The Official Review Thread of 2018

anonymous1980
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:40 am

THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST
Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, John Gallagher Jr., Jennifer Ehle, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, Owen Campbell, Marin Ireland, Emily Skeggs.
Dir: Desiree Akhavan.

After getting caught with another girl in the backseat of a car, a teenage girl is sent to a gay conversion camp during the early 1990's. Based on a young adult novel, this is one of two gay conversion dramas coming out this year. This film is very well-made and very well-acted. It also effectively depicts both the absurdity and the horrors of such camps whilst never hitting you over the head with it and being too preachy about it....for the most part. It definitely lacks that bit of nuance that would've put it over the top. That said, it's still a noble effort well worth seeing and writer-director Desiree Akhavan is definitely a filmmaker to watch out for.

Oscar Prospects: This will get lost in the shuffle so I'm not optimistic.

Grade: B

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:42 am

A STAR IS BORN
Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Anthony Ramos, Rafi Gavron, Ron Rifkin.
Dir: Bradley Cooper.

This FOURTH iteration of the now familiar story of two artists, one on the rise and one on the way out falling in love. For me, the Judy Garland version is an all-time favorite. Does this version with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper as great? No is the short answer but few films are anyway. This is still quite an excellent film and makes for a solid debut for director and star Bradley Cooper. I've seen all but the Streisand version and this one manages to wring the emotions despite me knowing where it's headed. Lady Gaga pretty much solidifies her acting credentials here and she just runs away with her first lead role. Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay give nice supporting turns. The soundtrack's great too. It's not groundbreaking cinema but simply a well-made musical drama.

Oscar Prospects: Picture, Actor, Actress, maybe Supporting Actor (Sam Elliott), Original Song and Sound Mixing are givens. Possibilities include Film Editing, Cinematography and maybe Costume Design.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:15 pm

Two (very different) documentaries:

RBG is the first. Let me give my disclaimer: I'm a right-leaning moderate (did not and will not ever vote for Trump), so take that into account. Maybe that colors my reaction to this, maybe not. The idea of Supreme Court justice documentaries is not bad at all, so I'd like to suggest to aspiring documentarians William J. Brennan, or the genuinely odd William O. Douglas (whose tenure was the longest on the court), or most of all, a warts-and-all look at Hugo Black, a former Klan member (he claimed he joined to get votes for office) who went on to become a champion of civil rights on the court, tough to easily categorize as a liberal or conservative, and easily one of the most influential justices ever. It's an interesting film, partially due to the conflict between who Ruth Bader Ginsburg actually is vs. who the film wants her to be. RBG as a film goes a bit too far in trying to claim a not-entirely-earned legacy for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And I don't mean that as a slight on Ginsburg: the Ginsburg portrayed in this film seems to be a lady who is very happy simply doing her job and analyzing legal briefs deep into the night. She's quiet, soft-spoken, and while she's let some criticisms of Trump slip out over the past couple of years, for the most part she's always been much more of the old-school of "disagree respectfully". I don't think she's necessarily trying to cultivate a legacy as a real-life Wonder Woman, despite what the meme generation has tried to turn her into. There's no denying that, while she's been a reliable member of the liberal wing of the court, she doesn't really stand out from other like-minded justices like Souter or Breyer in terms of jurisprudence. She hasn't written opinions (or dissents) on a lot of the big cases, hasn't cultivated a legacy as much beyond an easy vote liberal vote on cases that fall along ideological lines. Compare her to her good friend but ideological opposite Scalia, who carved out a legacy as an originalist, partially because, when he ended up on the wrong side of a decision, he tended to take to his pulpit and write fiery dissents. This just isn't, and from the film itself, hasn't ever been, Ginsburg's style. One of the most telling moments is when her friends from her school days recount how they only found out that Ginsburg's mom had died when she matter-of-factly informed them that she wouldn't be at graduation. For better or worse, this is who she is, and who she's been for most, if not all, of her life. So while I think it's an interesting film, I also don't think Ginsburg is the best, or most compelling, subject for a documentary. But I also think that's how she would want it.

Three Identical Strangers was more compelling for me, because the real-life story is truly fascinating. As many of the characters say, "If someone told me this story, I wouldn't believe it". But it's also harder to discuss without going into spoiler territory--not just the spoilers that everyone knows from the concept of the film, but spoilers that go into the reasons the triplets were initially separated, as well as the possible ramifications of the separation, and I think those spoilers play better if you discover it in the film itself. I also think that spoiler ultimately leads to the biggest weakness of the film: In trying to explain or give insight into a certain development in the story, it introduces a possible "explanation" that comes a little too abruptly, as the film is headed towards its conclusion. It really is a good, moving documentary though. I'm glad that, in the wake of RBG and Won't You Be My Neighbor?, this didn't get lost in the shuffle and managed to find its own audience.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:29 pm

Mister Tee wrote:As for that "ending"...in my youth, there was a long-running comic strip called Winnie Winkle. At one point, somewhere around 1960/61, she was said to be dead -- and I remember my father saying "How long till we find out she's still alive?" Same deal here. If you believe Marvel is ready to kill off half of its franchises -- if you for a moment think there won't be a sequel to the billion-ish-grossing Black Panther...well, your childish faith is adorable. So, why would I be moved by something that I know is going to undone or reversed in time for about a dozen more movies?

