The Official Review Thread of 2016

anonymous1980
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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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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:26 am

JASON BOURNE
Cast: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed, Ato Essandoh, Scott Shepherd.
Dir: Paul Greengrass.

Matt Damon returns to the Bourne franchise in this fifth Bourne movie where he tries to find out the circumstances behind his father's death. This is by far the weakest of the Bourne series despite the presence of an always reliable and interesting cast. Practically everything about it is predictable and old hat by now. You detect all the narrative beats and tropes of the genre from a mile away if you've seen any of the previous films in the series. Franchise fatigue is all over this film. It's kind of dull, apart from two pretty cool action sequences (the motorcycle chase in the first act and the chase through Vegas in the third act). But overall this film is eh. It can't really get me to care anymore.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: D+
Last edited by anonymous1980 on Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:13 am

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel, Stephen Fry, Emma Greenwell, Morfydd Clark, Tom Bennett, James Fleet, Jemma Redgrave.
Dir: Whit Stillman.

This is the cinematic adaptation of one of Jane Austen's lesser known works in which a young widow of ill-repute tries to arrange a suitable marriage for her teenage daughter to ensure her future. This is from writer-director Whit Stillman. I have to admit, I am not the biggest Whit Stillman fan. I disliked Metropolitan. I liked but did NOT love Barcelona. However, lo and behold, I kind of loved this one. This is by far my favorite Whit Stillman film. His distinctive style actually blends well with Jane Austen's world, injecting it with lots of humor and verve. You will be surprised at how funny it is. It also features some wonderful performances from a fine ensemble cast. I was hesitant to say but I'm gonna say it, this may be the best Austen adaptation since 1995's Sense and Sensibility.

Oscar Prospects: Deserving of an Adapted Screenplay nomination. But it only has a shot at Costume Design.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jul 24, 2016 8:16 am

LIGHTS OUT
Cast: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello, Alexander DiPersia, Billy Burke.
Dir: David F. Sandberg.

A young woman and her little brother are stalked and attacked by an evil entity that attacks in the cover of darkness. This concept for a horror movie is so good that I'm kind of surprised it wasn't used sooner. As for the film itself, it is pretty effective in eliciting some jump scares and some genuine creepiness all throughout. It helps that the characters are well-drawn and the actors are terrific. I was concerned that it only got a PG-13 but it manage to be quite intense. It's no horror masterpiece but it's a pretty decent, solid entry to the genre.

Oscar Prospects: None but I have to say, the use of Cinematography in this one is top-notch.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:12 am

STAR TREK BEYOND
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim.
Dir: Justin Lin.

The third installment of the rebooted Star Trek franchise has the Enterprise going into an unknown planet only to be trapped by aliens with a nefarious plan. I don't want to go into further details but I will say that it feels like a big budget feature length episode of the TV series. I don't meant hat in a bad way. The first one was setting up the reboot. The second one feels like a remake of Wrath of Khan. This one stands on its own as a completely original standalone adventure. And it's pretty darn enjoyable. Director Justin Lin injects more of a sense of fun, adventure and humor into this world. Sadly, one of Anton Yelchin's final few films. He will definitely be missed.

Oscar Prospects: Definitely a strong contender for Makeup. Visual Effects, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing are all possible.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 16, 2016 10:24 am

GHOSTBUSTERS
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Charles Dance, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matt Walsh, Neil Casey, Cecily Strong, Andy Garcia, Ed Begley Jr., Zach Woods.
Dir: Paul Feig.

This is the reboot/remake of the 1984 horror comedy about a group of paranormal investigators busting ghosts. Like a lot of people my age, I did indeed grow up loving the original movie and have seen it numerous times as a kid. However, I have almost zero sense of nostalgia and now as a grown-up film buff, I don't think it's such an untouchable work of art that I'm offended it's getting remade. Remakes in general are a bad idea. But making it good is not impossible. This film has suffered numerous pre-release controversy with lots of internet trolls (mostly male) actively determined to make this a failure. Now that I've seen it, I'm here to say: It's actually not bad. Is it great? No. But wholly undeserving of the vitriol it got and will continue to get. It's simply a fun film. The four lead actresses have genuine chemistry and are lots of fun to watch. Chris Hemsworth should do more comedies, he's really funny. I wished it was better. It had potential to be a lot better. But as it is, it's a solid enough horror-comedy that's very entertaining and will delight open-minded enough fans of the original.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jul 13, 2016 3:31 pm

There’s a moment in Captain Fantastic where a character is asked to comment on Lolita; when she calls it “interesting”, everyone jumps on her, with the criticism that the word is non-specific. Yet it’s the first word that pops up for me when asked to describe Captain Fantastic, and it means something quite specific: it’s my category for a movie that’s intriguing enough in subject matter and detail that I can’t dismiss it, but is ultimately dissatisfying for various reasons.

