The Official Review Thread of 2015

anonymous1980
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 27, 2016 11:14 am

STEVE JOBS
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbargh, Katherine Waterston, John Ortiz.
Dir: Danny Boyle.

This is an unconventional biopic of Steve Jobs. In lieu of the usual biopic elements of childhood, rise to fame, fall from grace, etc., it depicts three days out of his life, namely the 40 or so minutes before product presentations with occasional flashbacks and such. As directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin, the combination is actually quite intriguing. The main reasons though to see this film are the performances. Michael Fassbender is surprisingly believable as Steve Jobs despite not really resembling him much. He's supported ably by Kate Winslet, weird accent aside. I have to say Jeff Daniels was also superb in this one and should have gotten a bit more awards attention. The film doesn't quite reach greatness but it's a solid piece of work.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:09 pm

flipp525 wrote:Is there a dedicated thread for 45 Years anywhere or is discussion of it buried somewhere in this one?

It's not buried; it's only further down this page.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby flipp525 » Sun Feb 21, 2016 10:02 am

Is there a dedicated thread for 45 Years anywhere or is discussion of it buried somewhere in this one?
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."

-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 20, 2016 11:46 am

JOY
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Elisabeth Rohm, Dascha Polanco, Donna Mills, Susan Lucci, Melissa Rivers.
Dir: David O. Russell.

This is a heavily fictionalized telling of the story of Joy Mangano, a struggling single mom turned self-made millionaire who invented the Miracle Mop and went on to run her own successful business. The first thing I asked upon hearing that is, "Why? Shark Tank is on TV." But it's David O. Russell so maybe he can make something interesting out of it. Well, yes, he did but that's largely thanks to the performances of the fine ensemble cast headed by Jennifer Lawrence, who by the way is still way too young to be playing these roles (no matter how good she is). Despite being watchable and entertaining, there's nothing here that makes it an absolute must-see (except for maybe Edgar Ramirez's performance). David O. Russell's ideas to get an interesting angle on this story seem half-baked and needed a bit more polishing. It's still a good but far from great movie.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:57 am

THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demian Bichir, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Channing Tatum, James Parks.
Dir: Quentin Tarantino.

Yes, I'm a bit of a Quentin Tarantino fan so I was really looking forward to this. It's probably one of his more divisive films so I was wondering where I would land....and wouldn't you know it, I kind of loved it. A bounty hunter trying to transport a dangerous criminal for the reward is stuck in a haberdashery with a group of characters who may or may not be there to have her escape. It's a Western meets a locked room whodunit and it's Tarantino's best Western! (Yes, I know there's only two). The performances of the ensemble are terrific. And despite the three-hour running time, it's never boring. You keep guessing what's what and who's who. It's also wickedly funny filled with some great character moments that only QT can deliver. I can see how it's divisive though. However, I don't get the "misogynist" charge of the film since Jennifer Jason Leigh's character is just as bad if not worse than a lot of the men.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:10 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Sabin put way more effort into discussing Trumbo than I could possibly motivate myself to do. It's what I used to consider a typical HBO movie -- relatively painless to watch, but shallow beyond belief. There are one or two scenes where the script flirts with interesting notions (like the argument with Louis CK, where Louis says Trumbo reviving his own career isn't tantamount to saving America from the blacklist), but mostly it goes with "Trumbo and his fellow blacklistees are the only moral people in town", with a series of cardboard figures for Cranston to swat down. It's not a farce, but many of the scenes play like one (which is all too typical of Jay Roach films). I have to admit I laughed at John Goodman terrorizing the Motion Picture Alliance guy, and Cranston's "It's the only way i could get him to leave" line about Preminger...but I may have just been grateful for a break from the canonization.

Oh, and for a movie that, as BJ points out, seems obsessed with the Oscars as verifier of quality, it's inexcusable for them to have Kirk Douglas present the Oscar to Roman Holiday with the lead-in "And the Oscar goes to..." -- especially with other (real) clips showing the accurate/non-anachronistic "And the winner is..."

