The Official Review Thread of 2017

anonymous1980
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:58 am

BABY DRIVER
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Lily James, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Bernthal, Flea, C.J. Jones, Lanny Joon, Sky Ferreira, Paul Williams.
Dir: Edgar Wright.

A young man whose childhood accident caused him a severe hearing impairment which he drowns out by incessantly listening to music is roped in as a getaway driver for a mob boss in a series of daring heists. This is probably one of the best films of the year so far and it's probably isn't even my favorite Edgar Wright film. His still currently unbroken streak of truly great comedic genre films continue with this superb action-thriller-crime movie, shot and edited like a musical to a fantastic soundtrack. And it all somehow works. The film is infectious, it's almost like you can even dance to it at points. The performances are terrific. I never thought much of Ansel Elgort before seeing him in this, quite frankly. Edgar Wright is truly one of contemporary pop cinema's best filmmakers working today.

Oscar Prospects: Deserving of Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.

Grade: A-

WIND RIVER
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal, Julia Jones, Kelsey Asbille, James Jordan, Michael Sensmeier, Tantoo Cardinal, Apesanahkwat, Teo Briones.
Dir: Taylor Sheridan.

After making his mark in cinema as a screenwriter with Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan makes his directing debut. It's somewhat flawed but still a solid enough, commendable effort. A hunter-tracker teams up with an FBI agent to solve a murder of a teenage girl in the Wind River Indian reservation who happens to be a friend of the former's late daughter who happens to be Native American in her mother's side. it's a police procedural for sure but a gripping, well-executed one and in a setting which is seldom seen in mainstream film. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen both give terrific performances but Graham Greene and Gil Birmingham steal the show whenever they're on-screen. Taylor Sheridan seems to be making his name in these types of socially-minded thrillers.

Oscar Prospects: Birmingham wouldn't be an embarrassing Supporting Actor candidate. A solid pick for Screenplay and Editing too.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Reza » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:26 pm

anonymous1980 wrote:DUNKIRK
Oscar Prospects: Picture, Director (though it would be hilarious if Nolan was once again snubbed. haha), Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects and Production Design are all strong possibilities.


You forgot Hans Zimmer's excellent score.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:49 am

CARS 3
Cast: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Larry The Cable Guy, Nathan Fillion, Armie Hammer, Chris Cooper, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, Lea DeLaria, Kerry Washington, Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger (voices).
Dir: Brian Fee.

I make it no secret that Cars is my least favorite PIXAR franchise and the Cars movies are the weakest PIXAR films. The good news is that this film IS an improvement over the second, mostly because Mater is not the main character (Did anyone else expect Mater to be wearing a MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN cap?) This time Lightning McQueen is faced with a younger, faster vehicle named Jackson Storm and he must train with Cruz Ramirez in order to figure out how to beat him. Cristela Alonzo is actually a welcome addition to this franchise which gives it a bit of a progressive slant but I think it's too little, too late. It's totally inoffensive but compared to the artistic heights that previous PIXAR films have accomplished, this sadly pales in comparison. I found myself bored a few times which almost never happens in a PIXAR film. Bring on Coco, please.

Oscar Prospects: Eh. None.

Grade: C.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:14 am

ATOMIC BLONDE
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, Eddie Marsan, John Goodman, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Til Schweiger, Bill Skarsgard.
Dir: David Leitch.

Just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, a British spy sent to Germany and is tasked to recover a defector who has a list of names that could turn the tide of the Cold War. The spy this time is a woman, played by Charlize Theron appropriately icy and sexy at the same time. Apart from the fact that the lead is female, the film's spy plot is pretty much standard fare for this type of genre. However, the action is so effectively done and Theron (further stamping her action movie star cred after Mad Max: Fury Road) is so good, that you really don't care. The climactic fight scene which was crafted to look like one long continuous take (which sadly contained a cut in order for the film to get a lower rating) is simply marvelous. I love fight scenes that look cool yet also makes you sort of feel the pain like this one does. (For those of you who has a pool going, yes, "99 Luftballooons" is played at one point).

