The Official Review Thread of 2016

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Aug 14, 2016 11:55 am

THE SHALLOWS
Cast: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen.
Dir: Jaume Collet-Serra.

A young woman goes surfing in an isolated Mexican beach then she is attacked and stalked by a man-eating great white shark so she must fight to survive. I've heard people say that this is the best shark movie since Jaws (a lot of the shots of this film probably were directly ripped off from it). That's kind of like damning it with faint praise because there weren't a lot of shark movies in between these two films that were any good. But this is in fact a very good movie. Jaume Collet-Serra has been making his name doing some interesting genre flicks now and this may be his best work to date. Blake Lively is likewise also doing some of her best acting work in this one as well rising up to the challenge of acting alone through a huge chunk of the film as well as the physical demands of the role. Oh and I love Steven Seagull!

Oscar Prospects: Maybe for Visual Effects and Sound Editing. Lively wouldn't be an embarrassing Best Actress contender though.

Grade: B+

THE BFG
Cast: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader.
Dir: Steven Spielberg.

Based on the Roald Dahl book, this is about a little orphan girl who meets and befriends a Big Friendly Giant (the BFG) and tries to help him defeat the bigger, meaner giants. This is director Steven Spielberg first directorial collaboration with Disney and the last work from late screenwriter Melissa Mathison who both brought us E.T.. This is definitely no E.T. though it does have all the elements to make it come close. The visual effects are outstanding. Ruby Barnhill is an absolutely wonderful child actress who pulls off a wonderful natural performance especially since you realize she must have been acting with blue and green screens half the time. Mark Rylance as the title character also likewise gives a warm, funny and soulful performance underneath the mo-cap CGI. There are lots of funny and sweet moments throughout. But unfortunately, it feels a wee bit too long and it doesn't really quite come close to being a fantasy classic. It's a perfectly fine film but a mid-tier Spielberg at best.

Oscar Prospects: Strong contender for Visual Effects, Production Design and Original Score.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Okri » Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:29 pm

I just came from Florence Foster Jenkins, and I'll largely echo flipp's take with a dash more enthusiasm. I was pretty taken by the whole thing. Admittedly, it gets a lot of mileage from the premise, but the amount of joy in the performances really goes a long way as well.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:56 am

Ira Sachs is the kind of filmmaker I very much WANT to like. He's clearly interested in films about real people, he has intuitive observations about human behavior, and he understands that the nuances of modern life can often be messy. But Little Men is now the second wildly acclaimed film from him that has left me mostly underwhelmed, and I just have to conclude that, despite obvious admirable qualities, he just doesn't excite me all that much as a filmmaker.

Part of this problem has to do with the fact that "stories about real people" can pretty easily flirt with mundanity, and think Sachs's style tips too far toward the latter for my taste. The central conflict of the movie revolves around the lease of a dress shop -- Greg Kinnear's father left the property to him in his will and he now wants to raise the rent closer to market value, tenant Paulina Garcia doesn't think her rent should be hiked all of a sudden, and both of their sons become friends as this conflict develops. It's not like this is an uninteresting premise -- both sides make good points, and no one's really in the wrong -- but I don't think the script ever really takes this set-up anywhere that compelling or unexpected. I know a lot of people thought House of Sand and Fog took its story in increasingly melodramatic directions, but I thought that was a narrative about a property dispute that actually had some plot propulsion -- it WENT somewhere. Sachs's approach is obviously far more low-key, but I didn't find that a virtue -- there's a scene between Garcia and Kinnear where she reveals something his father once told her, and my thought was, that's a pretty minor thing to be the biggest "revelation" this story gives us.

I think there's definitely something to the idea that the conflict between these parents has an unwitting ricochet effect on the relationship between their sons, and there's an innate sadness to that fact that's moving. And yet, I found the boys' story not much more interesting than the real estate plot, a real issue given that Kinnear's son is the ostensible protagonist of the movie. He's clearly coded as gay, and may or may not have an attraction to his new best friend, but this is mostly a quiet observation rather than a plot engine, and in fact, most of the scenes between the two kids could be described as observation -- playing sports, playing video games, in acting class, on the subway, in a dance club -- an approach that I just didn't find as elucidating as many critics have. (The two kids are very well cast, though, and you can see why they became friends even despite their obvious personality differences.)