What’s notable about the film is its portrayal of a character we rarely see in film – a man (played by Viggo Mortensen) so left-alienated from the horrors of American society that he’s raised his large family out in the woods, educating them way beyond their years in book-learning and in survival tactics, but leaving them hopelessly ill-equipped for dealing with the world in which the rest of us dwell. For much of the way, writer/director Matt Ross is studiously impartial about this character and situation, letting us decide for ourselves whether he’s a visionary or crackpot. My own inclination was that he made a nightmare father – that, in his insistence on freedom from the clutches of society, he was imposing a near-fundamentalist, military lifestyle on his children that would have had me longing for escape. But Ross never articulates this, and, in fact, makes it clear the children have deep love for him.

(SPOILERS BEGIN HERE) The film’s crisis resolves around the death of the mother, absent because she was in a hospital being treated for bipolar disorder and now, as the film starts, a suicide. The mother’s parents have clearly never been sympathetic to Mortensen, blame him for their daughter’s early death, and expressly forbid him from attending the funeral. Undaunted, the remaining family unit make a journey into the society they explicitly condemn. There are moments in this part of the film – especially the cliché hot blonde who falls instantly for the oldest son – that don’t work, but for the most part the section enlarges the film. When Mortensen’s rebel comes up against Frank Langella’s reactionary father-in-law, the battle seems fairly matched, as both characters come off as obstinate assholes who are absolutely convinced they and they alone have the children’s best interests at heart.

But then the film goes splat…and to explain why, I HAVE TO GO DEEP INTO SPOILERS. The most damaging thing is, a film that had established itself as a nuanced conflict of philosophies suddenly becomes full of incidents/plot devices that feel like they proceed not from this conflict but from a need to make something happen. The daughter climbs the roof of the house because she has to have a near-fatal fall (the film also telegraphs the fall by charting the girl’s every step up, something we wouldn’t be seeing were disaster not lurking). Mortensen having a change of heart because of this feels manipulative, not a bit organic. Then the kids hide away in the undercarriage of the bus and emerge miles away – a cuteness on a par with the nuns disconnecting the wires at the end of The Sound of Music. The film then reprises the Viking funeral idea already used in S.O.B. and Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding, finding nothing new in the concept. And, from there, things just seem to meander: the literalization of the toilet flush, the son’s out-of-nowhere trip to Namibia (why didn’t he just go to Stanford?), and then a final shot that lingers for an interminable minute or two. I presume this last shot was making some statement about how drab/stultifying the family’s new life was, but what it mostly indicated to me was that the film had gone on about ten minutes too long, and this shot only underlined how it had overstayed its welcome.

So: this latter portion of the film really undid what had preceded, for me. Yet, I can’t deny the earlier segments had got under my skin enough that the film is staying with me. Which brings me back to my initial, uncool verdict: not fully satisfying, not exactly good…but interesting.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:23 pm

I think somewhere between Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Wedding Crashers there's a good movie. The latter features ten minutes of wedding crashing and then full commitment to a story I didn't like. The former is a collection of gags and some fun sensibilities within the framework of a story that never made me care. I'd rather have the former any day.

Wedding Crashers baffled me with how little I enjoyed it, so I'm somewhat inclined to overrate this film. The trailer is toxic, but this film isn't. Many on this board will dislike this film, but if you can get past the fact that this is very much a sitcom-sensibility film, you might enjoy the fact that it goes for a joke every five seconds in 98 minutes and most of them are funny. No real MVP as everyone is just doing an archetype riff, but probably Aubrey Plaza because she is making the transition to movie roles better than I could've imagined.
“This is something, as long as we live in a world where something means anything. I’m not sure we do anymore. It seems serious, but do we live in a world devoid of consequences now? This seems like a seismic event, but it might be nothing.” John Oliver

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:38 am

THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR
Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Betty Gabriel, Joseph Julian Soria, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Raymond J. Barry.
Dir: James DeMonaco.

