Author Topic: Respond to the last movie you watched  (Read 83739 times)

Corndog

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #970 on: June 06, 2017, 02:57:21 PM »
It Comes at Night (Trey Edward Shults, 2017)

Full disclosure: horror movies are not typically "my thing". I can appreciate their form and structure. I can appreciate that others get a real kick out of getting scared, or seeing other people get scared. But for me, horror movies don't occupy a space within my movie watching purview which makes any kind of impact on me in a general sense. I see one and I may or may not get scared, but I neither love nor loathe the experience of feeling scared, and more often than not with horror movies, I don't feel all that frightened. So I often say to myself, "What's the point?" Well in some cases, horror movies can be impeccably made, boasting such cinematic classics as Halloween or The Silence of the Lambs, which seem to transcend the genre for me. Is It Comes at Night one of those films? Not quite, but I still submit that Trey Edward Shults is an artist to watch.

As the follow up to his acclaimed debut film Krisha (which regrettably I did not see), It Comes at Night marks writer/director Trey Edward Shults first full entry into the horror genre. Set in the remote wilderness during a suspicious and unknown disease outbreak, the film begins with a family fighting for survival. Paul (Joel Edgerton), his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and their son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) live in a boarded up house, avoiding the outside at night if at all possible. But when a stranger named Will (Christopher Abbott) tries to break into the house, thinking it vacant, in order to save his own family (Riley Keough and Griffin Robert Faulkner), tension begins to mount as paranoia and a lack of trust between the families begins to mount.

Trey Edward Shults cut his teeth working on films by such auteurs as Terrence Malick (Song to Song) and Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special), so it should be no surprise that the greatest strength of It Comes at Night is in its ability to be a sharp, visually appealing narrative which explores the relationships we are able to make with other people, tenuous as they may be. It Comes at Night certainly has elements of horror, but by focusing instead on the relationships between these people, Shults makes a human film first, which only helps to fuel the horror found within it. A lack of trust breeds paranoia and vice versa, so given the mysterious and intentionally vague situation Paul and his family find themselves in, tension builds naturally the longer they are together with Will and his family. It is a genius stroke in building the atmosphere of the film.

The atmosphere, and in particular the mood, throughout the film take the rather drab, dreary and uneventful plot and turn it into a compelling slow burn which left me wondering what might happen next. The cinematography of the film, from the lighting to the staging and camera movements help dial the tension up, taking Shults' standard, sparse screenplay and creating a visually haunting and splendid film. The screenplay doesn't allow for a ton of exposition, with Shults more apt to show then tell, and sometimes not to show at all, leaving much to the imagination and horror of the viewer. I'm not exactly sure what Shults might be playing at with his tale, but the experience of it makes it worthwhile.

Cryptic, and leading to a place of uncertainty, It Comes at Night succeeds as a sophomore film for Trey Edward Shults insomuch as it proves he has massive potential and a firm understanding of mise-en-scene. This film features an upgrade in cast, with the wonderful Joel Edgerton and Carmen Ejogo, making me even more curious with what Shults might be able to accomplish with a slightly larger budget. This genre film doesn't have a lot of meat on the bone, and I left the theater not sure what to make of it, but that just might have been the point. That bit of ennui resulting from the experience of tension and paranoia throughout the efficient runtime make It Comes at Night more of a film to experience in the moment and figure out later, a film which lurches and frightens in unconventional ways.

*** - Very Good
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #971 on: June 07, 2017, 08:49:22 AM »
Wonder Woman (2017)

DC Films hasn’t put out a decent film in almost a decade. Loud, brash, abrasive films with overlong runtimes, grim tones, and bland, muted color palettes comprise just about everything that’s wrong with the superhero genre. Instead of letting up on the oppression, DC Films doubled down placing Zack Snyder as the visionary for a DC expanded universe. Therefore, I had no expectations for Wonder Woman.

As the film started, I rolled my eyes. Another lengthy origin story unfolds as a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) learns about the ways of the all-female Amazons and the god of Ares they are sworn to protect the earth from. An absurd amount of time is spent arguing over whether or not Diana will be trained, Diana doing training anyway, and finally mother and leader Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) allowing the now adult Diana (Gal Gadot) to train.

