Over the weekend I watched...
Ace in the Hole (1951)
Really great Billy Wilder movie (who also directed Sunset Blvd, The Apartment, Some Like It Hot) with Kirk Douglas as a washed up news reporter who exploits a man trapped in a cave for his own success. One of my favorite moments was this spectacular shot of many people coming out of a train and running into the huge crowd already at the site of the accident as the camera pans to the left with them and this folk song plays.
Wasn't quite as impressed by this, but also good. Director Robert Altman has never truly disappointed me. A lot of different characters come to a music festival and their lives kind of intertwine and their secrets are revealed. Part comedy. There was a very young Jeff Goldblum who was only kind of there and didn't say a word, just like in Annie Hall. But he had more presence in this, despite being silent.
The Sunday before, I watched Justice League. Mediocre, about as I expected. I was hoping it would be at least above average, but it was just mediocre. I only went because the power went out in my neighborhood, again. It would have been better to stare at my ceiling in the darkness and cold for two hours than spend ten dollars on this.
...what happened to ranking films in this thread? Also, what's up with how often it can't be accessed?
The Man Who Invented Christmas (8/10)
To be honest, this is likely more a 7.5/10, but I prefer to work in whole numbers, so screw it, it's getting 8/10.
Anyway, this is a story based on how Charles Dickens wrote 'A Christmas Carol'. It's kind of a story within a story, with Dickens talking to conjurations/hallucinations of characters from the book as he writes it. The idea being that he's living out his own family drama and past through the novel, that perhaps he has more similarities with Scrooge than he cares to admit. I've seen this idea done before in fiction, of the author effectively living alongside their creations, but it's done well. Indeed, if I had to sum this film up in one word, it would be "charming." It's a rose-coloured look at Dickens's family life, but I left the cinema with a smile on my face. And it also made me want to see 'A Muppets Christmas Carol' again because...well, y'know...
Also, minor points. As an amateur writer, I love how they portrayed how Dickens works in this story. No idea if it's accurate, but the way he gets invested in his story and characters, the way he can get irritated with those around him when they interrupt, it's true to my own experiences (no, I'm not putting myself on the level of Dickens, don't put words in my mouth). Also, Jonathan Pryce as Dickens's father. There's a great warmth and humanity that he brings to the character, and this is a from an actor who conveyed such quiet menace as the High Sparrow from Game of Thrones recently (well, as in, recently watched season 6). But everyone does a good job.
So, yeah. Delightful little film.
And another one:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (7/10)
I bought the DVD of this at a charity store for $3. I greatly dislike its predecessor, but hey, $3, and by seeing this, I could rank every Spider-Man movie released (well, since Rami started at least). So on that note:
6) The Amazing Spider-Man
5) Spider-Man 3
4) The Amazing Spider-Man 2
3) Spider-Man: Homecoming
1) Spider-Man 2
But this film, I thought I'd dislike it a lot, but honestly...it's pretty decent. You'll notice I gave both it and Homecoming 7/10, but Homecoming pulls just ahead for me, as I'll deal with the film's main issue - its pacing. The film drags around the centre, and there's numerous sequences where it feels like we're seeing a Spider-Man music video (or rather a Peter Parker music video), given how it's shot and how music is used. Also, the PeterxGwen stuff...it's okay, I guess, but I still prefer MJxPeter from the Rami films.
But this film is fine, honestly. It feels a lot more focused than its predecessor. The Sinister Six are hinted at, but it doesn't derail the film in the way BvS suffered for it. Characters are fine (...okay, Harry and Max are a bit on the cooky side, but they're servicable), and this film easily has some of the best action in the Spidey films, especially towards the end. And, to top it off, while there'll never be an AMSM3, I can live with that. Again, to disagree with consensus, I don't have a problem with the ending. It's more a bookened, the knowledge that Peter will always have villains to fight, and will always be there to fight them, Sinister Six or otherwise. Peter's daddy issues feel redundant, but they don't really detract from the movie.
So, the movie is pretty decent, and a vast improvement over its predecessor. And while Spider-Man 3 has better individual moments, and a more coherent theme, it's structurally very flawed, while this is better constructed overall. So, all in all, good job. Not the best Spider-Man film, but by no means the worst either.