Oscar Prospects: Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing is possible if it's a big enough hit.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Precious Doll » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:04 am

danfrank wrote:Recent viewings:

Endless Poetry/PoesÍa Sin Fin (Alejandro Jodorowsky): This is a quite creative autobiographical film featuring two of Jodorowsky's sons and Jodorowsky himself. It's a nice celebration of artists with tons of surrealistic and fantastical visuals, beautifully shot by Christopher Doyle. A few of the bits were somewhat corny, but this is a film with a big heart that is just fun to watch.


danfrank,

If you haven't already seen it, you should track down Jodorowsky's The Dance of Reality (2013). It is the first in a series of films he has planned about his life so it fits in perfectly with Endless Poetry.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:01 pm

I'm a bit less enthused about The Big Sick than Sabin or BJ. I found the film perfectly charming, but to be honest, I expected something written by a stand-up to be funnier. I didn't feel like there were any truly big laughs (the 9/11 joke might have qualified, had I not had it spoiled via clip on some talk show). And I thought the Pakistani family stuff teetered on the edge of Big Fat Greek Wedding territory (though the father's last scene worked).

I guess people are seeing this as primarily romantic comedy, but I liked it most when the hospital plot kicked in. The complicated/fluid encounters Nanjiani had with Romano and Hunter were the most interesting parts by far. Though none of the performances reach knockout level, Romano and Hunter deliver professionally enough that I could see either of them inching onto the supporting slates next winter. The screenplay is also a clear possibility for mention, but I don't see the film having the heft to make it all the way to a best picture citation.

It's not as if I disliked this. But I was a bit let down.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby danfrank » Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:10 pm

Recent viewings:

The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues): a solo birdwatching trip on a Portuguese river turns into a hallucinatory spiritual experience after the (hunky) ornithologist's boat capsizes. This has a bit of influence from Apichatpong Weerasethakul, though feels more fun and sexualized and a bit less mystical. Certainly entertaining throughout as you try to figure out what's going on. Is it a dream? Or a psychotic experience? The references to lost medications makes it seem the latter. A couple parts, including the very ending, seem a bit silly, but overall I enjoyed this, especially the visuals.

The Little Hours (Jeff Baena): this is a little thrown together, with much of the dialog apparently improvised. Still, it's an odd little entertainment, akin to an amuse bouche. It's allegedly based on the Decameron, which I think was just an excuse to set it in the 1300s and use anachronistic modern language for comic effect. The Tuscan locations are stunningly beautiful. The actors are all fun, including Alison Brie of Mad Men fame. And can I say that I just love Molly Shannon's face?

Endless Poetry/PoesÍa Sin Fin (Alejandro Jodorowsky): This is a quite creative autobiographical film featuring two of Jodorowsky's sons and Jodorowsky himself. It's a nice celebration of artists with tons of surrealistic and fantastical visuals, beautifully shot by Christopher Doyle. A few of the bits were somewhat corny, but this is a film with a big heart that is just fun to watch.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:55 am

DUNKIRK
Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, James D'Arcy, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, Jack Lowden, Barry Keoghan, Tom Glynn-Carney, voice of Michael Caine.
Dir: Christopher Nolan.

When I heard Christopher Nolan wanted to make a World War II movie about Dunkirk, I thought, "Someone wants to get an Oscar." But thankfully, he made a World War II movie precisely his way. He chronicles a group of characters from the land, the sea and the air in different spans of time. The film, despite being a relatively bloodless PG-13 level violence manages to be quite a thrilling, visceral and harrowing experience. It's an audio-visual feast where you can definitely see Nolan's hands orchestrating and puppeteering everything in every shot in every frame. It's both a strength and a bit of a weakness since he sometimes sacrifices character development. That said, it's still a great cinematic experience. I saw this on IMAX digital and it was glorious, especially the dog fight scenes.

Oscar Prospects: Picture, Director (though it would be hilarious if Nolan was once again snubbed. haha), Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects and Production Design are all strong possibilities. Acting? Fionn Whitehead and Cillian Murphy are possible Supporting Actor candidates.

Grade: B+

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara DeLevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Rutger Hauer, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu.
Dir: Luc Besson.

This is a very ambitious science-fiction epic based on a popular graphic novel directed by Luc Besson. It's about a pair of human intergalactic military officers investigating some murders and a precious package. When it comes to just the pure imagination and visual feast for the eyes, this film is quite a joy. The futuristic world they built is just a wonder to behold. You could just watch and stare at all the marvel and wonders this world has. The film overall doesn't quite reach the heights that the visual effects and production design has. The script needed a bit of a rewrite to add more spark and a better sense of humor. That said, it is indeed worth seeing just for the visuals alone.

