The Official Review Thread of 2017

Mister Tee
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:02 pm

The first thing to note about Marjorie Prime is, it's clearly taken from a play. You can practically feel the lights come up to start scenes, and imagine where there'd be pauses for laughs. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; I just found it notable that they barely made an effort to re-conceive the project for film.

The second thing is, this isn't an especially original piece. That might seem an odd thing to say about a play that revolves around a near sci-fi gimmick. That gimmick is interesting, and creates a couple of startling moments. But I couldn't help noticing that, if you stripped that element away, you had a set of characters who weren't terribly defined and didn't take any especially interesting journey -- in fact, many of the details of their lives felt rather random to me.

None of this is to say I disliked the film. It was engrossing enough to keep me watching for 90 minutes, and was generally well-acted. But I felt it was short on much real dramatic interest.

The reason the film is getting attention is of course the campaign being conducted around Lois Smith's performance. Smith is very good -- as she is in her smaller role in Lady Bird; as she has been throughout her long, distinguished career. And (SPOILER, I GUESS) the curves in the plot give her a chance to play, effectively, dual characters. But I don't think this is a performance that would be singled out as among the year's best were in not perceived as Chance to Honor a Beloved Veteran. It certainly wouldn't bother me if she were to slip onto the Oscar list -- I've been a long-time fan -- but neither will I be heartbroken if she falls short.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:48 pm

THE BIG SICK
Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Adeel Akhtar, Zenobia Shroff, Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham, Kurt Braunohler, David Alan Grier.
Dir: Michael Showalter.

Based on the true love story of writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, this is about a Pakistani-American stand-up comedian who falls in love with a white girl, against his parents' wishes and just as they are breaking up, she falls into a coma. Most modern-day romantic comedies make me wanna run for the hills but this one actually works. The fact that it's based on a true story made the conceit easier to swallow (heh, so to speak) and it somehow even works as a culture clash comedy as well. The cast that brought it to life is great as well. Kumail Nanjiani, whom I've known as a funny stand-up and comedic performer, is really good playing a version of himself. He's funny and he nails the more serious scenes as well. Both Holly Hunter and Ray Romano practically steals the film as Emily's parents. And Zoe Kazan manages to be tolerable.

Oscar Prospects: Hunter and Romano would make for good Supporting Actress and Actor candidates respectively. Original Screenplay is also a strong possibility.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby nightwingnova » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:17 pm

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Like some fans, I was afraid that this re-film of the novel would be an uninspired trudge. But the result is instead an uneven attempt to fashion a more dynamic and exciting interpretation of the story and of the main character, detective Hercule Poirot.

The 1974 film version is pure delight: Hollywood opulence, class, charm, fun, and a stellar cast of stars. The plot was tight and neat, with light seriousness to make it game but generally avoiding true drama and pathos.

Director and star Kenneth Branagh and the screenplay aim for deeper tones and themes in the re-film. They improve the dynamism by shuffling and clipping the proceedings. They add action scenes. Some of this works. Some of this comes off as mundane, inept, or sentimental. Poirot's deliberations also become too convoluted and messy.

The best thing about the film is Branagh's fresh Poirot - arrogant, brutally honest, and on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum. Brilliant. For lovers of great acting, there is Derek Jacobi's tour-de-force as the manservant, Judi Dench's panache as the princess, and Michelle Pfeiffer's complex annoying American. Unfortunately, the star wattage is much lower this time and Johnny Depp mugs through his performance as the murder victim.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:03 am

SWEET COUNTRY
Cast: Bryan Brown, Sam Neill, Hamilton Morris, Matt Day, Thomas M. Wright, Ewen Leslie, Gibson John, Anni Finsterer, Natassia Gorey Furber, Tremayne & Trevon Doolan.
Dir: Warwick Thornton.