I just watched (read: was forced to watch, eyelids clamped open ala "A Clockwork Orange," because my girlfriend is a ruthless b!tch there I said it) a movie called A Dog's Purpose. I'm not generally a softy when it comes to films, unless they kill a dog in it, and this one did it... like FIVE times. So, I basically spent an hour and a half crying like a friggin' baby.
I'll encase this synopsis in a SPOILER, but as far as I'm concerned, movies like this NEED to be spoiled if I can spare the innocent with text versus the visceral realness of film.
TL:DR? HOLLYWOOD LOVES KILLING DOGS FOR CHEAP FEELS.
2/10 (2 stars because the dogs were cute.)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (6/10)
I really don't feel like discussing this in depth, because it's Star Wars, and by virtue of that, there'll be discussions about this film for years. So, basic points:
-This is probably the best Disney-era Star Wars film, if only just. It's close to Force Awakens in quality. However, while it's got higher highs (with some absolutely excellent individual scenes), it's also got lower lows. Specifically plot holes that begin to build up from the opening crawl itself, coupled with a third plot thread that overstays its welcome (similar to Empire, there's two primary plot threads that end up converging by the film's end).
-In case you're wondering, this film does riff off Empire, but unlike TFA, it's got far more originality in regards to its own material, and how it references Empire. TFA followed A New Hope down to its own plot structure. Last Jedi has a similar plot structure to Empire, but it feels like it's using it less as a crutch. It's also less predictable when compared to TFA - it goes in directions that I didn't see coming.
-Feel it's worth mentioning that this is easily the funniest Star Wars movie I've seen. The film itself isn't a comedy, but bar one scene where Rey has to hold the idiot ball for the joke to work, the jokes don't come at the expense of the narrative or characters. Even the porgs are endearing.
So, yeah. It's not a good film per se, but it's still very much a net positive. Currently stands as my #5 Star Wars film.
Edit: Now my #6 Star Wars film. Upon further reflection, I feel that Force Awakens is overall the better film. That said, they're kind of neck and neck, with different pros and cons.
Just to be Sure (6/10)
A.k.a. "?TEZ-MOI D'UN DOUTE" is you're a cheese eating surrender monkey. Anyway, this is a French drama...dramady? Hard to say, and that's kind of it's problem. Because on one hand, the overall story and scenario lends itself to a comedy of errors-esque story, except that the story is played straight, and the characters feel down to earth. Which isn't a bad thing, but the tone of the writing and the characters feel at odds with the scenario. It kind of reminds me of Ali's Wedding and The Big Sick. I get that the characters in The Big Sick feel more real, but the ones in Alli's Wedding feel more memorable. This film kind of reminds me of Rosalie Blum (and potentially The Belliers, in that they share an actor between them), but this is among the weakest of the three. Also, some character arcs kind of just abort themselves towards the end.
So, still a net positive, but doesn't reach the heights I feel it should.
Swiss Army Man 5/10
I dunno. Based on the trailer, I thought this would be one of those movies I could watch again and again. It turns out it took me two days to finish it, because around the 50 minute mark I couldn't take it anymore. Farts!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (7.5/10)
Overall, I really liked it. I'd call myself a fanboy of many things, but Star Wars isn't one of them. Mostly because to call yourself a Star Wars fanboy implies a LOT more than it does for most other franchises (with the extended universe and all that) and I just don't meet those expectations since I've merely seen every "main" film exactly once, along with that animated Clone Wars one. Having said that, I liked TFA, Rogue One, and TLJ quite a lot. The prequels bored the crap out of me, bar some of the action scenes, and I really liked the original trilogy (but not enough to get into all the extra stuff). I think that the hardcore fans can't help but be super critical of everything Star Wars, since they hold it so dear in general - so whenever something new comes out that isn't outright amazing, they're more likely to call it trash.
But as someone who likes them enough to just go and see them when they come out, and not think all that much about them once they're done?
Yeah, I liked it. The performances were on point, the Rey & Kylo Ren plot had me engaged, the action was lovely to watch, the little nods to the other movies were nice and not too forced (pun intended), it wasn't always predictable, and the score was great as always. The Finn & Rose plot was a bit out of place and dragged it down a little, and I was expecting the whole movie to end like 30 minutes before it actually did, but it didn't completely overstay it's welcome. All in all, yeah - great movie.
mother! Fun for the whole family. 7/10. If you hate pretentious auteurship, you'll hate this movie. It'a crazy, violent, but mostly crazy.