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

Grade: B

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:11 pm

A few thoughts about Beauty and the Beast 2017:

I genuinely loved the 1991 animated film -- thought it ranked with Pinocchio and Snow White as the zenith of Disney animation. But that's apparently not enough for the Mouse House. I must also see the damn thing on stage (as 13 years worth of NY audiences did), watch a live action movie, and presumably buy the t-shirt and lunch box at some point. The desire to (apparently blissfully) experience the same thing over and over is the part o the modern cinema model that I'll simply never understand.

Given this, how is the movie? It's like a competently staged revival -- fitted out with an almost over-qualified cast, designed to the nines, going through the motions of the plot with efficiency if not inspiration. But of course there's not the sense of discovery there was with the original -- how could there be? (When the film recreates the Beauty/Beast dance, I could remember the thrill it provided in 1991, but I couldn't feel it afresh.) And the difference between this and a staged revival is, a staged revival might be the only way I can see a work in its full form. Whereas, for Beauty and the Beast, Netflix can supply the original.

About those designs, though -- I feel like the film is a sure nominee for production design and costumes next January (along with maybe visual effects and make-up -- though who knows what the latter branch will decide?). And had it been available on the costume ballot last year -- given how far voters reached to find a winner -- I figure it would have trounced about the same as Aaron Judge did in the Home Run derby last week.

One thing that did strike me: the singular achievement of the film (and of the entire Menken/Ashman collaboration; maybe anything to which Menken's been connected) is to have taken what seemed an impossible task -- write a title song for Beauty and the Beast -- and make it so fresh, so melodic, so organic that it feels like it was always out there waiting to be plucked from the ether. A truly great song, in the most unexpected place.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Sabin » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:37 am

Halfway through Spider-Man: Homecoming, I thought to myself "I could probably keep watching this for hours." It's not a unique observation to notice how in the Marvel universe, there's not an incredible difference between television and film. They tend to blend together as part of an ongoing saga and their sensibilities aren't radically different. Sometimes that's a bad thing, but with Spider-Man: Homecoming, it's a very, very good thing. He's a character who has always lent well to serialized stories where the fate of the world isn't at jeopardy. And this is case in point. I had a fantastic time watching this charming film. It may not have the personality of Sami Raimi, but it bursts with throwaway gags, many from its nerdy high school setting. It understands that the most successful Spider-Man stories come from placing Peter Parker at a crossroads where he's forced to choose between the right thing to do as Peter Parker against the right thing to do as Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire's films featured a more emo, tongue-tied Spider-Man who is always reluctantly pulled back into battle. Tom Holland is newer to the suit and leaps at every opportunity to put it on. It's not a bad change of pace at all. The first act is largely devoted to Spider-Man being lousy on the job. One of the film's most winning gags sees him in hot pursuit of a van out in the suburbs where there's nothing for him to swing on, so he goes on a mad dash colliding through one backyard after another, finally crashing through a party where everyone is watching the identical scene 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off.'

There's a lot going on in Spider-Man: Homecoming but its screenplay is always clear and it flies by at two-and-a-quarter hours. I don't want to oversell it because it's nothing groundbreaking, but it more than makes the case for its own existence.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:22 pm

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Amiah Miller, Steve Zahn, Toby Kebbell, Karin Kanoval, Judy Greer, Terry Notary, Gabriel Chavarria, Ty Olsson, Sara Canning.
Dir: Matt Reeves.

