The Official Review Thread of 2017

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:49 pm

Sonic Youth wrote: I guess this is the movie I was expecting "Drive" to be, full of action and movement instead of hallucinatory torpor. But for me "Baby Driver" is too far at the other end of the spectrum.


Not to say I'm fully in sync with you on your overall opinion of the film, but I had a similar wish for something halfway between this film and Drive. Drive fans no doubt view Baby Driver as a rose-colored variation on Refn's -- there are a lot of plot similarities -- but I'd counter that at least Baby Driver didn't descend into the violent ugliness of Drive. My imagined compromise would land somewhere in Asphalt Jungle-ish territory...maybe the next director to take on this genre will hit that sweet spot. (And you're quite right, that this basic template has been used an unfathomably large number of times.)

For the first 15 minutes -- with my most sustained previous exposure to Wright having been Scott Pilgrim -- I was thinking, man, this director really loves to show off: choreographed credits and all. But at least that gave me something novel. The remainder of the film just ticked off the cliches: good kid drawn into crime against his will; starry-eyed romance with sweet young thing; gang of crooks including one totally loose cannon who sends everything to shit (and why, given that Spacey specifically said he never used the same crew twice, why was there not a word of explanation when he suddenly brought everyone back?); the botched final job; the villain who won't stay dead.

And yet...I was never bored, and kind of enjoyed the kinetic energy of the thing. It's clearly a work of talent, though one unrelated to any sort of movies I'd actually crave to see. (I'm reminded of Pauline Kael's remark about Taylor Hackford in Officer and a Gentleman days -- that, if she had a corpse she wanted revived, she'd call him first thing, but she wouldn't trust him with a live piece of material.) But it's summertime, and tasty crumbs are to be savored, to pass the time until the more satisfying meals of autumn come along. So I guess I'd call this worth seeing.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:53 am

Bog wrote:DC hero could only play a Marvel villain right...haha. You rank him above Molina...are you counting him as an option?

Also you said cinematic so maybe it is a definite you aren't including Ali or D'Onofrio...am I correct? I will say one arena where television has definitely upped the ante over film is with solid villains .


I'm talking strictly the MCU (excluding TV and Marvel properties outside of Marvel Studios). I wouldn't rank Keaton above Molina but I actually liked Homecoming better than Spider-Man 2 which I think a lot of people over-praise.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Bog » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:32 am

DC hero could only play a Marvel villain right...haha. You rank him above Molina...are you counting him as an option?

Also you said cinematic so maybe it is a definite you aren't including Ali or D'Onofrio...am I correct? I will say one arena where television has definitely upped the ante over film is with solid villains .

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:47 am

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Zendaya, Bokeem Woodbine, Laura Harrier, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Tyne Daly, Chris Evans, Gwyneth Paltrow.
Dir: Jon Watts.

Did we really need a second reboot of the Spider-Man franchise? Not really. But this is absolutely worth it. In this installment, Peter Parker is a high school student who stumbles upon an underground operation of the Vulture, selling re-purposed alien technology in the criminal black market. One of the things I loved about this is that it's really a coming-of-age teen comedy which just happens to feature a superhero and it's pretty damn good. Tom Holland is absolutely the best incarnation of Spider-Man. He adds a lot of depth and humor into the role. Also I have to also single out Michael Keaton who, so far, is the best Marvel Cinematic Universe villain so far (villains are often the MCU's weakest points). This probably won't win over MCU-haters or people who don't like superhero movies but it is definitely upper-tier Marvel.

Oscar Prospects: MCU isn't popular with Oscar. Maybe Visual Effects (the Spider-Man here actually looks more real than the Raimi ones), Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. If the Golden Globes manage to nominate Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool, I think Tom Holland deserves consideration too.