The Great Wall 5/10. Matt Damon phones it in. Andy Lau gives a surprisingly cool performance. Jing Tian is the most absurdly beautiful warrior-woman ever seen. People are expendable, and so is CGI: digital movements of the camera in impossible spaces, waves of four-legged monsters fighting colourfully armoured humans, and arrows, javelins and bombardment flying in close-up shots through the air. The characters are no deeper than their clothes and fighting moves.
Atomic Blonde: probably doesn't have a single original bone in its cinematic body, but I still really enjoyed it for the style and most of the action/choreography (awesomely shot car sortof-chase towards the end, in particular). I've no issue with a film ostensibly being a series of small, violent music videos, but some might, and that's pretty much what Atomic Blonde boils down to.
Top cast with James McAvoy, Toby Jones, and John Goodman, and whilst Charlize Theron kicking ass ultimately just reminded me I still don't own Fury Road yet - and that I bloody well should do - she's compelling and stylishly ballsy enough to more than carry the film. Throws herself [probably very literally] well into the whole 'being nearly beaten/stabbed/shot to death' post-The Raid/Daredevil action schtick.
I rate it precisely: Worth A Buy On Blu-ray For Me [Eventually, Probably Not At Full Price], And Definitely Worth A Rent out of 10. It gains 0.7 of a percentage point on top of that for having a scrap occur in front of a projection of Tarkovsky's Stalker.
I'm not sure if it was enough of a meager success to greenlight a sequel, but I really would like to see more of this neon drenched yet grimy world, so long as they start to dig into Theron's character, as Atomic Blonde was a bit of a leftfield origin story.
Down in the Valley
A well crafted, character-driven drama starring Edward Norton as a troubled young man getting romantically involved with teenager, Evan Rachel Wood and her conflicted family, including sheriff father, David Morse and introvert brother, Rory Culkin. It keeps each characters' backstory only briefly hinted at throughout, but overall contains respectable performances and is not afraid to unsettle or shock the viewer occasionally. It's a slow burn, however by the end i personally thought it was well worth investing the time into these characters and the unexpected moments they provide. Recommended unless you have a short attention span or a strong dislike of character-driven drama.
It's probably a rule now that if you go into an independent, well-rated horror film, you have to expect either a sudden and/or negative ending, off-kilter pacing/format, an unresolved evil, and some underlying metaphor to appease those that like to hang about in the abstract, possibly due to not being entirely sober. Oh and the word 'horror' often is taken to mean 'psychological chiller/thriller...mayyyybe horror I guess, whatever, leave me alone and just watch the damn thing.
Well you're in luck here too!
Summary is as summary does; young sister goes to stay with older pregnant sister who's ex has been missing for I think 7 years, and now has to deal with officially declaring him dead in absentia, fill out some forms, continue counselling and move on with her life. However, hijinks ensues of course.
Great performances from unknown actors throughout, though the first half hour is peppered conservatively with the odd scene that makes you roll your eyes and think you're in for the standard fare of horror cliches. But no...it quickly rids itself of these in a few left turns, almost as if it was playing with our expections all along, the naughty scamp!
It's very independent; aka low budget. But it hides it impressively well. The shots are expertly done, soundtrack minimalist, but consistent and utilises a certain method that I've noticed is more common in modern times, but is effective for reasons I'd rather not detail for fear of ruining the magic. Yet again, the film is greatly focused on character drama and interaction as opposed to what many would expect from any title classifying itself as 'horror' ...also...the front cover doesn't help, it's as generic a horror film cover as you can get. I would've gone with something like an artsy shot of a subway or even a delish lasagne. Recommended if you like lasagne.
Most of the points I made above can be Copy-pasted here. The plot is different and set in Britainland, with a few far more disturbing moments, but it's an independent horror that is more an atmospheric character-driven Yadda Yadda, you know the drill...except this is about retired hitmen and probably annoyed a lot of people who looked at the title, read the synopsis about retired hitmen doing one last job, that oh by the way it's a horror, and thought they'd be in for a rip-roaring gory action fright-fest of a time.
Only to find with the bluest of blue manballs that it's really a slow-burn drama/horror with a crushing atmosphere that would leave them depressed and confused by the end.