Here's a film I don't see often: an Australian Western. An Aboriginal man is put on trial after he shoots and kills a viciously racist, drunk white man in self-defense. I've never heard of this film before I saw it in the lineup of this on-going film festival I've attending screenings to. I thought it sounded interesting and Sam Neill was in it and I think I've heard of the director before so why not? And it's pretty great. It's a film about racism but I love the way it avoids the White Savior and the Noble Savage archetypes. Every character is a full a believably all-around human character. It is also beautifully shot (Warwick Thornton is his own DP!). There are scenes here that are simply jaw-dropping. This is definitely a film which you should seek out.

Oscar Prospects: I don't know if they're qualifying this but if it did, it should be getting Cinematography citations.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:09 am

COCO
Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Edward James Olmos, Alfonso Arau, Cheech Marin, Gabriel Iglesias, John Ratzenberger (voices).
Dirs: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina.

A young boy who's an aspiring musician but who grew up in a home where music is forbidden plays his dead great-great-grandfather's guitar and unwittingly transports himself in the Land of the Dead during Die de Muertos. I saw this the same day the John Lasseter story leaked to the press. I'm hoping that piece of news does not tarnish this truly wonderful entry to the PIXAR canon. This is quite simply one of their finest works and a jewel in their crown. It is everything you've come to expect in the best of PIXAR and more. A lot of it reminds me of Miyazaki even (pooh, I know someone who will curse me for that comparison). It is a funny, engaging adventure film that truly tugs the heart and moved me close to tears. (Yes, my tear ducts got a working out again, jeez). It's one of the best films of the year.

Oscar Prospects: Deserving of Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay nominations. But it's getting in and most likely winning Best Animated Feature. It will also get in Original Song and maybe Original Score.

Grade: A

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:07 am

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Cast: Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrell.
Dir: Luca Guadagnino.

First off, I wouldn't be surprised if this was my #1 film of the year (too early to say but I still have a lot of movies to get through). So anyway, this is an adaptation of the Andre Aciman novel about bisexual (yes, I said it, it ain't a dirty word) 17 year old boy who has an affair with an older man who's his parents' houseguest in the beautiful Italian countryside in the 1980's. I've read the book shortly before seeing this film and let me tell you, it's a beautiful translation. As a writer, if I was asked to adapt the book, I might have been tempted to use voice-overs but I'm glad James Ivory in his infinite wisdom knew better. Along with director Luca Guadagnino, gave us a beautiful, romantic, sexy and emotional film that will resonate with everyone, no matter where you are on the Kinsey Scale. Timothee Chalamet gives a star-making performance and Michael Stuhlbarg is also a standout as his dad. An excellent film all around.

Oscar Prospects: Deserves nominations for Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography and Original Song.

Grade: A

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:08 am

JUSTICE LEAGUE
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Ciaran Hinds, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard, Joe Morton.
Dir: Zack Snyder.

Batman/Bruce Wayne recruits a bunch of superheroes to fight a super villain threatening to destroy the world. It's basic superhero stuff. Well, it's better than Batman v. Superman. It contains less of the tiresome bleakness and nihilism which director Zack Snyder mistake for depth and is a step in the right direction. Joss Whedon obviously added a lot more humor and pathos to the proceedings as well as the influence of the success of Wonder Woman where superheroes are actual heroes. It's still a mess though. Again, the best part is Wonder Woman through and through. Ezra Miller's take on The Flash is also pretty good. Overall, I personally think DC and Warner Bros. should just keep making Wonder Woman movies and have the Flash show up as a sidekick every now and then.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby nightwingnova » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:15 am

THE SNOWMAN

I can report that the movie is nowhere close to the book in blood violence porn. And the indulgent psychoanalysis has also been pruned to the stalk.

So the movie is a reasonably respectable and tasteful adaptation of the lurid mystery novel.

Michael Fassbender is brilliant and subtle. Dion Beebe's cinematography avoids framing the gorgeous imposing expansive Scandanavian landscape as postcard views but instead generally integrates it as an integral part of the plot and action.