There's a scene near the end of the movie when Jake, our protagonist, does take some major action, and I thought this was a strong moment, a smart take on the idea that kids can often meddle in adult problems having the best of intentions, without really understanding the murkiness of the waters into which they're treading. But then, frustratingly for me, the movie just went right back to dwelling on the ho-hum, failing to provide really any resolution to the adults' conflict, giving us a heartfelt but peculiar father-son scene that seems to convey an idea mostly unrelated to what the movie has been dealing with, and then concluding with a sequence that isn't without poignancy, but that just doesn't amount to as much as it might have because the preceding scenes have been so afraid of dramatic incident.

Hopefully the fact that I wrote as much as I did suggests that, even despite my qualms, I think there are still plenty of elements of the movie worth mulling over, and it's such a humane thing that I could never be mean-spirited about it. But, as with Love is Strange, I think the enthusiastic raves are really overlooking some of the movie's clear limitations.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:08 am

BAD MOMS
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay Hernandez, Clark Duke, Annie Mumolo, Emjay Anthony, Oona Laurence, David Walton, Wendell Pierce, Wanda Sykes.
Dirs: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore.

Three moms team up and decide to rebel against the tyrannical uptight president of the PTA at their children's school. I actually liked this more than I thought I would. It's not a perfect film or a comedic masterpiece by any means....and maybe it doesn't need to be, just like the message of the main protagonists of this film. It works largely due to the cast. I'm surprised Mila Kunis is effective and convincing as an overworked mom of two tweens (she had them early). But Kathryn Hahn is the one that steals the show and gets most of the laughs. I'm glad more people are seeing her comedic talents through this film. Also, it's surprisingly sweet, sensitive and heartfelt. I'm surprised this was written by men....and the same guys who did The Hangover.

Oscar Prospects: None but Kathryn Hahn wouldn't be a too embarrassing Supporting Actress nominee.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Aug 06, 2016 11:21 am

SUICIDE SQUAD
Cast: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Cara Delevinge, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Common, Adam Beach, Scott Eastwood, Karen Fukuhara, David Harbour, Alaine Chinoine, Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller.
Dir: David Ayer.

I'm not a fan of the DCEU. The first couple of films were...not very good. I was so rooting for this to be the good one. But alas, it's not! It certainly had potential. A group of super villains are recruited by the U.S. government for special off-the-books black ops missions. The first act was fun. The introduction to the characters was fascinating. I can definitely see potential for a great movie with what they have. But it never rise above being just that, potential. It quickly becomes rather dull. I heard someone pointed out that for a film that has a very colorful marketing campaign color scheme, this movie is too darkly lit. And that's probably why I found the action scenes numbing instead of exciting. i'm not a DC hater. I'm rooting for them to get it together. Come on, Wonder Woman!

Oscar Prospects: Makeup & Hairstyling, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing are possible.

Grade: C-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Precious Doll » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:22 am

Elle (2016) Paul Verhoeven 10/10

Wow, was my first response after see ing the film and my next is welcome make to mainstream filmmaking Paul Verhoeven. It's been a while now but the wait has been worth it.

Much has probably already been written by critics at Cannes about how great the film was, etc, etc, and they are right. Not surprisingly Isabelle Huppert excels in the role of a CEO of a company specialising in violent video games who is brutally raped during a home invasion. She continues to go about her daily business as if nothing has happened, deciding not to report the crime. Instead she embarks on a cat-and-mouse game with her assailant which also feeds her own sadomasochistic desires. This has got to be the first ever rape, revenge comedy ever made and it works beautifully, partly too because it's not just about rape and empowerment but a whole lot of other issues that film covers in it's various subplots. The dialogue is snappy and fast and not a sentence is wasted. Verhoeven directs with assurance and confidence switching from drama to comedy with the greatest of ease and the Hitchcockian music used on the soundtrack is most appropriate. Great opening shot too of Huppert's Russian Blue cat silently watching the first assault with a rather disturbing detachment.

I haven't enjoyed and had so much fun with a film in over a year. Sadly for all it's virtues (there are no faults) I can't see the Academy warming to this one. And while I'm at it shame, shame, shame on the Cannes Jury headed by George Miller who completely overlooked Elle, Toni Erdmann, Paterson, Sieranevada, Aquarius and The Handmaiden in favour of drudge like Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World. WTF were they smoking?
"I think he sexually assaulted a child and I don't think that's right…It's gotten very quiet in here, but that's true." Susan Sarandon on Woody Allen, Cannes Film Festival 2016

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:10 am

SING STREET
Cast: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton, Ian Kenny, Ben Carolan.
Dir: John Carney.

