The Official Review Thread of 2017

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby OscarGuy » Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:47 pm

The family moments are meant to exemplify why people like Logan and the other mutants can never have that kind of life. They bring with them death and destruction, which negatively impacts all that is good around them. The only family they have are other mutants who know and understand what they have to go through. In this case, Logan is faced continually by the demons of his past and must fight to protect the only family he knows. Escaping into the wilderness to a place where his kind are not hunted and where they can be no harm to others is the only way he can protect his family. Xavier is like a father to him and Laura is, essentially his daughter, not by birth, but by blood. While they would all love to have that kind of warm fuzzy family moments, they are constantly being reminded that it is impossible. Like every great road movie, it's about finding and understanding yourself and learning how to let go of the chains that are holding you back.
Wesley Lovell
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Benjamin Franklin

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:32 pm

So...Logan.

Stephen Colbert said a week or two back that, from henceforth, all Marvel movies should begin with a character explaining everything you need to know upfront to follow the story. I could have used that here: I had no idea what horrible deed Patrick Stewart had done, or what had infected Hugh Jackman, or even which movie I needed to watch to find these things out. Do people actually carry around information over years -- covering a seemingly infinite series of films -- to be called up when needed? It's bizarre. Back in the day, the serialized adventure used to be part of the b-roll that preceded the main feature film. Now it's become the main event itself, and people devote far more mental energy to it than I'm willing to expend.

The film itself is engaging enough, principally as a chase. When Jackman and Co. were making their escape from the initial compound, I found myself reminded of Mad Max: Fury Road, and I could imagine the same people who touted that being similarly hyperbolic in support of this. A problem I had, though (one BJ noted), was the action too often devolved into explicit violence. When claws are so frequently involved, that may be hard to avoid, but I, too, had an especial problem with seeing a young girl dispense all this carnage. I also wasn't crazy about watching a completely benign family subjected to brutal death (apparently all so Patrick Stewart could have a nice meal and a few hours' sleep), and then seeing our main characters seemingly forget about them as soon as they were back on the road. For a movie that seemed to want to wrap itself in warm-fuzzy ideas of family, there was a great deal of empty brutality.

When I was a kid, I used to read comic books quite voraciously. I remember one or two particular Superman issues where a continuing character ended up dying. At the age of 12, I thought these particular stories were "great" -- the chord they rang in me I confused with artistic depth. I'd suggest that the people calling Logan "great" are making the same error (though at an age when it's not so forgivable). That a comic book character faces mortality doesn't make the story surrounding him great (or, god help us, mean the actors involved should be awards contenders). Take the film for what it is: an interesting enough piece of pulp, among the better super-hero efforts to which you'll be subjected this year. Pretending it's anything more is debasing cultural standards.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 7:55 am

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
Cast: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro, Kelly Marie Tran, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong'o, Frank Oz.
Dir: Rian Johnson.

Okay, I like Star Wars. I have to say I am a casual fan than a super-devotee. I like it just fine. Going into this, I was thinking, "Okay, here we go, another. Let's see......okay......" Then by the end of the second act, I go, "HOLY SHIT! Did Rian Johnson just do that?!? I can't believe he did that!" My jaw dropped. I can't believe they pulled it off. They made a 40 year old franchise fresh by allowing writer-director Rian Johnson make the Star Wars film that he wanted to make. It's clear that he did the film he wanted to do, essentially throwing out any predictability this franchise has future films. The film is funny, it's fresh, it's genuinely exciting because you really don't know where it's gonna go and it has everything you want in a Star Wars movie. It's the best since The Empire Strikes Back and I don't say that lightly.

Oscar Prospects: The usual techs.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:20 am

BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Elisabeth Shue, Alan Cumming, Austin Stowell.
Dirs: Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton.

This is the story behind the famous "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs detailing the events leading to that. I'm kind of wary of biopics like this film since they have the tendency to be mediocre Oscar bait. But this one's actually pretty darn good. I would have to say that this is probably my favorite film from the directing team of Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. Emma Stone is utterly charming and actually superb as the tennis great Billie Jean King and Steve Carell matches her as Bobby Riggs. The film does a good job of keeping you in suspense despite the fact that you kind of already know the outcome. It also doesn't hammer the obvious messages too hard and just keeps it organic. It's overall a solid picture.

