The Official Review Thread of 2017

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby dws1982 » Fri May 04, 2018 10:47 am

flipp525 wrote:A Quiet Passion is a consistently moving film and really just beautifully written. Of course, I knew that Cynthia Nixon would be the big draw (and she does not disappoint, delivering a deeply felt performance as Emily Dickinson)...I was surprised by just how many of the supporting performances I ended up responding to. From Jodhi May to Jennifer Ehle to Catherine Bailey (who almost steals the show at points and has some great lines). Joanna Bacon (who plays Emily’s mother) delivers a monologue about a young man she knew in church as a youth that, I think, is one of the most moving and heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen on film. This film is a true gem that really should have made more waves this season. Terence Davies’ direction is very profound and delicate at times, the waning sunlight on the door as Dickinson laments the spectre of a man who may not ever come is just haunting.

Watched this last weekend and loved it. I've not been a huge fan of Cynthia Nixon in the past, but she really is excellent here--I this her coldness really works to her (and the film's) advantage--and like you mentioned, much of the supporting cast registers really strongly. This may be my favorite ensemble of 2017.

I also think that, even though it's not dealing with a child growing up in Ireland (like some of Davies' previous films have), this feels like a very personal film: As a celibate gay man, he's kind of been forced, uncomfortably, to find solace and meaning in filmmaking that many of his friends and siblings find in family and marriage. He's also said that he thinks he would've been celibate and alone even if he were straight, that no one would've been interested in him. With that knowledge, I strongly feel like like Emily Dickinson is, in a lot of ways, an avatar for Davies himself. Even without that, it's just an excellent, fascinating movie. Can't believe I put it off because I thought it would be boring.

------
Last Flag Flying, on the other hand, didn't go so well for me. I think it's just a Linklater thing with me at this point. I get that with many of his films he is trying to go for something that is (seemingly) free-form and not tethered to rigid structure. He wants the experience of his films to be somewhat akin to the experience of everyday life, which is often experienced casually and free of big moments. But that approach doesn't serve this materially well, because it's undoubtedly about a very big, very pivotal moment in someone life. This movie just feels so aimless, like you could walk out of the room for fifteen minutes and come back in without feeling lost or having missed anything significant. Some filmmakers can pull this off, but I've never felt like Linklater was one who could because I think his pacing is always really weak. At one point, I was shocked when I looked at the timer and saw that it was only an hour in. There's no excuse for this movie, which could've been done in an easy ninety minutes, to be over two hours. Has some nice moments, and Carrell is really solid, but Bryan Cranston has turned into a boring ham.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:00 am

As I said in my DVD review, it's not a great movie but there's greatness in it.

As a biography of P.T. Barnum, it's sorely lacking, but as an ode to show business, it works. Unlike the incredibly over-rated La La Land, all the actors here can sing and sing they do. It's really infectious. My great-nieces and nephews love it. The youngest girl, a three-year-old, is able to sing "This Is Me" at the top of her lungs to the amusement of her one-year-old brother and the family dog and the amazement of her parents and grandparents. And she's not the only one.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby OscarGuy » Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:22 am

Amidst the hate, I will be a lone voice of appreciation. I enjoyed the hell out of it. Note that word: enjoyed. The film had a LOT of problems, mostly in the script department. It was long series of poorly connected show-stopping musical numbers. I know some said the songs sounded too much alike, but I thought each was a terrific, inventive piece. There was some similarity between a couple of the dance numbers, but there was also a lot of creativity in most of them. I found most of the songs rousing numbers. I don't hate the film at all. I like the film quite well. I can understand why people don't like it, but I also don't quite understand the vitriol against the film. It's much better than either Nine or Mamma Mia, but it's no Sound of Music.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:04 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Way later than everyone else, but, yeesh, The Greatest Showman is terrible. I had BJ's exact response: horror at it from literally the opening number. It's got a crappy score (I think WAY inferior to La La Land), not just bad but repetitively bad choreography (I felt like every time the circus freaks did a number, it was the same steps in different costumes), and as for the script...it felt like it was adapted from a children's section biography. I used to read those things when I was a kid ("Lou Gehrig, Boy of the Sandlots"), and they were notable for excluding any grown-up emotions or motivations. Barnum had to have been a man of complex, contradictory motives, but here he's politically woke before his time on a myriad of issues, and, though he promotes and travels with a glamorous female singer, why, he'd just never think for a second of being unfaithful to his wife. (And, on the Jenny Lind subject: to what end do you have a famed opera singer perform 21st century pop? Couldn't the composers have come up with something that vaguely suggested opera, even if they mostly cheated? The anachronistic nature of the score was a problem in general, but this was stupefying.) The film is also mostly lacking in real drama -- small issues arise (they can't at first sell tickets to the museum; Zac Efron's father opposes his son's dating a black woman), but they're resolved so quickly that they hardly register as friction. Even the 11 o'clock series of catastrophes (the circus fire, Lind's quitting, the kiss scandal) are offset pretty easily and in very little screen-time...which reinforces the feeling of this being a child's movie (or, maybe, a particularly bland movie from the "all ages" era of Hollywood).