Grade: B+

P.S. To Original B.J.: Don't. If you're curious, wait for it on video.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Sonic Youth » Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:15 pm

Sabin wrote:I’m going to sound like a grouch on ‘Baby Driver’


No, you're not. I am, because I hated it. And I'm very sorry I hated it because I've loved every other one of Edgar Wright's films, and it's the only movie I've seen in the theater since La La Land. I love his humor, and I love his audacity. The only audacious thing about this film is the speed the contrivances come at you with. It's just another post-modern crime film with a hip soundtrack. This type of film has been made again and again for nearly 25 years now. I think it's time to put it to bed. As for the humor... well, it's to be expected that the British flavor is gone, and much missed. There are a lot of clever lines in theory, and they might be funny if Wright was satirizing the genre. But they're not played for laughs, and it's all portentousness and tough-guy posturing. (Imagine if "Hot Fuzz" was played straight.) I guess this is the movie I was expecting "Drive" to be, full of action and movement instead of hallucinatory torpor. But for me "Baby Driver" is too far at the other end of the spectrum.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Sabin » Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:12 am

I’m going to sound like a grouch on ‘Baby Driver’ but there’s an air of millennial entitlement that kept getting in the way of loving it. There’s a lot to enjoy about this film but the film consistently goes out of its way to protect Baby from any shade of grey that might damage his innocence, and ultimately that’s not what I’m interested in a movie like this. Seven years ago, Edgar Wright memorably forced Scott Pilgrim to face off against his assholery. ‘Baby Driver’ made me think of Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Out of Sight’ (a movie I could watch on repeat forever) and how Steve Zahn had his shades ripped off before a violent robbery. In ‘Baby Driver’, he keeps them on. There’s nothing that really threatens the movie in his head and isn’t that the point of these movies?

But I don’t want to grouch too hard on this film because it is a true rush that improves on ‘Drive’ or anything Quentin Tarantino has given us in years. I enjoyed that it wasn’t as predictable a movie as you might initially think. It’s ultimately the story of Baby making the choice to break an obvious pattern, but really it’s shuffle cinema (the next iteration of mixtape cinema). My favorite thing about it is how it exists in tandem to ‘La La Land’ about how the musical is ear-budded into everyday life.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby danfrank » Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:10 pm

A few recent viewings:

Beach Rats: Eliza Hittman won the director prize for this at Sundance this year. This is a very small indie which I saw at a film festival; I think it was picked up for a small release sometime this year. I was quite impressed, both for its honest exploration of coming-of-age sexuality and for its visuals. DP Hélène Louvart has worked with Agnes Varda and Wim Wenders and does fine work here. The camera loves its young star, Harris Dickinson, who was quite good in a very interior part.

The Big Sick: This has a few trappings of the romantic comedy genre, but that is a minor criticism as this is a very refreshing and engaging comedy. There is some very good writing here, and I love that the film doesn't shy away from the complexities of relationships. I agree with Sabin that Ray Romano is fantastic here in a very lived-in part. He, like the movie, is both very funny and poignant. Anumpam Kher, who plays Kumail Nanjiani's father, also hits it out of the park in his last scene. It will be interesting to see how well a romantic movie starring a Pakistani-American actor does at the box office. With the recent rise of Nanjiani, Riz Ahmed, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, and others, it feels like we are on the verge of South Asian actors moving very much into the American mainstream.

The Beguiled: Sofia Coppola has a very sure hand here in a film that seems somewhat less than the sum of its parts. By far the strongest reason to see this is for its sumptuous cinematography, with almost every shot being meticulously composed and just beautiful. Despite the sensual visuals I thought this was somewhat lacking in any real buildup of tension, including its sexual tension, which was what the movie seemed mostly to be about. Worth seeing but not one that's likely to stick with me.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:47 am

OKJA
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Ahn Seo-hyun, Jake Gyllenhaal, Giancarlo Esposito, Steven Yeun, Byun Hee-bong, Lily Collins, Devon Bostick, Shirley Henderson, Daniel Henshall, Yoon Je-moon, Choi Woo-shik.
Dir: Bong Joon-ho

A large Monsanto type corporation breeds a type of "super pig" as a solution to world hunger. Things get complicated when a South Korean girl grew to love her pig, the titular Okja, and wants her back and she's aided by the Animal Liberation Front. This is the type of strange genre amalgamation that only director Bong Joon-ho could have ever devised. Part a-child-and-her-animal-friend action-adventure type film; part anti-corporation satire, the film shifts tones a lot and is somehow largely successful. Tilda Swinton is a real hoot in dual roles as twins who are head of the Big Bad Corporation. Her character is broad but largely believable. The person who crosses over into cartoon is Jake Gyllenhaal who gives a weird performance as a TV animal person. What exactly was he going for? It's bad but I found it entertaining. Kudos to the visual effects team for creating a very believable creature. Nevertheless, it is a wildly original film that people should check out.