Call me crazy but this just be my favorite John Carney film I've seen to date. It's kind of amazing he manages to make a three films about struggling musicians in a row but each one feels different and unique. You'd think he'd be repeating himself but he's not. This time, a teenage boy from Dublin in the mid-1980's form a band in order to impress an older girl. The film is super-duper charming. It's funny and sweet and even cute without being overly quirky or cloying. The cast is superb. It also doesn't over-do with the '80s nostalgia which films of this ilk sometimes tend to do. Oh and the soundtrack is pretty damn great and half of them are new, original songs. I love the song "Drive It Like You Stole It".

Oscar Prospects: Definitely a strong contender for a Best Original Song nomination for "Drive It Like You Stole It". Wouldn't be an embarrassing Screenplay nominee either.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:06 am

I also don't know if Suicide Squad is the worst film I've ever seen but I can say without much doubt in my mind that it's the worst example of storytelling. I couldn't start to tell you what the plot of this movie was, why the Suicide Squad was assembled, for what mission, or what the timeline was, and the amount of narrative real estate wasted in this shockingly ugly $175 mil film is staggering. The first act has to be forty minutes of consistently repeated information. There is no second act. The third act is stupid and as endless as the number of needle-drops.

This is the third DC film, and it is the worst. Unlike the infuriating Man of Steel with its air of fascism, Suicide Squad is merely laughably inept, but unlike Batman v Superman it's not a treasure hunt of poor decision-making. It's just lazy. Why they pushed this one out of the gate so quickly after Batman v Superman is beyond me. In theory, they'd want to do that to redeem the DC Universe in the eyes of moviegoers, not make them look at the last movie they hated and say "Huh, I guess that wasn't so bad."

I would love to tell you the story of this film but it's not worth it and I honestly wouldn't even know how. It's incoherent. I don't know what it is about these DC films but they're always endlessly long and make no sense. You don't need three hours to tell this story!
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby flipp525 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:06 pm

Thanks, Tee! It's been a busy summer for me but I'm glad to be able to check back in and share some thoughts on an early contender for this year. Hope you're well.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:17 pm

I'll hold off reading your review till after I've seen the movie, flipp. Just wanted to say it's good to see you back. It's been near-deathly quiet here lately, and regulars like yourself have been sorely missed.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby flipp525 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:18 pm

Spoiler(ish) review of Florence Foster Jenkins:

There's a moment in Florence Foster Jenkins when the audience—who up until this point has been welcomed into the trainwreck spectacle, invited to laugh at a woman who thinks she can sing but instead, croaks out guttural and animalistic sounds—is chided for laughing Reprimanded, in a way, for mocking her alongside a Carnegie Hall audience assembled to watch Meryl Streep's Florence give her big concert, the climax of the film. The movie audience (well, this member, anyway) felt embarrassed for a second. It was bizarre. I was almost shocked at the way it was done, the turnaround, and it makes sense that for the rest of the film, the viewer is not only with her, but right alongside her, up on that Carnegie Hall stage next to her for the remainder of the film. In that moment, Meryl transforms Florence from a freakish act to something more courageous and endearing, even if she is still very much the "egoist a reporter for the Post calls her in a comment to Hugh Grant's character as he leaves the performance early, disgusted. It's a sly transformation and she doesn't change really all that much to get us there but she does and that's what really won me over. Teddy Roosevelt once famously stated, in his "Man in the Arena" speech, that, "credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." Florence Foster Jenkins seems to take that line of thought and pump it up into an entire raison d'être. She has the courage that counts at the right moment and she brings the audience with her even when it pains our ears.

The film is based around performance events. There isn't much plot other than the scenes surrounding practice for these events and the fallout. There's a scene where Grant is desperately trying to hide reviews from Florence that I felt went on a bit too long. But it's a pretty tight and insular film otherwise that, while highlighting this eccentric woman's odd life, never particularly soars to the great heights of previous Frears films (although, the laughs here are much less forced than the somewhat desperate Philomena whose humor relied on a lot of "Let's shock the old woman!"). There are some threads that don't really go anywhere and you feel should maybe have been cut or expanded up, if only briefly, in a rewrite of the screenplay—the will she's revealed to be carrying in the briefcase she always carries, her fear of sharp objects, etc.

