicrous and took me out of the end of the film. I also think that films such as this one, particularly with a figure like Churchill who did bad things, serve to whitewash his sins and make everyone forget about them. I told you about my family member, correct? This is what happens when films fail in that regard. Creatively messing around with what a figure like Winston Churchill really was, I think that's a problem. I do expect that this role is going to be revisited at some point as well, it would surprise me if it wasn't. There's too much ground left uncovered, but I hope that someone else writes the film this time. For my money, even though this is something I would call a good film with some extremely positive aspects, I think the screenwriter did not do what could have been done with the story. So, take it for what it's worth, but this film is not great and just below that. Perhaps if I was British, I would feel different. But I'm not. The film just isn't insightful enough, and I realized that this is currently somewhat high on my list, but that should go down quite a bit by the time I'm done unless 2017 sucked.

7.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   The Big Sick
6.   Thor: Ragnarok
7.   Logan Lucky
8.   The Beguiled
9.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
10.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
11.   The Lost City of Z
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Darkest Hour
14.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
15.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
16.   It
17.   Battle of the Sexes
18.   Okja
19.   Kong: Skull Island
20.   It Comes at Night
21.   Split
22.   1922
23.   Personal Shopper
24.   Chuck
25.   Atomic Blonde
26.   Wheelman
27.   The Lego Batman Movie
28.   Megan Leavey
29.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
30.   American Made
31.   Beauty and the Beast
32.   Imperial Dreams
33.   Murder on the Orient Express
34.   The Zookeeper's Wife
35.   Free Fire
36.   Win It All
37.   The Wall
38.   Life
39.   Breathe
40.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
41.   Sleight
42.   Alone in Berlin
43.   A United Kingdom
44.   Trespass Against Us
45.   The Mountain Between Us
46.   War Machine
47.   Happy Death Day
48.   Justice League
49.   To the Bone
50.   Wakefield
51.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
52.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
53.   Sand Castle
54.   CHiPs
55.   Death Note
56.   The Belko Experiment
57.   The Great Wall
58.   Fist Fight
59.   Snatched
60.   Wilson
61.   Queen of the Desert
62.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 23, 2019, 06:04:35 PM
Yiddish, subtitles

(https://www.irishtimes.com/polopoly_fs/1.3316674.1512493664!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_620/image.jpg)

Menashe (2017), directed by Joshua Z. Weinstein

I assume that nobody expected I would watch a film in the Yiddish language, but here it is. I assume that the point of the film in the first place was to enlighten people on Hasidic cultural practices, shining a light on things that other Americans just don't know about. After all, this was an American production. The fact is that a lot of American people just simply aren't aware of the other cultures in our country. It doesn't matter which side that you come from, ignoracnce is prevalent and in many cases so is outright hatred. Numerous times in this film I had to Google things that I didn't understand, but I think that was the point of things. I couldn't imagine watching this in a theater when I'm not aware of these things and don't have the ability to find out what they are. To continue to harp on this point, that we don't know about this culture and that we are able to learn about it through a film, I always think that's great. It's the kind of thing I always appreciate, but the most important thing as far as my reviews of films go is one thing and one thing alone. Is the film good? Good is such a subjective thing. I think there are aspects of Menashe that are decidedly not good, and I'll explain what I think those are, but I think this film is extremely educational.

Menashe is a biographical story of sorts, with the titled man, Menashe, having been widowed. Menashe is a Hasidic Jew, and with his wife gone, his life has changed a lot. The way things work, his community does not believe he should have custody of his son Rieven (Ruben Niborski). Rieven, as a result, lives with the family of his mother's brother, Eizik (Yoel Weisshaus). Eizik's house is better for many reasons, the least of which being that he has more money than Menashe. For those who do not know, many people in this community do not have money as the circumstances do not allow for individuals to acquire it so easily. If you want to know more to that end, I'm unable to explain. Anyway, with these things being what they are, Menashe is tasked with finding a wife and holding down his very low paying job at a Jewish grocery market in Brooklyn. I feel very bad for this guy, let's put it that way. His first marriage, as he tells it, was not so good. He's reluctant to get married again, but the needs of the community require him to or his son cannot live with him. I must admit I do not understand why this is, it's perhaps an interpretation of the Torah, but I don't really know for certain. The easy answer would be, because it's tradition. To some people tradition matters.

Menashe himself is an unhappy man, he does not wear the traditional black coat and top hat in public. We are shown one attempt of a match making, that also does not go so well. He believes things that others do not, believes a little more in individuality, and as a result it will be difficult for him to find a wife. Maybe he's just torpedoing these dates because he doesn't want to be happy, or doesn't know what being happy even is? Eventually, things come to a head both at work and in Menashe's life. His boss is a dick, and Menashe owes money to people, but oddly this storyline completely disappears. It just turns out that Menashe is a really unlucky person. One day, he decides to do something about his problems. He goes to see Eizik, and Eizik looks down on him, so he really doesn't like what Eizik has to say about his life. So, in a bit of anger or rather of personal need, Menashe decides to take Rieven away to live with him. This leads to Eizik and Menashe having to see the rabbi (Meyer Schwartz), so they come to an agreement. Rieven can stay with his father, but he must be returned after a memorial service for Menashe's wife. After that, he really needs to find a wife.

The disappearing storyline, in combination with some odd cinematography, are the reasons I won't be giving Menashe a very high rating. It's still a good film, and as I already said, very educational. If you've read the story of this film, when it was shot, some of the people who were in it were left out of the credits so they didn't bring shame to their house. Some of the actors simply disappeared. Pulling off this project considering all that, it's quite an accomplishment. I also want to say that I think there are in some cases problems with these kinds of communities. Particularly in how much they control people's lives, and the inability with which people can leave said communities. There's been a lot of news stories in recent years, or documentaries for that matter, about those who leave extremist sects of Mormonism and how someone accomplishes that. But, let's make it extremely clear here. This is not Mormonism and people do not have those problems, it's simply hard to leave. I'm not trying to compare them, but I'm saying we know more about one sect than the other, and I'm not a fan of the way people can become controlled by doctrine. The thing about the film is, the subject of Menashe leaving is never addressed. I'm actually glad for that as the film probably wouldn't even exist if it did. Menashe does not want to leave, he loves his religion, and he also loves his son. It is just very hard for him to do something required of him because of how poorly it went the first time.

The human in me found himself feeling very bad for the film's subject, and at the same time really hoping things worked out for him, so it's clear that I liked the film. When I don't like something, I often don't feel anything at all. The disappearing storyline I am referring to is probably related to the actor also disappearing, because I kept waiting to see how Menashe would address his financial situation only for that to never come. As for the cinematography, there are so many close-ups on Menashe. This bothered me. I think I am actually saying that this film was poorly made, and it doesn't have the best story in the world either. In the end, though, while the story isn't particularly well written, I thought the educational aspect of this film was very nicely done. There are things that are not laid out as well as they should have been, but I think I understood the gist of the film and accepted the resolution to the problem. I also thought the father-son relationship was sweet, and over the course of the film the viewer was able to understand how these things all came to be what they were. Sometimes it's nice to see a movie where someone is struggling, but nothing magically comes along to save them from their problems, and we learn that other people have the same problems we all do. Those problems, however, are just slightly different based on where you come from, and if you haven't learned that as an adult, that's too bad. I was going to say that this film is probably best watched by younger people although I can't imagine a younger person actually doing so.

7/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Logan
4.   Wonder Woman
5.   The Big Sick
6.   Thor: Ragnarok
7.   Logan Lucky
8.   The Beguiled
9.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
10.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
11.   The Lost City of Z
12.   First They Killed My Father
13.   Darkest Hour
14.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
15.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
16.   It
17.   Battle of the Sexes
18.   Okja
19.   Kong: Skull Island
20.   It Comes at Night
21.   Split
22.   1922
23.   Personal Shopper
24.   Chuck
25.   Atomic Blonde
26.   Wheelman
27.   The Lego Batman Movie
28.   Megan Leavey
29.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
30.   Menashe
31.   American Made
32.   Beauty and the Beast
33.   Imperial Dreams
34.   Murder on the Orient Express
35.   The Zookeeper's Wife
36.   Free Fire
37.   Win It All
38.   The Wall
39.   Life
40.   Breathe
41.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
42.   Sleight
43.   Alone in Berlin
44.   A United Kingdom
45.   Trespass Against Us
46.   The Mountain Between Us
47.   War Machine
48.   Happy Death Day
49.   Justice League
50.   To the Bone
51.   Wakefield
52.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
53.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
54.   Sand Castle
55.   CHiPs
56.   Death Note
57.   The Belko Experiment
58.   The Great Wall
59.   Fist Fight
60.   Snatched
61.   Wilson
62.   Queen of the Desert
63.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 24, 2019, 06:22:43 PM
(https://psmag.com/.image/t_share/MTUyMDQ3NTM4MjEwMzUwOTg2/billbs.jpg)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), directed by Martin McDonagh

I have no idea how it took so long for me to finally go ahead and watch Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri when I was eagerly anticipating the film before its release. I guess that's just how I am. What I was thinking when I was finally going to watch this, was that I hoped this wouldn't be like McDonagh's previous film, Seven Psychopaths. Fortunately, this was no Seven Psychopaths, although I must admit that I did laugh a few times. The comedy aspect, however, is almost entirely removed from this other than in the most dark sense. Or, for that matter, in the way that Frances McDormand wears the same jumpsuit all the time. I understand the outfit, but the jumpsuit is going to go down as an iconic costume. Whether you like the movie as a whole or not, McDormand's performance is on that level. So, get used to seeing that outfit in montages and news clips during every awards season. Anyway, I'm a bit surprised by this film because it isn't very much like In Bruges and the aforementioned Seven Psychopaths. I think In Bruges is a classic, so in some ways that isn't so great, but I think that overall, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is probably McDonagh's best film. Considering it seemed that a lot of people did not like the film's ending, there are quite a few who would probably take umbrage with that. There is something that actually bothers me about it though...

Our film is set in a town called Ebbing, and it's in Missouri as you might expect. Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) drives down a road seemingly every day, and she sees three billboards with nothing on them. She's very angry that there has been no progress made into the death of her daughter Angela (Kathryn Newton), and it is time to do something about it. Mildred heads into town and buys the ad space from Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones), and the stuff she puts on them, well, it's pretty bad. They say "RAPED WHILE DYING," STILL NO ARRESTS?", and "HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?" Some people just break in the face of injustice, but Mildred is rather driven. The billboards make people in town very angry, most notably the aforementioned Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and a very stupid idiot cop, Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell). It turns out that more than anything else, Dixon has a reputation in town for being a racist fuck who tortured a black person. Willoughby himself is also quite popular, and he has pancreatic cancer, so people want those billboards down. As a result, when Mildred goes to the dentist, the guy is acting awfully strange. It seems like he may attack her, so she drills a hole through his fingernail. That's where we're at here.

Willougby, it may surprise you, is nice to Mildred despite this even though he doesn't like the billboards. He tells her that they probably won't find out who killed her daughter because this is the kind of crime where you just don't, but this won't abide. Eventually, things start to spiral out of control a little bit. Mildred is visited by her ex-husband Charlie (John Hawkes), this is a visit that culminates in her son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) putting a knife to Charlie's throat. Charlie also blames Mildred for Angela dying, which isn't good for Mildred's mental state. Dixon himself is on a crusade to deal with these billboards any way possible, getting some encouragement in how to do so. When things really get ridiculous though, is one day when Willoughby does not go to work. He and his wife Anne (Abbie Cornish) go fishing with their daughters, and when the trip is over, they head home. Anne isn't feeling so good, and I've already told you guys that Willoughby has pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is very painful. Willoughby decides to pay for the billboards to stay up as some sick kind of joke, and commits suicide out in his stables. Things may, or rather they do, get a bit crazy after this.

Some of the plot threads in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri go unsolved, chiefly among them the question of who killed Angela. I found Willoughby's explanation to be quite satisfactory though. I also believe in some of the same things as David Chase, who said that people need to learn to accept the idea that all their questions about a television show may not be answered. Mystery is very important in television and film, but I do understand why people can't handle not learning what happened. The characters here are great, but I think McDonagh's films are a bit of an acquired taste. The things displayed in In Bruges really landed with me, but I know someone who deeply hated that shit. There are multiple scenes here where I was really rooting for something to happen, and despite that not happening, I liked the film a lot. The thing that happens at the end of the first act with Dixon, I must admit that I wasn't expecting that at all. Avoiding spoilers is a difficult task. To that end, there are some things that don't sit right with me. I don't like Peter Dinklage's participation in this movie, or his role for that matter. Martin McDonagh has done a lot of strange things in his three films, this is probably the strangest. I simply do not understand. A film like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri needs to triumph in its originality, but I cannot explain the inclusion of that character.

I think Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri thrives on its performances, and with numerous actors here whom everyone should know, the expectations for those performances should be high. Those expectations were met. I already said that McDormand's role is iconic, and that's true, I don't see people forgetting her performance anytime soon. Sam Rockwell's, I think people may have gotten the wrong idea from how his story ended. I didn't really see that as a redemption at all, this is someone who always wanted to take the next step to killing a person. He also enlisted the help of someone else in doing it rather than do it all by himself. I don't know if that was the intended meaning of those scenes, but that's what I got from them. I like Woody Harrelson but I must admit I don't know what he did to merit awards consideration at all. That just seems to be based on him being Woody Fucking Harrelson. It may turn out once I complete the year that there just aren't that many good acting performances. I can't tell you very many I've seen already to be fair. I also thought the cinematography was surprisingly good, and I say surprisingly because McDonagh used a standard Marvel cinematographer. Yes, that means I find Marvel's cinematography boring, because it is.

In the end, it turns out that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was a movie I really liked, but I'm not going to be sure if I loved this until a few weeks from now. The scenes with Peter Dinklage took me away from the events a little bit. It's probably one of the best films from 2017, but that lone flaw I found with Dinklage's character is actually really big. The scenes seemed to exist merely to create another revelation. Regardless of that, my standards are not that fucking high. The mystery not being resolved is genuinely no big deal to me, I actually don't care about that. I found it to be quite realistic in pointing out that there's very rarely closure when these things happen, even though news programs would lead someone to feel otherwise. In the case of one in three murders, a killer is never identified. Even more often the killer is never convicted. Even when they are, does someone really get closure? I will say that the dark comedy in this film really hit with me. Seeing burn victims wince at the open flame while they're lighting a cigarette, as well as the other, very numerous crazy things that people say, I was laughing at this. I felt a little guilty at times, but if you didn't find the humor in this, I don't know. What I found I appreciated most about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and about Roma last year, or Fences, or The Favourite, or Dunkirk, or Get Out, is that I really couldn't figure out where any of these films were going from one scene to the next. The originality in all of them is something I appreciate. What's so original about Dunkirk, you may ask? It's that on the micro level, Christopher Nolan ensured that his characters could be very easily disposed of, and in many cases they were. That's why Dunkirk is staying at the top of this list and nothing is going to displace it, because doing that with a WW2 movie, I am not going to get over it.

9/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Get Out
3.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
4.   Logan
5.   Wonder Woman
6.   The Big Sick
7.   Thor: Ragnarok
8.   Logan Lucky
9.   The Beguiled
10.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
11.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
12.   The Lost City of Z
13.   First They Killed My Father
14.   Darkest Hour
15.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
16.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
17.   It
18.   Battle of the Sexes
19.   Okja
20.   Kong: Skull Island
21.   It Comes at Night
22.   Split
23.   1922
24.   Personal Shopper
25.   Chuck
26.   Atomic Blonde
27.   Wheelman
28.   The Lego Batman Movie
29.   Megan Leavey
30.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
31.   Menashe
32.   American Made
33.   Beauty and the Beast
34.   Imperial Dreams
35.   Murder on the Orient Express
36.   The Zookeeper's Wife
37.   Free Fire
38.   Win It All
39.   The Wall
40.   Life
41.   Breathe
42.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
43.   Sleight
44.   Alone in Berlin
45.   A United Kingdom
46.   Trespass Against Us
47.   The Mountain Between Us
48.   War Machine
49.   Happy Death Day
50.   Justice League
51.   To the Bone
52.   Wakefield
53.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
54.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
55.   Sand Castle
56.   CHiPs
57.   Death Note
58.   The Belko Experiment
59.   The Great Wall
60.   Fist Fight
61.   Snatched
62.   Wilson
63.   Queen of the Desert
64.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 25, 2019, 06:38:24 PM
(https://cdn.aarp.net/content/dam/aarp/entertainment/movies-for-grownups/2018/04/1140-movie-beirut-jon-hamm.imgcache.revb664cd2bc56f752f857cb3be0e138ed0.jpg)

Beirut (2018), directed by Brad Anderson

You know what I was thinking when I turned on Beirut? One thing running through my mind was that I have so much more of 2018 to actually go through, and I'll do that over the next few months. The other thing was that there weren't very many movies that seemed like spy thrillers in 2018. Now that I'm going back through the year, perhaps it's the case that there were more earlier in the year before I started going to the theatre. The other possibility is that studios really took films like The Girl in the Spider's Web and Operation Finale as their entries in the genre. That's not so good! I don't suggest that this film is a classic or anything of the sort, but this genre was really lacking in 2018. Going through my list makes that so much more clear, all there really was of quality was BlacKkKlansman and Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Those were really good movies at least! Beirut, I remember seeing, had some controversy over having a lack of Lebanese characters. This is true, but the film presents Beirut as being a playground for foreign powers. This was, at the time anyway, quite true. Of course, the situation was also far more complicated than any film could attempt to illustrate. So, with that in mind, take Beirut for what it is. I envisoned the film itself as Don Draper moving to Lebanon and becoming a diplomat of some kind. This is not very dissimilar from what the film actually was! In that way, this is probably Jon Hamm's best role on the big screen. In reality, it was Bad Times at the El Royale.

In 1972, Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is a diplomat who lives in Beirut with his Lebanese wife, Nadia (Leila Bekhti). When I typed this out, I was wondering about that not being a security risk. Apparently it isn't, and Mason has also taken a 13 year old named Karim (Idir Chender) into his house. Karim is a Palestinian refugee and he says he has no family, but I must admit without any bullshit that this is not true. During Mason's party, while Karim is serving dinner, Mason is met with a visit from his CIA friend, Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino). It appears that Karim has not been truthful, but Mason has a very hard time believing what he's hearing. Cal tells him that Karim's brother Rafid (Hichame Ouraqa) is a full blown terrorist (is there any other kind) who has participated in the Munich massacre. At the same time, the party is attacked by the aforementioned Rafid, so it turns out Mason should have given him up as soon as possible. In the madness, Rafid and Karim escape with each other, but Nadia is held hostage. Unfortunately, this does not go so well either, and Nadia is killed. I must admit I was confused by how these events played out. It was also surprising, because of the hair and sideburns that Jon Hamm was sporting. He was also so much more happy than usual.

Now, we move forward ten years, to a more familiar version of Jon Hamm. He is an alcoholic who lives in Boston and works as a labor arbitrator, putting his skills as a diplomat to good use. Obviously, his career in the State Department had ended some time before that, and he is quite unhappy in life. We get a glimpse of his life as an arbitrator, it really isn't very fun. While at a bar, he's approached by an old client on behalf of the US goverment. The man tells Mason that he's been requested for an academic lecture at the American University of Beirut. Mason knows something's up because he's not a dumbass, but he's given $6,500 and a first class ticket. When Mason travels to Beirut, he's picked up and dropped off at his hotel, and eventually at the hotel bar, Mason is approached by a woman, Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike). It turns out that Sandy is a CIA field officer, and like it or not, Mason will have to come with her to a party at the embassy. At the embassy, Skiles is brought into a room with many govenrment officials, including another higher ranking field officer, Donald Gaines (Dean Norris); a Colonel sitting on the National Security Council, Gary Ruzak (Shea Whigham); and the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Frank Whalen (Larry Pine). They have news Mason probably does not want to hear. His friend Cal was abducted in country and the kidnappers requested Skiles as the negotiator. The kidnapper will not surprise you, and they know what they want. Karim demands his brother Rafid be returned to him, no matter what. If not, he will do something to Cal, and with the groups already circling around Beirut, this is not good. Cal is now a station  and has a whole lot of information that is very valuable to the right buyer.

I probably revealed too much, but I don't know if anyone watches these films based on my recommendations anyway. As I already said, the situation is too complicated to lay out, but when the film moved forward ten years, the Lebanese Civil War had broken out. Beirut is a city that still has a lot of problems to this day, but not like it used to have. Anyway, I don't want to get into that because it's too difficult to explain and I admittedly can't keep track of every detail. In fact, I've always wanted to go somewhere like Beirut even though I probably never will. Anyway, as it relates to this point, I thought Beirut did a decent enough job of having an exposition scene that explained some of what was going on the ground at the time. I expected, as with most of these sorts of films, that there was a possibility a director would be an idiot and just label every part of that city as a warzone of some kind. They did not. With that being the case, I already liked this film more than most in the genre, or rather those centered around the Middle East. There are some disturbing scenes here as well, and it's also a period film, all of which seemed to be done on a budget. The fact is that the two largest roles were cast perfectly, and that this movie was made for them both. Jon Hamm really needed something like this to finally shake my perception of him as only being able to play Don Draper.

The events themselves are quite tense, much more so than I thought they'd be considering that this wasn't a large release. I'm left a bit to wonder why it wasn't. Prisoner trading, and the logistics of such, particularly in a very divided city, is inherently interesting. That much is very clear now. The dialogue between the characters is very good, there's some interesting scenery, and I thought this was a neat story. Boy turned terrorist often is. More than that, it's the interesting dynamics of what everyone's hidden agendas really are, nothing is quite as clear as it seems. I did find some of the balancing acts to be strange though. I was surprised that the film wasn't more choosy in determining who the good and bad guys were, the only statement as to the bad was the generic off-shoot terror group. The film also boasts some very surprising scenes, one of them being a bomb that I wasn't expecting to go off at all. With all that considered, I don't want to make more of this than what it was. It was a good, solid spy movie, there as some genuine intrigue and two good performances. I had some issues with a storyline related to Dean Norris' character that felt horribly hacked into the movie, but besides that, I liked this.

7/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   Black Panther
10.   If Beale Street Could Talk
11.   The Sisters Brothers
12.   A Private War
13.   Avengers: Infinity War
14.   Stan & Ollie
15.   Green Book
16.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
17.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
18.   The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
19.   On My Skin
20.   Private Life
21.   Climax
22.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
23.   Mid90s
24.   Eighth Grade
25.   Sorry to Bother You
26.   Vice
27.   The Old Man & the Gun
28.   Suspiria
29.   Vox Lux
30.   Boy Erased
31.   Bad Times at the El Royale
32.   The Other Side of the Wind
33.   Searching
34.   A Simple Favor
35.   The Hate U Give
36.   Bumblebee
37.   Mary Poppins Returns
38.   Creed II
39.   Hold the Dark
40.   The Land of Steady Habits
41.   Halloween
42.   Ant-Man and the Wasp
43.   Beirut
44.   Mary Queen of Scots
45.   Aquaman
46.   Outlaw King
47.   Overlord
48.   Ben Is Back
49.   Monsters and Men
50.   The Mule
51.   On the Basis of Sex
52.   Bohemian Rhapsody
53.   White Boy Rick 
54.   Papillon
55.   Game Night
56.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
57.   Instant Family
58.   Alpha
59.   The Front Runner
60.   The Predator
61.   Apostle
62.   The Angel
63.   The Commuter
64.   Beautiful Boy
65.   The Nun
66.   Operation Finale
67.   The Equalizer 2
68.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
69.   Bird Box
70.   12 Strong
71.   Venom
72.   Skyscraper
73.   The Meg
74.   Assassination Nation
75.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
76.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
77.   22 July
78.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
79.   The Little Stranger
80.   Tomb Raider
81.   Night School
82.   The 15:17 To Paris
83.   Peppermint
84.   Mile 22
85.   The First Purge
86.   Hunter Killer
87.   Kin
88.   Hell Fest
89.   Proud Mary
90.   Robin Hood
91.   The Happytime Murders
92.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 26, 2019, 06:26:38 PM
(https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/shape-of-water-creature.jpg?w=960)

The Shape of Water (2017), directed by Guillermo del Toro

Did I ever think I would sitting here writing a review about a movie that featured a woman fucking a fish man? The answer is obviously not, but The Shape of Water is so much more than that. How is it? This is a film you may need to watch in order to understand that, but if you don't want to watch this, I have some explaining to do. This is a film that goes so far beyond what I would expect someone to make of this kind of movie, with touches from del Toro that are nearly entirely unexpected. I do not know how it is that I never had the film's ending spoiled for me. I'm very glad that it wasn't. From score to setting, to plot, to costumes, this really is what people said it was. Something I don't understand though, is how Michael Shannon received no recognition for this performance? That doesn't make any sense. In any case, I'm thinking about more than that after watching this, I'm stunned by the production itself. I cannot understand how this was accomplished, how they managed to make the fish man look decent, all of those things. Is this what happens when someone makes the movie they really want to without anything getting in their way? There's an easy answer to that question, but the film itself leaves so many other things in question. You know what else? The way in which del Toro blended so many aspects of 1960s society cohesively into the film without it feeling goofy or preachy, that's yet another of this film's many accomplishments.

Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a mute woman living in Baltimore, she lives in apartment that rests above a cinema. Elisa is also mute, incapable of making sound, and has one neighbor, a closeted man named Gerald Giles (Richard Jenkins). There are hints that Giles was fired from his advertising job over matters related to his sexuality, he needs that second chance and has been continuing to draw ads for what seems to be a side project. Giles also serves as an interpreter for Elisa, who uses American Sign Language to communicate. Elisa herself works at a secret government laboratory, and with this being during the Cold War, before a man went into space I should add, secret laboratory means VERY secret. Given this situation, I should also point out what Elisa's job is, she works as a janitor. Zelda (Octavia Spencer) is her only friend at this job, and she also interprets for Elisa. Things are easier for Elisa than they are for many people, but her lack of voice comes from some scratch marks that are on her neck. They've been there since she was young. One day, the facility garners a new asset, captured from the Amazon by a Colonel, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Strickland is in charge of handling the asset, the only person he reports to being a five star general. The asset itself is to be studied to see what advantages the Americans may gain over the Soviets in the Space Race.

Did you already figure out what the asset is? This is the Amphibian Man (Doug Jones), who is amphibious as you may guess. Dr. Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) is supposed to study the creature and figure out what it may do for the country, but there's a catch, the doctor is really named Dimitri and he is not an American. Elisa is tasked with regularly cleaning the lab, one notable incident coming after Strickland has some of his fingers chewed off. In the meantime, we learn some things about Strickland's family, their place in the world, and about Giles. Giles fails to connect with anyone both in a professional and business manner, this leads to he and Elisa becoming much closer. Elisa herself becomes close with the Amphibian Man over time. We learn that he can communicate with her, that he isn't some savage creature, and who knows? He just may be a god-like being. Unfortunately, Strickland hates this creature and is intent on having it vivisected, but Dimitri disagrees with this. Dimitri reports back to his Soviet bosses and they don't tell him anything good, that he must delay the procedure by a week or kill the Amphibian Man himself. Meanwhile, Elisa did overhear the order from Strickland. Surely, she will do something, even though she's just a cleaning girl. Right?

The way these stories change from discovery science-fiction, to heist movie, to romance, to musical, to fantasy; and not necessarily in that order, it all speaks for itself. There's so much going on here and it's no surprise The Shape of Water is such a beloved film. I never would have expected this from a film with the content it has. If you describe any one part of this film to someone, it might sound like it's trash, but it isn't. There are moments here that surprised me quite a bit, even though I was expecting fish dick that never came. I'm now confused as to how that became a meme in the first place. Of course, there's stuff here that isn't for everyone, this is certainly a fairy tale of sorts, but I think that way of phrasing matters doesn't do the film justice. Guillermo del Toro also has a lot of projects that he's been sitting on, ones which he hasn't made or been able to get anyone to finance, and I'm wondering if more of them are as good as this. That's a question we need to see the answer to at some point. The performances themselves are excellent, with Hawkins and Shannon as the major standouts. Shannon is naturally drawn to these roles, but this is even better than what he did in Boardwalk Empire. Learning sign language on Hawkins' part, that's HARD. Major credit for doing that.

From a technical perspective, the film is a delight, with some surprising uses of color. Now I'm really confused about how this cinematographer went on to film Proud Mary. That makes no fucking sense at all. The lighting and all that just does not look real, and there are copious close-ups on the very evil Michael Shannon, which is what a film should have when the story is this naturally intense. I know I have complained about bad close-ups before, but the difference is that some of them are poor framing when we really need to see more than someone's exasperated, sweaty face. As far as the score goes, I think I'm going to be the guy who says that I don't like Alexandre Desplat's scores as a whole. However, this one has some neat touches and feels like a 1950s score for a movie set at sea. That was obviously the point. So, that's another bonus. I can't explain what makes a good score but I know what sounds good to me and what doesn't. The set design here is also completely ridiculous, nothing being topped by the room in which the Amphibian Man is housed for half the film. You just don't get much better than that. The costume of the creature, that could have been much worse. That's very difficult to get right, considering the costume here actually has to walk and stuff. I'm also drawn back to something del Toro said about shooting this in black and white, that would have been a mistake and his film wouldn't really be what it is if that had been done.

Now, obviously, the juxtaposition of disenfranchised groups going up against a crazy government backed white guy, that's not lost on me at all. It is, however, I think not what I find to be the best aspects of the film. As you guys may know, I am heavily drawn to technical achievements. First Man, Roma, Dunkirk have all been excellent in this way over the last few years, and now that I've seen the movie, I can add The Shape of Water to that list. I'm really big on this stuff. In years where there's no obvious films with technical mastery, it is very strange for there to then be years with multiple films that boast that. I did largely finish 2016 and am left with the mindset that it was a film lacking those huge technical achievements, with the exception of some scenes in Arrival. Then, the last two years we have quite a lot. I'm big on that, I love that shit. The love story itself though, that's the real winner here. Once again we have a victory for originality, I'm unable to compare this to something else when I take the conclusion of the film into account as well. Overall, I'm glad I shoved this into my list and watched it instead of waiting a few more months, that would have been stupid. Go get you something as good as that fish dick was for Elisa, we all deserve it.

9.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
5.   Logan
6.   Wonder Woman
7.   The Big Sick
8.   Thor: Ragnarok
9.   Logan Lucky
10.   The Beguiled
11.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
12.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
13.   The Lost City of Z
14.   First They Killed My Father
15.   Darkest Hour
16.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
17.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
18.   It
19.   Battle of the Sexes
20.   Okja
21.   Kong: Skull Island
22.   It Comes at Night
23.   Split
24.   1922
25.   Personal Shopper
26.   Chuck
27.   Atomic Blonde
28.   Wheelman
29.   The Lego Batman Movie
30.   Megan Leavey
31.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
32.   Menashe
33.   American Made
34.   Beauty and the Beast
35.   Imperial Dreams
36.   Murder on the Orient Express
37.   The Zookeeper's Wife
38.   Free Fire
39.   Win It All
40.   The Wall
41.   Life
42.   Breathe
43.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
44.   Sleight
45.   Alone in Berlin
46.   A United Kingdom
47.   Trespass Against Us
48.   The Mountain Between Us
49.   War Machine
50.   Happy Death Day
51.   Justice League
52.   To the Bone
53.   Wakefield
54.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
55.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
56.   Sand Castle
57.   CHiPs
58.   Death Note
59.   The Belko Experiment
60.   The Great Wall
61.   Fist Fight
62.   Snatched
63.   Wilson
64.   Queen of the Desert
65.   Sleepless
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 26, 2019, 06:28:06 PM
By the way I have a lot of trash next month to make up for watching all this good stuff.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Harley Quinn on March 26, 2019, 11:27:30 PM
By the way I have a lot of trash next month to make up for watching all this good stuff.

I eagerly anticipate the trash heap you'll be spelunking!
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: AA484 on March 26, 2019, 11:59:33 PM
I never even noticed the "disenfranchised group of minorities vs. evil white man" until people brought it up after.  I guess I'm normal (or dense)?
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 27, 2019, 06:18:14 PM
Told you guys about balance...