It's an indictment of this year's SAG Nominating Committee that they could bypass, at minimum, Steve Jobs and Brooklyn to choose this as one of the year's best acting ensembles -- never mind the leads; this film is full of cheesy performances by minor characters. I actually didn't think Cranston was bad, and wouldn't be surprised to see him on the Oscar list: he's got a number of Big Scenes, and, honestly, he'd be no worse a choice than Depp or (maybe; still unseen) Redmayne. I agree with Sabin: I was surprised Mirren's part wasn't bigger. But she still might make it into a confused category, just for being a big hissable villain.

I finally saw it. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The scenes invloving Trumbo's family come off best as they involve characters we're not overly familiar with. How much the rest of it was based on reality and how much was fiction I don't know, but one thing that puzzled me was the name of the 1947 gangster film in which Sam Wood directed Edward G. Robinson based on a script by Dalton Trumbo. There was no such film. Wood, who died in 1949, never directed a gangster film and as far as I can tell never directed a film with Robinson. Trumbo provided the script for Robinson's 1945 film, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, directed by Roy Rowland in which he played a Norwegian-American famer. He provided the script for Wood's 1940 Ginger Rogers film, Kitty Foyle. The business depicted in the film was totally made up.

The character played by Louis C.K. was fictional. The closest real-life member of the Hollywood Ten he resembles is Samuel Ornitz who died of cancer in 1957 at the age of 66.

As far as the acting goes, Cranston's performance is competent. The mugging is kept to a minimum, most of it displayed in the trailer, but there's nothing really Oscar worthy about it either. Michael Stuhlbarg is generally a good actor, but he is out of league trying to play Edward G. Robinson. David James Elliott is sadly still in search of a role to measure up to TV's JAG, the precursor to NCIS, but John Wayne isn't that role. Helen Mirren manages to capture the essence of Hedda Hopper even if her accent is off, but I think they gave her more to do than was necessary. I found that scene between her and L.B. Mayer to be completely false. I thought it was there just to give Mirren a chance to use her favorite four-letter word which she delivers as effectively as ever.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 13, 2016 10:45 am

SPOTLIGHT
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, Bryan D'Arcy James, John Slattery, Billy Crudup.
Dir: Tom McCarthy.

The last of the Best Picture I have yet see. Now, I've seen all of them now. Well, anyway, this is about a team of journalists in the Boston Globe working on an expose of the systemic cover-up of child sexual abuse by certain members of the clergy by the Catholic Church hierarchy. It's a compelling, potent drama that wisely avoids sensationalism and preachiness and instead delivers a straight-forward, matter-of-fact chronicling of the efforts of a group of reporters who simply want to do their duties as journalists. A film that can definitely get you mad (especially if you're a devout Catholic). The ensemble cast is strong. My personal favorite performance is Michael Keaton's. Despite it being a talking heads drama and being over two-hours long, the time seemed to fly by. Definitely one of the best of the year.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Feb 07, 2016 7:34 am

THE DANISH GIRL
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard, Sebastian Koch.
Dir: Tom Hooper.

This is of course the fascinating true story of the first ever recorded transgender to undergo gender reassignment surgery, Lili Elbe and the relationship she had with her wife (when she was a man) Gerda. This is a fascinating story and I think a great film can be made about it. This is not it. It's not an awful movie. Alicia Vikander is absolutely marvelous as Gerda, the woman coming to terms with her husband's condition. Eddie Redmayne looks the part (he looks quite pretty as a woman) but his performance occasionally borders on "LOOK AT ME! I'M ACTING" scale. Despite the subject matter, the film is quite old-fashioned (i.e. "Oscar-baity") and seems to be tailor-made so that old straight people can comprehend what being transgender is in a manner that will be appealing to them.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 06, 2016 10:47 am

THE REVENANT
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domnhall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Duane Howard, Arthur Redcloud, Grace Dove.
Dir: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu.

