The Official Review Thread of 2016

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:21 am

ALLIED
Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Simon McBurney, Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode, August Diehl.
Dir: Robert Zemeckis.

A Canadian military operative teams up with a female French resistance spy for a mission. They fall in love, get married and have a child. Then she becomes suspected of being a spy for the Germans. This is World War II filtered through a very slick Hollywood lens. It is extremely well-made and reasonably well-acted. Based on the premise and the trailers, I had hoped this would be a nice throwback on the 1940's and '50s World War II thrillers made by Fritz Lang, Carol Reed and even Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger. It certainly had some potential but the plot, as it unfolds, is standard issue Hollywood. It's not terrible but there's nothing in it that's unforgettable.

Oscar Prospects: Production Design, Costume Design and Sound Mixing are possible.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:15 am

Last week, the CinemaOne International Film Festival happened and this is a brief rundown of the films I saw there:

Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond (Pierre Filmon) - The great cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond recently passed away and this is the documentary about him that was made shortly before that. As a film buff, I found this film quite fascinating and eye-opening not only at how Vilmos Zsigmond is a great DP (he is, I know it!) but also in the art of cinematography itself. That being said, if you're not super duper into film or a cinephile, there MAY not be much here for you. But you may still get a pretty good lesson on the importance of a director of photography. Grade: B.

De Palma (Noah Baumbach/Jake Paltrow) This film is basically a retrospective of director Brian De Palma's career narrated by the man himself intercutting with behind-the-scenes footage, photographs and clips from his films. If you're a Brian De Palma fan, this is an absolute essential watch. I personally love and admire his work. If you're not, well, I think there's still lot of fascinating things here even for a non-fan. From his humble beginnings, early successes, series of failures and quitting Hollywood. De Palma pretty much tells all. This made me want to see a couple of his films again. Grade: B+

The Wailing (Na-hong Jin) A mysterious disease which causes people to murder their loved ones then die horrific deaths sweep a small village. It's up to a police officer to get to the bottom of it all especially since his young daughter is beginning to exhibit symptoms. Oh, my goodness. How to describe this film. Yes, it's a horror film. But it's structured more like a twisty mystery thriller and there's laughs sprinkled all over it. This film is one hell of a ride. I genuinely do not know what's going to happen next despite the familiar-ish narrative beats. Korean cinema is so awesome right now. This is yet another jewel in its crown. Definitely check this one out. Grade: A-

Frantz (Francois Ozon) It's just after World War I and a young woman places flowers of the grave of her fiancé who was killed in the war. She sees a mysterious Frenchman also laying flowers on his grave. This film surprised me a bit. Considering it's Francois Ozon, I didn't go where I thought it was gonna go but it's still a beautiful, touching, anti-war piece that truly feels like something Jean Renoir would have made. The performances are great and the almost literally expressive cinematography, that is mostly austere black & white but occasionally goes into color in key moments. Highly recommended. Grade: A-

The Salesman (Asghar Farhardi) A married couple starring in an Iranian production of Death of a Salesman moves into a new apartment. Then one night, the wife gets attacked by an intruder which turns their lives upside down. Wow, just wow. The latest from writer-director Asghar Farhadi is a remarkable drama, just like his other masterpiece, A Separation, it quietly builds and unfolds, totally enveloping you into the lives of these characters. The film works best going in as cold as possible so I won't say anything more. This is just a great, great film and definitely one of my favorites of the year. See it. Grade: A.

It's Only The End of the World (Xavier Dolan) A writer returns home to his dysfunctional family after an absence of 12 years to tell them he is dying. This is my third foray into the cinema of Xavier Dolan and it is my least favorite from him so far. It feels like Arrested Development without the humor coupled with a soap opera filtered through an indie art house aesthetic. Dolan's choice of using lots of close-ups can come off as obnoxious and overwhelming at times. The actors are faultless though. They sell the material. Vincent Cassel is great at being a giant idiot and it's always nice to see Nathalie Baye again. I applaud what Dolan is obviously trying to do here but I think he bit off more than he could chew this time. Grade: C+