(https://fsmedia.imgix.net/bf/9c/0a/3e/1adf/46fb/b5f5/5a6cff7fe433/all-eyez-on-mejpg.jpeg?rect=0%2C167%2C960%2C481&auto=format%2Ccompress&dpr=2&w=650)

All Eyez on Me (2017), directed by Benny Boom

The picture posted above brings a very obvious question. Is a film good enough just because the actor is someone who looks exactly like the subject? The answer, obviously, is that it isn't. All Eyez on Me is one of the worst films I've watched in a while, bad enough that I didn't even want to write this. There are some easy explanations why the film is that bad though, this probably won't be a long review even though this film rings in at 135 minutes before the credits. So, obviously, this is very long. Obviously, I am telling everyone here they should not waste their time. Anything you may have hoped to be in a Tupac biopic is not here, and what there is, is filmed in a way that isn't very interesting at all. I'm left with the strongest feelings of frustration when it comes to All Eyez on Me, so much of what's here also feels like fiction due to how lazily the film was made. I think this feels like someone thinking they could make a film like Straight Outta Compton, but they had no talent with which they could do so. Of course, due to that lack of ingenuity, I was left super bored, and matters only got worse as the film went on. Did you ever think that a movie would film the death of Tupac, end a film there, and have no real insights about it at all. That's what we get.

Starting off with a sequence of scenes that takes us to four different places in Tupac's (Demetrius Shipp) life. We open with Tupac in prison after being convicted of illegal touching, and Tupac is being interviewed. Subsequently, parts of this story are told through flashback. First up, we see Tupac's very young childhood, with his mother Afeni (Danai Gurira) being acquitted of a supposed attempt to carry out bombings in New York. After that, we move forward again, with his step-father Mutulu (Jamie Hector) attempting to avoid capture by the FBI on murder charges. In this case, it would seem that Mutulu actually committed the crimes he was accused of. Eventually, Tupac sees a failed FBI raid on his house, and he also moves to Baltimore, where he meets Jada Pinkett (Kat Graham). This narrative is super fragmented, but after this scene, Afeni then sends Tupac to Oakland. I can't tell you what's going on here because I swear she said she wasn't coming, but in the next scene, she's buying crack from a dealer in Oakland. I cannot easily piece together this narrative at all. We go from scenes where Tupac has joined Digital Underground, to leaving the group just as fast. None of this, and I really mean none of it, makes any sense at all. People like Leila Steinberg (Lauren Cohan) go straight in and straight out of the film. It's a joke. Eventually, Tupac does settle on a constant manager, Atron Gregory (Keith Robinson).

I don't know how to properly address the second part of this usual wrap-up. We're shown pieces of Tupac acting in movies like Juice, performing with Biggie (Jamal Woolard), and how he wound up in jail again. We're shown him signing with Death Row, with a good performance from the actor playing Suge Knight (Dominic L. Santana). We also see some collaborations with Snopp Dogg (Jarrett Ellis), some scenes with Kidada Jones (Annie Ilonzeh), and eventually we circle back to Jada Pinkett. What I can tell you is that this film is really shitty.

I just, I don't know man, I can't actually review this. I've never been more disappointed in a movie about a subject I felt like there needed to be a movie about. The film is so badly directed, other than Demetrius Shipp making an electric Tupac, none of this shit really feels real. I don't know how this film cost so much to make or even how it got released. There's a massive audience for a movie like this, or at least there was. That shit is dead and buried now. There's no focus here at all, and no montages at all. It turns out that because of that, the film is very long. This movie doesn't even get a clip of Tupac filming the 'California Love' video? Fuck this movie bro. I don't want to waste more of my time talking about it, and you DEFINITELY shouldn't waste any of your time watching it. This was horrendous. You know why it's going last on my list? Fucking up an original story is one thing, but to fuck up the story of someone with a massive legacy, that's very hard to do. There was no story at all.

2.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
5.   Logan
6.   Wonder Woman
7.   The Big Sick
8.   Thor: Ragnarok
9.   Logan Lucky
10.   The Beguiled
11.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
12.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
13.   The Lost City of Z
14.   First They Killed My Father
15.   Darkest Hour
16.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
17.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
18.   It
19.   Battle of the Sexes
20.   Okja
21.   Kong: Skull Island
22.   It Comes at Night
23.   Split
24.   1922
25.   Personal Shopper
26.   Chuck
27.   Atomic Blonde
28.   Wheelman
29.   The Lego Batman Movie
30.   Megan Leavey
31.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
32.   Menashe
33.   American Made
34.   Beauty and the Beast
35.   Imperial Dreams
36.   Murder on the Orient Express
37.   The Zookeeper's Wife
38.   Free Fire
39.   Win It All
40.   The Wall
41.   Life
42.   Breathe
43.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
44.   Sleight
45.   Alone in Berlin
46.   A United Kingdom
47.   Trespass Against Us
48.   The Mountain Between Us
49.   War Machine
50.   Happy Death Day
51.   Justice League
52.   To the Bone
53.   Wakefield
54.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
55.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
56.   Sand Castle
57.   CHiPs
58.   Death Note
59.   The Belko Experiment
60.   The Great Wall
61.   Fist Fight
62.   Snatched
63.   Wilson
64.   Queen of the Desert
65.   Sleepless
66.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Avid Warehouse Enthusiast on March 28, 2019, 03:09:58 AM
I find it funny they cast somebody to play Jada Pinkett when Jada Pinkett has barely aged in the last 30 years as it is.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 28, 2019, 08:48:33 AM
I find it funny they cast somebody to play Jada Pinkett when Jada Pinkett has barely aged in the last 30 years as it is.

It was because they completely fabricated nearly everything with "Jada" in it. This movie made Bohemian Rhapsody feel like the Goodfellas of music biopics. If not for the Tupac performance I would have given it a 1.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 28, 2019, 06:03:46 PM
(https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/screen-shot-2018-02-12-at-9-38-30-am1.png?w=780)

Unsane (2018), directed by Steven Soderbergh

Once the credits were rolling for Unsane, I was thinking that there's really only one filmmaker who would have ever tried to make a movie like this and weave these things together. Of course, this is what Unsane really had to be after all. I did make the mistake of watching this after High Flying Bird, Unsane being when Soderbergh was actually testing out the process of filming with an iPhone. There are some major problems in comparison to this year's film, enough that I want to talk about them first. The picture quality is really bad, and when the camera is moving quickly, the problems are even more noticeable than in High Flying Bird. To say the picture quality is bad is an understatement, it's actively distracting. In the dark hallways of a mental hospital, it's actually quite rough to follow. With that being said, Unsane brings so much to the table. I really do mean so much. I will probably spoil over the course of this review, so be warned if you choose to read it. I know a lot of people won't see what I'm seeing here, because this film also does have problems beyond the filming quality, with Claire Foy's accent being chiefly among them. She slipped out of it a few times and I certainly noticed. I do think another criticism is that Unsane presents itself as a horror movie, but it isn't actually scary. Never mind that, that's never mattered to me before and it doesn't now. Everyone disagrees on some things.

Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) has a very bad name, but the film isn't really about that, she is troubled. She has moved away from Boston to escape a stalker, but the triggering in her life is still pretty bad. When she goes on a Tinder date, she tells the guy that he'll be able to fuck her, but that he should never contact her again. They get back to her place and start kissing, but she freaks the fuck out and locks herself in the bathroom. The guy leaves like everyeone in that situation should do. Afterwards, she calls her mother Angela (Amy Irving) and we get some insights, and later on she goes to a facility called Highland Creek so she can talk about her problems. During the appointment with the counselor, she talks about her thoughts of suicide as a way of escaping being stalked. The stalker? A man named David, this thing haunts Sawyer as much as something possibly could. While at the appointment, she signs some papers without reading all of them, she thought she was going to get extra counseling. Wrong. Instead of getting extra counseling, she has signed herself up for a 24 hour hold, this was a massive mistake. When she tries to call the police, she's dismissed because officers frequently get these calls and nobody believes them. So, basically, she's stuck.

At night, Sawyer is brought to a room with Nate (Jay Pharoah), Violet (Juno Temple), and Jacob (Raul Castillo). Jacob is kind of a creepy guy, and Violet is straight out crazy. Violet threatens to cut Sawyer's hair off with a shiv, which leads to Sawyer trying to leave. When Jacob approaches her, she knees him in the nuts. Then, when the door opens, Sawyer sees an orderly who triggers her. She slaps the fuck out of him, then is restrained and sedated. After this incident, Sawyer sees the doctor, who tells her that now she has to stay there all week and take medication. Sawyer subsequently learns that Nate has hidden a cell phone somehow, and that he speaks to an unknown person on the other end. The thing is, Nate seems to believe Sawyer and decides to let her use his phone. When she does, she calls her mom, who travels down from Boston to confront the administrator. Here's the thing. Nate is convinced that the entire mental facility is an insurance scam where they run game on convincing insurance companies that the person is not well. The facility then collects for a week and drops them. Nate is absolutely convinced of this shit, he's not going to let it go. Here's the other thing. Sawyer's stalker? She's convinced that he's at the hospital. The orderly's name is George Shaw (Joshua Leonard), the stalker's name is David. Stalker-ish things are shown to the audience as coming from George, but are they really happening?

The twists and turns of this story really work for me, and I say that only Soderbergh would have made this because the events are infused with corporate malfeasance. He loves that shit, so do I, and that's part of why I liked this so much. What's crazy is that all scams like this are now ignored because people largely don't want to know about them, but they do happen. I also really liked the presentation of the film as being a MeToo story. I haven't seen all that many of those in the time since the movement started, or at least nothing I'd classify as really being one. Unsane presents the argument that maybe people should believe women when they're telling their stories, because very often they're true. No shit, right? Other than Foy's occasional accent problem, this film is very well cast. Everyone slides seamlessly into their role, and incel in Unsane is the very picture of an incel. It's uncanny. There's also a great cameo and you can probably figure out who it is. The games this film plays with perspective kept me wondering what was actually real for longer than I really should have. Of course, when a movie goes down this route, there are also going to be issues with pacing once those revelations come to light. So, I reiterate, I like this despite it being a flawed film.

The flaws are easy to ignore because I enjoyed the story so much, and despite all those flaws I was left reacting to practically everything. I won't say this is a masterpiece or anything, but even though there are failings in the filming technology, there are also successes in the direction. The hallways are very well lit, and the quality of the picture makes things look like something from an era gone by. Unsane is also nicely edited, and I found myself thinking that some of the presentations of the mental hospital were like the stories I've been told by someone I know. I should ask them if they've seen the movie, but I don't want to make anyone mad. The beginning of the film also works for me as we dive straight into the events without very much buildup, and it turned out this was a story that didn't need build. I also appreciated the ending. For our lead character to have gone through all that and have remained entirely untreated, certainly to never seek treatment once again, now that's a good story. Of course, man, if you aren't ready for ridiculous, you are turning on the wrong movie. This also isn't a horror movie as the marketing suggests, so in that way it fails, but it succeeds in most every other. I'm glad Soderbergh didn't retire and I'm glad that he's going to continue to do weird shit like this as long as he can get financing. Netflix, you know what to do.

7.5/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   Black Panther
10.   If Beale Street Could Talk
11.   The Sisters Brothers
12.   A Private War
13.   Avengers: Infinity War
14.   Stan & Ollie
15.   Green Book
16.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
17.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
18.   The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
19.   On My Skin
20.   Private Life
21.   Climax
22.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
23.   Mid90s
24.   Eighth Grade
25.   Sorry to Bother You
26.   Vice
27.   The Old Man & the Gun
28.   Suspiria
29.   Vox Lux
30.   Boy Erased
31.   Bad Times at the El Royale
32.   The Other Side of the Wind
33.   Searching
34.   A Simple Favor
35.   The Hate U Give
36.   Unsane
37.   Bumblebee
38.   Mary Poppins Returns
39.   Creed II
40.   Hold the Dark
41.   The Land of Steady Habits
42.   Halloween
43.   Ant-Man and the Wasp
44.   Beirut
45.   Mary Queen of Scots
46.   Aquaman
47.   Outlaw King
48.   Overlord
49.   Ben Is Back
50.   Monsters and Men
51.   The Mule
52.   On the Basis of Sex
53.   Bohemian Rhapsody
54.   White Boy Rick 
55.   Papillon
56.   Game Night
57.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
58.   Instant Family
59.   Alpha
60.   The Front Runner
61.   The Predator
62.   Apostle
63.   The Angel
64.   The Commuter
65.   Beautiful Boy
66.   The Nun
67.   Operation Finale
68.   The Equalizer 2
69.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
70.   Bird Box
71.   12 Strong
72.   Venom
73.   Skyscraper
74.   The Meg
75.   Assassination Nation
76.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
77.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
78.   22 July
79.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
80.   The Little Stranger
81.   Tomb Raider
82.   Night School
83.   The 15:17 To Paris
84.   Peppermint
85.   Mile 22
86.   The First Purge
87.   Hunter Killer
88.   Kin
89.   Hell Fest
90.   Proud Mary
91.   Robin Hood
92.   The Happytime Murders
93.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 29, 2019, 06:04:47 PM
(https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/N2OCwJMe0TvD8QgDeaRQA462MZQ=/0x0:986x554/1200x800/filters:focal(420x281:576x437)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/52889131/411d294d_c189_49b6_92f3_67f3de88101f_large16x9_aghoststorystill1_32349090476_o.0.jpg)

A Ghost Story (2017), directed by David Lowery

The first few scenes after I'd turned on A Ghost Story, I was thinking that anyone else who did so better have has some patience. I was also thinking towards the end of the film that Terrence Malick would probably have appreciated this very much. It's going to prove very difficult for me to describe A Ghost Story because it is what it is, it's completely opposite from everything else that gets made. I have heard from some people that they hated this, that is their prerogative although I do not understand. I did understand the point of the film, and I did find it to be an effective presentation in making one thing about love, loss, and time. That isn't to say I think this is a great film because I'm not going to go that far. I will admit that I found the film to be a little too slow, but regardless of that, there's enough here that I'm going to be thinking about the film for a while. That scene full of gas station philosophy, that's exactly what the events needed, and that may be what sticks with me more than anything else. There are bonus points to be had for the film remaining small in scope, that's for sure.

A Ghost Story is a film with an easy explanation. A musician (Casey Affleck) lives in a crappy house with his wife (Rooney Mara) in Dallas. She wants to move because the house sucks and he does not. One night, there's a sound on the piano they cannot find the origin of, it is what it is. Shortly after, the husband is killed in a car accident outside. At the hospital, the wife sees the body. The man subsequently awakens as a ghost covered in the sheet, and wanders back to the house. The ghost is tied to the house. He sees things he does not want to see, he has no choice. Time passes on slowly, only becoming recognizable to the ghost when there is activity. That's all I want to say about the progression of the story.

The sadness once the husband dies, I tried to find some humor in it but I also found the key scenes to be quite profound. I had visions of seeing people run out of the theater instead of watch the film to its conclusion. The cinematography and the score are both fantastic, there aren't enough words for the quality of the score. I decided to turn on the Knight of Cups score, which was similarly excellent, and I just how realized exactly how similar these two films are. One is better than the other because it makes far more sense, but I think everyone who has seen both films can point out those little intricacies. Again, I have said before that I do not have the ability to recognize music to an extent where I could tell you why the scores are similar, I simply know that they are. As far as production goes, I am also very impressed by the way Casey Affleck was able to move around in that sheet while using hints like posture to give some kind of insight as to what the ghost's emotions were. I thought this was a little disturbing actually. The idea of being trapped in a space for the duration of time until a point at which you can depart that space, that sounds awful. When the YouTube life advice doofus starts talking about our mortality, this scene works as subtle exposition. It's a great scene.

The tiny budget does become apparent when staging set pieces, like Casey Affleck's death, but I don't think this is much of a big deal at all. The film is well cast, even when things move...beyond...buut I don't think A Ghost Story is really about something like that. It's about life and death, about things that people remember and don't, about the importance of moments in one's life that someone won't forget. That's what we're shown by the ghost, that's what I took away from the events. I do also think that the film becomes more interesting once we move forward to different scenarios. The scene where Rooney Mara eats pie makes for difficult viewing. Overall, I don't know if there's much more I can say about this other than that the film made me think. A Ghost Story could have been totally ridiculous and stupid, but I didn't think that it was, and that the film was quite engaging once the early scenes were over with. But, make no mistake, this is a very odd film and some patience is required should someone decide to watch it. If you don't have it, don't bother. There are people who liked this much more than me too!

I nearly posted this before addressing something I had to, but I should point out that when I realized the ghost had supernatural powers, that took me out of the film a little bit. When I think about all the scenes that followed this, particularly the one where the ghost is floating through grass or the construction shown in the image above, that supernatural stuff really feels out of place. The piano scene is acceptable but the rest is not, from my point of view.

7.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
5.   Logan
6.   Wonder Woman
7.   The Big Sick
8.   Thor: Ragnarok
9.   Logan Lucky
10.   The Beguiled
11.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
12.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
13.   The Lost City of Z
14.   First They Killed My Father
15.   Darkest Hour
16.   A Ghost Story
17.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
18.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
19.   It
20.   Battle of the Sexes
21.   Okja
22.   Kong: Skull Island
23.   It Comes at Night
24.   Split
25.   1922
26.   Personal Shopper
27.   Chuck
28.   Atomic Blonde
29.   Wheelman
30.   The Lego Batman Movie
31.   Megan Leavey
32.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
33.   Menashe
34.   American Made
35.   Beauty and the Beast
36.   Imperial Dreams
37.   Murder on the Orient Express
38.   The Zookeeper's Wife
39.   Free Fire
40.   Win It All
41.   The Wall
42.   Life
43.   Breathe
44.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
45.   Sleight
46.   Alone in Berlin
47.   A United Kingdom
48.   Trespass Against Us
49.   The Mountain Between Us
50.   War Machine
51.   Happy Death Day
52.   Justice League
53.   To the Bone
54.   Wakefield
55.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
56.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
57.   Sand Castle
58.   CHiPs
59.   Death Note
60.   The Belko Experiment
61.   The Great Wall
62.   Fist Fight
63.   Snatched
64.   Wilson
65.   Queen of the Desert
66.   Sleepless
67.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on March 31, 2019, 06:19:20 PM
(https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--p5922Wh2--/c_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/ahvriuhlef98d9fsuc60.jpg)

John Wick (2014), directed by David Leitch and Chad Stahelski

I've said what I wanted to say many times before, so I'll spare everyone. I am surprised that John Wick was even made considering that in the years after this film, most movies made with this size budget wind up bombing even when they're good. John Wick and Atomic Blonde are some exceptions, and no surprise that there are people talking about fusing these franchises together somehow. I don't know how that would work out, but after finally checking out John Wick, I really need to see it. I am a little bit surprised that people distilled the events down to John Wick's dog even though that's not what the movie is actually about, but people do what they do. I remember a lot of individuals talking about that at the time of the movie, but to me, that's not really what this is about. What John Wick is, is a triumph of choreography and stunts, of the goofy CGI blood, of fun more than anything else. When you turn a movie like this on, you feel like Batista, saying "GIVE ME WHAT I WANT," and these movies don't usually do that. John Wick is not one of those movies. There are some early issues with pacing, and maybe the story doesn't make the most sense in the world, but John Wick absolutely gives you what you want.

So, John Wick (Keanu Reeves). Some may not have the stomach for this, or think it's stupid, but I don't really care. John loses his wife to a terminal illness, after which he receives a puppy from his wife that will help him cope with her death. The puppy is named Daisy. John makes a connection with the puppy over the course of the day, because he's alone. He and his wife did not have kids. At a gas station, John has an incident with three Russian guys. Iosef (Alfie Allen) is their leader, and he's a piece of shit, but he also wants to buy John's car. John is not selling his car. The car? It's a 1969 Ford Mach 1. There is no way on this planet I would ever sell this car if I had it. Later that night, unfortunately, these guys have followed John back to his house. Once they get inside, they knock John out, kill Daisy, and steal his car. Obviously, I wouldn't react like John, but I would be pretty fucking mad. Iosef takes the car to a chop shop run by a man named Aurelio (John Leguizamo), and John is apparently familiar with people like Iosef. John knows exactly where Iosef would go, at which point we are told by Aurelio that he punched Iosef and kicked him out of his shop. Aurelio tells John who did it, and there's no coming back from here. Why?

John learns that Iosef is the son of Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), who just so happens to be the man in control of the Russian crime syndicate of New York City. There is so much more to this though. It turns out that John knows Viggo, there's a reason why. John had a previous life as a hitman, which he was able to leave by doing a job or Viggo that Viggo was certain would kill John. Viggo is told about John, and that leads to an incredible monologue which takes place mixed in with footage of John preparing for problems. Problems? A lot of them. Viggo also offers a contract on John to John's mentor, a hitman named Marcus (Willem Dafoe) who had spoken to John during his wife's funeral. Subsequently, John checks into the Continental Hotel, a place in New York City where criminals stay when they need shelter. Business is not allowed on the property, and they have rules that must be followed. The hotel manager (Louis Riddick) is kind of the creepy sort, and Winston (Ian McShane) is someone I'm sure will play a larger part in the following two films. Anyway, John's goal? He wants to kill Iosef for the pain and suffering he's caused. There's nothing that's going to get in his way, he'll stop at nothing.

Alright, so as it relates to the issues with pacing, I thought the start of this movie was a little difficult for one introducing a new action franchise. I don't often complain about things like this, but it was slow enough to be quite noticeable. Now, on the other hand, for that to be one of the film's only problems is a pretty good sign. I think another one is the way one of the final fights ends. Either way, this is a hell of a ride while it lasts and I enjoyed it the whole way. The gun fighting is realistic to the point where it might actually be too realistic, even though the blood, as I think I mentioned, is obviously not. The performances, you know, they are what they are. I'm not saying anyone was terrible, but I don't think anyone was really great with the exception of Nyqvist. His lines were delivered with aplomb, without exception. Even if those lines may have been bad, they weren't bad because he was delivering them. Keanu's performance, I wouldn't say that was great either, but it was understated. This was a neat touch considering there's only one other person I could see doing this role, that being Liam Neeson. If Neeson had done this role, this would feel like just everything else though. The casting here ensures that John Wick does not. That's probably the film's greatest triumph.

There are lots of action films similar to this one of course, but I said that John Wick feels unique. The reason it feels unique is because of the approach to each individual scene. there are lots of movies that try to create their own universe and fail entirely, one of the reasons this doesn't is because the attempt in doing so isn't so pervasive that it ruins the film. Instead, we have a movie where the greater workings of creating a franchise exist outside of the revenge story. This, of course, is something I like. I don't know how someone could watch this and get the idea that his lust for revenge is merely driven by the dog, but rather what the dog represents and that those people decided to fuck with him. I'm not going to go overboard here because I think this is a really good movie, but it has been reviewed to death and there's really nothing I think I can add. The casting decisions here were great, even when the roles were quite small themselves. The movie is cool, that's what it is. The copious amounts of killing and gun shit, it may surprise you but that doesn't bother me at all. What you hope for is that a movie gives you what you want, and this one does. That's all that matters to me. The scene in Viggo's club where Iosef is hiding, that's obviously the best one of many great action pieces. I don't think I need to tell you that. All the franchise ideas are great too, I'm looking forward to seeing more.

7.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 01, 2019, 05:24:09 PM
(https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/lowriders-movie-la-film-festival.jpg?w=1000)

Lowriders (2017), directed by Ricardo de Montreuil

For the first time, tonight I decided to tell some of my own experiences with lowriders to people here, all of which I said were true. I think that was the only time I mentioned this. The funny part was that I also have a video tape of my cousin bringing his lowrider to my third birthday party, but I no longer have anything I can watch that video tape with. Everyone knows enough about lowriders to have some base knowledge of the subject, right? The intention of creating a lowrider was to have something different than what white people had, or so I've been told. Lowriding culture is definitely a thing here in Los Angeles, because of course that's where it all started. I did not expect to see a movie about this subject. Not just now, not in the past, but ever. It's a new time I suppose. I'm not surprised if people haven't heard of this film because I suspect that it didn't get much play outside of this area in the first place, but to be honest, I'd never heard of it either. With a respectable $6 million take, it appears that enough did, and there we have a film. What's it about though? You'll have to read on if you want to know that. I think this is a film with heart, but it also has an enormous flaw that soured me on the movie. I actually feel bad that I wonm't be giving this a good rating though.

Danny (Gabriel Chavarria) is a young adult who likes to draw graffiti on bridges, but most would call it street art. It's quite nice. The beginning of the film features Danny with his friends Chuy (Tony Revolori) and Claudia (Yvette Monreal), they're going out to drink a little and dance a little. On the way home, Danny needs to take a piss, so he has Claudia pull over on one of our bridges that crosses the LA River. Danny doesn't really only need to take a piss though. He climbs over the bridge wall and starts tagging it, and Claudia has some good things going for her, so she wants absolutely no part of this. She bails and leaves Chuy with Danny. Of course, here comes the cops. Danny and Chuy run as best they can, but inevitably they're caught and booked. Chuy doesn't know anyone else to call, so he calls Miguel (Demian Bichir), Danny's dad. Danny is displeased with this, but you know, it isn't always up to you who bails you out of jail. Or is it? I don't know anything about that shit. Anyway, it turns out that Miguel and Danny have some friction in their relationship and with good reason.

Miguel, as you may expect, owns a lowrider shop, which is how things tie back to the title. Miguel's problems with Danny largely stem from how Miguel was as a father, he wasn't a good one. He was drunk all the time, and Danny's mother died while all that was going on. Danny is not the only one who feels that he was mistreated. Francisco, or "Ghost" (Theo Rossi) is Danny's brother, he is a fair bit older than Danny and has stronger memories of the way his childhood was. Ghost has just gotten out of prison and he was there for a while, and it turns out that in addition to how Miguel treated him as a kid, Miguel also failed to visit him in prison. This isn't good. Miguel has now remarried to Gloria (Eva Longoria), who for whatever reason plays little part in this movie other than showing that she provides stability for her husband. Miguel no longer drinks either, but that doesn't really matter to Ghost. Ghost wants to get to know his brother better, but there are a few issues in the family that have to be settled. One of them is Elysian Park. There's a very important lowrider contest there, and both Ghost and Miguel will enter. Danny wants to get closer to Ghost because he's been gone so long, but what's the deal?

I did leave out that Danny has a girlfriend, Lorelai (Melissa Benoist), but I found it difficult to work into that last paragraph. Anyway, I think this is a film with heart, with some pillars of a good story, but ultimately there's a creative decision that I find to be stereotypical and bothersome. Why do the Mexicans have to resort to violence when there's friction and conflict? Do you see what I mean? I could just put down my score after that and it's easily justifiable, but I'll go on. I do not see why a rare Mexican-American drama film has to have such content. We don't need that. The dramatic content is also not all that great either, the soul of the film really works but the rest does not. On the subject of said soul, that's just something you'd have to watch to understand what I mean. This is a coming-of-age movie where the protagonist learns to embrace his heritage, roots, family, whatever you'd call it. Perhaps the best word to use would be tradition. This is what the film should have been about, with less conflict and more scenes where the young man learns about himself and his past. I don't like the need to bring gang shooting into a movie like this, it bothers me greatly.

The lead performance is also not that great, but Demian Bichir is always good and he carries this film a really long way. This role couldn't have been that easy as Bichir is not from Los Angeles, but I really couldn't tell. I should also point out that there are aspects of the family feud that are interesting, but ultimately, I think that this isn't what the film should have been. I rarely say that, but when I do, it's with good reason. The film isn't too well directed and isn't too well written, but I did think there was a good storyline with Lorelai. What her character represents is like gentrification, of ignorance, and I thought that plot point was well paid off. Now that all being said, I think there are hardly any films that serve a Mexican-American audience and that a studio really should get to work on some. In the last year or so, the only ones I could really think of that I saw were Creed II, Sicario: Day of the Soldado (from my experience, seriously), and The Nun (also featuring Bichir). I think everyone can see that there's a big gap here. I also think Hollywood knows it, but it's not like they're doing anything about it. They have decided that the audience is better served by watching the exact same films as everyone else, but I think the past of the industry has shown this is not true. Maybe I'm wrong, but my brain and the sheer amount of material I've watched is telling me that I'm not. When they can't make one without having gangs and shooting, I don't know bro. That's not right.

5.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
5.   Logan
6.   Wonder Woman
7.   The Big Sick
8.   Thor: Ragnarok
9.   Logan Lucky
10.   The Beguiled
11.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
12.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
13.   The Lost City of Z
14.   First They Killed My Father
15.   Darkest Hour
16.   A Ghost Story
17.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
18.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
19.   It
20.   Battle of the Sexes
21.   Okja
22.   Kong: Skull Island
23.   It Comes at Night
24.   Split
25.   1922
26.   Personal Shopper
27.   Chuck
28.   Atomic Blonde
29.   Wheelman
30.   The Lego Batman Movie
31.   Megan Leavey
32.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
33.   Menashe
34.   American Made
35.   Beauty and the Beast
36.   Imperial Dreams
37.   Murder on the Orient Express
38.   The Zookeeper's Wife
39.   Free Fire
40.   Win It All
41.   The Wall
42.   Life
43.   Breathe
44.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
45.   Sleight
46.   Alone in Berlin
47.   A United Kingdom
48.   Trespass Against Us
49.   The Mountain Between Us
50.   War Machine
51.   Happy Death Day
52.   Lowriders
53.   Justice League
54.   To the Bone
55.   Wakefield
56.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
57.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
58.   Sand Castle
59.   CHiPs
60.   Death Note
61.   The Belko Experiment
62.   The Great Wall
63.   Fist Fight
64.   Snatched
65.   Wilson
66.   Queen of the Desert
67.   Sleepless
68.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 02, 2019, 06:10:00 PM
(https://pmcdeadline2.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/the-house1.jpg?w=605)

The House (2017), directed by Andrew Jay Cohen

I was thinking of making all kinds of horrible jokes at the start of this, but I'm afraid I've both had enough of said terrible jokes and that nothing I could say is as bad as what I just watched. So, I'd rather not. I'm not sure why I turned this on other than that I am attempting to be comprehensive with 2017, and as a result I'll be watching quite a bit of trash over the next few months. That's fine as I usually don't watch trash movies, and they're different. I've said before that I prefer bad comedy to bad drama, but what about when it's so bad that I didn't laugh even at how bad it is? That doesn't happen very often with me, so you know how I really feel about this movie when I say that. The poster for The House does leave little to the imagination here, obviously the two lead characters run a casino of some kind. However, having not watched the trailer, this was not what I thought it would be. It's actually a hell of a lot worse, something that never should have been made. It's no wonder that comedy has gone to shit when the premises are this bad and when the lead actor has appeared in countless movies as a lead without changing his act a single time. We don't need this anymore. The last good thing Will Ferrell did was what, Step Brothers?  Not trying to count animated movies there, but that's pretty bad.

Scott (Will Ferrell) and Kate (Amy Poehler) are parents to Alex, who is headed off to university. They're on a visit at Bucknell, which is where Kate and Scott went to, and it turns out that Alex decides to go there during her visit. She also gets accepted, which leads to hopes that Alex will be funded by their community's scholarship program. Unfortunately, she is not. A city councilor named Bob (Nick Kroll) plays a large part in deciding that the city council will not fund these scholarships so that they can build a community pool. I guess this is a political statement of some sort, but I don't really care. Scott and Kate are then forced to try begging for loans, a raise, etc, but they're rebuffed at every turn. Enter Frank (Jason Mantzoukas), Scott's best friend. Frank is getting divorced from Raina (Michaela Watkins) because he has a gambling problem and a porn addiction, both of which Frank denies in the way that people typically do, but he still wants to go to Las Vegas. That just gets thrown in there somehow, but anyway, Kate and Scott go with him.

Upon arriving, we get basically no buildup or anything and shoot straight over to a craps table. Imagination is not on the agenda here. Scott decides to play and does well, but ultimately he says something he shouldn't say and the couple loses the money they were intending to win college tuition with. Back at home later that week, Frank decides to pitch an idea to Scott and Kate. His plan? He wants to start a casino at his house, because the house always wins. He thinks he can get his wife back if he does this, and he also believes that his friends will be able to get the money they need for college. In order to evade detection, his scheme revolves around the idea that people in the town will be able to park at the grocery store, go in and buy something so they can explain their whereabouts. Meanwhile, after they're done with that, they go around the back and walk through a wooded path to his house, knock on the back door, and head on in after giving a password. Sounds like a plan, it's not a bad one anyway. Problem is, that guy Bob is an annoying, terribly unfunny piece of shit, and he'll have problems when people aren't paying attention to him.