So recommended if you liked what The W/VVitch felt like, but with tired, ragged British blue-collar hitmen and weird upper-class cults instead.
Similar to 'The Man Who Invented Christmas', this is probably more of a 7.5/10, but per rounding, gonna give it 7/10.
Anyway, if you've seen the trailers for this film, you can probably guess where it's gonna go. If you haven't, I'll start off - a boy with a facial deformity who's been home schooled all his life ends up going to school. At first, the kids are uneasy around him, some of them being absolute jerks, but over time, a few of them warm up to him and...yeah, you can see where this is going. The question you're probably asking is whether the film subverts the cliches of these stories, or does something new.
To answer that the answer is "no...not really...but it still makes this story feel fresh." The reason being that while you can probably tell where the above story is going, it's a story that, at most, accounts for 50% of the overall story. Because while our ugly ducking is the main character, he's not the only character, and the film spends a lot of time on other characters. The film concludes with the quote (paraphrased) "be kind, because everyone is fighting their own battle. And everyone deserves a standing ovation at least once in their life." Our protagonist has hurdles to overcome because of his deformity, but the film shows that everyone has hurdles to overcome in their lives. In this sense, he's no different. One of these sub-plots kinda resolves itself off-screen, but overall, it's a fresh take on an old story. I'll also say that it's a nice look at Gen Z/Gen Alpha. Kids are still kids, but the things kids grow up with now is different - Minecraft instead of Lego, the Wii instead of the SNES, etc. The more things change, the more they stay the same...even wonky child acting, admittedly, but overall the acting is good.
And I will admit that it's heartwarming to see this kind of film. Is it comfort food? Yeah, kinda, but given how spiteful people can be to each other in this day and age, I will admit I smiled at seeing a film that did champion compassion over cruelty.
The Last Jedi - Looks good. Sounds good. Story is weak. Characters are either two dimensional or annoying. 5/10
Tile: The Death Of Stalin
Genre: Political comedy
Russia, 1953. When Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) has a fatal heart attack, it creates a power vacuum inside the highest levels of government. Cue a pile-up of plotting, as his subordinates scramble to take control.
The Death of Stalin comes from the same people who did 'The Thick Of It', which is a political comedy in the same vein. The comedy stems from the fact that, in this place and time, every word matters: dropping the wrong name, or laughing at the wrong joke, could result in your swift downfall. Iannucci and co-writers David Schneider and Ian Martin follow the broad plot strokes of the graphic novel the film is based on, but ramp up the sycophancy, cronyism and doublespeak, drawing out the inherent ludicrousness of each scenario. As the members of the Presidium vie to outscheme each other following Stalin's demise, there's an exhilarating precision to the dialogue, and fans of weapons-grade insults won't be disappointed either. 'I fucked Germany', brags Zhukov at one point. 'I think I can take a flesh lump in a fucking waistcoat.'
It's full of absurdity, the kind of situations that only occur when too few people have too much power. But where The Death Of Stalin really hits home is in the moments when it drops the comedy and reveals what's really at stake. A few scenes with Beria demonstrate, hauntingly, the depths of evil to which some will stoop when there are no checks or balances. And the film's final ten minutes, as the laughs dry up and it lays out its bleak endgame, is a proper gutpuncher. For all its entertainingly abhorrent characters, it's a deeply moral piece of work. Just one that has a corpse-moving scene straight out of a Blackpool panto.
This wasn't something I was originally intending to waffle incessantly about, but after a 3rd viewing (not my own choosing), there grew this weird feeling that perhaps the common criticism of the unconvincing romance had not been as focused a criticism as it could be. Though I don't have time to scour every review online to find out, so maybe it has already been covered. It's a rather interesting one for me personally, because the film is mostly great overall, and could have been so much more if it weren't for one baffling decision.
First off, the romance...that girl at the diner that comes on way too strong to a guy she just met, is fine...perhaps a little troubled in the mind if she comes onto every half-decent looking guy she sees at work, but at least charming and a likeable character on screen.
The problem is the other half of this, more specifically; the casting of the main protagonist. Now he's written as a fairly interesting, caring character, he can also pull off the smooth physical side of performing. But he has absolutely no charisma, and the emotional range of a young Tom Cruise with all the shit-eating smugness sucked out of him, to the point where all these other actors look like they're acting at him, and that diner scene started giving me awkward memories of Geralt in The Witcher series where every charming, interesting lady wants to bang him for literally no reason other than he's the self-insert main protagonist.