Based on a true story of fur trapper Hugh Glass who gets attacked by a bear. He gets left for dead by his men but still managed to survive and make his way back. The film is a rather fictionalized account of this story. First off, it is a BEAUTIFUL film. All caps. I saw this on IMAX 2D (I didn't have to pay because I had enough advantage points in my card for a free ticket) and Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography on IMAX is breathtaking. Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio is terrific. He really throws himself into the role. But something has to be said for Tom Hardy who matches him as the traitorous Fitzgerald. The film itself though is rather flawed. It's best when it's an action adventure survival film but when it tries to go for spirituality a la Terrence Malick (or Andrei Tarkovsky), it stumbles. But it's still quite an exemplary film but not quite a masterpiece. Best Picture? Nah.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Feb 02, 2016 8:04 am

Mister Tee wrote:I

SPOILERS, NOTHING BUT SPOILERS

I suspect they were ACTUALLY married at the time of her death -- and for Courtenay to have withheld that fact for all these years was a betrayal she can't get past.




No well... A wedding and a widowhood are things that the Rampling character would have easily come to know - from documents, but also from Courtenay's family and friends. Plus, I think that this isn't the point of the movie - it's not about hiding a contract or a ceremony, but something deeper, more subtle.

Too subtle maybe, and for example even I found the ending maybe intriguing but narratively incomplete, especially after such a slow and admittedly intense build-up. Being explicit doesn't necessarily mean being gross or obvious, and if I have to get the point of a movie from the words of a song in a distant background (and it's not like all moviegoers must speak or understand English), then there's a problem, and not a minor one.

Still, in the era of Mad Max Fury Road, one can't complain. Andrew Haigh isn't Michelangelo Antonioni, his scope is more limited, more intimate and less philosophical, but the mood is well conveyed and reasonably absorbing. Courtenay could have deservedly been nominated as Best Supporting Actor. But this is Rampling's movie, and she's perfect in it. In the 70s her sphynx-like beauty made her an icon; now she's still sphynx-like, but has gained something she didn't have back then - expressiveness. Even just her powerfully silent close-ups are worthy of a nomination, and - in a year without Cate Blanchett - maybe even of an Oscar.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jan 30, 2016 12:18 pm

THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL
Cast: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Meloni.
Dir: Marielle Heller.

A coming-of-age story about a 15 year old girl who loses her virginity to her mother's boyfriend and has an affair with him. The film didn't exactly make me jump up and down. I've seen better coming-of-age films of this sort, including the teenage girl-older man sub genre. Despite the terrific performances of Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard and Kristen Wiig (who showed off some surprising dramatic chops in this film), They're the reasons to see this film. I really didn't particularly care for this one. I mean, it's an admirable film. Marielle Heller is a promising filmmaker. But it felt a tad too long and its message just a bit hammered a little too loudly.

Grade: C

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:48 pm

I'd been meaning to get around to answering BJ's request about the ending of 45 Years, and Sabin's post has prompted me to do it.

SPOILERS, NOTHING BUT SPOILERS

The disagreement I had with my friend co-viewer was this: he thought only in that final moment did it occur to Rampling that her marriage might end; my take was that she had been grappling with that possibility since she'd uncovered the film of Katya*, and what happened in that final shot was her realization that it was already over.

(*I've changed my spelling on the name because it's what everyone else seems to be using; but, since the name is never seen in print, it's a guess, and I in fact knew a woman years back who spelled it Katje.)

Let me backtrack: I think the pictures revealing Katya's pregnancy are devastating to Rampling's view of the marriage she thought she had. It instantly gave deeper meaning to Courtenay's remark about going to see the body ("I'm not going back for HER") -- I'd earlier thought that meant it was for HIM, but now it seemed to be for that unborn child, and maybe a deeper sense of family-feeling than Courtenay had ever mentioned to Rampling. We don't know why Rampling/Courtenay don't have children, but this long-withheld detail might have suggested to Rampling that 1) Courtenay had already been devastated by the loss of incipient family and didn't want to go down that road again, or 2) he was never going to view Rampling as anything but what happened after his one genuine chance at family happiness was taken away. And I'll go one step further. Remember that Courtenay told Rampling he and Katya had pretended to be married because it was "easier". Well, if she was pregnant, it was way more than a matter of ease: in 1962, unmarried pregnancy wasn't just some out-there lifestyle choice; it was pure scandal, and I don't think either Courtenay or Katya would have been willing to live with the social censure. What I'm saying is: I suspect they were ACTUALLY married at the time of her death -- and for Courtenay to have withheld that fact for all these years was a betrayal she can't get past.