The supporting cast is wonderful. Tony Award winner Nina Arianda makes a splash in a very fun role. Hugh Grant, gives a capable performance that could easily have been a throwaway. He's never been the best actor, but without his youthful looks of yesteryear, he relies on a more sophisticated version of his foppish charm. Not for one moment does he mock Florence, even when acknowledging to others that she is indeed subpar, sometime only with a sort of comically resigned look. He does quite well, I thought, and he manages to land a couple nice moments as Jenkin's husband, St. Clair Bayfield, a failed actor in his own craft. Simon Helberg ("The Big Bang Theory") as Cosmé McMoon, Florence's loyal pianist and accompanist, is a delightful and most endearing screen presence. He has a Tom Hulce—Amadeus-like laugh that is used to great effect several times. He seemed a bit out of his league in the beginning of the film, but settles into the role nicely and ends up as an audience surrogate and almost the heart of the film by the end, and a perfect complement to Meryl's performance...

...which is understandably great. There seems to be a certain scale at which we now must treat and evaluate a Meryl Streep performance. Do we compare her to her own past performances? Do we judge it on its own? It seems to get harder and harder for me. Because, really, she's always good. I would say that her Florence falls into her mid-to-upper range performances, certainly better than ones for which she's been recently nominated (lead-wise) in the past six years. Without a doubt, she wipes the floor with that horrid The Iron Lady caricature, creating a character in Jenkins who inhabits a rarified world of delusion but never loses her humanness. There's a nice moment between Streep and Helberg in the latter's apartment that was a high point in the film for both actors. They wisely save the reveal of just how bad her voice is until a little ways in and it's a pretty hilarious moment. Besides her singing, I thought there was some very interesting vocal work she pulled out for this character, an accent that I can truly say I've never heard from her before. Ultimately though, it is hard to sing that bad and she pulls it off with aplomb. I could easily see this as Meryl's entry into the Oscar race this year and I can't say it would be unwarranted.

The costumes were fantastic in this film, worth an Oscar nomination. Not just Meryl's performance costumes which are pretty spectacular and most intricate in all their gaudiness and accoutrements, but the costumes down the line. From Cosmé's perfectly period sartorial suits, pocket squares and bowties to the military uniforms and the dresses of some of the female supporting characters.

I'd like to see Marguerite, the French film which features a story loosely based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, but moved to the Roaring Twenties. Why does it always happen that there are two films released at the same time which explore the same material? A la the back-to-back Capote and Infamous. Catherine Frot already won a Cesar Award for Best Actress for Marguerite, so I'm thinking it must be pretty great.
Last edited by flipp525 on Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:05 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Aug 01, 2016 12:39 pm

GREEN ROOM
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Patrick Stewart, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Macon Blair, Eric Edelstein, Mark Webber, Kai Lennox.
Dir: Jeremy Saulnier.

A punk rock band plays a gig in the backwoods of the U.S. which turns out to be a Neo-Nazi bar. They find a dead body in the titular green room and the Neo-Nazis decide to eliminate the band to avoid witnesses. And thus begins a brutal game of cat-and-mouse. Between this and Blue Ruin, writer-director Jeremy Saulnier is definitely rising as one of contemporary American indie cinema's most interesting voices. This is an intense and brutal horror-thriller which somehow managed to shock and surprise me. It's got things that may make you want to turn it off but you can't look away. Saulnier seems to be specializing in making violence ugly yet slick, if that makes any sense. Great cinematography too. Anton Yelchin is fantastic. I'm reminded at what a waste to lose him way too soon.

Oscar Prospects: Cinematography and Sound Mixing wouldn't be undeserved.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:29 am

NERVE
Cast: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Juliette Lewis, Miles Heizer, Colson Baker, Kimiko Glenn, Samira Wiley, Marc Jon Jeffries.
Dirs: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman.

A pair of teenagers play an online game called Nerve which gives people dares for money (and fame), each one getting more and more outrageous and dangerous. I personally love the concept. It's pretty much a thriller for the YouTube and social media generation. However, when the third act kicks in and the pay off is revealed, I can't help but be a bit disappointed since it's a bit of a mess that will make you go, "Huh? Okay." It's too bad because there are moments of genuine suspense and the film is quite cleverly executed. It clearly wants to say something about the detachment that comes with social media but it all ends up kind of muddled in the end. Great soundtrack though.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:40 pm

Big Magilla wrote:
anonymous1980 wrote:JASON BOURNE
This is by far the weakest of the Bourne trilogy


OK, but it's a quintology now, or a quadrilogy if you don't count the one without Damon.


I should have said "series". Corrected.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:42 pm

anonymous1980 wrote:JASON BOURNE
This is by far the weakest of the Bourne trilogy


OK, but it's a quintology now, or a quadrilogy if you don't count the one without Damon.


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