But every other character here is perfectly cast and performs wonderfully...why is this the one person that has to fall flat? Why does it have to be the main character we're seeing this entire experience through? I look at his cold, emotionless eyes and think of The Witcher 3 again. An amazing world with believable NPC's, highly rated...but a sticking point that doesn't seem to bother most people, being the dull casting of the main protag (to be fair, Baby has an interesting character in writing unlike Geralt). So is it a matter of who can associate with the self-insert protag versus who cannot? (Or would rather not, in my case, as it has always made me feel like being part of a cheap and sleazy trick).
Because let's face it; Baby is unquestionably a self-insert for young males. He has all the skills and good shit that a typical young boy would love to see themselves as. And when it comes to that initial diner meeting scene, the girl knows absolutely nothing about the guy, but goes all out on the uberflirts towards the void of charisma anyway.
The person self-inserting would think "well of course! I'm a goddamn badboy street racer doing all the crimes, earning all that badass money, but still way better than those criminals btw. AND I'm a kind, caring musician with sweet smooth moves too! Of course she fancies the hell outta me, duh!"
Except only the viewer knows that, not her. And it's a pretty shallow romance, but whatevs...young people hormones and all that jazz. It's not like that can't be done...you just need some sort of charisma to sell it convincingly at the very least.
Was there no other young male actor that could perform the physical movement for the role? It doesn't look that demanding though. Was he the only boyish-faced guy capable of fending off Kevin Spacey's sexual advances on set? Was it a called favour/deal from a parent with sway in the industry that he had to be cast as main player in the next film? Casting has not been an issue before in Edgar Wright's work. I need to know what's going on here. Reveal your troubled secrets for this otherwise entertaining movie, Edgar!! Must I investigate further??
Other than that, yeah, recommended. But, confuddlingly, it could've been so much better with a single, simple difference.
The last two films were...
The Last Jedi, and Spider-Man Homecoming.
Using my objectively objective system I'd give the former I Can't Figure Whether I Hate It And All Of Rian's Potentially Clueless Decisions Or Just Think It's A Poorly Executed, Wheelspinning Waste Of Time out of 11.
The latter? Probably One Of The Best MCU Entries out of--- well, out of all the films in the MCU, obviously. Very funny, very clever, and Tom Holland seems born for the role. At least until he ages out, which he will do very quickly... Ideally they should've cast him even younger to get more believable teen Spidey mileage out of him. The final post-credit stinger was one of the best of the lot, too, and made me really wish I'd seen it in a theatre.
I kinda want to see TLJ again just to see what the hell my real opinion of it may be in time... but I'm fairly sure I dislike so much of what they did that I just don't want to see those dumbass moments again. I would say I'm surprisingly grateful Abrams is back for the [evidently idiotically poorly thought out] trilogy's conclusion, but he has so many issues to deal with that I can't see how he can do anything interesting with it. TLJ arguably threw away every ounce of potential TFA set up, and left the series and all its characters in - bizarrely, given TLJ's flirtation with an interesting potential theme - an offensively blandly conventional place.
...I wouldn't say it's 'worse' than the prequels, but is it perhaps more misguided? The prequels had cohesion; the banal, puddle shallow cohesion birthed by a rather talentless egomaniac surrounded by yes-men. The current trilogy clearly had no cohesion, which made Rian's wacky antics arguably more destructive than anything in the prequels (relative to the prequel's own [terrible] arc, mind).
For me, TLJ also undercuts much of the mythic mystery in TFA, so it hurts a previous entry. The prequels didn't really hurt the originals, they just provoked various kinds of mild embarrassment when you remembered that dumb kid (lil' Ani or emo Ani) was supposed to have grown up to be Vader. TLJ might've derailed a great trilogy in progress.
The Last Jedi - ?/10
Oh, it's so very pretty. The locations, the effects work, the cinematography, they all come together for some really beautiful visuals. Out of all the movies I've seen this year, only Blade Runner 2049 can match it.
