The Official Review Thread of 2016

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:23 pm

I think somewhere between Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Wedding Crashers there's a good movie. The latter features ten minutes of wedding crashing and then full commitment to a story I didn't like. The former is a collection of gags and some fun sensibilities within the framework of a story that never made me care. I'd rather have the former any day.

Wedding Crashers baffled me with how little I enjoyed it, so I'm somewhat inclined to overrate this film. The trailer is toxic, but this film isn't. Many on this board will dislike this film, but if you can get past the fact that this is very much a sitcom-sensibility film, you might enjoy the fact that it goes for a joke every five seconds in 98 minutes and most of them are funny. No real MVP as everyone is just doing an archetype riff, but probably Aubrey Plaza because she is making the transition to movie roles better than I could've imagined.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:38 am

THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR
Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Betty Gabriel, Joseph Julian Soria, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Raymond J. Barry.
Dir: James DeMonaco.

The third installment of the Purge franchise has senator running for president pledging to end the Purge if elected. During Purge night, she of course is targeted. Until now, I've still have not seen the original film (I should remedy that to appease my OCD tendencies). However, I do think that the concept of these dystopian action-horror hybrid is very much interesting and there is potential for a great satire to go along with the action and the carnage. There's real potential but it doesn't quite get there. However, as a dystopian horror flick, it's still tremendously entertaining. I like how it expounded the world of the Purge. It's no horror masterpiece but this thing could've been a lot worse.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:14 pm

I'd rank The BFG pretty far down on a ranking of Spielberg's filmography. It's been a while since I've read Roald Dahl's book -- probably twenty years -- but from what I remember about it, it's pretty thin on narrative, and I have to say Spielberg and Mathison (R.I.P.) just didn't find a way to mount the story that justified the nearly (unconscionable) two hour running time. As Mister Tee says, the plot basically amounts to "these other giants are evil, let's stop them," and that just becomes pretty tedious pretty quickly. The visuals, as one would expect, are beautifully rendered, but often in service of nothing -- the dream-catching sequence, for instance, basically amounts to ten minutes without any conflict or plot momentum. And then, the entire extended sequence with the Queen is full of painfully unfunny moments, with the giant green gas farting sequence a really grisly display of pandering to the lowest common denominator.

But I think most of all, Spielberg was just the wrong filmmaker for the material. The parallels to E.T. are obvious, with a young child striking up a peculiar friendship with a strange creature (E.T. even came out the same year as Dahl's book), but Dahl's writing is full of odd humor, slightly morbid asides, and an overall creepiness that sneaks through its warm surface, and none of those qualities are ones I would ascribe to Spielberg. As a result, the movie's sense of awe feels far too sincere, and dripping with sentimentality, when the more wry approach that Wes Anderson brought to Fantastic Mr. Fox would have been much more appropriate. I can't say I'm surprised audiences have mostly shrugged at this one.

I never commented on The Lobster back when I saw it, but I probably should say a few words, as I think it's clearly one of the best efforts so far this year. The premise is certainly imaginative, but the movie isn't strictly one-joke -- it finds a lot of clever ways to satirize society's obsession with coupling people up, and for most of the first hour, it feels thoroughly inventive and engaging. (And also quite funny -- Olivia Colman's "That would be absurd" remark, given the utter absurdity of everything in the movie's orbit, was a laugh out loud moment for me, as well as an incisively honest jab at the arbitrariness of what is considered normal and outrageous in contemporary culture.) I thought the film dipped a bit in the second chunk -- the concept for the second half is certainly interesting, in the way the forest society is really just as ridiculously structured and rule-driven as the status quo it's railing against -- but I didn't feel like the movie had quite come up with enough variety of ideas in this section, and it started to drag a bit for me as a result. It certainly rallies toward the end though, with a great final scene, one which I'm sure will inspire many debates of the "did he or didn't he?" variety. On the whole, though, it's an ambitious movie that's rich in detail throughout, and a much-needed tonic in this truly terrible summer for blockbusters.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Jul 08, 2016 7:38 pm

The BFG isn't a bad movie, exactly. It's effects are so impressive I eventually stopped registering them as effects -- I'd normalized them. Much of the design is gorgeous, particularly in the beautifully lit dream-catching sequence (if the movie were a hit, it might even contend for the design Oscar next February). And things start off well enough narratively: for the first 30-40 minutes, I was fairly engaged.