It’s a waste of time and had me bracing for another boorish, paint by the numbers superhero flick. Like many modern blockbuster, there’s a compulsion to tell the audience who this character is and where she comes from. A lot could be shown or inferred with a handful of lines or the opening monologue instead of scene after scene of Amazons explaining to a young Diana who they are, what they do, and what they believe.

And then Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes near the island. He bursts the bubble Diana lives in and she becomes embroiled in a quest to stop World War 1 by finding Ares who she is convinced is the driving force behind the war to end all wars. She believe it her duty to kill Ares in order to bring peace to earth.

The film shifts from mythological origin story to a delightfully funny fish out of water story as Diana goes about being the Amazonian warrior in a conservative wartime London where a woman’s function in the war is secretary or nurse. After butting heads with brass, the film shifts tones once again as a unlikely suicide mission.

This mission delivers the best narrative and emotional beats of the story. Diana discovers her optimistic view of honorable war-making doesn’t align with the trench warfare of the modern world. And her efforts to save every last person is an almost existential exercise. And the good she is trying to save often seems to be at odds with her worldview that Germany is being corrupted and manipulated by Ares.

The film becomes a deep struggle with human nature and justice as Diana finds arbitrating good and evil not nearly as clear cut as her mythological roots makes it sound. In a modern age, such idealistic moralizing is seen as a kind of foolishness. Diana is faced with a humanity that might not be worth saving, a humanity that might deserve to be wiped out. Instead of the stereotypical good vs. evil of her childhood stories, she find the world a morally gray space.

Steve Trevor and his smarmy gang are the kind of people one would generally avoid. In one scene as they carouse, three of them recite: “Let’s get what we want.” “Get what we need.” “And never get what we deserve.” For the men in the middle of the war, there’s not the sense that they are inherently good. They’re a lot who know they’ve done horrible things and that the ends might not justify the means.

This wartime story creates a complex moral space only to have the final act reminds the audience that this is a superhero film and the order of the day is spectacle. It ends in a rather uncreative brawl-out by two seemingly invulnerable beings until all that’s left is a lot of rubble. At least placing it in a war zone makes it a lot less horrific and unsettling that the aftermath of Man of Steel, but it still can’t rescue the third act from being yet another uninspired final showdown.

A core 90 minutes of this film is fantastic. There’s an ethos and nuance to the characters, the war backdrop forces Diana to confront the flaws in her worldview bred in an isolationist society, and the action is in service to furthering the plot and characters.

But the film is bookended with some of the most cliche and uninspired superhero tropes. These tropes are tedious and uninteresting after almost two decades of getting these types of films regularly. It’s hard to get past the power fantasy enacted by essentially godlike beings that continues to perpetuate the majority of these films.

And the visual extravaganza Wonder Women displays is equally uninspired. Director Patty Jenkins takes cues from Snyder’s previous work with a bizarre obsession with slow motion and a visually muted color pallet. It doesn’t help that a lot of the CGI involving people looks fake and the slow motion shots only accentuate the problem. There’s also a lack of visual creativity on display with most action set-pieces being little more than sanitized wartime fighting mixed with superhero fisticuffs.

Compare it to recent Marvel work and it becomes apparent how visually stifling and dull this film is. Scott Derrickson’s turbo-infused mashup of The Matrix and Inception style visuals made Doctor Strange one of the trippiest blockbusters ever and James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 used its action set-pieces to create a cornucopia of color and deliver memorable visual gags.

Wonder Woman is unable to escape the baggage of DC Films reputation. It’s a film I had to endure to get to the good part and then had to endure its dreary fine act. The visuals are only slightly better than Snyder’s dark, grimy superhero aesthetic. But it has a heart and core thematic tension to it that has been completely absent in DCs films and even DC’s tainted vision of superhero blockbusters can’t completely tarnish the heart of gold underneath the messiness.