It's also a very confusing movie. Not the story, that's pretty basic stuff, but it is supposed to lead to. What is their plan for this trilogy? The Force Awakens set up a bunch of stuff: the mystery of Snoke, allusions to the significance of Rey's parentage, what seemed like the start of a redemption arc for Kylo Ren. The Last Jedi essentially tears all of that back down and sets up an entirely new stage. I get it, they seem to want to break away from the OT so this new one can stand on its own feet, perhaps because one of the prominent criticisms on TFA was arguably its reliance on nostalgia. I'm fine with that. Why do it in the second act tho, 2/3rds into the trilogy, when JJ Abrams had already established a vision for it before? It comes off a wasteful use of runtime. I don't know, maybe I'm just too stupid to see what they're going for.
As a sci-fi romp with lots of exciting action scenes, The Last Jedi was very entertaining. I don't regret seeing it. But I wonder what they're going to do now.
Bright - 6/10
Started out pretty good, with solid worldbuilding and a very strong Shadowrun vibe that I liked. The premise, for those unfamiliar, is an urban fantasy/buddy cop film where Will Smith is an LAPD officer stuck with the country's first orc cop, in a society where rich white elves run the world and orcs are stuck with the stigma of having sided with some kind of Sauron-figure two thousand years ago.
I like it because it's like "what if Lord of the Rings, but also Bad Boys," and the mix works. Orcs get a lot of shit from other orcs if they aren't "blooded," and the main orc character (played by an unrecognisable Joel Edgerton) actually files down his tusks to appear less threatening. Fairies are a backyard pest, like raccoons; elves live in gated communities and hoard all the world's wealth by virtue of being a Tolkienesque super-race. The ancient order of righteous paladins who felled the Dark Lord two thousand years ago? They're still around, but because of their above-the-law mentality and tendency to stock up on C-4, they're basically a terrorist group reduced to making IEDs in slum apartments. And when the film's Macguffin - a magic wand - shows up, everyone reacts as if it's a loose nuclear warhead. One character actually describes it as a "nuclear bomb that grants wishes."
So the mix works, and Smith and Edgerton do a good job, but sadly the film flags at the halfway mark and basically loses its direction in the last third. The plot is about a cult of Satanist-expies who are trying to recover their magic wand so they can resurrect the Sauron-expy who they worship. At some point in the third act, one character starts dying for a reason that isn't explained, and for other reasons that are not explained, the buddy cops have to go back to the apartment they visited at the start of the film, and for another reason that isn't explained, the cultists are also there waiting for them. That leads to a climactic showdown, which is good (think two beat cops with shotguns facing off against a coven of evil wizards) but which drags on afterwards so that there can be a predictable reveal about one of the characters and a flashy CGI explosion and by that point, I was like "what is even going on anymore?"
It would've been better if a) the Sauron-expy had actually shown up, maybe by being halfway-resurrected; this has the upside of letting us see an LAPD officer telling Sauron to freeze and put down the magic wand, and b) the predictable reveal had not been...revealed.
Basically, good worldbuilding, good acting, a very enjoyable film for the first two-thirds, but with an unsatisfying and slapdash ending. As close to a Shadowrun film adaptation as we're likely to get.
Your review sums up also my thoughts on it pretty well. I don't know much about Shadowrun, though. It's a fun, straightforward movie with a lazy ending patched together. Maybe the Dark Lord will return in the sequel.
Mayhem 5/10. Hey, it's that guy from The Walking Dead! This is a mad, mad piece of, well, mayhem. It's some sort of corporate world satire that they try to mix into the violent destruction. And it doesn't really work(?). It's a mess. I'm not bored enough to write anything more elaborate, nor do I want to take another look at the movie.
Oh, it's so very pretty. The locations, the effects work, the cinematography, they all come together for some really beautiful visuals. Out of all the movies I've seen this year, only Blade Runner 2049 can match it.
If I hadn't just finished my tea a few minutes ago and had had a mouthful when reading that, I'm fairly sure tea would be dripping down the laptop screen right now...
2049 was a mind blowingly beautiful film - a veritable love letter not just to the original [inferior... ] film, but to cinema in general, and I can't wait to see it again on disc.
But I found The Last Jedi to be the most dreary and uninspired looking Star Wars of them all. It had some, er, money shot moments and sets, sure, but jeese, from Canto Bight to the drab ship interiors, to that bloody island, sometimes I had to consciously remind myself I was supposed to be watching a film set in a universe largely defined by Ralph McQuarrie's genius. TFA and Rogue One were masterclasses of production design and photography, and TLJ was pitiful compared to those.