Oscar Prospects: I hear they made this eligible for the Oscars so I guess Visual Effects is in the cards. Tilda Swinton could go for another Supporting Actress nomination.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:09 am

IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD
Cast: Non, Megumi Han, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Natsuki Inaba (voices).
Dir: Sunao Katabuchi.

This is based on a popular manga about a young woman from Hiroshima and her experiences before, during and after World War II. I've actually never heard of this film before its commercial run but word of mouth is good so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did. One cannot see this movie and not be reminded of another anime that tackled the Japanese experience during World War II, which is the masterpiece that is Grave of the Fireflies. The film did evoke a lot of similar feelings and it is often a sad and harrowing film. But it's also a bit more humorous and the ending is nowhere near as devastating and bleak. Though this story can and has been told in live-action, the animation gives the story a certain poetic beauty especially during the horrors of war scenes. Be sure to check this one out.

Oscar Prospects: Will they qualify this for Animated Feature next year? They should.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Sabin » Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:26 pm

I haven't seen many movies this year but 2017 is turning into a pretty strong one for films, especially now that I've seen The Big Sick. I have a small handful of quibbles but it's far and away my favorite. I hope that it ends up in the running for a screenwriting award because in addition to having a wonderful voice, it makes so many smart screenwriting choices. The first act is pretty much just a lovely, totally winning romantic comedy. And then the plot kicks in. The strength of The Big Sick is how it hybrids its central romance with so many meaningful struggles in Kumail's life. His standup career matters, and it registered with me stronger than Jenny Slate's in Obvious Child. Because he drives Uber and gave up law school makes him just as credible as the fact that he is truly very funny. His struggle against his traditional family matters. Kumail dutifully meets with one potential bride after another with no intention of marrying any of them, and then hooks up with white chicks on the side. One of them turns out to be Emily (Zoe Kazan), but after the two of them break up, he's all too happy to picking up girls in the bar by spelling their names in Urdu. It's a page from Annie Hall, where Alvy hooks up with Shelly Duvall while Annie struggles to kill a spider the size of a Buick. We feel for his situation, but he gets called out on wasting these girl's time just the same. And there's the subplots with the parents. There are one or two hokey choices as the film goes along, but I think this subplot is going to be the one that registers with audiences the most. We've all met the parents before. What happens when you meet the parents after you dump their daughter and she's in a coma? Their bond is slow but meaningful, with Ray Romano as the film's true MVP. He's not doing anything you haven't seen him do before but it's never been used quite to this effect.

The audience I was with ate this film up. And I was right with them.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Bog » Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:38 am

Spoilers continue...

Tee, a couple of things I think I disagree with regarding differences in perception (the brilliance of this medium...outside being told the facts by the artists):

- I don't think we are given the answer to this until Williams screams to "Grandma" right near the end, but it is my assumption old man Armitage (et al) is only a subservient groundskeeper, as you state, during times when, for our sake, Chris is around the plantation. I had a similar feeling as you at first, but I began to realize we are never shown, only allusions given, what goes on when they are not on the prowl for a new life furthering conduit. Rose finally speaks to Georgina when she needs help apprehending Chris in the manner with which I perceive they speak normally day to day...as though that is Grandma and Grandpa and that it is totally normal.

- When Chris is tied to his Barcalounger, Root has a perfect line about Chris being "one of the lucky ones, Jeremy's wrangling methods are far less desirable". I take this to mean when finding a match for an aging or debilitated white person...two camps exist...1) having sex with a beautiful white girl for a few months or 2) finding oneself in a white neighborhood and being beaten and thrown into the back of Jeremy's car. As we find out later , the victim in the cold open portion is what becomes of the Logan character...clearly that is just serious bad luck and not planned for any certain trait or attribute. Although it needed more explanation...I think your idea of how the Root character came about wanting those specific eyes is accurate...regarding the main discussion they have on the back lawn. This opinion is potentially directly contradicted by Rose later looking for suitors on a Tinder type black male website...but that is a debate for another night.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:41 pm

I held off on going to see Get Out in a theatre because I REALLY don't like horror films, and have found even critically praised ones of recent vintage -- The Conjuring, The Babadook -- unbearable. But I was happy to discover, in home viewing, that Get Out offered pleasurable suspense rather than screw-tightening agony. For most of the film's running time, what came to mind was Gothics of the Rebecca variety -- a "something weird is going on here but I don't know what" aura that made for fun viewing.