I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach) The surprise Palme D'Or winner of this year is about a middle-aged man who just recovered from a heart attack struggling to keep his welfare payments befriending a single mother of two struggling to make ends meet. It dropped the ball a bit when it became a bit too on-the-nose in the end. Otherwise, it's a very warm, empathetic beautifully realized and very human drama about people who got the short shrift trying to make it work for them. It manages to evoke emotion and empathy without a lot of hype and fireworks. And even a sprinkling of humor for good measure. It kind of reminds me of the British social realism dramas of the 1960's in a way. Grade: A-

Neruda (Pablo Larrain) A top-ranking officer of the Chilean national police makes it his top priority to apprehend poet, senator and communist Pablo Neruda before he flees the country. I didn't read much about this film before seeing it apart from the fact that it's about Pablo Neruda and it's Chile's entry to the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. I didn't expect it to be a bit of a thriller. Who knew a film about a poet could be described as such? You need not know much about Neruda, poetry or even Chilean history, you'll be hooked right away. It features terrific performances from Gael Garcia Bernal and Luis Gnecco in the titular role. This is my first Pablo Larrain film and I'm definitely checking out more from him in the future. Grade: B+

Elle (Paul Verhoeven) After she's attacked and raped by an intruder, a strong, no-nonsense video game executive soldiers on with her life, trying to live as "normally" as possible. This is certainly one of the most provocative films of the year. It will inspire the viewers to ask a lot of questions. Is it pro-feminist? Anti-feminist? Perhaps even post-feminist? Is her character realistic even? Is it exploitation or is it a serious examination of how one woman deals with trauma? Personally, I kind of loved the fact that the film even dares to ask these questions. I can see how this fits with a lot of the themes explored in director Paul Verhoeven's past works. This film will have very vocal and valid detractors and I would completely understand. One thing that the detractors cannot deny though is the great performance of Isabelle Huppert. The veteran actress has made a career of daring to play some real complicated women. This is just another jewel in her crown. Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Fri Nov 25, 2016 1:30 am

The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremont Craig)

INT. EVERY SCENE FROM THIS MOVIE

Nadine [enters or does something].

NADINE: [this is how I'm feeling, punctuated by a remark]

OTHER CHARACTER: Nadine [some version of calling her out on her shit]

Nadine leaves in a huff to [leave, go someplace else, repeat, actually does something when she messages a boy at the start of act three].

At least Juno had a quest. Nadine is totally reactionary and doesn't function as a character study.

This film may fare more positively in comparison to YA films, but any movie that begins by establishing laboriously that anyone's best friend is the most important thing to ever happen to them should probably revolve around her doing something to get her back instead of the above, constantly, every to every others scene.
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Tue Nov 22, 2016 7:08 pm

I saw Doctor Strange.

I have very little to say about this film save for one thing. The special effects are actually special. As somebody who was massively underwhelmed by Christopher Nolan's Inception, I had some affection for this film simply because it felt like a superior do-over. It's a visual wow that has a flicker of wit to its narrative. In that sense, I count it as acceptable escapism.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Nov 17, 2016 8:10 pm

FANTASTICS BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Ron Perlman, Johnny Depp.
Dir: David Yates.

This JK Rowling's prequel to the Harry Potter has magizoologist Newt Scamander in 1920's New York City with his magic suitcase filled with magical creatures and a few of them escape. As a huge Potter fan, I was looking forward to diving back into the world once again. And I wasn't disappointed! As a screenwriter, Rowling manages to transfer her strength as a storyteller being able to evoke wonder and fun whilst incorporating darker elements and even some subtle social commentary along the way. Yes, it's not perfect (it won't convert non-HP fans) but it sure is a fun, fun ride. Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston are good but it's Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol who steal the show.

Oscar Prospects: Production Design, Costume Design and Visual Effects are possible.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:56 pm

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Sennia Nannua, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Anamaria Marinca, Dominique Tipper, Anthony Welsh, Fisayo Akinade.
Dir: Colm McCarthy.

