The Official Review Thread of 2016

dws1982
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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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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:07 pm

TONI ERDMANN
Cast: Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller, Michael Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl, Trystan Pütter, Hadewych Minis, Lucy Russell, Ingrid Bisu, Vlad Ivanov, Victoria Cocias.
Dir: Maren Ade.

After losing his dog, a prank-loving music teacher decides to get closer to his ambitious, stuck-up daughter by intruding upon her professional life as a life coach named Toni Erdmann. This film is close to three hours long and I honestly felt it flew by after I got used to the characters. I honestly wasn't sure where this film was gonna go. I've heard so much from so many people about this. It gradually won me over, kind of like the title character. When it is a comedy, it is hysterical. Then the emotional component just sneak up on you in the end. It is one of the best films of the year.

Oscar Prospects: Also deserves an Original Screenplay nomination.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:28 am

I'm still sorting my thoughts out on Toni Erdmann. I'll write more a little bit later. I am very much a fan of it, though not as much as Maren Ade's previous film, Everyone Else.

I decided to cross Zootopia off my viewing list. No idea why it took me so long. I think those trailers just rubbed me the wrong way. There are elements of Zootopia I admired but I couldn't get past the fact that implying that certain races are predators and certain races are prey is just shitty. I mean, the writers go out of their way to chase after a message of tolerant but I just don't think it's possible when the foundation is so problematic. I really don't like the idea of kids coming out of this movie being taught that it's important to accept all members of society because they haven't been savage for hundreds of years. This movie wants to have it both ways: playing directly analogous to contemporary racial divides but also have an animated movie plot. You can't go from one scene that engages with race (perhaps even in a clever way) and then to another scene involving a government plot to turn predators into savages. I came away a little troubled.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Dec 25, 2016 11:28 am

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!
Cast: Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Wyatt Russell, Temple Baker, J. Quinton Johnson, Will Brittain, Juston Street, Austin Amelio, Forrest Vickery.
Dir: Richard Linklater.

A college freshman playing for his university's baseball team and his fellow teammates spends their last few free days before class begins partying, getting drunk, getting laid and getting high. The plot sounds like just another low-brow R-rated frat comedy but with Richard Linklater writing and directing, it's something a lot more. Though there are laughs, the film is a bit more deeper, sophisticated and complex than your average frat comedy. You really get to know these characters as just more than dumb, horny jocks. They are brought to life by a fine, young ensemble cast with Tyler Hoechlin and Zoey Deutch as the standouts. The film is considered a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused. Well, it's not as good as that classic but it's a fine film.

Oscar Prospects: None but this would be a pretty good Original Screenplay nominee.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:46 pm

It's no surprise Paul Verhoeven went on to an occasionally successful Hollywood career. Even when he makes a film in art-house territory like Elle, he puts enough audience-friendly stuff in that it plays decently mainstream. There's plot to spare (almost too many threads), and it builds to a conclusion that offers closure. Not to suggest this is a movie your mother's going to like (mine, I'm sure, would be appalled by parts of it). But consider that Isabelle Huppert plays a character not dissimilar to the one she played in The Piano Teacher, and think how much further out on the ledge that film seemed to go. (My mother would have hated ALL of that.) The difference between Verhoeven and Haneke is pretty stark. I'm not advocating for one over the other; just noting how different they are with the same star and somewhat overlapping material.

Huppert, by the way, gives a pretty world-class performance here. I'd got a little worried when I saw Things to Come a few weeks ago -- a far more European film in which she gives a performance I'd summarize as "she's very good, as usual". I wondered if the critics had simply decided this was to be her year based on her volume and accumulated career points, not on her achieving something special. But here I think she's terrific -- at moments I was caught completely off-guard by the way she responded to events. I especially loved her amused detachment at certain moments...as if this whole thing, her whole life, was a bit of a game to her. I don't think she's a real threat to win an Oscar -- the parts that my mother would shrink from will have have the same effect on many Academy voters. But I think she has an excellent chance at the nomination, and it'll be more than a career salute.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Dec 17, 2016 8:20 am

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk, Jimmy Smits, Guy Henry, voice of James Earl Jones.
Dir: Gareth Edwards.

