The Official Review Thread of 2016

anonymous1980
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:23 pm

MOONLIGHT
Cast: Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex R. Hibbert, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, Andre Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Jaden Piner.
Dir: Barry Jenkins.

Divided into three distinct sections, this film chronicles the life of Chiron, a young African-American growing up gay in a poor, rough neighborhood in Miami. It depicts events from his childhood, his adolescence and his young adulthood. Oh, my God. This is a beautiful, emotional gut-punch of a film. It's almost like three films in one since every segment takes on a somewhat different tone, each one unique yet it builds up beautifully to the conclusion thanks to the great script and superb direction. The ensemble cast is uniformly amazing. Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris both are deservedly getting attention but everyone in the cast, especially the three Chiron's shine. I'm gonna be thinking about this film for a while. Truly one of the best films of 2016.

Oscar Prospects: All of it.

Grade: A.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:23 pm

I wanted to post this in the 2017 sub-forum and start the Official Review Thread of 2017 but okay.

SPLIT
Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula.
Dir: M. Night Shyamalan.

Three young women are kidnapped and held captive by a man who suffers from a multiple personality disorder. This is coming from M. Night Shyamalan. I thought I've completely given up on him after the shit show that was After Earth but he did rebound quite a bit with The Visit which was a solid thriller. He continues his redemption arc with this film. Though it's far from a masterpiece, it gets points for being a nifty, high-concept thriller featuring a fun scenery-chewing performance from James McAvoy who takes the role of a man with 23 personalities and just runs with it. The third act verged on being silly but the final revelation in the last scene of this film totally redeems it and makes me excited to see M. Night Shyamalan movies again. He should really do these small-scale thrillers rather than the ambitious "big" films that he did for a time.

Oscar Prospects: You know, if they released it sooner, I think James McAvoy could have made a play for Best Actor.

Grade: B

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:30 am

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC SPOILERS

I'm definitely going to revise my Oscar predictions after seeing Captain Fantastic because I can't allow myself to think that this screenplay is getting nominated. This is a powerfully confused film with a well-meaning, imminently-endorsable one inside that required a philosophical counterbalance to writer/director Matt Ross. That philosophy has nothing to do with Noam Chomsky and everything to do with this guy belonging in jail. His mission is to educate these kids for the real world and somewhere along the way this film decided that all they need is each other. How did that train of thought go off the rails? Clearly, Ross fell in love with this character and decided to lionize him.

Also from a writing perspective, there are some maddening context ambiguities that annoyed me w/r/t how little these kids know about society, how off the grid are they, for how long, etc. I can roll with some believability issues, but there are just too many kids for me to buy it. Often times, I'll rewrite a movie I'm watching in my head but why couldn't there be a community up there or something that he's a part of? Does it have to be just them? Can't there be a tribe up there or some shit?
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:47 pm

LITTLE MEN
Cast: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Ehle, Paulina Garcia, Theo Taplitz, Michael Barbieri, Talia Balsam, Alfred Molina
Dir: Ira Sachs.

Two 13 year old boys who have become close friends have their friendship tested when their respective parents enter a dispute over the lease of a dress hop. This film sounds rather slight and inconsequential and it is a rather quiet understated drama but that's where its strength lies. Though the film is deceptively small, the emotions underneath are large due to the predicament these two families and in particular, these two boys find themselves in. The cast is strong but the film would not have worked as well if it didn't have the strong performances of the two boys who are the beating hearts of this film and the reason you find yourself invested in it. In a way, it's such a beautifully human story about friendship and growing up.

Oscar Prospects: Flashier competition has overshadowed it but Original Screenplay would not be undeserved.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:54 am

dws1982 wrote:Little Men
I don't know. I like a lot of things about it, particularly the two younger actors. There's a lot of truth in the way it shows how the friendship between two kids can be affected by things that have nothing to do with anything they do. And like I said, the two young actors are both very good, totally winning, great together. But my goodness, Paulina Garcia's character is a totally nasty human being isn't she? You can sympathize with her situation, but once the conflict between her and Greg Kinnear gets started, everything she says and does is truly hateful--and not just coming from someone who's lashing out in her anger and frustration; she's being hateful just for the sake of being hateful, trying to rub salt in the wounds of a man who just lost his father. I guess I liked what it was trying to do more than I liked what it did.