I cannot say that it is a terribly good movie, but it is good enough to be enjoyed.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:04 pm

I liked The Meyerowitz Stories WAY more than Sabin did. It's easily my favorite Baumbach film (not a deep-loaded competition, for me); my first remark to my friend on the way out was that this was a phenomenonally improved version of The Squid and the Whale. Baumbach is clearly still struggling with his rage at his father, but here he allows the father more to speak for himself (even if it only leads to his condemning himself with his own words). And exactly what Sabin had a problem with is what I most liked about the film: the fact that it covers such a wide range, mapping out an entire universe where people seem obsessed with family issues yet also seem determined to crack apart whatever family unit they manage to create. (Even the young daughter hops from boyfriend to boyfriend in short order.) I'm not generally disposed toward movies about the intellectual/artsy class, but this one worked for me; I find it as good an original screenplay as I've run across this year (conceding I've see none of the festivals favorites -- Three Billboards, Lady Bird, Shape of Water -- that will likely dominate awards-giving this year).

I'm fairly astonished that I'd feel this way about a movie headlined by two guys I've been unable to stand for so many years. Sandler isn't any great shakes, but considering he normally evokes nails-on-chalkboard for me, that's a big plus. And Stiller, whose appeal has long eluded me, gives a truly moving, unfussy performance. Oh, and Dustin Hoffman has his best role in years -- at a certain point, I found myself wondering why, in this godawful year for lead actors, he wasn't being promoted. (Then I read the news the next day, and figured, well, forget that.) Elizabeth Marvel has less to do, but does a great job of evoking a certain kind of recessive sibling used to taking reduced billing in a family of aggressors. And Grace van Patten does a lot with her daughter role.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:34 pm

LOVING VINCENT
Cast: Robert Gulaczyk, Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Saoirse Ronan, Helen McCrory, Chris O'Dowd, John Sessions, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner.
Dirs: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman.

This is a film which sees the life of renowned painter Vincent Van Gogh through a murder investigation around a year after his death. This is said to be the first ever animated feature film that's made completely through oil paintings. For that alone, this film has my respect. Of course the story of Vincent Van Gogh is a fascinating one, having been the subject of previous films before this. As for the film itself beyond the technique, the way it's presented is by and large not very emotionally involving, despite being beautiful and fascinating to look at. It does get better in the end but it's too little too late. All in all, I respect the artistry but didn't really completely love the film. Extra points though for Clint Mansell's excellent score.

Oscar Prospects: Animated Feature is very possible. I think it also deserves Original Score.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:23 am

THOR: RAGNAROK
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taika Waititi, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi.
Dir: Taika Waititi.

The goddess of death Hela takes over Asguard and Thor finds himself in a gladiator type planet having to fight the Hulk. This is easily the best Thor movie although admittedly that's a bit damning it with faint praise since I think Thor's solo films have been on average, the weakest of the Marvel movies, not counting The Incredible Hulk, and this coincidentally, is probably also the best big-screen use of the Incredible Hulk so far. Director Taika Waititi infuses the Thor series with a lot of much-needed humor while still delivering a very satisfying action adventure picture (as well as almost stealing the movie in a mo-cap performance). Cate Blanchett seems to have a real ball delivering a hammy (in a good way) villain performance, pretty much making her one of the best Marvel villains yet. Top-tier Marvel, for sure.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects is very possible. Costume Design and Production Design wouldn't be undeserved. Original Score deserves to be considered though.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:50 am

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
Cast: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Alicia Silverstone, Bill Camp.
Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos.

A heart surgeon has his fairly pleasant upper-middle class life with his wife and children shattered when a teenage boy who happens to be the son of a patient who died enters their lives. This is a film from Greek provocateur Yorgos Lanthimos so you know you're in for a very dark and very weird ride. This happens to be my least favorite Yorgos Lanthimos I've seen so far but it's still quite exemplary. The acting of the entire cast is flawless and those Kubrick-style Steadicam shots are stunning. The film is unpleasant but it does hold your attention and keeps you guessing what happens. It's definitely not for everyone but I'm glad Lanthimos gets to make films like this.

Oscar Prospects: I guess Original Screenplay is possible but this is more divisive than The Lobster.