I think I've been able to illustrate that this film just isn't funny or original at all, and other than Jason Mantzoukas this is a total waste on every level. I have no idea how movies like this one even get made, and never once did I get the feeling that anyone was invested in ensuring this film was successful. For whatever reason a lot of people still find Will Ferrell amusing, I genuinely couldn't tell you why, but this material is even beneath him. This genre where middle aged people go extreme just isn't my favorite either, so keep that in mind as you read everything above, should you read it at all. Everything here is ridiculous on every level, and anyone with a brain should figure out that it's impossible for them to have enough friends to get them to fund someone's college tuition through gambling. Who do they really know anyway? Two of them are fucking losers and the other one gets laughed out of the building when asking for a raise. There's just no ingenuity or imagination to any of the proceedings here.

I need to reiterate that I didn't laugh hard a single time and only laughed a few times. There were some things here that I just couldn't bring myself to laugh at, and I was in a really good mood when I turned this on! Where things really blow apart, is that we're supposed to feel bad for someone whose parents can't pay for their education when almost everyone who goes to school these days is forced to go into insane student debt. Get that bitch a loan and stop wasting my time.

3/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
5.   Logan
6.   Wonder Woman
7.   The Big Sick
8.   Thor: Ragnarok
9.   Logan Lucky
10.   The Beguiled
11.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
12.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
13.   The Lost City of Z
14.   First They Killed My Father
15.   Darkest Hour
16.   A Ghost Story
17.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
18.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
19.   It
20.   Battle of the Sexes
21.   Okja
22.   Kong: Skull Island
23.   It Comes at Night
24.   Split
25.   1922
26.   Personal Shopper
27.   Chuck
28.   Atomic Blonde
29.   Wheelman
30.   The Lego Batman Movie
31.   Megan Leavey
32.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
33.   Menashe
34.   American Made
35.   Beauty and the Beast
36.   Imperial Dreams
37.   Murder on the Orient Express
38.   The Zookeeper's Wife
39.   Free Fire
40.   Win It All
41.   The Wall
42.   Life
43.   Breathe
44.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
45.   Sleight
46.   Alone in Berlin
47.   A United Kingdom
48.   Trespass Against Us
49.   The Mountain Between Us
50.   War Machine
51.   Happy Death Day
52.   Lowriders
53.   Justice League
54.   To the Bone
55.   Wakefield
56.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
57.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
58.   Sand Castle
59.   CHiPs
60.   Death Note
61.   The Belko Experiment
62.   The Great Wall
63.   Fist Fight
64.   Snatched
65.   Wilson
66.   Queen of the Desert
67.   The House
68.   Sleepless
69.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: muzzington on April 02, 2019, 08:55:01 PM
I took the leap and watched The House mainly because Mantzoukas was in it.

Not sure why I didn't enjoy it exactly. It has a lot of people I find funny in other things in it but it just felt so shallow.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 03, 2019, 06:08:51 PM
(https://i0.wp.com/oldaintdead.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/misssloane-f.jpg?fit=800%2C525&ssl=1)

Miss Sloane (2016), directed by John Madden

The name of John Madden always throws me off when it comes to the director, with this film being more opposite than anything I think the REAL John Madden would be interested in. I knew I wasn't entirely done with 2016 yet, there were remnants I had to go back to see, and I intend to stick with that. Anyway, I like Jessica Chastain and that's all the reason I really needed. There aren't too many movies out like this one anymore, and the box office failure of it is one of the reasons why. I saw that this rated as one of the worst opening weekend per-theater averages at the time, and it's not too hard to figure out why that is. A talky political movie that's rated R? There's no market for that anymore, as The Front Runner shows. Being topical is the aim these days, and lobbying has faded into the background at this point in time. In the past, this may have made decent coin, although I'm not sure people would have considered a powerful female lobbyist to be interesting at that point in time. I also think the ending of this film is also more suited to a time in the past, with how ridiculous the twists and turns begin to become. One thing's for sure though, I did think the female lobbyist was enthralling despite Miss Sloane's warts, of which there were quite a few.

Our film begins at a congressional hearing chaired by a senator, Ronald Sperling (John Lithgow). In front of Sen. Sperling, he has called Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) to testify. The issue in question is whether or not she violated Senate ethics rules while working for a very powerful, fictional Washington D.C. lobbying firm; Cole, Kravitz & Waterman. Liz is counseled by her lawyer (David Wilson Barnes) that she should take the fifth amendment over and over again, regardless of what she is asked by Sperling. Things become personal and she cannot continue to repeat herself, which means she is now compelled to testify or be held in contempt of Congress and sent to prison. Will she testify? You have to wait until the end of the film to find that out. We snap back three months, back to when Liz is working for Cole, Kravitz & Waterman. She is in the midst of a battle related to Indonesian palm oil, one where her clients are the Indonesian government. While dealing with that, she is called into a meeting by her boss George Dupont (Sam Waterston), they are scheduled to meet with a "gun rights" representative named Bill Sanford (Chuck Shamata). They did everything they could to not say the letters NRA. The meeting does not go well and Liz does not want to represent the gun lobby. It seems that she actually has conviction on this issue, and Sanford's idea was rather patronizing, to have her lead up the fight in shorting up the female pro-gun vote. Although Liz laughs him off, George says that she absolutely must do what Sanford says

Liz is not going to do what Sanford says. After a fundraiser, she is approached by Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong), the CEO of a liberal lobbying firm, Peterson Wyatt. Schmidt wants Liz to lead the charge in favor of a bill called Heaton-Harris, this bill being one that will expand universal background checks to all gun purchases. Liz cannot resist this and says yes. Her motivations are never made clear other than to say that she loves a challenge and really wanted this win. The next day, Liz goes to work and decides that she's going to quit on the spot and ask which of her staff would like to come along with. Pat Connors (Michael Stuhlbarg) is either above her or her equal, that isn't clear, but he will not leave. Neither will Jane (Alison Pill), her very trusted assistant. Liz gets very mad and basically tells everyone that those who stayed will have to eat shit. Once Liz gets to Peterson Wyatt, she befriends an existing staffer at the firm, Esme (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Esme is the survivor of a school shooting and Liz becomes aware of this quite quickly, and anyone with a brain can see that she's going to use this to her own benefit. Here's the deal from here. The two firms need to get undecided votes any which way they can. They will both go to extreme means to do so, and they're now in competition. Liz already said what would happen should they be in competition, so it's going to get very nasty.

The casting in this scenario is perfectly fitting for this kind of movie, but some of the twists and turns near the end of the film are absolutely ridiculous nonsense. Jessica Chastain does a great job of ensuring that said nonsense doesn't feel as bad as it actually is, but make no mistake that her character's plans are completely absurd. In fact if you listen to what she says at the beginning of the film, you can see everything coming. This is a mistake and I don't know why any filmmaker would do this other than to make people think "omg I paid attention and she actually did that lol." We don't need any of that. Of course, a movie like this needs to have a moral compass, and the character of Esme is very fitting here. I also thought that it was nice a movie like this wasn't so cynical that they would have the devious lobbyist use the diversity of her staff as a bonus point in her favor. Of course, such a film is a good statement against the system of lobbyists that we currently have, but I think politics in this country has gone beyond the point of lobbying. Sure, lobbyists do have their impact and I wouldn't deny that, but the lines in the sand are fucking drawn. The party line is what it fucking is and none of that's going to change anytime soon, even though some of those things really should.

I don't think Miss Sloane is a masterpiece of anything like that, but it's functional and good. I do think it's amusing this was timed to come out literally right after the election, which had an outcome I'm sure nobody saw coming and as a result some of the things in this feel really weird. The glass ceiling was shattered in some ways and not in others, but I think everyone's now aware that women can play very evil politically oriented characters. I wouldn't say that Liz is good even though her cause certainly is. The way the film presents things, she's a very bad person. But, stories about very bad people can be good, and in some cases even fun. I think Miss Sloane is fun even though the trappings of the film are totally ludicrous from one hatched plan to the next. I think I love this shit, in all honesty. I watched House of Cards for a while, but I don't think I can finish it after Kevin Spacey was outed. I did finish The West Wing, two times I should add. No regrets there. I have a need for stories like this and I'll probably seek one out to watch on television at some point in the next few months, that's just how I am.

I didn't intend to watch The Hummingbird Project and Miss Sloane back to back like this, but I thought that Miss Sloane was something different than what it actually was. In reality, they both feature a small team of people fighting against a crooked system fueled by massive amounts of money, so these are companion movies in a way. I wouldn't say that I felt bored watching Miss Sloane even though I now realize how similar the two are, though. There's actually a decent contrast and I see what makes one of these movies better than the other. The outlandish things in Miss Sloane, even the ones that are more realistic, are something lacking in The Hummingbird Project. Miss Sloane has just enough substance and plenty of style, enough for me to have a decent opinion of the film. The Hummingbird Project has substance and the style is nothing that I really care for at all, so we have these two different feelings here. I don't think either of the films was trying to make a grand political statement at all, they were attempting to be good entertainment. One achieved and one nearly did, but they both have artistic merit. Jessica Chastain is given so much more than Alexander Skarsgard though.

7/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 03, 2019, 06:10:57 PM
I took the leap and watched The House mainly because Mantzoukas was in it.

Not sure why I didn't enjoy it exactly. It has a lot of people I find funny in other things in it but it just felt so shallow.

I think it's too bland and goes nowhere near far enough. Beyond the premise, the house casino itself feels really cheap and the idea is unexplored. The stolen money angle also sucked.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 05, 2019, 06:25:50 PM
(https://cdn3.movieweb.com/i/article/lS4mapHYvL0viUYxUJ2mOOSgEe9CMf/798:50/Xxx-3-Return-Xander-Cage-Movie-Review.jpg)

XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017), directed by D.J. Caruso

I decided to make sure that I watched something bad tonight, something ridiculous and not particularly good. I didn't quite know how ridiculous XXX: Return of Xander Cage was going to be, but I really should have known. This was a rare case of a franchise I thought I'd completed, but for whatever reason someone decided many years later that there needed to be a third XXX film. Why? I can't answer that, I genuinely don't know why. I thought XXX: Return of Xander Cage had to be a film that became self-aware and was in on the joke, but what if it wasn't? What if the director though they were making something that actually made sense? To be extremely clear, XXX: Return of Xander Cage does not make sense on any level at all. The film also features some of the more ridiculous things all year, and it's not good. You know what though? I think I loved it. I can't really explain why, but when a movie goes full bore into being as ridiculous as possible, it's quite endearing. Also, in the case of XXX: Return of Xander Cage compared to some of those other kinds of movies, there are no annoying characters. Just one ridiculous person after the next, making the film what it is. The stuff here is totally insane and stupid, watch it at your own peril.

If you need anything to jog your mind, and you probably do, Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) is an NSA agent, and he's in Brazil eating Chinese food with Neymar. Why? He's trying to recruit Neymar as an agent, which is totally stupid, but the movie pushes through that. If you need a further refresher, Augustus is the constant in the series, the only character who appeared in both films after Vin Diesel decided he was not doing a sequel. While eating, a satellite crashes in Brazil that kills both Neymar and Augustus. Huh? After that, a team of four consisting of the leader Ziang (Donnie Yen), Talon (Tony Jaa), Hawk (Michael Bisping), and Serena (Deepika Padukone) decides to infilitrate a CIA office in New York City. Their mission is to retrieve Pandora's Box, a device which is supposed to be capable of controlling satellites and causing them to crash. How could anyone not see this twist coming? The team accomplishes their mission, then we pan out to another group. Jane Marke (Toni Collette) is a CIA agent who needs someone to learn more about Pandora's Box. Her target? Xander Cage (Van Diesel), who fakes his death after the first film and went to live in the Dominican Republic. I am presenting some of these things as dryly as possible so that I can actually type them out without laughing as much as I did when I watched this. Xander is somehow convinced to return to active service, and so it goes.

Xander needs to put together a team of his own of course, otherwise nothing's going to go well for him. Enter Adele (Ruby Rose), a sniper; Tennyson Torch (Rory McCann), their driver who keeps count of how often he crashes; Becky (Nina Dobrev), a weapons specialist who is assigned by Jane in the first place; and Nicks (Kris Wu), who is just a guy. I have no idea why this character is there at all. The team's intention is to find out how to locate Xiang and his team, and we learn that they're hiding out in the Philippines. So, there we go. After a long sequence that I found to be the only boring part of the film, we come to learn that Xiang and Cage have goals that aren't very dissimilar at all, but they don't know that. So, from there, on the movie goes and things get more and more ridiculous as they go. Did you think this would be the film that had an anti-gravity gun battle on an airplane? If you did, you win a prize. That's here and there's so much more.

XXX: Return of Xander Cage is quite short, so my ability to summarize things sputtered out once I got further along in the story. There have never been more ridiculous things filmed by a major Hollywood studio, I think. Did you ever want to see someone ski through a jungle? How about crash a plane into a satellite that's falling to Earth? If you do, you just need to watch this and turn your brain off for a while. I have not even been remotely comprehensive here. Some of the stunts are just bonkers. I also thought that the style in which this was filmed was absolutely horrible. This movie has what I like to call "video game entrances." You know what I mean by that? Character appears, quips, and there's an overlay screen that comes on summarizing these people's accomplishments. Absolutely none of these overlays are funny at all. There's also a lot of stuff here that's really lame, and I guess you could say that all of it is, but I think that's the charm. They don't make movies like these anymore and that's true, but it's also good that they don't. At the same time, when they do come along, I think they're funny as hell. So take that for what it is.

It's not just the action and introductions of characters that are ludicrous, but Vin Diesel is ludicrous himself. This character is a parody of some kind. I think Michael Bay would be proud, but he's better at creating side characters. This film does not do such a good job, even though the amount of cameos made me laugh. I already mentioned Neymar and Michael Bisping, but Tony Gonzalez? I don't know how this cameo was even conceived nor do I want to know. Admittedly, I think XXX: Return of Xander Cage is a guilty pleasure. I do feel guilty, I know this is a bad movie, yet I paid attention to everything with the utmost. There are so many logical issues with these events, I don't have it in myself to point out all of them. Perhaps my favorite was when Vin Diesel's character gets shot and not killed as a result of wearing body armor. The person who ordered him to wear body armor was the one who shot him, and forgot that he had protection. See what I mean? Totally stupid, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, but even if it was or wasn't, it's just not good. If you like movies where people front flip over moving cars, I do recommend watching this.

4.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
5.   Logan
6.   Wonder Woman
7.   The Big Sick
8.   Thor: Ragnarok
9.   Logan Lucky
10.   The Beguiled
11.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
12.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
13.   The Lost City of Z
14.   First They Killed My Father
15.   Darkest Hour
16.   A Ghost Story
17.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
18.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
19.   It
20.   Battle of the Sexes
21.   Okja
22.   Kong: Skull Island
23.   It Comes at Night
24.   Split
25.   1922
26.   Personal Shopper
27.   Chuck
28.   Atomic Blonde
29.   Wheelman
30.   The Lego Batman Movie
31.   Megan Leavey
32.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
33.   Menashe
34.   American Made
35.   Beauty and the Beast
36.   Imperial Dreams
37.   Murder on the Orient Express
38.   The Zookeeper's Wife
39.   Free Fire
40.   Win It All
41.   The Wall
42.   Life
43.   Breathe
44.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
45.   Sleight
46.   Alone in Berlin
47.   A United Kingdom
48.   Trespass Against Us
49.   The Mountain Between Us
50.   War Machine
51.   Happy Death Day
52.   Lowriders
53.   Justice League
54.   To the Bone
55.   Wakefield
56.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
57.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
58.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
59.   Sand Castle
60.   CHiPs
61.   Death Note
62.   The Belko Experiment
63.   The Great Wall
64.   Fist Fight
65.   Snatched
66.   Wilson
67.   Queen of the Desert
68.   The House
69.   Sleepless
70.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: The King of Trash on April 06, 2019, 04:10:27 AM
(Van Diesel)

lol
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 06, 2019, 04:16:07 AM
LIRL
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 09, 2019, 06:27:21 PM
(https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2017/11/10/mudbound-mb_06268-7_rgb-3000_wide-5a8ac0d65781cc64164c6603917696ee4b376c1c-s800-c85.jpg)

Mudbound (2017), directed by Dee Rees

Immediately upon finishing Mudbound, and just a few minutes before I started this review, I was left with the thought that Mudbound was heavily snubbed for major award nominations. I was also left with the thought that this is one of the best films I've seen that didn't manage to win one of the big awards in any category whatsoever. Why though? I think the most easy explanation is that this is a Netflix movie and those nearly always are shafted. It took one of the best films I've ever seen for Netflix movies to actually get recognition, but even then, it wasn't quite what the film deserved either. I don't think it's fair when great films are ignored because they debuted on a platform people do not care for. So, with that in mind, let's talk about Mudbound some. This is a much different racial drama than much of what I've seen, in no part thanks to the presentation of it, this film deciding that it would present the reality of the situation as best as the director and cinematographer are able to do so. The location used for this film is also spectacular, with the title being what it is in large part due the amount of mud in the area. There's still something more to it than that, and there are changes from the novel that I am keenly aware of, but I thought this was a great film. Did I say that enough?

Our film begins with something that leads to a flashback presenting the entire story, which I've already mentioned is something I absolutely hate. Henry (Jason Clarke) and Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) are brothers, they clearly live on a farm of some kind with a lot of mud. They attempt to dig a hole before a rainstorm comes, but they aren't able to complete matters. The next day, the coffin is too heavy for them, and Henry has to ask a black family passing by in a horse and wagon if they will help him lower the coffin into the hole. There's obviously been some kind of problem, and that's where we head back. Before World War II begins, Henry begins a courtship of Laura (Carey Mulligan), who narrates the way things turned out. The things she says indicate that the love between them is in question, but it doesn't take a genius to figure that as Carey Mulligan is a great actress who can portray emotion with her face very well. The two are living in Memphis, but Henry has a dream and he's very much the old type of husband who will make orders and his family will listen to them. One day, he comes home and says that Laura and their two daughters will be moving to a farm he's bought in the Mississippi Delta. He says that his father Pappy (Jonathan Banks) will also be coming to live with them. Pappy is an incorrigible racist fuck, that is of no consequence to Henry and he doesn't care. So, down to Mississippi they go, but Henry is also stupid. He did not ensure his family had a decent house to live in, so they live on the farm in a very nasty house.

At the same time, the Jacksons are a family in Mississippi. They are black, the parents are Hap (Rob Morgan) and Florence (Mary J. Blige). Their lot in life is not so great. They are sharecroppers, which is just fucking horrible. They dream of owning their own land one day, and they have a large family, but dreams are merely just that. The idea that the Jacksons will ever come to own their land is just that, an idea. The war had begun by the time to McAllans moved to Mississippi, and that impacted everyone. Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) is the oldest of the Jackson family, he had enlisted in the Army. Ronsel now commands a Sherman tank, and while in Europe prior to the absolute end of the war, he had a relationship with a German woman. Racism is not something that affects him to the same degree anymore, but the fact is, wars end. People have to go home. Things in Mississippi aren't so good, but the McAllans also have someone in the war, it's the aforementioned Jamie, who had disappeared from the story for a while. Jamie is a captain who flies B-25's, his journey in the war has not been so good. Again, wars end. Eventually everyone must come home, but there are some problems with the situation. As mentioned, the Jacksons want their own land, and Henry has never run a farm before. He has no idea what he's doing, he's also harsh, and still a racist. Just not to the same extent as Pappy. Pappy, now there's a fucking problem if I've ever seen one before.

Something sticking with me after watching Mudbound is that films like Mudbound shouldn't have needed to be made because these things all shouldn't have happened, but the fact is that they did happen. Racism is a fucking stupid thing, but I don't think people are entirely capable of understanding how far these things really went. So, on that level, of course Mudbound needed to be made. Beyond that, I thought this was a good story that built up to the ending in a way that a film should do. There are payoffs throughout the story, however small they are, but the ending really delivers and carries massive weight. I'm not going to say anything about how people need to watch this because the people who need to watch it most either never will or they'll sympathize with the wrong people, that's something I think a lot of people need to understand. Beyond racism, the reason I watched and thought Mudbound was a great film because the utilization of dramatic moments worked to incredible effect. I found myself interested in the fates of all the characters although there isn't delivery in some cases. Of course, Laura would be forced to stay married even though she didn't love her husband, but a lot of people would never pick up on that or realize it without that being thrown in their face. I think there's something to be said for how slowly the story is told here, and on that level I can understand why people wouldn't find Mudbound to be a great film. I also find some of the things where people say "THIS IS THE MOVIE WE NEEDED FOR THIS TIME IN OUR HISTORY" to be totally stupid, so you'll never see me say that again if I ever have.

Of course, one can't write a review about Mudbound without talking about the performances and technical aspects, so that's how I'll finish things up. The cinematography by Rachel Morrison is excellent and not for the first time, I read that she was given a lot of freedom to shoot this as she wished. The results are fantastic and I just want more of this. The sets and the mud all feel period correct as they're supposed to as well, this is in large part because of the cinematography and choices made filming each scene. Jason Mitchell and Mary J. Blige have great performances too, but I wasn't surprised by that. Carey Mulligan was no slouch either. The film is long enough that everyone is given the time they need to craft their characters and bring them to life. I have read that this was Tamar-kali's first attempt at taking a shot as the lead composer, and yeah, it's good man. It's something that immediately stands out. The script and story are pretty good too, but I won't be overly effusive in praise because after all this is a book adaptation. That being said, adapting books is pretty hard. I feel bad in saying I liked a film with the ending Mudbound has, but I thought this was an excellent example of maintaining tension until the payoff point. Lots of filmmakers aren't good at doing so, but perhaps Dee Rees is. I think I will need to see more from her before coming to a final judgment, but this was really strong work.

I could write more but I'm trying very hard to stop droning on, so I'll leave it at that.

9/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Mudbound
5.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
6.   Logan
7.   Wonder Woman
8.   The Big Sick
9.   Thor: Ragnarok
10.   Logan Lucky
11.   The Beguiled
12.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
13.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
14.   The Lost City of Z
15.   First They Killed My Father
16.   Darkest Hour
17.   A Ghost Story
18.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
19.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
20.   It
21.   Battle of the Sexes
22.   Okja
23.   Kong: Skull Island
24.   It Comes at Night
25.   Split
26.   1922
27.   Personal Shopper
28.   Chuck
29.   Atomic Blonde
30.   Wheelman
31.   The Lego Batman Movie
32.   Megan Leavey
33.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
34.   Menashe
35.   American Made
36.   Beauty and the Beast
37.   Imperial Dreams
38.   Murder on the Orient Express
39.   The Zookeeper's Wife
40.   Free Fire
41.   Win It All
42.   The Wall
43.   Life
44.   Breathe
45.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
46.   Sleight
47.   Alone in Berlin
48.   A United Kingdom
49.   Trespass Against Us
50.   The Mountain Between Us
51.   War Machine
52.   Happy Death Day
53.   Lowriders
54.   Justice League
55.   To the Bone
56.   Wakefield
57.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
58.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
59.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
60.   Sand Castle
61.   CHiPs
62.   Death Note
63.   The Belko Experiment
64.   The Great Wall
65.   Fist Fight
66.   Snatched
67.   Wilson
68.   Queen of the Desert
69.   The House
70.   Sleepless
71.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 10, 2019, 06:42:43 PM
(https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2018/02/clover/lead_720_405.jpg?mod=1533691923)

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018), directed by Julius Onah

I remember when in the moments leading up to this film's release, that I was eagerly anticipating it and made plans to pound straight through 10 Cloverfield Lane as soon as possible in order to watch this and have it make some sense. I remember when I was watching the Super Bowl and saw that Netflix bought the film, which left me with mixed feelings. Was this so good and so weird that Paramount thought the movie couldn't possibly make any money? Was it merely the latter of those two things, that it was just weird? Did Netflix buy this because Paramount knew it was trash and Netflix themselves have absolutely no taste? When reviews began to trickle in, I knew which one of those scenarios that it really was, so I made the decision to wait on this film until I'd watched more Netflix trash. The day to finally watch The Cloverfield Paradox was now, and I did know what I was getting into. I don't really know if they're going to continue this franchise, but I do think this film should be disregarded. It opens up too many...paradoxes, I could say. The film just does not make sense and I don't know how a franchise could continue after what I just watched unless it was decided to disregard the entire venture. Would they do that? I hate to say it but this film was trash and needs to be treated as such, and with the cast this had, I have no idea how anyone could make something so bad. Is it the case that each Cloverfield movie takes place in a different dimension? The things in 10 Cloverfield Lane suggest they do not. I don't want to deal with stupid shit though, I shouldn't have to think about things to this extent.

It's 2028, and this Earth is suffering from a global energy crisis, with no sign of an inter-dimensional or alien invasion. The space agencies have made a pact to test a particle accelerator called the Shepard, they know this is the only chance for the human race to survive and prosper. The Shepard is supposed to provide infinite energy for the planet, and it is on the Cloverfield Station, which is orbiting Earth. There are some conspiracy theorists, quite similar to Alex Jones in fact, and they say that the Shepard could in theory create a paradox and open portals to alternate universes. Nobody knows what the particle accelerator is truly capable of doing, people are quite cautious. We are first shown Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is struggling with her decision about whether or not to be part of this project. She is married to Michael (Roger Davies), who encourages her to take part. They had children who died as a result of Ava attempting to steal power so their family could push on, but Michael seems to not blame her. Of course, Ava goes on the station. The crew also consists of Jason Kiel (David Oyelowo), the American station commander; Ernst Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl), the lead physicist from Germany; Monk Acosta (John Ortiz), the doctor from Brazil; Gordon Mundy (Chris O'Dowd) and Sasha Volkov (Aksel Hennie), the engineers from Ireland and Russia respectively; and lastly Ling Tam (Zhang Ziyi), the engineer responsible for working on the particle accelerator and Schmidt's girlfriend. That was a mouthful.

Anyway, the crew is about to take on their first attempt at activating Shepard, and of course it goes badly. So do many others, and what do you know it, it's two damn years later. The situation on Earth is getting worse and worse, the crew is left to find a solution. They think they have one and activate Shepard, and it seems that they'll have a good beam, but it turns out that they do not. The accelerator overloads and that leads to a power surge, which everyone works to fix as quickly as possible. Once power is restored, there's some weird shit going on here. I'm going to do my best not to spoil things too much in case someone cares, but here's what's important. Earth has vanished from the view of the station, and the gyroscope that allows Cloverfield Station to be navigated properly is missing for some reason. Volkov is experiencing some weird stuff going on with his face, and things are strange overall. Want to know how weird? The crew finds a woman in the wall, her name is Mina Jensen (Elizabeth Debicki). For some reason she has been fused with the wires inside of that wall, and it turns out there's something going on with her too. When she wakes up enough to speak, she tells Ava not to trust Schmidt, as she believes beyond dispute that Schmidt is a spy sent by the German government to prevent Shepard from working. To make a long story short, it turns out that when Shepard did work, it sent the station to a parallel universe, and because they aren't supposed to be there, things that aren't supposed to happen are happening.

I just really can't try to make heads or tails of how this all fits in with the other two Cloverfield movies, but the bit at the end with the giant monster now being large enough to peek through the crowds, I'm gonna say that's a no from me. This movie also straight out copies many other things from other films, which is the opposite of the other two. I hate when movies do this kind of thing. For lack of a better word, The Cloverfield Paradox is a trainwreck. There's so much stuff going on and very little of it I actually enjoyed. I thought the set design was nice and as always, I enjoyed that there was a movie at least related to space as I need more of that, but this wasn't good. I cannot accurately describe how disappointing a film this is, but I do think it's funny that people ran to watch this immediately after the Super Bowl. What a waste of time that sounds like. I think the film has too many problems to say, "this is the greatest problem with The Cloverfield Paradox," but there are some things that come to mind. One is that I didn't care about any of the characters, all of whom were quite boring and not fleshed out. The one who was, I didn't care for her at all. The Cloverfield Paradox also has issues with specific scenes where people have to walk into space and do things that just don't make any kind of scientific sense. The idea that people can jump from one part of a space rig to another without using any kind of tether sounds like ludicrous bullshit that I would rather not entertain any possibilty of being realistic.

I fucking hate this movie as you can tell, and I don't know why anyone allowed this to be made at all, but Paramount has made a lot of absolute garbage in the last few years. Their studio head got sick and died, which probably played a large part in that, but it seems like their new one is doing a slightly better job. Of course, someone would have to release all those shitty movies, and this is one of them, so it takes time to turn around a sinking ship. To have received $50 million for garbage like this is genuinely incredible and sounds impossible, but it isn't impossible because we know it happened. What made the Cloverfield franchise interesting to me was the way those films were loosely tied together and very well tied together as well, but The Cloverfield Paradox destroys that. I don't know how someone could even make a good Cloverfield movie from here, and I guess what I really wonder is why anyone would truly want to? Originality is very difficult in the film business, a lot of people can't pull it off, but we see here that someone tried to expand this film universe and failed entirely. Could it have been expanded at all? I don't know how to answer that, because nothing about this makes any sense at all and this shouldn't have been made.

3.5/10

2018 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Roma
2.   A Star Is Born
3.   First Reformed
4.   The Favourite
5.   Widows
6.   First Man
7.   BlacKkKlansman
8.   Blindspotting
9.   Black Panther
10.   If Beale Street Could Talk
11.   The Sisters Brothers
12.   A Private War
13.   Avengers: Infinity War
14.   Stan & Ollie
15.   Green Book
16.   Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
17.   Mission: Impossible - Fallout
18.   The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
19.   On My Skin
20.   Private Life
21.   Climax
22.   Can You Ever Forgive Me?
23.   Mid90s
24.   Eighth Grade
25.   Sorry to Bother You
26.   Vice
27.   The Old Man & the Gun
28.   Suspiria
29.   Vox Lux
30.   Boy Erased
31.   Bad Times at the El Royale
32.   The Other Side of the Wind
33.   Searching
34.   A Simple Favor
35.   The Hate U Give
36.   Unsane
37.   Bumblebee
38.   Mary Poppins Returns
39.   Creed II
40.   Hold the Dark
41.   The Land of Steady Habits
42.   Halloween
43.   Ant-Man and the Wasp
44.   Beirut
45.   Mary Queen of Scots
46.   Aquaman
47.   Outlaw King
48.   Overlord
49.   Ben Is Back
50.   Monsters and Men
51.   The Mule
52.   On the Basis of Sex
53.   Bohemian Rhapsody
54.   White Boy Rick 
55.   Papillon
56.   Game Night
57.   Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
58.   Instant Family
59.   Alpha
60.   The Front Runner
61.   The Predator
62.   Apostle
63.   The Angel
64.   The Commuter
65.   Beautiful Boy
66.   The Nun
67.   Operation Finale
68.   The Equalizer 2
69.   The Spy Who Dumped Me
70.   Bird Box
71.   12 Strong
72.   Venom
73.   Skyscraper
74.   The Meg
75.   Assassination Nation
76.   The Girl in the Spider's Web
77.   The House with a Clock in Its Walls
78.   22 July
79.   Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
80.   The Little Stranger
81.   Tomb Raider
82.   Night School
83.   The 15:17 To Paris
84.   Peppermint
85.   Mile 22
86.   The First Purge
87.   Hunter Killer
88.   The Cloverfield Paradox
89.   Kin
90.   Hell Fest
91.   Proud Mary
92.   Robin Hood
93.   The Happytime Murders
94.   Slender Man
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 11, 2019, 06:11:56 PM
(https://filmschoolrejects.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/rough-night-movie-700x475.png)

Rough Night (2017), directed by Lucia Aniello

Being a completist, as it turns out, can be a complete bitch when it comes to having to watch films like this one. I'm going to watch Girls Trip as well, but that has much better reviews and as a result I don't feel so negatively as I did after watching this film tonight. It turns out that Rough Night has negative reviews for a reason, and I'm resisting the urge to make puns here, but this was for me as the title would indicate. Surprisingly for a comedy, there are numerous reasons this didn't work. Often enough, there's only a few and they're all really bad, but I actually have a lot here. I think it may turn out that television is a better medium for comedy than film, and that probably has a lot to do with why comedy is dying at the box office. I'm just guessing, I don't really know why it is, but I do know that it's happening. Perhaps it's that people just don't know how to make good comedy movies, but I do really think it's what I said about television. Usually, the people who write these movies now come from television and have to learn to make a story stretch far longer than it does on the small screen. Obviously, it doesn't work, and I'm just rambling on at this point. I would say that Rough Night is bad, but it's not that bad. I've seen a whole lot worse, but I expect more from a movie like this one.