I've heard this described as a "landmark masterpiece" by some Internet critic. It's not. Yes, it's a pretty solid, exciting, visually spectacular summer blockbuster that has a bit more moral complexity and substance than most other offerings. But it ain't a masterpiece. This is the third of a series of Planet of the Apes prequels and this time Caesar goes head to head with a mad colonel ("Ape-pocalypse Now" says the graffiti on the wall in one scene). Andy Serkis once again proves he's the master in mo-cap performances delivering a charismatic leading man performances underneath all those 1's and zero's. No, not quite a masterpiece its fans say it is but a solid post-apocalyptic science-fiction thriller.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects seems to be a given but enough of this talk of Andy Serkis getting nominated for Best Actor already. It's a great performance but it's more of a VFX achievement. Also deserving of accolades is Michael Giacchino's score.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby dws1982 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:35 pm

So between Spider-Man: Homecoming and Wonder Woman, I can understand BJ's argument that these movies tend to recycle the same plots. Basically a villain is trying to create (or steal) some super-destructive weapon, and our hero goes through some major obstacles (self-doubt, resistance from friends/family) to thwart the villain's plans. So what you really have to look for in these movies is for how well it does that story, and what incidental pleasures might be there. I liked Wonder Woman despite some things not making sense (why is she so anti-war despite having apparently trained her entire life for war) because of its unique setting and some of the interesting characters. I liked this one too for playing into the high-school comedy thing, for not trying too hard to establish a shared universe with the Avengers (it's there as a plotline, but it's not a crossover film like I thought), and for throwing in some fun variations on the usual superhero thing--I liked that he was awkward and didn't use his powers properly, and didn't really know what to do half the time. Tom Holland is pretty well-suited for the role, and even if the friends and sidekicks don't go beyond their "types", the actors are all pretty likable presences. I don't really get what everyone's on with respect to Michael Keaton (he's fine but not some great villain), but it was an enjoyable afternoon at the movies.

Also caught an earlier showing of Baby Driver, which I liked, but would've liked even more if it had committed a little more to the music-while-driving concept. The music in those scenes ends up mostly just being background music, whereas it would've been fun to see those songs integrated into the action through editing rhythms. Wish it hadn't devolved into such a routine action film after the post-office heist, but it was a pretty fun lark.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:09 pm

Mister Tee wrote:(and why, given that Spacey specifically said he never used the same crew twice, why was there not a word of explanation when he suddenly brought everyone back?)


I initially had the same bump you did, but figured that Spacey meant that he never used the same EXACT crew twice (i.e. all three jobs depicted in the film have different combos of characters).

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:49 pm

Sonic Youth wrote: I guess this is the movie I was expecting "Drive" to be, full of action and movement instead of hallucinatory torpor. But for me "Baby Driver" is too far at the other end of the spectrum.


Not to say I'm fully in sync with you on your overall opinion of the film, but I had a similar wish for something halfway between this film and Drive. Drive fans no doubt view Baby Driver as a rose-colored variation on Refn's -- there are a lot of plot similarities -- but I'd counter that at least Baby Driver didn't descend into the violent ugliness of Drive. My imagined compromise would land somewhere in Asphalt Jungle-ish territory...maybe the next director to take on this genre will hit that sweet spot. (And you're quite right, that this basic template has been used an unfathomably large number of times.)

For the first 15 minutes -- with my most sustained previous exposure to Wright having been Scott Pilgrim -- I was thinking, man, this director really loves to show off: choreographed credits and all. But at least that gave me something novel. The remainder of the film just ticked off the cliches: good kid drawn into crime against his will; starry-eyed romance with sweet young thing; gang of crooks including one totally loose cannon who sends everything to shit (and why, given that Spacey specifically said he never used the same crew twice, why was there not a word of explanation when he suddenly brought everyone back?); the botched final job; the villain who won't stay dead.

And yet...I was never bored, and kind of enjoyed the kinetic energy of the thing. It's clearly a work of talent, though one unrelated to any sort of movies I'd actually crave to see. (I'm reminded of Pauline Kael's remark about Taylor Hackford in Officer and a Gentleman days -- that, if she had a corpse she wanted revived, she'd call him first thing, but she wouldn't trust him with a live piece of material.) But it's summertime, and tasty crumbs are to be savored, to pass the time until the more satisfying meals of autumn come along. So I guess I'd call this worth seeing.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:53 am

Bog wrote:DC hero could only play a Marvel villain right...haha. You rank him above Molina...are you counting him as an option?

Also you said cinematic so maybe it is a definite you aren't including Ali or D'Onofrio...am I correct? I will say one arena where television has definitely upped the ante over film is with solid villains .


I'm talking strictly the MCU (excluding TV and Marvel properties outside of Marvel Studios). I wouldn't rank Keaton above Molina but I actually liked Homecoming better than Spider-Man 2 which I think a lot of people over-praise.


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