Grade: B+

A GHOST STORY
Cast: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara.
Dir: David Lowery.

A man dies in a car accident and his ghost is left to linger on to haunt both the wife he left behind and the house he lived in. It's not a horror movie. It's kind of a love story but not totally. This film basically goes back to the root concept of the ghost (down to the sheets with eye holes look) and sort of used that to become what is essential an existential ghost movie. And it's pretty darn brilliant. It feels very Malick-y in its execution. It's beautifully shot and scored. It also gives you a lot of things to chew on and there's a melancholy tone to it. It's definitely a movie that will get you thinking about the concept of life, death, the very nature of existence, etc. It's deceptively simple but kind of epic and complex in a way.

Oscar Prospects: None but it wouldn't be a bad nominee for Screenplay, Cinematography and Score.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Oct 21, 2017 8:54 am

BEACH RATS
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge.
Dir: Eliza Hittman.

A young man spends his time doing drugs, hanging out and bro-ing out with his delinquent group of friends while trying to spend time with his new girlfriend....and hooking up with older men from internet at night. This is actually the second feature from writer-director Eliza Hittman but it honestly feels like a first feature since it kind of often falls into the trap of telegraphing things a wee bit too often (one scene in particular had me rolling my eyes because it was way too on the nose). However, it does feature some really good performances. I was blown away to find out the lead actor is British in real life. I thought she found him in the neighborhood they shot at. Overall, it's not bad but for from great.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Sabin » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:44 am

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is about one of two things: 1) a dysfunctional family that gathers after their patriarch suffers cerebral damage after a fall, or 2) explaining the Meyerowitz family to us. I wish that Noah Baumbach just owned up to the fact that, yes, he is telling a story about the first. While this film isn't without its pleasures (and for the first half hour, I thought for sure I was watching his best since Frances Ha), Noah Baumbach needlessly complicates this rambling, indulgent story by devoting a ridiculous amount of screen-time to simply explaining how these people are related to each other that it's almost impossible to care as much as he wants us to. With anyone else, I would say that he lost track of his characters within the wordplay, but this was clearly a choice on his part. He didn't want to just tell a story about a family that gathers when the patriarch falls ill. Instead, I'm not sure he's told much of a story about anything.

It's not without interest. As reported, this is clearly Adam Sandler's best performance, or depending on your view, only performance. There's a fun little narrative device of cutting characters off mid-sentence to take us to a new chapter. Ben Stiller's character is largely interchangeable from other characters he's played for Baumbach but he has a very good breakdown scene. And while Elizabeth Marvel isn't given much to do, she makes a very strong impression. I'm not sure I've seen her before but I'd like to see her in a role that actually gives her more to do -- and while Jean seems to be intentionally marginalized, I'm not sure that's an excuse. I still would've liked to see more of her. I keep returning to my previous point: I know that Noah Baumbach wants to tell a story about the Meyerowitz family, but I don't think he quite figured out which story he wants to tell.
"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 anonymous1980 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:03 am

THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (NEW AND SELECTED)
Cast: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Elizabeth Marvel, Grace Van Patten, Judd Hirsch, Adam Driver, Rebecca Miller, Candice Bergen, Matthew Shear. Sigourney Weaver.
Dir: Noah Baumbach.

Three adult siblings are forced to reunite to deal with their difficult artist father and each other as their father falls into a coma after an accident . It seems like American independent cinema has these types of stories all the time but in the hands of Noah Baumbach, this manages to be a fresh, funny and poignant comedy-drama which manage to hit close to home (even though I don't come from a New York middle-class artsy Jewish family). This results in quite simply one of the best films of the year. I know Adam Sandler is getting a lot of praise for this and he is quite excellent in one of his best roles since Punch Drunk Love but the cast is uniformly excellent. I'd love to have seen this in theaters but I would've had to wait a longer time so yay, Netflix streaming! Noah Baumbach just adds more to his already stellar filmography.

Oscar Prospects: If this is eligible, it should be a contender for Original Screenplay and Original Song.

Grade: A-


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