The Official Review Thread of 2016

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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.
"I think he sexually assaulted a child and I don't think that's right…It's gotten very quiet in here, but that's true." Susan Sarandon on Woody Allen, Cannes Film Festival 2016

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Oct 27, 2016 12:10 am

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.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Oct 17, 2016 1:07 am

I've been meaning to note for some time that, while I'm not quite as enthusiastic as BJ/okri, I too would recommend American Honey as one of the few truly praiseworthy films of 2016. I'm another "didn't much care for Spring Breakers" fellow, and I can see certain surface similarities between the two films. But I didn't get the whiff of nihilism floating off Honey that I did Breakers. (This would also distinguish the film from another I've heard it compared too, Larry Clark's Kids.) American Honey deals with a subculture, for sure, and a part of American life with which I'm not exactly in sympathy or in tune. And the behavior of many of its characters can border on appalling. Yet I didn't feel distant from the characters, because Arnold kept their (unsentimentalized) humanity front and center. It's mostly unspoken (except in scenes involving our primary character), but you get the solid sense that all of the crew come from families who provided no attention or affection, and that the camaraderie among the group is the closest they've ever come to a home-base. So, even while they do horrible things (to outsiders and to each other), I never found myself just rejecting them (as I had no problem doing with many characters in Spring Breakers or Kids).

I don't want to sell this too hard. I'm a classicist at heart, so this film is pretty far from my preference-wavelength -- it barely hints at any central plot, and it's more likely to feint at dramatic developments than carry any forward to crisis (as with the gun, or the news that our main character can't swim). And the film does go on about 10-15 minutes too long (I, too, thought the film's logical endpoint was the bus sing-along, and didn't see what the scenes that followed added). But, the bottom line: for a film that ran close to three hours with little sense of structure, I found myself surprisingly engaged almost all the way along. In a year such as this, that's something to merit gratitude.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Oct 15, 2016 12:02 pm

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
Cast: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro (voices).
Dir: Travis Knight.

A young boy who is half-immortal must go on an epic journey to retrieve magical items that will help him defeat his vengeful grandfather. Animation studio LAIKA has made fine work in the past but in my book, this is their masterpiece. Apart from being beautifully animated with amazing imaginative visuals, the film pretty much hits everything it should extremely well. It's got great action scenes, it's funny when it needs to be, dark and scary when it needs to be and even genuinely moving and resonant (I actually fought back tears). It hits all the right notes. This feels like the stop-motion animated film Hayao Miyazaki never made. I'm actually pretty surprised I loved it this much. I can't freaking wait to see it again. It's my favorite film of the year so far.

Oscar Prospects: Deserves to WIN Best Animated Feature for sure (I don't think Moana can top this). Deserves nominations for Original Score and Production Design (it's high time an animated film gets nominated for Production Design).

Grade: A.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Oct 09, 2016 9:53 am

DEEPWATER HORIZON
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O'Brien, Ethan Suplee.
Dir: Peter Berg.

This is the cinematic dramatization of the BP oil spill which occurred on the titular vessel. It's the worst environmental disaster in recent history. This is told from the point of view of one of the workers on the oil rig. Like with the other Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg collaboration, this true-to-life dramatization is slickly made but unfortunately goes more for visceral thrills rather than going into the nitty gritty of corporate greed which is, after all, the root cause of the disaster. It's a missed opportunity. But as it is, it's a well-made disaster movie. No more, no less.

Oscar Prospects: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects are possible.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Oct 08, 2016 12:43 pm

CAFE SOCIETY
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Jeannie Berlin, Corey Stoll, Parker Posey, Ken Stott.
Dir: Woody Allen.

When a young man goes to Hollywood in the 1930's to work for his uncle, the he meets and falls for a young woman his uncle happens to be having an affair with. This is technically a good film. It's extremely well-shot by the great Vittorio Storaro, it's exquisitely designed and the ensemble of performers assembled is pretty good. Jesse Eisenberg is pretty good as the Woody Allen-esque surrogate. However, when I watch it, I do kind of feel Woody Allen is pretty much repeating himself. The film feels like a mishmash of Allen's greatest hits. I feel like I should go watch those movies instead. Again, not a bad movie but it feels so been-there-done-that, especially for Woody Allen.

Oscar Prospects: Production Design, Costume Design and Cinematography are possible.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Okri » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:53 pm

Manchester-by-the-Sea: 2nd viewing. Will discuss in it's own thread, but it is amazing.

Personal Shopper: I'd like to see this again when I wasn't as tired (totally started dozing off after 45 minutes), but I found this horror film strangely enervating.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Okri » Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:42 pm

I'll second BJ on American Honey

One thing that really struck me, in retrospect, is that it largely does manage to sustain itself and it's fairly unique tone throughout it's 2 hr 42 minute run time. For what it does, it's definitely too long, but if you'd ask me what I'd take out, I'd be hard-pressed to find the scene (though I think the film should've ended on the titular moment). Also, while I get the Shia LaBouef is basically a walking joke at this point, I thought he was really good.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Oct 03, 2016 1:23 pm

I'm not surprised that American Honey has divided people. It's the kind of movie that I'm always wary of recommending to people, because if you just don't respond to its wavelength, I think you'll flat hate it. My gut instinct is that the crowd that didn't respond to Spring Breakers probably wouldn't care for this...but then I have to remind myself that I didn't much care for Spring Breakers, and was totally taken by American Honey, so who knows what that means.