Oscar Prospects: Emma Stone and Steve Carell would be great nominees. I also liked the Cinematography and the Score.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Bog » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:52 pm

The Original BJ wrote:You almost want people to clarify that when they mean comedy, they really mean comedy that's broader than a barn, and includes stuff like golden showers.


I think this is the nail on the head....Hangover culture at its finest. The people who laugh harder at the distinctions of a Fargo or Kind Hearts & Coronets as comedies than they do during any single second of the run time...or never quite knew when to laugh when watching either version of The Office or even Office Space. Thusly each and every is an immensely overrated trifle.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:05 pm

The Original BJ wrote: But I question why so many critics seem excited to push her into the awards conversation. Although I share the resistance to rote nominations for tradition of quality prestige (like Scott Thomas/Darkest Hour), it strikes me that some view the corrective as going really far in the other direction, in trying to get stuff with ZERO aspirations to art on the ballot instead.


In line with this, some guy named Sam Coffey recently tweeted this out: "This Tiffany Haddish backlash is weird proof that people love Oscar bait more than they want to admit" -- which Nathaniel at Film Experience said was a "sad but true observation". This could mean that they think anyone not all in for a Haddish nomination must be lusting for Victoria & Abdul and Darkest Hour to dominate nominations. But I think it's something worse; I believe some of these people consider Three Billboards, The Phantom Thread and The Shape of Water -- or anything we used to think of as simply "good movies" -- as equally "Oscar bait. Which represents a huge shift in orientation.

I've wondered for some time if pushes like this for Haddish -- or Mad Max: Fury Road, or Andy Serkis, or Downey in Tropic Thunder -- were things foreign to me but more easily digested by younger pundits/critics who have never known a time when superheroes and broad/often scatological comedies didn't dominate the mass audience movie scene. But I know, you, BJ, are substantially younger than I, but hold to largely the same view, despite having been marinated in these movies your whole life. So, it's a matter of taste, but one on which I fear my side is losing ground year-by-year.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:28 pm

I finally caught up with Girls Trip, and my reaction was similar to what I experienced when I saw The Blind Side -- this is a brand of filmmaking that I just don't see very much. And it's almost pointless to beat up on it, simply because I'm so clearly not the target audience for this movie in any way, shape or form.

It's obvious why Tiffany Haddish became an audience favorite -- she's got some clear scene-stealing moments (the grapefruit, storming out during the big fight). But I question why so many critics seem excited to push her into the awards conversation. Although I share the resistance to rote nominations for tradition of quality prestige (like Scott Thomas/Darkest Hour), it strikes me that some view the corrective as going really far in the other direction, in trying to get stuff with ZERO aspirations to art on the ballot instead. And it also strikes me as a bit odd that "comedies are just as worthy as dramas" seems to be a rallying cry, when most of the Supporting Actress contenders are from comedies (Metcalf, Janney, Hunter, Chau), and one more (Spencer) is the comic relief in her film. You almost want people to clarify that when they mean comedy, they really mean comedy that's broader than a barn, and includes stuff like golden showers.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:54 pm

GOOD TIME
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Ben Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Buddy Durress, Taliah Webster, Barkhad Abdi.
Dirs: Josh Safdie, Ben Safdie.

Two brothers, one of them mentally handicapped, rob a bank. Then things go horribly wrong. Robert Pattinson gives probably his career-best performance so far as a young criminal who just gets himself deeper and deeper into trouble due to some terribly impulsive decisions. The magic of his performance is that you are with him all the way despite it all. A lesser actor would've made you annoyed and frustrated by him. Any memories of the sparkly vampire is gone. The film is thrilling, sometimes wickedly funny yet it's unexpectedly poignant in the end. It's definitely one of those small films that everyone should check out.

Oscar Prospects: Pattinson wouldn't be an embarrassing Best Actor nominee.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Dec 03, 2017 9:24 am

MUDBOUND
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, Jonathan Banks.
Dir: Dee Rees.

