The Official Review Thread of 2018

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:19 am

SEARCHING
Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Michelle La, Sara Sohn, Joseph Lee.
Dir: Aneesh Chaganty.

A father searches for his missing 16 year old daughter by tracking her social media activity. This is a film that's pretty much told entirely from smart phones and computer screens. Yes, it's a gimmick and yes, it's been done before but this film has done it the most effectively so far. From the opening montage which, quite frankly, rivals Up in its emotional impact does a good job of setting up the characters and making us invested in them to the gripping, unfolding mystery behind the disappearance. One of the things that struck me when watching this film is the fact that the story is led by an Asian-American character but the story didn't really require him to be one. It does give the film an added layer of character. It's definitely one of the best genre efforts of the year.

Oscar Prospects: John Cho wouldn't be an embarrassing Best Actor nominee. Editing and Screenplay too.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:21 am

THE PREDATOR
Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Yvonne Strahovski, Jake Busey.
Dir: Shane Black.

The Predator comes back to Earth to wreck some havoc and he's hunted by a bigger, badder Predator and caught in a crossfire is a bunch of PTSD soldiers, a government organization that wants to acquire Predator weapons and an autistic young boy. Yes, just writing that out made me realize what a narrative mess this thing is. So many different elements going on at the same time that it seems like the executives upstairs can't decide where to go with this franchise they just threw every possibility out there. But....I found it still quite fun. There are some funny Shane Black-style lines and the cast is engaging. So at least it's a fun mess.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:11 am

A SIMPLE FAVOR
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Rupert Friend, Andrew Rannells, Linda Cardellini, Jean Smart, Joshua Satine, Ian Ho.
Dir: Paul Feig.

A mommy blogger's best friend, whom she met because her son is friends with her son, goes missing. That's all I will say. One of the pleasures of this film is the way it unfolds. In a way, it's nothing you haven't seen before in many other classic crime thrillers, neo-noirs and film noirs but what makes this unique is that it's directed by Paul Feig, and being who he is, he adds a layer of humor not seen in a lot of these types of films. And it works. It makes the thrills and twists and the turns more engaging and even somewhat believable. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are both fantastic and it looks like Henry Golding is here to stay.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby OscarGuy » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:27 pm

It's hardly a plot irrelevance. It's no different than the absence of Mr. Beale in the musical Grey Gardens. It simply demonstrates that the patriarch is too busy for everything but making money, leaving his wife to raise the child and groom him. That distance is simply a detail that explains the son's upbringing without having to incessantly call attention to itself.
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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.
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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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