The only reason to even talk about this thing is the baffling amount of movie it's made. It's not just that it made a small fortune; it's that it did it without reviews or a big opening, suggesting there's a big word-of-mouth audience for thus kind of claptrap. Has such an appetite for musicals been bred in folks, weaned on High School Musical and Glee, that they'll flock to something like this? If so, studios have been missing a bet for some time. And I fear for the crud we'll see in the years just ahead.

ON EDIT: Looking through Barnum's Wikipedia, reading about some of the things Barnum did, I'm reminded that, if I'm not mistaken, I actually read one of those kids' biographies on Barnum.


I'm right dab smack in the middle with my reaction. I'm both surprised by the adulation this has received from the public at large. I mean, I thought it was just okay. When I was walking out of the film, I overheard a middle-aged lady remark (in Filipino), "Oh, that was wonderful!" I've had quite a few non-movie people Facebook friends say they absolutely love it. A co-worker of mine when we were working on the Oscars and she was looking at the list of nominees (again, not really a film person) was surprised to find out The Greatest Showman wasn't nominated for Best Picture. Hell, my 6-year-old NEPHEW loved it. I overheard him singing the opening song. I found the overall film to be kind of bland so I don't get this reaction.

As for the people who actively dislike it, I personally don't get the problem with the score. Yes, it's anachronistic. But it's clear that it's deliberately so. It's not the first musical to have an anachronistic store (i.e. Moulin Rouge). I like some of it (though Michelle Williams' solo is terrible, I think). But I didn't particularly think the score is offensive.

I've reviewed the film below. I'm very middling about it. I thought it was just bland. Neither the second coming of musicals nor the argument for the awfulness of musicals. Yes, it is indeed a pop musical of young people who grew up with Glee and High School Musical. I don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with that. This is just a mediocre example of it.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:53 pm

Way later than everyone else, but, yeesh, The Greatest Showman is terrible. I had BJ's exact response: horror at it from literally the opening number. It's got a crappy score (I think WAY inferior to La La Land), not just bad but repetitively bad choreography (I felt like every time the circus freaks did a number, it was the same steps in different costumes), and as for the script...it felt like it was adapted from a children's section biography. I used to read those things when I was a kid ("Lou Gehrig, Boy of the Sandlots"), and they were notable for excluding any grown-up emotions or motivations. Barnum had to have been a man of complex, contradictory motives, but here he's politically woke before his time on a myriad of issues, and, though he promotes and travels with a glamorous female singer, why, he'd just never think for a second of being unfaithful to his wife. (And, on the Jenny Lind subject: to what end do you have a famed opera singer perform 21st century pop? Couldn't the composers have come up with something that vaguely suggested opera, even if they mostly cheated? The anachronistic nature of the score was a problem in general, but this was stupefying.) The film is also mostly lacking in real drama -- small issues arise (they can't at first sell tickets to the museum; Zac Efron's father opposes his son's dating a black woman), but they're resolved so quickly that they hardly register as friction. Even the 11 o'clock series of catastrophes (the circus fire, Lind's quitting, the kiss scandal) are offset pretty easily and in very little screen-time...which reinforces the feeling of this being a child's movie (or, maybe, a particularly bland movie from the "all ages" era of Hollywood).

The only reason to even talk about this thing is the baffling amount of movie it's made. It's not just that it made a small fortune; it's that it did it without reviews or a big opening, suggesting there's a big word-of-mouth audience for thus kind of claptrap. Has such an appetite for musicals been bred in folks, weaned on High School Musical and Glee, that they'll flock to something like this? If so, studios have been missing a bet for some time. And I fear for the crud we'll see in the years just ahead.

ON EDIT: Looking through Barnum's Wikipedia, reading about some of the things Barnum did, I'm reminded that, if I'm not mistaken, I actually read one of those kids' biographies on Barnum.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby dws1982 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:47 am

Maudie
Sometimes I see a movie, and I think, "Damien would've liked this". Maudie is one of those movies. Ethan Hawke would've been a selling point, and he's really good here, easily one of my favorite performances from him (admittedly, I'm not always a wild fan). The movie itself just has a kind, gentle way about in the way shows two unlikely people grow and build a life together. Hawkins is just excellent in this; a lot of actresses would've really shortchanged this character, or reduced it to a lot of physical tics, but Hawkins makes the physical tics seem completely natural and creates a truly believable, moving character. I was a little underwhelmed with her in The Shape of Water, but this is undeniably the work of a major actress. It's not a major movie, but if these types of obscure-artist biopics are going to be made, this is how they should be done.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:40 am

Au revoir là-haut (See You Up There) directed by Albert Dupontel

Over the past three weeks I have been attending the annual French Festival that travels around Australia this time of year. It always starts in Sydney at the very beginning of the month and ends at the end of the month. There is always a wide selection of films and they play across 5 venues on multiple screens in each of these venues. As a result the films receive double digits screenings with plenty of opportunities to catch the ones one want to and add in more as the festival progresses. That the Caesars are also held during this period and I take note of the winner and attempt to see those if they are screening.