Corndog

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #972 on: June 08, 2017, 08:45:08 AM »
The Mummy (Alex Kurtzman, 2017)

A lot of people think back to the 1999 Brendan Fraser film The Mummy when they see advertisements for this film. I like to pretend to be a snob and point out the 1932 Karl Freund/Boris Karloff version. It's not without cause, however, given the direction that Universal studios would like to take this version of The Mummy and it's cast of characters. One of the major franchises in the history of cinema started way back in the 1930s and 1940s with Universal's "Monsters". The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, etc. These films all features spooky special effects and scenarios, most often involving actor Boris Karloff and directors Karl Feund and James Whale, among others. With The Mummy, Universal is once again looking to get back into the franchise game, this time dubbing it the "Dark Universe".

Starting with a known commodity such as The Mummy is likely a smart move. Even while the Brendan Fraser film is an entertaining joyride which spurred two sequels, the rest of the property has been dead for multiple decades. Failure to gain traction out of the gate may prove a death knell for the franchise before it even begins. And yet, even with a "proven" commodity to start things off, the death knell may be ringing, even with money in the bank action star Tom Cruise, who plays American soldier Nick Morton who happens upon an ancient Egyptian burial chamber in the middle of Iraq with researcher Jenny (Annabelle Wallis). But when the mummy within, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) awakens, she brings with her the wrath of a coup from ancient times unfinished. With the help of British Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe), Nick and Jenny must subdue Ahmanet before she destroys the world.

This is one movie franchise I can say I was actually a little excited to hear about, given the original films are major touchstones in the history of the horror genre. I was curious how they might adapt the films to modern times, and with the result of the first film, well, the jury is still out. This installment has been getting crapped on in heaps from the early reviews, and while I cannot say it is a film I could recommend, I do think i enjoyed myself a little more than most other critics. Please do not take that line as an endorsement, however, just that I managed to have a little bit of fun. Gasp!

The screenplay is certainly doing the film no favors, and certainly could have used a unified voice behind it. The dialogue here is as clunky and vaguely cliched as about any recent blockbuster film I can recall. The characters are so thinly conceived and connected. But where I did geek out was when we got a chance to interact with the more historical aspects of the Mummy story, and get to see the archaeological adventures Indiana Jones taught us to love. Unfortunately this is a shell of those adventures. Tom Cruise, as he has aged, seems to have maintained his charisma and screen presence, though it perhaps starts to wain just a little here. How much longer can the king of action reign on his decaying throne?

There's a few laughs, a few references to future films, and throwing in Dr. Jekyll here is a nice connective touch. Really, the way they setup everything to connect in the future is not what ruins this movie, it's at least minimally believable. What ruins this movie is its own stupidity, which stems from a product which feels like it was rushed out the door in order to miss the franchise boat every other major studio seems to be on right now. Dark Universe has massive potential, in my opinion. It's built of classic figures and intriguing, spooky stories which could still be relevant with a refresh. How unfortunate then to see that refresh so poorly handled by the team at Universal. Those fleeting moments of humor, creepiness and adventure that are found within The Mummy were enough to get me through the runtime, which was graciously not bloated, and perhaps even enough to get me curious about the future here, but it's not nearly enough for me to attempt to praise this film on its own.

**1/2 - Average
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #973 on: June 08, 2017, 09:39:02 AM »
Colossal
Nacho Vigalondo (2017)


I am not entirely sure why I was convinced Colossal was supposed to be a comedy. Maybe it was the trailer, I don't remember ; and confusing Jason Sudeikis' name with that of Jason Manzoukas also didn't help my expectations. Colossal is definitely not the upbeat gagfest I was looking for.

Instead, it uses its unusual premise to go into places I would never have guessed at. It is a movie that manages to make its gimmick secondary to its themes ; not only does it have something to say, it has more to say than any other movie that includes kaiju or giant robots that I can think of. Colossal is about alcoholism and alcoholics in part, but more than anything, it is about abusive and/or dysfunctional relationships. It goes real dark, real fast. Its characters are a collection of monsters more frightening than the actual giant lizard: a self-sabotaging trainwreck, a verbally violent boyfriend who sort of has a point, a stand in for human cowardice and of course, the plat de résistance, the poster child for male insecurity, entitlement and abuse of all flavours. White men come out of the movie looking like a rather abysmal lot, and white women don't get off so easy either.