During the reign of the Empire, a group of rebels plot to steal the blueprints for the Death Star as a key to destroying it. This precedes Episode IV of the Star Wars series, a standalone spinoff of sorts with largely new characters. You know, as I was watching this, I'm thinking, *this* film is probably what the Star Wars fans were imagining and expecting when George Lucas first announced he was making prequel films. But instead what they got was Anakin as a little kid and cheesy dialogue about trade embargoes. This film will satisfy those fans. For everyone else, well, it's still a fun movie for any casual fan of the series. There's lots of good stuff in it, especially Alan Tudyk as probably the best droid character in this universe and Donnie Yen being a total badass. It's not transcendent. It's a solid entry.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing.

Grade: B.

YOUR NAME
Cast: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi (voices).
Dir: Makoto Shinkai.

I was surprised this got a theatrical run here. But it is a love story so I can see how it will appeal to the Filipino audience. This is an anime feature film about a teenage boy and a teenage girl who switch bodies. But that's just beginning. I'm not gonna spoil the rest of the story but the way it unfolds and builds is so superb, it's part of the pleasures of watching this film. It's a wildly maginative, funny, sweet and moving science-fiction love story that will definitely surprise and win you over. It's so good, I'm predicting Hollywood is gonna remake it as a live-action movie.

Oscar Prospects: Actually eligible for Animated Feature. It would be a deserving nominee.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:21 am

OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY
Cast: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Aniston, TJ Miller, Courtney B. Vance, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Sam Richardson, Jillian Bell, Randall Park, Karan Soni, Matt Walsh, Jimmy Butler.
Dirs: Will Speck, Josh Gordon.

An R-rated comedy about an office Christmas party that goes out of control? Sounds like a good idea. I'm wondering why it didn't happen sooner. i just wish this was better and funnier. That's not to say this film isn't without laughs and its charms. It's all thanks to the funny and talented cast who manage to elevate an otherwise "eh" screenplay which borrows a bit too heavily on The Hangover. (Seriously, modern R-rated comedies should quit doing this already). It was overall fun distracting but ultimately disposable.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:15 am

I think ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ makes a mistake by beginning at the dinner club with both Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, setting up their marriage, his infidelity, her disease, and then moseying over to her desire to sing. It really does set up for an entirely different film and the result is a little schizophrenic. It should begin with Simon Helberg’s character getting the opportunity of a lifetime to work with this extraordinarily unusual woman and we meet them both through his eyes. I think it’s a failure of screenwriting to properly understand the story, but really it’s a failure of confidence in the audience to think we would go along for the ride without having this exposition handed to us at the beginning rather than discovered organically throughout. This is especially relevant because I never felt locked-in to her desire to sing. The rationale they give us is basically “she wants to.” As far as motivation goes, she doesn’t need anything else, but that certainly doesn’t warrant fifteen minutes of telling us everything about her, especially considering it’s hard to laugh at her terrible singing if I know she has cancer. I think we’re meant to both laugh at her yet applaud her desire to do this. I ended up feeling very disconnected from Streep in this role. I’m not sure she’s miscast per se but quite a bit story-wise is stacked against her. The film never decides if she’s a comic figure or a tragic one, and she never quite seems like either. I mean…this is a woman who’s declared the worst singer in the world and she has no idea, and the film can’t decide if she’s brave or hilarious.

Faring better is Hugh Grant, who succeeds in playing her fairly complicated husband. This is a very minor, polite film but he convinces as someone who carries the shades of grey contradictions of the real world. It would be a shame if he got his first nomination for this instead of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral,’ ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary,’ or ‘About a Boy,’ but this is probably his best chance at a career nomination and I wouldn’t mind seeing that happen. He’s clearly a lead but he might be able to fit into the supporting crowd unless his categorization is already set.

It rebounds a bit as it goes along, but it’s an assortment of wiki-plot elements that resemble a strong enough Miramax house-style confection but they didn’t come together for me. Also, there’s a nice little Four Weddings and a Funeral reunion between Hugh Grant and “Nigel” from whom he hides in a cabinet during his wedding nuptials.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:51 am

Two films that rate only cursory attention:

I'd like to be able to praise Jeff Nichols for showing restraint in making Loving -- for not giving us snarling, drooling racists in opposition to saintly heroes. The problem is, he doesn't give us anything else, either: the drama is limp from scene to scene, and the characters are bland. One is pretty much forced to conclude that the two people who mounted this momentous court challenge were fundamentally uninteresting people. I suppose there could have been a way to make that contrast, between life-role and personal qualities, dramatic (maybe with a touch of wit, something the film seems to have sworn off), but Nichols simply hasn't found it. Edgerton has at least some semblance of a character arc, but Negga doesn't do much beside stand there and look beatific (her only possible Oscar clip is her call-back from the ACLU). If this film gets major nominations -- which people seem to think is certain -- it's purely on subject matter. Basically, I found this duller than batshit, and waited impatiently for the Supreme Court to do its work.