The third installment of the Purge franchise has senator running for president pledging to end the Purge if elected. During Purge night, she of course is targeted. Until now, I've still have not seen the original film (I should remedy that to appease my OCD tendencies). However, I do think that the concept of these dystopian action-horror hybrid is very much interesting and there is potential for a great satire to go along with the action and the carnage. There's real potential but it doesn't quite get there. However, as a dystopian horror flick, it's still tremendously entertaining. I like how it expounded the world of the Purge. It's no horror masterpiece but this thing could've been a lot worse.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:14 pm

I'd rank The BFG pretty far down on a ranking of Spielberg's filmography. It's been a while since I've read Roald Dahl's book -- probably twenty years -- but from what I remember about it, it's pretty thin on narrative, and I have to say Spielberg and Mathison (R.I.P.) just didn't find a way to mount the story that justified the nearly (unconscionable) two hour running time. As Mister Tee says, the plot basically amounts to "these other giants are evil, let's stop them," and that just becomes pretty tedious pretty quickly. The visuals, as one would expect, are beautifully rendered, but often in service of nothing -- the dream-catching sequence, for instance, basically amounts to ten minutes without any conflict or plot momentum. And then, the entire extended sequence with the Queen is full of painfully unfunny moments, with the giant green gas farting sequence a really grisly display of pandering to the lowest common denominator.

But I think most of all, Spielberg was just the wrong filmmaker for the material. The parallels to E.T. are obvious, with a young child striking up a peculiar friendship with a strange creature (E.T. even came out the same year as Dahl's book), but Dahl's writing is full of odd humor, slightly morbid asides, and an overall creepiness that sneaks through its warm surface, and none of those qualities are ones I would ascribe to Spielberg. As a result, the movie's sense of awe feels far too sincere, and dripping with sentimentality, when the more wry approach that Wes Anderson brought to Fantastic Mr. Fox would have been much more appropriate. I can't say I'm surprised audiences have mostly shrugged at this one.

I never commented on The Lobster back when I saw it, but I probably should say a few words, as I think it's clearly one of the best efforts so far this year. The premise is certainly imaginative, but the movie isn't strictly one-joke -- it finds a lot of clever ways to satirize society's obsession with coupling people up, and for most of the first hour, it feels thoroughly inventive and engaging. (And also quite funny -- Olivia Colman's "That would be absurd" remark, given the utter absurdity of everything in the movie's orbit, was a laugh out loud moment for me, as well as an incisively honest jab at the arbitrariness of what is considered normal and outrageous in contemporary culture.) I thought the film dipped a bit in the second chunk -- the concept for the second half is certainly interesting, in the way the forest society is really just as ridiculously structured and rule-driven as the status quo it's railing against -- but I didn't feel like the movie had quite come up with enough variety of ideas in this section, and it started to drag a bit for me as a result. It certainly rallies toward the end though, with a great final scene, one which I'm sure will inspire many debates of the "did he or didn't he?" variety. On the whole, though, it's an ambitious movie that's rich in detail throughout, and a much-needed tonic in this truly terrible summer for blockbusters.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Jul 08, 2016 7:38 pm

The BFG isn't a bad movie, exactly. It's effects are so impressive I eventually stopped registering them as effects -- I'd normalized them. Much of the design is gorgeous, particularly in the beautifully lit dream-catching sequence (if the movie were a hit, it might even contend for the design Oscar next February). And things start off well enough narratively: for the first 30-40 minutes, I was fairly engaged.

But once the plot became almost exclusively "these giants want to eat you/what are we going to do about them?", the film turned pretty boring, and the flares of imagination were few and far between. (The scene of the protagonist Sophie eluding the giants inside BFG's lair, for instance, was impressively choreographed, but empty in plot terms.) It doesn't help that Sophie is such an uninteresting character she borders on generic -- nor that her big "plan" is pretty lackluster (and goes off basically without a hitch). The film's place-in-time also felt a little off to me: the opening scenes look for all the world like Victorian England, but then Rebecca Hall turns up in a late 40s frock...and then the Queen lets us know in telephone conversation that the time is in fact the 80s (in a groaner so unfunny I can't believe Spielberg watched it over and over and opted to keep it in). And speaking of unfunny: if you're going to do fart jokes, and build up and up to a big one, the punchline needs to be more than "Then they all farted".