I haven't seen this movie, so I'm not taking issue with your take on the ending, which seems to be in line with most of the others I've read.

But I have read comic books (not in comic book form...I just wait until they're released in compilation books) so I am familiar with the "kill off the protagonist" thing. In comics, you know the characters won't remain dead forever (the series is going to continue, and even if it's a final issue, you know it'll be rebooted somehow), but the dramatic payoffs tend to come in terms of how they'll bring them back, and what implications their "death" will have on the larger story arc. I don't know why Marvel would try to play it off in terms of some type of suspense or tragic ending when, like you said, everyone knows these characters will be back, and most already have films with release dates lined up.

-----
I've watched several new films lately. Operation Finale is an interesting story (the operation to capture Eichmann) where you can tell, even at the script level, why actors like Isaac and Kingsley were interested. But Chris Weitz makes a mess of the story, falling into all of the traps you would expect, trying to turn it into a Munich/Argo hybrid (it even has an airport chase). Hot Summer Nights is one of those Alpha Dog-esque wayward youth films with Timothy Chalamet as a teenager who gets in over his head. Chalamet is solid, but you've seen this before. Final Portrait is one of those movies that opens with a time-and-place title card, "Paris, 1964", only for Armie Hammer to inform us (via voice-over) right away that "I was in Paris in 1964". One of the most artless movies about art that I've seen. A Ciambra is, in my opinion, one of the best films of the year, also, in a way, a film about a kid who gets in over his head. The setting is unique--a Romani community in Calabria--and I think it really evokes the way the African refugees, the Romani community, and the Italians live together in that uneasy tension, the way a group of people who are (and perceive themselves to be) an underclass often resort to crimes as a survival mechanism. Really good movie. If you do Hulu, it's available on there, although I think you can also rent in on Amazon.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 8:10 am

VENOM
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Melora Walters.
Dir: Ruben Fleischer.

Okay, I know. I had to see this. The solo movie of a popular Spider-Man villain has an investigative reporter stumbling upon the symbiote which turns him into Venom. I can actually see a Venom movie working if they go one of two ways: a dark R-rated David Cronenberg-type body horror-Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde type film or as a darker R-rated The Mask type wacky black comedy. This one tries a PG-13-rated amalgamation of both and it's a real mess of a film. There are moments where I actually laughed out loud at how silly it is and frankly, I'm not sure whether I'm laughing at it or with it. It's a bad film. But it's at least fun bad. That said, Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed all deserve better.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: D+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Sabin » Fri Oct 05, 2018 5:50 am

The Academy was really onto something with the Best Popular Movie category, except instead it should be Worst Popular Movie. We're in a remarkable period of time where so many movies that cost over $100 million makes money. Obviously there are exceptions, but it would really open up a dialogue about ultimately what kind of bad movies are made. For the most part, there are two kinds of bad movies: boringly competent and disastrously incompetent. When you go to see a Transformers movie or even a Marvel movie, you know what you're going to get. Something that fits into a cookie cutter perfectly. If you don't like the cookies, enjoy your nap. But then there's another kind of bad movie, like your DC Movie or in this case Venom, so ill-conceived you never know what the next minute might bring.

I was dragged to Venom this evening and I will say this: I was not bored. It is a terrible film full of plot holes and inconsistencies so glaring my grandmother could point them out. Why is everybody so bad at their jobs? Investigative reporters, scientists, security guards: everybody! Why does the symbiote have seemingly total awareness of earth pop culture slang the moment he bonds to Eddie? Why does the plot not allow Eddie and the symbiote one moment to react to their unique situation and learn from each other? They don't even have a barely defined meaningful relationship? If the symbiote killed all of their previous hosts, what is special about Hardy, Ahmed, or Williams (spoilers)? This goes entirely unremarked upon. I could really keep going. This film reeks of lack of confidence and post-production, re-editing nightmare. All of it leads up to a tacked on third act of two CGI monsters fighting each other, climaxing in a remarkable image of two symbiotes battling that looks like a jizz fight.

Everybody is bad in this film. Tom Hardy at least commits to it. An awful film devoid of a single honest, believable moment. I wasn't bored for a second but I likely won't see a worse film this year.
"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 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Sep 29, 2018 10:59 am

SMALLFOOT
Cast: Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Gina Rodriguez, Danny DeVito, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry, Jimmy Tatro, Patricia Heaton, Justin Roiland (voices).
Dir: Karey Kirkpatrick.