Unfortunately, when you're actively seeking laughter therapy, alcoholism and abusive relationships are not quite the things you're trying to think about though. While I could appreciate what the movie was doing, I did not enjoy much of it - which also has to do with the fact that the script is not that compelling either and such, but let's leave it at that.

6.5/10
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goodguy

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #974 on: June 08, 2017, 10:36:56 AM »
Colossal
Nacho Vigalondo (2017)

...
6.5/10

I rated it a little higher - mostly because I don't do decimals and didn't have misleading expectations. I agree that the script had some problems, and direction and cinematography were serviceable at best. I guess, the sheer originality of the concept and the very good performances by Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis (who apparently is a known quantity to some people, but not me) did put me in a more forgiving mood. This should be a sure contender for a Best Surprise nomination in the upcoming Filmspots.

Also, fun fact from the IMDb trivia page: The makers of the completely rote and insufferable latest Godzilla had the audacity to sue for too many similarities with their movie. WTF?


DarkeningHumour

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #975 on: June 08, 2017, 10:42:42 AM »
Before I finish my Prometheus review, here goes another one, because I need to write something positive for a change.

Wonder Woman
Parry Jenkins (2017)


To understand what works and what doesn't in Wonder Woman, what are its failures and its successes, is to understand the bold gambit of the project. Wonder Woman is a movie whose ambition is to be many disparate things at once. That is both the source of its main qualities and flaws.

The premise of the movie is to be superhero movie, but whereas most examples of the genre are content being just that, developing their two hour character arcs and origin stories and little else, Jenkins decided to do more. Hers is also a fish out of water story about a woman navigating another culture and, indeed, another time. It is a war movie in the proper sense, one that relegates the first Captain America to a children's cartoon ; a fantasy story that blends classical mythology with modern history ; a coming of age tale about a woman who must prove herself as a warrior just as she discovers the opposite sex, in senses both literal and figurative.

The writers set themselves up for an Ares-powered challenge of a screenplay to overcome and their limitations account for most of the misses of the final work. While there are times when all elements of the movie work seamlessly together, they oftentimes also jar, and there are even instances when both occasions are superimposed. There is a scene where an oblivious Diana unknowingly partakes in flirtatious banter with Captain Kirk. The scene is overall charming, but it also sounds idiotic more than once, and Gal Gadot for all her considerable qualities is not the kind of actress who is able to transcend and makes us forget her material. Diana's sexuality is then utterly forgotten until the unavoidable kiss scene. One cannot help but imagine she would have displayed more early curiosity about the whole business in the prior days.

One of the possibilities for making the Wonder Woman movie was to ellipsize Diana's discovery of the modern world, which would have spared the writers with figuring out how someone from Ancient Greece would react to modern London. Again, while charming, Diana's bout of shopping and the surrounding scenes are at best silly, and at worse egregious displays of writing incompetence. Did Kirk not think of explaining the most basic elements of modern society to her whilst they crossed a sea and an ocean?

I was always perplexed by what facets of modernity they chose to make Diana comment on, especially where war was concerned. The war story part of the movie is responsible for some of its best elements, but it is also tragically self defeating. It is the part of the movie that truly confronts Diana with human nature and that most demonstrates how out of place she is in the world. After a number of discoveries, Diana is ultimately confronted with the fact that killing one person is not enough to stop a war, that the mechanisms of it do not work that way, and that men might just wage war because it is in their nature, not because they have been corrupted. That also opens the way to a more powerful message about why one should truly help or fight for another.

Wonder Woman would have been quite unique had it left things there to play out but unfortunately it felt the need to add a twist to the story and place its final boss battle afterwards. Despite my overall enjoyment of the fight, that cancelled whatever the movie had just achieved. War becomes the fault of a lone madman and when Diana triumphs (through the power of love, ugh...) German and British soldiers automatically fall into each others arms - precisely what the film should have avoided. That is the most troubling thing about Wonder Woman: its willingness to suggest that war could not be our responsibility but someone else's. I was glad, for that reason, that they did not choose the Second World War as their setting, although that creates a incoherence in the plot, as everything about the prophecy indicates that should be Ares' zenith.