For the 2018 festival I saw 19 films, the most I have ever attended, though I found the films mainly ranging from good to downright awful. Ismael's Ghosts directed by Arnaud Desplechin a case in point of downright awful. I'm not even sure what version I saw as the viewed one was longer than the running time indicated in the program.

Easily the best film of the festival for actor Albert Dupontel's See You Up There, which recently won a swag of technical Caesars as well as adapted screenplay & director, both for Albert Dupontel himself.

Dupontel has dabbled in directing over the year and I recall seeing an earlier work titled The Villain which was virtually unwatchable - a comedy that was painful to endure. As an actor he has been a reliable presence in French cinema for two decades but nothing prepared me for the utter brilliance and scope of this amazing film.

I'm awful at writing synopsis so I'll just copy the one from imdb:

"November 1919. Two soldiers - a disfigured but brilliant artist and an ex-accountant - start a memorial con. But in the France of the Roaring Twenties, their adventures soon turn dangerous."

The above description on hints at the brilliance of complexity of the film as it weaves it ways through numerous characters and situations both funny and tragic. Dupontel has done a brilliant job a recreating WW1 and post war France with period details done to a tee. His cast is first rate and special mention should go to Nahuel Perez Biscayart, from 120BPM, who plays a badly disfigured soldier, who is only able to communicate through grunting that it translated by the charming young Louise (Heloise Balster), the only person who is encounters that is not repulsed by his disfiguration. Biscayart spends most of the film hidden behind masks with only his expressive eyes visible.

Laurent Lafitte (Isabelle Huppert tormentor in Elle) is the villain of the piece and one of the most vile ones to ever grace the cinema screen.

The films moves a rocket speed and is always so busy. At times Dupontel seems to be challenging Ken Russell in his extravagance, particularly the ballroom scene in which a party appears to running wild and out of control.

But this is masterful story telling, so beautifully presented and so cinematic and original. Given it's late year release in France it will surely be considered for Frances 2018 entree for the Foreign Language category. To date the film has only been picked up for release in one English speaking market (Australia). Hopefully the UK & US will not be far behind. There is a French DVD and Blu Ray release and my understanding is that they do have English subtitles. Will confirm when I receive my copy. Meanwhile treat yourselves to the stills on imdb.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Mar 24, 2018 10:39 am

WONDERSTRUCK
Cast: Oakes Fegley, Millicent Simonds, Julianne Moore, Jaden Michael, Michelle Williams, Cory Michael Smith, Tom Noonan.
Dir: Todd Haynes.

It's 1977. After his mother dies and he's rendered deaf via being struck by lightning, a young boy goes to New York to find his father. Meanwhile, back in 1927, a young deaf girl goes to New York to try and reconnect with her mother. How do these two separate narratives fit together? Well, that's the mystery. Yes, this film is no Carol. I think a lot of the reason why this didn't take off in a bigger way is that it's living in the shadow of director Todd Haynes's undeniable master work. Now having seen it, it certainly deserved way better than how it has been treated by critics, its own studio and the public at large. It's really a wonderfully made, solid piece of work which deserves to find a wider audience. It doesn't break new ground but it does have a lot of heart and a lot of warmth and sometimes that's all you need.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby dws1982 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:14 am

Tulip Fever and Breathe
I'm mentioning these together, because they're both really bad. I'm a fan of a lot of the actors in these movies, but they have nothing to work with here. There's no doubt that Breathe is the "better" movie, and benefits from not having been edited and re-edited to incoherence the way Tulip Fever was, but it's so safe and eager-to-please that it plays as a parody of a Oscar-seeking British biopic. Very little visual interest as well, despite being (bizarrely) photographed in the 2.76:1 ratio. Tulip Fever is a bigger mess, but it also feels more alive. I'm not one to go in for the "so bad it's good" thing, but the sheer ridiculousness of it is kind of enjoyable.