A deadly fungus that turns humans into flesh eating monsters ravages humanity. A group of children born to infected mothers retain their humanity while still getting the urge to feast are experimented on by scientists in a military facility in hopes of finding the cure. One of them is a genius young girl of the title. Now, I love zombie stuff. But even I admit there's way too much of them now. However, this film, based on a popular novel, manages to find a really interesting angle on the genre. Yes, it does have many of the familiar zombie movie narrative tropes, but it does dare to tackle a few more interesting ideas than most zombie stuff out there. It's dark and bleak but it's a fun ride.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:12 pm

BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK
Cast: Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Makenzie Leigh, Ben Platt.
Dir: Ang Lee.

When a video of him rescuing his doomed CO goes viral, a young soldier returns home briefly with his unit to participate in a halftime show for publicity. First off, I saw this in regular 2D although I can't help but wonder why it was shot in HD 3D at 120 frames-per-second or whatever that was. Even in 2D, I could sort of see its effect. But why make it that way? It's a quiet drama with barely any action scenes. So anyway, how is it as a film? I must say the interesting cast and the weird title along with Ang Lee's involvement made me look forward to seeing this. Now that I've seen it, I thought that Ang Lee is definitely all wrong for the material. There is a satirical angle here that is present which would have been better suited for someone like, say, David O. Russell who can mix sharp, funny satire with serious drama. The cast is pretty good. I hope Joe Alwyn gets more roles. All in all, it's mid-tier Ang Lee at best.

Oscar Prospects: Sound Mixing and Cinematography are long-shot possibilities.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Okri » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:56 pm

The Original BJ wrote:
Okri wrote:Thanks for the take, BJ. Your comment on narrative is interesting and I have to admit I'm very curious how you'd take Paterson.


I thought it was pretty ho-hum, but that's been my reaction to Jarmusch films in general.


Man, I loved it.

You know, I don't think I realized how much we disagreed!

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:23 am

Okri wrote:Thanks for the take, BJ. Your comment on narrative is interesting and I have to admit I'm very curious how you'd take Paterson.


I thought it was pretty ho-hum, but that's been my reaction to Jarmusch films in general.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:47 am

TROLLS
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, Ron Funches, James Corden, Jeffrey Tambor, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhané Wallis, John Cleese, Gwen Stefani (voices).
Dir: Mike Mitchell.

I was actually dreading this film because it looked like a really lame, candy-colored eye sore of a cash grab. An animated film purely designed for marketing purposes wherein they exploit nostalgia for the popular line of toys as well as introducing a new generation to those cute ugly little dolls. In a way, I was kind of right. But this film about a young princess Troll trying to prove herself by rescuing her friends from the mouths of monsters called Bergens, is infectiously entertaining. I tried to resist its allure but it won over me in the end mostly because of the characters of Bridget and King Gristle Jr. Those two pretty much stole the film and made it for me. The soundtrack is pure fluffy pop but it could've been a heckuva lot worse. It's no animated masterpiece but trust me, it's not painful for grown-ups.

Oscar Prospects: Animated Feature is competitive this year and I don't expect it to make it. Original Song seems more likely.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:42 pm

THE ACCOUNTANT
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, Jean Smart.
Dir: Gavin O'Connor.

A mysterious man who works as a forensic accountant for criminal organizations acquires a new client as the Treasury Department closes in on him and dead people fall in his wake. Though I found the trailers intriguing, the film is actually only barely interesting than its generic title. The concept of an autistic math savant turned trained Robin Hood-like assassin could make for a fine action-thriller but the film sadly never does anything interesting with it. It merely flirts with being something interesting but its slavery to its rather convoluted plot sadly made it dull. It wastes a really good performance by Ben Affleck and a strong supporting cast. It's not terrible but it's completely disposable.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C

A MONSTER CALLS
Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Geraldine Chaplin, voice of Liam Neeson.
Dir: J.A. Bayona.

A lonely, bullied 12-year-old boy copes with the fact that his mother is dying by conjuring a Monster who comes every night to tell him stories. I absolutely adored this film. Though it is a fantasy involving a CGI creature with action sequences, it is in fact really a coming of age drama about a preteen coming to terms with grief and loss, sort of a more kid-friendly Pan's Labyrinth. It's a real tearjerker for sure but a visually eye-popping, imaginative and heartfelt one. It beautifully expresses how important imagination, fantasy, storytelling and art can be when dealing with harsh real world issues and truths. The performances are brilliant all around especially Lewis MacDougall who should be getting more roles after this and Felicity Jones who's heartbreaking as the boy's mom.

