The Official Review Thread of 2016

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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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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:04 pm

THE AGE OF SHADOWS
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo, Byung Hun-lee, Han Ji-min, Park Hee-soon, Foster Burden, Shingo Tsurumi, Um Tae-goo.
Dir: Kim Jee-woon.

This is South Korea's official entry to the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar category this year. It is actually a pretty darn worthy contender but it does skew too genre to be taken seriously by traditional Academy members. It's still a very good film regardless. It's further proof Korean cinema is such a rich place right now. This is a historical piece about Korean resistance fighters and their allies during the Japanese occupation of Korea. You need not be a historical expert. It simply sucks you right in. As I said, it actually plays far more like a spy thriller than a historical period drama, complete with twists, turns and even shocking, grisly violence. It is all superbly directed by Kim Jee-woon, another Korean director who has been doing good work lately. Definitely check it out.

Oscar Prospects: Best Foreign Language Film nomination wouldn't be undeserved.

Grade: B+

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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.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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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.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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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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