The Official Review Thread of 2018

Mister Tee
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:51 pm

Uri wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:Did you pick this up from the movie, or were you acquainted with the book? I'm just curious if I was particularly slow-on-the-draw in grasping all the relationships (I have to admit, several of the peripheral characters I had difficulty placing -- there were thrown at me pretty fast).


It's stated in the film itself - that grand matriarch had 3 children - the unseen father of the leading man and two daughters who are constantly dotting on her, one is the mother of Astrid, the other one of a son we also see in the film. (I'm afraid I'm compulsive when it comes to onscreen genealogy. I've always been a sucker for family trees - from royal ones to the ones I was keeping as a child of the cows in our farm).


I think I missed every bit of that.

By the way, you indirectly raise something else that bothered me about the film: when a big deal is made about a character (the father) having been unexpectedly called away on business, I expect 1) for that to have some role in the plot and 2) for the father to re-appear at some pivotal moment and make a difference to the narrative. Instead, it was a floating plot irrelevance.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Uri » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:37 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Did you pick this up from the movie, or were you acquainted with the book? I'm just curious if I was particularly slow-on-the-draw in grasping all the relationships (I have to admit, several of the peripheral characters I had difficulty placing -- there were thrown at me pretty fast).


It's stated in the film itself - that grand matriarch had 3 children - the unseen father of the leading man and two daughters who are constantly dotting on her, one is the mother of Astrid, the other one of a son we also see in the film. (I'm afraid I'm compulsive when it comes to onscreen genealogy. I've always been a sucker for family trees - from royal ones to the ones I was keeping as a child of the cows in our farm).

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:56 pm

Uri wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:And Gemma Chan, as sister Astrid...I kept thinking, dye her hair blonde and she's a ringer for Ivanka Trump.


She plays his cousin, not that it's mather. And Astrid's face most probably had work done to it by the same plastic surgeon as Ivanka's.


Did you pick this up from the movie, or were you acquainted with the book? I'm just curious if I was particularly slow-on-the-draw in grasping all the relationships (I have to admit, several of the peripheral characters I had difficulty placing -- there were thrown at me pretty fast).

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Uri » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:12 am

Mister Tee wrote:Leading man Henry Golding's model/pretty boy look weirdly makes him look semi-Caucasian.


that because he is - his father is English, his mother Malaysian.

Mister Tee wrote:And Gemma Chan, as sister Astrid...I kept thinking, dye her hair blonde and she's a ringer for Ivanka Trump.


She plays his cousin, not that it's mather. And Astrid's face most probably had work done to it by the same plastic surgeon as Ivanka's.

The film's esthetics as well as approach to developing plotlines and characters are those of a commercial. At one point I was wishing it was intentional - these people seems to have only consumerism as a point of reference and motivation for their actions, but than you have the heroin and her mother - who are supposed to be "genuine" people, representing our - the plebeians - point of view, alas, they are presented in exactly the same synthetic way, making you realize this empty, shallow take on the world is the filmmakers'.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:35 am

Crazy Rich Asians offers up two hours of wealth porn, food porn, fashion porn, even botany porn -- all wrapped inside a romance-among-beautiful-people that follows the most hackneyed of formulas (old-fashioned mother resentful of the woman her son wants to marry). Is it enjoyable? I guess, in the same way downing a bag of Cheetos or a tub of Haagen-Dazs is -- painless, but strictly empty calories. Even in the category of "it's just entertainment", you'd like to think a movie'd offer SOMETHING fresh.

What is distinguishing, of course, is that the film is headlined by Asians, top to bottom, and I guess the insane grosses might open the door to more creative work by subsequent similar casts. But here, the actors are pretty bland (Michelle Yeoh and, I guess, Awkwafina excluded), and almost too beautiful to take seriously. Leading man Henry Golding's model/pretty boy look weirdly makes him look semi-Caucasian. And Gemma Chan, as sister Astrid...I kept thinking, dye her hair blonde and she's a ringer for Ivanka Trump.

And what in god's name was that scene with bride and bridesmaids wading through a river to get to the altar? I can't imagine any bride I know (emphatically not my wife) happy to have a soaked dress-bottom to get married in.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:42 am

ALPHA
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Leonor Varela.
Dir: Albert Hughes.

A young man from a prehistoric European tribe gets separated during a buffalo hunt and was thought dead. He encounters a wolf and they become companions in his journey back home. Basically, this is kind of an imagined take on how the dog became man's best friend and even though we've seen this type of film before, it is pretty effective. Kodi Smit-McPhee proves himself to be a great actor, acting just with an animal for two-thirds of the running time and in a fictional, made-up cave man language to boot. Yes, we've seen it all before but this is done quite better than a lot of them. It's overall a solid adventure film, that actually becomes actually moving in the end, especially if you're a dog lover.