Two World War II veterans, one white and one black, go back home to their respective families who share the same farm in Mississippi. While there, they become friends and confront their respective problems including PTSD, alcoholism and racism. I haven't seen any of director Dee Rees's previous films but now, I'm inclined to. This is a superb piece of work. It is honest, humane and compassionate towards its characters who are brought to life by a superb ensemble of actors. I know Mary J. Blige is getting all the buzz but I think Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund (who gives his career-best performance here, as far as I'm concerned) are the ones that stand out here. This film is quite ambitious in tackling a range of themes here and manage to do all of them justice. It is also beautifully shot. Yes, it's probably the best Netflix original film so far and one of the best films of the year.

Oscar Prospects: Deserving of Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Mulligan), Supporting Actor (Mitchell & Hedlund), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Sound Mixing and Original Song.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby dws1982 » Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:38 pm

The Case For Christ
This showed up on Netflix and since it got much better-than-usual reviews for a PureFlix release, I decided to give it a shot. Overall I'm glad I did. If we're looking at movies about a man wrestling with his faith, this definitely isn't Silence, but it's not God's Not Dead either. And that's an important distinction. I think it's surprisingly smart in the way it portray's Lee Strobel's journey, and it treats his struggle as something worth taking seriously, and even if it ultimately comes down firmly on the side of faith (this is not a spoiler), it never treats his struggle as some character flaw that everyone in the film works to fix, but instead as something that he's personally wrestling with.

As expected, the more preachy and directly evangelistic it is, the less successful it tends to be. L. Scott Caldwell, a solid character actress who's always welcome in a movie or TV show, gets the worst of it unfortunately, basically just playing an evangelistic mouthpiece with no character at all. And Faye Dunaway's appearance is distracting, although her scene itself isn't that bad (a little too exposition-heavy, but that's a problem the movie has in general). But, when it focuses on the Strobel's marriage, I think it works surprisingly well. As a portrayal of two people fighting for their marriage, refusing to let themselves believe that it's not salvageable, I think it's well-done, and very well-acted by Mike Vogel (always an appealing presence) and Erika Christensen. I don't necessarily recommend it to anyone else, I don't know of anyone who would like it, but in general this did give me more of interest than I expected. (I actually half expected to be cutting it off about twenty minutes in.)

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:48 am

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Lucy Boynton, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfieffer, Daisy Ridley.
Dir: Kenneth Branagh.

An adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel in which Hercule Poirot travels in the titular train with a group of characters and then suddenly, a murder is committed but by who? I already know the answer, having already seen the Sidney Lumet version. I wasn't the biggest fan of the previous film so I have no attachment to it. That being said, this film doesn't really add anything at all to the story except maybe a more modern slickness in terms of visuals and flavor. There's nothing much more to add on what's essentially a whodunit type mystery. The cast is pretty strong and are undeniably fun to watch in this context. Ultimately, it's not a bad film, just a forgettably competent one.

Oscar Prospects: Production Design, Costume Design, Original Score and Original Song are possibilities.

Grade: B-

WONDER
Cast: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Izabela Vidovic, Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs, Sonia Braga, Noah Jupe, Danielle Rose Russell, Millie Davis, Nadji Jeter, Elle McKinnon, Bryce Gheisar.
Dir: Stephen Chbosky.

Based on the young adult novel, this is about Auggie Pullman who was born with facial deformities that required him lots of surgeries, making him look different and he goes to school for the first time. Upon hearing about this and watching the trailer, it seems like this would fall into the trap of sickly sentimentality and preachiness. Thankfully, it minimizes both and delivers a truly touching heartfelt drama, tempering it with humor and honesty to earn its tears. The performances are all pitch perfect. Jacob Tremblay proves that Room wasn't a fluke. The film is actually more of an ensemble piece than I thought it was with nearly every supporting character getting an arc. It's this type of movie done right.

Oscar Prospects: Its surprise box-office success might get it some notice. Makeup & Hairstyling definitely. Supporting Actress (Julia Roberts) and Adapted Screenplay are not out of the question.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:02 pm

The first thing to note about Marjorie Prime is, it's clearly taken from a play. You can practically feel the lights come up to start scenes, and imagine where there'd be pauses for laughs. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; I just found it notable that they barely made an effort to re-conceive the project for film.