Rough Night starts off in 2016, with Alice (Jillian Bell) and Jess (Scarlett Johansson) playing beer pong at George Washington University. Naturally, they win, and head back to their room where their other friends Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and Blair (Zoe Kravitz) are currently...sitting? I don't remember what they were doing. After some jokes, we fast forward a decade and everyone has moved on with their lives. It turns out that Frankie and Blair were in a relationship, and now Frankie is a professional protester while Blair is a high powered real estate agent who had a child and is getting divorced. Jess is attempting to run for her state senate, and lastly Alice is now a teacher. I feel bad for those kids. Jess has problems with relatability, and pretty much resembles Hillary Clinton in a TV spot that made me chuckle. Anyway, the four are scheduled to fly to Miami, the reason being that there's a bachelorette party for Jess. At the same time, her fiance Peter (Paul W. Downs) is going to have a bachelor party with his friends Tobey (Bo Burnham), Jake (Eric Andre), and Joe (Hasan Minhaj). The guys plan to do a wine tasting, which sounds unbelievably boring and is something I don't want to do at any point in my life. Visions of Sideways come to mind here.

Once the group of women arrive in Miami, they are joined by a friend Jess made in Australia while there for a semester, her name is Pippa (Kate McKinnon). Pippa, as you may suspect, is very fucking weird. The group meets her at a restaurant, and Frankie procures some coke from one of the busboys. So, it's time to have fun and they go to a club, Alice falls down like a goof, all seems good. They get back to the house they've rented on the beach, and I left out that they had weird swinger neighbors, Pietro (Ty Burrell) and Lea (Demi Moore). The neighbors are not home. That's good considering what happens next. Frankie hires a male stripper named Jay (Ryan Cooper), and he says some stuff that Jess didn't like. When Jess moves away, in comes Alice, who jumps on the poor bastard and kills him. I laughed. Anyway, Peter calls Jess right after this happens and she says that her friends hired a prostitute, then her phone gets smashed right as she's screaming "NOOOOO" into it as Peter is asking if she still wants to get married. The panic also leads to Blair confiscating everyone's phones, and they need to make their next move. They've moved the body in attempts to hide it from other people, so they're already screwed, but I'm going to get to the point. What could become a real problem is that Peter has decided to travel to Miami in an attempt to win Jess back, but the girls don't know that. They also need to get rid of the body as this has become a Weekend at Bernie's scenario.

The premise of this movie is totally stupid, and doesn't really flesh things out to the extent that it should in order for any of these scenes to really matter. I did laugh at Kate McKinnon though, and I also said I laughed when the guy died. Those scenes were genuinely funny. There are some others that get light chuckles, but yes, only light ones. I do find it interesting that Rough Night and Girls Trip were released in the span of a month and one movie made a lot more money than the other. I am not an expert enough to figure out why that is, but when I watch the latter film, maybe I'll know. What I thought was that Rough Night was too light and nowhere near as dark as it really should have ben. A movie like this needs people to become pieces of shit, and we just don't really have that here. Nobody goes far enough in order to get rid of the body, and the scenarios are rather PG-13 even though this is rated R. I will admit that I don't really know any of Ilana Glazer's comedy, or that of the director and writer, but I didn't find this to be particularly funny. I think we as an audience need so much more than this, and there are even minor misses in terms of the story. There's a scene where Blair has to have a threesome with the weird neighbors, and it turns out that there was no reason for her to do so because the security cameras didn't work. Why didn't they work a situation where the other girls had broken into the house only to find that out themselves and not say anything until a point later in the film? I don't know, it's a missed opportunity though.

Not everything here falls flat, but this is a film with other missed opportunities and I found myself wishing that other things had happened. I'm not the kind of person that thinks "DURRRRR WOMEN AREN'T FUNNY," but this isn't a great example of a funny movied helmed and driven by women. It's much more the jokes on parade here than the cast members, exhibited by one scene where someone goes to buy adult diapers to the tunes of "The Next Episode." Yeah, this is trash and revels in it being trash, but some of the cast members do a better job of making their horrible material work, like Kate McKinnon does, and others simply just can't. What we have here is a good outline for a story, but there's nothing to fill it out. I can't believe I'm going to make a weird food analogy because I absolutely never do that, but this was like when you buy a taco and they forget to put the meat inside. There's no meat here, and that's all there is to it. As already stated, a film like this needs to go over the top rather than play things straight and normal, this just doesn't do any of that.

4.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Mudbound
5.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
6.   Logan
7.   Wonder Woman
8.   The Big Sick
9.   Thor: Ragnarok
10.   Logan Lucky
11.   The Beguiled
12.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
13.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
14.   The Lost City of Z
15.   First They Killed My Father
16.   Darkest Hour
17.   A Ghost Story
18.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
19.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
20.   It
21.   Battle of the Sexes
22.   Okja
23.   Kong: Skull Island
24.   It Comes at Night
25.   Split
26.   1922
27.   Personal Shopper
28.   Chuck
29.   Atomic Blonde
30.   Wheelman
31.   The Lego Batman Movie
32.   Megan Leavey
33.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
34.   Menashe
35.   American Made
36.   Beauty and the Beast
37.   Imperial Dreams
38.   Murder on the Orient Express
39.   The Zookeeper's Wife
40.   Free Fire
41.   Win It All
42.   The Wall
43.   Life
44.   Breathe
45.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
46.   Sleight
47.   Alone in Berlin
48.   A United Kingdom
49.   Trespass Against Us
50.   The Mountain Between Us
51.   War Machine
52.   Happy Death Day
53.   Lowriders
54.   Justice League
55.   To the Bone
56.   Wakefield
57.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
58.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
59.   Rough Night
60.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
61.   Sand Castle
62.   CHiPs
63.   Death Note
64.   The Belko Experiment
65.   The Great Wall
66.   Fist Fight
67.   Snatched
68.   Wilson
69.   Queen of the Desert
70.   The House
71.   Sleepless
72.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Avid Warehouse Enthusiast on April 12, 2019, 03:22:12 AM
So they remade Very Bad Things but took most of the darkness out? Sounds as awful as it looks.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 14, 2019, 05:51:53 PM
(https://fgmxi4acxur9qbg31y9s3a15-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/02/1-norma-new-york-fixer-1600x900-c-default.jpg)

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (2017), directed by Joseph Cedar

Talk about a mouthful of a title there, the original title of Oppenheimer Strategies was much better. Anyway, I must admit that I believe I've only seen one of Richard Gere's movies before. I can't explain how or why it is, I just think it's true when I look at what he's done. That's pretty weird, but in any case, it isn't like Gere's done very much in the last ten years. So, if anyone cares, they shouldn't and I'm just going to move on. Norman is the kind of movie that I'm a little surprised even exists, but I found it to be quite amusing. This was described as a thriller, and I would suggest that it really isn't? I found this guy to be so fucking obnoxious that I can't believe anyone would even be forced to be around him. In that, I found quite a lot of humor, and I also thought that this film really brought something to the table. It's nice when a film leaves the viewer with questions, and that's also very hard to do, so when I see something like that I'm quite satisfied. I also thought this is the kind of movie best viewed at home, which I don't often say. It's quite slow, and with that in mind, I probably wouldn't recommend it to everyone here. Anyway, what's this all about? Read on.

If I knew someone like this, I think I would smack their head in, but fortunately I don't. At least I don't anymore. Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere), if that is his real name and if he's even what he presents himself to be, is certainly in question come the end of the film. Norman is one of those professional bullshitters. He has a business card even though he doesn't have an office, and his company is called Oppenheimer Strategies. Norman fashions himself as a fixer, he makes connections with people and sticks them together with one another so that good things happen. The film starts with him spinning a trash ass investment opportunity in the Ivory Coast as an excuse to get two people in the room. He'll use other people for whatever reason, and he says that a Harvard graduate named Philip (Michael Sheen) is his nephew, but I don't know if I believe that either. He uses Philip in an attempt to set up a meeting between a deputy Minister of Energy in the Israeli government named Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), and a businessman in New York named Arthur Taub (Josh Charles). For whatever reason he thinks these two will make great business associates. He buys Micha a pair of shoes and assumes that he'll come to the dinner at Arthur's house, which I should point out Norman invited himself to, but he did not. Arthur is dejected, but the pair of shoes was so expensive that Micha feels the need to call him later that night and apologize. They have a conversation, it turns out Norman does some small favors for Micha along the way, and we have a friendship.

The film moves forward a few years, and it turns out that Micha has become the Prime Minister of Israel. A bullshit artist like Norman is very pleased with this. There's a convention of some kind in Washington D.C., and Norman goes there to see Micha again, who remembers him. Now I don't know if Norman did those favors or not, but in the process of this meeting, he gets reingratiated with the PM and meets a ton of people. Obviously, for someone like Norman, this is fantastic and he's going to be able to spin more yarn. Norman's ability to name drop is unmatched, and he does his best to portray himself as setting up connections between two people who don't really need him. Now, on the way home, he gets on the Amtrak back to New York City and winds up sitting next to a justice official working at the Israeli consulate, Alex Green (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Alex initially pays Norman no mind, and once she ignores him, this sets him off into dropping the most knowledge he can possibly drop in order to get her attention. What seems to get her is when he asks questions about her personal life, and these questions lead to her asking how he knows the Prime Minister. You know exactly what a guy like that would do in order to get her attention. At the same time, Norman is also seeking to be in further contact with Micha, and there's a problem with finding a donor for his synagogue, which is run by Rabbi Blumenthal (Steve Buscemi). I can't really describe these schemes to any of you, but they all intertwine delightfully. They are also going to explode, make no mistake about that.

The first thing I noticed about this film's cast was that all of the Americans in the more prominent Jewish roles are not Jewish. This is clearly on purpose, I don't know what the director's humor is because I haven't seen any of his other movies, but there's something going on with that. I think the cast for such a film is also quite strong, and that this was quite nicely made overall. Rarely do we have a portrait of someone with this affliction of being an insane liar, it was strong enough that I don't know what to make of it. I'm loathe to pass judgment on people or characters who don't deserve it, but I was left with the feeling that lying so much is a mental illness rather than a sure sign of someone being such a bad person. If you watch the film you'll see what I mean. There are some logic gaps in the story though, for starters I don't understand how a person like this can even afford to survive. Norman's consulting services aren't those that earn money, instead they inflate his social standing as a result of being connected to all these people. It also makes him feel like he's needed by the people who he actually hangs around because he can drop names in an attempt to get his actual friends out of a jam. I don't know what to make of this shit. I can only assume that someone who lies this much has a painfully low opinion of their own worth and value to the world.

Now, there's no movie like this without a character coming near to the equal of Norman, and while the Israeli Prime Minister is not quite that, he's a good one. He's visited by an American lobbyist or congressperson of some kind, and when the American asks him what his message while touring this country is going to be, Micha goes on a very long rant about his own standing in the world and what it means for him to be the Prime Minister. He wants peace and says that there's two ways it could go, that God put him there to take all the credit or he doesn't understand why God put an incompetent like him in such a job. Either way it feels like he puts no bearing on his own part in the process of creating a peace treaty and if he fails, it isn't his fault. That kind of bizarre narcissism manifests itself so well at the ending of this film. I was going to rate this a little lower, but as I summarize the events of Norman, I find myself liking it more and more. You know how often I feel that way about a film after the fact? It isn't a regular thing for me, but I'm thinking about how Steve Buscemi was playing a rabbi, and how Richard Gere was lying about absolutely everything, and this worked for me on almost all levels. It really did, and I didn't realize how much I liked the movie until I started to write about the character Hank Azaria played, who was a younger guy doing the exact same things Norman was doing. The look on Gere's face when he encounters this guy is incredible, and this was a pretty good film with lots of neat touches like that. Things just take a while to pick up.

7.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Mudbound
5.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
6.   Logan
7.   Wonder Woman
8.   The Big Sick
9.   Thor: Ragnarok
10.   Logan Lucky
11.   The Beguiled
12.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
13.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
14.   The Lost City of Z
15.   First They Killed My Father
16.   Darkest Hour
17.   A Ghost Story
18.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
19.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
20.   It
21.   Battle of the Sexes
22.   Okja
23.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
24.   Kong: Skull Island
25.   It Comes at Night
26.   Split
27.   1922
28.   Personal Shopper
29.   Chuck
30.   Atomic Blonde
31.   Wheelman
32.   The Lego Batman Movie
33.   Megan Leavey
34.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
35.   Menashe
36.   American Made
37.   Beauty and the Beast
38.   Imperial Dreams
39.   Murder on the Orient Express
40.   The Zookeeper's Wife
41.   Free Fire
42.   Win It All
43.   The Wall
44.   Life
45.   Breathe
46.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
47.   Sleight
48.   Alone in Berlin
49.   A United Kingdom
50.   Trespass Against Us
51.   The Mountain Between Us
52.   War Machine
53.   Happy Death Day
54.   Lowriders
55.   Justice League
56.   To the Bone
57.   Wakefield
58.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
59.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
60.   Rough Night
61.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
62.   Sand Castle
63.   CHiPs
64.   Death Note
65.   The Belko Experiment
66.   The Great Wall
67.   Fist Fight
68.   Snatched
69.   Wilson
70.   Queen of the Desert
71.   The House
72.   Sleepless
73.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 16, 2019, 05:55:13 PM
(https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/strong-island_still-4_300dpi-e1518756678971.jpeg?w=780)

Strong Island (2017), directed by Yance Ford

I thought that it had been a long time since I watched a documentary, and I also thought that I'd put Strong Island off for long enough. I knew that this would be a difficult watch, because these crime documentaries do affect me. That's why I don't watch them very often and that's why I've never spoken about watching a true crime documentary series. My documentary reviews are always short and with good reason, I believe that documentaries are something that people have to watch in order to gain full understanding from what's in front of them. Films like this one are the greatest example of that, they hit very hard. I wasn't quite expecting exactly how hard some of this would hit, I thought this was going to be an investigatory documentary, but I was wrong about that. Strong Island feels very different in that way, it is more a reflection of what happens to a family in the wake of such tragedy. This film is just different, it really is. People need to learn why it isn't acceptable for others to die because someone says that they're scared. Merely saying that one is scared appears to be enough to justify anything. What is there to be scared of? In the case of this film, it sounds like there was nothing to be scared of, and certainly nothing that should lead to a life being taken too soon. This documentary is so personal, so raw and real.

Strong Island tells the story of the Ford family, and specifically of the killing of William Ford, a 24 year old black man from Long Island who was shot dead by a mechanic, Mark Reilly. Ford had gone to pick up his car from a chop shop after they'd smashed into the car while he was driving and they'd made a deal to fix it at the shop. When the accident had happened, Reilly had said something about Ford's mother. Ford saw Reilly at the shop, he followed Reilly to speak to him or for who knows what, and Reilly shot him with a rifle at intermediate range. Not close range. The case was investigated, or rather "investigated" and brushed aside. Ford's murderer was never even brought to trial, exonerated by a grand jury of 23 men who thought the killing was justified because they'd argued at the shop some time before. Self-defense, whatever that means, was the determination. The district attorney effectively worked against Ford in order to prove Reilly's innocence, the way that these things have always happened, but some people want to believe this is a more recent phenomenon. This murder occurred in 1992, the killing has haunted the filmmaker and his family since then. Guilt, regret, and stress has done horrible damage to them.

The Ford family starts with two people, the father, William Sr., and the mother, Barbara. The two had left the Jim Crow South in hopes of a better life, thinking that if they played by the rules of America and did everything they were supposed to do, things would be just fine. For a long time they were. They had children, three of them. William Jr. was the oldest, a somewhat short and stocky young man. Yance was born a woman, is now a man. Coming to terms with himself was very difficult. The youngest sister, she tells her story, but in truth she seems to have been protected. There is a reason the film centers around the director and his mother, and you'll need to watch it if you want to know why. The story Barbara tells where she says she regretted telling her children to judge people by their character instead of the color of their skin, that was a sad moment that could be perceived in many ways. It was clear to me what she meant, which is the sad fact that white people can't handle black people getting mad at them when the white person does something wrong. There are many stories told in this documentary, but the overall point is as such. If an institution is intent on pretending a black death did not happen, that's exactly how it's going to be. White society has made it acceptable to ignore those who do not share our background and pretend that their problems do not matter. If you can't hear them, it didn't happen. If you do hear them, they're talking too loud about it and need to do it the right way. That's how it is. 

I actually don't have much to say about this film beyond what I've already said, I think I've made my feelings clear. I think as far as a documentary goes, this is put together in expert fashion, presenting things in a chronological order. I did not feel anything was left out, it seems some people on the internet disagreed. A person getting mad and picking up a car door a week or two before that is no reason to take life, that's a reason not to try to fuck someone over as it appears this chop shop was doing. I thought it was an excellent piece of filmmaking to leave out two details related to Ford's life until they came about chronologically. The first one was that William was a witness in a trial where someone had shot an assistant district attorney in the process of robbing them. William had tackled the gunman and prevented him from escaping. The other story was about how William was attempting to become a corrections officer. His appeal had been granted weeks after he died and he would have been one had he not been murdered. The case that people can play by the rules, die anyway, and nobody will do anything about it? That sticks with me, it always has, and when I watch something like this, I do understand why it's acceptable. It's because the people who have the power to do something (read: white people), are content to do nothing because they found something out about the victim they did not like. In the absence of that, they just fall back to the lamest card in the book. The person was scared and therefore they can do anything they want. Bullshit.

8.5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 17, 2019, 06:19:27 PM
(https://cdn3.movieweb.com/i/article/xgSBbX280XHLQ5NtU9UmryzBVlKhN7/798:50/Gifted-Movie-Review-2017-Chris-Evans.jpg)

Gifted (2017), directed by Marc Webb

I was putting together my list for this month, and I went down the list of expiring movies on Cinemax and saw Gifted. After seeing it, I checked IMDB to see what it was about and who was in it, and I saw that this had an incredibly high IMDB rating for a film I'd never heard of. I learned immediately why the film had such a high rating. I think it was good enough, but the story is such that neckbeards around the internet would flock to proclaim this as being a perfect film. I find that very amusing. I also think that for the most part, such stories are no longer made anymore unless they're religious films, so certainly this is a unique kind of film where such things aren't pushed on people. Is that why this film had a decent box office or is it because Captain America played the lead? I don't know the answer to that, but we'll find out if Captain America is a real box office draw soon enough. Anyway, about the movie itself. Movies featuring children in these kinds of stories are not my thing. That's double the case when it's a custody battle like in I Am Slam. That stuff isn't for me at all, I don't find them particularly enjoyable, and I hate that movie. I hate it so much in fact that I can guarantee I will never rewatch and review that film in any way, not even when these reviews shorten in the future.

Frank (Chris Evans) and Mary (Mckenna Grace) are the Adlers, they live in a small house somewhere in St. Petersburg, down in Florida. Frank is Mary's uncle, and Mary is six or seven years old. Mary came to live with Frank when her mother committed suicide, and Frank believed that his sister Diane would have wanted him to become the guardian of her child. In his previous life, he was a philosophy professor in Massachusetts, but those were different times. He now repairs boats, which is a job that allows him to stay close to his niece as it isn't particularly intensive and she can join him on those boats. Anyway, when the film begins, against the wishes of Frank's neighbor Roberta (Octavia Spencer), it's time for Mary to head off to school. Roberta is also Mary's best friend, for reasons that will become apparent as I continue writing. On that first day, her teacher is Mrs. Stevenson (Jenny Slate), and Mary does not treat the teacher the same way the other children do. Why? Because she's not like them. Mary finds the curriculum to be far too easy, and she doesn't like the children her age, which explains why Roberta is her friend. Frank is displeased with Mary's initial behavior as he wanted her to blend in and not show off, because they'd had an agreement for that not to happen.

Eventually, there are problems with the principal, Mrs. Davis (Elizabeth Marvel), because she thinks Mary belongs in a school for gifted children. She's not entirely wrong with that, but Frank thinks the same things I do. While the world works because of gifted children who had their minds nurtured, there are other kids who don't do so well with that. Most children with extreme intelligence do not have a normal life because people put expectations on them. Anyway, when it's show-and-tell time, Mary starts to become a little more acclimated to school. She brings her one eyed cat Fred, and there's also an art assignment that culminates in her defending someone from being bullied. The problem with Mary's defense is that she broke the bully's nose, and this springs the principal into action. After much searching, she finds Mary's grandmother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan). Frank and his mother have an estranged relationship, that much is obvious. There are reasons why, the one I can most easily bring up is because Frank has resentment over how his sister was treated by their mother. Once Evelyn is found and springs to action, all bets are off. She's driven to ensure that her granddaughter is given an absurdly restrictive education, regardless of if that's what a child needs. So, Evelyn sues for custody, and you see why this film has a high IMDB rating, because a man has to TAKE HER ON IN COURT.

Gifted is a very cliched film, that's no surprise and anyone can see how that would be the case. I really don't have much to offer beyond basics here. I find that when there are films like this one, my enjoyment of them is related to the questions they pose to the viewer. In the case of Gifted, there's an easy answer to whether or not this poses questions. It doesn't. A lot of people really loved the film despite that, and that's cool, I'm just not one of those kinds of people. I will say that the actors here do have very strong chemistry. Evans does with everyone, and for that matter so does the child actress, I was a little surprised by this. It's really disconcerting now when there are child actors near their teen years that were born after I became an adult. I'm not ready for any of that. I think this film is merely adequate as a whole, and I'm going to wrap up the review from there. There are some moments where I did feel the script had emotional weight, this is a big difference from the ridiculous aspects of I Am Slam. Have you figured out how much I hate that movie yet? There's one glaring flaw in Gifted, one which prevented me from talking about the movie more. Mary, Evelyn, and Frank are rarely on screen at the same time, and the trio needed to be much more so that we could understand more about Evelyn's motivations beyond the fact that she wants to create another genius mathematician. The film doesn't give us that, so...

6.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Mudbound
5.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
6.   Logan
7.   Wonder Woman
8.   The Big Sick
9.   Thor: Ragnarok
10.   Logan Lucky
11.   The Beguiled
12.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
13.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
14.   The Lost City of Z
15.   First They Killed My Father
16.   Darkest Hour
17.   A Ghost Story
18.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
19.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
20.   It
21.   Battle of the Sexes
22.   Okja
23.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
24.   Kong: Skull Island
25.   It Comes at Night
26.   Split
27.   1922
28.   Personal Shopper
29.   Chuck
30.   Atomic Blonde
31.   Wheelman
32.   The Lego Batman Movie
33.   Megan Leavey
34.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
35.   Menashe
36.   American Made
37.   Beauty and the Beast
38.   Imperial Dreams
39.   Gifted
40.   Murder on the Orient Express
41.   The Zookeeper's Wife
42.   Free Fire
43.   Win It All
44.   The Wall
45.   Life
46.   Breathe
47.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
48.   Sleight
49.   Alone in Berlin
50.   A United Kingdom
51.   Trespass Against Us
52.   The Mountain Between Us
53.   War Machine
54.   Happy Death Day
55.   Lowriders
56.   Justice League
57.   To the Bone
58.   Wakefield
59.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
60.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
61.   Rough Night
62.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
63.   Sand Castle
64.   CHiPs
65.   Death Note
66.   The Belko Experiment
67.   The Great Wall
68.   Fist Fight
69.   Snatched
70.   Wilson
71.   Queen of the Desert
72.   The House
73.   Sleepless
74.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 20, 2019, 05:45:08 PM
(https://cdn1.thr.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/landscape_928x523/2011/01/fast_2011_a_l.jpg)

Fast Five (2011), directed by Justin Lin

I had heard people say many times that this franchise was turned into capeshit, but I didn't understand exactly how far that went until I decided to rent this movie. This was clearly a good decision. It would have been a horrendous mistake to make another film in this franchise without bringing something unique to the table. Doing a heist that goes so far beyond anything realistic is the best way to deal with that problem. I know that everyone thinks this is so much better than the other movies and I agree, it is better than them. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson have a steroid handshake like in Predator, that's the point when I realized that everyone was totally in on the joke. Fast Five is a film that smashes your brains in, overloading your brain with so many different things at once that the viewer is stunned into going along with everything. That's the way it should be, right? The decision to make this a heist franchise is one of the best that a Hollywood studio has ever made, both in terms of finances and my own entertainment. I'm sure there are a lot of people who didn't like this for some of the very obvious reasons, the largest one being that Brazil is presented as being a corrupt hellhole. To that I say, well, you can't argue with the facts. The image of Brazil is what it is for a reason, so in that way, this was exactly the right place to set a huge motion picture like this one. I cannot fault anything this imaginative and wish I'd seen it in a theater.

How can anyone possibly summarize this properly? Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is being transported to prison at the start of Fast Five, during which his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and friend Brian (Paul Walker) show up to save him by causing the bus to violently crash. Somehow this frees Dom instead of killing him, but that's cool, we have a movie ahead of us. The three of them somehow escape to Rio de Janeiro, but their arrivals are a bit staggered. Mia and Brian join Vince (Matt Schulze), he hasn't been in one of these since the first. Vince has created his own life in Rio, he now has a child and he also has needs that come along with that. Vince presents a job to Mia and Brian, they are to steal three very expensive cars from a train for some easy money. He knows some guys, so they'll have a crew. Along with the other participants finally comes Dom, who sees that one of the criminals, a man named Zizi (Michael Irby), is only interested in the GT40 on board. To be fair, that's what I'd be interested in too. Dom then tasks Mia with stealing the car, which leads to a fight and to Zizi killing the DEA agents who are supposed to make sure the cars are transported properly. To cut a long story short, Dom and Brian are then captures by a man named Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), who seems to be a drug lord of some kind. He wants the cars, but Dom and Brian escape so they can get back to their hideout.

Upon arriving back in the favelas, the GT40 is examined to find out why it matters so much. Vince shows up after a long delay, and goes straight for a computer chip on the car. He's busted and admits to attempting to sell the chip to Reyes, then he's made to leave. When Brian looks at it, he learns that it contains where Reyes keeps all his cash, well over $100 million. Then, as that's all going on, it's time to introduce another big character. You guys have seen this before I'm sure, and it's time for a worthy adversary in Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). Hobbs works for the Diplomatic Security Service, he has been given a target, he takes no shit from anyone, and he will do what he needs to do. He wants a local officer who isn't corrupt, so he's looked at files and decided on Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) as his translator. Elena is deemed to be not corrupt because her husband was killed in the line of duty. Now, back on the other side, it's time for a plan. Dom, Brian, and Mia are going to get that $100 million and disappear. In order to do so, they're gonna need some help. A lot of help. You ready for almost everyone from the other films to come back? I sure was. There's  Han (Sung Kang), Tej Parker (Ludacris), Gisele (Gal Gadot), Leo (Tego Calderon) and Santos (Don Omar) from the Dominican Republic, and perhaps most importantly...ROMAN PIERCE (Tyrese Gibson) CAME BACK. They have to steal that $100 million, but Reyes and Hobbs are each looking for them because they have something they aren't supposed to.

I left out so many details just for the sake of doing so, but the climactic scene of Fast Five is one of my favorites ever and it is hard to judge the movie fairly as a result. I also mentioned the steroid handshakes, right? There's more than just the one. The film is totally ridiculous and the ability of the team to survive makes no sense at all, so I'd rather not think about that too much. This is just everything I need from a movie, I don't know how else to describe it. The next thing they need to do is go to the fucking Moon. I demand that shit happen somehow and the way this is going, I wouldn't be surprised if Universal went through with it. I have seen the trailer for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, and that's pretty much science-fiction. More of that please, I won't complain at all even if it makes no fucking sense. I also think that the way this was made is a great case of direct fan service leading to something ultimately very pleasing. The viewer is rewarded more by Fast Five if they've watched all the other movies. If they haven't, it doesn't really feel the same. I was initially a bit put off by the run time, but I didn't feel any of that as I was nearing the conclusion. The credits were also really long, but the mid-credits scene was quite interesting itself. I learned not to question, simply to watch, and that's how a person needs to approach this series.

In the end, I think we as a society need films to be like this one. I need to turn my brain off, yet still waatch something funny that does have a cohesive plot even though the surrounding elements are nonsense. Even the more stupid scenes got a laugh out of me, and I thought the main action pieces were brilliantly executed and filmed. The stuff with the vault is incredible, I don't know how much is real and how much wasn't, but I also found myself not caring. The villain here is an absolute nothing, and I accept that. The task at hand is what needed to be most important and that's the way it happened. I still don't understand how a series about stealing TV/VCR combos turned into this, but I accept it and am very happy with it. As far as negatives go, there are just a few, and I think I'll only mention one more. The scene where Gal Gadot has to obtain a handprint by having someone put their hand on her ass? That's way too ridiculous for me, but besides that, I don't have many complaints at all. As far as action movies go, this is as good as it gets. Tossing the street racing in favor of trying to steal something big, that's what it's about. I'll watch one of these a month until caught up.

8/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 22, 2019, 05:39:00 AM
(https://www.wsws.org/asset/ac86d185-061a-45f9-9233-fa9b2a298e4O/image.jpg?rendition=image480)

My Cousin Rachel (2017), directed by Roger Michell

I don't really make a habit of watching movies like this one, but I needed some list filler and decided to watch this. I also really like Rachel Weisz, that's all the reason I needed to give this a look. I knew before going in that My Cousin Rachel is an adaptation of a book that was already made into a film with Olivia de Havilland, but I do not know if either of these are faithful adaptations to the book or if the film is a remake of the first film. I don't read, so that's why I don't know. I probably won't ever start reading fiction either, I find it rather boring. Yes, I really just said that. I said that it's boring because the really good works are going to be adapted to the screen anyway, and it's very time consuming to read a novel. I made the mistake of reading all of the books and spoiling Game of Thrones for myself, trust me, that shit was dumb. I wish I hadn't. That was the last time I followed my brother's recommendation to do something like that, it turns out that I get no joy out of knowing the events before they're shown on screen. I know that I won't do that again even if encouraged to by anyone. So, sorry for those who encouraged me, I won't go through with your ideas. Anyway, back to the film. I don't know why anyone would be so driven to make a film that was already done by Olivia de Havilland, that seems like a dumb idea. Some things just shouldn't be done. Now, all that being said, I thought this was a perfectly acceptable film.

My Cousin Rachel starts with a summing up of some events, explaining how we got into this situation. Philip (Sam Clafin) was once a young boy who was adopted by his older cousin Ambrose, and Ambrose raised him as a son on his estate in England. There were no women in his house, so Philip had a bit of a strange upbringing, but he was fine with this. Ambrose eventually leaves his estate for Florence, which sounds awesome to me. Philip is then left with his godfather Nick (Iain Glen), and over the course of letters, Philip learns that Ambrose has met his widowed cousin Rachel (Rachel Weisz) and married her. Ambrose previously didn't care about women and there are conversations indicating that he may have liked boys, but anyway, things aren't going so well in Florence for him after the marriage. He has sent some letters saying that he doesn't trust his medical care, and later on in the film we learn that he thought his wife was poisoning him. Philip heads off to Italy, but he learns from a man named Rinaldi (Pierfrancesco Favino) that Ambrose has died. He is very mad, even when learning that Ambrose willed Philip his estate. Philip then makes the decision to threaten Rinaldi and is convinced Rachel killed Ambrose.

Eventually, Rachel comes to England and Philip has every intention of confronting her. He makes comments about how fat she must be, what a bad person she is, all this stuff that I'll address later. He is convinced that Rachel is a bad person. At the same time, while this is going on, he's somewhat interested in Nick's daughter, Louise (Holliday Grainger). I think I'd be into her more than Rachel, but this guy is kind of weird. When Rachel arrives and Philip knows she's there, he goes up the stairs and sees her. He finds that she isn't the demon he believes she is, but he's overly infatuated. Infatuation leads to some bad things, and with this bloke never having been around women on a regular basis, he's dumb. Really dumb. When Rinaldi comes to visit, there's a strong possibility for explosion. At the same time, Nick has been looking into this woman, and when Philip wants to give Rachel some of his inheritance, Nick will certainly have something to say about it.

What I thought about My Cousin Rachel was something I'm sure a lot of people considered the whole time, that the lead character had a very typical virgin reaction. I did enjoy the idea that maybe this was all in his head, maybe he was just experiencing that virgin paranoia people have when they've had sex with someone and that person doesn't want to spend the rest of their life with them. I think everyone's heard of that, right? My perception was that Rachel was coyly manipulating the young man into doing what she wanted, but I'm not sure she was poisoning him. There's obviously no way to know and that remains in question. I will say as to the film as a whole, the lead character is also overmatched by Rachel Weisz and therefore much less interesting. Was this the best choice for the Philip character? I don't think it was. The latent misogyny present in Philip did make me laugh, I must admit. It's not that I find it naturally funny, but when he's going around asking about how fat his guardian's wife was, come on with that. It's hard not to laugh. The virginal obsession though, that stuff is hilarious and something I enjoy seeing in a movie.

