The Official Review Thread of 2018

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:36 am

FIRST MAN
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Ciaran Hinds, Patrick Fugit, Pablo Schreiber, Olivia Hamilton, Shea Whigham, Lukas Haas, Ethan Embry.
Dir: Damien Chazelle.

This is the film about how Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon. In many ways, this is a fairly standard biopic which hits all the factoids in a three act structure. But director Damien Chazelle inject a lot of life into the proceedings, grounding the story in humanity and managing to mine suspense and emotion in a story that I think most people are familiar with and know the ending to. It doesn't break any new ground and some people may dismiss it as "middle-brow Oscar bait" but it is a refreshing, grown-up, well-made drama with wonderful performances and further proof that Chazelle is indeed one of the best young mainstream directors working today.

Oscar Prospects: Across the board nominations for Picture, Director, Actor (Ryan Gosling), Supporting Actress (Claire Foy), Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Film Editing, Visual Effects, Production Design.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Oct 15, 2018 10:53 am

My review of Three Identical Strangers posts tomorrow on CinemaSight.

The beginning of the story takes place in the fall of 1980 when I was still living in New York. I didn't move to California until early 1981, but I don;t believe I was aware of it at the time. Although I've read and seen a lot on nature vs. nurture in the intervening years, I still don't think I had heard about this particular situation. It's a fascinating tale, though, and one of the year's best films, let alone documentaries.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:56 pm

I've caught up with all three of the year's hot documentaries, and have been meaning to comment on them, so I thank dws for giving me the prod to get my thoughts down.

I know I've noted this before, but I think it bears repeating: it's truly amazing to have three docs in such a short period achieve the level of acclaim and financial success these films have. Each one of the three, in a given year, would have had an easy path to securing critics' prizes and, almost assuredly, the Oscar. Having three candidates with that profile is remarkable, and, unless one of them ends up sweeping the critics' groups, it could be fun to watch them battle for awards.

Won't You Be My Neighbor? has been the highest-of-the-high grossers, but I have to say I found it the least impressive of the three. This may be partly due to my almost complete unacquaintance with Mr. Rogers -- I was too old to have ever watched him as a child (too old for the entire PBS/Sesame Street world, in fact), and, since I never had kids, I never absorbed him on a secondary level, either. (Till I heard the theme song fully sung in the movie, I didn't even know where the film's title came from.) What I got from the film was that he was a genuinely nice guy with noble aims for educating children -- all of which is completely admirable in life, but not especially engaging as cinematic material. I hear a lot of people saying the pure niceness on display is a tonic in these angry times, and I see that. Though it's worth noting that HE himself worked in angry times. (Possibly the strongest moment in the film is when he tries to on-air process Bobby Kennedy's assassination -- a self-identified Republican genuinely mournful over losing a politician of the opposing party is a scene that's hard to conjure up today.) Anyway, my overall take on the film is that it's perfectly pleasant, but I'm not quite sure what's turned it into (in doc terms) a financial juggernaut.

RBG, too, benefits from serving as beacon (particularly for progressives) in a dark time, and from the unlikely rock-star status GInsberg has attained in this era. But I found the movie quite engrossing on its own, particularly in the sections about her earlier life -- first seeing just how quixotic a life-path she was choosing in simply going to law school, and then learning more about her major accomplishments prior to joining the Court. (As someone currently collecting a wife's Social Security survivor benefit, I had no idea I had her to thank.) And, while my political leanings no doubt enhance my appreciation of her rulings, I don't think it's fair to dismiss her writings as unimpressive. She doesn't cry out for attention the way Scalia did, with his "argle-bargle" and "applesauce", but, especially in this era when she often writes the primary dissent, her phrasings can be memorable. Her Shelby County metaphor -- that tossing away Civil Rights protections in the South is like throwing out your umbrella because it's not raining today -- is not only apt but, as we're seeing in Georgia this very moment, prescient. I agree with dws that a Justice who truly went through changes while on the Ctourt -- Justice Blackmun would be another in that regard, beyond the ones you cite -- would be a stronger subject for, say, a dramatization. But simply in terms of taking a look at a remarkable life, I think RBG is a powerful work.

Like dws, though, I find Three Identical Strangers the stronger effort, if only because it tells such a remarkable story. I can't believe I was unaware of this while it was being uncovered -- I of course lived in the NY area in the early 80s, but have no recollection of it whatever (neither do any of the friends I've asked about it). I'LL TRY TO AVOID SPOILERS, BUT MIGHT SLIP A BIT The film works on you almost like a drug -- starting off as a giddy high (the sheer elation the guys take from the situation), but slipping gradually into disillusionment and something like despair. If I had any issue with the film, it was feeling I wasn't being given enough of the latter developments. Especially, why not include the contents of the released files, which would certainly confirm or contradict suggestions the film is making? I'd also have liked some exploration of the fact that the three brothers looked/acted/talked so much alike in the historical footage, but the two on-camera present day look more like simply brothers rather than identical twins. But these are quibbles about an incredibly powerful piece of work that tells an amazing story, but also raises serious questions about what leeway we were giving to scientists half a century ago, and how we're questioning that in retrospect. Highly recommended.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Precious Doll » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:42 am

anonymous1980 wrote:THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST
it's still a noble effort well worth seeing and writer-director Desiree Akhavan is definitely a filmmaker to watch out for.

Grade: B


Actually, Desiree Akhaven's first film Appropriate Behaviour marked her as a filmmaker to watch. As well intended as this film is, it is a step-down for Akhaven after her notable first film film.
"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 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.
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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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