To jump to the anniversary party: the thing about Courtenay's speech --the way it so easily charms the whole crowd -- is that, even if you grant benefit of doubt and accept it as sincere in the moment, it reveals how easy it is for him to paper over extreme gaps. If he's this self-possessed -- even glib -- in this moment, how is she to accept that in any moment of their marriage he's been truly forthright with her? She goes into that dance in a sense appalled at this man she's made a life with.

And, as I said in my initial post, I think the words of the songs playing articulate Rampling's feelings. The first verse of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is all about the committed lover brushing off warnings from friends; Rampling is uneasy during this section, but she doesn't start truly reacting against Courtenay until the second verse, with its utter disillusion. And when she hears these key words --
And yet today, my love has gone away
I am without my love
Now laughing friends deride
Tears I cannot hide...
-- she pulls away in horror. She can't let him keep hold of her. She looks out at us. And when the screen goes black, what are the first words we hear? "We've already said...goodbye", in a song titled "Go Now". To me, that means the marriage is over.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby anonymous1980 » Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:11 pm

BONE TOMAHAWK
Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simons, David Arquette, Evan Jonigkeit, Sid Haig, Fred Melamed, Sean Young.
Dir: S. Craig Zahler.

Set in the Old West, three people are abducted by a tribe of cannibalistic cave-dwelling Native Americans and it's up to four men to rescue them. This movie is really something else. A slow-burn Western that brilliantly combines elements of pure horror in a wildly imaginative and effective manner. Despite its slow, deliberate, it is never boring and it builds and builds on the tension and when the horror hits, it is gnarly, horrifying and quite effective. The film is classily made and beautifully shot with everyone playing it straight and giving it their all. A fine, fine entry in both the Western genre and the horror genre. It is destined to be a cult classic.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby Sabin » Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:46 am

SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING OF 45 YEARS...

I've now watched the ending of 45 Years three times in a row. It plays much stronger when you know what's coming, when you're not looking for something that perhaps isn't there. Haigh doesn't want to signal exactly what Rampling is thinking of Courtenay's speech, which falls somewhere between unimpressive, insincere, and a lie. And then they dance. He tries to sing the words to her of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" but he has no idea the new lie that she has uncovered and he comes across as pathetic to her and us. And then he raises her into the air as if to welcome the congratulations of the crowd and she rips her hand away. She is alone in a crowd of people all celebrating her marriage which has been a total lie.

Perhaps here Haigh could have telegraphed her disgust a little better but that would mean cutting away from this beautiful shot. And who would want that?
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2015

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:53 pm

THE BIG SHORT
Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, Rafe Spall, Marisa Tomei, Jeremy Strong, Tracey Letts, Adepero Oduye, Margot Robbie, Anthony Bourdain, Selena Gomez.
Dir: Adam McKay.

Anchorman director Adam McKay turns into a serious (well, somewhat, it's still a comedy after all) filmmaker in this film about how the massive economic catastrophe of 2008 due to the collapse of the housing market caused by bad loans and banking deregulation. The film is compelling and though I was sort of lost with all the Wall Street and banking jargon (despite the humorous cutaways of celebrity cameos trying to simplify it for the layman), I still cared. The performances of the ensemble cast are all good and the film's heart is in the right place and I agree that this story is Important with a capital I. But the film is kind of a mess and often veers into preachiness at times. McKay still has trouble balancing the humor and the seriousness of the subject matter. It's still a worthwhile effort though. But I recommend checking out Inside Job.

Grade: B.


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