However, while I enjoyed the film, I have to echo BJ's months-ago verdict that it's being a bit overrated by critics and audiences. I opined last year that Hell or High Water might have worked better as a genre piece with socio-political underpinnings than as something that underplayed its thriller aspects and tried to be a social document. Get Out takes that advice, essentially -- it's fully a genre piece, with its cultural critique buried within its suspense narrative. But I think there's somewhat less social content than people are claiming to see.

There's definitely SOMETHING there -- the Armitage family scheme amounts to some new variant on slavery, with black characters viewed as so disposable that they serve as spare parts (or, as we find out late in the film, replacements) for wearing-down white folk. But I'm not sure the idea's been thought through fully -- for instance, how does old man Armitage benefit from living on, when he has to do it as a subservient groundskeeper? It might make more sense (and be wittier) if the black people chosen for the operation all possessed sperior traits viewed by whites as unique to the black race. We get a little of that, with the guy who says how cool blacks are, but the idea isn't pushed consistently. The Logan character was said to be a musician, but the guy we see appears to be simply a milquetoast -- what trait of his did someone crave enough to take over his body, and why? The art dealer who wants Chris' eyes simply wants not to be blind; if, say, he wanted Chris' precise eyes because he thought pictures of the black community were more commercially lucrative, that would bring a theme further in line. I feel like the whole thing gets a bit muddy, making the film's bottom line something of a generalized scream of rage at the behavior of white folk -- a fully understandable view in an age where we have a new Trayvon Martin/Philandro Castile almost weekly, but not quite as rich and specific as I believe the film was going for and as many of the critics promised.

I emphasize that, despite all this, the film is fully enjoyable simply as a thriller, and even the muddled social critique gives the film a texture that elevates it above run of the mill. I'd just hoped for/was led to expect something more fully developed, and have to register my slight disappointment on that score.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:43 pm

PERSONAL SHOPPER
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Nora von Waldstätten, Anders Danielsen Lie, Sigrid Bouaziz, Ty Olwin.
Dir: Olivier Assayas.

An American expat in Paris working as a personal shopper for a French celebrity is trying to contact the spirit of her recently deceased twin brother. Kristen Stewart continues her ascendancy to "great actress of her generation" territory with her second collaboration with writer-director Olivier Assayas. She gives yet another outstanding performance as a young woman constantly searching for and trying to find answers. The film itself is a mixed bag. It's neither a thriller nor a horror film per se, although it has elements of it, it's almost detached and tangential to the main narrative. It's an interesting approach to the genre even though it doesn't always work. Still, it's an overall solid effort and the film manages to be gripping all throughout.

Oscar Prospects: I don't know if it's eligible but Stewart would be a good contender.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby dws1982 » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:43 am

So I enjoyed Wonder Woman a good bit. Keep in mind, I'm the guy who almost never sees the superhero movies--I've seen very few of the superhero movies released since Iron Man made the genre so huge in 2008. (I keep telling myself I should start watching them, but I feel like I would have to start at the beginning, and the backlog gets intimidating.) So I didn't have that feeling that BJ did of seeing the same general plot played out again. Not that the plot to this one felt all that original, but it was enjoyable enough, and as someone who's always had an interest in World War I, I liked that setting. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine made for a good team, but I thought the visual effects were pretty bad. Not sure that's how they usually look on superhero movies these days. But overall, and enjoyable night at the movies.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Jun 22, 2017 1:39 am

Sonic Youth wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:The Razzies will have a bumper crop from which to choose.


Which includes that King Arthur movie, that Tom Cruise movie and that Katherine Heigl movie. (The last is called "Unforgettable" and yes, I had to look that up.)

And we're not even halfway through the year yet. What a bounty of scrap!


I was under the assumption based on a media report (for what it's worth) that though Unforgettable is terrible, Katherine Heigl received largely stellar reviews personally.
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