The Official Review Thread of 2018

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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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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:33 am

THE WIFE
Cast: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Harry Lloyd, Annie Starke, Elizabeth McGovern.
Dir: Bjorn Runge.

A famous writer wins the Nobel Prize for Literature and him and his wife journey to Sweden to get the prize then the truth about the nature of their relationship and his work start to surface. This is actually a film that's kind of relevant to what's been going on lately, not in the sexual harassment realm but rather the equal opportunities for women kind of realm. It makes you really think about how many great women writers out there were not given a chance. This, as a film, is a pretty solid drama. The third act in particular is simply fireworks where Glenn Close reminds all of us what a great actress she is and has always been.

Oscar Prospects: Yeah, Close has a shot at winning. If Jonathan Pryce goes Supporting (though he's technically a co-lead here), he would also have a shot at a nomination as well.

Grade: B+

To Precious Doll: I had a similar situation with this. In our city, senior citizens get to watch movies for free. This is a small art house release and in my experience, lots of senior citizens buy tickets to this as time killers because it's nice, quiet, there's not a lot of people, etc. Basically they just want to sit. There was an old lady who was talking in her phone quite loudly behind me, my "shushing", as well as the shushing of other people around her, wasn't helping, she just continues blabbing on ("Well, I'm at this movie. It's raining outside", etc.) I couldn't take it so I got up and moved to another seat.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Precious Doll » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:42 am

This is off topic and I didn't want to start a new thread and thought this would be a sort of appropriate one because I was sitting through a film when it happened.

I was utterly gobsmacked at something that happened to my partner today. We are currently attending the Melbourne Film Festival which normally consists of the most civilised and well behaved of audiences (i.e. no talking or fiddling with mobile telephones during the films). But this year has been exception. Every fucking second session something happens that should not be.

We were sitting behind (though not directly but a few seats away) two people, one of whom only a couple of minutes into the film pulled out their mobile phone and was fiddling away with it. My partner, in a loud very unimpressed disapproving voice told the person 'Could you put that phone away'. Needles to say the person complied. After, the film had ended the person's companion than had a go at my partner who replied that if the person had difficulty with modern technology that perhaps they shouldn't be using it. He was then accused of 'male aggression'. The two people in question were women, probably in their late sixties. I proceeded to complain to staff about this, though did say to them that there was little they could do.

Before every film shown at the Melbourne Film Festival are a series of adds. They change them around and show different ads but the very last ad is always the same one and is it about not using your mobile phone whilst driving and ends with the authoritarian figure in the ad talking directly to the audience to 'turn off your phones'. I've looked for a link to the ad on-line but haven't been able to find it.

The point of this little story is that now if you voice your displeasure of something that someone is doing, even if you are in the right, some political statement will be thrown back at you even though it has nothing to do with the situation at hand. My partner made his comment without any mention of sex, race, age, etc. Sure, his tone was one of annoyance but WTF don't people get that you don't use the damn things during a film for a whole variety of reasons. We were far from impressed but there is nothing we could do. Complaining to the festival is fruitless because I think they are doing what they can (the very clever ad they screen before each film) and I really don't have a solution to offer them myself so it's just a matter of pulling people up ourselves (others do it too as a number of times I have heard other people yell from the other side of the cinema 'Put that phone away' or 'Stop talking', etc).

It's also rather disturbing because we had another 'indecent' last night at a session that was even worse but I really don't want to go into all the details only to say that I feel I was lucky that I wasn't physically assaulted for asking someone to stop talking about 25 minutes into a film - I'm going to post those details on the Criterion forum under 'Movie experiences' when I get a chance. And to top it off I witnessed one of the most disgraceful displays of 'passenger' rage at pedestrians a couple of days ago that I have ever witnessed. The passenger in the car was screaming abuse at pedestrians legally crossing at the lights was a young woman angry because the driver of the car she was in couldn't make an immediate right hand turn - should have pulled out my phone an filmed it - could have been a YouTube sensation.

I jokingly said to my partner that perhaps we were in the wrong. After all, the film that this occurred during was Los silencois directed by Beatriz Seignor (a woman) and us being older white males, according to some prominent women in the film industry, couldn't possibly appreciate the film. Thankfully, neither of us a film critics so we won't be coming under the wraith of the likes of Blanchett, Bullock, Larson, etc, but I wonder if they have a problem with us spending our hard earned money on films directed by women. Is that still allowed?

Sorry for the cynicism but I'm still very pissed off at the unfounded comments made purely because they had no defence for their actions and resorted to man-hating.
"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 ITALIANO » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:26 am

Big Magilla wrote:Question: Is A Quiet Place a good movie?
Answer: Has Michael Bay ever made a good movie?

No, Hollywood's crappiest successful filmmaker didn't direct it, but he produced it. John Krasinksi directed it from a script by a couple of guys from the MTV school of writing.

Krasinski's direction of wife Emily Blunt and some very talented kids as well as himself is strong, but the sript is not only illogical, it is absurd from the get-go.



True.

And you haven't seen that mess called Hereditary yet... :)

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Sabin » Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:03 pm

I don't have time to write much about Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade but it's a remarkable film that is correctly being written about at some length for being the first film depicting a new generation: the pre-millennials, who had access to social media as children. Comparisons to Lady Bird are inevitable, although there is something very arbitrary about Gerwig's post-Iraq War setting (which could easily be 1994) while Eighth Grade couldn't be more specific about its time and place. Its a film about a socially awkward middle schooler with terrible skin who doesn't fit in. One would think that with access to social media, alienation in this generation would be the easiest thing in the world. Not the case. While vlogs are a bit old school, Kayla spends all of her time posting educational videos (about things she knows nothing about) seen by nobody that are clearly designed to prop herself up. In addition to Bo Burnham's stunning direction, the biggest strength of Eighth Grade is how perceptive it is about Kayla. It functions like a horror film of preteen anxiety, which is what makes it both a generationally specific film while having universal appeal.

Owen Gleiberman writes: ""Eighth Grade” is one of the rare time-capsule youth films, because it depicts the world as it is — but also shows you, just maybe, that there’s a way to exist in the hothouse of digital communion and find a place in it." -- I agree with this sentiment. Bo Burnham stages social media as an integral part of these kid's development. This isn't a film that pretends to be above judging social media. Every scene presents a clear argument about what's good or bad about it.

Credit to A24 for another wildly perceptive film about youth.
"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 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:36 am

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN
Cast: Ewan MacGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss, voices of Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Toby Jones, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okenedo.
Dir: Marc Forster.

This film was kind of inevitable. The Winnie the Pooh franchise has been predictably heading into this direction. This is about a now-married-with-a-child and overworked adult Christopher Robin going back to his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood to, you know, learn about what matters most in life. While it's not a bad film, it's such a predictable, by-the-numbers story where most anyone could definitely see where this is going. That said, Ewan MacGregor is good and the original A.A. Milne characters still has what makes them charming and endearing in the first place. No, it's not Disney's answer to Paddington but it easily could have been (and it also easily could have been a lot worse).

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects is definitely a possibility.

Grade: B.


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