Watching the movie, I was fully aware of the arguments that could be made against it -- it's close to three hours, it's mostly a collection of vignettes rather than a tightly controlled plot, there are a lot of scenes of people just hanging out, the characters aren't by any means what you'd call a likable collection of individuals. If all of this comes off as boring and/or unpleasant to you, I imagine you'll have an emperor's new clothes reaction to the movie, wondering why so many have been knocked out by something that you just didn't think had any there there.

But damn, I was completely swept away by the movie, by the rhythms of Andrea Arnold's filmmaking, by the vibe of the soundtrack and the youthful energy of those jamming along with it, by its vast portrait of this great, big country of America and all of the ugliness, pain, tragedy, hopes, and joys across its landscape. It's not a movie that seems to put forward a single thesis -- probably the reason detractors will find it empty -- but it makes a lot of compelling observations along the way -- about class, youth, money, family, dreams, the parts of America that have been left behind (and those that haven't), the way a piece of music can mean a lot to you if it comes along at the right moment in your life.

The movie isn't perfect. I think it's too long, for sure. I don't think Arnold came up with quite the right ending -- it's the kind of movie that sort of just stops rather than ends. The main character, Star, remains a bit opaque -- there were moments when I wondered if a Spacek-in-Badlands-style voiceover might have helped get us into her head a bit more, and if that might have been a benefit to the movie. And the central love triangle isn't necessarily the movie's most graceful element, though Riley Keough, as the drug-addled, Confederate flag bikini-sporting ringleader of this ragtag group of misfits, makes for a frighteningly good nemesis for our heroine.

But the movie's raw energy and emotion have been hard for me to shake. And individual moments gather in cumulative power, so that by the time the movie reached essentially its eleven o'clock number -- the gang singing along to the title song, in a moment akin to the "Tiny Dancer" sequence in Almost Famous -- I was completely bowled over by the movie's complex blend of feelings, brought out simply by the energies of the cast and the filmmakers.

As I said, it's an acquired taste, and I suspect some here won't be impressed. (My hunch is Damien would have found it very shrill.) But for those who dig it, you'll certainly feel like you had some kind of dazzling experience.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:03 pm

SAUSAGE PARTY
Cast: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Edward Norton, Michael Cera, Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, David Krumholtz, Nick Kroll, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Craig Robinson, Anders Holm (voices).
Dirs: Greg Tierney, Conrad Vernon.

Food items in the grocery store worship humans as "gods" who are going to pick them to go to the Great Beyond. Then a hot dog finds out the horrible truth. The "gods" actually eat them in horrific ways. The film is a crazy parody of PIXAR films, a non-stop barrage of food puns and sex jokes and a thoughtful exploration of the concept of organized religion. Yeah, the last part is weird. But strangely, it makes sense and works, for the most part. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg of course gives us a vulgarity laden comedy with quite a good number of laughs (I particularly like the Meat Loaf gag). It's not completely perfect (none of their feature films are) but it has enough laughs and I could commend its ambition of incorporating bigger questions into what is essentially a silly, funny movie.

Oscar Prospects: Best Animated Feature is competitive this year. The news that the directors of the film overworked and underpaid their animators may not sit well with some members. Original Song ("The Great Beyond") is possible as well.

Grade: B.

SNOWDEN
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shaleine Woodley, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Timothy Olyphant, Tom Wilkinson, Logan Marshall-Green. Scott Eastwood, Keith Stanfield, Joely Richardson, Ben Chaplin.
Dir: Oliver Stone.

This film is about whistle-blower Edward Snowden and how he came to expose the U.S. government for spying on citizens. When I first heard this film is being made by Oliver Stone, two things came to mind: First Oliver Stone hasn't made a great film in a long time and second, there's already an excellent documentary Citizenfour about this story, made by one of the characters in the movie, Laura Poitras, and making a narrative film out of it feels a bit redundant. I was kind of right on both counts. I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt's strange voice, trying emulate how the real Edward Snowden talks, is a a bit of a distraction at times (especially since the real Edward Snowden shows up in the end and you can hear how weird it is). But it's still a compelling story and its message still resonates.

Oscar Prospects: Editing is possible but Original Song ("The Veil") is more likely.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:54 pm

I saw 20th Century Women also and largely echo BJ's opinion. I think Mike Mills stumbled onto a design that served Beginners well. There was the plot-line of his dying, newly-out father, the plot-line of his finding love, and then the floating subplot about his mother. That all winds together very nicely. In this film, they're all sort of like the subplot of the mother. There is no plot. Notionally, it's about a mother asking the two young women in her son's life to help raise him into a man, but Mills also wants to do the same Beginners-style "Every person's life is a story" thing. The film is sort of broken up into chapters devoted to each character's story. So...there's no plot or forward momentum. Every scene is its own pocket universe. A movie it reminded me of was American Hustle where it's clear that we're dealing with a very talented filmmaker who has mistook the forest for the trees. Mike Mills loves his trees. He gets the best out of his cast. There are funny, truthful, human moments, but this movie exists to explain who these characters are rather than tell a story. That would be nice if I felt like he got close to them.

Also, his essay-style filmmaking (cut aways to art, speed-up/slow-down, etc) is in overdrive here and bugged the shit out of me.

Annette Bening is quite good. She's not exactly doing something we've never seen before but this is a fun character. But no, this will not win her an Academy Award. I doubt she'll be nominated. If she were pushed for supporting, she might have a shot. This is an ensemble film so they could possibly get away with a move like that.
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