Oscar Prospects: This wouldn't be an embarrassing nominee for Costume Design, Visual Effects, Makeup & Hairstyling, Original Score, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:16 am

THE EQUALIZER 2
Cast: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Melissa Leo, Orson Bean, Bill Pullman.
Dir: Antoine Fuqua.

The sequel to the first film version of the TV series. Basically, it's Denzel Washington kicking ass and doing good deeds. This time around, he investigates a conspiracy surrounding the death of his good friend, played by Melissa Leo. It's a fairly entertaining standard revenge action-thriller but with efforts put into make it have some depth and substance but it makes it all just a bit too long despite the good efforts of the cast to make it more than what it is (including a nice little part with Orson Bean, who I'm surprised was still alive!). Truth be told, I only saw this because there's nothing else to see in the theater. So it's a diverting time killer.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Aug 30, 2018 8:04 am

I didn't want to see Crazy Rich Asians.

I'd seen the trailer a couple of times and it just looked like a generic romantic comedy. And not a good one at that.

Anyway, my partner loved the book so I went along and whilst it was pretty much what I expected and did enjoy it more than I thought I would.

There is nothing remotely Oscar worthy about the film. All Michelle Yeoh is required to do is be rigid, uptight and arch. Actually, none of the roles that the cast are lumbered with require any levels of depth.

All in all a mildly entertaining piece from a genre we don't really see much of these days.

I asked my partner how it deviated from the book and he said that they basically stripped most of the stuff out that did involve the main romantic thrust of the narrative. Apparently, the book is very funny and worth a read.
"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 2018

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:07 pm

I like and admire Eighth Grade, but I don't love it...and I think all of those reactions proceed from roughly the same place. The film feels fully honest but doggedly ordinary. Elsie Fisher's Kayla is a perfectly average girl -- neither so pretty or clever that she'd be automatically popular, nor so unattractive (like Welcome to the Dollhouse's Wiener-Dog) they she'd be believably shunned. This makes her easy for almost all of us to identify with. And the movie maintains a mostly even keel: showing that she experiences degrees of pain every day (as anyone does, at that age), but not laying on the misery. I was delighted that her day matched up with the high school girl not only didn't go disastrously, it made her happy! And, yes, it led to the saddest/most disheartening development in the story (the boy in the car), but even there, Burnham didn't push to full-on horror. I can imagine lots of young writers/directors taking the scene closer to active assault, which would have been more than the story could bear. The film has the courage of its modesty.

And yet, I have to confess that that modesty in the end prevented me from being more than "in like" with the film. It didn't have false moments marring it, but it didn't have anything transcendent or narratively thrilling about it, either. (It also left out a lot of detail that might have enriched the story -- until the father's late monologue, I had no idea why there was no mother on the scene, and I'd like to have known.) I guess, in the end, ordinary, however honestly presented, isn't quite enough for me to work up real excitement. Praiseworthy effort, worth seeing, but less than a wow.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Aug 27, 2018 6:53 am

THE FIRST PURGE
Cast: Y'lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Steve Harris, Marisa Tomei, Patch Darragh, Luna Lauren Velez, Kristen Solis.
Dir: Gerard McMurray.

This is the fourth film in the Purge franchise and the prequel to the satirical horror series. This time, it chronicles the first time the "Purge" is enacted as an "experiment" in Staten Island. The Purge series has always been the most socially-conscious horror franchises. Along with the scares and the violent thrill rides, it always tries to say something about society. This one is the most explicit of them all (and also, the least horror-like....and yet scarily feels more like a documentary). Is it any good? Well, the film flirts with true greatness but gets a bit too ham-fisted in some of its points. It's also a bit hypocritical in both its condemnation of the violence but at the same reveling in it (there's a strange satisfaction watching a black man just massacre KKK members). Like its predecessors, lots of interesting ideas and it's an interesting film, but never quite makes it to greatness.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Franz Ferdinand » Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:15 pm

anonymous1980 wrote:CRAZY RICH ASIANS
Cast: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Akwafina, Ken Jeong, Harry Shum Jr., Chris Pang, Sonoya Mizuno, Nico Santos, Jimmy O. Yang, Ronnie Chieng.
Dir: Jon M. Chu

Oscar Prospects: Probably NOT Best Picture. MAYBE Adapted Screenplay if the competition is sparse. Michelle Yeoh, I think, has a shot if they play their cards right. It does deserve Costume Design and Production Design nominations.

Grade: B+


I think we have to consider this as a serious contender for the Popcorn Oscar given its wild second weekend of box office - comparisons to The Sixth Sense have already begun.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Aug 26, 2018 6:40 am

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION
Cast: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, Mel Brooks, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, David Spade, Keegan Michael Key, Molly Shannon, Fran Drescher, Asher Blinkoff, Chris Parnell, Joe Jonas, Chrissie Teigen (voices).
Dir: Genndy Tartakovsky.