Now, the grand question of whether or not Philip was being poisoned remains unanswered, and as such I will judge the film appropriately. I see no reason for the viewer to be left in the dark, so I didn't like that. Even if all the characters don't get an answer, I think there is a bit of an obligation to the audience to do so. The letter does not quite go far enough in absolving anyone. I would also say that the events in this film are a little too tasteful for me as well. I'm apparently not the only one who felt this way, the events don't play out ridiculously enough. My Cousin Rachel is a bit bland, and I also thought that the beginning when we learn about Philip's childhood was interesting enough to overshadow some of the events of the film. I was also naturally comparing this to The Favourite while watching it, and there's no real comparison at all. That's where most of my complaints are born from though, both films are set in a time period long gone by, and one is simply much more extravagant and interesting than the other. The inherent problem with the film is that Philip is a sorry character, I never felt bad for him at any point and found myself detesting him. Not all acclaimed books will have a strong film adaptation, and I guess this is one of them. I did find the movie decent enough, as I already said, and that's because I didn't quite know where the story was going from one scene to the next.

6/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Good Time
5.   Mudbound
6.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
7.   Logan
8.   Wonder Woman
9.   The Big Sick
10.   Thor: Ragnarok
11.   Logan Lucky
12.   The Beguiled
13.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
14.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
15.   The Lost City of Z
16.   First They Killed My Father
17.   Darkest Hour
18.   A Ghost Story
19.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
20.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
21.   It
22.   Battle of the Sexes
23.   Okja
24.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
25.   Kong: Skull Island
26.   It Comes at Night
27.   Split
28.   1922
29.   Personal Shopper
30.   Chuck
31.   Atomic Blonde
32.   Wheelman
33.   The Lego Batman Movie
34.   Megan Leavey
35.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
36.   Menashe
37.   American Made
38.   Beauty and the Beast
39.   Imperial Dreams
40.   Gifted
41.   Murder on the Orient Express
42.   The Zookeeper's Wife
43.   Free Fire
44.   Win It All
45.   The Wall
46.   Life
47.   My Cousin Rachel
48.   Breathe
49.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
50.   Sleight
51.   Alone in Berlin
52.   A United Kingdom
53.   Trespass Against Us
54.   The Mountain Between Us
55.   War Machine
56.   Happy Death Day
57.   Lowriders
58.   Justice League
59.   To the Bone
60.   Wakefield
61.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
62.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
63.   Rough Night
64.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
65.   Sand Castle
66.   CHiPs
67.   Death Note
68.   The Belko Experiment
69.   The Great Wall
70.   Fist Fight
71.   Snatched
72.   Wilson
73.   Queen of the Desert
74.   The House
75.   Sleepless
76.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 22, 2019, 10:53:24 AM
(https://thumbs.gfycat.com/HarmlessMisguidedBluetickcoonhound-size_restricted.gif)

Men in Black II (2002), directed by Barry Sonnenfeld

Continuing franchises I haven't finished has proven to be quite hard, I think I may have some kind of mental block that prevents me from doing so. I was supposed to watch Men in Black II last month, then I decided to put it off until now. I also waited nearly this whole month to watch it. I do intend to watch the third one next month before the series is restarted, but after seeing crowd reactions to the trailer, I suspect that the series doesn't need to be restarted and will bomb hard. Nobody has ever reacted to the trailer whatsoever. With all that being said, I don't think Men in Black II was particularly good. A movie with Will Smith is always going to have something to it, but very rarely are they actually good and that rule applies here too. Even though Men in Black II isn't good, I did laugh quite a bit. There are some things here that I found would destroy a more serious franchise, but this is not a serious franchise and is intended to be an amusing one. The first film is more surprising because the rules of the universe are not established to the viewer, and as a result the film is more entertaining. The first film also has a better story, but it's missing one thing the second one is not. Does Men in Black have Michael Jackson in it? No, it doesn't, and that's a big difference. I am surprised this part has not been edited out yet.

We moved forward quite a few years as the gap between films was large, and it's five years to be exact. Men in Black still exist, still monitoring and regulating alien life. Agent J (Will Smith) has a new partner, Agent T (Patrick Warburton). It seems that things are alright. The film starts with us viewing a video of a supernatural mysteries type show, where a man is talking about the Men in Black and something that happened in the 70's. He says that leaders of Zartha fled their planet to escape the Kylothians, particularly Serleena. They brought to Earth the Light of Zartha, a very powerful object. Subsequently the Men in Black were tasked with hiding it, but things actually turned out that the Zarthans escaped with the object while Serleena was detained. After that, we move over to Central Park, with a spaceship landing on Earth and seeming to make a very big landing. It turns out that the ship was quite small and just turned up some dirt. When it's time for the thing on board to disembark, a bug like creature is deposited on the ground, and a dog is scared away by the tentacles that begin to spread. There's a magazine in the grass, the wind flips the pages open to a Victoria's Secret ad, and the creature turns into Lara Flynn Boyle. When someone tries to rape her, she eats the man and seemingly vomits his bones back out. Sounds fun, right? I thought this was the best part of the film.

After that scene, we finally see our agents, both of whom I have already mentioned. They see a flower coming out of the sidewalk, but it turns out that it isn't a flower and rather an enormous alien worm. The worm is violating an arrangement, but that's of no consequence. There's a scene that follows and after it's over, T starts crying and J decides he should send him back to his old life. Good idea. It's difficult to deal with the way this film keeps flipping back and forth, but Serleena eventually decides to rendezvous with someone who has contacted her, a two headed called Scrad (Johnny Knoxville). His other head is called Charlie, but it doesn't matter. These two are fucking idiots. At this point, we learn that Serleena is seeking the Light of Zartha from earlier, and Scrad has tracked it to a guy who may have it. At the pizza place, there's the owner Ben (Jack Kehler) and his best employee, Laura (Rosario Dawson). Serleena breaks in and grabs Ben by the throat, demanding information about the Light of Zartha. We get some exposition and all that stuff, Laura hides. After it's over, J goes to the headquarters and is given a new dog partner, Frank (Tim Blaney). He gets to the pizza place, it turns out he likes Laura and doesn't neuralyze her, but here's the deal. The only person with information about the Light of Zartha is Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), and his memory has been wiped. Both sides need to bring him back somehow.

I feel like I described literally the entire movie, which is no good. The setup for the scenario takes so much longer than the events that follow, which is a pretty big issue. I also think that once the filmmakers peel back the curtain and show even more aliens, the amusing things in the first film are no longer so interesting. The talking dog is also unbelievably stupid, and honestly, I don't think the actors making this movie really cared about what they were doing. The twist ending is ridiculously predictable and you'd have to be a fool not to notice it, and to this end, the film is so short that they don't even present another option as being the Light of Zartha. It's pretty ridiculous, and the length of the film makes absolutely zero sense to me. Who makes a blockbuster that's only around 85 minutes? It's strange, I don't get it, I would like to know why it happened. I did do some reading and found that filming ended very shortly after 9/11. That seems like something that would lead to the film being much shorter.

All in all, as far as Men in Black II goes, I don't think I really cared. There's some good jokes and the film is relatively funny, but the plot is too thin and doesn't have any real threat. If you've seen as many blockbusters as I have, you've seen this even if you haven't watched it. I would have liked this more had there been consequences that felt more real and pressing, but neither the actors nor the director made it feel like THE WORLD IS ACTUALLY GOING TO END. The film is the definition of a cash grab. So, with that in mind, I'll cut myself off here.

5/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 22, 2019, 06:16:05 PM
(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pGNydXjDMP0/XGISWwOdCyI/AAAAAAAAJHY/qppy5ICvZFAqyLg71ByUc8Wyc3mEXGW6QCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/Ahmanet.jpg)

The Mummy (2017), directed by Alex Kurtzman

I wish I could explain to you why Universal wanted to reboot The Mummy, but that's going to take a long time. The shortest way I can explain it is by saying they don't have their own comic universe, therefore they don't have a gigantic guaranteed profit generating machine. So, because of that, they're going to keep trying to make things into a universe. I don't know when they'll make another monster movie like this one, but it's a certainty they'll try again. Something, somehow, is going to be turned into a universe. In any case, it is clear to me after watching 2017's The Mummy that this will not launch any franchise. There are quality related reasons this lost money, but beyond that, I don't think anyone wanted to see this. Someone should have ensured that the budget was kept down somehow, that's all they really needed to do. Apparently Universal decided to let Tom Cruise do everything he wanted and that ballooned the budget. If you want to know how that worked out for them, just read this. The Mummy is a rather bland film, there are some decent moments and that will explain my score, but I thought the film was lacking in imagination. Most of those decent moments are horror related, with the film featuring more of that than I'd expected, but that alone is not enough to save The Mummy from the abyss of failed franchise launches.

The Mummy kicks off in London, with construction workers discovering a crusader tomb that has a ruby of some sort inside of it. This must have happened a very long time ago. Afterwards, we continue the things that don't make sense, a list that piles up very rapidly as the film goes along. Sgt. Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Cpl. Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are in Iraq, doing fuck knows what. I guess they're treasure hunting, and last I checked, there isn't an Army division for that. They're looking for treasure, and after calling in a huge airstrike, they discover the tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). Ahmanet had attempted to summon an Egyptian God called Set, she was caught and mummified while alive. There is a lot of mercury in this tomb, unbeknownst to everyone before they go in. Before Nick and Chris climb down, they are encountered by an archaeologist named Jenny (Annabelle Wallis). Jenny apparently had a map stolen from her by Nick, so these guys are clearly outstanding citizens. When they head down into the tomb, Nick is compelled to shoot something that's keeping Ahmanet in her prison, and up goes the coffin. Col. Greenway (Courtney B. Vance) is the superior officer to these two soldiers, I don't know why he or they are there, but he's going to airlift them out with the coffin. They have to beat a sandstorm, but of course, this is a Tom Cruise movie and they're able to do so.

The Mummy oddly boasts a small cast, I'm only leaving one character out until it's convenient to me. While they were in the tomb, Chris was bitten by a spider, but now they're on the plane. He is not feeling so good. Greenway approaches him because he's standing too close to the coffin, so Chris stabs him and kills him. He continues on to trying to attack everyone else, and initially Nick doesn't want his friend to die, but he shoots him three times anyway. After that, the flight to London continues, but crows attack the plane, going into the cockpit and destroying the engines. So, they're going down. We get one of those things where Tom Cruise does a stunt, and Jenny is given a parachute as the plane goes down. Everyone dies except for Jenny, but later that day, Nick is in the morgue and wakes up. When he wakes up, the Ghost of Chris appears and tells him what's going on with Ahmanet. Here's the deal. Ahmanet is going to escape from her coffin and is going to try to find that ruby in London. She wants to turn Nick into Set. At the same time, there's a secret society in London that deals with supernatural threats, which is how Jenny got the map in the first place. Their leader is Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe). Need I say very much more?

I can admit that even though this isn't a very good film, the horror scenes I found to be quite effective. I also have really wanted to see Jekyll and Hyde in a film, and I've missed absolutely everything that those characters appear in. I know exactly how stupid it is, but I'm telling you, it's true. Those scenes ensured that I wasn't going to hate The Mummy too much, and that's how I felt. I don't see the purpose for this film at all, but it's nowhere near one of the worst films of the year. I think people are beginning to have blockbuster fatigue and this is a casualty to that, but people also really don't like Tom Cruise and just need a reason not to go see his films. If one of them gets middling reviews, they're going to swerve it just enough for the film to make dick at the box office. A $90 million loss, even for a studio like Universal, is a pretty big loss. I think the largest problem I have with this film is that a different Mummy story was told more effectively by other people. Taking the story out of Egypt is also an absolutely ridiculous decision that deprives people of getting what they want. I think people have certain expectations of The Mummy and one of them is not the characters galvanting around England and London. I don't know who decided that was a great idea, but they should have been fired the moment they suggested it.

The Mummy is simply bland, there's not a lot else to say beyond that. I thought Tom Cruise was terribly out of place here and that almost any other actor could have done what he did. Casting him obviously cost the production a ridiculous sum that could have been put to more important things. Like, for example, a story that made sense and was set in the right place. The obsession that Ahmanet has with Nick feels completely out of place here, I simply don't like it. If it's up to me, they will remake this again as a straight horror movie. I've seen that Universal is partnering with Blumhouse to make The Invisible Man, which sounds like an excellent decision. Certainly these ideas don't need to be left in the hands of people who don't know what they're doing, and in this case, they absolutely did not know what they were doing. I think making these films as horror flicks is a nice guaranteed cash cow, but nowhere near as accessible as a movie like this, so we'll see how long that lasts. This never could have been good even though it has many parts I like, enough that I didn't want to turn it off until it was finished.

4.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Good Time
5.   Mudbound
6.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
7.   Logan
8.   Wonder Woman
9.   The Big Sick
10.   Thor: Ragnarok
11.   Logan Lucky
12.   The Beguiled
13.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
14.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
15.   The Lost City of Z
16.   First They Killed My Father
17.   Darkest Hour
18.   A Ghost Story
19.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
20.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
21.   It
22.   Battle of the Sexes
23.   Okja
24.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
25.   Kong: Skull Island
26.   It Comes at Night
27.   Split
28.   1922
29.   Personal Shopper
30.   Chuck
31.   Atomic Blonde
32.   Wheelman
33.   The Lego Batman Movie
34.   Megan Leavey
35.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
36.   Menashe
37.   American Made
38.   Beauty and the Beast
39.   Imperial Dreams
40.   Gifted
41.   Murder on the Orient Express
42.   The Zookeeper's Wife
43.   Free Fire
44.   Win It All
45.   The Wall
46.   Life
47.   My Cousin Rachel
48.   Breathe
49.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
50.   Sleight
51.   Alone in Berlin
52.   A United Kingdom
53.   Trespass Against Us
54.   The Mountain Between Us
55.   War Machine
56.   Happy Death Day
57.   Lowriders
58.   Justice League
59.   To the Bone
60.   Wakefield
61.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
62.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
63.   The Mummy
64.   Rough Night
65.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
66.   Sand Castle
67.   CHiPs
68.   Death Note
69.   The Belko Experiment
70.   The Great Wall
71.   Fist Fight
72.   Snatched
73.   Wilson
74.   Queen of the Desert
75.   The House
76.   Sleepless
77.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 24, 2019, 04:31:19 AM
(https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fscottmendelson%2Ffiles%2F2017%2F12%2FMV5BNzIyODc1OGYtYzljNC00MTc3LWJkNTUtYzZmYjNhYmM4MzQ5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzk5MTY4MTU%40._V1_.jpg)

The Greatest Showman (2017), directed by Michael Gracey

I have never seen a greater whitewashing of bad deeds than what I saw when I watched The Greatest Showman. P.T. Barnum is far more interesting than the way this film made it seem, but absolutely none of that is covered in detail here. I usually start my reviews off with other things, but I'm going to get straight to tearing down this movie. The Greatest Showman is a movie sanitized for public holiday consumption, one which isn't very interested in facts or anything remotely related to the truth. Instead, The Greatest Showman shows people that P.T. Barnum organized some downtrodden members of society and made them feel good about themselves. Exploitation is not on the menu today. This movie is quite surreal, I'm not sure what exactly it is that I even watched. I am not sure I've seen anything in a very long time that was this lacking in plot. However, I will also state that The Greatest Showman does have its moments. I wish I knew how to properly summarize a film like this one, where everything feels like some sort of corny fever dream. Never before have I had to attempt to do so. I guess what should be said is that this entire film is fiction and nothing in it should be taken remotely seriously. It's still difficult to put my thoughts into words because P.T. Barnum is someone who deserves a serious movie or television series made about their life.

Almost everything of value in The Greatest Showman is shown via song and musical bit, so this will be short-ish. Our film starts with P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) and his group performing at the circus, then it's time for a flashback to his childhood. Barnum and his father work for the Hallett family, and Barnum gets a major crush on their daughter Charity after making her laugh. The Hallett patriarch (Fredric Lehne) slaps the fuck out of him, this is not going to stop him from getting what he wants. The two children keep in touch through letters, and eventually Charity (Michelle Williams) meets P.T. again, which leads to their marriage and the birth of two daughters. Even this is fudged as they actually had four daughters, but whatever. Barnum takes a job working for a shipping company, but they go broke. This leads to Barnum running a fraud scam on a bank because he's somehow acquired the deed to his employer's sunken ships, using those ships as collateral to acquire enough money to buy Barnum's American Museum in New York City. The museum showcases wax figures, but Barnum wants so much more. This leads to him finding circus freaks, and the rest is history.

The people he found consist of albino twins, a tattooed lady, a strongman, Siamese twins, a dwarf named Charles (Sam Humphrey), a bearded lady named Lettie (Keala Settle), a snake dancer, voodoo twins, a three legged man, a dog boy, and a trapeze duo consisting of W.D (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Anne (Zendaya), brother and sister respectively. There are others, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind, and they're more important if they're named. The circus receives horrible reviews from a reporter (Paul Sparks), but this circus train is going to keep on rolling. Barnum can't help himself, he still wants more even though he's created a successful circus. He meets Phillip (Zac Efron), who has written some famed plays, and he convinced Phillip to join the circus. Phillip seems to really care for Anne and that's probably a factor in his joining, but Barnum's Circus acquires fame really fast, leading to a trip overseas to England. On that trip, Barnum meets Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), a famous Swedish singer with great looks and obviously a great voice. He wants to become her manager, break down the aristocratic walls, and make a real name for himself among the elite in New York City.

I've probably done a shitty job explaining things, but that isn't my fault. This isn't a very good movie and it doesn't do a good job explaining things either. The plot beyond what I've mentioned is incomprehensible garbage, simply put. I do not know how to describe any of the events leading up to the finale because some of them happen with no buildup at all. I will say that I found the scenes with Barnum going around looking for talent to be very good. One thing I would never accuse The Greatest Showman of is being a bland movie, it's simply made for a different audience that I am not part of. I don't find much value in Broadway shows and this was something that felt as if it was on Broadway and shown to a wider audience. Musicals like La La Land are a lot better to me than this was. I do think that part of one's enjoyment of a musical is heavily dependent upon whether or not they find the music engaging. The last musical I watched was Mary Poppins Returns, which I did find very engaging. The songs brought me back to a more simple time when I was a kid, it was a very strong piece of cinema in that way. I didn't care for a few of the characters, but that's beside the point. The songs in The Greatest Showman are not engaging or whimsical at all and therefore I was bored. One of the musical numbers made me cringe, that's not good.

I think I've made clear where I stand as it relates to musicals, I need to feel engaged with the story and I didn't get that from The Greatest Showman. Everyone's different and all that shit, but I've heard similar from family members who told me they didn't care much for the film. The outright falsehoods are something that came to mind as I was watching this, but I'm not lying in saying they had no impact on how I felt about the film. Making up shit is just that, making up shit. The story can be good even with made up shit or it may not be good at all. This film isn't much for story. I did think the choreography and use of color is great, but The Greatest Showman is totally fucking ridiculous. Take that for whatever it's worth. I don't find that to always be a bad thing, but when a movie is entirely lacking in plot, it drives me crazy. The film feels like it isn't long enough even though I'm not sure I could have handled the film being any longer. Hugh Jackman's performance was quite strong and believable, I think that goes without saying. I don't like this film, but that doesn't mean I don't care for the genre even though I'm a straight man. I have seen some musicals I liked and will give musicals the credit they deserve if I liked them. I don't know how I never made this connection before, but Chi-Raq used poetry to an extent I guess you'd be forced to call it a musical. I also REALLY enjoyed that film and wish there were more like it. The Greatest Showman doesn't measure up. Now someone please give me a real P.T. Barnum movie.

4.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Good Time
5.   Mudbound
6.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
7.   Logan
8.   Wonder Woman
9.   The Big Sick
10.   Thor: Ragnarok
11.   Logan Lucky
12.   The Beguiled
13.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
14.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
15.   The Lost City of Z
16.   First They Killed My Father
17.   Darkest Hour
18.   A Ghost Story
19.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
20.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
21.   It
22.   Battle of the Sexes
23.   Okja
24.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
25.   Kong: Skull Island
26.   It Comes at Night
27.   Split
28.   1922
29.   Personal Shopper
30.   Chuck
31.   Atomic Blonde
32.   Wheelman
33.   The Lego Batman Movie
34.   Megan Leavey
35.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
36.   Menashe
37.   American Made
38.   Beauty and the Beast
39.   Imperial Dreams
40.   Gifted
41.   Murder on the Orient Express
42.   The Zookeeper's Wife
43.   Free Fire
44.   Win It All
45.   The Wall
46.   Life
47.   My Cousin Rachel
48.   Breathe
49.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
50.   Sleight
51.   Alone in Berlin
52.   A United Kingdom
53.   Trespass Against Us
54.   The Mountain Between Us
55.   War Machine
56.   Happy Death Day
57.   Lowriders
58.   Justice League
59.   To the Bone
60.   Wakefield
61.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
62.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
63.   The Mummy
64.   The Greatest Showman
65.   Rough Night
66.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
67.   Sand Castle
68.   CHiPs
69.   Death Note
70.   The Belko Experiment
71.   The Great Wall
72.   Fist Fight
73.   Snatched
74.   Wilson
75.   Queen of the Desert
76.   The House
77.   Sleepless
78.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 25, 2019, 06:24:22 PM
(https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--PieRT9eu--/c_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/ld1uz8husqzcydckoxk4.jpg)

Bright (2017), directed by David Ayer

I should have watched this far sooner, because now my review of Bright is no longer topical and I'm probably preaching to the choir. I knew this wasn't going to be good when I saw that Max Landis wrote Bright and Ayer directed it, but I decided I was eventually going to watch this. It was never my intention to wait so long, but this concept was stupid and I wasn't exactly looking forward to it. I decided to pound my way through a Netflix backlog some time ago, and this has finally brought me to Bright...and I probably should have watched this with other people but I no longer wished to wait. I cannot believe this was made, but at the same time I also mean that in a positive way. Whether you like the film or not, and almost everyone doesn't, this is an original concept. We need more films that boast original concepts. I don't expect everyone to agree with me and that's alright, but what I thought was that Bright was the right kind of bad. This isn't a boring film at all, take that for what it's worth. There are elements of the film that are really bad, there are some that are okay. What I thought once this was over were two things. This is nowhere near the worst film of 2017. The second was that this could have been good had the concept been taken in a drastically different direction.

Bright is set in an alternate universe where Los Angeles exists as some kind of dystopian hellscape, run down and looking entirely like shit. Humans co-exist with other races, some of which are never explored, but I spotted centaurs, humans, orcs, elves, fairies, and dragons. If there was anything else, I didn't notice it. Anyway, in this version of Los Angeles, Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is a LAPD officer who has been forced to partner with the nation's first orc officer, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton). The way the film presents it, this world has a racist structure and in effect the portrayal of these things is also racist due to stereotyping. The orcs are on the bottom of the pyramid, humans are in the middle, and elves are on the top. Fairies are like flies that need to be gotten rid of. At the start of the film, we see footage of Ward being shot by an orc who was coming out of a store after robbing it. Ward did survive, but everyone in the department blames Jakoby, and everyone hates the idea that Jakoby is part of the police force. There are no exceptions to this. Our early scenes show the way things are, how the city works, how the elves are the rich class of people, and a little bit of history is thrown in there too. There was apparently something called the Dark Lord, all the races besides the orcs (who supported the Dark Lord) had to unite to kill it, and as a result that means magic exists too. Anyway, while on a call, Ward and Jakoby encounter a crazy guy ranting and raving about the Dark Lord. This is the way I wish the film would have continued, or I would rather have seen them investigate a series of cases dealing with the relationship between the three feature races.

Instead of what I wanted, I got something I laughed a lot at but didn't want. Before that, one thing is made clear by Internal Affairs. They believe Jakoby let the orc escape after shooting Ward due to racial politics. They want Ward to record Jakoby admitting that he let the perp escape. Afterwards, they respond to a disturbance at a safe house for an extremist group called the Shield of Light, but it isn't like the officers knew beforehand. After a shootout, they go inside and see a magical being fused with a wall, an elf girl named Tikka (Lucy Fry), and a magic wand. Magic wands are how magic enters the world, but they are very rare and only people called Brights are able to touch them without killing themselves. When Ward calls for backup because they've found a wand, the four arriving officers, led by Pollard (Ike Barinholtz) and Ching (Margaret Cho), they want to take the wand and sell it or use it for their needs. They want Ward to kill Jakoby, which leads to Ward demanding the truth. Things get way out of hand from there, and there are all sorts of gangsters in that neighborhood. You think there's just human gangs kicking around? I think not. In any case, with a wand in play, there comes some interesting people along with. Kandomere (Edgar Ramirez) is an elvish federal agent who investigates these kinds of things, and he has a human partner, Hildebrandt (Happy Anderson). Are some of these names taking the piss or what? Anyway, if you find a wand anywhere, that's who you're supposed to call. Poison (Enrique Murciano) is a leader of a human gang, he's in a wheelchair while calling the shots. There's Dorghu (Brad William Henke), leader of the aforementioned gang of orcs which is called Fogteeth. Then there's Leilah (Noomi Rapace), leader of a cult called Inferni, they are working to bring the Dark Lord back and need to find three magic wands.

I try not to use such long paragraphs, but it's hard not to when setting this up. I still didn't spoil the events of the plot although it doesn't exactly take a genius to figure anything out. I already said what my wishes were and it's true, there's an opening montage that makes clear the divisions in the city and that some areas only elves are allowed to go into. I would have preferred that Bright explore that rather than go down such a ridiculous road. Now, seeing as the film went down this path I have to talk about it, and obviously I didn't like the way things went. I thought the first half the film was almost good. Yeah, I said it, and what? I don't have a problem admitting it. The problem with the film and this has to be taken into account when a lot of people are saying this is the worst movie of the year, is that people didn't pay to watch the film. They can also easily change the channel without having to worry about time investment, and because they're at home, they're going to think about what they could be doing with their time. I don't like this film, I'm going to be clear about that, but it ahd its moments. The shootout scenes are totally ridiculous and Bright also has some of the worst cinematography Ive seen in a long time, but I do think the shitty writer and director stumbled onto something with the concept of their world. The problem is that they just don't know how to use these ideas cohesively and craft them into something interesting.

Some of the jokes are offensive, which is hardly shocking considering the source of these jokes. I did find the banter between Smith and Edgerton to be nice, and a few of the action scenes have their moments as well. The one in the gas station probably wins out over the rest even though it's filmed very, very poorly. I think films need to embrace strange concepts more, even when they don't work out. This is not anything I would have ever expected to be made ten years ago, and after the sequel I doubt we'll see anything like this again. So if you cherish racist jokes wrapped up in a fantasy world, you should enjoy them while they last! Again, this isn't good, but it's reasonably fun. Each of the races has their own strengths and weaknesses, which is a whole other story now that I'm thinking of the ramifications of what I just said, but I'm going to end this review before I think about that too much. Bright fails when the film gets serious and should have played more and more to its strange side, but there is one thing coming to mind. What if this was a television show and the first half of the film was its pilot? What would people think then? I don't really have an answer to that, but even though the events of the film can best be classified as 'beyond rote', this was okay. The thing is, imagine being Netflix and spending $90,000,000 on this? That's totally insane, I have no idea what they're doing. The script is a goddamn mess and they're doing this again after everyone used the ideas they thought were good. You know the next one is going to be irredeemably shit.

5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Good Time
5.   Mudbound
6.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
7.   Logan
8.   Wonder Woman
9.   The Big Sick
10.   Thor: Ragnarok
11.   Logan Lucky
12.   The Beguiled
13.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
14.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
15.   The Lost City of Z
16.   First They Killed My Father
17.   Darkest Hour
18.   A Ghost Story
19.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
20.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
21.   It
22.   Battle of the Sexes
23.   Okja
24.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
25.   Kong: Skull Island
26.   It Comes at Night
27.   Split
28.   1922
29.   Personal Shopper
30.   Chuck
31.   Atomic Blonde
32.   Wheelman
33.   The Lego Batman Movie
34.   Megan Leavey
35.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
36.   Menashe
37.   American Made
38.   Beauty and the Beast
39.   Imperial Dreams
40.   Gifted
41.   Murder on the Orient Express
42.   The Zookeeper's Wife
43.   Free Fire
44.   Win It All
45.   The Wall
46.   Life
47.   My Cousin Rachel
48.   Breathe
49.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
50.   Sleight
51.   Alone in Berlin
52.   A United Kingdom
53.   Trespass Against Us
54.   The Mountain Between Us
55.   War Machine
56.   Happy Death Day
57.   Lowriders
58.   Justice League
59.   To the Bone
60.   Wakefield
61.   Bright
62.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
63.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
64.   The Mummy
65.   The Greatest Showman
66.   Rough Night
67.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
68.   Sand Castle
69.   CHiPs
70.   Death Note
71.   The Belko Experiment
72.   The Great Wall
73.   Fist Fight
74.   Snatched
75.   Wilson
76.   Queen of the Desert
77.   The House
78.   Sleepless
79.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: muzzington on April 25, 2019, 07:24:36 PM
Bright sounds like the height of Netflix's hubris.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: cobainwasmurdered on April 26, 2019, 05:02:39 AM
That movie was just typically silly bad sci-fi not "omg worst movie of the year bad" like critics acted. It felt like obvious bias because it was a big netflix project with a big name in it. "Valerian" was out in the same year IIRC and was far worse.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 27, 2019, 06:33:59 PM
(https://media2.fdncms.com/stranger/imager/u/original/25395990/film-crownheights.jpg)

Crown Heights (2017), directed by Matt Ruskin

I am not sure how to open this review of Crown Heights, which is a biographical film about a crime that in this case ended in a wrongful conviction. Apparently this film was conceived and adapted from a podcast regarding the case, which would explain why I'd never heard of the case as I do not listen to podcasts. I think in the case of Crown Heights that the facts of the story are greater than the reenactment of the trauma inflicted upon the people involved. I decided to watch this in the first place because I believe Lakeith Stanfield is one of the best working actors in Hollywood, I think I would watch anything he acted in without exception. If you've seen some of the trash I've watched, certainly you know this must be true. I was also surprised to learn that Nnamdi Asomugha has become an actor. That seems to have come out of nowhere and is nothing like what I thought he would do after retiring from football. It seems that he's also producing projects and I hope he gets a big break into things that more people view. What I would say about Crown Heights before delving into further detail is that I appreciate the commitment of the writer/director, of Colin Turner for participating in the project after his name was cleared, and that the project seems to have been faithful in not fabricating anything. This is quite useful when telling a story such as this.

Crown Heights is about Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield), a young man trying to make his way in the inner city after emigrating from Trinidad to the United States. New York City was a very tough place in the 1980s, as I think everyone is well aware of. Crime was very high, people were up to all kinds of wild shit. Colin, to his credit, does not absolve himself entirely of anything he may have actually did. We are shown Colin while he's in school as a mechanic, learning a trade as people used to do. He has many friends there, including Carl 'KC' King (Nnamdi Asomugha), but that's all about to chance. Colin wants to know if the shop is still taking stolen cars for money, and they are. So, when Colin's mother Grace (Adriane Lenox) tells him to pick up the color TV from the repair shop, that isn't all he intends to do. Colin tries to steal a car only to be spotted by the car owner in the process of doing so, the man gives chase. Eventually, this being a small neighborhood, the man sees his vehicle and therefore Colin, which leads to Colin having to drive away as fast as he could. The man latches onto the car and is knocked off, but Colin crashes and has to abandon ship. He takes the TV with him, but eventually he is stopped by some detectives, drops the television, and is arrested.