I found Garcia's character more stubborn than hateful, but it was the kids that made the movie.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby dws1982 » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:54 pm

Little Men
I don't know. I like a lot of things about it, particularly the two younger actors. There's a lot of truth in the way it shows how the friendship between two kids can be affected by things that have nothing to do with anything they do. And like I said, the two young actors are both very good, totally winning, great together. But my goodness, Paulina Garcia's character is a totally nasty human being isn't she? You can sympathize with her situation, but once the conflict between her and Greg Kinnear gets started, everything she says and does is truly hateful--and not just coming from someone who's lashing out in her anger and frustration; she's being hateful just for the sake of being hateful, trying to rub salt in the wounds of a man who just lost his father. I guess I liked what it was trying to do more than I liked what it did.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:05 pm

CHRISTINE
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia, J. Smith Cameron, Timothy Simons, Kim Shaw, John Cullum.
Dir: Antonio Campos.

This is NOT an adaptation of the Stephen King novel but rather the true story of Christine Chubbuck, a local newscaster in Sarasota, Florida who killed herself live on the air. That's not much of a spoiler since it is a true story. I've heard about her story online. This explores her final few days leading up to her suicide. It reveals a talented, ambitious but deeply troubled young woman suffering from depression and various other issues. Rebecca Hall gives a magnificent performance as the titular role. She really should be getting more juicy roles like this. Antonio Campos's direction and the smart script kept this from being a Lifetime movie. It is instead a heartbreaking character study. Definitely a gem.

Oscar Prospects: Rebecca Hall should be in the running for Best Actress.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:08 am

LA LA LAND
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemary DeWitt, JK Simmons, Finn Wittrock.
Dir: Damien Chazelle.

I hate to add to the hype. I really do. But what can I say? I loved it. I had a smile throughout the film and by the end this movie completely won me over. It's one of those movies that remind me why I love film so much. The story is pure, predictable fluff: A struggling jazz musician meet and fall in love with a struggling actress. You pretty much predict where the story goes from there. But it's told with such style, such verve and such passion that you really don't care. You're just swept up by it all. It really is a Jacques Demy film for the 21st century. Ryan Gosling and especially Emma Stone are great. The songs are great. It's beautifully photographed and designed. I can't wait to see it again.

Oscar Prospects: All of them.

Grade: A.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:57 pm

The most interesting thing about The 13th is its premise -- showing how that one clause in the 13th Amendment has been used to continue a shadow version of slavery, first with 100 years of Jim Crow, and now with mass incarceration. It's a very interesting and largely persuasive argument, and the film is mostly attention-holding as it tracks this history.

However...Duvernay & her collaborators don't give much credence to the to-me indisputable fact that, from the mid-60s to the late 80s, crime in fact WAS a huge concern in this country, with rates soaring beyond what anyone had imagined, and that it would have been impossible for government officials not to deal with that in some serious ways. A few people interviewed -- including Charlie Rangel -- make reference to this, but only glancingly, and the film doesn't seem to want to take it seriously as a motivator for public policy. It's certainly true that many on the right exploited this fact for nefarious purposes, but there were also many liberals and centrists (including Robert Kennedy) who understood this was a public issue of prime concern that required some sort of action. The fact that this meteoric rise in the crime suddenly stopped around 1990 -- for reasons no one has ever satisfyingly explained -- doesn't mean people were wrong to trust the evidence of their senses during the worst years. This film comes perilously close to taking the point of view of that portion of the left who viewed every crime-related issue as naked racism: that everyone was only pretending these initiatives would do anything but put African Americans in jail. (This group did as much as anyone to make Democrats unelectable throughout the Nixon/Reagan years, and I'm not very partial to their view.)

As part of that process of backing that angle, Duvernay seems determined to make Bill Clinton the chief villain. Not only does the film imply Clinton never believed in any of the crime policies he got enacted during his term -- there's some academic who sneers at the idea Clinton believed in them as crime-fighting measures -- but it comes back at him a second time, at the point where he acknowledges the unintended consequences. Just as, in Selma, LBJ somehow emerged as more villainous than George Wallace, Clinton seems to come in for more/sharper criticism than Nixon/Reagan/Bush. So, to address Sonic's months-ago thesis that The 13th would run away with this year's documentary prizes: it may be that a community in deep mourning over Hillary not becoming president doesn't care to cheer on a film that takes 20/20 hindsight potshots at her and her husband.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:18 am

Since I didn't share the high opinion many here had of Beginners, I wasn't at all disappointed in 20th Century Women. I didn't think it was outstanding, and I acknowledge the lack of strong narrative spine (it's evidently mostly memoir, and felt like it). But I thought the characters were well-drawn, and the dialogue was lively and textured throughout. I'll probably prefer it as a script to some of the eventual Oscar nominees.