A young Yeti discovers the possible existence of a legendary creature among Yetis called the "Smallfoot" (i.e. humans). What else can I say? This pretty much went the way I thought it was gonna go. It's entertaining enough for the kids and is also funny and sophisticated enough for grown-ups. But there's absolutely nothing particularly outstanding. The voice-acting is good. The animation is fine. The message its trying to impart is also fine (Philosophy 101 for the elementary audience!) As it turns out, it's also a musical, the songs were fine. Everything is fine. That's also the worst thing I can say about it. Being fine makes it kind of forgettable too.

Oscar Prospects: Animated Feature is a longshot. Original Song is possible.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:55 pm

Winnie Winkle ran for 76 years from 1920-1996. God help us if The Avengers lasts anywhere near that.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Reza » Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:51 pm

Mister Tee wrote:So...Avengers: Infinity War.

SPOILERS, THOUGH PROBABLY NO ONE CARES BY NOW

What a big, bloated mess. An hour in, and they were still throwing more characters into the mix. It got hard to keep track of which bunch of characters was where -- and I'm not sure that mattered, in the end, because at some point it seemed they all had just the same super-powers: flying around, and whamming the villains. (At least in the X-Men movies, the individual powers matter.) I only vaguely remembered things about certain characters (very hazy on who Paul Bettany was), but, again, that didn't handicap me much, since the plot as usual came down to "Super-bad Villain wants to take over the world, and everyone else fights to stop him".

I was grateful for Chris Pratt's presence in the movie, as he was generally amusing. On the other hand, I'm about three steps past sick of Robert Downey's shtik. Everybody beyond that was so super-serious they bored me senseless.

As for that "ending"...in my youth, there was a long-running comic strip called Winnie Winkle. At one point, somewhere around 1960/61, she was said to be dead -- and I remember my father saying "How long till we find out she's still alive?" Same deal here. If you believe Marvel is ready to kill off half of its franchises -- if you for a moment think there won't be a sequel to the billion-ish-grossing Black Panther...well, your childish faith is adorable. So, why would I be moved by something that I know is going to undone or reversed in time for about a dozen more movies?

Speaking of Black Panther...if it doesn't win visual effects next February, I think we can write off the chances of any Marvel film ever taking the prize. Not to disparage the amount of work done of the effects here -- they're wall-to-wall and, I guess, impressive. But I think there's not a hint of "shock of the new" about them; when such an ocean of effects can seem so routine, even banal, I don't see much chance Oscar voters will ever go that way. Black Panther can win on cultural/critical prominence; after that, I think Marvel is dead except as chanceless nominee.


:lol:

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:37 pm

So...Avengers: Infinity War.

SPOILERS, THOUGH PROBABLY NO ONE CARES BY NOW

What a big, bloated mess. An hour in, and they were still throwing more characters into the mix. It got hard to keep track of which bunch of characters was where -- and I'm not sure that mattered, in the end, because at some point it seemed they all had just the same super-powers: flying around, and whamming the villains. (At least in the X-Men movies, the individual powers matter.) I only vaguely remembered things about certain characters (very hazy on who Paul Bettany was), but, again, that didn't handicap me much, since the plot as usual came down to "Super-bad Villain wants to take over the world, and everyone else fights to stop him".

I was grateful for Chris Pratt's presence in the movie, as he was generally amusing. On the other hand, I'm about three steps past sick of Robert Downey's shtik. Everybody beyond that was so super-serious they bored me senseless.

As for that "ending"...in my youth, there was a long-running comic strip called Winnie Winkle. At one point, somewhere around 1960/61, she was said to be dead -- and I remember my father saying "How long till we find out she's still alive?" Same deal here. If you believe Marvel is ready to kill off half of its franchises -- if you for a moment think there won't be a sequel to the billion-ish-grossing Black Panther...well, your childish faith is adorable. So, why would I be moved by something that I know is going to undone or reversed in time for about a dozen more movies?

Speaking of Black Panther...if it doesn't win visual effects next February, I think we can write off the chances of any Marvel film ever taking the prize. Not to disparage the amount of work done of the effects here -- they're wall-to-wall and, I guess, impressive. But I think there's not a hint of "shock of the new" about them; when such an ocean of effects can seem so routine, even banal, I don't see much chance Oscar voters will ever go that way. Black Panther can win on cultural/critical prominence; after that, I think Marvel is dead except as chanceless nominee.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:19 am

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS
Cast: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Lorenza Izzo, Sunny Suljic, Colleen Camp.
Dir: Eli Roth.

An orphaned 10 year old boy is sent to live with his uncle who happens to be a good warlock but with a lot of secrets. One of the most interesting elements in this film is the fact that it's directed by Eli Roth, a horror movie director known for his hard-R torture porno movies like Hostel (which I'm not a fan of). How did he do in his first foray into a PG-rated kids' film? It's...okay, very okay. He does better with the spooky, horror elements than he does with the fantasy whimsy elements. The entire thing is almost held together by Cate Blanchett who surprisingly does not phone it in. She gives it a lot of humor and depth and even shares some nice chemistry with Jack Black who gives his usual Jack Black performance. It's inoffensive fun for kiddies but there are better options out there.

Oscar Prospects: Makeup & Hairstyling is possible.

Grade: B-

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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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