But once the plot became almost exclusively "these giants want to eat you/what are we going to do about them?", the film turned pretty boring, and the flares of imagination were few and far between. (The scene of the protagonist Sophie eluding the giants inside BFG's lair, for instance, was impressively choreographed, but empty in plot terms.) It doesn't help that Sophie is such an uninteresting character she borders on generic -- nor that her big "plan" is pretty lackluster (and goes off basically without a hitch). The film's place-in-time also felt a little off to me: the opening scenes look for all the world like Victorian England, but then Rebecca Hall turns up in a late 40s frock...and then the Queen lets us know in telephone conversation that the time is in fact the 80s (in a groaner so unfunny I can't believe Spielberg watched it over and over and opted to keep it in). And speaking of unfunny: if you're going to do fart jokes, and build up and up to a big one, the punchline needs to be more than "Then they all farted".

The general feeling about Spielberg is that he was, in the beginning, a child's director, which ought to make this film a return to old form for him. But I think that misses what he was in the 70s/80s, what made him so special. He was, especially in Close Encounters and ET, dealing with subject matter that evoked a childlike sense of wonder, but his films always had a skeptical, sort of wised-up side that created humor alongside the magic, which allowed grownups to enjoy his films without fully regressing. Here, those touches are missing: there's barely an intentional laugh in the film (except for the misfires), and, to enjoy the narrative, you have to essentially BE 8 years old (or able to put yourself into that frame). I thought War Horse had some of this same "seems right for Spielberg but actually isn't" quality; both films are far less imaginative than his early work, and seem to come from an earlier time than even his initial career years.

I suppose when a director's getting old, and way past his peak achievement years, such stutter steps are to be expected -- and Woody Allen's fall has been far more extreme. But Lincoln was just a few years ago, a major work, and one hopes every time that such magic can be cranked up anew. This time, sadly not.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:09 am

MA'ROSA
Cast: Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Andi Eigenmann, Felix Roco, Jomari Angeles, Baron Geisler, Mark Anthony Fernandez, Mon Confiado, Mercedes Cabral, Allan Paule, Maria Isabel Lopez.
Dir: Brillante Mendoza.

A woman from the poor district of Manila who owns a small convenience store make ends meet by selling drugs. She and her husband get busted by some corrupt cops who demand a 200,000 peso "bail". Their children each try to raise the money. This film won veteran Filipino actress Jaclyn Jose the Best Actress prize in Cannes. She's actually known here for her more restrained, subtle type of acting in an industry which tends to favor the big, emotional scenery chewing type. That's why she's such a good fit for Brillante Mendoza's films. She imbues a very lived-in, realistic quality to her performance. The film itself is kind of flawed. It's Brillante Mendoza going back to familiar territory and he did elements of this better in his previous films. It's not quite a masterpiece, I'd probably consider it mid-tier Mendoza at best, but it's still a very good film.

Oscar Prospects: You know, Brillante Mendoza has NEVER been submitted by the Philippines for the Oscars? Strange, I know. We might just do it this year.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Tue Jul 05, 2016 1:50 pm

Swiss Army Man probably has more to offer than those who hate it but less than those who love it. I'll admit to being slightly tickled to see a movie this silly become a summer talk piece. Critics seem to be split down the middle between those who enjoyed it and those who think it's just childish. If I had to guess, I'd say most moviegoers are going to fall into the former camp, and judging from its weekend haul, this film is probably going to end up as one of the summer's indie hits -- and honestly, because this summer is so dire with blockbusters, that's almost enough to make me want to forgive everything that's wrong with it.

Basically, Paul Dano is about to hang himself on a desert island. Daniel Radcliffe washes ashore. He's a farting corpse. Radcliffe rides this farting corpse to a less deserted piece of land and they have to find civilization together -- and I find simply writing these sentences down to be pretty amusing.

What doesn't work about the movie is that it's twist (if you can call it that) doesn't make any sense. What does work is that the filmmakers don't care and neither should we. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this will be Armond White's worst film of the year. It flatters to millennial generational self-absorption like no film I've even seen in my life. Unlike Garden State for the previous generation, at least Swiss Army Man is consistently visually inspired (if fairly bombarding) and playful. The plotting is a total mess and they make a hash out of clarifying some very simple story elements, but I was charmed enough to give it a pass. On the one hand, it is every bit the lark that a farting corpse movie should be. But also there's a sweet idea at the core of it, that in your darkest moments, anything can become the dearest thing in the world to you.

And they totally fall in love.

This is probably the most "Paul Dano" Paul Dano role I've ever seen. He's always playing overly-sensitive men with inarticulate attachments and philosophies. In retrospect, it's kind of amazing he wasn't cast in Her. He's quite good here though. Daniel Radcliffe is hysterical. He has to be one of the most viewed actors of his generation, but like Kristen Stewart I've seen him in almost nothing that's gotten him attention. This might be the most I've seen him on-screen without a wizard's hat, but this role was a very good move for him.