Moana has some gorgeous visuals, especially ocean-related, and the byplay of Maui's tattoos is pretty amusing. But the framework story is close to generic Disney flavored with island lore; Moana's journey to fulfillment is serviceable at best. Lin-Manuel Miranda has provided a couple of good numbers -- "You're Welcome" and "Shiny" -- but the song they're touting for an Oscar nod, "How Far I'll Go", is indistinguishable from multiple other Disney hero/heroine power ballads (with a few bars heavily recalling Taylor Swift's "All Too Well"). In the battle of big budget cartoon hits likely to Oscar compete, I'm Zootopia all the way.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby dws1982 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:06 pm

It was the 2011-12 school year; he was in 8th grade. He had already made the first movie, and was kind of known around the school for that. He was a good student--in terms of both behavior and academics. At one point he claimed that other students picked on him, but I honestly never saw anything that was beyond normal adolescent behavior. (Not making any claims or presumptions about what might have happened outside of my classroom.) When he withdrew, I initially worried that there might have been some real bullying going on, but I later found out that his parents had divorced and his mom planned to relocate.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Dec 04, 2016 4:15 pm

dws1982 wrote:The actor who played--I think--Chris Pine's son in Hell or High Water is a former student of mine. He left after Christmas break and moved to New Mexico.

He left after Christmas break in what year?

The kid's name is John-Paul Howard - he's very good as Chris Pine's older son. He's been in films since 2010. His mother wrote his bio on IMDb.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby dws1982 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:54 pm

The actor who played--I think--Chris Pine's son in Hell or High Water is a former student of mine. He left after Christmas break and moved to New Mexico.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:39 am

HELL OR HIGH WATER
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Marin Ireland, Dale Dickey.
Dir: David Mackenzie.

Two brothers pull off a series of bank robberies in order to save their family farm. This is one of the best films of the year. Sure, it's commentary on the modern day financial banking and housing crisis plaguing America may get a bit too on the nose at times but I think it earned it. This is a lean, mean, taut neo-Western crime drama that is, in its core, classic old-fashioned American filmmaking. Even though it's obviously set in modern times, it does feel like it was a film that could have been made in the late 1960's to mid-1970's by one of the American New Wave auteurs. Jeff Bridges is great as usual but Chris Pine gives his career-best performance here. Ben Foster also steals the show as the loose-cannon brother. A terrific film.

Oscar Prospects: Deserving of Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor (Chris Pine), Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges), Film Editing, Cinematography and Sound Mixing.

Grade: A.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:29 am

THE HANDMAIDEN
Cast: Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, Kim Hae-sook, Moon So-ri.
Dir: Park Chan-wook

During the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1930's, a phony count and a female thief concoct a scheme to steal a Japanese heiress's substantial inheritance. That's the only piece of plot I will give away to describe the latest film from director Park Chan-wook. One of the many joys in this film is the many sick (in a good way) twists and turns of the plot. This results in probably my favorite Park Chan-wook films from the ones I've seen. It is beautifully and intricately designed and shot. It also features probably one of the best (and hottest) sex scenes I've ever seen on film. That alone makes this film worth seeing.

Oscar Prospects: I think this could sneak in Adapted Screenplay, Production Design and Costume Design.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:15 pm

MOANA
Cast: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk (voices).
Dirs: John Musker, Ron Clements.

A chieftain's daughter go on a journey to find the demigod Maui to return an ancient relic to a goddess in order to save their island. Yes, it doesn't break any new ground narratively and thematically. We've all seen these before in numerous other films including Disney. It pretty much follows all the formulas and the tropes. But personally, there's enough charm, gorgeous animation and great songs here that frankly, I didn't care. I got swept up in the story. The voice acting by newcomer Auli'i Cravalho and the Rock are both terrific. The songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda are pretty strong (the Bowie-inspired number "Shiny" is a personal favorite).

Oscar Prospects: Animated Feature nomination is a guarantee. Original Song will probably bring Lin-Manuel his EGOT (they will likely submit "How Far I'll Go" and/or "You're Welcome" but they SHOULD submit "Shiny").

Grade: A-


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