Oscar Prospects: There is talk for Felicity Jones as a Supporting Actress contender for this. And it's deserved. Lewis MacDougall is also quite excellent but a remote longshot at best. Production Design and Visual Effects are possible.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:46 pm

THE NEON DEMON
Cast: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Karl Glusman, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Desmond Harrington, Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves.
Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn.

This is my chosen film for my Halloween viewing. A young model goes to Los Angeles to be discovered. Her natural beauty quickly makes her a rising star among models, but at a grisly price. The reviews of this film is all over the place both among critics and among the film people I know. Some absolutely love it. Others hate it. I can see the argument for both cases and I myself am right dab smack in the middle. This is definitely a better film than Only God Forgives because there is sort of a point to all this even though it may be something that has been tackled before. The film is beautifully and super-stylishly shot, reflective of its superficial milieu. Cliff Martinez's score is, as usual, brilliant. The performances are on point especially Jena Malone's. But is all that really worth having to sit through lesbian necrophilia? You're gonna have to see for yourself.

Oscar Prospects: None but I think the Costume Design, Cinematography and Score are nomination worthy.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Oct 30, 2016 12:27 pm

OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL
Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Henry Thomas, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Parker Mack, Doug Jones.
Dir: Mike Flanagan.

A young girl contacts an entity through the ouija board and gets possessed by it. This is the prequel to a horror film from a few years ago that I did not see. I didn't plan to see this since I did not see the first film but the good reviews and the fact this has been an unusually good year for horror flicks persuaded me to see it. And though I didn't like it quite as much as some, it is still a pretty solid B-movie horror flick with some real decent scares. It works primarily because of good acting and good writing which makes you give a damn about the characters. It borrows a lot of elements from other horror films which horror fans may recognize. Far from a horror masterpiece but an overall good movie.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Oct 29, 2016 10:18 am

DOCTOR STRANGE
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins.
Dir: Scott Derrickson.

I know next to nothing about this particular Marvel character, Doctor Strange, but the trailers looked intriguing and the little I've read about him going in was interesting. And yes, I have to say, Marvel won me over again. A talented but arrogant neurosurgeon gets into an accident which ruins his hands. This leads him to an organization led by an Ancient One who travels and protects the Earth in the realm of multiverses and alternate dimensions. Just when I thought Marvel doesn't have anything else up its sleeve, it delivers this film which features some of the craziest, most entertaining action sequences of the year so far. I'm not the biggest Scott Derrickson fan but this is arguably his best work. The performances of the actors are terrific. Benedict Cumberbatch finally gets to show off more of his comedic abilities in this one and Tilda Swinton is terrific as the Ancient One. So good, even her critics/detractors who complained about "white-washing" will have to agree. It will probably not win over anti-Marvel people but is a fine, fine piece of pop entertainment.

Oscar Prospects: I think this could FINALLY win Marvel its Visual Effects Oscar (unless it competes with a Best Picture nominee). Deserving of Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Original Score and Production Design.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Oct 27, 2016 8:00 am

Mister Tee wrote:I don't see anyone having commented on The Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I just watched it over the weekend, and found it a very pleasant surprise -- consistently funny in unexpected ways, full of narrative twists. In the end it's just crowd-pleaser, not a work that aspires to grand art, but it's one of the most pleasurable experiences I've had with a film this year.


I saw finally saw it a couple of weeks ago on home video. I avoided it at the cinema as I didn't like the trailer and was frankly sick to death of seeing it with everything I saw for a couple of months. I finally relented into watching the film due to it's overwhelming critical acclaim and great box office (at least in Australia & New Zealand).

I was underwhelmed by it. Watchable but added up to very little. Such a shame that Rima Te Wiata only had a small role in the film as she was potentially the most interesting character. Still Sam Neill and the kid had good chemistry and I can certainly appreciate the great affection many have for the film.
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