Like I said, it had a few moments, and an imaginatively staged finale, but that was all.
Maybe I missed all the eye candy because I was so flummoxed by the dumbass narrative decisions or the incessantly awkward humour.
What is their plan for this trilogy?
Evidently they thought it best to just wing it with one of the largest franchises in film history...
To me, I think it's going to be a 'be careful what you wish for' film, re the popular assumption that giving individual directors real freedom with a franchise film is always a preferable thing.
The Last Jedi essentially tears all of that back down and sets up an entirely new stage.
I don't think they did that at all. TLJ flirted - brilliantly - with a genuinely interesting direction, and then within the same damned scene wussed out. Maybe Abrams can perform a miracle and do something interesting with where it all ended up, but I couldn't give a toss about any of the principle characters any more, because it seems they're just going through the motions.
Why on earth did Rian think it smart to essentially troll people who invested in TFA's genuinely quite intriguing questions, and then - within the same dumb film - just hit the reset button? So yeah, I wholly agree TLJ was a thoroughly perplexing experience.
The Last Jedi, 5/10 (maybe 4/10, kinda hard to decide)
This is about on par with Kingsman: the Golden Circle and Justice League for me. In fact, it's kind of a middle ground between the disappointment of the former, and the painful blandness and shitty script of the latter. I find it very hard to actually say something good about this film. The shot with the exploding First Order fleet was absolutely beautiful, and Kylo Ren is made into a somewhat interesting character. Daisy Ridley is as charismatic as ever, but...
In fact, that's the sentence structure that mostly describes my reaction to this film: backhanded compliment followed by a stern "but":
- Daisy Ridley is charismatic and likable, but her character is terribly written and she's given nothing to do
- Mark Hamill plays an old grouch very well, but it's a total betrayal of the character he portrays
- The special effects are fantastic, but mostly used for utter fucking nonsense
- The story takes interesting turns, but discards basically everything from the Force Awakens seemingly for its own sake
- The way Luke tricks Kylo at the end is cool and clever, but is followed up by a character choice so nonsensical it breaks the film
In all honesty, if this wasn't a Star Wars film, I'd barely remember even seeing it, despite it being the day before yesterday. The whole film, and what little emotions it evoked, were gone from my mind in a timespan shorter than its running time. It's an almost paradoxical feeling: I feel like I should be mad about how poorly though out and nonsensical the script is, and yet I can't even muster the strength to do that, because the film was so forgettable and utterly insipid.
Don't bother with this shit.
It's realy long (about 3 hours), but interesting. Despite of the name of the movie, the focus is made on the main antagonist Salieri and his mixed feeling of envy and admiration to genial Mozart.
The Phantom of Liberty (1974, France) - 8/10
The weirdest Luis Bunuel movie I've seen. Even weirder than Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. But funny. Socially relevant, like his other movies.
The Last Jedi - Looks good. Sounds good. Story is weak. Characters are either two dimensional or annoying. 5/10
Par for the course
Re-watched The Faculty today. 7/10.
This is probably my "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" of horror movies, meaning I could probably watch it once or twice a year and never get bored. Teenage me thought this movie was amazing back in the day and all these mid to late 90's horror movies will always have a special place in my heart. Is it the best thing ever? No, but it's just a fun horror/sci-fi movie with a great cast. Also doesn't end with a stupid jump scare like every horror movie these days. The actors are good, the story is a little derivative for obvious reasons, and the CGI is a little dated obviously, but the movie doesn't rely on it too much, so I'd say it still holds up pretty well. It's better than shit like Annabelle, Ouija, etc.
I'll just do the last 3 movies I saw in cinemas:
The Last Jedi-9/10
A film that's nowhere near as bad as some would have you believe. The tedious filler sidequest is an obvious point against the movie, but the visual spectacle and emotional depth of the rest of the movie more than make up for it. I might be biased as the OT was my childhood but...whatever! TLJ is awesome, and I don't care if you say otherwise.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle-2/10
Oh man, I did not expect this movie to be as bad as it was (which is funny, because that's the exact opposite of what I said after watching the first movie). It's not particularly funny (with maybe one or two exceptions), the CGI is still awful and Matthew Vaughn's bullshit technology hard-on means that it's everywhere now, the villains are bland and have whack motivations, the characters just aren't that likeable this time around and (perhaps most importantly of all) the film forgets that it's supposed to be semi-satirical. Oh, and the action just isn't that fun either.