The general feeling about Spielberg is that he was, in the beginning, a child's director, which ought to make this film a return to old form for him. But I think that misses what he was in the 70s/80s, what made him so special. He was, especially in Close Encounters and ET, dealing with subject matter that evoked a childlike sense of wonder, but his films always had a skeptical, sort of wised-up side that created humor alongside the magic, which allowed grownups to enjoy his films without fully regressing. Here, those touches are missing: there's barely an intentional laugh in the film (except for the misfires), and, to enjoy the narrative, you have to essentially BE 8 years old (or able to put yourself into that frame). I thought War Horse had some of this same "seems right for Spielberg but actually isn't" quality; both films are far less imaginative than his early work, and seem to come from an earlier time than even his initial career years.

I suppose when a director's getting old, and way past his peak achievement years, such stutter steps are to be expected -- and Woody Allen's fall has been far more extreme. But Lincoln was just a few years ago, a major work, and one hopes every time that such magic can be cranked up anew. This time, sadly not.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:09 am

MA'ROSA
Cast: Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Andi Eigenmann, Felix Roco, Jomari Angeles, Baron Geisler, Mark Anthony Fernandez, Mon Confiado, Mercedes Cabral, Allan Paule, Maria Isabel Lopez.
Dir: Brillante Mendoza.

A woman from the poor district of Manila who owns a small convenience store make ends meet by selling drugs. She and her husband get busted by some corrupt cops who demand a 200,000 peso "bail". Their children each try to raise the money. This film won veteran Filipino actress Jaclyn Jose the Best Actress prize in Cannes. She's actually known here for her more restrained, subtle type of acting in an industry which tends to favor the big, emotional scenery chewing type. That's why she's such a good fit for Brillante Mendoza's films. She imbues a very lived-in, realistic quality to her performance. The film itself is kind of flawed. It's Brillante Mendoza going back to familiar territory and he did elements of this better in his previous films. It's not quite a masterpiece, I'd probably consider it mid-tier Mendoza at best, but it's still a very good film.

Oscar Prospects: You know, Brillante Mendoza has NEVER been submitted by the Philippines for the Oscars? Strange, I know. We might just do it this year.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Tue Jul 05, 2016 1:50 pm

Swiss Army Man probably has more to offer than those who hate it but less than those who love it. I'll admit to being slightly tickled to see a movie this silly become a summer talk piece. Critics seem to be split down the middle between those who enjoyed it and those who think it's just childish. If I had to guess, I'd say most moviegoers are going to fall into the former camp, and judging from its weekend haul, this film is probably going to end up as one of the summer's indie hits -- and honestly, because this summer is so dire with blockbusters, that's almost enough to make me want to forgive everything that's wrong with it.

Basically, Paul Dano is about to hang himself on a desert island. Daniel Radcliffe washes ashore. He's a farting corpse. Radcliffe rides this farting corpse to a less deserted piece of land and they have to find civilization together -- and I find simply writing these sentences down to be pretty amusing.

What doesn't work about the movie is that it's twist (if you can call it that) doesn't make any sense. What does work is that the filmmakers don't care and neither should we. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this will be Armond White's worst film of the year. It flatters to millennial generational self-absorption like no film I've even seen in my life. Unlike Garden State for the previous generation, at least Swiss Army Man is consistently visually inspired (if fairly bombarding) and playful. The plotting is a total mess and they make a hash out of clarifying some very simple story elements, but I was charmed enough to give it a pass. On the one hand, it is every bit the lark that a farting corpse movie should be. But also there's a sweet idea at the core of it, that in your darkest moments, anything can become the dearest thing in the world to you.

And they totally fall in love.

This is probably the most "Paul Dano" Paul Dano role I've ever seen. He's always playing overly-sensitive men with inarticulate attachments and philosophies. In retrospect, it's kind of amazing he wasn't cast in Her. He's quite good here though. Daniel Radcliffe is hysterical. He has to be one of the most viewed actors of his generation, but like Kristen Stewart I've seen him in almost nothing that's gotten him attention. This might be the most I've seen him on-screen without a wizard's hat, but this role was a very good move for him.

Yeah, it's a farting corpse movie. In many ways, it's not much more than that. Not nearly as much as its hipster champions are making it out to be. But I have a really hard time not smiling when I think about it.
“This is something, as long as we live in a world where something means anything. I’m not sure we do anymore. It seems serious, but do we live in a world devoid of consequences now? This seems like a seismic event, but it might be nothing.” John Oliver


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