The second thing is, this isn't an especially original piece. That might seem an odd thing to say about a play that revolves around a near sci-fi gimmick. That gimmick is interesting, and creates a couple of startling moments. But I couldn't help noticing that, if you stripped that element away, you had a set of characters who weren't terribly defined and didn't take any especially interesting journey -- in fact, many of the details of their lives felt rather random to me.

None of this is to say I disliked the film. It was engrossing enough to keep me watching for 90 minutes, and was generally well-acted. But I felt it was short on much real dramatic interest.

The reason the film is getting attention is of course the campaign being conducted around Lois Smith's performance. Smith is very good -- as she is in her smaller role in Lady Bird; as she has been throughout her long, distinguished career. And (SPOILER, I GUESS) the curves in the plot give her a chance to play, effectively, dual characters. But I don't think this is a performance that would be singled out as among the year's best were in not perceived as Chance to Honor a Beloved Veteran. It certainly wouldn't bother me if she were to slip onto the Oscar list -- I've been a long-time fan -- but neither will I be heartbroken if she falls short.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:48 pm

THE BIG SICK
Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Adeel Akhtar, Zenobia Shroff, Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham, Kurt Braunohler, David Alan Grier.
Dir: Michael Showalter.

Based on the true love story of writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, this is about a Pakistani-American stand-up comedian who falls in love with a white girl, against his parents' wishes and just as they are breaking up, she falls into a coma. Most modern-day romantic comedies make me wanna run for the hills but this one actually works. The fact that it's based on a true story made the conceit easier to swallow (heh, so to speak) and it somehow even works as a culture clash comedy as well. The cast that brought it to life is great as well. Kumail Nanjiani, whom I've known as a funny stand-up and comedic performer, is really good playing a version of himself. He's funny and he nails the more serious scenes as well. Both Holly Hunter and Ray Romano practically steals the film as Emily's parents. And Zoe Kazan manages to be tolerable.

Oscar Prospects: Hunter and Romano would make for good Supporting Actress and Actor candidates respectively. Original Screenplay is also a strong possibility.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby nightwingnova » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:17 pm

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Like some fans, I was afraid that this re-film of the novel would be an uninspired trudge. But the result is instead an uneven attempt to fashion a more dynamic and exciting interpretation of the story and of the main character, detective Hercule Poirot.

The 1974 film version is pure delight: Hollywood opulence, class, charm, fun, and a stellar cast of stars. The plot was tight and neat, with light seriousness to make it game but generally avoiding true drama and pathos.

Director and star Kenneth Branagh and the screenplay aim for deeper tones and themes in the re-film. They improve the dynamism by shuffling and clipping the proceedings. They add action scenes. Some of this works. Some of this comes off as mundane, inept, or sentimental. Poirot's deliberations also become too convoluted and messy.

The best thing about the film is Branagh's fresh Poirot - arrogant, brutally honest, and on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum. Brilliant. For lovers of great acting, there is Derek Jacobi's tour-de-force as the manservant, Judi Dench's panache as the princess, and Michelle Pfeiffer's complex annoying American. Unfortunately, the star wattage is much lower this time and Johnny Depp mugs through his performance as the murder victim.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2017

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:03 am

SWEET COUNTRY
Cast: Bryan Brown, Sam Neill, Hamilton Morris, Matt Day, Thomas M. Wright, Ewen Leslie, Gibson John, Anni Finsterer, Natassia Gorey Furber, Tremayne & Trevon Doolan.
Dir: Warwick Thornton.

Here's a film I don't see often: an Australian Western. An Aboriginal man is put on trial after he shoots and kills a viciously racist, drunk white man in self-defense. I've never heard of this film before I saw it in the lineup of this on-going film festival I've attending screenings to. I thought it sounded interesting and Sam Neill was in it and I think I've heard of the director before so why not? And it's pretty great. It's a film about racism but I love the way it avoids the White Savior and the Noble Savage archetypes. Every character is a full a believably all-around human character. It is also beautifully shot (Warwick Thornton is his own DP!). There are scenes here that are simply jaw-dropping. This is definitely a film which you should seek out.

Oscar Prospects: I don't know if they're qualifying this but if it did, it should be getting Cinematography citations.

Grade: B+


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