I have never been a fan of comic books that mix mythology with superheroes because the universes they build seldom make sense on the most basic levels, and this film is no different. Godhood makes for compelling Mortal Kombat moves, but indestructibility is boring, and load of questions are left unanswered like "Why did only 30 go by on the Amazon island?" or "Why do wars continue to happen after Ares dies?".

In terms of action, DC has a rather different to shoot challenge than Marvel. Many of its characters are superlatively powerful, moving at incredible speeds and punching with titanic might to dwarf Thor's. With Snyder, the studio found a way to capture the action, especially the speed, following the characters as they jump around at a dizzying pace and swat their human enemies like so many flies. It works well, even if the CGI backgrounds in this movie are often distressingly noticeable.

With clunky dialogue, uneven storytelling, competent action and slivers of innovation, Wonder Woman is a complicated product to distil, one one hopes to see more of, if the alternative is the usual DC fare.

7/10

And there goes another way too long review that no one will ever read. I need to be pithier.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2017, 10:50:27 AM by DarkeningHumour »
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #976 on: June 08, 2017, 10:43:50 AM »
Colossal
Nacho Vigalondo (2017)

...
6.5/10

I rated it a little higher - mostly because I don't do decimals and didn't have misleading expectations. I agree that the script had some problems, and direction and cinematography were serviceable at best. I guess, the sheer originality of the concept and the very good performances by Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis (who apparently is a known quantity to some people, but not me) did put me in a more forgiving mood. This should be a sure contender for a Best Surprise nomination in the upcoming Filmspots.

Sudeikis is good in some romcoms. Anne Hathaway is always delightful.
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jdc

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #977 on: June 08, 2017, 10:49:52 AM »
Alien: Covenent

This one seems not to have garnered a lot of interest.  Like Prometheus, I feel this isn't bad and could have been potentially great but sometimes it can be its own worst enemy.  It seems the idea of exploring where we came from and a quest to meet our makers is quickly dropped and instead we settle in to the more traditional slow build of the original Alien and potentially a suspense/horror film instead.  Then we have to jump to an over-the-top, escape/action scene which just felt out of place and would have better been in a comic book film.  We finally get more to the point of the film which is that maybe we have less to fear of our creators than we do of what we create. I suppose we will have to wait to the next installment to find if they pick up on that theme or does it get tossed aside for another film about Aliens.
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Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #978 on: June 08, 2017, 03:17:42 PM »
Wonder Woman
Parry Jenkins (2017)

That is the most troubling thing about Wonder Woman: its willingness to suggest that war could not be our responsibility but someone else's.

This is troubling, and is a wrongheaded distillation of the reasons for any war.

Quote
And there goes another way too long review that no one will ever read. I need to be pithier.
It was a good read (all of it).

Alien: Covenent

This one seems not to have garnered a lot of interest.  Like Prometheus, I feel this isn't bad and could have been potentially great but sometimes it can be its own worst enemy.  It seems the idea of exploring where we came from and a quest to meet our makers is quickly dropped and instead we settle in to the more traditional slow build of the original Alien and potentially a suspense/horror film instead.  Then we have to jump to an over-the-top, escape/action scene which just felt out of place and would have better been in a comic book film.  We finally get more to the point of the film which is that maybe we have less to fear of our creators than we do of what we create. I suppose we will have to wait to the next installment to find if they pick up on that theme or does it get tossed aside for another film about Aliens.

I was a little more down on Prometheus than you, but I am not sure if you find Alien: Covenent a better, the same or worse than Prometheus?

jdc

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #979 on: June 08, 2017, 05:19:56 PM »
I was a little more down on Prometheus than you, but I am not sure if you find Alien: Covenent a better, the same or worse than Prometheus?

I prefer Prometheus but I can't defend it being better, it just had this crazy build of energy that worked once I overlooked some of the stupid things that the scientist do.  But I can completely understand that some can hate it, there are just too many parts that can't really be defended.  I am not sure where Scott is actually taking this, he seems to start exploring new ideas that may or may not go anywhere in the end.
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