Presumably Colin believes that he's been arrested for stealing cars even though he's not going to say anything, but it's far worse than that. Colin has been accused of killing a man named Marvin Grant. The detectives say that he can sign the paper confessing to the crime or not, he doesn't and is sent to jail. Over the course of these two years, Colin is presented with various problems that come as a part of being in jail, but he did not kill anyone and does not belong there. Eventually he has an attorney, Bruce (Nestor Carbonell), and Bruce is convinced that he can get Colin acquitted for this murder. The problem is that Colin's case is picking up another defendant, a juvenile named Anthony Gibson (Luke Forbes). Anthony has been accused of shooting Marvin while Colin supposedly drove away, and while we know of Colin's innocence, Anthony is a whole other story. It is hard to believe that Anthony did not do it, but the prosecution's case is full of holes. They call a witness, a kid named Clarence (Skylan Brooks). Clarence has been busted for an armed robbery, he has been told what to do by police officers, yet when questioned about it these things are objected to and he is not allowed to testify about them. So, with an offer on the table, Anthony isn't the smartest guy, and Colin won't have the charges dropped against him when he could have. Unfortunately, this leads to Anthony being sent to prison on a juvenile bid, while Colin gets 15 to life. In New York. In the 1980's. I can think of nothing else worse than that, a life taken before it has started. Colin and Carl absolutely must work to get Colin out of there.

I've just gone and spoiled the whole movie, but I think if you turn this on anyway, you understand the premise is that a man is unjustly sent to prison for something they did not do. Presumption of innocence is supposed to be a part of our legal system, yet I don't think that it is or that it really ever has been. Cases without proof regularly lead to convictions and unnecessary plea bargains that spare the unfairly accused from something far worse. There is a very good film from last year that addresses this, but to say what it was would spoil the ending of it. I think on some level the director failed to make clear exactly how bad it is for an innocent man to be in prison, because the film is not long enough for us to see all of the horrible things that happened to Mr. Warner. On the other hand, torture porn is not something I find to be a requirement in a film, so I choose to let that slide. Crown Heights has a more measured approach to showing these things. The film follows a similar theme in many features recently, one of the complete and utter failure of law and order policies. These policies unfairly target black men, and the snippets with Reagan, Bush, George Pataki, and Bill Clinton speaking about other human beings sums up why this so easily happens to people in prison. I am left with the same feeling I have felt for many years now, that we live in a racist society. Nothing has ever changed. Crown Heights does not address this, but advances in the ability to detect who committed crimes only benefit those who have the money to buy themselves a proper defense.

As for the rest of the film, what comes to mind is that Crown Heights has to be carried by two actors and to a more minor extent a third one. The actors with the bulk of the load are Stanfield and Asomugha. The first 65% of the film focuses on Colin Warner almost entirely, the last 35% is about Carl King's journey to get his friend out of prison. The third actor I'd like to mention is Natalie Paul, who plays Colin's wife Antoinette. Colin knew Antoinette before going inside, married her in prison, and there's a scene related to this that I found quite devastating. The usual Hollywood touch with people weeping is fortunately not present in this moment, Crown Heights is a far more grounded film than most. I think that's the way I would sum it all up as well. Crown Heights focuses on a moral victory that is far too long in coming, the story is rather painful and the film is also quite depressing. I left some details out even though the result is obvious, but I am glad Crown Heights was made. Not enough do these kinds of films have any sort of realistic moral victory for the wrongly accused, but this one does. I appreciate that. The facts are a little overwhelming though, and I think the film needs some room to breathe where it focuses on the protagonists reflecting on what's happened to them, or what could happen. What I'm saying is that maybe this is too quickly paced.

7/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Good Time
5.   Mudbound
6.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
7.   Logan
8.   Wonder Woman
9.   The Big Sick
10.   Thor: Ragnarok
11.   Logan Lucky
12.   The Beguiled
13.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
14.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
15.   The Lost City of Z
16.   First They Killed My Father
17.   Darkest Hour
18.   A Ghost Story
19.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
20.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
21.   It
22.   Battle of the Sexes
23.   Okja
24.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
25.   Kong: Skull Island
26.   It Comes at Night
27.   Crown Heights
28.   Split
29.   1922
30.   Personal Shopper
31.   Chuck
32.   Atomic Blonde
33.   Wheelman
34.   The Lego Batman Movie
35.   Megan Leavey
36.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
37.   Menashe
38.   American Made
39.   Beauty and the Beast
40.   Imperial Dreams
41.   Gifted
42.   Murder on the Orient Express
43.   The Zookeeper's Wife
44.   Free Fire
45.   Win It All
46.   The Wall
47.   Life
48.   My Cousin Rachel
49.   Breathe
50.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
51.   Sleight
52.   Alone in Berlin
53.   A United Kingdom
54.   Trespass Against Us
55.   The Mountain Between Us
56.   War Machine
57.   Happy Death Day
58.   Lowriders
59.   Justice League
60.   To the Bone
61.   Wakefield
62.   Bright
63.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
64.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
65.   The Mummy
66.   The Greatest Showman
67.   Rough Night
68.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
69.   Sand Castle
70.   CHiPs
71.   Death Note
72.   The Belko Experiment
73.   The Great Wall
74.   Fist Fight
75.   Snatched
76.   Wilson
77.   Queen of the Desert
78.   The House
79.   Sleepless
80.   All Eyez on Me
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 28, 2019, 05:51:19 PM
(https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/the_space_between_us_h_2016.jpg?w=780)

The Space Between Us (2017), directed by Peter Chelsom

Have you ever watched something that was so fucking trash you read the ending of a film well before finishing it? The Space Between Us is that bad. I have never done this before in the entire time I've been writing these reviews, but I did finish this movie even though I knew the ending. I made a big mistake when I turned this on, that's for sure. I should have bothered to read a review, but I don't do that, I assumed from the cast list and the inclusion of space that this would not be so ridiculous. I was wrong. This is my mistake, of course. I should have bothered to look into the director and if I had, I would have seen this man directed Hannah Montana: The Movie. I laughed numerous times at the end of this film, but I'm confused so much more by how a YA romance movie attracted Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino to these roles. I have never been so befuddled by anything related to a movie before, but I only have myself to blame for this. I promise to give this a full review, at least. One thing's for sure, I don't know how this happened and feel like I've killed some of my brain cells. Of course, this all being said, should I review more of these kinds of movies? The answer anyone would give me is yes, and maybe I will, but I don't know if I can take them. This is a very frustrating experience, and the film clocked in at a full two hours, that's difficult for me to accept and tolerate. The Space Between Us has the worst script I have ever seen, the performances in the film are not all that much better.

The Space Between Us begins with a space launch, with the leader of a private company deciding to colonize Mars. The man is Nathaniel Shepard (Gary Oldman), and this is the worst performance of Gary Oldman's career. Nathaniel is a visionary of sorts, but the things that happen on such a journey cannot be predicted. Sarah Elliott (Janet Montgomery) is one of the astronauts on this adventure, it turns out she is pregnant. Nathaniel and everyone involved with the project know the risks, but they do not know whether or not they can do anything about it. In the end, they decide a cover-up is their best option, because the child will have a different bone density due to gravity and nobody really understands what the effects of being born on Mars could mean when someone's never gone to Earth. In the process of childbirth, Sarah dies and Nathaniel is devastated. In the process of deciding to cover up the incident, Nathaniel goes for a walk out of his company and never comes back. I have never seen a more transparent case of a film foreshadowing what's to come. I guess I should expect that from a YA romance movie, but why the hell is Gary Oldman taking part in some trash like this?

Sixteen years later, Sarah's son Gardner (Asa Butterfield) has grown into a smart young man who has never been to Earth, only ever met a few people at the station on Mars. One day, apparently when this film picks back up, he begins to search for information about his mother. In the process of doing so, he discovers a video of his mother and another man, and Gardner has also found the wedding ring, so he wants to find his father. Gardner also has a habit of logging onto chatrooms, and he has a friendship with a foster child from Colorado, her nickname is Tulsa (Britt Robertson) and that's all we get. Tulsa has not had a great life, and Gardner has been spinning her some stories about why he can't leave his house in New York City. Anyway, Gardner also has a mother figure, an astronaut named Kendra (Carla Gugino), and she videos Nathaniel and the new director Tom (B.D. Wong) to tell them that he is too intelligent to stay on Mars forever. Nathaniel tells her that Gardner needs to have surgery and train to be on Earth, which is what happens. So, Gardner comes along. Nathaniel meets him even though he didn't want Gardner on Earth at all, and it turns out that Nathaniel is right, Gardner doesn't belong on Earth. Gardner has an enlarged heart, which he doesn't know, but he desperately wants to find his father. So, he escapes and goes to find Tulsa.

The Space Between Us is a huge trash pile, as I already said. The extent to which it is a trash pile can only truly be discovered by watching this, which you should not. The acting performance from Asa Butterfield is one of the worst I've ever seen, unless you think it's the point for him to act bewildered to this extent, in which case this is the worst script ever. Some of the situations this kid gets in are totally ludicrous. The thing that bothers me the most is that I can see a decent concept trapped in this awful film, but the point is to make a shitty teenage romance movie and therefore that's what the audience gets. I do not have anything positive to say at all. When Gardner nearly drowns to death at the end of the film, I actually laughed. Nothing about this makes any sense at all. The idea he could have an enlarged heart upon arriving on Earth and the idea that these awesome scientists would not know that is mind-boggling to me. The Space Between Us is such a piece of crap. There's a scene where the two are stealing/buying clothes that are too expensive for them, yet they still have money to continue driving across the country. The most ridiculous part isn't that, it's the way this foster kid with a rough life starts singing when she finds a piano in the store. I just, you know, I can't. I don't know what anyone was doing here.

There are scenes far more ridiculous than the ones I've already mentioned. I will continue to list them. One scene where Gardner intends to confront his father ends with him not doing that and walking into the ocean instead. There's another where he trades sunglasses with a bum he finds in some random part of Florida, I have no idea what the deal is with this scene but obviously someone found it amusing and forced the actor to do it. The film is also set in a society with greater technology than we have now, but the cars are the same and people still use dry erase boards. I don't get this. The two leads are also Butterfield and Robertson, I have no intention of misleading anyone here. They are ten years apart in age and Robertson is playing a high schooler, so I really should have known what I was getting into when I turned this on. Another one of my favorite scenes featured Gardner taking the overhead eyewash station in a classroom and turning it on for no reason, soaking himself. How did he get in a classroom? If you want to know about trash like this, all I can tell you is to watch it for yourself. The last thing I'll leave you with is the scene where he collapses in Las Vegas, is told that he's going to die and just powers his way all the way to Santa Barbara. That's around a six hour drive. I don't know what to say about some shit like that, which is why I listed these scenes. The movie is inconsistent and foolish. I can't imagine how anyone could have enjoyed it. This is one of the worst films I have ever seen, but after the two things I watched earlier today, it was a good time to view some trash.

2/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   The Shape of Water
3.   Get Out
4.   Good Time
5.   Mudbound
6.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
7.   Logan
8.   Wonder Woman
9.   The Big Sick
10.   Thor: Ragnarok
11.   Logan Lucky
12.   The Beguiled
13.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
14.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
15.   The Lost City of Z
16.   First They Killed My Father
17.   Darkest Hour
18.   A Ghost Story
19.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
20.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
21.   It
22.   Battle of the Sexes
23.   Okja
24.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
25.   Kong: Skull Island
26.   It Comes at Night
27.   Crown Heights
28.   Split
29.   1922
30.   Personal Shopper
31.   Chuck
32.   Atomic Blonde
33.   Wheelman
34.   The Lego Batman Movie
35.   Megan Leavey
36.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
37.   Menashe
38.   American Made
39.   Beauty and the Beast
40.   Imperial Dreams
41.   Gifted
42.   Murder on the Orient Express
43.   The Zookeeper's Wife
44.   Free Fire
45.   Win It All
46.   The Wall
47.   Life
48.   My Cousin Rachel
49.   Breathe
50.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
51.   Sleight
52.   Alone in Berlin
53.   A United Kingdom
54.   Trespass Against Us
55.   The Mountain Between Us
56.   War Machine
57.   Happy Death Day
58.   Lowriders
59.   Justice League
60.   To the Bone
61.   Wakefield
62.   Bright
63.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
64.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
65.   The Mummy
66.   The Greatest Showman
67.   Rough Night
68.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
69.   Sand Castle
70.   CHiPs
71.   Death Note
72.   The Belko Experiment
73.   The Great Wall
74.   Fist Fight
75.   Snatched
76.   Wilson
77.   Queen of the Desert
78.   The House
79.   Sleepless
80.   All Eyez on Me
81.   The Space Between Us
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on April 29, 2019, 06:57:20 PM
(http://filmfisher.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/new-years-eve.png)

Phantom Thread (2017), directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

When Daniel Day-Lewis announced his retirement, I was probably not the only one who was wishing that he hadn't chosen a film with this description to be his last. After actually watching Phantom Thread, I am perfectly happy that this was his last film. The less said about Phantom Thread the better, so if you haven't seen it yet, scroll to the bottom for my score or turn around. There is absolutely nothing better that Daniel Day-Lewis could have gone out with, at least from where I sit. If I hadn't just seen Avengers: Endgame, this would have been the most pleasing film that I've watched for ages. I really mean that too, for ages. I'm not yet done with 2017 but I'm completely certain that the best two films from that year are decided in my mind, nothing is going to change the way I feel about this subject either. Is this the best movie I've seen in a while? Yes. Not even in dispute actually. With a comment like that I should explain my scores. A ten is rather large, it is because these films are so superior to everything else even if other scores are just a little bit behind. A ten is when I realize that I'm watching a masterpiece well before the conclusion of the film, when every element is in place to please me and does so with aplomb. The perfect film is something that does not often happen, but anyone who has watched a lot of films should know one when they see it. I hopped over to Metacritic and saw that the only critics who gave this a poor review seemed to have completely missed the point of the film. That's another way in which I know I've seen a masterpiece. People don't make films like this one either. Sorry, one person does. I have made a mistake.

One thing I would say about a movie like this is that they are a lot easier to sum up than the rest. The character work is so in-depth, the people involved are laid out for all to see. Phantom Thread is set in London circa 1954, and Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a famed fashion designer. His life's work is to create dresses, he is a very interesting and peculiar fellow. One of our first scenes features him at breakfast in his house, with what seems to be his girlfriend Johanna (Camilla Rutherford) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville). Reynolds has fallen out of love with his girlfriend, that much is clear. Johanna is eventually sent away, but we learn a lot from these moments. Reynolds is in a very low patch, but Cyril is not. Cyril is the guiding force in Reynolds' life, she ensures that he stays on his path and caters to him in every way which she can. After Reynolds is done designing a dress, he heads off to his house in the countryside. On the way there, is is infatuated with a waitress, a foreign woman named Alma (Vicky Krieps). Alma is asked to take Reynolds' breakfast order, and Reynolds plays games that I feel I should borrow and utilize in my own life. They seem to be quite effective anyway. He asks Alma to dinner and she accepts, at which point the courtship continues. It goes very well. I'm not sure I'll borrow this little trick of his.

After dinner, that's when things get strange and when I realized I was in for something quite more interesting than the short description made the film sound. Reynolds takes Alma back to his house and they have a conversation, after which he decides to take her upstairs. When they go upstairs, in comes Cyril, like she was there all along waiting for this. Cyril sits down with a book, and Reynolds gets straight to work taking measurements. I have no idea if Alma expected this, but Cyril jots down the measurements and Reynolds makes a dress for her. They are both infatuated with each other, which leads to Alma moving to London and becoming Reynolds lover and a model for him. This is where the meat of the film comes. We learn that Reynolds is a controlling person who is heavily focused on his routine, which is always disrupted when he has a new girlfriend. If one's mind wanders from here, like mine did, I started connecting the dots of what may have happened to lead to Johanna leaving. This is never, ever outright stated and is something I was thinking alone. Reynolds is extremely difficult to please, and Alma is her own person with her own desires. One thing I will leave you with is a scene where Alma is disgusted by the behavior of someone wearing one of Woodcock's prized gowns. Her motivational speech leads to him going crazy and having Alma take the dress off. Love is in the air from there.

If you're reading this, you've probably already seen the movie, but there are some devilish twists and turns from that point. All of them were entirely unexpected from my end. The events have more and more significance as the film carries on, which is how it should be. Too often the viewer is not given that consistent upward path to events with more emotional weight. This film is a masterpiece, I'm sure some don't agree, but I could not feel more strongly about anything. There's a scene with goddamn buttered toast that slays me. I don't like to make platitudes of a grand scale, I don't like saying a specific film is someone's 'best' work. I think in Paul Thomas Anderson's case that all his works have great artistic merit. I'm not just saying artistic merit, but GREAT merit. This is not his first masterpiece nor will it be the last, do you see what I'm saying here? There are so many scenes in this film that I thought were great that I can't even single one of them out above the rest. The score is one of the best I've ever heard and left me without words, it perfectly encapsulates the time in which the film is set. Jonny Greenwood's use of the piano here fills nearly the entire film with his sound, I do not know how someone conceives this either, but it is a piece of genius. The cinematography is not the best (here I go being a hypocrite) I've seen in one of Anderson's films, but the New Year's Eve scenes are spectacularly filmed. I snagged a picture of one of them to put above.

Phantom Thread is, rightly or wrongly, a film that makes me consider whether or not other films I hold in great standing are hokum. I'm trying not to think that, but when I see performances like the three in this film, I'm not sure what to say. This is another case of Daniel Day-Lewis crafting a unique character that I am unsure exists in another piece of film. Vicky Krieps, I will say, actually does an equal job of this. How? I don't really have an answer to that. You know how good another actor has to be in order to be DDL's equal? I think the scene in which this is best encapsulated is the wedding scene I have already mentioned. Deconstructing these scene presents these two people to be massive dickheads, but it's essential to understanding the characters. Reynolds is a weak person who is in need of being in control, he has surrounded himself with women for a reason, because he needs a mother figure after the death of his own. Alma is a much more strong willed person, she has a more difficult time accepting that this is how Reynolds is. He is a person of routine for a reason and is in need of being catered to. The scene where Reynolds has a dream lays all this stuff out there for anyone to see, but the way this film is directed obligates you to do some legwork yourself. Art is open to interpretation and this is certainly one of those cases.

If you read this even though you haven't seen it, you've gotten what you've asked for because when I see something like this I cannot keep spoilers to myself. The film has an odd authenticity that I cannot figure out how to put my finger on exactly. The house is very tall and has well defined rooms, but beyond that, when Alma gets flustered she responds in a certain way and falls over her words. I would like to know what goes into making something like Phantom Thread, I will have to search that out at some point. I know that a lot of people think that certain directors tick boxes to make what constitutes a "good movie," but I don't really believe in that process. In attempting to do that, and I do think that some directors do, I notice films that inexplicably fall flat as a result of doing things that do not come naturally to the director. What makes a great film is when someone has a vision in mind and achieves it without attempting to force anything the actors are incapable of making the audience believe in. I really wish I'd seen this in a theater because the score and cinematography was that strong, but on some level I understand why a person wouldn't care for this film. I don't know why you wouldn't, but I do see this work as being a problem for some who can't understand the relationships in question. The problem is that I found everything was exquisite and therefore I absolutely do not agree.

The best films in 2017, of which I would say there were two, bring something unique to the table. I would say though that the bombast of Dunkirk only slightly wins out. To create a unique narrative in the midst of that historical event, and for me to not find any real weakness, I think that says a lot. Dunkirk also does a great job disorienting the audience and disposing of characters as need be, which retains tension throughout. The tension in Phantom Thread, great as it is, is not quite as strong even though the technical aspects are fantastic. I also think Dunkirk has its own fantastic technical achievements. It would take something to absolutely blow me out of my seat in order for me to think anything from the last two years is as good as these two films. Yeah, better than Roma.

10/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Phantom Thread
3.   The Shape of Water
4.   Get Out
5.   Good Time
6.   Mudbound
7.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
8.   Logan
9.   Wonder Woman
10.   The Big Sick
11.   Thor: Ragnarok
12.   Logan Lucky
13.   The Beguiled
14.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
15.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
16.   The Lost City of Z
17.   First They Killed My Father
18.   Darkest Hour
19.   A Ghost Story
20.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
21.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
22.   It
23.   Battle of the Sexes
24.   Okja
25.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
26.   Kong: Skull Island
27.   It Comes at Night
28.   Crown Heights
29.   Split
30.   1922
31.   Personal Shopper
32.   Chuck
33.   Atomic Blonde
34.   Wheelman
35.   The Lego Batman Movie
36.   Megan Leavey
37.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
38.   Menashe
39.   American Made
40.   Beauty and the Beast
41.   Imperial Dreams
42.   Gifted
43.   Murder on the Orient Express
44.   The Zookeeper's Wife
45.   Free Fire
46.   Win It All
47.   The Wall
48.   Life
49.   My Cousin Rachel
50.   Breathe
51.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
52.   Sleight
53.   Alone in Berlin
54.   A United Kingdom
55.   Trespass Against Us
56.   The Mountain Between Us
57.   War Machine
58.   Happy Death Day
59.   Lowriders
60.   Justice League
61.   To the Bone
62.   Wakefield
63.   Bright
64.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
65.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
66.   The Mummy
67.   The Greatest Showman
68.   Rough Night
69.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
70.   Sand Castle
71.   CHiPs
72.   Death Note
73.   The Belko Experiment
74.   The Great Wall
75.   Fist Fight
76.   Snatched
77.   Wilson
78.   Queen of the Desert
79.   The House
80.   Sleepless
81.   All Eyez on Me
82.   The Space Between Us
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 01, 2019, 06:08:47 PM
(https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2014/05/godzilla_follo_wb/lead_720_405.jpg)

Godzilla (2014), directed by Gareth Edwards

Is Godzilla even a movie about Godzilla? That's what came to mind once this was over, and I found that I had an extremely large problem with the way this was directed. Before that, I should talk about my own Godzilla experience. I cannot be the only one who went to see Godzilla at a drive-in in 1998, and this was not something I have positive feelings of. I thought the ending of that film was ridiculously stupid, but it had even greater problems. Chiefly among them was that there was no plot whatsoever, but the cast was also absolute garbage. I decided after that movie that I didn't really care about Godzilla and would never see another Godzilla movie if they made one. The problem is that I was a kid and because I was a kid, I wasn't telling the truth. I wanted to see more Godzilla movies, and as I got older I watched a few more. The thing is, 2014's Godzilla is the only film since that 1998 trash to be made entirely by an American studio. I absolutely demand more of these, so hopefully they continue to make money here and continue to be made. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is coming out around the end of this month, so with that in mind, I had to finally commit to watching this Godzilla entry. What I thought was that it was alright. These films, such as they are, need to be built around monsters instead of around the people who come into contact with those monsters. I will be the one to say this fails in that regard. It is still alright and could have been a lot worse. If you want to know exactly how much worse, just watch the film from 1998.

The way this film tells it, in 1954 Godzilla was lured to an island in the South Pacific in an attempt to kill him with a nuclear bomb. It doesn't take a genius to figure out they failed. We move forward to 1999, with Monarch, a secret organization that investigates these sorts of monsters, looking into a collapsed uranium mine in the Philippines. Monarch's remit is to hunt and study massive organisms, and Godzilla presents the idea that Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Graham (Sally Hawkins) are their lead scientists. While investigating the mine, they find two giant spores. One of them is dormant and the other has hatched and made its way out to the ocean, which brings us over to another country. In Japan, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is the supervisor of a nuclear plant in the fictionalized large city of Janjira. Joe and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) have a child who for some reason is named Ford, and Sandra also works at the power plant. Sandra and some other technicians are sent into the reactor by Joe, but there's a problem. An earthquake of some kind breaches the reactor, which leaves everyone unable to make it to the blast doors guarding against radioactive exposure. Sandra dies right in front of Joe, but that's not all that happens to the plant. All of a sudden the place begins to collapse, the entire city becomes a quarantined zone, and it's time to move forward to our next part.

Of course we move forward another 15 years to 2014, which is when this film was released. Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has joined the Navy and is an explosive ordinance disposal officer, which in short can best be described as a guy who turns shit off. He returns from his tour of duty to his family in San Francisco, his young son Sam and wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen). Unfortunately, his father has been detained in Tokyo for trespassing in the quarantine zone and Ford must travel there. After he arrives, he perceives that his dad has lost his mind, but he's very wrong. Joe has a need to find out the cause of the nuclear meltdown, and he's able to get Ford to come along with him to retrieve some data he left in their old house. Upon arrival, they find that the zone is not contaminated by radiation, but they are detained again and brought to a facility that is in the ruins of the plant. The facility is exactly what I expected. There is a large creature of some kind in the middle of it, and with no radiation in what should be a quarantine zone after a meltdown worse than Chernobyl, it's obvious that the creature is doing something with that. For whatever reason, Dr. Serizawa does not understand this and the thing has been emitting electro-magnetic pulses. It's eventually going to wake up, but Serizawa has always had a theory about Godzilla, whose existence has remained secret. He thinks Godzilla is supposed to keep the Earth relatively safe. We will soon find out.

As I said, this film focuses too much on humans, but Godzilla: King of the Monsters appears to be giving us literally the exact opposite of that. In the end, we'll see which I approach I liked more. The MUTO is a pretty nice creation, but I was really feeling the length of this movie around the middle portions. I do not believe Godzilla appears on screen until a full hour in. One may be able to take that approach with one of the characters in an Avengers movie, but this is fucking Godzilla and I do not think that's acceptable. There is a positive to this approach in the sense that it made the battles and appearance of Godzilla feel more important, but again, I don't think that's a particularly good idea. The battles themselves are more than important, they're excellent to watch. I also got a lot of enjoyment from seeing the MUTO destroy everything in their wake, or from Godzilla emerging from the ocean. I don't really understand the logic of that Hawaii scene after the same thing didn't happen in San Francisco, but this isn't a movie where you're supposed to think about stuff like that. You are supposed to only think about the monsters, but the presentation Gareth Edwards has given us is odd in this way. I did find some of the scenes where he would show media coverage of the monster battle to be nicely amusing even if they disrupted the pace of the film.

I'm still looking forward to Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I do think Godzilla was a bad step of sorts. The film isn't bad, but the decision to focus on the human characters so much is an egregious error only saved by the kaiju battles everyone waits so long for. The director obviously thought people would care about his cast, but it turned out that I didn't. I do not need the human reaction to Godzilla, maybe this makes me weird, but I want what I want. The scientific parts of the storyline are acceptable although I always question the intelligence of the characters who believed things that didn't turn out to be true. Makes me laugh. The problem with the human side of the story is that Bryan Cranston is doing literally everything he can to save it, and when he disappears and you see his intensity gone from performances in front of you, the film suffers. I can barely give this a passing grade in fact. I don't know why studios allow directors to make films like this one, or rather I don't know why studios think audiences want to see human cast members in these kinds of movies. I largely want to see monsters killing shit and I want to see a smaller focus on humans, who still belong in the film. There just shouldn't be so many of them.

6/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 01, 2019, 06:26:10 PM
(https://www.tampabay.com/storyimage/HI/20170209/ARTICLE/302099405/AR/0/AR-302099405.jpg&MaxW=1200&Q=66)

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017), directed by Chad Stahelski

You know how good a sequel has to be for me to instantly believe I overrated the first movie? I've actually gone back to change the score and that isn't something I'm really in the habit of doing. When it comes to a movie like John Wick: Chapter 2, one instantly compares the action scenes between the sequel and its predecessor. The performances and the story actually do not matter that much, but rather the journey of the character itself and what they have to go through. I am fully cognizant of the fact that in effect that's the story, but for some reason I just don't entirely see it that way. I have had the pleasure of seeing a lot of similar revenge films in the last year. Some of them bring something unique to the table and others didn't, but as far as the ones with copious murder go, the John Wick films stand out above the rest. John Wick: Chapter 2 simply has the most unique action scenes of the bunch. The way I felt while watching this was that I didn't want it to end, I wanted to see how the film would continue and how nicely I would be surprised. Eventually, I remembered that John Wick: Chapter 3 is coming out in a few weeks and I was able to forget about that. I really can't wait to check that out, already bought my ticket, but for now my mind cannot wander much. The blatant scene with Neo and Morpheus fucking made this movie for me, if it wasn't already made well before that. But, if you need that hook to be interested, it's there and waiting for you.

John Wick: Chapter 2 is set four days after the first film, which is interesting and father good. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is attempting to get his stolen Mach 1 Mustang back from a chop shop, which is owned by Abram Tarasov (Peter Stormare), the brother of the villain from the previous film. I will spare you the details for the purposes of enjoyment, and because it doesn't really matter. Once John is done, he visits Aurelio (John Leguizamo) once again, and Aurelio is to repair his car. I know without doubt this must factor into the third film somehow. After that visit, John cements his weapons and coins back into the ground, and presumably that's it. That's not it. John is visited by Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), an Italian mafia boss who reveals some important things to us. When John completed his task that allowed him to be normal again, he asked Santino for help. Santino helped him, but he also swore John to a marker. A marker in the world of John Wick is a blood oath medallion, a promise he cannot break, and there are consequences if he does. The main consequence is death. He is simply not allowed to break this oath, but he claims that he is retired. The events in the first film show that he is not, but John asks Santino to leave anyway. Santino decides to blow up John's house with a grenade launcher, so he has nothing that he started the first film with. All of it is gone.

Of course, that having happened, John travels to the Continental Hotel. He drops his dog off with the concierge, Charon (Lance Reddick), and heads upstairs to talk with Winston (Ian McShane). Winston, as you know, is the owner of the hotel and controls a large part of this assassin game. He tells John that if he rejects the marker, as I already said, he will be killed. There are two rules that cannot be broken. No blood at the Continental, and every marker has to be honored. John then accepts his fate and meets Santino, who wants John to kill his sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini). Gianna controls a stake in the game and has a seat at the High Table, which is a council of crime lords Santino wishes to sit on. Gianna inherited the seat when their father died, and Santino is jealous. Santino sends John to Rome, and unbeknownst to John, he is followed by Ares (Ruby Rose), the mute bodyguard of Mr. D'Antonio. Upon arrival, the stage is set for mayhem. John has to infiltrate the party where Gianna is being given her seat at the high table and assassinate her. Gianna is also protected by Cassian (Common), her bodyguard. Everyone takes part in this little game as this film makes more clear. It also turns out that Ares is following John so she can kill him, because after all, Santino must take revenge against his sister's killer. Funny how all this works.

The way Mr. Stahelski is able to weave these action scenes together from one to the next is something I really appreciate, but I found that the beginning of the film dragged a bit. I think that's a natural reaction when the film starts off so nicely, but John Wick: Chapter 2 is an awesome film. The scenes once John arrives back in New York are so excellent, I have no words for these. I don't particularly care for the creative decision that ends the film, but knowing there is a third chapter and that the chapter appears to be so good, I don't really care. There are so many good things here. Shall I list them? I don't think I will this time, but my favorite sequence by far was the series when the open contract on John goes out. That shit was everything to me. I think what I've learned from watching John Wick: Chapter 2 is that I want more creative action scenes rather than the slow down and built up story that exists in John Wick. The second entry is a hell of a lot more violent, more stylish, more colorful, and more quickly paced. This isn't the best shoot 'em up I've ever seen, but it rates highly enough that if I was making a list, I would have John Wick: Chapter 2 on it. That's the highest of high praise. I went down a list of my IMDB ratings and found that the film would almost certainly rank in my top 20. That's very high praise indeed, but I'm not a list maker and I'm not going to create a list, so forget about that. John Wick: Chapter 2 also may not be in my top 20 for long so that would be a pointless exercise, I have too much to watch.

I did see that Lionsgate was considering making a series about the Continental Hotel. I don't know what other people think about this, but from my point of view this is a good idea. Less is more, that's certainly true, but there are so many stories to tell within this world they've created. The lore with the blood oaths, the coins, the contracts, I think all that stuff is something I'd like to see explored more. Nearly every time I see an article about a studio turning a film franchise into a television franchise, I cringe as hard as I possibly can. This, Star Wars, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe are the only times I haven't! So, that's the kind of quality I guess we're talking about here. I'm going to give this film a rating it deserves because I loved it, I will not sugarcoat anything. I know everyone has their own opinions about these two films and which one is better, but it's clear where I stand. If someone told me that a movie was created where the underworld was supposedly as strong as it is in John Wick: Chapter 2, I would have laughed at you, but this is very nicely done. I can only hope that when they make the television series, they adhere to the same principles. The scenes that really work, I don't think they would cost all that much money to make on television. In any case, Lionsgate mostly makes trash now and would really need this to be good, so I think they'd try their best. I really want to see it.