And apparently Annette Bening will continue to be one of the rare things on which BJ and I have significant divergence. I thought this was a very strong performance from her, one I'd nominate over any of her earlier cited efforts except maybe The Grifters. Her line readings are as good as I've ever seen her manage, and she plays the "I don't know how to do this mother thing" believably and movingly. Best actress is a car-wreck this year -- once again, there are more worthies than there are spots -- but Bening would make my top five, definitely over Negga or Streep.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:50 pm

SWISS ARMY MAN
Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Dirs: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert.

Lots of Daniels involved in this movie. A young man marooned on a deserted island is about to kill himself then he finds a very flatulent corpse washed up ashore and forms a relationship with it. Regardless of what your opinion on this film will be, you HAVE to give it points for sheer originality and audacity to make such a film. But a concept like this runs the risk of being potentially overly and irritatingly quirky and/or unbearably pretentious (a word I personally try to avoid using as much as possible). Yes, I think borders on those qualities a few times. But I think it largely worked. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe give such beautiful, committed performances that they straight up sold it. It's funny. It's oddly moving at points. It dropped the ball a bit on the ending but overall, it's worth a watch.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:05 am

AMERICAN HONEY
Cast: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keogh, Arielle Holmes, McCaul Lombardi, Crystal B. Ice, Will Patton, Laura Kirk.
Dir: Andrea Arnold.

A young woman at the end of her ropes joins a group of young people who go around selling magazine subscriptions who also get drunk and party hard. People who love this really love this and people who hate this, often really hate it. I consider myself in the former group. This is a superb film from director Andrea Arnold. It's over two and a half hours but, honestly, I didn't feel it much. This is a superb snapshot on the lives of misfit, wayward youth, just going from place to place with very little promise for the future. You find yourself relating to it, oddly enough, no matter where your lot in life would be. It features a superb ensemble, including newcomer Sasha Lane who I hope to see in more stuff soon. Shia LaBeouf probably gives his career-best performance in this film. Color me truly impressed. The soundtrack is pretty great and the cinematography is quite beautiful.

Oscar Prospects: I'd nominate this for Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actor, Editing and Cinematography. But it has very little chance at anything.

Grade: A

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby flipp525 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:54 pm

Quick Elle question:

What was the second text message that Michele got? She is at work and it's nighttime. Someone is taking photographs in another room of the office.
"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 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:42 am

SING
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll, Jennifer Saunders, Garth Jennings, Beck Bennett, Jay Pharaoh, Leslie Jones, Nick Offerman, Jennifer Hudson (voices).
Dir: Garth Jennings.

A theater manager/owner at the end of his ropes decides to save his theater by holding a singing competition. It attracts a disparate group of underdogs who just want to make their dreams come true. And they're all animals. This animated feature film's plot is pure formula and almost shamelessly so. In fact, if it weren't a 3D animated feature film where the characters are all animals, it would've been laughed off and dismissed. But the film has a few laughs and it is overall pretty entertaining. You'd think you'd get tired of seeing animals cover well-known pop songs. Well, you do but you'll tolerate it enough since they got actors who can actually sing. It's cute. Kids will love it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Oscar Prospects: I think it has a better shot at Best Original Song than it has Best Animated Feature.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby dws1982 » Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:23 am

When I think about the worst movies of a given year, I try not to waste too much effort going after, as Bog called it in another thread, the low-hanging fruit. Sometimes I even find things to like in those movies--I don't think I ever mentioned it here, but I found plenty of worthy things in Ben-Hur (with some major caveats, of course). But sometimes the fruit just hangs too low.

I speak, of course, of Assassin's Creed. It's hard to think of a movie that does more to alienate the very people who it's trying to attract. First, some background: In the games, the main character is forced (or asked) to experience the memories of his ancestors (the Assassins) in order to help some corporation find something or other. If I don't have much to say about those scenes, it's because I never pay attention to them when I've played the games. The games are all about the historical settings; they recreate places like 12th-century Palestine, 15th-century Italy/Rome, Revolution-era France, Victorian England, and several other settings, and those (mostly) open-world recreations are extremely vivid and lots of fun. Anyone I know who has played the games plays it for the historical scenes which make up the overwhelming (as in, at least 90%) amount of the game. For some reason, this movie decides to spend most of its runtime in those cut scenes that no one cares about. I think it has three sequences in the historical setting, and even worse: they're the worst things in the movie. Other than a few parts that evoke the graphics of the game, there's nothing at all of worth in them: they're poorly put-together, they're hatefully anti-Christian, and there's no fun in them. So we're left with an incoherent story about, well, I couldn't exactly tell you. I can respect the fact that it's so consciously, and maybe even intentionally weird, but from the final product I can't begin to fathom why this was such a passion project for Fassbender.


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