Thank You For Your Service
As a fan of American Sniper, I felt like the third act let it down a bit--dramatically speaking, it either should've ended with Chris Kyle still struggling to "return home", or that final act should've been expanded to at least 30 minutes to do justice to that aspect of the story. This movie--written and directed by the writer of Sniper--is essentially a feature-length version of that third act. There are echoes of films like The Best Years of Our Lives and The Men, as well as American Sniper and The Hurt Locker, but this is definitely its own movie--Hall's style may not be far from the classical Eastwood approach, but he's not aping it the way that, say, Robert Lorenz did (badly) in Trouble With the Curve. It's a surprisingly smart movie, not explicitly political, but there's a definitely a political undercurrent there: this is a movie about young men who go to war for a country that isn't well-equipped to prepare them for life after they leave the military; in many cases they come from lower-income backgrounds and are much more reliant on the promises of insurance and education that come with joining the military; when they come home with physical or mental wounds, they're met with an endless line (almost literally) of bureaucracy as they try to figure out how to get the help that they've been promised. But there's a surprising generosity to these scenes as well--even the ineffectual workers at the VA aren't portrayed as anything approaching bad guys. They're fully aware of their limitations and how little they can do to do to help people. It's also a really good portrayal of of PTSD, and the various forms that it takes. I liked this a lot more than I expected. Cast is really good as well--Teller, definitely, but also Keisha Castle-Hughes (remember her?) in a relatively small supporting role, Haley Bennet, Beulah Koale, and Amy Schumer in a dramatic role.

It just goes to show the sheer randomness of the Oscar race every year. Slightly shift the circumstance, whether it's better promotion, or a better release date, and I don't have much doubt that Miles Teller would've been in the Best Actor conversation for this. He deserved to be.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:15 am

MOLLY'S GAME
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Brian D'Arcy James, Chris O'Dowd, Bill Camp, JC Mackenzie, Samantha Isler, Justin Kirk, Graham Greene, Joe Keery.
Dir: Aaron Sorkin.

This is the true story of a young woman who ran multi-million dollar underground high-stakes poker games attended by billionaires and other high-profile rich celebrities. This is writer Aaron Sorkin's first foray into actually directing his own material and though it's far from perfect, it's a decent enough debut. I knew next to nothing of this story and I also know next to nothing about poker but still, I found it largely interesting. The film tends to "tell" a bit too much with the voice over narration and it's a tad too long but Jessica Chastain's performance keeps it on check. The supporting cast is also good and Kevin Costner was actually a standout in this, who knew? Ha.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:30 am

I found Good Time a perfectly fine crime thriller, but didn't figure out why everyone was so over the moon for it (and I liked Heaven Knows What a lot). A lot of it could be that it contains perhaps the worst performance I saw all of last year from Bennie Safdie as the developmentally disabled brother. It is so phony and dishonest that I couldn't buy into most of the rest of the film, as well-crafted as it was.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:26 am

I pleased to read you liked the film Magila, though I suspect it plays better in a crowded cinema than at home as one gets to gasp out loud with the rest of the audience at the appropriate times. After seeing Good Time I seeked out one of the directors earlier works, Heaven Knows What and was disappointed in the film. It was good but never had the kinetic energy of Good Time.

The Safdie Brothers have apparently signed up with Paramount to do a remake of Walter Hills 48 HRS (1982). I really don't know what to make of that or even why as the original has already spawned a hideous sequel several years later. Anyway I hope they find the time to make more personally films and enhances the skills. They may have something very special up their sleeves.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:47 pm

Saw Good Time. I kind of liked it. It reminded me of Scorsese's After Hours which was also about a crazy night in NYC, albeit a different borough with different situations.

I grew up in Queens and lived around the Jackson Heights - Rego Park area for two years in the 1970s. I've been to that White Castle!

I'd say it was one of the better small films of the year with good performances all around, but Pattinson doesn't quite rise to the ranks of the top five actors of the year for me.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:13 am

Big Magilla wrote:
dws1982 wrote:Good Time
This may be not he wrong side of bizarre for some (Magilla, I believe you'll absolutely hate it), but I loved this.


Could be - Amazon says "customers who bought this also bought The Killing of a Sacred Deer, A Ghost Story and The Florida Project", three films I did hate, but I will check it out at some point. I do think that Pattinson is a vastly underrated actor.


Magilla,

Good Time is certainly worth giving a go.

It moves at a frantic pace that really didn't give me any time to think about what may happen next. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi are hilarious in their small but crucial roles and Benny Safdie gives the best male performance of a mentally challenged character since Leonardo DiCaprio in Gilbert Grape. (Side note: Maria Hofstatter gives the best performance ever as a mentally challenged character in Dog Days).

I agree partially with Reza that a nomination for Pattinson would have been most welcome but in my case in place of Gary Oldman wobbling about in a fat suit hamming it up to the hilt.

It's miles away from A Ghost Story & Sacred Deer but it does share with The Florida Project that exhilarating sense of cinema verite. And like The Florida Project does deal with people on the fringe of mainstream society.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Okri » Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:28 am

I'd be closer to Magilla on this one. I didn't hate it, but it is massively overrated. Didn't see what Cannes saw.


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