8/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Phantom Thread
3.   The Shape of Water
4.   Get Out
5.   Good Time
6.   Mudbound
7.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
8.   Logan
9.   Wonder Woman
10.   The Big Sick
11.   Thor: Ragnarok
12.   Logan Lucky
13.   The Beguiled
14.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
15.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
16.   John Wick: Chapter 2
17.   The Lost City of Z
18.   First They Killed My Father
19.   Darkest Hour
20.   A Ghost Story
21.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
22.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
23.   It
24.   Battle of the Sexes
25.   Okja
26.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
27.   Kong: Skull Island
28.   It Comes at Night
29.   Crown Heights
30.   Split
31.   1922
32.   Personal Shopper
33.   Chuck
34.   Atomic Blonde
35.   Wheelman
36.   The Lego Batman Movie
37.   Megan Leavey
38.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
39.   Menashe
40.   American Made
41.   Beauty and the Beast
42.   Imperial Dreams
43.   Gifted
44.   Murder on the Orient Express
45.   The Zookeeper's Wife
46.   Free Fire
47.   Win It All
48.   The Wall
49.   Life
50.   My Cousin Rachel
51.   Breathe
52.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
53.   Sleight
54.   Alone in Berlin
55.   A United Kingdom
56.   Trespass Against Us
57.   The Mountain Between Us
58.   War Machine
59.   Happy Death Day
60.   Lowriders
61.   Justice League
62.   To the Bone
63.   Wakefield
64.   Bright
65.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
66.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
67.   The Mummy
68.   The Greatest Showman
69.   Rough Night
70.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
71.   Sand Castle
72.   CHiPs
73.   Death Note
74.   The Belko Experiment
75.   The Great Wall
76.   Fist Fight
77.   Snatched
78.   Wilson
79.   Queen of the Desert
80.   The House
81.   Sleepless
82.   All Eyez on Me
83.   The Space Between Us
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: cobainwasmurdered on May 02, 2019, 07:12:48 AM
I'd be fine with a TV show. I thought JW2 was a step down from the first movie personally as it felt a bit too selfaware but was still a fun movie.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 02, 2019, 06:01:45 PM
(http://d279m997dpfwgl.cloudfront.net/wp/2017/07/0725_maudie01-1000x667.jpg)

Maudie (2017), directed by Aisling Walsh

After watching what I watched in the last few days, I made a decision to swing as hard as possible away from those films as I could. This decision turned out to be successful. One thing I was thinking about the other day is that Canadian entertainment seems to have a major stigma. The works most film buffs talk about out of Canada are filmed by Quebecois and Native filmmakers. Fairly or unfairly, the rest of the provinces either produce American works (British Columbia), nothing at all, or things that are derided and called inferior. I'm not an expert on Canadian cinema and won't claim to be one, but I do read what other people say and that's what I've based this on. So, with that in mind, why did I choose to watch this? Ethan Hawke is a good enough reason, the film has a decent Metascore, and it seemed like it was very different than anything else I've watched in a long time. That's often how I justify a lot of the things I decide to review here, and I don't watch anything without reviewing it. There are some tonal issues with this film, I found that to be quite clear, but ultimately I thought Sally Hawkins put on another great performance. That wins out when it needs to, and that's enough for me. But what if it wasn't Sally Hawkins playing this role? What if an inferior actress was in the slot with the responsibility of carrying the film? That sounds like it would have been an utter disaster from top to bottom.

Maudie takes place in rural Nova Scotia, and is focused on the life of a Canadian artist, Maud Lewis (Sally Hawkins). Maud made paintings that I could best describe as similar to those my mom made when she was younger, the resemblance was uncanny. Of course, Maud came first and was born in 1903. Maudie starts off with Maud at a young age, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and making her way through life anyway. She lives with her Aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose) because she is not able to take care of herself. Her brother Charles (Zachary Bennett) pays Ida to take care of his sister, but this is the 1930s and I don't know how much money that is. Enough to matter? That isn't made clear. Maud learns from Charles that he has sold their family home when their parents died as it was not left to Maud. He pocketed the proceeds and Maud was upset. Maud then goes out one night to a nightclub in their very small town, and there's a reason for Ida's anger that we do not yet learn until later in the film. But, as I said, Ida was angry and didn't want Maud going out. Eventually Maud has enough and looks to leave with any chance she gets. Along comes a chance one day at the local general store, when the local fish peddler Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) walks in and posts an advertisement for a maid on the board.

Everett is clearly very gruff and nobody in their right mind would take this job, but nobody thinks Maud is in her right mind. She also wants the hell out of her aunt's house. She takes Everett's ad and goes to his very small house, which isn't connected to the electrical grid in any way, is very dirty, and needs a massive cleaning job. That's what Maud is there for, but there are obvious limitations on what she may be able to do. Everett is a piece of shit and doesn't give a fuck about what she may be able to do. She can do it or leave, simple as that. There's also some scandal in the town because Maud has moved in and the two are not married, which as you know was a bad thing in those days. There was gossip that Maud was Everett's sex slave, which is pretty ridiculous. Anyway, Maud starts painting things once she gets more and more settled in, which leads to an opportunity. Sandra (Kari Matchett) is one of Everett's customers and she'd bought fish from him, but Everett has forgotten because he doesn't write anything down. Sandra is from New York City, but she loves Maud's paintings and wants her to start making things for her to buy. Everett likes this because now more money is coming in, but Maud has some things she wants to. Like, for example, to marry this guy even though he sucks ass.

The film's decision to show so much of Maud's marriage even though her husband is abusive, even though he eventually comes around, is something I just don't understand. Maudie lacks a little bit of imagination as a result of that, the film should have been about the creativity of Maud Lewis and her inspiration for painting. There's not a lot of that here I'm afraid. I have a major issue here because I strongly believe this is a poorly made film yet there are things I like about it. This is strange. The reason I say this is poorly made is because we're supposed to be pleased with the end of the film even though Everett was a very abusive cunt. I was not. I also stuck around to watch this for a bit of the credits and I saw that there was a video of the real Maud and Everett. This was a big mistake. Everett looks nothing like Ethan Hawke whatsoever and that blows a hole through everything I was thinking as this film went on. I'm also curious to know if Everett was exactly this abusive. There is, I believe, no way to know. The film loses its way when one starts thinking of the details in creating a cohesive, likable motion picture. They are lacking here.

On the other hand, the film does boast two very strong things and those are Hawke and Hawkins' performances. No real surprise there. Hawke's character here is a real nasty fucker, and even though this isn't a role I've seen him in before, I still buy it. Sally Hawkins really did her best though, I have seen old and frail looking women before and the performance was more like a likeness. This was uncanny, entirely believable, and her character was very sympathetic. Maudie is one of those films I'm surprised was even made, and I'm only just going to give this a passing grade. It is missing some of the details and notes that I think are necessary in making a film about an artist, but the two lead performances are excellent. I saw a thing while looking at the Wikipedia page about how Nova Scotians were angry this was filmed in Newfoundland, and I'm not sure I've ever heard anything more Canadian than that. Contrary to what some would think, my problem with Maudie isn't the subject matter (meaning art), it's the presentation that just doesn't do it at all for me. I also don't find much redemption for abusive husbands in films like this one, so that's where I'm at. I really hate that shit and find it sometimes to feel like we're supposed to understand where the abuser is coming from. Well, I do not.

6/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Phantom Thread
3.   The Shape of Water
4.   Get Out
5.   Good Time
6.   Mudbound
7.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
8.   Logan
9.   Wonder Woman
10.   The Big Sick
11.   Thor: Ragnarok
12.   Logan Lucky
13.   The Beguiled
14.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
15.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
16.   John Wick: Chapter 2
17.   The Lost City of Z
18.   First They Killed My Father
19.   Darkest Hour
20.   A Ghost Story
21.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
22.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
23.   It
24.   Battle of the Sexes
25.   Okja
26.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
27.   Kong: Skull Island
28.   It Comes at Night
29.   Crown Heights
30.   Split
31.   1922
32.   Personal Shopper
33.   Chuck
34.   Atomic Blonde
35.   Wheelman
36.   The Lego Batman Movie
37.   Megan Leavey
38.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
39.   Menashe
40.   American Made
41.   Beauty and the Beast
42.   Imperial Dreams
43.   Gifted
44.   Murder on the Orient Express
45.   The Zookeeper's Wife
46.   Free Fire
47.   Win It All
48.   The Wall
49.   Life
50.   My Cousin Rachel
51.   Breathe
52.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
53.   Maudie
54.   Sleight
55.   Alone in Berlin
56.   A United Kingdom
57.   Trespass Against Us
58.   The Mountain Between Us
59.   War Machine
60.   Happy Death Day
61.   Lowriders
62.   Justice League
63.   To the Bone
64.   Wakefield
65.   Bright
66.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
67.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
68.   The Mummy
69.   The Greatest Showman
70.   Rough Night
71.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
72.   Sand Castle
73.   CHiPs
74.   Death Note
75.   The Belko Experiment
76.   The Great Wall
77.   Fist Fight
78.   Snatched
79.   Wilson
80.   Queen of the Desert
81.   The House
82.   Sleepless
83.   All Eyez on Me
84.   The Space Between Us


The line of what people should watch on that list, by the way, is above and not including Beauty and the Beast. Below that line is entirely dependent upon how you feel about the genre or subject. You should absolutely not watch anything below Sand Castle.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 05, 2019, 09:29:18 AM
(https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/walking-out.jpeg?w=780)

Walking Out (2017), directed by Alex and Andrew Smith

My decision to watch Walking Out was two-pronged. I wanted to watch another winter survival movie because I had not done so in a few months. Not the worst idea in the world. The other reason I turned this on was because it was very critically acclaimed. I am not so high on the film, but I did like it and can say that I would recommend giving this a look. This is the kind of movie there isn't much to, hoping that the viewer sees the film as a case of less being more. Less is more but there are also times when things are too much less, when the plot of the film does need bolstering and movies with a minimalist approach don't bring more to the table. The thing that separates Walking Out from The Revenant is exactly that, but those things also cost a hell of a lot of money. The producers of Walking Out obviously did not have that, so I'll give them full credit for making a good movie on what had to be a small budget. I think part of the reason I don't think this is a great film is because I found one of the two characters to be an utterly annoying simp for around half the film. Is that wrong of me? Probably. There's a unique opportunity for a story to be told in this space, I am going to explain how it was done below. That's the part that really got to me, where the film has the most power.

David (Josh Wiggins) is a young boy who is sent to Montana to spend some time with his father during winter. When he's flying in on a plane, we see him playing video games on his cell phone. Upon arriving, we meet his father Cal (Matt Bomer), a man who hunts in the mountains and lives off the grid. He has expectations of his son and they are going to be followed. David is just not like that though. He wants to play around on his phone, but Cal isn't going to allow that. Kids the age of David, and particularly people in his generation, just don't care about nature or much of anything beyond their limited worldview. It is hard to understand how Cal created a child like this when he's a man of the wilderness, but everyone has to get to the wilderness by joining the world. That kind of thing is bought and earned. This part is left up to your imagination. Anyway, the first goal is for David to kill a quail. This is a complete and utter failure, he's inaccurate from any and every distance. This starts to make his dad angry. When they go back to the cabin, they have to share a bed and David plays games on his phone, which leads to Cal threatening to smash it. The relationship between these two is more primal than a normal father-son relationship because the father in this case is not normal.

After this first night, Cal has a plan for David's trip and thinks he knows how this will go well. He has been tracking a moose for some time and wants to take David up to the mountains to hunt and kill it. Then, they will eat it. David does not understand the point of this and a lot of people his age wouldn't either. While up in the mountains, Cal is going to explain life to his son as you'd expect. They also left David's phone at the cabin, so that's done and dusted. Cal has also done things that are significant to him, but not his son. One of those things is for him to give his father's rifle to David. There's more to it than simply explaining life to his son though, the ultimate question David wants to know is what his grandfather Clyde (Bill Pullman) was like. What that leads to is a conversation where David asks Cal what his first kill was like, and while I'm not going to say anything about that, these flashbacks are quite effective. Of course, as any movie like this goes, something bad happens and the title gives it away, the two must walk out of the wilderness and find help.

I think the praise for Walking Out was a bit overboard, but I do think this is a good movie. The cinematographer had only worked on television shows, which is a bit strange considering how nicely this is put together. The shots of a wilderness landscape are always going to look good in fairness, but there's also nice bits of operation and scene structuring. The thing that kept me engaged with the film is that we have a millennial who can't let go of their phone doing things that they're completely unaccustomed to. There's some real value in that aspect of the story, but at the same time I was having difficulty with the incompetence of the young adult. The screenplay is also nice, but I think the flashbacks lead to the story becoming a little disjointed. I don't have an answer as to what could have been done to make that better. I will also admit it is nice to see another movie with only a scant few cast members. The last one I saw like that, I can't talk about it because it debuted earlier this year and I presume nobody here has seen it yet. It would also spoil the film.

This is the kind of movie that looks to check off certain boxes, because it's a father-son coming of age drama. It hits pretty much all of them, but the story doesn't resonate more strongly with me because I never went to do this with my dad. You know what my dad did when he wanted to bond with me? We went to the movies, or we went to see the Lakers play the Spurs, or took a trip to Six Flags. Shit like that. I'm not a product of divorce and have been able to spend plenty of time with both my parents, so I'm privileged in that way. Because of those things, the story doesn't hit as strongly with me as it may have with others. The ending of the film is quite good though, I will tell you that. I sort of expected the ending to be what it was, but without having seen it before, there's still impact in the moment. But, I think that overall, this is more for people who have gone hunting with their dad. I am not one of them.

7/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Phantom Thread
3.   The Shape of Water
4.   Get Out
5.   Good Time
6.   Mudbound
7.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
8.   Logan
9.   Wonder Woman
10.   The Big Sick
11.   Thor: Ragnarok
12.   Logan Lucky
13.   The Beguiled
14.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
15.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
16.   John Wick: Chapter 2
17.   The Lost City of Z
18.   First They Killed My Father
19.   Darkest Hour
20.   A Ghost Story
21.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
22.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
23.   It
24.   Battle of the Sexes
25.   Okja
26.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
27.   Kong: Skull Island
28.   It Comes at Night
29.   Crown Heights
30.   Split
31.   1922
32.   Personal Shopper
33.   Chuck
34.   Atomic Blonde
35.   Wheelman
36.   The Lego Batman Movie
37.   Megan Leavey
38.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
39.   Menashe
40.   Walking Out
41.   American Made
42.   Beauty and the Beast
43.   Imperial Dreams
44.   Gifted
45.   Murder on the Orient Express
46.   The Zookeeper's Wife
47.   Free Fire
48.   Win It All
49.   The Wall
50.   Life
51.   My Cousin Rachel
52.   Breathe
53.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
54.   Maudie
55.   Sleight
56.   Alone in Berlin
57.   A United Kingdom
58.   Trespass Against Us
59.   The Mountain Between Us
60.   War Machine
61.   Happy Death Day
62.   Lowriders
63.   Justice League
64.   To the Bone
65.   Wakefield
66.   Bright
67.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
68.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
69.   The Mummy
70.   The Greatest Showman
71.   Rough Night
72.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
73.   Sand Castle
74.   CHiPs
75.   Death Note
76.   The Belko Experiment
77.   The Great Wall
78.   Fist Fight
79.   Snatched
80.   Wilson
81.   Queen of the Desert
82.   The House
83.   Sleepless
84.   All Eyez on Me
85.   The Space Between Us
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 05, 2019, 06:18:42 PM
(https://tnuqq21kt870t8n1egkbrmbr-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ghost-in-the-shell-1.jpg)

Ghost in the Shell (2017), directed by Rupert Sanders

What happens when you take a property that people want to see adapted, do a few controversial things along the way and give the reins to a shitty director? You get a box office bomb, and that's what they deserved. It is somewhat incredible that Rupert Sanders have been given the opportunity to direct two blockbuster films based on absolutely nothing at all. It appears that he directed some commercials and that's it. Imagine that. Of course, this was a mistake and it doesn't make sense, which is reflected in the box office of both Ghost in the Shell and Snow White and the Huntsman, which I have forgotten even existed. I never watched the latter either, probably never will. Of course, the white washing controversy was a big deal at the time this was made, but I am convinced that was not the reason Ghost in the Shell bombed at the box office. There are so many different things I can think of and I'll talk about them later, but what I really want to say is that people in Hollywood need to give more care to who they give these potential franchises to. We've seen this time and time again where millions of dollars are flushed down the toilet because someone was unable to execute an interesting idea. The things in Ghost in the Shell are intriguing ideas, but none of them are followed up on whatsoever. The focus is instead on the Hollywood ideas prominent in the story, and it turns out this is a major problem.

Sometime in the future, in a city never named and a country never spoken of (which is peak lazy), humans are augmented with cybernetics in order to improve the attributes they need to improve. Hanka Robotics is a developer of these things, and they have started a project with the intent of learning how to place a human brain inside of an artificial body. Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) is the sole survivor of a terrorist attack, picked up from her refugee boat on the way into this unnamed country. Her designer is Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche), and Dr. Ouelet's boss is a man named Cutter (Peter Ferdinando). Cutter wants Killian to become a member of an anti-terrorist police force called Section 9, the reason being that her brain inside of that robotic body is the way of the future. We fast forward a year and Killian is now a Major in said police force, her partners are Batou (Pilou Asbaek) and Togusa (Chin Han). Their chief is Mr. Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano), who speaks Japanese and everyone is able to understand him. Some of these things aren't explained when they should be, but I digress. The opening of the film is about Killian and the glitches she has in her system that lead to visions, or at least Ouelet says these are glitches. Of course they aren't. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this medication she has to put in her neck is also not medication that allows her to use this body. If you bought that at all, wise up.

The first mission we see Killian on is at a business conference for Hanka Robotics. There is a diplomatic delegation from Africa at the conference, and we are shown moments of terrorists planning an attack. Among those terrorists is a robotic geisha, which I posted a picture of because I thought it was cool. The geisha starts murdering hostages, which leads to Killian putting it down. After that's done, her team learns that the geisha was hacked by an unknown being called Kuze (Michael Pitt). This leads to Killian doing a "deep dive" into an AI, which leads to it trying to hack her, and this is all pretty stupid. Anyway, this hack leads to the team being led to a nightclub, which has some cool stuff in there. Cutter is mad that Killian is being endangered in this way because that's his pet project, and he threatens to have the unit, known as Section 9, shut down. It turns out that Kuze is attempting to kill people who worked on a specific project that he was part of, and if you want to know more, watch this stupid movie yourself. There isn't anything else I can tell you!

Ghost in the Shell is dead set on playing out all these Hollywood cliches with Killian, where she does things unwittingly that she is told mean something else. The most obvious example is with the medication she puts in her neck. I absolutely hate this kind of shit, I don't find there to be any value in it at all. The road to robotic self-discovery is usually great, but the medication that is a memory suppressor, and the existential questions in this film are the wrong ones. The juice isn't in what the robot/person was doing before the events in the film, but what makes them different than everyone else. Their personalities and augmentations have their own purpose, but this is not explored. Ghost in the Shell is a generic film as a whole even though it does have some strengths. The concept in the anime film sounds a hell of a lot better to me, and before anyone asks, I am not going to watch it. If one is to present a film with as many technological matters as Ghost in the Shell, I demand the producers really lean into things. There could have been questions about why the person's brain was taken and put into the body and face of someone of a different race. That's one way to deal with whitewashing.

Part of the reason I didn't like Ghost in the Shell is because I've been watching Westworld, which goes so far beyond and above this concept. The difference in the mystery and intrigue between the two works is too large to put into words, but I think the greatest thing is that one is about the search for one's soul, while this is about trying to find what someone was before these events. I am of the opinion that the latter does not matter. The lone thing I thought Ghost in the Shell brought to the table was that of visual brilliance. The presentation of Tokyo, or wherever this is supposed to be, is nothing short of excellent. I love those super-futuristic city landscapes, I would like to see even more of them. The problem is that the cinematographer is not equally up to par. When at ground level, where the characters are walking through hallways or inside of buildings, this feels like a SyFy television show. I was floored by this until I saw that the cinematographer for Ghost in the Shell did this year's Serenity as well. That makes all the sense in the world! The performances, unfortunately, they're nothing. The looks of the characters also bring something to the table, which is again a matter of visual brilliance. The production design when not in those hallways is off the charts.

On some level, I found myself thinking that this movie was for young teenagers. There isn't much here to dispute that notion, but I thought Ghost in the Shell was not good at all. The villain concept is also not the same as the description of the manga character. There is no element of Kuze being the leader of anything at all. Ghost in the Shell is lacking in details, the story brings nothing to the table, and that's why the film didn't make any money. I didn't find anything here particularly enjoyable at all.

5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Phantom Thread
3.   The Shape of Water
4.   Get Out
5.   Good Time
6.   Mudbound
7.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
8.   Logan
9.   Wonder Woman
10.   The Big Sick
11.   Thor: Ragnarok
12.   Logan Lucky
13.   The Beguiled
14.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
15.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
16.   John Wick: Chapter 2
17.   The Lost City of Z
18.   First They Killed My Father
19.   Darkest Hour
20.   A Ghost Story
21.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
22.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
23.   It
24.   Battle of the Sexes
25.   Okja
26.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
27.   Kong: Skull Island
28.   It Comes at Night
29.   Crown Heights
30.   Split
31.   1922
32.   Personal Shopper
33.   Chuck
34.   Atomic Blonde
35.   Wheelman
36.   The Lego Batman Movie
37.   Megan Leavey
38.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
39.   Menashe
40.   Walking Out
41.   American Made
42.   Beauty and the Beast
43.   Imperial Dreams
44.   Gifted
45.   Murder on the Orient Express
46.   The Zookeeper's Wife
47.   Free Fire
48.   Win It All
49.   The Wall
50.   Life
51.   My Cousin Rachel
52.   Breathe
53.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
54.   Maudie
55.   Sleight
56.   Alone in Berlin
57.   A United Kingdom
58.   Trespass Against Us
59.   The Mountain Between Us
60.   War Machine
61.   Happy Death Day
62.   Lowriders
63.   Justice League
64.   To the Bone
65.   Ghost in the Shell
66.   Wakefield
67.   Bright
68.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
69.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
70.   The Mummy
71.   The Greatest Showman
72.   Rough Night
73.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
74.   Sand Castle
75.   CHiPs
76.   Death Note
77.   The Belko Experiment
78.   The Great Wall
79.   Fist Fight
80.   Snatched
81.   Wilson
82.   Queen of the Desert
83.   The House
84.   Sleepless
85.   All Eyez on Me
86.   The Space Between Us
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 07, 2019, 02:18:29 PM
(https://cdn3-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/2016/03/baywatchheader.jpg)

Baywatch (2017), directed by Seth Gordon

I may be the only person here who has never watched the television show, not even as jerking material. Baywatch is something I am completely unfamiliar with, but I am comfortable in stating that this an homage to a bad television show. The ending of Baywatch strongly indicates that it cannot be anything else, and with that in mind I'm not sure how to tackle such a project. The best way of doing so is probably for me to do this in a short way. Obviously, with this being announced as a short review, that means I didn't particularly care for the film. Not only is Baywatch not funny, but the seriously corny parts later in the film are absolutely horrendous. Could anyone have made a good Baywatch movie? I don't think that's possible, but I think the director and studio could have chosen a more coherent and consistent tone for the film that wouldn't have been this bad. The largest problem is that a movie like this serves a lot of masters and the people making it aren't entirely sure what they want to do. So, as a result of that, they do everything. When a movie tries to do everything, no matter what it is, it just isn't going to be good. I probably would have liked this even more if it was a hard R-rated comedy, even if it wasn't good. I would have liked to laugh a little bit. This is the risk of watching movies you haven't read reviews about, I didn't know exactly what I was getting into and that's always going to be a problem for me. I just don't want to know.

Set in a fictional town called Emerald Bay in Florida, Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is a lifeguard lieutenant who has given his life to protect the beach as part of an elite unit called Baywatch. This is laughable, of course, and the early part of the film does nothing to dissuade that notion. We are given so many scenes of guys staring at ass to the point of complete ridiculousness. Almost as many shots of the guys staring as there are asses. Mitch has made 500 rescues, which bothers his boss Captain Thorpe (Rob Heubel) and the local police officer, Sgt. Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). The reason the cop is bothered is because Mitch thinks his unit should also serve as detectives, which they obviously should not. Mitch's team consists of his second, Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera) and C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach), who serve the roles that I guess they're supposed to. Before things really kick off, Mitch discovers a small bag of flakka, a drug that has washed up on shore near a club owned by a busineswoman, Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra). Victoria is in the process of bribing city councilmen because she wants to privately own the beaches, and they're needed to make it happen.

The concept of this is that there are going to be tryouts for a singular lifeguard position, and there are three hopefuls. First, there's Ronnie (Jon Bass), the fat guy with a crush on C.J. and a dorky friend named Dave (Hannibal Buress). There is no logical way in which this guy could conceivably become a lifeguard. Next up is Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario), a friend of Stephanie's although none of this is ever expanded upon. Lastly, there's Matt Brody (Zac Efron), who is a former Olympic gold medal winning swimmer at a low point in his life. During a relay race, he vomited in the pool and that was the end of his career. He's also on probation, I didn't catch why, but the point is that Captain Thorpe wanted Brody to be on the team. So, Mitch is tasked with getting him into the tryouts. Thorpe also believes that the city won't cut Baywatch's funding any further if they rehabilitate Brody's image and make him the star of the unit. Do you see how much nonsense this is? I can't quite put my finger on it either. Anyway, Mitch gets into the exclusive three person tryout as a result of Thorpe's involvement and his willingness to save a drowning woman and her kids during a challenge where he's competing with Mitch.

This movie makes a strange shift from weak-sauce comedy to bad melodrama, and I'm having a hard time pinning down exactly when that happens. The melodrama is where I assume this becomes an homage to the original show, but I'm not certain of that. It's pretty bad. That was why I said this needed to commit to a tone, but if the film had entirely committed to that tone, it would have been terrible anyway. I don't have a lot to say about this movie because I didn't care for the style and I had a busy day. What I would like to say is that I think this is the worst movie the Rock has ever been in. I also think that Zac Efron has tanked his own career when he's a good performer who is above this sort of material. I don't understand why he or anyone else chose to be in this, with the exception of the fat guy. The fat guy gets to bang the hot blonde chick, as usually happens in these, so I see why he wanted to be in this. When the comedy leaves, the film gets worse, but what's crazy is that I've seen even worse from 2017. Nothing here makes any great sense, but I did like the David Hasselhoff cameo. I just wish this wasn't so absolutely boring.

3.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Phantom Thread
3.   The Shape of Water
4.   Get Out
5.   Good Time
6.   Mudbound
7.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
8.   Logan
9.   Wonder Woman
10.   The Big Sick
11.   Thor: Ragnarok
12.   Logan Lucky
13.   The Beguiled
14.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
15.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
16.   John Wick: Chapter 2
17.   The Lost City of Z
18.   First They Killed My Father
19.   Darkest Hour
20.   A Ghost Story
21.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
22.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
23.   It
24.   Battle of the Sexes
25.   Okja
26.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
27.   Kong: Skull Island
28.   It Comes at Night
29.   Crown Heights
30.   Split
31.   1922
32.   Personal Shopper
33.   Chuck
34.   Atomic Blonde
35.   Wheelman
36.   The Lego Batman Movie
37.   Megan Leavey
38.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
39.   Menashe
40.   Walking Out
41.   American Made
42.   Beauty and the Beast
43.   Imperial Dreams
44.   Gifted
45.   Murder on the Orient Express
46.   The Zookeeper's Wife
47.   Free Fire
48.   Win It All
49.   The Wall
50.   Life
51.   My Cousin Rachel
52.   Breathe
53.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
54.   Maudie
55.   Sleight
56.   Alone in Berlin
57.   A United Kingdom
58.   Trespass Against Us
59.   The Mountain Between Us
60.   War Machine
61.   Happy Death Day
62.   Lowriders
63.   Justice League
64.   To the Bone
65.   Ghost in the Shell
66.   Wakefield
67.   Bright
68.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
69.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
70.   The Mummy
71.   The Greatest Showman
72.   Rough Night
73.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
74.   Sand Castle
75.   CHiPs
76.   Death Note
77.   The Belko Experiment
78.   The Great Wall
79.   Fist Fight
80.   Baywatch
81.   Snatched
82.   Wilson
83.   Queen of the Desert
84.   The House
85.   Sleepless
86.   All Eyez on Me
87.   The Space Between Us
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Baby Shoes on May 07, 2019, 02:50:54 PM
I thought JW2 was a step down from the first movie personally as it felt a bit too selfaware but was still a fun movie.

Just want to thank you for saying this as this is how I've felt but I feel like I've been the only one to say this of everyone I have talked to.

Saying I had high hopes isn't the right thing to say about Baywatch but it definitely had potential to be more than the dull movie we got.
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 09, 2019, 11:24:06 AM
(https://pmcdeadline2.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/beatriz-at-dinner.jpg)

Beatriz at Dinner (2017), directed by Miguel Arteta

I remember when it was coming time for Beatriz at Dinner to be released. My memory is telling me that a lot of people were laughing at the concept, and to be fair, I was one of those people. I was one of the people who said that I had no interest in this, but my brother saw the trailer and asked me if I was going to watch it. I lied, I told him no. I just watched the movie, so look at me now. Beatriz at Dinner is an extremely ambitious work, one with strengths and flaws just like everything else. The strengths outweigh those flaws by quite a lot though. I think the concept is quite interesting, there shouldn't be a lot of these kinds of movies, but I am surprised that there were not more of them. Somehow the film ends in a less than pleasing way after the things that come before it being so enjoyable in their own way, but prior to that I thought this was fun. Was it supposed to be fun? I don't know how to answer that question. I can say that I have never cringed more while watching a movie. I am unfamiliar with the director entirely, but I do see that he seems to have directed a lot of similar comedies. In that case maybe I need to go back a little bit in the future, but in all likelihood I won't. I just wanted to string you along in case you're actually reading this, I'm not sure how many people are.

Beatriz (Salma Hayek) wakes up one day and is taking care of her animals, a group which for whatever reason contains a goat. Before that, she was having a dream where she was rowing a boat in a swamp, and I must admit that I never connected the dots on this bit in relation to the story. She drives a Volkswagen with a bad starter, and after a long journey through Los Angeles traffic, she arrives at her workplace. Beatriz works at a cancer center and meets with people there, she practices things like sound therapy and massage, what I would call "somewhat" alternative medicine. After her shift, she drives to the house of a very rich client in Newport Beach, Kathy (Connie Britton). That's a long haul from her house in Altadena, let me tell you. During the massage she gives Kathy, she winds up telling Kathy that her neighbor has murdered one of her goats because it had gotten outside. When she goes to leave, she can't start her car. Beatriz tells Kathy that someone will come to fix it when he gets out of work, but that could take some time. Kathy asks Beatriz to stay for her dinner party, which Beatriz does as she doesn't have much of a choice. After all, Kathy insisted and it's clear Beatriz won't be allowed to wait in her car. I could only imagine what it would be like to be in the proceedings that follow.

After a bit that includes Kathy's husband Grant (David Warshofsky) getting mad about Beatriz staying at their house, the two couples begin to roll in. First there's Shannon (Chloe Sevigny) and Alex (Jay Duplass), both of whom are elated with the way Alex's business venture is going. When Beatriz goes up to them, I have never cringed so much when watching something. It gets worse. Next up is the other couple, Doug (John Lithgow) and Jeana (Amy Landecker). At this point, everyone goes outside and Kathy introduces Beatriz to her friends, but there's still the matter of the men. Anyway, the reason Kathy really knows Beatriz is because Beatriz was a major factor in Kathy's daughter recovering from cancer. When Beatriz is told that her friend can't show up in the morning, Kathy says that she can stay the night in her daughter's room. Then it's time for Beatriz to meet Doug. Doug thinks she's a housekeeper, and Beatriz says that she knows him from somewhere and can't place it. Doug tells her that he's famous, which is very true. It turns out Doug is like one of the Koch Brothers, a true scumbag who builds things in foreign countries, exploiting that cheap labor in order to do things that destroy the region these things are built in.

As I already alluded to, Beatriz at Dinner is a maximum cringe movie the likes of which I have never seen before. I've never had such a strange feeling while watching something before, I knew Beatriz's feelings and felt empathy for the character from the very start. Hasn't everyone been in this position in a room full of people who you think won't agree with you, then it turns out when you talk to them that it's even worse? Especially when you don't want to be there? If you haven't felt this, you need to get out of the house. What I also thought was that Beatriz at Dinner featured some strong performances. Salma Hayek showing almost no emotion multiple times during this really took the cake. That's so hard to do with the things she was saying. There's a moment when we see her walking up to hug the first arriving couple, and that's when I knew how weird this was truly going to be. The conversations going on here were also great. John Lithgow as a manifestation of right wing scum shit wasn't just a great performance but also great screenwriting. Beatriz had nothing in common with any of these people, but in the way that immigrants in this country have to do, she has to listen to these guys consistently make racial jokes. When she finally says something about another serious matter said and shown as a joke, everyone gets mad at her. When someone doesn't fit in with a horrible group of people such as this, they don't win.