Yeah, it's a farting corpse movie. In many ways, it's not much more than that. Not nearly as much as its hipster champions are making it out to be. But I have a really hard time not smiling when I think about it.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 02, 2016 9:30 am

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN
Cast: Alexander Skarsgaard, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent.
Dir: David Yates.

Do we really need another adaptation of Tarzan? The answer is of course no. But again, that doesn't mean you can't make another good Tarzan movie if you have a fresh idea. This one seemed to think that it did. It centers around Tarzan coming back to Africa after living as the earl of Greystoke in order to stop Belgian colonialists from using slavery. It's a potentially interesting idea and I like David Yates' work on the Harry Potter movies but I found this largely a dull generic slick Hollywood CGI fest which isn't even as good as the other jungle movie, The Jungle Book. Though it isn't godawful, it's still very competently made and very competently acted, it's all been there done that.

Oscar Prospects: None...well, maybe Original Song.

Grade: C.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:55 am

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldbum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Travis Tope, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Angelababy, Vivica A. Fox, Robert Loggia, Nicholas Wright, DeObia Oparei, John Storey, Joey King, Chin Han.
Dir: Roland Emmerich.

The sequel to the 1996 blockbuster has of course the aliens coming back and wrecking havoc in ways that director Roland Emmerich can only do. I liked the original when it was first released and subsequent viewings show that it didn't hold up quite as well. The sequel is of a similar vein but not it's less fresh and the film doesn't really do anything new in this. Just like the first one, it basically rips off Alien and Star Wars and added spectacular disaster movie set pieces. However, it is not godawful like other of Roland Emmerich's recent films. I thought it was a pretty brisk two-hour distraction. I would call it "eeehhh-ntertaining". It's far from great. Not so awful that I'm mad. The fine ensemble cast (including Charlotte freakin' Gainsbourg who I was surprised would pick this as her first real blockbuster) merely play cardboard character tropes and it's only Judd Hirsch who comes off as an actual believable character.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:15 am

FINDING DORY
Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Hayden Rolence, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Sigourney Weaver, Bob Petersen, Alexander Gould (voices).
Dir: Andrew Stanton.

I thought Finding Nemo was a perfectly fine, perfectly superb animated film. It didn't need a sequel. But when I heard the concept of the sequel, I said, "OF COURSE!" It makes sense. This film centers more around Dory and her background and her journey to try to find her family. Personally, I didn't think it was better than Nemo as an overall film. But on its own, it's still a fine, fine animated film. One thing I do think this one does better is the supporting characters: Hank the Octopus, Destiny the whale shark and Bailey the beluga whale are superb creations that, quite frankly, could conceivably carry their own films. It's beautifully animated with plenty of laughs and lots of heart. It's not PIXAR's best but it's still better than most films out there.

Oscar Prospects: A Best Animated Feature nomination for sure. It's gonna be a tough fight between this and Zootopia.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:34 am

Paterson (2016) Jim Jarmusch

This lovely laid backed dog eared film is a charmer without ever feeling false or forced. Adam Driver gets to deliver his best performance to date as Paterson, a bus driver/poet, whose drives a bus around Paterson, New Jersey. Beautifully paced and understated Paterson is without a doubt the best film that Jim Jarmusch has made to date. I hope that it finds some traction with film critics come award time. Jim Jarmusch deserves some kind of award not just for this brilliance of this but for doing things his way for better or worse for over 30 years.

The Academy will probably not like it. Too discrete with no big scenes of 'look at me' to embrace for them. Film critics will likely be forthcoming in the praise and showering of prizes.

A real gem and the best film of 2016 so far.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:18 pm

Mister Tee wrote:I might as well put it out there early: I found Fences on-stage to be one of the most over-praised things I've ever seen, so even the powerhouse Denzel/Viola combo is unlikely to win me over.


If you look at the predictions the four of us made on Cinemasight.com, you'll see that I was the only one not predicting Fences for anything. It's a one-set play that no matter how well it's opened up just doesn't seem substantial enough for Oscar. I think the big racial drama to beat will be Loving about the interracial couple in the landmark Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court decision, especially in view of the focus there will be on the Court no matter who the next President is taking office around the time of the Oscar nominations.