I have to admit, I am warming up to the Hotel Transylvania franchise and I also have to admit that as far as Adam Sandler franchises go, this is a better way to go than the Grown Ups movies. This time, Mavis brings her father Dracula to a cruise and he falls in love with the cruise's captain, who turns out to be the great-granddaughter of his nemesis, Van Helsing. There's nothing offensive about this movie. But there's nothing great about this movie either. The plot goes where you think it's gonna go. There are some clever jokes and gags and some really cool animation. But nothing more than that. All in all, it's entertaining enough for kids and not a complete groaner for adults. So...yay, I guess?

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Aug 25, 2018 8:30 am

CRAZY RICH ASIANS
Cast: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Akwafina, Ken Jeong, Harry Shum Jr., Chris Pang, Sonoya Mizuno, Nico Santos, Jimmy O. Yang, Ronnie Chieng.
Dir: Jon M. Chu

I get that this is a big deal since this is only like the second mainstream Hollywood-made film featuring an entirely Asian-American cast. But is it good? Thankfully, it IS. Chinese-American woman and her Singaporean boyfriend go to the latter's home country for a wedding then finds out he's from a super-duper rich family. In many ways, much like Love, Simon, this is a formulaic, unremarkable film plot-wise but we are seeing these familiar tropes and beats through the context of another culture. I've seen lots of Asian movies so this is nothing new but it does have that Hollywood slick and you really sucked into things. The cast is quite good. Michelle Yeoh, in particular, is a standout. Here's to more Asians in mainstream Hollywood movie, I guess.

Oscar Prospects: Probably NOT Best Picture. MAYBE Adapted Screenplay if the competition is sparse. Michelle Yeoh, I think, has a shot if they play their cards right. It does deserve Costume Design and Production Design nominations.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:08 am

Paul, Apostle of Christ
Legit not-bad, not even--in my opinion--on the "for this kind of movie" sliding scale that I usually allow. (It's "very good" if I grade on that standard.) Will obviously resonate more with a Christian than with others, but it takes an interesting and more complicated view of these people and their lives than you might expect. It's easy to have faith and believe when things are going well, but when you're really faced with struggle--the most extreme case being death, as some of these characters face--it's different to try to hold to those things. Faith, and your relationship to it, plays out differently. It carries a heavier weight. Pretty well-shot, in my opinion, and does a good job evoking what these people faced without resorting to anything like Passion of the Christ-level violence. The acting is more hit-and-miss: Most of the roles are not substantial, but Jim Caviezel's Luke isn't much and could've been something, Olivier Martinez is okay, I guess, but has a distracting accent; On the other hand, John Lynch and Joanne Walley are both pretty solid in roles that could've faded into the background. James Faulkner is actually quite excellent in the title role; looking at his filmography, I've seen him in things before, but--probably owing to the giant beard he sports here--he never registered as anyone I recognized. Very good performance, and it certainly goes a long way towards making the ending--which is pretty much a home run--as moving as it is.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:00 pm

I saw a lady take her shoes off and prop her bare feet up on the seat in front of her yesterday. And this wasn't a teenager (who, let's face it, is going to be socialized differently when it comes to norms and proper behavior in a movie theater), this woman was at least 40. I'm not one to tell people to be quiet or put their phone away, and even if I were, it was probably wasn't my place in this case. But I did spare a few nasty stares for her, including out the lobby.

Which brings me to...

Christopher Robin
It's kind of a riff on the same storyline as Spielberg's Hook--the child in a famous story has grown up, turned into a workaholic with strained marital/family relationships, and ultimately finds himself compelled to go back to his childhood world which--naturally--leads to him rediscovering the joys and imagination of his youth. It's been many many years since I watched Hook--the main thing I remember about it is that there was just so much going on. Both narratively and visually, the movie felt way overstuffed. Christopher Robin might have the opposite problem. The movie spends the first 50 minutes or so focusing on the bad marriage/bad father part. I think that is way too long to get to the good stuff--Christopher Robin going back to the hundred-acre wood--and when it does, it just doesn't have enough time to go in depth on what to me should be the heart of the story, which is Christopher Robin's realization of who he's become and his journey back to finding a connection to the boy he was. That sequence, despite being too brief, is pretty good. But it also shows that, despite the advertising, and despite the hijinks of the last third, this is not really a movie that's well-suited for young kids. It has some moving moments--"Have you left me behind, Christopher Robin?"--but it could've been more. Also, I always understood that "Christopher Robin" was a first name and middle name, but apparently Robin is the surname, at least according to this.

Also agree with Sabin about Eighth Grade--great movie, and Bo Burnham shows a natural filmmaking ability that most filmmakers don't approach this early in their career. The lead is extremely well-directed, but the fact that he doesn't turn it into a Welcome to the Dollhouse-esque misery-fest (which he could've easily done) was a huge relief to me. Just an excellent movie--one that'll definitely be high on my best of 2018 list.


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