Beatriz at Dinner is a great example of how we really have two Americas. There are people like us and like Beatriz, this is Real America. Some of us come from other countries, others are born here, but we all know what the real American experience is like. We have jobs and bosses we all must obey, we know what it's like to not be able to buy anything you want. Then there's the other America I would call Gated America. Some of the people in this category came from Real America, but the vast majority of them have forgotten what it's like to be like us. They live behind gates where they don't have to worry about getting hurt because they disrespected someone and didn't realize it, they can outright disrespect and shit on whoever they want without having to deal with the ramifications. Nothing bad they do has any real impact on their life because they always get away with it. They can go hunting for helpless animals in foreign countries just because they can, and they know that in the end, if someone does manage to tell them what they think, it doesn't really matter. People in Gated America think that you have to wear a white hood to be racist, and they don't know anyone who does so that problem is removed from our country. Of course, Lithgow's character here is what I'd call 'the spirit of Trump', and with that in mind, you should know how you feel about this film based on that. I will point out there are some horrible moments though. The dream sequences are absolutely unwatchable and there are a lot. Beatriz at Dinner is also short, so you feel them.

7/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Phantom Thread
3.   The Shape of Water
4.   Get Out
5.   Good Time
6.   Mudbound
7.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
8.   Logan
9.   Wonder Woman
10.   The Big Sick
11.   Thor: Ragnarok
12.   Logan Lucky
13.   The Beguiled
14.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
15.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
16.   John Wick: Chapter 2
17.   The Lost City of Z
18.   First They Killed My Father
19.   Darkest Hour
20.   A Ghost Story
21.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
22.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
23.   It
24.   Battle of the Sexes
25.   Okja
26.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
27.   Kong: Skull Island
28.   It Comes at Night
29.   Crown Heights
30.   Split
31.   1922
32.   Personal Shopper
33.   Beatriz at Dinner
34.   Chuck
35.   Atomic Blonde
36.   Wheelman
37.   The Lego Batman Movie
38.   Megan Leavey
39.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
40.   Menashe
41.   Walking Out
42.   American Made
43.   Beauty and the Beast
44.   Imperial Dreams
45.   Gifted
46.   Murder on the Orient Express
47.   The Zookeeper's Wife
48.   Free Fire
49.   Win It All
50.   The Wall
51.   Life
52.   My Cousin Rachel
53.   Breathe
54.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
55.   Maudie
56.   Sleight
57.   Alone in Berlin
58.   A United Kingdom
59.   Trespass Against Us
60.   The Mountain Between Us
61.   War Machine
62.   Happy Death Day
63.   Lowriders
64.   Justice League
65.   To the Bone
66.   Ghost in the Shell
67.   Wakefield
68.   Bright
69.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
70.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
71.   The Mummy
72.   The Greatest Showman
73.   Rough Night
74.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
75.   Sand Castle
76.   CHiPs
77.   Death Note
78.   The Belko Experiment
79.   The Great Wall
80.   Fist Fight
81.   Baywatch
82.   Snatched
83.   Wilson
84.   Queen of the Desert
85.   The House
86.   Sleepless
87.   All Eyez on Me
88.   The Space Between Us
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 10, 2019, 04:25:27 AM
(http://images.trailer.town/stills/_default/brads-status-trailer.jpg?mtime=20170725221500)

Brad's Status (2017), directed by Mike White

I know what you might be thinking right now. Yes, I did watch a Ben Stiller movie. If something has a good Metacritic score, I'm going to watch it even if I think I may not like it. In the case of Brad's Status, I'm very glad to be wrong. There aren't all that many films anymore that are simultaneously funny and contain heart. If you're lucky, you'll get trash comedy and probably wind up hating it at the end. I will tell you one thing though, it would have been difficult to imagine myself watching this if Amazon hadn't picked it up. The number of bad films Amazon has released is very small, one can assume that if they're releasing something it's good. If it isn't, chalk it up to a rare failure and move on. Of course, this is yet another comedy that didn't make any money. Comedy is fucking dead. I did the customary thing where I go back to watch the trailer for the film, and I did see that this one strongly whiffs on the way Brad's Status felt when I was watching it. The film's title plays into the trailer far too much as you are led to believe this is some kind of Facebook trash, but the status refers to the status of Brad's life. Let's put it this way, nothing in the trailer would make me believe that I really need to check this out. It's massively misleading and gives away too much all at the same time. It's a good thing that I don't usually remember these trailers when I'm in the theater. It's a good thing that the trailer is usually not a good indicator of a decent movie.

Brad (Ben Stiller) runs a non-profit that he started in the aftermath of leaving journalism as nobody reads long-form articles anymore. He has a good life with his wife Melanie (Jenna Fischer) and his son Troy (Austin Abrams), but there are things from his past sticking with him. He can't stop thinking about what his old friends are doing, how they are more successful than him, or so it seems. Craig Fisher (Michael Sheen) was the Press Secretary at the White House, Billy Wearslter (Jemaine Clement) now lives in Maui with two girlfriends after selling his business idea for a massive amount of money, Jason Hatfield (Luke Wilson) runs a hedge fund, and Nick Pascale (Mike White) is a filmmaker. All of these people are very rich and have made great accomplishments while Brad and Melanie are having a comfortable life because of their job, but not successful to that extent. This is a movie about white people problems, but it's self-aware and this point is made to Brad during the film. Finally someone calls this shit out. Before that, Brad is at a party and sees Nick's spread in a magazine. Nick has just bought a very large house, that's what seems to bring all these feelings on. Melanie is far more content and happy than her husband.

The next day, there's a trip planned for Brad and Troy to visit colleges in Boston. On the agenda is Tufts University, Tufts being Brad's alma mater where he met these people I've already mentioned. Unbeknownst to Brad, his son has a great chance of getting into Harvard, and they're going to go there as well. For whatever reason it wasn't clicking with him, largely because he's been in this funk, but now he can live vicariously through his possibly more successful son. Troy is a musician, a great pianist, and that's the way by which he could get in. The problem is that Troy has made a mistake, he missed his appointment by a day as they didn't arrive on time. The thing is, Brad just can't let this go. He learns through his wife that Craig gives lectures at Harvard, which leads to Brad calling Billy. When he calls Billy, he finds out that Nick got married and Brad was not invited, which leads to bad thoughts. He believes that he's a failure, has thought so for a while, but even worse than that he now believes his friends see him as a failure because he is not included in the important events of their life like the rest of them are. Brad does talk to Craig even though he doesn't want to, and through that he gets Troy two meetings. One is with a famous Harvard music professor and the other is with the dean of admissions. The flip side of that is, Brad now has to have dinner with Craig.

I left out so many details, because those details are what makes this a good film. As I already said, these are white people problems and I loved that the matter was addressed over the course of the film. I think this has a moral lesson in that one has a hard time relishing their own success when they're so fixated on what other people are doing and if those people are doing better than them. This is something that a lot of Facebookers have a hard time dealing with, but I have always done well in compartmentalizing and not looking up what other people are doing. I'm comfortable with myself, if they're more successful it doesn't matter, I'm doing my best. I'm not sure if most of the people watching this would take that away from the film or if the message they'd get is that some people are awfully vain. Both can be true. Even though one could find problems with Brad and find themselves disliking the character, I thought this wasn't how it worked. I thought that it was interesting to see a portrait of people who turned out this way and insightful in that I could perhaps grow to understand them. Brad's Status is satire to some extent, but I thought the material was pretty strong. There's a moment at a bar that is very poignant, something I wasn't expecting from this at all. Brad's Status is a film with quite a good story.

Of course, Ben Stiller's performance has to be pretty good in order for this to work. While he's been in a very large amount of trash, I don't think he's a bad actor. Things just need to get more serious, and even though this movie is amusing, his role in it is rather dramatic. I didn't much care for the ending of the film as I didn't understand his dinner with Craig, but this was solid. More than that, it's nice to see a movie that actually makes the audience care about the character. I still think the film could have taken a little more risks with the characters I did not bother to mention. I don't bother to mention characters sometimes because I find there to be more value in the process of seeing what happens for yourself. In some cases, the inclusion of the character descriptions destroys the review I'm setting up as it makes things too blatantly obvious. Sometimes the characters don't matter at all. One of those three things I've just mentioned applies here. I thought there were many funny parts, but Mike White also does a very good job of grounding things when the time called for it. Obviously, I liked this movie very much, and it wasn't even what I intended to watch tonight. The cast worked out nicely as well, but I have seen that some people hate this movie with a passion. To each their own.

7.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Phantom Thread
3.   The Shape of Water
4.   Get Out
5.   Good Time
6.   Mudbound
7.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
8.   Logan
9.   Wonder Woman
10.   The Big Sick
11.   Thor: Ragnarok
12.   Logan Lucky
13.   The Beguiled
14.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
15.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
16.   John Wick: Chapter 2
17.   The Lost City of Z
18.   First They Killed My Father
19.   Darkest Hour
20.   A Ghost Story
21.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
22.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
23.   It
24.   Battle of the Sexes
25.   Brad's Status
26.   Okja
27.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
28.   Kong: Skull Island
29.   It Comes at Night
30.   Crown Heights
31.   Split
32.   1922
33.   Personal Shopper
34.   Beatriz at Dinner
35.   Chuck
36.   Atomic Blonde
37.   Wheelman
38.   The Lego Batman Movie
39.   Megan Leavey
40.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
41.   Menashe
42.   Walking Out
43.   American Made
44.   Beauty and the Beast
45.   Imperial Dreams
46.   Gifted
47.   Murder on the Orient Express
48.   The Zookeeper's Wife
49.   Free Fire
50.   Win It All
51.   The Wall
52.   Life
53.   My Cousin Rachel
54.   Breathe
55.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
56.   Maudie
57.   Sleight
58.   Alone in Berlin
59.   A United Kingdom
60.   Trespass Against Us
61.   The Mountain Between Us
62.   War Machine
63.   Happy Death Day
64.   Lowriders
65.   Justice League
66.   To the Bone
67.   Ghost in the Shell
68.   Wakefield
69.   Bright
70.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
71.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
72.   The Mummy
73.   The Greatest Showman
74.   Rough Night
75.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
76.   Sand Castle
77.   CHiPs
78.   Death Note
79.   The Belko Experiment
80.   The Great Wall
81.   Fist Fight
82.   Baywatch
83.   Snatched
84.   Wilson
85.   Queen of the Desert
86.   The House
87.   Sleepless
88.   All Eyez on Me
89.   The Space Between Us
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 11, 2019, 09:35:41 AM
(https://spectator.imgix.net/content/uploads/2018/01/thepost.jpg)

The Post (2017), directed by Steven Spielberg

After Bridge of Spies wasn't particularly to my liking, my opinion of Steven Spielberg's future non-CGI filled movies was rather low. That's part of why I waited so long to watch The Post, I didn't quite know what to expect even after it was nominated for awards. As you may know, I don't always see eye to eye with the people who decide what is worthy of those awards. There's a little caveat here though. It turns out that I love journalism movies. If there is an exception to that, nothing is really coming to mind at this moment. The people who actually tackle journalism related projects seem to only be the good ones. A bad one probably gets buried in the idea stage and never sees the light of day, but there is of course the chance I am wrong. Would The Fifth Estate count as a journalism project? Perhaps. If it does, then we have a horrible one. If it doesn't, we'll keep searching at some other time. Here's what I do know. I don't recall seeing a better cast in a movie for a long time. Even if those people served in small roles, that didn't matter. I could not possibly list everyone in this movie and who they all played, so if you want to know that, check Wikipedia or something. What I can say is that I found myself enjoying The Post far more than I expected. I'm not going to make any proclamation saying that this is "the movie that we needed," but this was the cast that I needed. How about that?

The Post begins in 1966 during the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) is an employee of the State Department and he is in Vietnam documenting the war effort in the region for Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood), the Secretary of Defense. It is unclear how long he's there, but as we all know, the war effort was not going great. When they're flying home, Ellsberg is with McNamara and others, they are talking about the way things are going. In the process of that, McNamara tells Ellsberg in private that the Vietnam War is a lost cause. The problem is that, as we know, once he lands he says that he has confidence in the war effort, it's going great, and that's what all the reporters gathered decide to write about. Ellsberg was very displeased with this, and over the course of his life becomes a military contractor. It's 1971, and he smuggles out some documents from the RAND Corporation. These documents are not merely documents, they are the damn Pentagon Papers and the RAND corporation had a copy of them. Ellsberg is able to smuggle them out of the building every night, and he decides to copy every page, seemingly over and over again. The Pentagon Papers themselves are the DoD's history of America's political involvement in Vietnam, McNamara commissioned the report because he wanted to prevent policy errors in the future. It is unknown when these would have been released, but the intention was certainly not to do so in 1971. This study was damn secret.

Now, let's try to summarize the other side of the story. After Ellsberg leaked the documents to the New York Times, we snap over to the Washington Post. Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) is a socialite in Washington D.C., but she also owns the Washington Post, which is a major conflict of interest from where I stand. Times were different. She had inherited the paper after it was kept in the family, and has the intention of launching an IPO for the paper. Fritz (Tracy Letts) is her most trusted advisor, Arthur (Bradley Whitford) is the proverbial thorn in the side that believes she shouldn't have the paper at all. Katherine has little experience in this business even though it was in the family, and she does have some clashes with the editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks). The New York Times has received these papers but the Washington Post has not, and they're in competition with one another. Ben is furious that his staff doesn't have any leads. It's a great staff after all, and this film is absolutely loaded, but I'm finding a way not to mention everyone. Through a stroke of luck while Katherine is meeting with A.M. Rosenthal (Michael Stuhlbarg), the Post learns that Nixon is seeking an injunction against the Times to stop further publishing of the Pentagon Papers. Now they're in the game, and Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) is a reporter who thinks he has a real lead on this story. He's going to find the hell out, that's for sure.

The problem with this movie as far as reviewing it goes, is that Steven Spielberg gathered an amazing cast and some of them play very small roles. So, I couldn't figure out how to squeeze those roles into my review. Getting such a strong cast to play roles this small is a large achievement, it's very nice to see so many people I recognized in a project like this one. The Post isn't one of Spielberg's most imaginative films, but the production design, cinematography, and costume design is spot-on in a way that allows the film to FEEL like it took place in that time period. Of course, I left out a lot of the details, but the crux of the movie is about whether or not Katherine Graham would allow the Pentagon Papers to be published amidst threats from the Nixon Administration towards the New York Times, threats that could have had a similar impact on the Post. Spielberg's ability to create tension in this scenario is very great, there's nothing but superlatives to say about his performance as a director. Of course it doesn't hurt that my man Saul Goodman is the driving force from the journalism side of the film. There are relevant things in the film as well, like Nixon's attack on the free press, but as the years have gone on during our current administration, a work about such attacks feels less impactful as I have become more jaded by everything. The stage for this film is set so very well, and there are also lots of moments where exposition is expertly dropped in so that it doesn't feel like exposition.

The Post does have one very large specific mistake though, possibly one from reality that just doesn't fit. I feel like Katherine Graham and Bob McNamara's scenes are just missing something. The accusations aren't there to the extent I would have liked, more fury required in those moments. The Post is successful in every other way though. Spielberg is able to make clear that decisions in the absence of a madman that have a large impact on history are carefully weighed by those who make them. The precision with which each domino is put into place is nicely done. I will point out a few other things though. The Post is also a movie that is to some extent unoriginal, lacking those things that make other films slightly more memorable. Of course this is something I notice more when I wait a day to finish my review. Maybe I'll do that more. The film also has an inherent lack of tension in that we know the conclusion of the story and that those papers were published. There are also some blatant pandering scenes where Streep's character walked past a group of women who were supposedly inspired by her, but I don't think so. That scene in particular was totally ludicrous and it's a good thing the film was over as that took me out of things. So, there are some weaknesses here but there are also some great strengths. I just think that if your main criteria for a great film is originality, then this one doesn't quite meet the mark for you. I also really liked that Tom Hanks was playing old and salty.

8.5/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Phantom Thread
3.   The Shape of Water
4.   Get Out
5.   Good Time
6.   Mudbound
7.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
8.   Logan
9.   The Post
10.   Wonder Woman
11.   The Big Sick
12.   Thor: Ragnarok
13.   Logan Lucky
14.   The Beguiled
15.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
16.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
17.   John Wick: Chapter 2
18.   The Lost City of Z
19.   First They Killed My Father
20.   Darkest Hour
21.   A Ghost Story
22.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
23.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
24.   It
25.   Battle of the Sexes
26.   Brad's Status
27.   Okja
28.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
29.   Kong: Skull Island
30.   It Comes at Night
31.   Crown Heights
32.   Split
33.   1922
34.   Personal Shopper
35.   Beatriz at Dinner
36.   Chuck
37.   Atomic Blonde
38.   Wheelman
39.   The Lego Batman Movie
40.   Megan Leavey
41.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
42.   Menashe
43.   Walking Out
44.   American Made
45.   Beauty and the Beast
46.   Imperial Dreams
47.   Gifted
48.   Murder on the Orient Express
49.   The Zookeeper's Wife
50.   Free Fire
51.   Win It All
52.   The Wall
53.   Life
54.   My Cousin Rachel
55.   Breathe
56.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
57.   Maudie
58.   Sleight
59.   Alone in Berlin
60.   A United Kingdom
61.   Trespass Against Us
62.   The Mountain Between Us
63.   War Machine
64.   Happy Death Day
65.   Lowriders
66.   Justice League
67.   To the Bone
68.   Ghost in the Shell
69.   Wakefield
70.   Bright
71.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
72.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
73.   The Mummy
74.   The Greatest Showman
75.   Rough Night
76.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
77.   Sand Castle
78.   CHiPs
79.   Death Note
80.   The Belko Experiment
81.   The Great Wall
82.   Fist Fight
83.   Baywatch
84.   Snatched
85.   Wilson
86.   Queen of the Desert
87.   The House
88.   Sleepless
89.   All Eyez on Me
90.   The Space Between Us
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 13, 2019, 09:42:02 AM
(https://cdn3-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/2019/03/Annabelle.jpg)

Annabelle (2014), directed by John R. Leonetti

It's fair to say I was very much not looking forward to watching Annabelle. The obvious reason why is because this film had horrible reviews, but I was fair and made sure not to read any of the reviews prior to checking this out. There is a third Annabelle coming out at the end of June, which is a movie that looks far better than this one did. The trailer for Annabelle gives almost everything away, the omissions not being so important in the first place. There is no doubt whatsoever that Annabelle was made to capitalize on The Conjuring as quick as Warner Bros. could possibly do so. When a studio does something like that, quality control is obviously not a high priority. That was very clear when I was watching the film. The time between filming and release was only a few months, and the movie was only conceived after The Conjuring was successful. It doesn't take a long time to film a horror flick, but the turnaround time on this was impressive. So impressive in fact that everyone should have known it would be absolute garbage. The only way Annabelle could have been worse is if it didn't exist. Would that really be worse though? I haven't gotten around to reading anyone else's complaints, I have a small list of my own. I don't really care very much one way or another about this film though.

Annabelle is set in Los Angeles during the late 1960s, with Helter Skelter causing a panic and terrifying the area. John Form (Ward Horton) is a doctor and his wife Mia (Annabelle Wallis) is pregnant, they are a happy couple. First, we are shown the exact same scene that opened The Conjuring, so if you remember that you get some brownie points. After church, Mia and John are driven home by the neighbors, the Higgins family. The Higgins daughter has disappeared and seemingly run off to go join a cult, which everyone knows is going to have some impact later in the film. John and Mia are both a bit sensitive with the baby on the way, and after a spat, John gives her a doll she's been trying to find. I think everyone can also decipher that it's the Annabelle doll. That same night, Mia wakes up to a scream in the house next door, and it's her neighbors, the aforementioned Higgins family. Someone has decided to do a home invasion on them, and when Mia calls the cops, she and John are attacked by the missing daughter Annabelle (Tree O'Toole) and her insane boyfriend, whose name is never mentioned. It turns out that the boyfriend stabbed the Higgins couple to death, while Annabelle goes into the nursery and slits her throat. Some blood drops into the doll, or something like that, and the doll now becomes Annabelle.

The two murderers were part of a religious cult that wanted to summon supernatural beings, demons, all that kind of stuff.  I left out that Mia was stabbed in the stomach, but there was no damage to her pregnancy and she'll be alright. Mia wants the doll thrown out even though its been cleaned up, because the murderous woman had the doll in her hands when she killed herself. There's also some strange things going on in the house, but that doesn't greatly manifest itself until one day when John's at work. There's popcorn on the stove from the previous night, it wasn't used because Mia fell asleep before John started cooking it. All of a sudden all the burners on the stove turn on, and when Mia cuts her finger on the sewing machine, she notices that the Jiffy Pop has caught fire. When she tries to run away, she trips over a chair and falls on her stomach. Regardless, she is rescued and has a baby girl, Leah. For whatever reason, after they move to Pasadena, Mia is followed around by a woman we later learn is named Evelyn (Alfre Woodard). The simple fact is that the Annabelle doll followed Mia and Leah to their new house. There's going to be haunting shit, and as always, in the end, there's no real impact on the people who were haunted. Same old shit.

The lack of consequences for the people who were haunted never ceases to amaze me, and once I noticed it I've never been able to shake that feeling when I watch this universe of films. I don't think I'm asking a lot for one of these ghosts, demons, or spirits to actually kill a lead character that they're haunting. Obviously, I think this movie is complete trash. The lone saving grace is that it's quite short, I couldn't imagine what it would be like to watch Annabelle if this was any longer. Of course I did know exactly what I was getting into and as a result I shouldn't complain too much. The issue was that this was the second film in what has become a very long series and I'm now having a hard time understanding how this universe became popular in the first place. There are so many things here blatantly ripped off of other horror movies. There's actually too many to list so I am not going to. What I am going to point out is that this director also directed Mortal Kombat: Annhilation. I love that film for all the wrong reasons, but I know that film is absolutely trash on every level. This is yet another case of someone failing upward in Hollywood. Someone with his track record should never have had the opportunity to film something like this.

I also admit that I have a problem with the doll itself not being shown doing anything scary. I know that would send the film fully into being as awful as it truly should have been, but these films as a whole are far too cliched. Spice it up a bit with a walking doll. The actors also do absolutely nothing to make me feel like I was watching anything decent. I also don't really care for baby scares. It's hard, nearly impossible for a film to deliver on that in any way after Rosemary's Baby. The way these scares are executed here is laughable. You can just tell the film is cheaply made, and it isn't for me. Annabelle is also very stupid beyond description, and I think I've said all that I need to say. I'm struggling to come up with anything good to say about this, so the rating is quite easy. Beyond the problems with the story, Annabelle is unforgivably lacking in visual pleasures.

3/10
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 13, 2019, 05:36:31 PM
I decided to watch two trash in one day. Good choice?

(https://compote.slate.com/images/3e0011fe-751d-4fd1-80b2-94a336accb73.jpg)

The Book of Henry (2017), directed by Colin Trevorrow

I am still quite uncertain what The Book of Henry was actually about, and no explanation at all would make any sense to me. The tone of The Book of Henry is as off as I've ever seen in anything that I've watched, these are two things that should not go together. As a result this is one of the most horrendous scripts and concepts that I've come across. I really shouldn't be surprised by anything anymore, I've seen some trash in the last few years and this isn't even the worst of it. There's nothing that I can take away from the film and present as being the moral of it, or anything similar to that. It just sucked. I'm not skilled enough with words to properly illustrate the problems with The Book of Henry, just know that if you're reading this and can't come up with the words yourself, that you aren't alone. I am simply dumbfounded. The more insane part is that this is a script fished out of a trash can somewhere, it was written in 1998. In 1998, I could see something like this being made and I could also see the film getting mild praise. The problem is that directors who botched Jurassic World shouldn't get the chance to make things. A bigger problem is that this guy continues to have the chance to botch Jurassic World 3. What's the deal with that? This isn't the worst film I've ever seen, but I don't understand how a director who can't create an engaging story would be given the opportunity to make anything with a large budget ever again. It's good to be this guy, I guess. It seems that a person who has made one good movie has free reign in Hollywood.

Set somewhere in New York, The Book of Henry follows an 11 year old genius, Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) and his younger brother Peter (Jacob Tremblay). They are raised by their mother Susan (Naomi Watts), who has a lot of money sitting in a bank account and in stocks, but she goes to work at a bad waitressing job anyway. How did she get all that money? Apparently Henry is great at playing the stock market, and regardless of that nobody is spending the money. One example of that is the way Susan drives around an old Volvo. Susan wants to write children's picture books, but she doesn't? I don't know how to make sense of this. Henry is also the kind of kid who protects his brother from bullies, and he builds machines in his treehouse. They have a neighbor, Glenn (Dean Norris), and he has a stepdaughter, Christina (Maddie Ziegler). Christina acts a little strange, but not knowing anything about the plot until watching the movie, I thought absolutely nothing of it. Those are the benefits of not reading these reviews. It turns out that Glenn is a bad fucking guy, and Henry sees this one night before bed. Christina is being abused, and Glenn is spotted by Henry in the process of that. Glenn doesn't know that Henry sees him, and Henry decides to call social services.

The problem with his first plan is, Glenn is the police chief and the head of social services is seemingly his brother. Nothing he can do about that is going to matter at all. Henry takes his quest a step further, because if the principal of their school reports things, it will actually work. This does not work either because the principal doesn't want to get into a fight with the police chief when she has no definitive proof of anything. Henry is an altruistic kid though, he's very smart and effectively he's navigated his mother's life, the circumstances of which make absolutely no logical sense to me. So, his intention is to create a plan and log all these steps in a book. I guess he knew something would happen to him? Again, that makes absolutely no sense. He develops a plan to rescue Christina, writes it all down and makes a recording someone could listen to. While that's all going on, Susan is regularly visited by her best friend Sheila (Sarah Silverman), and I guess that matters in the end although I'm loathe to explain how. The problem with Henry's plan is that he will be unable to execute. Unbeknownst to everyone except perhaps Henry, he has a brain tumor. He has a major seizure and surgery is attempted, but it won't work. That means he's going to die. But does it? Maybe he's so smart he can perform surgery on himself or tell the doctors what to do. Everything so far in the movie indicates this is possible.

The last few sentences I wrote should show you exactly how bad this is, that The Book of Henry could have gone two ways at that point of the film. He could have cured himself or he could have given that book of stuff to his mom to use against Glenn. Either way, we have the makings of a really shitty movie. It's not just that, it's everything leading to that point that's bad too. There are very few high points in The Book of Henry. The most obvious one is Naomi Watts. She tries her best to elevate this absolutely horrendous material, and I'm convinced that some people must've truly believed this film would win awards. There is no reason for this cast to have signed onto anything like this. I also thought the execution of the scene where Susan is attempting to follow her son's plan was nice, but there's problems with a school talent show scene interspersed into these moments. In case you think it's merely the script that's bad, there's that. The direction of The Book of Henry is beyond awful on every level. That anyone would attempt to film this script is the largest strike against the director, there's a reason it was shelved for 20 years. The script is just beyond awful in its attempts to be charming like a movie from the 1990s would be.

The worst aspects of The Book of Henry relate to the tone of the film and the mish-mash of horrible genres, all of which should be buried for the rest of eternity. Mega intelligent kid? I always want to see some other kid beat the shit out of them. I'm just being honest here, if you don't like it, stop reading. The way the kid talks to his mother is beyond the pale, I never showed disrespect like this. The way she accepts it is as unrealistic as it gets. Sick kid? That aspect is jammed into here too. Kid's doctor getting creepy and it feeling like he's trying to creep on the mother of a dead child? Fuck yeah. That part felt like it was mostly edited out as well. There were some remnants that could not have been edited, but I feel like I'm massively missing something there. I would have liked to see that just to see the depths to which this film could have reached. The already mentioned abused girl doing a talent show scene that inspires an elder to take action on her behalf, that shit is rough viewing. I hated it very much. Pedophile trying to cover his tracks? Hell yeah. This is full of genres, it's impossible to cover all of them, and the end result is something I wouldn't recommend on my worst enemy. The people who made this movie have no concept of how real people behave, and they tried to manipulate the emotions of the viewer by throwing all these things at them in order to create something people would remember. Fuck that. I will remember this, but for all the wrong reasons. When they managed to finally get me to want to see something, they didn't do that either.

2/10

2017 Films Ranked


Spoiler: show

1.   Dunkirk
2.   Phantom Thread
3.   The Shape of Water
4.   Get Out
5.   Good Time
6.   Mudbound
7.   Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
8.   Logan
9.   The Post
10.   Wonder Woman
11.   The Big Sick
12.   Thor: Ragnarok
13.   Logan Lucky
14.   The Beguiled
15.   The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
16.   Star Wars: The Last Jedi
17.   John Wick: Chapter 2
18.   The Lost City of Z
19.   First They Killed My Father
20.   Darkest Hour
21.   A Ghost Story
22.   Spider-Man: Homecoming
23.   I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
24.   It
25.   Battle of the Sexes
26.   Brad's Status
27.   Okja
28.   Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
29.   Kong: Skull Island
30.   It Comes at Night
31.   Crown Heights
32.   Split
33.   1922
34.   Personal Shopper
35.   Beatriz at Dinner
36.   Chuck
37.   Atomic Blonde
38.   Wheelman
39.   The Lego Batman Movie
40.   Megan Leavey
41.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
42.   Menashe
43.   Walking Out
44.   American Made
45.   Beauty and the Beast
46.   Imperial Dreams
47.   Gifted
48.   Murder on the Orient Express
49.   The Zookeeper's Wife
50.   Free Fire
51.   Win It All
52.   The Wall
53.   Life
54.   My Cousin Rachel
55.   Breathe
56.   The Man Who Invented Christmas
57.   Maudie
58.   Sleight
59.   Alone in Berlin
60.   A United Kingdom
61.   Trespass Against Us
62.   The Mountain Between Us
63.   War Machine
64.   Happy Death Day
65.   Lowriders
66.   Justice League
67.   To the Bone
68.   Ghost in the Shell
69.   Wakefield
70.   Bright
71.   The Hitman's Bodyguard
72.   XXX: Return of Xander Cage
73.   The Mummy
74.   The Greatest Showman
75.   Rough Night
76.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
77.   Sand Castle
78.   CHiPs
79.   Death Note
80.   The Belko Experiment
81.   The Great Wall
82.   Fist Fight
83.   Baywatch
84.   Snatched
85.   Wilson
86.   Queen of the Desert
87.   The House
88.   Sleepless
89.   All Eyez on Me
90.   The Book of Henry
91.   The Space Between Us
Title: Re: In Which I Review Movies 2019
Post by: Firmino of the 909 on May 15, 2019, 05:16:52 PM
(https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/marshall-movie-884b7ae25dc9fb48.jpg?w=780)

Marshall (2017), directed by Reginald Hudlin

I've never hit a review wall where I wanted to review something less than Marshall. I've had a personal matter in the last few days, but I believe in pushing on through those things and not slowing down. I didn't realize Marshall was going to be almost exactly like On the Basis of Sex in its presentation, although the two films are different enough for me to decipher what those differences actually are. I did also think that Marshall was better than On the Basis of Sex, and that those two films must be compared to each other for obvious reasons. Marshall does have a different narrative though. It is set in one year, over the course of a very short period of time, whereas On the Basis of Sex is not. Marshall takes place in a way that almost entirely deals with the court case, the other film does not. Marshall has a better cast than the other film. The main difference is that Marshall The similarities, however, are too great to ignore. Both are not about the issues that led to each justice sitting on the Supreme Court bench. I was hoping for something more comprehensive when watching both films. They both left me wanting more. They are both fan service towards those individuals, but in the case of On the Basis of Sex this is more obviously apparent. Both films are directed by people who haven't directed a film in some time, and this shows. Of course, both films are about people who were marginalized inside of those courtrooms as well as outside of it, and that's where both stories become worth the viewing time it takes to check them out.

Of course, Marshall is about Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman), who as we know was the first African-American Supreme Court justice. However, this film is not about that, but about something he did on his