It's an MCU film, a good MCU film at that. It's a fun visual spectacle that deserves to be remembered as Thor's best outing. Actually that's really not saying much, is it? The only downside is that, thanks to the trailers for Infinity War, we know that the happy ending is basically meaningless.
What is their plan for this trilogy?
Hook 1990, this movie makes me cry even to this day...
Life. The how-to of being a crap astronaut.
I've been meaning to watch this one for what feels like ages now. Finally found some quiet time to sit down and watch it, and I was not disappointed. Usually when I'm interested in a movie, I try to avoid knowing much about it, and this is one of those movies where that definetely pays off, imo. I just knew "vegetarian girl becomes a cannibal". I don't even want to say anything, I was expecting High Tension and Martyrs and what I got left me pleasantly surprised. The main actress is really good and the movie is beautiful. And french students have huge dorms apparently. I didn't see the trailer for this movie, but I'd avoid IMDb because looking at it now, even the photos there are very spoilerish.
The Last Jedi
Not a Star Wars fan, though I do generally like the designs of the ships, armour etc. Also not really into watching films either and haven't seen the "first" 2 films.
Visually very good, the actioney space pew-pew bits were great. Character wise I felt that Kylo Ren looked like someone who listened to a lot of Marilyn Manson in the late 90's and that General guy was some ginger kid they dragged out of 6th form, how he ever got to command anything beyond the chicken soup vending machine I have no idea.
There were a few comedic lines put in that felt very out of place. Especially the "could you at least put on a towel" bit between Rey and Ren. It felt like it should have been delivered by Alicia Silverstone in "Sassy Teen Movie". I dunno, maybe the idea was to put it across that Rey and Ren are awkward teenagers or something.
Mark Hamil's grumpy old Luke Skywalker was pretty good. Not sure why he died at the end exactly, maybe force projecting over vast distances wipes you out or something.
I liked the way that the save the fleet plan didn't work.
Anway, overall I liked it, I don't give enough of a shit about Star Wars to pick it apart for whatever inconsistencies etc a fan might pick up on.
Blade of the Immortal (Japan, 2017) - 8/10
There was really no way I would dislike this one, considering I've been a fan of Hiroaki Samura's manga series for over a decade now; the movie does a great job of putting it into live action, condensing the plotlines from the manga's first (and better) half while taking minimal (and generally understandable) liberties with it.
A comic adaptation done right.
an angry, lonely, old, violent drunk beats and kills his dog in a fit of unexplained rage, buries it. The viewer is not given any more information to go on throughout this film than what they see in the moment from any character. Film centres after as friendship begins and grows with a devout charity shop worker who is regularly abused by her spouse. Not a bright or colourful film, but very emotional and deals with themes of regret, repression and redemption in very real, human ways. Won't forget it any time soon. Brilliant main performance by Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman supported with the always recognisable yet eternally underappreciated Eddie Marsan. If you want to know what 'gritty' is, well this would be a start at least. A holy-fuck-my-heart-is-alive out-of-ten. Some wonderful talent
i'm quite crap at explaining, so maybe IMDb users can fare better: http://m.imdb.com/title/tt1204340/reviews?ref_=m_tt_urv
The Post (8/10)
Well, saw The Post and it's the best film I've seen all year. Course it's also the only film I've seen all year, but...shadup.
So, Spielberg proves that after his blunder with The BFG, he's still got it. Course, Ready Player One is coming (bleh), but still, he's got it. Same style of directing, same use of Tom Hanks, etc. Also helps that the subject matter is compelling, going into how the New York Times and Washington Post had to deal with leaks pertaining to the Vietnam War, and the Truman-Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon administrations had effectively lied to the public for decades. Definitely interesting subject matter, and in this era of so-called "fake news," very relevant, in regards to how it explores the relationship between the government and media, and how one balances freedom of speech vs. government security.
Infernal Affairs (2002, Hong Kong)
Second time watching this. First was about nine years ago. I like it, but The Departed is better. This is a good story, but it's delivered with so much cheese ("I dreamed about you too." Ugh...) and I don't like the soundtrack. Scorsese is also a better director and I found the Americans' acting and how they reacted to the situations more believable, even if the remake was over the top.