In case you missed it, here are our way too early predictions:

http://www.cinemasight.com/2016-oscar-n ... it-begins/

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jun 12, 2016 12:09 pm

NOW YOU SEE ME 2
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Sanaa Lathan, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Jay Chou, David Warshofsky, Tsai Chin.
Dir: Jon M. Chu

This is one of a series of sequels this year that no one really asked for. I barely remember the first and I only saw this at the inexpensive theater purely because I had nothing else better to do. The entire concept of magicians being Oceans 11-Robin Hood style thieves is intriguing but these two films really do test how much you can suspend your disbelief with their overly twisty, complex and contrived plots. Still, the talented cast who seem like they're having a good time make it somewhat entertaining and not completely terrible. Still there is no good reason for this film to exist. I'm still frustrated they didn't go for "Now You Don't" as a subtitle.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jun 11, 2016 2:16 pm

Sabin wrote:Is it just me or is everybody on this board depressed about movies these days?

Far from just you. Right now I half-wonder why movies ever became a central part of my life. Not only is there nothing currently on the boards, the number of films even scheduled for release this year that pique my interest is punishingly small: Manchester by the Sea, Billy Lynn's Long Half-time Walk, Scorsese's The Silence if it's actually ready in time. I'm dreading the certain arguments over The Birth of a Nation (Sundance critics' reviews were mediocre at best, but it'll surely be elevated as response to OscarsSoWhite). And, I might as well put it out there early: I found Fences on-stage to be one of the most over-praised things I've ever seen, so even the powerhouse Denzel/Viola combo is unlikely to win me over.

To a few things I've seen:

Money Monster reached roughly the high end of my extremely low expectations. Any film like this is of course going to be unfavorably compared to Dog Day Afternoon, and it even pilfers from such copycats as Mad City. It also has one character (the producer with Viagra cream) who's buffoonishly drawn but then is give an unconvincing "serious" turn. And the whole unraveled mystery is strictly pulp stuff. But the film moves along briskly, and there are a number of fairly clever details. Totally forgettable, but generally painless and engaging.

Deadpool is junk food, and, as BJ notes, ultimately structured like most Marvel movies -- with a closing battle that goes on and on and on... However: funny is funny, and a lot of this movie is funny in truly surprising ways -- starting with the hilariously subversive opening credits, and continuing with what seem hundreds of throwaway jokes from, especially, Reynolds and his bartender sidekick. (Even Leslie Uggams is funny!) Disposable, certainly, and I have no doubt the already-filming sequel will drain away whatever freshness this effort provided. But, as I said, funny is funny, and I laughed an awful lot.

(POSSIBLE SPOILERS HERE) The most critically-endorsed thing I've see is the one that appealed to me least: The Witch. I'll give it credit for creating a hushed, vaguely spooky atmosphere with its recreation of the isolated colonial experience. But, once past the baby-snatching moment (which I'd seen in the trailer), I didn't find anything particularly memorable in the film-making. And I honestly didn't know where the film was taking me, narratively: it threw a lot of things out there as maybe the source of what was going on, but left them all vague. And then the climax, as far as I can tell, came pretty close to saying, Dammit, those Puritans were right: there were witches in Salem. It's of course possible all that's meant to be fantasy on the lead character's part, but the fact is, I didn't know that, based on the film. Nor, in fact, by the end, did I much care.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 11, 2016 11:35 am

THE CONJURING 2
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Frances O'Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente, Lauren Esposito, Patrick McAuley, Benjamin Haigh, Sterling Jerins.
Dir: James Wan.

The original is probably one of my favorite horror films of recent years so I was really nervous that they made another one. Horror movie sequels are often complete crap. I'm glad to say this is not one of them. Is it as good as the first? No but it's pretty darn close. And it still manages to have a lot of really good scares and some genuinely creepy moments. This time the Warrens investigate a haunting in England where a lower-income family is tormented by the spirit of the former owner (again, based on a real-life case by the Warrens). I have to say James Wan is shaping to be one of the better genre directors out there. This is another feather in his cap. I love the fact that this film grounds itself with believable characters with good performers and makes it scarier. Overall, a really solid horror flick.

Oscar Prospects: None but I think the Sound branch ought to acknowledge this with Sound Mixing and Sound Editing nominations since the success of the film does depend on it.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:08 pm

There's not much that should be written about Bryan Singer's X-Men: Apocalypse. This is an example of terribly written film that could not be the fault of the writer. This is the work of a producer/director who had a lot of stuff he wanted to do, didn't care as to how it came together, and figured it out in the editing room. And it shows. This film isn't just a mess, it's an ugly mess. I quite enjoyed First Class and Days of Future Past for their alternate history take on the X-Men. X-Men: Apocalypse is so full of disconnected stuff that it doesn't have time to even be what it's about: a young group of inexperienced X-Men have to save Prof. Xavier from Apocalypse in the early 1980s. That is the story. The movie doesn't have time to develop them as characters or explore the era. Pretty much devoid of redeeming qualities.

Is it just me or is everybody on this board depressed about movies these days?
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